Archive for the ‘Memory Quilts 2011’ Category

Jack-o'-lantern and Bee

I have not always been a quilter or even a seamstress, but when I was young, I was always crafting something.  I loved to design and create plans, and then I enjoyed seeing those plans come to life. I was not a fan of investing a lot of time in any one thing, so a lot of tedious hand sewing is something I tried to steer clear of. I did not get bitten with the sewing bug until my college days. My mother bought me a sewing machine when I moved away from home—an electric one. I wonder if she knew how much of a gift she gave me, but I wish I had taken my Singer treadle one with me, too. I enrolled in a sewing tips course while I was working on my master’s degree though I could already sew. Our teacher taught us how to make things she sold in shows and exhibits. She shared with us abundant tricks of the trade. The variety of things I made helped to spark my creative talent in sewing and kept alive a spirit in other things, too. I owe this lady so much.

Ghost and Clown

I have been going through some of our early photos with the girls and found some things I want to share. I only hope they will forgive me. I love making costumes. The thought of becoming someone else is magical to me, and  I still enjoy creating my own patterns. I don’t go for the scary or the occult at Halloween, but we have allowed our children to trick-or-treat because it has been a good way to get out and visit with our neighbors. We moved into our house before my youngest could walk so she stayed home her first year. Her costume was a fuzzy one piece outfit (with hood). I sewed ears on it along with a small tail. I could not find a photo of her in it, but she basically spent the night crawling back and forth on the front porch while I sat outside giving out candy.

The jack-o’-lantern costume was used by my oldest for 2 years since I made it a little big. The above photo was taken on the second go-round. The bee or yellow jacket is my youngest daughter. I hated that I had to buy fairy wings to use, but I painted them and they worked just fine.

Lil' Miss Muffet

There have been many costumes over the years but these are a few of the earlier ones…–Ghost (a story here) and Clown(multi-colored mop hair)—Little Miss Muffet (complete with spider)—Little Red Riding Hood—50s Era outfit (poodle skirt)—and Pink Bunny Rabbit. The ghost looks more like a zombie (which I’m totally against). I didn’t want her sight to be obstructed. I wasn’t very happy how this one turned out. The rabbit outfit (below) was made from one-piece pj’s that I cut the feet out and added a big white tail.

Lil' Red Riding Hood

Some that are not here are a Hershey Bar, Pikachu (I was very proud of that one), a raccoon, a kitty, a witch, an 80s pop star, and others I don’t remember. Perhaps I will show some of them when I get to those photos. By the way, these are not digital ones, so they do not show up as well.

50's Era and Bunny

About the poodle skirt:  It was made from material that had little white sheep on it. After purchasing it, I put it on my sewing machine which at the time was in our bedroom, and one night after the lights were off I looked over to see all of these glowing spots. It scared me so bad! Each sheep glowed after being exposed to light, so I thought it would be good for a costume.

I want to include pieces of these costumes (or scraps) in the memory quilts, but I have to find some of the costumes that have been packed away. The trick now is to keep everything together until I can start on the quilts. I had planned to have the tops finished by now, but with all of the things that have happened this year I am glad that we are doing as well as we are.

There are more things to come as I take a trip back in time. And, if you are wondering what the bunny is doing over there in the photo, that is my youngest. She would dance and sing all of the time. She got caught in the action. Did you check out that bunny tail?

Take care and Happy Gardening!



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Album or Chimney Sweep Pattern

Memory quilts with names embroidered in the center of each block is a great way to grab hold of special memories. Many people use a pattern called an album block, but there is no agreed single pattern for an album quilt pattern. The idea is to create a frame of some sorts that will surround each name. The pattern shown here is a popular one referred to as an album block or chimney sweep block, but there are other options. 


Memory Quilt


As you can see this pattern is not the usual album type. This is another quilt top that was passed on to me. It dates back to 60 years ago. I am unsure of the name of this pattern, but there are 12 star-points with square blocks on point. It resembles a type of starburst. The names on the quilt are from a group of students in eighth grade. Some are still alive-one is my friend’s husband, so I want to finish this “as is” but I need to hurry up and do it SOON!


Have you made an album quilt with embroidered names or possibly using another pattern?

Happy Gardening! May you continue to make memories along the path of life!


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I have been sewing by machine since I was a teenager-learning on my grandmother’s treadle machine after she had passed away (See Sewing, Quilting, & Recycling – Part 1 [22 JUN 2010]). It made the most beautiful stitches. Boy, do I miss that baby! Of course it was one of things stolen from our country home. When I moved out my own (about 30 years ago), my mom gave me a new machine, and it’s the same trusty machine I use today. I have thought about getting a new one, but I plan on using this one for as long as I can keep it going. It’s been very trustworthy and is an extension of me.

