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Quilt turns out to be a 'Devil' of a project


May 16, 2012

Over the years, people who work at ASU, and volunteer for various activities, inevitably end up with a collection of T-shirts.

Often, the shirts get tucked into drawers or stashed in the back of a closet.

Pamela Howard, a lecturer in the Department of Speech & Hearing Science who teaches American Sign Language, had accumulated such a mass, and in her case, the shirts were gathered in a drawer, either never worn or briefly donned for an event. “The shirts were given to me over the years by Wakonse, ASU Cares and the ASU American Sign Language Club, to name a few,” she said.

When Howard’s friend Sheila Stokes told her she had signed up for a class on how to make a T-shirt quilt, the light bulb came on, Howard said. “I’d always wanted to make a T-shirt quilt. When Sheila told me about the class, I signed up to take it too.”

Howard used 25 ASU T-shirts and one sweatshirt for her quilt. She cut the shirts apart, using a set of templates, and pieced them together to make 16-inch blocks.

The quilt, which is hanging in her office in Lattie Coor Hall, has cotton batting in the middle and a cotton backing fabric. The design is the ASU logo with Sparky.

The project was more difficult than she thought it would be, she said. “The fabric still stretches even though you use a fusible interfacing, so you’re constantly trimming as you go.  The templates are wonderful. They allow you to just take the part of the T-shirt you need, but you can also use other parts without a design to piece the blocks together.”

Howard, who earned a B.A. in liberal studies and an M.A. in linguistics: ESL from California State University, Fresno (Go, Bulldogs), used to make quilts as a hobby until she switched to beading 11 years ago. She now creates intricate jewelry from seed beads and teaches classes in beading techniques.

“Beading offers more immediate gratification,” Howard said. “I also dabble in making cards.”

Visitors to Howard’s office are “amazed that T-shirts can be used this way,” she said. “Some people suggest that I make them and sell them, but I tell them this will be the one and only ASU quilt I make. It’s uniquely mine.”

Howard said she might consider making another T-shirt quilt, but it would have to be for a very special occasion. “Maybe for my grandson when he graduates from high school or college. It’s more challenging than I thought it would be.“