Memory Quilt Prayer

For the most part, my quilting hobby is fun, especially the t-shirt quilt commissions.  I love the look on someone’s face (usually a sneaky mom who smuggled shirts to me) when they see those shirts made into a quilt their senior will take to college.  But sometimes the quilt commissions can take a more somber tone.  Sometimes I’m tasked with a commission to make a memory quilt from clothes from a loved one that has passed on.  I’ve made memory quilts from clothes of both deceased younger and older folks, and it’s a profound task, preserving memories of someone else’s loved one.

My first t-shirt quilts were from my father’s clothes, and they showed me the healing power of a memory quilt.  My father died unexpectedly, and I had a lot of anger mixed in with my grief.  It was an anger that I didn’t know what to do with, and I felt powerless to confront.  And then my grandmother told me I’d be making four t-shirt quilts for myself, her, and my two other sisters.  And it was in the making of these that I found a degree of peace and finally felt like I could say goodbye. Clothes are probably the hardest part of a loved one to reliquish.  We remember what they looked like in them, which ones they favored, and they even smell like that person for a long time afterwards.

I was nervous when I made a memory quilt for someone outside of my own family.  It was for a young man who had passed away from cancer.  I remember gulping a bit as I finished up the design process and was ready to make those initial cuts into the shirts.  Again, the idea of preserving those memories for someone else is daunting.  So I prayed.  I placed my hand on the bags of clothes and prayed for guidance, peace for the grieving family, and the ability to do that person’s memory justice.  Whenever I have a quilt that has a similar back story, I take the time to pray beforehand, asking for the same guidance.

I thought I would share that prayer with you all in case you find yourself faced with a similar challenge. Feel free to use, adjust, or change as needed.

“Heavenly Father, I pray your guidance as I make this quilt.  Please guide my hands that I may do justice to this person’s memory.  May this quilt bring their family comfort in their grief and remind them of more joyful times.  In your name I pray, amen.”

 

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A memory quilt made from nice business causal clothes. This lady was an artist, so I arranged it by color and placed her own artwork in the middle.
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A memory quilt made from dress shirts. I managed to keep the collars on and featured.
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A memory quilt for a friend using the shirts her father-in-law gave her over the years.
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A memory quilt made from dress shirts and t-shirts. This is the mother holding it after it was gifted to her as a surprise.

What to look for when buying a t-shirt quilt – a published article

I’m very excited that my article on what to look for in a t-shirt quilt was published in my local community magazine.  I’m going to post the link to it, but I’m also going to post the article itself here.

Online link to magazine 

Link to information about ordering a t-shirt quilt from me. 

Article

With the availability and affordability of screen printing, t-shirts have become more popular than ever.  It seems they are the most common souvenir these days – outpacing coffee mugs, key chains, and bumper stickers. Does anyone even collect snow globes anymore?  We even say, “Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.” They now come with most events: road races, family reunions, clubs, concerts, VBS, school, and especially anything sports-related.  For many of us, our closets are bursting with t-shirts of which, as a guess, only a small percentage actually get worn. It’s common to have a sacred collection of shirts, be it from high school, college, a fraternity, or otherwise, that we simply refuse to throw away.  But while our memories may be plentiful, storage often is not. Walk through any second-hand store, and you’ll see plenty of discarded shirts from various occasions.  Particularly sad are the uniforms that are donated.

As graduation season looms, many parents may be nervously looking at those piles of shirts their senior has collected over the years, shirt they aren’t “allowed” to get rid of, and wondering what will become of them.  Bags of clothes sit around in closets, garages, and attics, waiting for nothing.  So what’s to be done with these fabric memories?  A lot of people have found that making them into t-shirt and memory quilts is an excellent alternative.  The shirts are seen once again and put to good use.

There are plenty of local folks who offer this service in addition to several online companies.  However, since quilting itself is an art form, not all services will result in the same product or quality.  If you’re interested in getting a quilt made from your t-shirts, uniforms, or any other clothes, here’s a helpful guide on how to ensure the best quality product.

