Monday, January 28, 2013

Memory Quilts

This month my father-in-law passed away. He was 96 and had Macular degeneration. We all knew his life had lost it's meaning after the death of his wife in January four years ago.

I brought home Herman's shirts to make a memory quilt. I made my first memory quilt after my mother died in 1990. Mom was 57 years old when she learned she had cancer, and died two weeks later. Mom was a painter and had a collection of plaid shirts which she wore when painting. I turned these shirts into quilts for my grandmother, my aunt, and myself.

I found an fan block called Dobbin's Fan which I used to make two quilts for Mom's sister.An adaptation of this pattern was accepted to appeared in Quiltmaker Magazine. That was an exciting day!  I also had a Christmas tree pattern accepted after that.

A simple four-patch with an appliqued heart used two plaid fabrics from Mom's shirts. This was the second quilt I ever made. I was still doing everything WRONG when I started. Then a quilter taught me the basics. You can see my progress in this quilt as my applique and quilting stitches improved.

I made a lap quilt for my grandmother using blue and beige shirts.This was also made withing my first year of quilting. I used the Sho-Fly block.

I made this Flying Geese quilt for my dad using some of Mom's shirting fabrics but mostly new fabrics. I choose the feather print first and coordinated the scraps. After I finished, I was told it was an ambitious pattern for a new quilter to tackle. At this time, I was using templates and not rotary cutting and easier techniques that developed shortly afterwards!

After her death, I used my mother-in-law's hand work to make memory pillows for the family. Laura did amazing work, and embellished every shirt and sweatshirt she owned, as well as finger tip towels. I used the shirt fabrics,  Laura's handkerchiefs, and rick-rack and buttons from Laura's craft room.

Making a quilt from men's shirting fabric has been around for centuries. I have several  in my collection. This one was made from factory remnants and printed markings appear along the edges of some blocks. It is a summer quilt and is reversible.

A quilter friend uses men's shirts to make amazing one-patch quilts for charity. She buys the shirts at the end of rummage sales and likes stripes with bright  background colors, like yellow, pink and green.

Herman's shirts were to be donated to charity, along with most of his few possessions. Living in a small apartment in assisted living, and being blind, he left behind little. His real legacy lives on in his three sons and  grandchildren. But it is nice to have something tangible as a constant reminder of those who have shaped our lives and made us who we are today.