Memory Quilts

When I think about the roots of quilting in North America, it is usually connected with making quilts from found cloth gathered from used clothing and gently worn fabric. Quilting today is farther from those roots than ever as many quilters buy fabric only for quilting and often in coordinating pre-packaged kits. So, it was a surprise to me that I said yes to a friend to make some quilts from the clothing from her husband.

And so I found myself with a pile of shirts and no plan of action to turn these into a quilt (or 3). I did a little online research and found a variety of memory quilts, some that I liked and some that I didn't. The first step was to cut the shirts apart so I could cut quilt pieces from them. I used Bonnie Hunter's method that she describes here. Don't you just love the quilts she's made from thrift store shirts? This was a great activity for in front of the TV and in a couple evenings I had the shirts cut up.

I did realize after I had the shirts cut up that a few of them were 100% polyester and they started fraying quite quickly, so I put those aside and didn't use them. Anything that was 100% cotton or a cotton/poly blend was used. There was one really nice red plaid shirt that I made a few pieced heart blocks that I wanted to use in the quilts somewhere.
Pieced Heart Block - instructions here
A few weeks later, I took the cut up shirts to a quilting retreat, still without a real clear plan what I was going to do with them. My sister was at that retreat as well and she was completing a quilt that I really liked and realized right away that this was a perfect pattern for a memory quilt. You can see her quilt here

So, I cut and sewed and slowly, 3 quilt tops emerged from a pile of shirts that hold so many memories for my friend. One was the quilt inspired by my sister's quilt.

Heart border memory quilt
And the other 2 memory quilts are made from 6.5" squares that include the pieced hearts and the fussy cut pockets.
Memory quilt
Memory quilt
Although it took me a while to get started on these memory quilts, I really enjoyed making them! It took me back to the roots of quilting, using fabric that was on hand, and the recycling part of it appeals to me. There will be a few more of these quilts coming out of my sewing room, some with a particular person or memory, and others, just because I love putting together random scraps of fabric!

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  1. I love them...all three! You did an amazing job. I love the use of red and the hearts are perfect.

  2. Your work will be so appreciated and the quilts you have made are really lovely. The hearts are a great feature and I really love the star one - the red border on it is gorgeous.


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