Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dad's NASCAR T-Shirt Quilt

I would like to share my dad's t-shirt quilt and accompanying story with everyone.  This labor of love for my dad has been two years in the making.  If you don’t know my father, then you need to understand that he is a hardcore NASCAR fan, and a HUGE Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, and Petty Racing fan. I fondly remember when I was 5 or 6 years old, standing in line with my dad at the Laneco in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, waiting for an autograph from Richard Petty, when the power went out.  Richard Petty requested a flashlight and started signing autographs in the small beam of light that was provided by the flashlight.  My father has attended many, many NASCAR racing events, and over the years, has accumulated quite a collection of souvenir t-shirts.  My father is also pretty sentimental, and never lets go of a good NASCAR shirt.  As the t-shirts started building up in the house, my mother started trying to thin out Dad’s collection.   He declined to let go of any shirts.  I came up with an idea that has been floating in my mind for a while.  I asked my father if I could cut them up and make a t-shirt quilt out of his stash.  At first, my dad was very reluctant to give me his old NASCAR t-shirts; his favorite Richard Petty tee is older than me!  He thought it was a ploy for my mom to finally be able to get rid of them.  After I promised him that they would not end up in the trash, he agreed.

When I started this t-shirt quilt, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  The shirts were stretching out of shape and elasticity of the t-shirts made them very difficult to sew.  I became extremely frustrated and began to feel that I would not be able to finish the quilt.  As a self-taught quilter, I did what I always do when I face a quilting problem: I researched it.  I scoured the web and books for the correct way of making a t-shirt quilt.  After a trip to my local fabric store, I was ready to start over.  For Father’s Day 2009, I gave my dad the “9 patch” of t-shirts, which is the center of the quilt.  He was very excited to see his old t-shirts breathing new life.  We took it downstairs to his NASCAR themed game room and put it on his pool table, which gave me the idea to use the quilt as a pool table cover.  I continued to work on ironing the stabilizer on the rest of the t-shirts and trimming the t-shirts into manageable sizes.  After summer was over, I had to go back to college and did not have any spare time to devote to it.  I continued working on it in the little spare time I had during my breaks. I finished piecing the t-shirts together between summer and fall classes this year.  I used over thirty shirts to make this quilt, and it’s final measurements are 100" x 128".  This quilt is the biggest quilt I have made, and my sewing machine (a Janome Memory Craft 4800 Quilter’s Companion) was not up to the task of quilting it.  After a lot of research, I took it to Deanna Utley of Appoquinimink Quilting in Middletown, Delaware.  She did a wonderful job and treated my quilt like it was her own.  Deanna was very helpful in suggesting thread colors and a quilting pattern for my quilt.  The more I spoke with her about quilting, the more comfortable I felt leaving my work of art in her hands.  She does beautiful work and I highly recommend using her services.

I have to finish binding the quit and would like to get a few signatures of the drivers that are sewn into this quilt.  I’m a little nervous about mailing it in to get signed, so we will see if we can’t arrange something when the races come back to Dover or the immediate area.  If you are reading this Richard or Kyle, let me know if you are interested at  Enjoy the pics!

NASCAR T-Shirt Quilt

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