Memory Quilts

Sometime right before Thanksgiving, MyDadLovesMeBestSister and I were looking at a few things of BigDaddy’s and we decided (maybe in a fit of madness?) that we should make quilts from his shirts for his 5 grandchildren.  We decided on a simple 4″ patch quilt pattern and spent a few weeks sorting and cutting.  We worked away at our little project and by Thanksgiving, we had the quilt fronts all pieced.  As the mother of 2/5ths of the grandchildren, I lucked out and only had to make 2 of the quilts.

Thimbleanna: Memory Quilt

I tried to compensateMyDadLovesMeBestSister for her extra work by piecing all the backs.  BigDaddy was known for some of his funny sweatshirts, so we decided to include a few of each on the quilt backs.  (My favorite was a shirt with a dog skeleton that said “In Dog Years … I’m Dead.”  Or, “If a man is talking in the forest, and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?”  Classic BigDaddy!)  We chose a blue flannel for the main part of the backs, and I used my embroidery machine software to digitize BigDaddy’s signature with a message that he’d left on a card to one of the kids.  We also included a pocket on the back of each quilt, and into each pocket we tucked a few treasures for each child (now young adults) from their beloved Grandpa.

Thimbleanna: Memory Quilt

I chose to big-stitch the two quilts that I had to finish, but MyDadLovesMeBestSister knew that she’d never get three quilts hand quilted, so she decided to tie hers.  I love them both ways!  I also bound my two quilts with a print from MeMum’s stash — to add a MeMum touch to the quilts, and I love how they turned out.

Thimbleanna: Memory Quilt

Quilts made out of shirts aren’t that fun to make and they’re certainly not at all pretty.  I mentioned these quilts to Jan shortly before Christmas and she compared this sort of quilting to sewing on buttons or hemming pants.  Indeed.

Thimbleanna: Memory Quilt

But.  Sometimes the payoff is really BIG.  MyDadLovesMeBestSister and I predicted that there might be some tears on Christmas morning and we nailed it. I had big plans to take lots of pictures of all the kids holding up their quilts, etc. but the flu wreaked havoc with the rest of the week.  It didn’t matter though — I took a few photos when the quilts were opened.  The one below is my favorite — you can see at least two criers in this shot and there were more to follow LOL.  It was a really fun and special Christmas morning.

Thimbleanna: Memory Quilt

Now Christmas projects are all over and we’re at a new year.  A clean slate.  Are we working on UFO’s or new projects???  Decisions, Decisions!


P.S. The adorable Puppy Love fabric by Anita Jeram (the illustrator responsible for those darling little P.S. I Love You Rabbits!) has arrived in my etsy shop. It’s accompanied by an adorable minky-style plush puppy spot fabric. Oh, the possibilities!!!

Thimbleanna: Puppy Love Fabric

30 Thoughts on “Memory Quilts

  1. LOVE what you did here! The big stitch is awesome…how do you do that and what thread? My sister and I are doing one in March for her graduating Senior son. Her husband suddenly passed away at 49 in 2010. :( Thanks for your inspiration!

  2. Isn’t this how quilt-making started? I love the idea and I love the quilts! The Grandchildren have a very special quilt to remember BigDaddy by! Happy New Year Anna!

  3. driftwood on January 8, 2018 at 4:19 am said:

    those are beautiful Anna, filled with special memories x

  4. Oh my goodness, Anna, I’m crying just watching them open the quilts. I bet they’ll all treasure them forever! :o)

  5. I think that was a great idea – he must have had a lot of shirts that you could make 5 quilts from them! before they unwrapped or as they were unwrapping did you tell them what the quilts were made out of or did they recognized the pieces – if so they must have been very observant of what he always wore.

