Brooke Palulis didn’t plan to make T-shirt quilts for strangers.
Through cheerleading, sorority activities and a bunch of clubs throughout high school and college, she accumulated a massive amount of T-shirts. She made a quilt out of them for herself.
“I couldn’t throw away any of my T-shirts and found out about making them into quilts and I thought, ‘What better way to keep these memories and have them displayed in my house and not in a drawer?’”
Using a blog called “Making T-shirt Quilts for Dummies,” she made six in one year for family members.
Palulis, the teacher of the year at Forestbrook Elementary School, describes herself as “very OCD” and likes to start and finish quilts “in straight shots.”
When she started out, it took about 13 hours to build a quilt. Now, with years of practice, she can start from scratch and have a quilt good to go in about eight hours. The crafter has an Etsy store called Keepsake Kreations US where she sells her one-of-a-kind work. Prices range from $220-$360, depending on the work involved and how many T-shirts are part of the quilt.
One of the toughest experiences, and one of the most meaningful she’s had, is making a keepsake quilt for the family of a 6-year-old little boy who died. Palulis and her husband Kevin also have a toddler, and she says, “There I was, literally crying about that child and becoming part of that story.”
She has learned so much about strangers through the memories they want to preserve in their T-shirt quilts.
Another special quilt was made for a family whose grandfather died.
“The quilt was for his wife to cherish,” she said.
Making a quilt for her own grandparents was also particularly special.
“I loved putting together that quilt honoring each grandchild and their children,” she said, adding that the project involved three children, their spouses and 11 grandchildren.
The best part of that quilt was seeing her grandparents be able to pick out which T-shirts represented which family member.
“We didn’t include the great grandchildren because they’re going on 10 great grandchildren, and that’s a quilt for the future,” she said.
Palulis, who lives in Berkshire Forest, can complete five queen-sized quilts a year and said the biggest challenge is the various sizes T-shirts come in.
“The 6-year-old’s T-shirts were all different sizes from onesies to ones a 6-year-old toddler would wear.
“It’s like a lot of puzzle pieces and I like that challenge,” she said.
Palulis encourages people to learn to make their own T-shirt quilts.
“It’s not really that hard of a task,” she said.
Quilts serve a couple purposes, including providing warmth and looking pleasant when displayed.
“That’s a better use for those T-shirts than being in a drawer,” she said. “Don’t throw those T-shirts away. Something good came come from them.”