Several months ago I had the honor of being able to work with the favorite clothes of a person who had passed away. These projects are incredibly special to me. I love hearing stories about the person’s life and keep them in the forefront of my mind as I cut and sew, doing my best to incorporate bits and pieces of who they were into the design. My goal is always to create a piece (or in this case, multiple pieces) that can be a tangible reminder of a beautiful person whose memory lives on in the hearts of those who loved him or her.
Here’s a peak into the process of this recent, zero-waste memory project.
We added two more brown shirts and a pair of camo pants to this pile, and used them all down to the smallest scrap.
Part of working with old clothing is letting go of the perfection that usually accompanies quilting and letting the material lead the way instead.
Stains and tears are signs of clothes well loved, a plaid that isn’t straight both ways anymore means the fabric has been stretched and worn numerous times.
Often, the more imperfections there are, the more sentimental value the piece holds, because it was a favorite piece worn over and over.
Clothing bears witness to the life of the wearer, and each grease spot, food stain, worn out patch, frayed hem, is a testament to part of that person’s story.
My first project with this group of clothing was a baby quilt and booties for a grandbaby the wearer was not able to meet before he passed. Hopefully his grandson will feel the warmth of his grandpa’s love while snuggling in his memory quilt.
This baby quilt is jam packed with meaning and was such an honor to make.
All of the materials for the front, back, and the binding came from the soon-to-be-born baby’s late Grandpa. The only piece not from clothing was the quilt batting layer in the center.
I used scraps left over from the piecing process to stitch together the binding material. A bit more time consuming, but so much more meaningful!
An oversized Celtic Twist design is a reminder of how interwoven this grandpa’s life was (and still is) with his family.
The back of the quilt utilized 3 different brown jersey shirts which will, hopefully, provide a soft snuggle for baby.
This machine appliquéd and hand embroidered buck head in the center represents his love for hunting.
Grandpa Mark’s signature is hand embroidered in the bottom right block. And this sweet pair of baby booties was made entirely with left over fabric from the quilt.
Believe it or not, there was still quite a bit of fabric from those two pairs of pants and six shirts. I’ll share how we used the remainder in my next “Project Notes” post!
Project Notes on No Wasted Memories Baby Quilt:
- Pattern- Celtic Twist Block
- Quilt top-
- 3 button down shirts (interfaced) and 1 pair of pants for the accent blocks
- 1 jersey t-shirt (interfaced) for the background blocks
- 1 square from denim jeans and scrap from background fabric for the center block
- Quilt back-
- 3 brown jersey shirts (starched) and scraps from quilt top
- Binding- scraps from accent fabrics of quilt top
- Quilt top-
- Celtic twist block dimensions enlarged to make a finished block size of 36″ x 36″
- To make this adaptation yourself, use the specific pattern above and enlarge pieces to the following (seam allowance included):
- Background fabric
- 4 rectangles 9 1/2″ x 18 1/2″
- 1 square 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″
- 4 squares 5″ x 5″
- Accent fabric (4 different fabrics, cut the following from each)
- 1 strip 5″ x 14″
- 1 rectangle 5″ x 9 1/2″
- 3 squares 5″ x 5″
- Size preferred applique as needed to fit center block
- Background fabric
- Future thoughts
- Try with different fabric values and types
Project Notes on No Wasted Memories Baby Booties:
- Beautiful Pie Shoe’s Soft Soled Baby Shoe
- Find pattern here
- 0-3 month size
- Outer fabric and inner fabric from quilt top scraps
- Enclosed seams
- Modified casing method