By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — A local woman has preserved more than 20 years of Saratoga Race Course history by stitching track T-shirts together for a large quilt.
Jeanette Banagan, of Clifton Park, created the quilt using a variety of T-shirts that have been distributed at the track over the years. Banagan, who was collecting the shirts with her husband, frequently visited the track just to get the shirts and eventually built a trove that was never worn.
She eventually decided she wanted to put the unused shirts toward better use by making a quilt, but the first few times she asked him, her husband told her no. After a while however, he gave in, and Banagan set out to make a small quilt.
But after cutting up all of the shirts and lining up the squares, she realized the project was going to end up much larger than she initially intended.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be big,” Banagan said, explaining the size of the quilt after she laid out all 20 blocks. “It ended up a little more like a bed quilt.”
Five years ago, after working on the project for about a month, Banagan gave her husband the quilt as a Christmas gift. Now, when it i not being used, the quilt is placed on a couch in the upstairs room in her home that Banagan works on other quilting and sewing projects.
The most difficult part of making the quilt, Banagan said, was making sure that all of the logos, pictures, and words she wanted to include in the square were cut out of the shirt in a symmetrical way. She stitched the squares together using a machine, noting that it would have taken much longer to stitch the squares together via hand.
Included on the quilt squares are T-shirts that pay tribute to great racehorses that have galloped, including Native Dancer, Secretariat, and Funny Cide.
For her next project, Banagan is going to make quilts that combine some of her leftover Saratoga shirts with cuts from other T-shirts featuring cars, for her two sons. Some of her past hobbies in Saratoga include visiting the shops and people watching, particularly during Hat Day. But even though Banagan and her husband haven’t been to Saratoga recently, she can appreciate the uniqueness of the city and the decades of history that come along with the track.
“Saratoga is Saratoga,” she said. “It’ll never change.”