Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Quilt For Abby

A while back, a friend contacted me to see if I knew anyone who could use some t-shirts to make a quilt for his daughter, Abby. Right away, I said that I would be happy to make a t-shirt quilt for Abby--a t-shirt quilt has been on my bucket list for a while so this project is a good opportunity to try something new.  We soon got together for supper and I was given several bags of t-shirts that could be used in the quilt to take home with me.

I started by washing all the t-shirts and putting them out on the floor to take a look at all of them.

As you can see, all of the t-shirts are from the annual "Run 4 Rett" fundraiser. Abby has Rett Syndrome. Her family and other families and friends of girls with Rett Syndrome raise money and awareness for Rett Syndrome every year with this run/walk.  My family has participated in the Run 4 Rett --my daughter's t-shirt is the one on the lower left in the above picture.

Before Abby was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, I had never heard of it before.  Here is some information from the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association:

What is Rett Syndrome?

Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by the loss of spoken language and hand use, coupled with the development of distinctive hand stereotypes. This disorder is seen in infancy and occurs almost exclusively in females. It is usually caused by a mutation of the MECP2 gene on the X chromosome. Rett syndrome is found in all racial and ethnic groups throughout the world. It affects one in every ten thousand live female births. Early developmental milestones appear normal, but between 6-18 months of age, there is a delay or regression in development, particularly affecting speech, hand skills and gait. A hallmark of Rett syndrome is repetitive hand movements that may become almost constant while awake. Other more common medical issues encountered include epileptic seizures, muscle stiffness, osteoporosis and scoliosis. Despite its multiple handicaps, Rett syndrome is not a degenerative disease. Many individuals with Rett syndrome live long into adulthood. There is currently no cure.

I talked to a few friends who had made t-shirt quilts before and got some advice about how to stabilize the stretchy knit fabric. Since this is the year that I am (mostly) making quilts without patterns, I had to figure out how I was going to make all these t-shirts look good in a quilt. I used non-woven iron-on light-weight interfacing and ironed it on from the interfacing side so the iron would not smear the writing on the t-shirts.

While in Ottawa at Mad About Patchwork a few weeks ago, I showed Pam a picture of the t-shirts and we discussed ideas for background material for the quilt as well as fabric for an outer border.  We decided that "Pewter" gray from her extensive collection of Kona Cottons would be the perfect background material and I would find other fabrics in my solids stash to add in for accents. The outer border will be a surprise when the quilt is revealed later...

You have probably noticed that the t-shirts are in all different sizes and shapes... First, I had to figure out how I was going to arrange the shirts. I knew I wanted this t-shirt to be in the middle.

I am using solids that go with the t-shirts and the outer border.  Each block has a different type of border around it.

It is fun to figure out something different for each part of the quilt.

Abby's dad has seen these pictures and he said it looks "very cool".

Once I get sewing, it is hard to stop.  I am missing being at the Beaver Island Quilt Retreat this year for 5 days of non-stop sewing.  (Gwen Marston organized these retreats for 30 years and "retired" from the retreats after last year's retreat.)

This is as far as I have gone so far.  I have lots more ideas of what to do next. I should have more progress to post in a week or two.

If you would like more information about Rett Syndrome, follow this link:

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. It looks so very very good!! Looking forward to seeing the rest of it.

  2. I love what you have going on with the t-shirt quilt - very creative and it looks very exciting!

  3. I had not heard of Rett Syndrome prior to this either. What a wonderful project and it looks as if lots of thought and care are going in to of all you are having fun designing it ! :) It looks great thus far's going to be such a happy quilt

  4. What a great project! And I love the way you are taking this t-shirt quilt to the next level with fun wonky piecing around the blocks - it's perfect! I can't wait to see the finish :) Thanks for sharing the info about Rett Syndrome - I had heard of it but wasn't sure of the details.