How To Make A Memory Quilt
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How To Make A Memory Quilt

This article describes how to make a memory quilt using the deceased\\\'s clothing.

Making a memory quilt can be a very easy project, but it can also be a very emotional project.  If you quilt, you'll most likely at some point be asked to make a memory quilt for someone who has lost a loved one.  It's very hard to turn down a request like this, especialy if it's from another family member or a close friend. 

The key point to keep in mind is that a memory quilty has no rhyme or reason. It has no color coordination or printed fabric sequence. Instead, it's a memory quilt made up of pieces of a loved ones clothing. The colors and fabric patters may not go together, but the point is that it is something that a survivor will have and treasure of their deceased loved one.

Most memory quilts are small in size. They're usually half the size of a twin quilt which is 50" x 70".  A memory quilt could be 30" x 40" or something approximate.  People usually lay a memory quilt across the foot of their own bed. You usually won't find a memory quilt on display inside the home.

A Memory Quilt Pattern

A memory quilt pattern is very simple using just squares, rectangles, or large triangles. The easiest one to do is 4x4 inch blocks with no sashing in-between and just make several long rows of these blocks. Add a simple border, backing, and binding, and it's complete.  The blocks can be larger or smaller, whatever you prefer working with. They can also be a row of rectangles instead of the blocks. There's no quilt pattern to purchase for a memory quilt, it's just what you think is best.

Gathering the Clothing for a Memory Quilt

The first thing you'll need to do is to get all the pieces of clothing together to make the quilt. Make sure that everything is washed and clean.  You'll have an assortment of fabrics from cottons to rayons, but that's okay.  A memory quilt is not about using all cottons; it's about what that person wore.

Spread all the clothing items out and take a visual look at what you have to work with.  If the person who asked you to make the memory quilt points out a few items that he or she really loved, use one of these items for the center block and use as much of these fabrics as possible. This will help console the survivor.

Designing the Memory Quilt

Now that you've done a visual and have a good idea of what you have to work with, it's time to draft up a design. You can do this on a blank sheet of paper.

First, use a post-it note and number the clothing pieces. Then as you draft a design of the finished memory quilt on a piece of paper, you can insert the number of the clothing  piece that you want for each block. For instance, let's say a blue striped shirt has been given the number 1.  Wherever you want a block of this blue striped shirt on your memory quilt design, just put the number 1 in that block. 

Continue numbering the memory quilt design until you are finished.

Sashings and Borders

Now that you have an idea of how much clothing you have to work with and the colors, it's time to decide whether or not you'll want to add a sashing or borders.  Adding a sashing will break up the clothing fabric blocks and separates the printed patterns better.  It also helps to increase the size of the memory quilt. Adding a border frames the blocks and also increase the size of the memory quilt.

If you don't have many clothing items to work with, adding a sashing or border, or both will help increase the size of the memory quilt. You'll have to purchase the fabric for a sashing or border to add to the memory quilt.

Finishing Touches

Once you've sewed all the blocks together along with any sashing or borders, it's time to choose a binding fabric and backing.  If you have enough clothing left over where you could make 2 inch strips to be used as a binding, try that. You can always purchase binding material if you have to.

Choose a nice but subtle backing as this is a memory quilt and something with bright colors is not recommended. If the primary color on the front is blue, then maybe a nice blue batik will work or a blue cotton with a small sublte print.

Makine the Label

The label should have the name of the deceased on it and maybe the deceased's birth year and death year. This is something that you may want to ask the survivor about. You can add a line that says "Quilted by..." and add your name to it.  An example of a label might read, "John Doe, 1972 - 2010, Quilted by Jane Doe".  It's that simple. The survivor may want you to add something like, "In Loving Memory of John Doe" so it's always best to ask them what they would like on the label. If the memory quilt is given to a spouse, this spouse will probably pass the quilt on to one of their children and that's why the label is necessary.

Making a memory quilt for someone is a gift that they'll cherish for the rest of their life. It's a quilt that will be handed down within a family for many years.

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Comments (10)

I have been making memory quilts for family members. My father passed away and I thought it was something nice I could do for my brothers, sisters, children and nieces. They are twin sized quilts because everyone uses them instead of displaying them.

Awesome share! Thanks for posting Vote up!

I love the idea of a memory quilt. Great post!

Good idea. I sure wish that I knew someone that guilts. I would love one of these. Voted up.

I wanted one of these. Voted up

Voted up. Very interesting article

Great, although I had never heard of "memory quilts". I am not sure I would want one as it is perhaps too poignant a reminder, but I know people who would like this.

Voted up. Great article!

Sandy, I never heard of this, but had I been a person who could sew; I'm sure I'd know much more about it. Thanks for this eye opening info!! Voted Up! xoxoxo

I loved your idea.