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Memory quilt

Old 12-02-2015, 02:18 PM
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Default Memory quilt

Someone asked me if I could make them a baby quilt using their kids' old clothes. I've never done anything like that but it sounds like fun. Has anyone done this and are there any suggestions?
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:41 PM
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Get an estimate on how much you are going to be paid for background fabric, batting and backing. Unless it's for family, the costs really add up.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
Get an estimate on how much you are going to be paid for background fabric, batting and backing. Unless it's for family, the costs really add up.
Great advice. And consider your time. I've made several, and cutting up those clothes is nothing like cutting a nice, even piece of fabric. There's a LOT of fussy cutting and stabilizing any knits with interfacing. Cutting and preparing all those clothing articles can take hours....
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Old 12-02-2015, 06:14 PM
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I made a memory quilt for my employer's wife. Her dad passed away & she wanted to know if I would make a quilt from his old shirts & hankies. I was going to ask her if I could make one for her but she asked me before I got the chance to ask first. He was from Indiana so I made the Indiana Puzzle block & it turned out very nice. It was the most rewarding quilt I've ever made. He was a very dear friend & I did not charge her anything for the quilt. I made the label from one of his hankies & sewed one of the button shirt pockets on the back of the quilt to store the label inside. Her love & gratitude for the quilt was enough to last me a lifetime.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:25 PM
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Look at the clothes involved before committing to anything. I mean actually look at them, not pictures of them or descriptions of them. On top of that, if they are very stretchy or worn, you will need to stabilize them. That often takes more time than anything & isn't particularly fun to sew through. You also want to note the fiber content. If they are all similar fibers, it's not terrible. If they want knits mixed in with satin or velvet or rayon & such, it starts getting much more complicated.

After you've decided if it's worth taking on at all, add up the cost of everything -- not just the basics, but the cost of things you "just use a little of" like needles, thread, laundry detergent, markers, starch/sizing, electricity, wear & tear on your machine, and so forth. Then, do your best to come up with an honest estimate of how long it will take you to do every single step of construction. For me, that's: pre-wash, iron, stabilize as needed, cut, pin, piece & add on borders, mark quilting design on quilt top, layer & pin baste, quilt, bind, add label, wash twice & dry. If you're going to have to buy the stuff, remember it does take time & gas to go shopping ... and if you're "just using stuff from your stash", I would still charge at least 50% of what you originally paid because it still isn't free. Honestly, it depends on the market you're in. Some markets support making $10-12/hour for your time. In other ones, you'll be lucky to get $2/hour. I usually encourage people to charge a livable wage, but at least you don't live in the Midwest (by me) so if you want to work for the wages of someone in a third world country, go for it. Just know what you're getting into before you start.

As you can probably tell, I learned these lessons the hard way. Spent 50 hours on a quilt that I got $50 for (not even when you consider costs of thread & other such "small" items). Usually, on an applique quilt that I spent 50 hours on, I'd make $175-200 (that's my pay after I've taken care of all my costs) so I was just devastated that this "simple little quilt" that I thought was going to be some easy money turned out to be a financial disaster. The fabric wasn't "like new cotton" as I was promised, but hole-riddled poly-cotton that was nearly thread bare. The client did buy the main materials (border fabric, backing & binding, plus batting), but there were all those other little costs & way more time than I would have ever thought. But as I said, if it's all t-shirts that are in pretty good condition, it wouldn't be nearly so bad. Just make sure you're going into it with eyes wide open.
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Old 12-03-2015, 05:25 AM
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Tread carefully. If you are not familiar with how long it will take and cost, you can get yourself in a corner. People who are not a crafter, they have no sense of the time it takes to make items.
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:51 PM
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I have made several memory quilts out of clothing. I never charge for them as I always ask if I could make one for them. This is a passion of mine. It can get complicated at time with all the different fabrics, but I do love the challenge. I am working on two at this moment. I do always let them know that it will take time to complete the quilts. They all have loved them dearly as there is never two alike.
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Old 12-04-2015, 09:06 PM
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I have also made several memory quilts and I do not charge for them. I have offered to make every one of them. I just finished 3 (2 T-Shirt and 1 from woven shirts). All turned out nice and have received a gift certificate from the family and a thank you and just recently a follow-up e-mail. I love doing them and all have been appreciated. I am working on the 4th at this time for a 14 year old boy who lost his father last year. My offer and am not sorry as his father was a good friend and I had known him for over 20 years and was one of the first to hold his son when he was born. No way would I charge for this one. That is just me. But everyone has to do what is best for them.
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Old 12-04-2015, 10:02 PM
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I've never charged either, lots of stabilizer!! Some clothes may have to be appliques on they do take some time but I've found they are the most treasured and appreciated of all the quilts I've done and given away
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