Thank God I can’t sew. If I could sew, it might have led me to do something crazy like try and make this quilt myself. One, it would have taken me years to finally get around to doing the organizing and sewing (if I ever did it at all), and two, my finished product would have been nowhere near as cool as the Campus Quilt masterpiece that arrived on my doorstep a few days ago.
When I first heard that there was a company out there that made custom quilts out of t-shirts you already own, I was more than intrigued. In fact, on mere mention I had decided that this was the perfect way to finally control the massive amounts of concert t-shirts that have been taking up precious space in our closet and in storage. A craftier mama might have dug out her sewing machine, but I called in the pros. The pros come in the form of a website that promises to turn your precious memories into a high quality blanket you will treasure for life. Sounds good, right?
Most people I know have a ton of t-shirts, whether it’s from high school, college, concerts, sports, etc. and if they are anything like my husband, they have boxes full of t-shirts they just can’t bear to part with, yet don’t really get worn regularly. For him, they were mostly sentimental concert tees that he had worn almost daily in high school and now couldn’t see getting rid of them unless he found the perfect home. For me, I just found I had stopped wearing a good portion of my t-shirts that I used to love, and that included my own collection of band tees. Why not take all those old shirts, preserve them in a whole new way, and create a conversation piece you will actually use?
So, here’s how Campus Quilt works: you go to the website and fall in love with their products, then you decide on what quilt and which size suits your needs the best and add it to your cart. Once the quilt design is in your cart and you complete check out, a non-refundable deposit is charged to your card (the remaining balance is billed only when your quilt is shipped) and the quilt creation kit is then sent to your door. And then once the kit is received, the real fun happens.
I’ll admit this step of the process took us a few days longer than I had imagined it would. Mostly because we had to find all the priceless tees we had packed away and then moved twice, but also because I like to take my time to make sure everything is just so before I commit to anything. I think this adequately explains why I never would have actually made this quilt myself had I been able to sew it and why I’m so grateful to have the expertise of a company like Campus Quilt who has done this for years and can help walk you through every step of the process and then ship the beautiful finished product in the end.
Once we gathered all of our concert tees we hadn’t worn in a while, I folded them all in approximate 15x15 squares and we laid them out on our bed to arrange and then rearrange in the shape of our quilt. As we started our design, we realized we had a surprising number of black t-shirts and thus began our closet raid of ’09 as we hunted for t-shirts we could add into the quilt to add some color. Once we started envisioning our completed quilt, a crazy thing happened: we both offered up a surprising number of our favorite tees to the collection.
Yes, that’s right, we went from boxes of t-shirts that we couldn’t part with to actually offering up shirts we wear regularly once we saw the quilt shaping up and we both got excited. We decided to do a diagonal-style pattern of our black and dark colored t-shirts and then mixed in colors and light shirts until we both were completely happy. After that, we put the stickers on the shirts in the order they would be placed on the quilt so we couldn’t change our minds later.
Since we had so many dark colored shirts, we agreed that we should do the optional cotton sashing, or borders, between the shirt squares to help break up the color blocks a bit more and provide a repetitive pattern to help make the design more cohesive. For the backing, we chose the softest and most plush flannel in the provided fabric sample swatches, since everyone knows that’s what makes or breaks a movie room throw. When all the choices were made, we sealed up our shirt piles in the postal bag provided with our order form and sample swatches, slapped our label on and our shirts were ready to send.
A few days later, we got an automated email from Campus Quilt letting us know the shirts had been received and that they would begin work on our quilt soon, which I really appreciated. When you care enough about a pile of shirts to make them into a quilt, it is always nice to know that the company you’re entrusting them with is this organized and that the shirts are accounted for at all times. So, when I got the email just days later saying they were beginning sewing our quilt, I was already in love with the Campus Quilt Company for their great customer service. And, then when the last email came letting me know that the quilt was shipping and it had an attached picture of the completed quilt and tracking number, well, let’s just say that everyone heard all about it.
But, when that package arrived and our quilt was finally unveiled, I couldn’t even believe how great it looked. The finished product was roughly 200 times better than I imagined it would be, and exactly 3,000 times better than if I had taken to that stack of shirts with scissors and needles.
The quilt has amazing attention to detail and it’s apparent upon first glance. For one, all the shirts are centered and leveled in the squares, which I was so happy about. Aside from numbering the shirts with stickers, we didn’t give Campus Quilt any instructions on how to handle and crop the actual shirts when making the quilt. Since customization really is their thing, they welcome all kinds of suggestions and special instructions, but I know when it’s best to trust the pros. And you really should trust them; they got everything perfect on our quilt, down to the tiniest little details.
The excellent quilting detail is one of the many, many things that my hypothetical quilt would have been lacking, and why I am yet again thrilled that I am sewing inept. Campus Quilt chose the “loop” stitch for the quilting over the shirts and they were absolutely correct in this choice. The playful and fun stitching adds a bit of whimsy to the design and also makes the whole quilt really seem like a finished piece and as if the shirts were always intended to go together.
The really cool thing about our completed Campus Quilt is that it walks the fine line between masculine and being able to call my movie room home. Not too girly, not too testosterone based, but able to go either way by the choices we made in selecting our squares. Since we both added to the design and had a bit of our childhood memories in the final piece, we both feel a strong connection to the completed blanket. Instead of looking like small piles of laundry spread out in an even layer across our couch, the blanket really looks unified as a quilt should, but yet still has all the charm of the original shirts.
We absolutely love everything about the quilt. We love the way the optional sashing in between the squares looks, love the colors of the fabrics we picked from their samples, love the quality stitching and quilting, and love that we have created a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that is truly functional… as well as cozy.
What I’m Raving About: Campus Quilt lets you customize your order in just about any way you can dream up. They say that if you can get a needle through it, chances are you can sew it to your quilt. Their website shows quilts made of baby clothes, men’s ties, and all sorts of other clothing items that I would have never thought of, as well as a bunch of design options for those looking to clean out their closets of all the sentimental stuff you can’t bear to part with. They also offer embroidery and digital picture options if you’re making a gift for someone special.
Price: From $129 and up, with 16 square quilts at $179.
Looks: Exactly as you like, since you get a say on just about everything!
Overall: For just about what you would pay for a mass-produced quilt at a department store, you can create your own work of art that will be loved forever.
For those of you thinking about creating your own Campus Quilt, keep in mind that the Holidays and graduation time are their busiest times of year and you should get your orders in fast to ensure delivery before your big event!
A big huge thank you to Campus Quilt for turning our old pile of t-shirts into a priceless snuggle-inducer that we will enjoy for decades. No other type of compensation was received for this review.