Violet Newstead quilt

My Sea-Fever quilt is sandwiched and awaiting about a zillion lines of hand stitching, so it probably won’t make an appearance for awhile.  But there were times when I hit a snag (ran out of thread, wanted to preshrink the batting) and had to wait for a bit.  So I started work on something else.

I’ve been collecting men’s shirts from thrift store sales.  I’m partial to all those nice medium and deep blues, and at a dollar or two per shirt you can’t beat the price. I like the notion of recycling pieces of used clothing (many with worn elbows or dated styling) into something useful—it feels in tune with the origins of quilting.

I saw Melissa Mortenson’s “Large Hexagon Quilt Tutorial” post on the Polkadot Chair and knew that big ol’ hexagons were just the right place for all those quality fabrics and subtle textures. I picked up a 10” half-hexagon template and was ready to rock.

To begin, I threw all the shirts in the washer and dryer on hot. This preshrunk everything and made me feel better about using shirts with a variety of fibers. (Note from later in the process, though—having at least some cotton in the mix meant the fabric behaved better. I used two rayon shirts and their tendency to sidle under the needle made me sorry.)

Once they were all hung and dried—and the beauty of most men’s shirts is they are “easy care” and don’t require ironing—I began to cut them apart and used my new template with abandon. Before long I had a thick stack made of 10-12 half hexes from each shirt.

Stack of half hexagons

Then it was design wall time. But I don’t have a design wall, so I used the bed. The pieces stuck to the cotton sheet just fine, and I was at least working the layout in situ. I wound up using 10 pieces in each row.

Half hex stripsI stacked up the rows in order and labeled each one, so that I’d be able to sew strips together in the right order. Now any time I have a few extra minutes, I can put together a row. I like having something productive to work on when I’m unwilling to look at another line of hand quilting.

How do you handle project timing? Do you work on one thing until it’s complete? Have a million projects going at once? Or alternate between just a few?

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