Memory Quilting: Telling a Story

One question I am often asked by non-quilters is "Can you make a quilt with any fabric?" The answer is yes - but it can be more difficult to make.

I made a memory quilt earlier this year, primarily from baby and toddler clothes for a friend, and one of their friends was referred to me to make a quilt.

simple layout for a memory quilt

When contacted, the client told me there were lots of neutral clothes, and one special piece for the centre square. They wanted squares and simple quilting to make the clothing the focus of this memory quilt.

I sketched 3 different layout options, and the client chose the one with 6 inch squares surrounding a larger centre block.

the evolution of design

Here you can see the original design I drew, alongside the final (to scale) layout. I added a second large square to showcase the logo of the 1987 Ontario Winter Games, and a rectangular block for the beautiful back yoke from an embroidered western style shirt. These two additions required another row to be added, but I think the quilt is a much better finished size now too.

I did all the design long distance, sending the sketches to the client by text message. We scheduled a meet for me to pick up the fabric, and I brought along a selection of fabrics from my stash to choose a binding from.

centre square featuring my free motion skills

This quilt really tells the story of the woman who owned these clothes. The family owned a local restaurant/store, and the centre square is a sweatshirt featuring the store logo. Unfortunately, there was a grease stain on the fabric - so  I decided to mask it by stitching a large beehive over top. The restaurant was called The Busy Bee, so the hive seemed a logical choice. I then asked the client how many children the family had, and sewed a bee for each child.

quilt back - fluffy fleece blanket with simple in the ditch quilting

Most of the fabrics in this quilt would have been difficult to work with as is. Many were knits, some were very thick wool sweaters, some slippery dress shirts, a lace curtain, and the back fabric was a fluffy fleece throw blanket.

I used pellon interfacing on all fabric but the purple sweatshirt. It took an extra 1.5 hours of ironing to secure the interfacing to such thick fabrics, but the quilt construction went very smoothly so it was worth every minute at the ironing board :)

applying the binding

I have a good-sized fabric stash, so it was pretty easy to find a fabric to bind with :)

We chose this blue/brown multi-stripe from Connecting Threads. It was in their Quilter's Basics line when I bought it, but I've had it for a year and a half now, so it might not be available any longer.

the finished memory quilt

And this is the finished quilt. I rather like the chocolate brown corduroy frame around the centre square. The lace curtain pieces really work layered over a butter yellow t-shirt. The embroidered yokes from the western shirt stand out next to all the textured fabrics, but I think every person has bits of dramatic flair and their quilt should as well :)

Of course, the centre block is my favourite part. I'm glad I spent a few days drawing in my mind the free motion design. I did thew quilting on this block in 15 minutes!!

This quilt is a gift for a family member, so I cut some squares for the client to write labels and I stitched them onto opposite corners on the back.

The client loves this memory quilt, and I am happy to have made it for them :)

Linking up today with Link a Finish and Creative Goodness link parties.

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