Memorial Quilts from clothes

Mom passed away 15 months ago. She was a vibrant, active 75 year old woman, who fought a courageous battle with lung cancer. She hadn’t smoked in over 35 years. I’m going to make quilts from her clothes.

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She was well loved by all of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

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I’ve had all of her clothes in two containers and two huge trash bags, sitting in my sewing room ever since. I’ve been wanting to make quilts for my three siblings and mom’s two surviving sisters, whom the family lovingly calls “The Silver Sisters”.

Aunt Martha even cut off all her hair for mom - she still has it this way today. She loves it!

Aunt Martha even cut off all her hair for mom - she still has it this way today. She loves it!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out those clothes, picked up scissors, and stood there. Just stood there looking at them. So many memories in those clothes. This scenario went on for months. Open box, pull out clothes, pick up scissors, stand and stare, put them back in the box. Over and over. I finally took the plunge last weekend and made that first cut. And kept cutting.

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It’s so much easier, now that I can see those clothes as strips of fabric instead of something my mom wore here or she spilled paint on there. She was a wonderful, talented artist in so many ways. China painting, drawing, sewing, crafting. She taught me how to sew when I was six years old. I credit her with every crafty thing I know and do today.

I had planned on doing a different quilt design for each person. Peggi helped me look for and sort through dozens and dozens of designs. In the end, I decided that the design wasn’t what was important. The clothes were. So I’m doing six simple charm-square block quilts with sashings. The focus will be on the fabrics, not the design. My family isn’t going to care about the design. They’ll care about the clothes, as it should be.

I’ve spent two days cutting fabric into 5″ squares. Unbelievably, I’ve got enough squares to make all six quilts just from mom’s pants and jeans.

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That woman was obviously a clothes horse! I am getting ready to start the shirts today. The majority of the shirts are knit, which will require iron-on interfacing before cutting them up, to stabilize them. And it’s going to take a LOT of interfacing. I bought 10 yards last week. We’ll see how long that lasts. Of course, now my room will be a mess for weeks.

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My sister is coming up in April for work-related reasons, and she’s bringing Aunt Martha along so she can stay with us for a few weeks.

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We love having her here. I’m hoping to have at least two of the quilts done so I can give each of them one while they’re here. I think they’d like that.

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4 thoughts on “Memorial Quilts from clothes

  1. I would live to do this!! My great grandmother handmade all of her clothes and it would mean a lot to me if I could do this! Just curious how much fabric I would need from her clothes? I don’t want to take all of her clothes and cut them up.. She had 2 full closets could you estimate how much fabric you used??

    • So sorry to hear about your grandmother. I can’t tell you how much fabric I used. I am making 6 total quilts (4 siblings and 2 for mom’s sisters), so I just cut up everything I could get my hands on. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the amount used in each quilt. I cut all the clothes into 5″ squares, and used one square from each article of clothing in each quilt.

      Sorry I couldn’t help you more on this, but it certainly is very rewarding making them.

  2. Hello! I love your photos of your beautiful Mom and your family. God rest her soul. Do these Moms realize what a gap they leave when they go?? My Mom passed three years ago and we just lost a beloved sister too. I want to make a quilt using my sister’s clothing as you did here. I am wondering how you know you are cutting to 5″ square? My squares are going to be lopsided and all off. I do not know how to sew at all. Thank you!

    • I applaud you for wanting to make a memorial quilt! Since you’ve never sewn, I suggest you take a beginners sewing class at Joann’s or the Y to learn the basics of sewing, then take a beginners quilting class through a local quilt shop to learn the basics of quilting. For a quilt this precious, I highly recommend practicing on a smaller project first so you’re comfortable with your machine and with quilting. There are many templates out there that will help you cut 5″ squares.

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