Archive for the ‘Memory Quilts’ 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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From long ago

Churn Dash quilt made by my grandmother and great-aunt

In my searching for items to be included in the memory quilt projects I decided to pull out the other two old quilts I have that came from the old farm. It’s been ages since these have been unfolded-I know that’s bad. One is a churn dash pattern. It has some stains that I cannot get out but is in good shape otherwise. Most of the blocks were carefully cut and pieced “correctly” but it appears the maker(s) must have run out of pieces and had to make do with what they had. This quilt will fit a full size bed. It doesn’t have a border-just sashing which appears to have come from one piece of material with a border of people- outside sashing on one side.

I assume this was meant to be the top, maybe?


Then there was this surprise…

Do you notice what’s out of place? I can’t ask anyone about it, but it seems odd that the block wasn’t taken apart and re-sewn especially since it is at the corner of the quilt. Nothing is perfect in life so why should quilting be any different? I had planned to hang this quilt on the big stairwell wall in our house, but there is too much afternoon sun.

"Crazy" pieced quilt by GM & GA

The other quilt has some holes but cannot be repaired without losing the character of the quilt. The character is why I kept it. It is not traditional, but it is block style-looks almost like a crazy quilt without the embroidery or extra details or embellishments. Pieces seem to have been sewn together to make the blocks. It is twin size but may have been used on the sofa at the old farmhouse. There is an interesting color variation between the blues, browns, and red, and it looks darker than these photos.

My mom had most of the things from the old farmhouse stored in our house in the country. I was on my own by then living a few hours away. She had gotten an apartment in town but would make trips back and forth to stay in the country. Sometime while she was in town, someone broke in and stole all of the antiques that had been handed down from both sides of the families-what had not gone with her. They almost destroyed everything else, and if it wasn’t chained down they took it…even giant rocks were taken (you never know). I went to salvage what I could, but very little was left. A wardrobe (not an antique at the time) was there with the quilts inside under some bed sheets. I had to throw one quilt away-broke my heart. Little varmints had shredded it to pieces. That was long ago, but today I have 3 quilts that I can pass on to the next generation. I am pretty sure they were made before 1950 but exactly when is a question I cannot answer. I thought I would share some of the hand quilting passed down in the family. Happy Gardening!


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Sad news came again today. My husband’s friend who has been in the nursing home just recently because of his advanced stages of Alzheimer’s died this morning. It’s been another wild week-things don’t happen that you expect and things happen that you don’t expect. Part of the memory quilt postings (some that I have yet to post) have to do with this friend. Death is never easy to ‘digest’ even when we know it is coming, but we must celebrate the memories of the past, his life, and realize that he is not in pain anymore.

This friend was a judge. He was still active at over 80 years of age, and his wife was at his side until the very last. My husband would pick him up and take him to the jail to do hearings and then take him back home—that was before the judge retired not long ago. Other judges made the city transport the inmates to the courthouse and back rather than they visit the jail, but that’s another story. The two grew close – almost a dad and son relationship, so this is difficult. If you are a spiritual person, I ask for a prayer for the judge’s family. Even to the last, this friend recognized my husband when he didn’t recognize his family. We knew this was coming, but it hurts just the same.

On a happier note, we are the proud owners of a kitty. We didn’t get him until this morning, but he is adjusting nicely. Everyone liked this one the best, so he is our newest member of our family. Photos will be posted at a later date.

Happy Gardening and please tell your friends and family how much they mean to you. Thank you!


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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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FOREVER; what does it mean? To a child, forever is a lifetime-all the way to next week or next year. To a teenager, forever can mean being grounded until they reach 16 or maybe even 21. To a couple in love, forever can mean spending an eternity together-for the rest of their lives. To a married couple of 20 years, forever means they are almost half way there. And, for a married couple of 50 years forever means that they have already spent an eternity together.

Today, forever does not mean much. A life sentence for murder without special circumstance means forever is usually 20 years or less. To a couple marrying for the first time, forever is a long time, but too often forever lasts about 6 years; more if they are lucky and so often it is even less. But, does luck have anything to do with forever? Is forever only a state of mind? Forever can be a long time if one is not happy. On the other hand, if one is content with life and his or her situation, forever can fly by without realizing it.

Forever and commitment. We cannot get very far down the road of life without commitment(s). Today, a couple who is just getting married is likely to give up and throw in the towel when things get rough rather than stay together, or it seems that way. I’m not saying divorce is wrong in all situations. I just think we enter into relationships without making commitments. We want to leave the door unlatched so we can make a quick escape. Since there is nothing there to stop us, we let things go too easily.

Maybe it’s because commitment scares people. Even before marriage vows are exchanged, young people today are more interested in “hooking up” or having “one-nighters” – you know what I’m talking about. We have become so enthralled with the moment-searching for what makes us feel good-that we opt out of the long-haul or sometimes even a casual relationship. “One-nighters” really means a person is out for oneself, whereas, commitment is for two people. Couples will not last if they are selfish and are only in it for him or herself (one or the other; or both separately). In other words, forever in love will never happen unless someone allows the other to be first. This is called selfLESS love. Afterall, that’s what commitment is all about, isn’t it?

