memory quilts – a very important job

I had a friend ask me once, whether I thought the popularity of t shirt quilts had increased due to the Twilight movie. I honestly had no idea, because I didn’t pay attention to the timing of the movie and that aspect of my business. I have recently noticed the increase of memory quilts I make as a percentage of quilts total.

That could be partly due to the fact that many of the memory quilts I make are requested for multiple family members from the clothing of one person. Last Christmas I made 6 quilts from a man’s blue business shirts for his widow and sons. I helped a friend make another 5, and am currently working on a set of 5, in the same fashion.

I have made a small wall hanging out of grandpa’s ties, a small patchwork quilt for the mother of a still born baby and a quilt for mom to remember her son by. Oftentimes, the quilts are made as gifts, with the receiver unsuspecting.

When I meet with someone to determine what the project will finish up to be, they often ask if I need a deposit. With t shirt quilts and memory quilts alike, I require nothing other than those special items they are giving me to work with. They are irreplacable, and when they belonged to some one that has passed on, each item truly has a special significance.

Usually when I’m working on these types of projects, I feel a connection to the person. I mean, literally I am handling some of their favorite clothing. The person giving me their items usually tells me a little something, as do the clothes. The smell of smoke, some dog hair, or the Italian silk fabric all tell a little bit of the story about the former owner. What tells the most is the fact that someone loved that person so much that they want to have their items turned into an item that can be loved and cuddled with for a very long time after.

Today I cried. I guess that’s the proof that I get emotionally involved in my work. I’m making quilts for family including a young girl, about 7 years old. Her daddy died from a medical condition, he was 47. He also left behind 2 other children and his loving wife. When he painted, he wiped his slop on his jeans. He used to take his wife dancing, and must have had some of that Air Force still in him because those jeans were starched to the hilt!

Every quilter that I know wants to please their customer. For me, the joy I hear in my clients voice is of greater importance than the check I receive (except that I do have bills to pay…). But when it comes to these quilts, I know they have a very special meaning for the receipient.

Below are some photos of memory quilts I have put together or finished for clients. Like t shirt quilts, they aren’t and shouldn’t necessarily be large square blocks thrown together, unless that is what the customer specifically requests!