T-Shirt Quilt an Homage to Friend, 80s Gulfport 

Tammy Haynes holds up a quilt honoring late friend and past Gulfportian Kirby Rohrer. The quilt is made of vintage T-shirts from 1980s Gulfport, featuring places like The Blinker Bar, the Gulfport Seafood Festival, Nell’s Lounge and more. 

Back in the day, they used to do concerts at the [Gulfport] Casino and there used to be a group of people that were very close knit,” said Tammy Haynes. Haynes, 52 is a 4th generation Gulfportian with an abiding love for her hometown and fond memories of what she calls “the good old days.”  

Haynes has spent the last several years collecting old T-shirts from Gulfport, mostly from the 1980s. The shirts highlight concerts, festivals and bars from the time, but to Haynes they mean much more than that. 

“Kirby Rohrer was a big influence in this town,” said Haynes. “He used to coach Little League and was very well known by people in town.” Haynes also credits Rohrer for organizing Gulfport’s past concerts and events and buying the T-shirts that went along with them. 

Rohrer died of cancer at 62 on July 9, 2010. “We think he was little sicker than he lead on,” said Haynes. After his death, Haynes wanted to do something in his honor. T-shirts from the events Rohrer had loved so much seemed like the perfect starting point. Haynes asked her friends for shirts, eventually collecting tee’s from six or seven people, plus her own finds. 

Eventually, her idea was that the shirts would all come together in a quilt. 

In 2018, armed with her collection of vintage T-shirts, Haynes decided it was time to get them sewn into that quilt. She asked her mother-in-law, Sue Wahren, to quilt it.  

“I’ve been a quilter since the late 80s,” said Wahren. “But when Tammy asked me I had only done a few T-shirt quilts, so it took me a while to look at the shirts and figure out what I could use.” 

A closer look at a few squares on the quilt. Tammy Haynes collected vintage T-shirts for years in order to have this quilt created. 

Wahren said it took a few months to get the T-shirt blocks ready for quilting. A highlight of the quilt for her sits at the top. It’s a square reading “Jesus Loves You” with blue flip-flop sandals. The Jesus square, which is the only non-shirt section of the quilt, marks a special significance to Wahren and Haynes. 

“Kirby was known for buying cases of random stuff and just handing it out to everybody,” said Haynes, holding up a pair of flip-flops. “I don’t where he got this stuff, but it was all brand-new and it said ‘Jesus Loves You’ when you walked in the sand.” 

Wahren said when she sat down to do the quilt, she thought of those sandals. “I had to do something with those,” she said. 

After the quilt had been created, Wahren took it to her friend Dora Pearl, a long-arm quilter. Long-arm quilting is the finishing touches to a quilt – putting the quilt, stuffing and backing into one complete piece with a large machine. It was finished in October 2018.

The backside of the quilt has an embroidered message: “Kirby’s Legacy for Tammy By Sue Wahren,” and then another embroidery, “Quilted by Dora Pearl.” 

Haynes says she wants people to know that the quilt is also an homage to community. 

“I’m proud of it. Being here in Gulfport, everybody looked out for everybody,” said Haynes. “This is what this is all about,” said Haynes. “Community.” 

The response to the quilt has been great so far, according to Haynes. She plans to hang the quilt in her home in Gulfport.

Tammy Haynes holds out a corner on the backside of the quilt which reads: “Kirby’s Legacy for Tammy By Sue Wahren.” The embroidery also gives credit to Dora Peal, who did the long-arm quilting for the project. 

 

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