-Please note the Alzheimer’s Quilt Initiative link to the right –>                                I will explain more next week as it ties in with memory quilts.

Happy Gardening in your relationships of life!


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Last week was one crazy week. It began Sunday a week ago when a friend brought me several little batches of material she was getting rid of. Some were projects in progress or UFOs (un-finished objects) – most were just cutouts that had not been sewn. Most of the designs are not produced any more. There are some beautiful pieces in these batches. I’m not sure what I will do with them, but I think I can find (or have) material that will coordinate (cross your fingers that I have it on hand!). I’m not sure how this will fit into my plans for the coming months, but then on Friday another friend gave me some quilt tops she had not finished long ago and some rolls of decorator fabric. Wow! What nice friends! I still need to decide what I will do with everything. Here’s a glance at the material from the first friend.

If I’m going to give the finished projects to the church to sell for restoration, then it needs to be something other than a big quilt – it will take too long to hand quilt. Some thoughts for the fan cuts could be pillows, placemats :(, lap quilt, etc. I’ll tell more about the quilt tops and rolled fabric at a later time. Right now, I need to focus on my appliqué project. I’m really excited about this! I wanted to post photos, but they did not come out that well. I have the first petal sewn but need to go back and recut the white part of the petals. I just do not like the way it looks because I used an old piece of muslin-remember that I was just doing a dry run but then decided to finish the project. I really like it, but I hope others will, too. I’m not sure how I will finish it. It could be a big pillow, but I’m not crazy about that idea – yet. I’m toying with the idea of a lap quilt that can be hung if desired. The second idea will probably win out. Depending on how well this turns out and how it is received (remember the lady who thought my crazy quilts were potholders), I want to make a larger flower quilt, but I need to finish designing the block patterns.

It’s cold today, but no snow 😦 or ice 🙂 is predicted like it could have been. I think most people have had their fill after we had the ice on top of the snow last time. Most people I know are ready for spring. As for gardening and plants, there was a time I could grow anything (got that from my dad), bring it back to life, etc. Now, I’m having trouble keeping things alive since I keep it so cold in the house. My poinsettia from 2009 is looking rather ragged and the rose bush my hubby gave me for our anniversary has dropped all of its leaves. On the up side, there is new growth on the little rose bush, so maybe there is hope… 🙂

Happy gardening in all parts of your lives!


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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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Ok, I am paving a new road for my crafting ideas. Yes, I know I gave a list of what is was planned, but I am now starting down a different path – an unexplored road in a way. I admit that the memory quilt project has really changed the way I look at things. I feel that I am at another crossroads in life, but I’m not sure that I moved out of the intersection last year :).  We all need purpose in our lives, and we need to share our purpose and fruits with others. Anyway, I stopped sewing just before Christmas and could not find the motivation to get going again. During the time away, I have been working on some family genealogy things – it is really hard to juggle too many things. Creating things (sewing, quilting, and other arts and craft things) defines me – genealogy or family history helps me to understand who I am or at least from whom I came. I’m not one of those people who has to have a family tree chart that shows I am connected to a million people. I search to know the individual, his/her obstacles, and his/her successes and triumphs. I have been doing this for more than several years, more than a decade or so, actually. I not only want to remember the past but I want to tie it together with the present and the future. Does that make any sense? I think that is why the memory quilting project has endeared me so. 

New ideas for my sewing projects are being hammered out. This is a change from what I was planning even a week ago. I do not need more material – repeat after me, “I do not need more material!” I can recite this all day, but I broke down and had to make a visit to the cloth store – everyone knew that was coming, right? I spent my profits from my mini quilts (that I will not receive until the end of the month). Eeeeek! Why? Why do I feel that I need more material other than there was a sale? I have a new vision. I do not do a lot of appliqué work – in fact I do very little – almost none at all, but I just designed a quilt block using a purple crocus for a model. I love flowers, so I have picked out some material that I REALLY need (?) and am ready to go. I just hope this turns out like I see it in my head. I plan to post pics of the work as I go. Here are some of the colors and materials I will be using: 

I am also sketching blocks for a birdhouse quilt…and a Sunbonnet Sue quilt…, but they are being pushed to the side for awhile. Then there is an Alzheimer’s memory quilt design I have started. I will blog more about this in later postings, but for those of you who know me, you know that I suffer from a disability that has some of the same effects as Alzheimer’s. In some ways, my disability is worse and in some ways it is not as bad, if that makes any sense. I am not comfortable discussing it openly but have been “afflicted” (such an awful sounding word!) since I was young with more manifestations (not a great word either) in recent years. Whatever ailment that can eat away at the mind is detrimental to one’s very being. Other people do not understand what they cannot see especially if they have never experienced a loved one suffering from such diseases and disabilities. This is really hard on the person who is suffering. I could blog just on diseases like this alone, but I want to draw attention to the people – who they are – not names and faces per se, but their importance in life as individuals. Everyone deserves to be honored and remembered; well that’s the way I see it.

Unless you walk in the shoes of others you will never know what they face.

This is true no matter what struggles one faces, and we all have struggles of one kind or another. So, in short, I am on a new journey, one that is not definitive. It is a little scary, but I need this. It’s time. 

Happy Gardening and may we all take time to walk in the shoes of others so that we may understand each other better!


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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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