Keepsake Quilting: Preserve Memories With Fabric

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Quilting | Comments


In a way, all quilts are heirlooms and reminders of the hands that made them. With the many hours, days, weeks and even years that go into completing quilting projects, from design to creation, it’s worth recognizing that a quilt is not just something to cover up with on a chilly evening — it’s inevitably so much more!

Today, we’re taking a look at special keepsake quilting projects that go that extra mile to capture and celebrate memories or events in one’s life.

Also known as memory quilts, these projects help you treasure important moments and mark the milestones in your life and the lives of those around you.

White Quilt with Embroidery and Colorful Patterned Blocks

Kim at My Go-Go Life created this stunning keepsake quilting project as a gift for her son’s teacher after she was diagnosed with cancer and started undergoing chemo. To add a meaningful touch to the quilt, she had each of her son’s classmates trace their hands onto the quilt top in the negative space. The hand prints were quilted by Laurie Tigner, with a free-motion design filling out the rest of the quilt top.

Quilt Featuring Patchwork Design, Images of Family

Craftsy member DebsDesigns7 made this keepsake quilting project for a friend whose mother had passed away. Using bubble jet rinse to copy family photos to the blocks, she turned crisp photos into a fabric photo album, which can be admired for years to come. The rest of the quilt top was pieced with the mother’s clothing. Deb’s tip for sewing with silk shirts is to apply fusible web to prevent shifting.

Patchwork Quilt Featuring Names on White Squares in Calligraphy

Jennifer O. shares an example of keepsake quilting that incorporates signatures, hand-embroidered onto the finished quilt for a lasting memory of close friends and family. The signature quilt blocks in her Grannie’s Signature Quilt were a gift for her grandmother’s wedding in the 1930s, and Jennifer added reproduction fabrics to complete the quilt top. It was a joint family effort, with Jennifer’s mom pitching in to piece the blocks; Jennifer then sashed and hand-quilted the piece. The end result is a family heirloom quilting project that will help preserve history!

Woman Holding Up Quilt Featuring Multitudes of Logos

Have you ever tried T-shirt quilting? It’s a great way to preserve memories and repurpose a collection of meaningful tees. Many quilters use this keepsake quilting idea as a gift for sending off high-school graduates to college, but it’s also great for recipients of all ages. For this t-shirt quilt, Craftsy member SimiQuilts applied fusible interfacing to the back of each of the shirts to prevent stretching or warping of the blocks. The sashing pattern is unexpected and adds a lot of visual interest to the quilt!

Quilt Featuring Neckties

Another great take on quilting with wearables is this Necktie Memory Quilt from Craftsy member BobbiSpain. She made the project for a friend whose father had passed away, so the ties could be used rather than given away or stashed in the back of a closet. Before starting the project, she cut open the backs of each necktie to lay them out flat. She used a oversized Dresden Plate template to make the pattern. When quilting with neckties, the possibilities are really endless, and you can easily make a keepsake wall quilt or lap quilt to help commemorate a loved one.

Keepsake Quilts in History

In her class Re-Piecing the Past, instructor Kaye England delves into the importance of memory quilts throughout American history, looking particularly at the Civil War. If you are interested in learning more about the history of memory quilt blocks and traditional piecing methods, Kaye is a tremendous source of knowledge!

Hand Quilting for Keepsake Quilts

Hand quilting is another way to add a special touch to keepsake quilting projects. Learn tips and tricks from expert Andi Perejda in her class Hand Quilting: Heirloom Design & Technique

Have you made any keepsake quilting projects?

Comments

  1. BeeGee says:

    My niece is planning a T-Shirt quilt for her brother for Christmas. She has never made a quilt before so I’m hoping that she doesn’t get discouraged working with the stretchy fabric of T-Shirts. The suggestion of putting fusible stabilizer on the back of the fabric is going to help her greatly. Since I’ve never made one, frankly it scares me, I will pass this information on to her. Many thanks for the information. This is my very first comment on the first blog I’ve ever subscribed to so forgive me if I’ve erred.

    1. Mary Grady says:

      BeeGee, tell her to get lightweight fusible interfacing. (Don’t confuse this with fusible webbing or you’ll have a horrendous mess.) Measure the logos/areas you want to cut but do NOT cut them out yet. Cut the fusible interfacing at least 2″ larger than the sizes of the logos and iron this to the back first. Once it’s cooled and secure, now cut your logos out. This is a much easier way to do it than what seems like the obvious, to cut the logos out and put them on the interfacing.

  2. Angel says:

    I just finished a quilt made of all the special clothing from a baby’s 1st year. I also make T-shirt quilts and have made several bereavement quilts out of loved ones clothes when they pass away. This is always so meaningful and makes me grateful for the opportunity .

