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!


Man down!!! Man down!!!

Woman, in this case. Actually machine but she’s female so there.

I can attest for all of you that this is the saddest moment of my quilting career. My machine bearings need to be fixed. So I can’t quilt on her until she’s sent out and come back to me. 😦

Technically I can quilt because of a very good friend that has offered use of her machine for me to finish my clients quilts, but this feels like losing a friend. I know that ultimately she’ll be ok, even better than she was. But considering that she is vital to my business and my sanity, I think this is a moment to bow our heads.

So to keep myself entertained whilst she sits quietly aside, I have made the conscious decision to finish some UFO’s (un-finished objects). I finished my rag quilt (yes, the one I started 6 months ago).

I finished the 9 patch variation top I was working on at retreat last summer. I don’t like how the middle border looks, but I’m not so dissatisfied that I’ll take it out.

A few months ago I had some time and inclination, so I cut strips and squares and matched fabrics to patterns or photos I saw in magazines. I had just spent more than a few Franklins at the quilt shop, so I figured I’d better get to using all that beautiful, colorful eye candy. Then I got busy quilting and my piles have been awaiting me since. So I started working on those again yesterday as well. I really like how this one is turning out. The border will make it, with some really cool cornerstones.

Not sure what will be next after that… maybe the cats in boxes…

maybe the Halloween quilts (I cut fabric for probably 3 of these):

or the black and red skulls that seem to be so popular…

Maybe more flowers

or this cat fabric

maybe I’ll get to Amy’s cupcake applique pattern (probably not),

or the Tree pattern I got from my mom (with precut strips, you’d think I’d go for the easy first).

Then there is this thing… I really like it because of what it represents. It’s the earth – water and land in a squarish spiral. It includes oil swirling in the water, flames roaring through the forest, flowers and waves. Still needs to be finished.

I started to cut 1″ squares and strips for this Scraps of Life quilt, from work shirt material..

and these are 1.25″ strips of scraps I was going to just sew together in rainbow fashion to see what I ended up with.

These are spare squares for another random patchwork quilt:

oh and then the quilt I was going to make for Amy from this photo… haven’t gotten very far.

Ooooh forgot about these! Dots and hearts:

and these little turquoise blue birds!

I also picked out these fabrics because they looked so good together. Haven’t decided the patterns yet…

shucks, here’s the fairy frost I cut squares and strips for!

ooh, and the fabric and pattern I set aside to make this bag:

so I guess I should just stop panicking and get to work on these. I feel a little overwhelmed now with so many projects to choose from! I think I’ll start with finishing the diamond quilts borders. Happy quilting (or quilt making!) my friends!

the fun of baby quilts

Let me start by saying that my baby is 10, and my other baby is 14. I’m still working off the baby fat, but I’m ok with that. We all have our own timelines for these things. Regardless of the absolute concrete rock-solid plan to have no more diapers grace this loving household (unless Kaela is babysitting…), baby quilts are one of my FAVORITE projects to complete!

First of all, the fabrics are always adorable! Tougher to find boy-oriented cutesy tootsie fabrics, but oh well. 🙂

Secondly, THEY ARE SMALL. This means the amount of work to complete one is exponentially less than completing a large bed quilt. Trust me on this one.

Third, they usually come as a result of celebrating a special event = an addition to the clan.

Now there are drawbacks. Minky, ultra-soft, fleece, whatever soft cuddly fabric you choose, it is A ROYAL pain to work with. That stuff shifts, stretches, waffles… I swear I could do without the fallout from cutting minky for eternity. And trying to get it out of your cutting mat is like trying to get the spaghetti sauce stain out of a tupperware dish after it’s microwaved to the boiling point. I call it: permaminky.

Despite the nasty nuances that tag along with working these fabrics, they really are soft and cuddly. In fact, the quilt below was made with all fleecy softy fabric for a friend of mine that just graced the family with a boy:

I quilted it with a triangular meander, which is pretty boyish and went along with the angles in some of the fabric. I found this fabric as a sample pack from a vendor and matched the back, which all worked out to be in his room colors! No pattern used, which made it pretty exciting; I just figured I would use the panels as a start and make squares and rectangles to fit around them. I added borders to enlarge it a bit and voila!

Unfortunately not all quilts are destined to grace a new baby’s crib. The one below was made in memorial to the mother, for this Mother’s Day. It is a gift from her wonderful circle of family and friends, as are the materials included in the quilt. A special onesie is embroidered on the front with her name and birthdate and a label on the back in homage to her support group. It is sad to share, but it will always serve as a beautiful reminder to her of a member of her family awaiting her in heaven.

