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Addressing the Non-Stabilized, Double-sided T-shirt Quilt Part 2: Preserving Graphics

The debate rages among quilters: should we save ourselves time and angst and just panto right over graphics? Or should we take the extra effort to avoid quilting over the graphics, erring on the side of caution? Is all of this really necessary?

Though I love breaking some rules (not stabilizing my quilts!), I find myself reluctant to do things that I'm not sure are for the good of the quilt. I WILL be breaking my own rule soon and panto-ing over a t-shirt quilt, but I think these specific shirts can handle it, and I'm up for having my assumptions challenged because some AMAZING quilters just quilt right over graphics.

So let's talk a bit about my current technique of preserving graphics.

I often choose not to quilt over graphics because I build a lot of quilts using mixed fabrics such as poly blend sports jerseys. They often have thick names and numbers ironed to the shirt, and I've often gotten jerseys that already have some peeling of the names and/or numbers. Additionally, some graphics will peel once a needle pierces them, even if they were OK beforehand. That needle scooting through the graphic can do one of two things: it can help hold on the graphic, or it can weaken the graphic and make it peel.

I have found quilting and life in general strange enough to believe that both of these may well be true at the same time, but the weakening of the graphic seems especially true for sport jerseys which have those extra thick inked/ironed-on type.

My solution to this was fairly straight forward on this particular quilt: Determine the best side of the layout to preserve. This may mean that you have to put all the shirts with questionable graphics on one side and not the other so you can navigate around them. There's negotiation to be had here too, because you need to consider color balance as well as listen to the recipient's preference for layout and their taste.

Placing most, if not all, of the more difficult graphics on the front so you can quilt around them made the most sense to me. 

The other thing I did was free motion quilting. I know I touched on it last time as well, but I can't say it enough: using free motion allows you to appropriately navigate around the graphics if that is your preference.

The beauty of this craft is that we have to find our own way; what works for me may not work for you. I hope, however, that my solutions can smooth your experience as you begin or continue your quilting journey. 

In all of this, graphics weren't what kept me up at night or woke me at 3 am. Nope. What really  got me going was figuring out how to make sure everything lined up correctly. 

That's up next week! See you next Friday showcasing how I solved the potential nightmare that was matching up seams front to back.

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