Memory Quilts

Having a sore lower back and being mostly immobile and incapable of much for a week has really cut into my sewing time! sucks!

But if I can’t physically sew I certainly have it on my brain.  Thinking, planning, revisiting….

I think that most quilts evoke memories, for the maker, and the receiver. But some of my most memorable quilts are actual memory quilts. These quilts often have extra time and detail, which only makes them more special to me.

My first quilt teacher M and I made this for a friend S(middle) who had lost her husband.


We used one of L’s dress shirts for frames on all the squares, and one of his ties in the upper left. He was a  lover of bonsai and trees, and that is his ball cap too, dismantled and pieced together flat. Many other details of his life were put in too.

Backed in blue fleece for cuddliness and bound in fabric from L’s dressing robe.

My Niece was all done school, heading off the university, so I collected photos of her life up to that point and printed them onto fabric. Then used a simple strip quilt pattern.


The photos come out pretty well, and only fade slightly with washing.


Again backed in fleece to make it cozy to curl up in.

Now, I make many quilts and gift them away. This next quilt is the first one that has come back to me.  I made this one for my father in law when he turned 80. I spend a lot of time making a list and finding photos of big things in his life. He was a minister and I was able to get something in fabric from many of the churches he was at. Here again I used photos printed onto fabric for his children and families and a few other major moments in his life.


He spent many summers driving the family across the prairies in the blue station wagon. I was able to include his love of music and popcorn and a few other things.  After he passed away last October, it was decided that this quilt would come back to our house so my family could still wrap up in memories of grandpa.

Some years ago a friend of a neighbour of a friend approached me.  C’s mother had made her a quilt as a baby. Now C was pregnant, but her mother had passed away.  So I was commissioned to replicate the old quilt for a new baby boy.


Old on the left, new on the right.  C helped to pick the fabric to match her planned colour scheme.  This was all cut from a parchment paper template I made, and appliqued onto the background fabric. Then turned right side out and finished like a pillowcase.

C must have liked it well enough, because a few years later she had me make another one:)


Part of the pleasure of making quilts for others is making them a treasure to use and love.  I think these quilts certainly succeed.


I won!

Every month at Modern Quilt Guild Victoria there is a modern quilt block demonstrated and instructions and a colour palette given.   You can choose to make 1, 2, 10 or as many as you want, or none. At the next months meeting you bring in the block(s) you have made.  For each block, you get a ticket.  At the end of the evening one ticket is drawn and the winner gets all the blocks made, ready to put together for a quilt top.  In November I won!  I don’t often win things, so I was probably more excited than was appropriate, but oh well, a little joie de vive.

This is the stack of blocks I got020.JPG

Not my usual go to colours, but very fun.

I played a bit with layout and decided I needed some complimentary blocks


And then it was time to put it all together.  Trying to get all the white strips to line up was tricky and I am bad about cutting first, and then needing to do over. So there was a bit of stitch ripping and redoing.  Mostly it all came together well with precise pinning.

And then the quilting…hmm. didn’t want to be predictable and do geometric, so I fell back on long ago days of calligraphy (thanks mom for having us take lessons!) and the back and forth loopy flow worked very well. I rarely use contrasting thread, but felt there needed to be visible detail in the black squares.



And for the back I finally used that cool fabric I bought at Ikea many years ago!


I have done very few square quilts (rectangle is my go to) but after hearing Cheryl Arkinson speak at one of our guild meetings, I decided to do it. Funny how such a basic thing just never occurred to me. Love it.