I felt very special to be included in this project. I quilted it with all over hearts, and I think it couldn’t have turned out better.

Felt like quite an honor. OK I have to move on to something a little lighter…

This one was more fun – I found out my cousin brought home a new girl so I matched fabrics to the ladybugs and copied a pattern from a magazine. I put it together at a retreat one weekend. The loopy quilting matches the round shape of the ladybugs and the white on white fabric. So cute:

I made this cutie just cuz… the center fabric was on clearance at the shop, so I used it as the main focus and matched all those border blocks to make a simple but sweet little quilt! I quilted it in rainbow fans because they are in the fabric and, it just looks cute.

These two I made at the same retreat mentioned above. I had left over Peter Rabbit fabric, so tried two different patterns to use it up. I like the 9 patch best, but they both went to good homes. The blue bordered quilt was quilted in feathers and curls, and the nine patch (yellow border) has hearts all over it (which is the pattern of the yellow fabric).

I have actually made MANY quilts like these, but the ones below are made from CHILDREN’S CLOTHING. They have more of a purpose, because the child has outgrown these clothes, sometimes 16 years ago (seriously). But I like to be involved in preserving someone’s memories in such a special fashion.

Each quilt has it’s own unique purpose, for a different person, for a special reason. Each quilt is one of a kind, beautiful in it’s own right, no matter to whom it belongs. 🙂

Happy quilting my friends!

Family Fun Crafts

I have always been sincerely devoted to doing things that are productive. Literally, anything I involved myself in had to have an outcome that achieved something, or produced something that I felt was valuable, usable or necessary in some fashion. My lesson has been learned, that there is much value in the actual act of artistic exertion as well as the visual pleasure gained upon completion of the project.

Recycled ToteBut, as an ode to the old me :), I am sharing this website, which has some great ideas that are in fact, productive. Some of the projects listed here are just fun, and some have a purpose that YOU may find useful! The one pictured above is one of my favorites! It’s made from those plastic grocery store bags!!!

Cardboard Petal Picture Frame

What I really love about this site is that there are constant updates to projects that mirror the season. We have searched for neat costumes to make at Halloween, Valentines handouts and boxes for notes and party ideas for Independence Day.

I hope you find some fun there, or if nothing else, perhaps some ideas  on how to keep your kids busy! Check out!

Birdhouse Artwork


It took me some time to decide the appropriate name for this post. Really the idea is repurposing, but the idea is also to be creative with something simple and blank, by which we are continually surrounded. I have a current fascination with birdhouses, and am even adding quite a bit of decor around the subject to my previously empty shelves and walls.

over kitchen cabinets birdhouse decor


birdhouse decor

It’s amazing how little I paid for these items, seriously. I found many of these items at local (chain) craft stores, and a Goodwill store.

birdhouse decor

Some items required very minor repairs (the hanging above the door was missing something on the front, so I stuck a fabric butterfly sticker on it). Others were able to be used as is.

There is a project here, that can be done with your children.


In fact, all of my projects seem to begin by my attempt to entertain my children. This one was no different.

We found these little birdhouses at Joann’s in a bin for $1 per!! The store also had larger models for around $5 each.

We stuck with the small version so we could buy a greater number to play around with.

When we got home, I don’t think we were in the door more than 38 seconds before Amy asked if she could start painting her houses. 


I conceded, and she quickly broke out all the acrylic paints, brushes and trays.

It wasn’t much longer before I wanted to join in her fun. So we painted!!

It was fun to do together. After painting our houses, I took a break (you can see I didn’t even finish my red house) to do something in the kitchen. Probably making dinner…

painted and embellished

embellished house

Amy decided she wanted to continue decorating her houses, so I showed her where the glitter, jeweled and fabric butterfly and heart stickers were.

I loved her finished product! I was proud of her and decided to mount a shelf in the living room to showcase her artwork.

amy's painted houses

I had a little something different in mind as an end result, but Amy had creative license on her items, and wouldn’t allow me to touch her birdhouses. I completely respect that, so I had to finish painting my set and get to work on embellishing my own, in a similar manner to what she had done, but that’s where the similarities end.

I had envisioned a stack of these little houses, enveloped in various ribbons and charms, so I dug into my bucket of goodies (it is actually a bucket, filled with items I have found at chain craft stores on clearance, and includes buttons, chains, twine, ribbons, pins, patches and charms.

I used her glue stick and my needle nose pliers to wrangle the bits I wanted into place, and voila, my structure is complete. The most beautiful part of this project is that anyone can go to the craft shop and invest just a few dollars for at least an hour of fun with their kids. Your birdhouses will turn out as beautifully as you can dream them up to be. Just use your imagination!! Happy crafting!

finished structure