My interest in sewing was peaked when I took sewing/crafting classes not long after I got my new machine. They proved to be invaluable because I was challenged in areas outside of my comfort zone. Later, I made so many things for the girls when they were little-mostly because I had to but later because I really enjoyed creating and designing things. As my children outgrew their clothes, I put things to the side including scraps from some of the dresses and other things I made for them. I remember the joy my mother had making things for me. I guess that played a big part in my desire to continue that tradition.

Some of the dresses I made for my daughters years ago

It is these things and others that I want to use in my memory quilting project for my girls. I am designing a quilt for each girl so that they will have a part of their childhood to keep. I don’t want the quilts to be very large so they can display them on a wall or can store them away. The first thing I set out to do was to find all of the clothes and scraps I wanted to use. I could only locate the dresses at first and thought I would have to cut them up 😦 but I found the mother lode a few weeks ago :). What a relief! The photo above was taken when I first started this back in JAN-before I found the rest of the clothes and things.

I am not exactly sure what designs or patterns I want to use but possibly a block format having a different color and/or activity theme for each block. Sashing can be new material or made from their clothes or scraps. The batting will be polyester or a poly mix because it hangs better. As the project continues to take shape I will post ideas and progress. This is a long term project and will not be accomplished in a week or two. It is a journey that will progress as times goes along. The goal is to have the quilts finished by Christmas (this one)-at least I want the tops pieced together. And, the gifts are not just the quilts themselves but the whole process of getting to my finished goal. My memory quilt postings will be printed and given with the quilts. Just like life, this memory quilt project really is a journey and a gift of love made from things that were made originally out of my love for them to begin with (sniff) :).

Happy Gardening and may you have the opportunity to keep your special memories alive for the future.


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What does Alzheimer’s have to do with my memory quilt project? Memory quilts are usually designed for remembering and celebrating the past, some even give hope for the future (wedding quilts for example). We can also use memory quilts to help others remember the past along with the present – and not just for those with Alzheimer’s. There are people who suffer from other memory problems, too. Many times, old memories may come to the forefront while recent ones seem to vanish almost in an instant. I know what this is like. No amount of prodding or coaxing is going to bring those memories back at every command. Using photos of family including recent photos (updating as time passes) with individuals’ names marked clearly have been known to help in recalling people, but there will come a time when nothing will help keep those memories alive. However, helping a loved one, family member, or friend to hold on to those memories for as long as possibe could be the greatest gift one can give.

There are products on the market that will help you transfer photos to fabric in order give a progression of one’s life-be sure to label with names and dates. An updated photo of the family or group with the individual included may help the individual remember-be sure to label names and keep the photos available so the loved one can see it. Here’s where my little project comes in… Making a fabric photo frame on the bottom corner of the memory quilt will allow the person to see it daily-so long as the memory quilt can be hung near the person. An example is shown below. You may use a type of ‘plastic,’ to protect the photo-just be sure it is archival safe-the ‘plastic’ and photo can be removed for storage. 

Fabric frame that can be added to memory quilt

Sewing lines

This is just an example-use your imagination and own creativeness. I used two layers of fabric. I recommend adding interfacing especially to thinner fabrics. The yellow lines denote where the frame was sewn to the quilt top and the orange ones are where I sewed the two fabrics together. I finished the opening edge before I sewed it to the quilt (important). I suggest not making the frame very small because you can always add a piece of card stock to hold the photo like what you see here. I used an old piece of painting acetate I had around the house, but you really need an archival-safe product. You can even put a design under the frame so that a photo is not always needed to enjoy the quilt.

My husband’s friend who died last month had Alzheimer’s. Something odd – the friend would recognize my husband and know his name every time he visited though the judge could not recall his family. We watched as his family slowly lost a man who had been so full of life; a man who never had one bad word to say about another deteriorated into almost nothing. His wife for more than 60 years was always at his side-they were never apart except for his time in the service. It broke my heart to see this knowing what lay ahead and seeing her say her last goodbye.

This is happening all around us, and many younger people are developing Alzheimer’s and other memory loss illnesses, too. As we age, most of us will suffer some type of memory loss-not necessarily from Alzheimer’s. We need to do all we can for others. Maybe there is someone in your life you can help. If not, I encourage you to visit the Alzheimer’s link here and the quilting one of the side of the page. I encourage us all to get involved in helping others.

Happy Gardening and may all of your memories be special!

Note:  Sorry for the delay of this posting. Maybe this will spark some creative minds out there.


