WIP: Man Woobie

Thrifted: five men’s dress shirts in various muted shades.

Assembled: a quick quilt top, from 11″ squares cut from the larger sections of the shirts.

Quilted: with grey perle cotton.

In progress: but honestly, not really loving it as much as I’d like.  Something’s not quite right.  There seems to be a very fine line between “muted and manly” and “unattractive,” and I think this one has its foot firmly planted on that line.  I wanted to do something that was outside my comfort zone–which is to say, that wasn’t electric-bright colors and whimsical dots–and this certainly is.  As a result, it’s harder for me to evaluate whether I’ve achieved success.

The plan: to keep pushing on through, in the hopes that when I get to the other side, I won’t hate it but rather that something will reveal itself to me.  My default, fall back plan is that if the hand quilting fails to capture my imagination and redeem the palette (which I admit is so far outside of my own Spring palette that I can’t be sure I even know the names of these colors), I’ll take out the hand quilting and machine quilt in a wide chevron.  Because everyone loves a chevron.

Other options I considered for this project:

  • all flannel shirts
  • all seams flat fell, with no backing or batting–just a single layer of flannel with reinforced seams
  • larger pieces cut as wedges from the sleeves, then assembled at angles
  • whole-cloth man quilt, made from a single cut of flannel

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  • Camille
    February 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Wow. I sorta, kinda love it – BUT I think it is begging for the chevrons. The hand quilting is beautiful, but is a little to delicate for this kind of thing. I can see this as a cozy quilt for game day on the couch if it had some sweet chevrons.

    Or (idea that just came to me! could be lame or awesome!) – you could do a plaid pattern of machine stitching. The front (since it might have enough color) could all be one thread color, but switch out your bobbin colors and have a sweet plaid pattern on the back. It would look especially sweet if the back were a soft, grey flannel or something that would show off the different colors.

    Can’t wait to see the finished product!

    • Deborah
      February 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Basically, as soon as I typed it out, I agreed with you–I just think the hand quilting is too clean for this, and the more I do, it’s not getting better. I think because this is such a simple layout with such muted colors, it really demands something more visually compelling to make it sing. The backing is a Moda silky tone-on-tone stripe in grey, which is super super soft. I think the chevrons will accent it nicely.

      As much as I’m intrigued by the idea of making the quilting “plaid,” I don’t think the straight lines would do it for me this time… But on ANOTHER project! Hmmm…

  • Dree
    February 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    This reminds me sooooo much of the tied quilt my mom made me years and years ago (and now used by my 12-year-old). My mom took my dad’s old flannel shirts and cut them up. She backed it with a purchased piece of flannel and used a mattress pad as the batting (something my grandmother also always did). Most of the shirts had red, so it really popped. Before all the shirts started to shred because they were old! It’s a ratty mess now, but 12-year-old won’t let me put another layer on top to hold it together.

    The hand quilting is nice–maybe some of the purple to pop it more? OR maybe that is just my girly self speaking LOL.

    • Deborah
      February 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      I know, I leaned toward the purple at first too, but shied away because I thought it was my inner girl talking! 🙂

      It’s insanely soft, and at 44″ x 55″ before binding, it’s the perfect lap size. I see many movies and ball games watched beneath this puppy!

  • Christie
    February 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Very nice! Still feels like it is missing something though. Maybe a giant necktie applique. ( I am currently working on a quilt with necktie shaped blcoks so maybe i just can’t get them out of my brain) 🙂
    Can’t wait to see it finished.

  • Hannah
    February 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    so… is a woobie just a quilt? I’ve never heard that word before and definitely had all sorts of weird ideas running through my head when I saw it on the list yesterday.

  • Gayle
    February 3, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    The necktie thing made me think of how soft, silky and woobie-like a binding patched together with ties would be. But that also sounds like a possible PITA and would mess with the color scheme.

    This does make me think of one of my very, very most favorite things in the world: a very simple, hand-tied quilt my grandmother and great-grandmother made during the depression from their husbands’ worn out suits. It has a super-soft bright red flannel backing (which I mended twice in college before it finally had to be replaced), but is otherwise just shades of black and grey. My dad took it to college and then so did my brother and I, in turn and sometimes when I am cuddled up and reading, the thought of vintage scratchy-soft wool flashes across my mind with a longing….
    This could also quench your thirst for tweed. And I will find you that clutch-out-of-a-suit-sleeve tutorial, I swear!

  • Mary Ella
    February 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    What if you incorporated Theresa’s anatomically correct heart embroidery idea and embroidered a few of the squares to give them a little pizzaz.

    (Yes, I do realize this suggestion would have been more useful BEFORE you got to the quilting phase.)

  • Frances
    February 4, 2012 at 5:58 am

    I think you’re on a winner although machine quilting all over will give it texture. Have you seen this blog http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com.au/p/find-design.html

    it may inspire

  • Claudia
    February 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I love your shirt quilt. I love the hand stitching too, it’s a surprise!
    I’m working on a quilt for my son that is similar in that for the front I used men’s dress shirting, all in traditional “corporate” style fabrics and for the back I have purchased a blue, again very traditional, Scottish plaid flannel. I was inspired by his appreciation for fine clothing and his true enjoyment for wearing a flannel shirt as well, when he goes hunting. I love the dichotomy the fabrics create. It reminds me of how diverse interests do combine to make interesting people. I’ve enjoyed translating an inspiration into a quilt! It’s a column quilt and I was thinking that the quilting might be cross stitching across the entire piece making a diamond pattern. I’m not sure what it’s called but I wanted to keep it clean, classic and somewhat subtle…like a fine Italian suit! 🙂

  • Naturally Chic Mama
    February 4, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Cute idea! I am always looking for new ways to reuse cool thrifted men’s shirts. Thanks for sharing!

  • melody miller
    February 5, 2012 at 11:14 am

    you know what I think this could use? Some neon-bright quilting thread, or if not neon then the brightest electric red, blue, etc. Neon looks so amazing against muted colors, and could provide just the right amount of contrast. Or, your usually springy-bright colors could do nicely as well:) Could also be cool to see some interesting organic shapes embroidered (or even appliquéed?) over the top of your geometric grid. Love the chevron idea too:)

  • Melany
    February 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    It’s lovely and I think the chevron quilting will be great. I can’t wait to see the finished project!

  • Sarah
    February 14, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Very nice! My mother collected jeans that my brothers and Dad wore out over a period of a few years, then she made a big single-layer throw with the flat-felled seams throughout, as you suggested. It made for one heavy duty blanket!!