Blanket – is it actually a quilt or a blanket?  A quilt is different from a blanket in a couple of major ways.  A blanket may have one or two layers, but a quilt will have three: a front, back, and middle (called batting). It will have those three layers sewn together with a design.  This sewing of the layers together is called “quilting”, and it’s what separates a quilt from a regular blanket.  It’s why they last many years more than a blanket.

Materials – what’s included with the price? The batting and backing of a quilt can be quite expensive.  Quality batting can go anywhere from $30-$60+.  The backing fabric can require anywhere from 4-8 yards of fabric, and quality fabric from run anywhere from $8-$15 a yard.  So when you look at a price, remember to check and see what that price includes.  A seemingly small price can add up quickly if it doesn’t include the backing and batting.

Stabilizer – do they use it?  If you’ve ever cut a t-shirt, you’ll notice that the material, jersey knit, rolls and shifts a lot.  When making a quilt from fabric like this, a quilter needs to use a material called “stabilizer” to ensure the fabric doesn’t roll, shift, or bunch up as the quilt is sewn together and later on quilted.  Seams that bulge and twist and aren’t straight are usually signs that someone didn’t use stabilizer.  When used, stabilizer gives the shirts a clean look that is flat and straight.

Batting – what kind of batting do they use? Batting can be made of several different materials.  Polyester is the most cost effective, but it doesn’t last over the years as well and isn’t as warm.  Cotton is warm and washes well over the years.  Wool batting is the most expensive as well as the warmest, but it does come with the same tricky washing guidelines that all wool products do.  Most t-shirt quilts will go for polyester or cotton.  Cotton is generally more reliable and longer-lasting.

Quilting – the closer the quilting design the longer it’ll last.  The quilting that goes throughout a quilt holds it together and makes it last over the years.  That being said, most batting does well with a quilting pattern that is spaced 10” or closer.  It also drapes better and lasts through multiple washes longer.  Quilting patterns spaced too far apart will often result in batting that shifts or bunches after a short while, leaving a lumpy and unattractive quilt.

The “Movie Test” – A short self-check that is an easy gauge of a t-shirt quilt or t-shirt blanket’s quality is called the “movie test.”  If you put on a full-length movie and sat down with scissors and a seam-ripper, would you be able to disassemble that entire quilt or blanket by the end of the credits?  If you can disassemble it in that short amount of time, then the quality is lower.  A good quilt takes ages to take apart because of the materials and close-set quilting design.

These are some of the basic elements that will vary greatly among t-shirt quilt services.  Don’t be afraid to ask them for specifics and options.  Pinterest as a lot of great ideas, but be careful in matching your design expectations to costs.  The fancier the design, the more time and materials invested in to it.  Online services offer lower prices, but local services can offer more customization.  Whichever way you decide, here’s to reviving those happy memories and freeing up storage space all in one product!

So. Many. Projects.

Hey everyone, I’ve been busy on my other pages, but this one has been still for a bit because I haven’t finished any projects.  That doesn’t mean I’m not working on them because…boy oh boy…I am swamped!

I was able to finish my t-shirt quilt commission and baby Flash quilt commission right when school started.  Now, I’m on to another undisclosed project, a bookshelf quilt for a church retreat, a Star Wars quilt (or two) for the upcoming craft fairs, finishing my comic book quilt and second guitar quilt.  I also have a partially begun other undisclosed project as well as a promised project that hasn’t even been started.  Oh, and there’s another t-shirt quilt waiting to be started, but the timeline is very generous, so it’ll be a while before I start it.

Whew!  Stay tuned folks.

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Flash quilt detail
Newest roll
Star Wars quilts jelly roll
Bookshelf scraps
Scraps for a bookshelf quilt
comic book quilt
comic book quilt top
Guitar quilt
guitar quilt in progress

Sloth Quilt

I finished the sloth t-shirt quilt, and it was so fun!  Originally it was supposed to be a lap sized quilt, but my friend said something that’s music to my ears.  She said, “I trust you.  You have complete artistic freedom.”  Most of the time when folks tell me this, they get way more than what they paid for.  There’s something irresistible about having a clean slate for creativity!

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For this one, since I had 10 shirts, I decided to play around with a similar layout like the Berenstain Bears quilt and make the squares staggered.