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T-shirts have become such a medium of advertisement, even a part of our identity. So, what can you do with a t-shirt besides holding on to it forever or getting rid of it? What about a quilt? T-shirt quilts are very popular today. It is a way to combine physical memories of significant times and events such as concerts, sports and organizational activities, along with a multitude of other types of t-shirts. One can display sentimental memories in one place making room in drawers and storage boxes 🙂 – I could use the extra room. The truth – I made the mistake of putting one of my hubby’s worn out high school t-shirts (it had holes in it) in the “rag” pile years ago. Ok, I didn’t do it twice. A t-shirt quilt may not be traditional, but that’s ok because it may spark the younger generation to take an interest in quilting. You can find helpful info in books and on the web (including wordpress blogs), but here are a few things you may want to consider…

If you want the quilt to last, think about how fragile the t-shirts are. If it is a quilt that will be washed and used a good bit, you may want to refrain from using older t-shirts that may wear quickly or ones that have become thin. The same goes for the printing. However, if the shirts are pretty tough, then by all means use them in a quilt that will be used regularly, but sometimes people would rather save the memories in the shirts and not really use it as a quilt. That’s fine, too. You can always display the quilt on a wall. Did you know that hung quilts can help absorb sound vibrations?

Just like other types of quilting, you do not have to follow any set pattern-it’s your design, but you need to have a clear idea before you begin cutting. Draw out a design first, and don’t forget seam allowances. Many people add sashing (borders) between blocks. This frames each t-shirt helping it to stand out. The sashing can be complementary material or a themed print or something different. Some use UP-cycled jeans or denim giving the quilt that special look. Most t-shirt quilts use only part of the shirt front where the printing is, but some t-shirts have printing on the back. You’ll want to use this side, too, but you have to decide how much or how little to use of each shirt. Perhaps you have an abundance of shirts and may only want to use insignias or logos or such. You can combine a few of these to make a block. The remaining part of the shirts can be used to add borders or may be added to the back of the quilt-you decide.

Be sure to wash the shirts first-I know common sense, right? And, if using cotton material for any other part of the quilt-including denim, be sure to launder first. You do not want the quilt to shrink or bleed after assembly. It may be a good idea to back each shirt with a lightweight fusible interfacing (some are made for knits), but be CAREFUL! Many t-shirts cannot be ironed over the printing. Check to be sure by testing a very small place and follow instructions closely. Interfacing adds stability and helps with seam curling. Machine piecing rather than hand piecing the shirts is a good idea, too. And, if you do not interface the shirts, make sure NOT to pull the shirts through the machine when piecing (stretchy fabric). Oh, and if you use jeans/denim, be sure to have the right size needle and proper thread. Here is an example of a lovely t-shirt quilt: http://treacleandinketsy.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/keeping-the-memories/

The backing can coordinate with the front sashing or something else. Consider how heavy the backing material is and how much it will add to the quilt. A thick all-denim back may make the quilt too heavy, and consider the finished size of the quilt. Also, consider the washing machine of the receiver of the quilt. You don’t want to make something and then find out it cannot be easily washed. As far as batting goes, use something that will not shrink-a poly batting is good. Many t-shirt quilts are quilted “in the ditch” – along the seams. Just make sure that the seams are NOT pressed open-press seam to one side-and this will help to secure the shirts to the backing adding life to the quilt. Binding-I tend not to bind this type of quilt (oh, horrors, right). You can bind traditionally, or you can sew the backing to the front (right sides together plus batting) leaving a hole large enough to pull it through (before quilting) then stitch the hole closed. Just be sure to trim the excess batting first. It is all up to what one wants.

These are just a few things to think about when starting out. No matter what t-shirts you use, this is a good way to save those memories without throwing them away. We need to try different things once in a while. Maybe we all need our own t-shirt quilt.

Note:  Part 2 of “Helping to Remember” will be posted at a later date.

Happy Gardening and happy memories!


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Part 1

For the most part, memory quilts serve as reminders of the past, but for those of us with memory problems or for someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, memory quilts can help to do much more. Alzheimer’s, a disease that is not completely understood, is devastating to family and friends but it especially hard on the individual. Imagine losing treasured memories including recognition of loved ones and the simplest of activities having only shadows of the past fading in and out until they are not even a distant memory. As part of my ongoing blog about my memory quilt project I want to draw attention to this dreaded disease and give you some links to a growing initiative. I am new to these efforts, but I feel they are worthwhile. Just because our bodies may be able to live longer doesn’t mean that our minds are disease-free. Please check out the Alzheimer’s Association at http://www.alz.org/index.asp. There is a lot of information about the disease, how to deal with the disease like how to better care for someone after they have been diagnosed, when to see a doctor, and so many other things. I urge you to check out the website even or especially if you and everyone in your family are extremely healthy and seemingly Alzheimer’s-free.

