Making The Comfort Last

I recently talked with good friend, Suzanne Armstrong, about a new venture she’s pursuing. As a freelancer myself, I know what a big deal it is to have a vision and the followthrough. I hope you ‘ll enjoy reading about Suzanne, and her business, Double Comfort Studios. I especially love the tag line: Making the comfort last.

Suzanne, tell me about the name of the business and how you came up with it. 

Double Comfort Studios is the name. I started out with a different name but, after lots of research by myself and friends, when I tried to purchase the domain name, it wasn’t available. Which is funny, because the day before, it was available!  Beware pfishers, scammers and pirates! They seem to monitor internet searches and buy up names that come up frequently. So much work down the drain!

I was quite upset and refused to be taken advantage of in that way, so I found a new name and bought the name immediately.

Double Comfort comes from the novels “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith. I have been a fan since a friend gave me the first book when I was on my way to South Africa. There is a furniture store with the name Double Comfort Furniture owned by one of the characters in the books. I’ve always enjoyed the twists that non-native speakers come up with in English and this African phrase complements my goal of doubling the use of T-shirts: first as comfortable clothing and then, transforming them into quilts, or “comforters” as bedcovers are sometimes called.  Language is fascinating! The idea also refers to my penchant for recycling and zero waste.

I decided to use the word “Studios” to indicate the art involved and made it plural to sound big (and because you did in Art Cloth Studios). See Jane, you have been a part of this from the beginning!                                                                                                                                              

Tell us a little about how it works.

The hardest part for the customer is to decide which shirts to put in the quilt. The number of shirts determines the finished size of the quilt and they are all individual.  Usually, I receive 20-30 clean shirts. The images on the shirts determine the size(s) of the blocks. I combine smaller images such as pockets into larger blocks. The shirts are cut down, interfaced and the top designed and sewn together. The design is the hardest, yet most creative part for me. I like to find ways to make the quilts interesting such as pockets made to look like flag banners or the Cubs baseball shirts set on point as diamonds. Then, the backing is chosen and I have the quilting done by a long-arm quilter. This is a person with a large machine used solely for this purpose. I get the quilt back and trim and bind it by hand.

What inspired you to begin your business?

My first T-shirt quilts were for my three children.  Their shirts from school, camp, scouting, etc were put to good use as college dorm quilts, Then, my nephews got in line and then some friends– by word of mouth. Noticing that I enjoyed this work, I decided to make it more central in my life. It is very pleasing to see the joy in someone’s face when receiving the finished quilt with all their meaningful shirts.

Can you tell a story or two that are examples of pieces you’ve made?

Well, it’s been reported that my nephew, who just graduated from Texas A&M would bring his quilt home for the weekend and then take it back to school. (His name is not Linus.)

One memorable quilt was made from fantastic shirts from around the world for a soldier retired from the military. His wife was initially against the project, but in the end she redecorated the room around the quilt.

A fellow quilter who is also a lady pilot commissioned a quilt using her airshow t-shirts. Really cool!

My graduate school professor has had me make two quilts, one with his Cubs baseball shirts just in time for them to win the World Series, and then a Keep Austin Weird quilt with Austin shirts. He has been a long time supporter of my art.

The last quilt finished was for a high school graduate and was a surprise for the girl. Her Mom faced quite a challenge getting the shirts out of the house without it being noticed that they were “missing”!

What’s the turnaround time if someone would like a quilt?

The time varies depending on my schedule and the long-arm quilter’s schedule as well.  Usually, it takes three weeks to a month to complete a quilt. This is good to keep in mind if the quilt is for a gift that has a date attached.

Can you work with people long distance?

Yes.  Details of shipping can be worked through by email.

How can people reach you?

My email is DoubleComfortStudios@gmail.com. My phone number is 210-383-8713. Please leave a message. And, I have a blog that serves as a website and an Etsy shop. This week I begin a transfer to a dedicated site and will put my store there. It may be ready by the time this is published. All can be found by visiting my website—Double Comfort Studios.

How about a little background information on yourself?

I was raised in San Antonio, Texas.  I earned a BFA in Graphic Design from SMU in Dallas and am a certified Special Education teacher and 200 hour certified yoga instructor. I have worked in these fields and many others. I have three grown children and two granddaughters, two cats and a Pomeranian dog.

My interest in quilting began in the 1970s and includes the art, craftsmanship, and history of quilting, including the power of a woman’s voice in this medium. I enjoy the tactile quality of fabric and thread and find the physical activity of moving back and forth from the sewing machine and the design wall as extremely satisfying. I need to be moving around to be happy.