I like rules as much as the next person. They’re good for things like driving, keeping the peace, and of course, for sewing.

When I made my first quilt, I didn’t know the rules. I didn’t own a ruler or a rotary cutter. I had scissors but without a pattern, I couldn’t cut a straight line. After that quilt was done, let’s just say that it was time to turn to other sewing.

Fast forward a few years and I found a beginning quilting course. There I learned the rules and bought all the right equipment. I was pleased with my progress and made something I was proud to say I made. In fact, the quilt was given to my grandnephew who still has it today.

I found quilting rules hard to follow. Although I can do it today, matching patterns and seams for traditional quilting took all the skill I could muster. The results were okay but not something I wanted to continue. Enter modern quilting.

There are fewer rules in modern quilting, or so it seems, because there is more negative space.

Which brings me to a t-shirt quilt I just finished. I’ve seen the traditional with four shirts across and six down with sashing in between. Yawn!

My idea is to stagger the shirts, mix them up with solid fabrics. No rules! No seams to match! Quilting outside the box!

I did use a ruler to square off the shirts and the quilt fabric so it’s technically not an improvisationally pieced quilt. It does take some planning. It wouldn’t look good to have two similar shirts together or all one color in the corner. For this quilt, I had a specific theme using the University of Alabama colors. There was lots of crimson in the shirts so I only had to use white and gray mixed in with the licensed fabric. It reminds me of putting a puzzle together or solving a mystery.

T-shirt quilts are great for stash busting too. I don’t know about you, but I probably won’t run out of quilt scraps for a VERY long time. But that’s another blog post.