Memory quilts can be made out of joy or sadness. One of the first memory quilts I ever did was about 16 years ago when I was machine quilting as a business in Virginia. A woman called me up and asked me if I could come to her house to discuss a quilt she wanted made. I usually don’t go to customers homes but something in her voice made me say yes. When I got there she brought me into her bedroom and opened up a closet full of men’s clothes. Her husband had just passed a couple of months ago and she wanted a quilt made from his clothes to give to her only daughter at Christmas. We spent all afternoon cleaning out her closet and picking what would work, what shirt and tie her daughter gave to her Dad. I have to say I was crying as much as she was but it was a good cry. I dropped off what I didn’t use to Goodwill for her and went home to wash all the clothes. When I finished the quilt and brought it to her we had another good cry.
About 10 years later when my sister was turning 50 I decided I wanted to do a memory quilt for her of her life. It was so much fun going through photo’s that I asked family members to send to me. Some were when we were really young and some were just taken. Choosing what photo’s to put into the quilt was a challenge. I used the most recent for the center, her last marathon run. Then from there some of when we were growing up, her college photo, her marriage photo and one with her child young and grown up. To make them all uniform I scanned all the photo’s into my computer and using a photo program made them all black and white. This gave the quilt some uniformity. All the photos were then sized down to a 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 square.
I then printed out the photo’s on sheets of fabric from my computer. At the time there wasn’t a lot of choice when printing photo’s onto fabric. I use www.cjenkinscompany.com Miracle Fabric Sheets. I still use them!
Now I needed to find just the right fabric. We had just lost my brother a few years before and he was fond of sending her Bird of Paradise flowers for her birthday every year. It is her favorite flower. So I did a search online because I checked every available fabric store and couldn’t find any. I found a Hoffman print and ordered it. When it came in I chose the rest of my fabric colors to match the Hoffman print.
I then designed the quilt to incorporate all the photos and the fabrics. This was an original design that I put together. I fussy cut out some of the flowers and then set out to lay out my photos. It came together really nice. For the quilting I just stitched in the ditch. I didn’t want anything to take away from the photo’s. At her 50th birthday party I gave her the quilt. She keeps it in her hope chest so nothing will happen to it.
I submitted my quilt design to McCall’s Quilting and it was published in the McCalls Quilting Magazine April 2006 issue. I still have all the photos and then some on my computer. I scanned them all so I would have them with me and sent the originals back to their owners. You just never know when you might need to do something with a special photo.