  6. what a special Christmas for you all.
    Wonderful warm memories shared in matching PJs – love the photo.
    hope everyone is feeling better by now.
    Happy New Year

  7. Denice on January 8, 2018 at 9:21 am said:

    Well, your memory quilts and their presentation will be memories in themselves. I love the girly prints and cars mixed in with the plaids and I’m doing a big stitch cross on a quilt right now so it’s good to see how it will look. And binding it all together with your mom says something in itself. Treasures!

  8. Carolyn on January 8, 2018 at 1:07 pm said:

    How wonderful…that trip was memorable in so many ways!

  9. These came out great and it’s clear they will be treasured! I am curious how many shirts you started with? and also, did you need to stabilize the shirt fabrics with interfacing or starch at all, or were you able to just cut them up and sew without additional treatment?

  10. They may not win prizes at national quilt shows but they are beautiful. The love, the thoughtfulness and the memories stitched into them make them gorgeous! I heard of people doing this before and always thought it a great idea. And Nicolette is right – this IS how quilting started.
    Happy New Year Anna – Banana! I’ll be looking here for lots of quilting inspiration in the coming months…..

  11. That’s fabulous – what love and how special for the grandchildren to each have such a quilt. (and working on a new project – the Linen and Threads SAL Garden theme. I’m loving it.)

  12. Utility quilts filled with love from their granddaddy, grandmum, aunt and mom – these quilts may not be pretty, but they are treasures. And it’s heartwarming to see that the kids understand that. You and your sister are really special. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Just wonderful…all wonderful…I have had a lot of grief lately…my husband of ALS my daddy, my mother fell out of her wheelchair and broke her neck. I made quilts from my husband’s shirts..and my fathers…tears…I understand…The grands are all adorable in their red plaids..all grown up..with red eyes to match…great job Grandma

  14. How special! I’m sure the grandkids will cherish those forever:). Happy New Year!

  15. That photo of them opening the quilts had me in tears… oh my! What a wonderful thing to do. I’m sure they will be treasured throughout their lifetimes and passed on as family heirlooms x

  16. Just wonderful! That photo of the cousins opening their quilts speaks volumes!

  17. I am sure they will treasure their special quilts!

  18. Just wonderful….I love these memory quilts and the sweet photo of the Christmas opening of them. Such a lovely idea and keepsake of a much loved father and grandfather. You and your sister are sweet to make them and I am sure they will always be treasured. Xox

  19. What fabulous quilts! They may not be pretty but they’ll be very treasured. So special. A great gift for his grand children.

  20. The memory quilts are terrific. I always think of quilts made out of shirts as “the spirit of quilts” because didn’t quilts begin with scraps and pieces of old clothing and such? I like the big stitch quilting you did. How do you do it? Such a special gift you and your sis gave.

  21. oh, anna! those turned out beautifully! what a special gift. no gingerbread house contest this year? ;p

  22. Frances M Fimbres on January 12, 2018 at 5:45 pm said:

    This made me cry a few times as well. Love the quilts with so many memories…especially the square in the middle of one quilt with the adorable beach babe model. Too cute! Quilts are about life & you nailed it! Thanks for sharing your loving tribute from the heart to Papa.

  23. i’m with the Criers – i would have been a blubbering mess … here’s to you and your sister, to Uncle BigDaddy and Auntie MeMum, and to Everyone you love!!!

  24. This is the best gifts they could have gotten!!! Love everything about this Anna ???

  25. I love the idea of memory quilts and it looks like they are loved already.

  26. Oh I love this. I have three boxes of precious dresses and shirts in the basement, for a someday memory quilt or two. I dread it, but I am pleasantly surprised with how nice your quilts look. The tears and matching pjs, what a precious picture!

  27. Anna, those quilts are such a beautiful labor of love! I know they’ll be treasured for many years. How sweet of you and your sister to memorialize your Dad in that way.

  28. LOVE this. I just found this post. What a beautiful tribute and what wonderful memories. Such a meaningful project. Hugs from grandpa. Yes, you girls nailed it all right. Well done.

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