In my shop, I actually make quite a bit of memory quilts. They keep a roof over my head. I usually make them in the rag quilt style. It doesn’t matter what materials I use, all are welcome with those quilts. And the recipients are always so pleased with their purchase.
It’s easy to understand. They now have a quilt made with their child’s clothing that had up until the point they mailed it all to me, was sitting in a box, in a closet, taking up space.
I’ve made them with clothing from loved one’s who have passed, from the first year of clothing from children. I’ve made them with nothing but sorority shirts, with maternity clothes, from sports jerseys. I’ve even made them from baby clothing that was never used because of complications with a birth.
I have listened to stories that have made me cry, made me smile, and made me worry.
With the exception of one quilt last November, I have rarely strayed into making my memory quilts in a more traditional style.
But last week and this week I did just that.
I was asked to make a Swoon quilt with a father’s clothing.
I agreed and because of all the issues that come from making HSTs, I asked my quilt buyer to send me only dress shirts.
I was in luck. She had two boxes worth of men’s dress shirts. If there is a material of clothing that is close to quilting cotton, it’s men’s dress shirts.
Many times when I am quilt making, my mind will wander all over the place. I might be half watching a show. I might be listening to a podcast, or sometimes I’m just thinking of thousand different things at any given time.
When I make a Swoon however, all my blocks at once, I need to concentrate. I need to make sure that I’m chain piecing the building blocks in the correct rotation before I stitch all of them the wrong way. So my mind is not wandering much.
And I wasn’t really thinking much about this quilt besides do it right, do it right.
Maybe it’s because I usually make these quilts in the rag style. Maybe it’s because I really love a good Swoon quilt, but I felt so moved after my piecing was over and I was staring at this quilt top.
This was someone’s father’s shirts. I could easily be making myself one of these some day. This could be my father’s shirts.
A man who is no longer in this world wore these shirts. He might have worn them to work or maybe to church. I do know that he was loved by his daughter.
She wanted to remember him and to not toss his clothing. She wanted to keep it and have it with her in some way and this quilt was the way she chose to do that.
That feels so special and meaningful.
And at the completion of this quilt, I felt so moved by this whole task of mine.
Because of the dress shirts, this quilt has a little bit more of a silkiness to it. There is no silk, but it’s not exactly quilting cotton fabric either.
I quilted with an all over meander, as always. And backed it with this extra wide minky fabric in navy. I bought this several months ago and I was looking around my studio for a quilt to back this quilt with and I’m kinda short on the color blue. I had plenty of aqua, but no blue, and blue felt right for coordinating the quilt top purposes.
So the minky it was.
It was not difficult to quilt. It was a little heavier to move about on my home sewing machine. The minky dot fabric can sometimes be a chore because of those puffy little dots, but this minky is smooth, no puffy dots.
It feels luxurious and I know will bring extra warmth and softness to the one who will use it for snuggling.
For the past month or so, I’ve been binding in nothing but low volume fabrics. I can’t seem to stop and this particular fabric by Art Gallery Fabrics, I’ve used many times as a binding.
When I’m working with a quilt with a lot of white, low volume bindings always feel right to me.
This and a few recent experiences have made me start thinking a lot about the clothing we toss.
I don’t know about you, but I do a purge once a year where I go through all of my clothing and decide what I can live without.
Obviously, there are certain materials that I will always be donating, but some materials I might could save for quilts.
Like pretty floral dresses or a ruffled skirt with a pretty pineapple print.
These items could be quilts, or a tiny part of a quilt.
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