There is a project that is in the works called the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)    http://www.alzquilts.org    which is all about raising awareness while helping to fund research through art (link is also in the sidebar). Small quilts are made and donated to be sold; some are auctioned off. For a quilter, this may seem easy enough, but for each quilt made there needs to be a buyer. The whole idea is to raise money for research and to draw more attention to this dreaded disease. I encourage you to get friends and family involved by purchasing some of these special quilts. They are small, but they mean so much. Then spread the word and get others involved in making some of these memorable quilts. If you do not know someone with Alzheimer’s now, I bet you know someone who knows someone. Here is a blog with more information:  http://aaqiupdate.wordpress.com   Part 2 of this post includes an idea for a memory quilt wall hanging.

Take care and Happy Gardening!


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So many memory quilts are intertwined pieces of long ago. These are probably my favorites. They are true memory quilts. For instance, say granny is about to celebrate her 70th or 80th (or any number actually) birthday. She may have daughters (sons and grandchildren, too) who want to memorialize (honor) her life with items or pieces of items she has sewn (crocheted, knitted, tatted, embroidered, etc). They can be included in the quilt. Another idea is to use photos that can be transferred to fabric and sewn into a quilt to tell a story of granny’s life with written remarks, traditions, and beliefs. What a treasure!




Here are some mementos I have put away. My paternal grandmother and great aunt loved to crochet, tat, and embroider. They made lace for hankies, doilies, bookmarks, etc. The crochet needle (shown) belonged to my grandmother, and the pins belonged to my parents.

These same techniques of assembling a memory quilt can be used to tell a story of someone who has passed away, too, even couples or say a family. I think this is a wonderful way to remember ancestors who have passed on, but do not forget to include the stories that they shared. In the process of making a memory quilt, you are contributing to making new memories that can be handed down to the next generation. Gathering family together to make a memory quilt may help in the healing process of grief from a loved one. Anything that involves getting together to remember good things and happy times, but be sure to shut the door on any sibling rivalry. Also remember that we each process grief differently. Grief healing is a process. We really do not overcome grief, but we learn to better deal with the pain of losing loved ones. Remembering the positive of people’s lives helps us do just that. We are better able to put the focus on someone and/or somewhere else for a minute rather than thinking about our lives without them. I just think this is a great way to remember family that has passed away.

Just a note:  If a memory quilt is made in memory of someone and there is more than one descendant (more than one direct child), then more quilts may be needed so that each sibling can pass a quilt down to their children (no squabbling over who gets THE Quilt later on-at least for a generation). And, do not forget about the male siblings. The men in the family may not be interested in quilting, but that’s not to say that his offspring won’t be or even his wife. It may be hard to find enough memorabilia to include for everyone to use, but using older techniques with newer material (if older material cannot be secured) is one way to tackle this. It is up to the person(s) on what they want to do. There are so many possibilities, so be creative. Whatever happens, we need to focus on the celebration of life and lives!

Next memory quilt posting:  Helping to Remember

Happy Gardening in the Quilt of Life!


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There are several types of memory quilts and just like crazy quilting there are no set rules one must follow-REALLY-I’m serious! One can look at quilting as being a medium of art, but it is so much more. To many people, a quilt serves as a necessity and not a luxury. To others, it is a palette of color, a geometric display, a landscape, still life, or something else totally. It’s quite different than a drawing or a painting, but the finished product is a canvas (literally) that displays what the artist desires. There are designs and patterns from which to choose, but the artist/quilter does not have to follow these. Remember that we cannot confine ourselves to only a set way of doing things. Creativity is important in all aspects of art.

One type of memory quilt is called a friendship quilt. Perhaps someone is moving away, retiring from a job, or leaving a designated group. Friends may want to make this person a quilt so the individual can remember the group and the times they have shared. There is no limit to what can be done including adding names, photos, and mementos of past times together. This type of quilt can also be assembled as a thank-you gift for a job or service, or it can be used to raise donations. In the book I have, Memory Quilts in the Making (Leisure Arts), there is a lovely fan quilt that was put together to raise money for a church charity.

                                     Leisure Arts Presents Memory Quilts in the Making

For each donation, businesses or individuals could have their name stitched in a block; think – fabric advertisements. The quilt was later auctioned off to raise even more money. What a great idea to make a quilt that can be displayed for a period of time (perhaps 3-6 months or more) so that all will see it, and then auction it off after the allotted time. Today, we are more apt to buy inscribed blocks/bricks or leaves of gold, silver, etc or other things that are more concrete. I like the quilt idea especially with a church because names are not sprawled everywhere on the building, but I’m peculiar like that.

Next memory quilt posting:  Honoring and Remembering.

Happy Gardening!


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