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How to make Memory Quilts…

 Memory Quilt

So excited to to say I am finished with my Memory Quilt!

This one was different for me because I was hired to make it, usually I make them and if someone wants to buy…that’s up to them. This project was a bit of a bear at times, but I love the way it came together. Making a quilt out of baby clothes can be tricky, so many different fabrics to work with and pretty thick compared to our usual quilting cottons.

Here is my basic process on this quilt:

1. Consult with your client and get an idea of what exactly they want. I printed out photos from the internet of other memory quilts to get an idea of what she liked and asked her to pick out what appealed to her the most, and what things she did not like. If they are not familiar with the quilting process you may have to guide them towards using what will be best in a quilt. Do they want just squares of fabric or do they want to keep the front of the shirt intact to preserve it as whole? Do they want you to try to remove or work around imperfections(stains) or keep those in there due to the memory attached. How big of a quilt do they want? Crib size, throw? How will this quilt be used, keepsake or lots of wear and tear?

2. Decide on a time frame and general cost range. What is the maximum time frame they are happy with. Give yourself plenty of time here! All kinds of things pop up and this is probably not the only quilt you will be working on. For pricing I gave an amount for the construction and a receipt to be added for supplies.

3. Now for design time! During consultation I had mom pick out all the important clothes and we laid them out on the table how they appealed to her. I took several photos with my phone and drew up a chart too, noting what each article of clothing was and what they meant to her(first Christmas, first outfit,etc…) This really helped when trying to organize my thoughts later. Mom also gave me a large bag of filler clothes too be used as needed.  When trying to come up with my design and construction plan, I had to measure all of the shirts and pants and come up with the largest block possible that would work for all of the outfits(8.5″)….this was time consuming! Remember to be mindful of necklines, zippers and snaps! Mom wanted to preserve the outfits as a whole, but was okay with a few blocks being pieced. This may have been a little overboard, but I cropped and printed out small pics and arranged them like tiles. For the pieced blocks, I cut and pasted the printed pictures to created the blocks. I didn’t feel chopping up someones memories until I felt like she was happy with the design. If you are a computer wiz, you can probably do this on Photoshop. After presenting this to mom, make any changes necessary and  you are good to go.

IMG_2774This is my crazy cut and paste project:)

4. Time to prepare the clothing. When working with kids clothes you will most likely have all different types of fabric, unless you are doing a onesie only quilt. By the way, this would make your life a lot easier:) No matter what you chose you will need to stabilize your fabrics. This will require an interfacing that is fusible. I used a Pellon, midwieght fusible interfacing.


The “weight” of the interfacing will determine the stiffness of your finished block. A lightweight may be a good choice for lighter weight fabrics that you want to retain a softness, but my fabrics included everything from swimsuits to sweaters to denim.  Open up your clothing on the sides or the back if not using that part and follow the instructions for fusing it to the interfacing. If keeping a neckline in the block, you will need to do some piecing before you fuse to the interfacing. Once that is done center your designs and cut your blocks. Use a fresh blade here and your wrists will thank you.


These are my prepared blocks, the interfacing is keeping them nice and firm for piecing.

5. Piece your quilt top. I used a fresh needle here too! I used a generic quilting needle, 80/12, figuring it would suit most fabrics the best.  Go slow and use pins if needed. The interfacing really kept me on a level playing field here and it went together smoothly. I pressed my seams open to lessen the bulk.


I wanted to keep this cute sleeve on the sweater, so I just stitched it down.


I used the back of another shirt as a backing to keep this neckline.


This shirt had the cutest little cuffs on the sleeves, so I just added them to the corners of the block.

6. Sandwich your quilt. I used a thinner polyester batting due to the already heavy weight of this quilt top.

7. Get to quilting. Your quilting design is also something you need to discuss during your consult. Thread color? Density? or Tie Quilt? I recommend a stitch in the  ditch approach for a multi-fabric quilt, but an all over stipple would work well for one made with onesies. Using a tying method to hold these quilts together is another great option. Here is a great tutorial by Connecting Threads here.

8. Finish the edges. You can bind the quilt using your normal binding methods or you may opt to do a pillow case style finishing method. I chose the later for this one. First I layered my batting, quilt top-face up, backing-face down; then I stitched around the perimeter of my quilt leaving a open area on one side. Next, turn the quilt inside out and stitch the opening closed. I quilted close to the finished edge to give it the appearance of binding.



Memory quilts can be a bit different from what we are used to working with, but with the right tools and knowing what you are getting in to, you can do it!

Happy Quilting!

Keep it Sassy

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