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My friend said her favorite color, among many of them, was apple green.  Well for me there’s one color above all that compliments apple green – a very texture unbleached beige.  I suppose it’s like the hay element in my mind.  Anyhow, I found a nice quality unbleached muslin, complete with texture variations, to use alongside the apple green.

My friend did mention she was a very tactile person, so the backing needed to be more than a simple cotton quilting.  I looked around and settled on a green flannel-backed satin.  I love the sheen it has, and the feel to it is cool and sleek – perfect for tactile folks!

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The light here is terrible!  Fabric with lots of sheen never seems to look good in pictures. 

I loved making this quilt and expanding on my normal format for t-shirt quilts.  It’s a great example of why I tell folks don’t worry about not having enough shirts to make a bigger quilt.  I can always play around with the layout.  This one, using 10 shirts, was originally meant to be a lap quilt and ended up being a full-sized spread!

Related posts and blogs:

T-Shirt cushion – quick make

A smiling sloth says it all!

Lots of quilt finishes – cute sloth quilt pictured!

 

 

 

 

Three Quilts for Three Brothers

Recently I received a picture of a senior with his quilt that I’d made.  This one was particularly special because it was the third one I’d made, and it was the final one as this was the youngest of three brothers to graduate.

I made the middle brother’s quilt first.  This is a nice change of pace for all you middle siblings out there, I’m sure!  After that I went back and made the oldest one’s quilt, followed most recently by the youngest.

I enjoyed making these and loved that they all used the same fabrics along with the same “G” on the back.  This is the only client I’ve done a G on the back for, and all three quilts have it.

I also had no idea it was possible to be in as many leadership and community service clubs as these brothers were in!  I’m not sure how the school will fair next year since their presence will have moved on to greater sites.

*Somehow I managed to not get any pictures, or save them, of the oldest brother’s quilt.  Oh well, I can assure you it looks quiet identical to the youngest brother’s.

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I used gold crepe back satin to make the G and at the intersections on the front. 
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It won’t stop raining here, so I had to get creative with my picture-taking. 
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The front of the hoodie!
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This signature shirt required a bit of “Frankenstein”ing to make everything fit, but I managed.  
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The first quilt I made for the middle brother.  I had some fun in the school library with an impromptu photo shoot. 

Back GFinished 1

 

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Related blogs and posts:

Wearable memories: Hug a Tee!

Hockey Jersey Quilt

*A quick note to say that the picture at the top is one of the in-progress pictures. I forgot to get a final picture.  That happens a lot.

This quilt was a first for me in regards to theme.  It’s a hockey quilt.  If you know anything about the state of Georgia, you’ll understand why I don’t have more of these.  Georgia’s climate specializes in heat and humidity, and what’s “cold” to us is a fair day up in Vermont.  So yeah, it’s amazing I’ve even gotten one hockey quilt.

That being said, hockey jersey material really is like no other, and I loved working with it.  You know when you get your hands on some high quality copy paper?  The good stuff?  You know how you can tell by its texture and thickness that it was made to last?  These hockey jerseys felt the same way – only in fabric form.

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I’ve worked with football, baseball, and softball jerseys aplenty, but the hockey jersey presented one big problem those others didn’t.  A big problem.  Big.  The jersey fonts and numbers were huge because they needed to go over all that padding.  I ended up using my standard block size for all of the rows except the last one.  If you look carefully, you’ll notice the bottom row is slightly longer.  That was the only way I was going to be able to get everything fitted in.  And even then I had to shorten and rearrange some of the trim and names.  But in the end I think it worked out just fine.

There was one element on this quilt that was completely new for me.  The client gave me a couple of pairs of hockey socks and said something along the lines of, “I don’t know if you can do anything with these, but here they are.”  I told her I’d see what I could manage because I had an idea.  I was able to sew them together with no issues, but I sure did bite my lip when my quilting machine went over them, afraid for all parties involved.  But the machine took the knitted socks in stride, and I simply avoided the bulky seam part when possible.  I love pointing to those two blocks and telling people that those were socks.  I think it’s so funny.

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Related blogs and posts:

#quiltsforbroncos – Humboldt Hockey Players

Little Bear’s Quilt

Sew Ottawa!

York Heritage Quilt Show