Friday, October 1, 2021

Making a Memory Quilt

A while ago, my neighbor approached me about taking some of her recently passed father's clothing and turning them into quilts. She already had a friend take a number of shirts to make them into pillow covers, to give to family as gifts, and now wanted quilts as gifts for a few special people in his life.


So, after a bit of design discussion and sorting, I came home with 2 bags full of lined jackets and heavy flannel shirts to make into 3 quilts. Here's group 1, which have flannel or denim fronts with fleece lining. Two are just shirts, so I'm adding the red/black plaid fleece to the back.

denim and fleece jackets

Given these items to work with, this is not going to be a standard t-shirt quilt. No, we decided to use a quilt-as-you-go technique, abutting large pieces next to each other, then using sashing to hold them together. Because I have a longarm, the quilting part will be done when it's all put together. 

So, where to start? First thing I did was pin the front and back together near the side seams, to keep the parts together throughout the trimming and sewing process.

safety pins on a shirt

Then I cut the garment apart at the side seams, extending the line into the sleeves, to get two large chunks. I'm going for as much fabric as I can here.

fleece jacket cut into squares

After a bit of smoothing and pin readjustment, it's off to cutting straight edges. Again, I'm going for as much fabric as possible, not concerning myself with a particular size. All I need are parallel edges and square corners. I'm certainly using the grid on the mat to help with that!

trimmed fleece jacket front

Before these pieces get handled further, I did stitch down the front opening, leaving the buttons intact. The same on the back, if needed. There's also a tuck stitched down at the spot where the sleeve meets at the underarm, to take care of excess sleeve fabric. Now this piece is ready for the sashing.

After sandwiching 2" wide black sashing strips around the front and back of the jacket, 

I sewed a 1/2" seam. In the picture below, the sashing on the back of the jacket is folded forward and extends past the seam, for use in the next step.


Making sure I'm not confused as to which side of the adjoining jacket to use, I'll just say that as a rule of thumb, the side that I consider the front (flannel) goes face down. Which means I'll stitch that folded forward sashing piece to the back, in this case the fleece side, of the jacket.

quilt as you go method

After that step, this is the front, with sashing and two abutted jacket pieces,

and this is the back, with the sashing join complete.

That's as far as I've gotten, as I'm repeating the process on the next two rows. Before I finish securing the sashing on the front, I'll hand stitch a wide zigzag to hold the jackets together, preventing any curling within that sashing. There's still more to go, and I'll keep you updated with the progress in future posts.

Until then, Happy Quilting!

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  1. Quite the process! I'm a little confused, but that's easy to do . . . lol! I look forward to the finish.
    Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

  2. This is the perfect technique for these bulky shirts! It will be interesting to watch this progress.

  3. Thanks for sharing your process. Are you adding a layer of batting with the thick jackets? Looking forward to seeing the finished quilt. Certainly will be a warm and comforting quilt.


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