Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The "Wendy Works Her Butt Off" T Shirt Quilt

The narcissist in me wants to start this post by getting excited about the fact that I said my next project would be this quilt and it actually was. I've been saying that for at least a year.

More importantly, and for sure more interestingly, my mom's story. My mom's a camp person through and through. As a little girl, she went to camp far from home and over time made her way from a camper to a counselor, to a supervisor (wonder where I got that from). Because of this my brother and I were fortunate enough to go to camp from a pretty young age, and my mom works in schools so instead of taking the summer off, she always worked where we attended. First day camp, and then when we were each around 9 we found our summer homes in the berkshires. His in Great Barrington, and my mom joined me in West Stockbridge. Our first year at Crane Lake Camp was 2001 where she started as the "Nature Lady," or, the one who tends to the llamas and puppies and lizards and pigs and you name it.

Its been 13 years since then and she's worked 5 different jobs on camp, although I hear she's still the best at catching a runaway llama. Each summer, staff members get shirts to wear with the camps name for opening days and such. In addition, groups like to make silly t shirts. In addition, sometimes there would be one made with everyones name on it. In addition, my mom now works in the office and she may or may not have keys to where they keep the SWAG (Stuff We All Get, not THIS kind of swag. She couldn't keep that locked up if she tried AM I RIGHT) but we'll account those "extras" to laundry accidents.

If you're super into T shirts, it must be cool to have that many. (I am, and it is.) However, the reason I made this blanket isn't because she has too many shirts. Its because my mom is an amazing powerhouse and lost an astounding amount of weight in the past few years. I'm so proud of how far she's come that I even went to a few spin classes with her. You know how cute kindergarten kids look when they wear their parents shirts as smocks in art class? Thats how my mom looked in her own camp shirts when she went to the gym. SHE LITERALLY WORKED HER BUTT OFF. So I confiscated them. Not all, I let her keep a few, but MOST.

I started out with 28 shirts.

They either had a logo across the chest and back, a small left chest logo and back, or random sizes who didn't quite fit in. I made templates out of poster board so they would all be even and I'm about to praise the lord and build a shrine to rotary cutters because it would be dreadful to cut all the pieces with regular scissors. This is the kind I have. They were the cheapest ones on the notions wall at Joann a few years ago and they've never let me down.

I laid out a blanket I already had a size guide but didn't follow it too much. I put the odd shapes in the middle, and used the chest logos to fill the gaps and played around with the big pieces after that. 

Here's a look at the fuzzy stuff I got for the other size. Its simply sandwiched between some bias tape. 

Check it out, I learned mitered corners! On my way to being a quilting superstar. I watched a few videos on YouTube about how to best sew them and made my own lazy girl's version. What I learned from the videos is that its extremely simple and you could figure it out by accident while playing around with bias tape. Technically, you're supposed to pick up the presser foot at the corner before you fold the bias tape. But like I said, I did lazy girl's way which is to pre-fold so that I can pin down all of the bias tape in one shot and sew it the same. I ended up reinforcing the corners with a zigzag stitch when I was finishing it, because that was more logical to me. 

and lastly I love my mom and I know gifts should be wrapped, but we had no appropriate wrapping paper. Although I can picture my mom laughing her ass off if I brought her a a lumpy thing covered in dreidle gift wrap for her birthday that is 2 weeks from now. So yarn bows are cute enough? 

This past weekend I got to visit camp for the first time this summer with two of my best friends. I decided I wanted to give my mom the blanket early because her birthday is the last day of camp and I can imagine she would like to use it for cold berkshire nights, and lets be honest, to brag about it for the rest of the summer. Or maybe a bit of a conversation piece? Who knows. Either way it was exciting to see her light up when she saw me bringing it into her office. 

Its hard to say what the best part of this weekend was. Maybe spending the night before talking with my friends Sophie and Talya so much for so long that my throat and contacts dry up. (ew, but you know that happens.) The rush of excitement of the mountains swallowing me up. The feeling of driving on to camp with the familiar sights and memories filling me. Maybe the roller coaster of nerves and fear and excitement and excessive hand squeezing as we finally got out of the car. Seeing my camp friends not on twitter, instagram, or facebook...but in person face to face and arm in arm. The double take my mom did when she realized I was standing next to her and not on the other end of FaceTime. Maybe having my most recent camper's eyes light up and group hug me or chatting with my first ever campers and seeing them thrive as successful counselors. Maybe our perfect dinner outside that night or finally buying myself a beer in a townie berkshire bar. Or the next day's lunch with mom at a forbidden pizza joint. Maybe the hour I finally caught up with Melissa over tea as she passed through town. It could have even been the free hot dogs and Twix back on camp though, now that I think about it. 

It all felt something like this:

Which, from what I've been told by everyone I spoke with, is how my mom makes them feel too. I can't even count how many people made a point to tell me that she is their summer mom and how she takes care of them when they're away. It feels good to know that she's getting a little extra love from everyone when she's up there "alone." 

If anyone has a ton of shirts and wants to DIY this, lets chat if you have questions. Or if you have a ton of shirts and want someone to make this happen, I'm your girl. Shoot me an email, facebook message, comment, sky writing, singing telegram, or owl. No carrier pigeons.