Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

...I should explain

I submitted this for Cation Designs' February Stashbusting Challenge and somehow put my blog name where the description should be. Oops.

So here's the actual description: Baby quilt made with vintage men's shirt scraps!

I made it for my brother and his wife, who are having a baby (their first!) in a couple of months. It's a  boy, so I wanted to make a baby blanket using Very Manly men's shirting. Because my quiltmaking skills are ... er ... pretty much nonexistent, I decided to go with a postage stamp design instead -- just small blocks and a border.

The blocks are actually from someone else's stash. Last summer, I stumbled across a garage sale -- someone clearing out her mother's house, trying to get it ready to sell. I asked if she had any fabric.

"Fabric!" she said. "She had bolts of fabric upstairs!"

She led me up to the attic, where there were bolts (!) of home-dec fabric, and then she took me to her mother's sewing room. Where she pulled out boxes and boxes and bags and bags of fabric, thread, needles, you name it. Her mother lived through the Depression, and she saved everything.

I tried not to freak out right there in her mother's house, but, needless to say, I took everything. My fabric stash is pretty gigantic as it is, but I couldn't pass it up.

She delivered it all, including two bolts of gorgeous home-dec fabric (which I still haven't figured out what to do with) and boxes and boxes and bags and bags of scraps. I spent the night going through and sorting everything. There were tiny pieces of novelty fabric (cowboys! windmills! dogs on telephones!), men's shirtsleeves, half-made belts and headbands. She even had quilt scraps cut out, tied neatly together, and labeled.

As far as I can tell, the shirt scraps date from the '40s through the '70s or '80s. Lots of them have a distinct '50s feel.

Also included: The best-ever box of sewing supplies.

A whole box of Massachusetts North Shore sewing history, including a bag from Almy's department store in Salem, which closed in 1985, and needles from Elm Farm in Beverly. (Just wonderful! Those Elm Farm tasty foods!)

Back to the quilt. I wound up doing 3-inch squares (the largest I could get away with) and a half-inch seam allowance on each side. Here's the back.

The front, closer up:

The finished quilt, hanging up:

And so that's how I made a baby quilt with someone else's stash. (Which I feel incredibly lucky to have, actually, and I hope I can do the rest of it justice.) Thank you, Salem sewist who saved everything, wherever you are.


  1. I love the quilt you made and especially love the story about all the fabric you scored at a random yard sale! I once stumbled across a similar situation - the woman was diabetic and was losing her vision so she had to sell all her fabric, notions, etc...an unbelievable find.
    I am also in Massachusetts (Georgetown) and wonder if you know about "Sew-fisticated Fabrics" and "Sew-low Fabrics" in Cambridge. If you aren't familiar with them, all I can say is check. them. out! There is also Fabric Place Basement in Frammingham and Sew-fisticated also has a second location there as well. More than worth the trip! Happy Sewing!!

    1. Thanks for your comment -- nice to meet another Massachusetts sewist! I actually hadn't heard of those, and I've been looking for JoAnn's alternatives, so thanks so much for the tips! I keep hearing good things about Fabric Place Basement; I'll have to check them out too.

      Sounds like you got quite the score. I love yard sales.