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Thread: Have You Made a Memorial Quilt?

  1. #1
    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    Have You Made a Memorial Quilt?

    Although I've been quilting for many years, I've never done a quilt from someone's clothing (except a couple of bluejeans quilts). I just offered to make two for my niece and nephew who are in their 20s. Their mom (my former SIL) passed away at age 58 - so sad. So I'm looking for any advice from those who have done this kind of project before.

    They live 1500 miles away and will have to ship the clothing to me, so I need to give them some guidelines on what will or won't work. I know anything really bulky or very thin/sheer would not be the best. And I know I'll have to stabilize some of the fabrics with some sort of interfacing - any suggestions on which kind?

    My niece mentioned that her mom had quite a collection of scarves (not the knit winter kind but the fashion type that you wear with a suit or dress). Any ideas on how I could use these? She said these would really remind her of her mom so I'd like to do something special with them. I've seen the quilts where you take the old hankies and make them into butterflies, has anyone seen anything like this done with scarves?

    If anyone has pictures or websites to share, I'd appreciate that as well.

  2. #2
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    you could do a foundation pieced crazy-quilt style block from the clothes. This would serve to stabilize all the various fabrics. I have done this and used old clothing, including knits of various weights and other wovens.

  3. #3
    Junior Member 40MPHK9's Avatar
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    The only thing I've made similar to what you describe is a t-shirt quilt for my daughter. She was in the band in high school, and I used all of her t-shirts. I did denim for the sashing (leftover jeans!) and instead of batting and backing, I used fleece for the back (no batting needed). It was only a tied quilt, not a real quilted quilt.
    As you can imagine, it was VERY heavy, from the jeans, but she really loved it.
    She died right before she graduated from college. The quilt is in a box in my basement.

  4. #4
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    Foundation crazy quilt sounds like a good idea. Just my opinion: it would be difficult to combine denim with light weight fabrics.
    http://www.oregonquilting.net
    I choose to give my life away for things that last forever

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pat M.'s Avatar
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    Make the "Less Than Traditional" ; Quilters Haven, Alta Loma,CA. I used this pattern for a friend, the center square was the fabric from dresses, shirts, etc. It came out beautiful and the center fabric did not have any quilting because it was so frail. Same idea is the "Little Nine in the Window", good luck.
    Pat

  6. #6
    Senior Member Kat Sews's Avatar
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    I have made memory quilts several times. I have successfully used woven shirts to single knit pajamas and night gowns. I use traditional patterns most times. Here is one example (if I do this right). This one I used light weight iron on pellon to stablize the fabric before cutting.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    The memorial quilt I have made was made from denim and flannel shirts. I also added photos to the quilt, appliqueing them onto blocks. The quilt was from my husband's clothes, and made it for one of my sons. He was also 58 when he passed away.
    I am not sure how I would use scarfs in a quilt, except they probably would have to be backed with something to make them not too stretchy. I think I would use a light weight non-woven interfacing, but maybe someone else would be able to give a definite recommendation.
    However you make the quilt, it will mean a lot for the person you are making it for.

  8. #8
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    I just finished (today) 3 memory quilts for my grandchildren that lost therir father 1 year ago. I will be taking them to Tx on the 29th to give to them. I'll try to post pics. I used his clothing and set pics in 8" blocks.
    Attached Images Attached Images



  9. #9
    Senior Member Handcraftsbyjen's Avatar
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    Yes, you can use scarves. I have done it before but can't find a picture. I was given pictures of the person as well, many of which she was wearing the scarves. I used stabilizer and surrounded some of the pictures with the corresponding scarves. For my label, I did not put my name. Instead, I put "When this you see, remember me." then the person's name, birthday, and date of death. Or just simply 'Mom' after the phrase on the label.