  3. I made a T-Shirt quilt out of my Breast Cancer Walk shirts and Cycling Event shirts. I love it :)

  4. Samantha H says:

    I just finished two quilts for my daughter in law’s best friend. The centers of the squares were made with pieces of clothing from their first year of life. She was thrilled to pieces with them. I did individual labels on the back of each square telling what outfit the fabric in the square was from.

  5. oh, BEEGEE …. once you put iron-on fusing on the back of the shirt pieces, they sew just like regular fabric.
    Alice

  6. Laura Miller says:

    I’ve made 3 of the t-shirt quilts, one each for two of my grandsons, and the third was an “I swear this is my last t-shirt quilt” for a graduating daughter of a dear family friend. The lightweight interfacing was a must for some of the flimsy shirts I was given to work with, but the biggest mistake I made was asking “what color to go with?” (as in sashing, backing). Made working with them hard for me, but all three were thrilled with their quilts.

    My best memory quilt was many years back. At that time, my husband’s family had an annual reunion, and I had been making quilts for those for several years. I decided to ask the family group for any old photos they could send me, to copy and return to them. I did the Bubble JetSet and got some wonderful results. Used the photos in the center of a star, and made a fascinating – and much talked about – quilt for that summer’s reunion. The reunion quilt was always a hit, but this one was special, and the winner was a family member who’d finally come back to the fold after years of estrangement. Those photos meant more to him than they would have to any other family member!

    The reunion quilts were always signed by attending members, and it was awarded by putting their name in a basket – we let the eldest present pluck out the winner. I remember one year we had to “rig” the drawing, so the eldest would finally get her quilt!

  7. Sue Riopelle says:

    I made a photo quilt for my husband’s Aunt &Uncle’s 50 th wedding anniversary.The block is called king’s crown. I had so much fun doing it.

  8. Sally says:

    Long story… every year at Christmas all the years we were growing up, my dad took black & white photos of our family, developed them at home, and we sent them out as Christmas cards. I had the whole set from 1949 thru 1967 copied onto fabric, set them into a quilt, and gave it to my Mom and Dad for Christmas in 1997, just a few years before my parents passed away. I now have the quilt hanging in my guest room.

  9. Jackie Timms says:

    I made 21st birthday quilts for each of my three daughters using some scraps of clothing, uniforms etc depicting various events and with some traditional blocks such as bow tie using fabric from formal dresses. Am currently collecting stuff for my granddaughter and two grandsons for theirs.

  10. Jean Littlefield Doty says:

    To make my memory quilt, I took rectangles of muslin to our family reunion, had each relative sign their name and birthdate. Took these rectangles,made quilt blocks and assembled the blocks starting with my grandparents in the center and each ensuing generation radiating out from them. This was a fun project and a priceless keepsake.
    In two other quilts, after my husband passed away, I took his ties and shirts and made memory quilts for each of my two daughters.

  11. Leann Stites says:

    I have made only one and it took me nearly a year as I had health problems. However it is very loved and appreciated. It was made of 9 large blocks with 9 photos in each block (81 photos in all). Each lg block represented a time in my godchild’s life or her special interests. he first one was her 1st baby pictures and the last block was her getting her Masters Degree. I designed it myself and that also took time as I do not have designing software – so was trial and error. lol

  12. Wanda Steele says:

    I made a tee shirt quilt and it was so much fun. I loved putting the shirts together.
    I would like to make a tie quilt since I have a group of old ties from my family.
    How many do you think it would take? I can’t wait to start it after seeing the picture of this one. It is only the second one I have seen.

  13. Rosemary says:

    I recently made 2 T-shirt quilts, one for each daughter and also incorporated hats and socks from their sports team. I also made my youngest daughter’s wedding quilt with pictures from the wedding and squares that people who attended wrote short notes to the bride and groom. It was a challenge-took me several years to “think” it through but in the end it came out great. It’s on Craftsy-see Rivas-Varela Wedding Quilt.
    I want to make a crazy quilt with pictures sometime. I LOVE that tie quilt-I’ll have to count the ties I have saved to see if I have enough-was that appliqued by hand?

  14. Cheryl says:

    I have made 2 queen size quilts from 56 aprons that belonged to my late aunt, and still have enough for a small single bed quilt. The trick was to unpick them and cut them into two and a half inch strips, then sew them in “brick wall”‘ type squares, or cross cut them and sew in a checker board design. I did not remove any braid,ribbons or other embellishments, as I felt this added extra appeal to the quilt.
    There are also enough pockets to sew together for a table runner!

  15. LILI JIMENEZ MEZA says:

    I have just made one and put it on craftsy¡¡ It is for my daughter while she studies away from home it’s name is A few of my favorite things…

  16. Fusible webbing sounds great, some could opt for using other cotton or jean fabric, if buying something is a factor, sewing the t-shirt onto it, or using a glue stick to hold it into place verses so many pins. Works excellent. MJ