    As a side note, if any of you have loved ones who have dimentia or Alzheimer's, I have placed that person's hand on a permanent ink pad while they were still around then made handprints on both pretty card stock and also muslin. Using the same phrase from my label, as mentioned above, made handprint Christmas cards from the card stock handprints, and then once they are gone, I incorporate the muslin prints into memory quilts and everyone loves them both.
    Last edited by Handcraftsbyjen; 02-24-2012 at 03:22 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DMotyl's Avatar
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    What great ideas Hancraftsbyjen. I also have made memory 2 quilts from my father-in-law's clothes. Mine was a trial and error thing. I wish I had know that I should use stablizer (I had only been quilting a few months when he passed away. I began quilting when he was 98.) I have since read about many more ideas. I love the idea of using the scarves. However you decide to do the quilts, they will be loved. I know my gifts are in spite of their many flaws....LOL
    If you sleep under a quilt, you sleep under a blanket of love. :-)
    Donna

  11. #11
    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    Thank you for all of the great ideas. And for the photos that several of you posted - your quilts are lovely and I'm sure will be treasured. Carreen, I love all the little personal touches you added.

    This will be a long-term project and a learning experience for me, so if anyone has more suggestions, keep 'em coming.

    My sympathies to you who have lost a family member way too young

  12. #12
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    I recently made 3 memorial quilts. One each for 2 sister's whose Dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly last Jan, and one for their Mom (that was a surprise for her). They sent me about 30 of his shirts - all sort of tropical themed, and none 100% cotton. I was just stumped about how to proceed, and scared that the final quilts would not be what they were hoping for. I wound up cutting apart each shirt (after washing and ironing) and then cutting each one into as many 5.5 inch blocks as I could. After that I just designed 3 different quilts out of the blocks. The one for the Mom was my favorite. I did a large heart design out of one of the lighter colored shirts, and then surrounded it inside and outside with darker blocks. I put pictures of the girls and the Mom with their Dad/Husband on the back along with the labels. I backed them with just black fleece, and thankfully they were all absolutely thrilled with the quilts.

    Good luck with yours. Someone on this board gave me words of encouragement when I was sort of paralyzed before starting them. She told me that no matter the design, the family would love them as a constant reminder of their dear Dad/Husband. She was right!!
    Of all the things I've lost I miss my mind the most!

  13. #13
    Member Bennie's Avatar
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    I made 2 memory quilts using my DH's cotton dress/sport shirts. I made one in a pinwheel pattern and one in a rail fence pattern. The rail fence went to my wonderful son and I kept the pinwheel. I think almost any scrappy pattern would work.

  14. #14
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    I made three memorial quilts for a client whose mother had died, and I used a combination of the fabrics from her mother's old clothes and fabric from my stash. Only a few of the items of clothing were cotton - the others were synthetic knits, polyester prints, rayon, you name it. I carefully took each item apart, saving any special pieces (like embroidered emblems etc) and made sorted piles by color. I then designed three separate, and utterly distinct, queen-sized quilts to incorporate as much of the fabric as I could. I stabilized the stretchier fabrics with spray starch (most would not have survived the heat required to use fusible interfacing, because they were non-iron fabrics). By surrounding the non-cottons with the added fabric from my stash I kept the tops from becoming too distorted. The rest of the process I did like any other quilt - poly batting, cotton backing, cotton binding.

    The three quilts were commissioned items, and took me nearly a year to finish (which I had predicted to my client when she requested them!) She had given me complete "artistic freedom" to play with the fabric, and I am pleased to report that she was very happy with the outcome, even thought the third quilt (not shown below) was a rather wild modern take on a crazy quilt!

    Good luck with yours. I'm sure whatever you decide to do will be greatly appreciated!

    Attachment 315153Attachment 315156
    Last edited by alisonquilts; 02-24-2012 at 01:40 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    alisonquilts, I wish I could see the photos, but for some reason they're not showing up. Your quilts sound great. I did let my niece and nephew know it might be a year or so until I finish these, I know they are going to be so much more work than working with yardage.

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    I am not sure if you plan a crazy patch look or a 9 patch, etc. but I have seen several methods that I enjoyed. Using a button-front shirt, the quilt maker incorporated that part of the shirt/blouse and left it buttoned in the square. Also used a pocket, embroidered collar, several sleeves with cuffs. One added a seperate pillow made from a blouse with a frilly buttoned front, basically cut a square out of the front and back, stitched it all around, turned it right side out and added a pillow form and buttoned it up. It was precious! Don't know if she used a stabalizer, but it couldn't hurt. Any of the scarves could be tied in a soft knot and stitched onto another fabric at the ends of the fabric (knot in the middle) and presented that way, or just twisted a time or two, instead of just flat. I like the tactile effect. Linda

  17. #17
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    Hi Andi, I've made several memory quilts, my first was small and had alot of shirts to work with..hardest
    part for me was color and getting the quilt to flow..but my mom loves it and now she has alzheimers so the
    quilt helps her to remember. I like to use alot of applique, for me that is easier. I'm now on my 5th memory
    quilt so people must like them since they keep asking me to make them. I'll try to send pics but this is new
    to me..
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  18. #18
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    This is my last one I made for a wedding memory quilt...the photographer lost all their pictures so all the
    guests turned in pics on facebook etc and I was able to make them a nice memory quilt. It also had squares
    that the guests signed. Charisma did a great job on quilting it! I really like applique, gives you so many
    things you can do! I am currently working on one for my cousin. They are really great to do and much
    appreciated by the recipient. If you have any problems just let us know and we'll help you along!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
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    This thread has me all teary-eyed... this sort of thing is why I love quilting and quilts. So many memories are wrapped up in simple pieces of fabric. Off to get the kleenex's.

    Candace

  20. #20
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    This was a little wall quilt for a new baby. I really love being able to put pictures on cloth!! My hubby
    had come home and said a guy working with him had a new baby so I put this together in a few hours.
    The pattern was in a magazine.
    thanks for lookin
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  21. #21
    Junior Member shawnan's Avatar
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    For the scarves, here is an idea.

    Since the family was most likely to see the scarves "scrunched" up rather than flat, what about putting loops (like belt loops on pants) onto a square and then slip the scarf through the loops and tie the scarf. I am picturing about an 8" square and put the loops near the sides and in the upper one third of the block and then after the scarf is through the loops it becomes the color and makes it dimensional. You could color coordinate the background block with the scarf, or use the same for all the scarves.

    It can be tied and then removed for washing, or it could be tacked down on the block to be more permanent. If the scarf is extra long it could be cut in half.

    P.S. I'll be making 4 memory quilts this year from my dad's clothing for myself and 3 brothers. I'm going to use the disappearing 9-patch pattern and make them lap size. Too bad he didn't wear scarves so I could try out my idea.
    Last edited by shawnan; 02-25-2012 at 11:14 PM. Reason: to add some info
    Nancy (Go Big Red)
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    and I am filled with joy.

  22. #22
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    Thanks for this thread, it's so full of ideas. I've helped out on a few memory quilts, but I may be attempting my first one by myself for my cousin who lost her son last week. These ideas are very helpful. I'm still trying to decide how I want to do it, and I will also ask the recipient if they have a preference... the only memory quilts I've helped on were tied quilts, not machine or hand quilted.

  23. #23
    Senior Member alisonquilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndiR View Post
    alisonquilts, I wish I could see the photos, but for some reason they're not showing up. Your quilts sound great.
    Sorry about the pics not showing up - I am new to this. I will try again here:
    Name:  queen memory quilt - modified ninepatch.JPG
Views: 1382
Size:  1.12 MBName:  queen memory quilt - strippy.JPG
Views: 284
Size:  32.6 KB

  24. #24
    Super Member jlm5419's Avatar
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    I made two memorial quilts out of t-shirts for 2 kids whose father died of cancer last year. I used lightweight fusible interfacing to stabilize the stretchy shirts, and it worked great. For the scarves, perhaps you could use a foundation of muslin underneath, shirring the scarf for texture.
    jlm5419-an Okie back in Oklahoma!
    http://according-to-ginger.blogspot.com/

  25. #25
    Member CustomMemQlts's Avatar
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    I've been creating custom memorial quilts for several years and now have a website where I've posted some how-to info with more to come. So check out CustomMemorialQuilts.com and let me know if you have any questions.

    As for the scarves, I suggest you stabilize them with Pellon 906F so that you can cut and sew them as you please.

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