Friday, August 5, 2011

The Start of a Memory Quilt

I'm way overdue in posting about my latest quilt.  I think I've been dragging my feet posting about it because I want to say everything just perfectly - and I've been holding off mailing it to my friend because I wanted to box it up perfectly, with the perfect note in the box ... and perfect just isn't me.  I think, I hope, the quilt will speak for my heart.

The short version of the story is that my dear friend Mike lost his dog Mati not long after we lost our girls. Mike is one of those special people who we (my husband and I) regard as family.  Because I knew his cousin first and she always referred to him as "cousin Michael", he's sort of OUR cousin Michael.  :)  ANYWAY... when Mike called to tell us he had lost his Mati to her fight against cancer, I was just heartbroken.  The love he showed to Mati and to his Rocky was so very special - I could listen to him talk all day about either one or both of them.  I wanted so badly to tell him how much I understood and how deeply I empathized with him - and hopefully I choked those thoughts out through the tears.  Then he asked a question that just blew me away.  He had saved Mati's shirts that she wore (to cover tubes/tube ports and to keep her from "troubling" things), her beds and her towel.  Would I be willing to make something from them for him?  I was touched beyond explanation that he'd ask - trusting me with those precious items and giving me creative license to do "something"?!?!  To say it was an honor is an understatement, but it's the best I've got.

Let's take a look at the start to Mati's Memory Quilt.

The shirts were clean, but stained and re-sewn to fit her and to accommodate her medical needs, so I was dealing with smaller shirts with smaller "usable" areas.  The logos were also small (for the most part), so I thought rather than do a "traditional" t-shirt quilt that's basically a sea of logos ... why not cut the logos out and appliqué them to something?  And maybe use part of the t-shirts as ... something.  I didn't know yet.  Then it hit me - what goes better with t-shirts than blue jeans?  I saw a fray-edged denim quilt idea taking place in my head -- with the logos appliquéd to the denim.  I liked the thought of something fuzzy.  Like Mati.  :)

I cut up a bunch of jeans (I do this periodically and stack them up in various sizes...) then started figuring out how best to cut out the logos. They were all different sizes and shapes - so I thought I'd let the logo dictate how it wanted to be cut out. Here's the first one I did:

IMG_3198 Cutting out logos

The CD was just the right size to cover the logo - and going around it SLOWLY with a rotary cutter worked famously!

After carefully cutting out the logos, I realized I had enough of each t-shirt to use as a back to the quilt!  Perfect!!!

Here's how that first block came out prior to assembling the quilt:

IMG_3203 Logo appliquéd to denim

I appliquéd both the logo and a cute tag from one of the other t-shirts. It seemed to round the block out.

After I stitched around every logo, I went in and snipped every half-inch or so.  I don't have a photo of that part, so use your imagination.

I was able to work in pieces of the blankets as accents (you'll see those in a future post) AND because I set the squares 5 blocks by 5 blocks, there is a center square. The "logo" I used there is none other than the embroidered name from Mati's towel:

IMG_3299 Deciding on layout

Can you see it in there?  Here's another look at that block, as I was starting to sew the quilt together:

IMG_3332 Assembly
I my Bernina and its denim foot

I'm so happy that I thought to use denim as my "base" - I don't think a lighter fabric would have accommodated the embroidery from the towel like that.

I've never sewn on t-shirt fabric, so that was new to me.  I confess, I wasn't looking forward to that part, based on what I've heard and read.  Maybe appliquéing it to the denim helped, but I really didn't think it was bad to work with.  I did use a lightweight, iron-on stabilizer for the first few blocks, then realized I didn't really need it.

Over the weekend, I'll get more pix posted.  The snipping/fraying/washing/drying completely transforms the whole look of the quilt!

Thanks for reading!  And to cousin Michael - thank you for entrusting this project to me!!!


  1. What a special quilt! It's wonderful! I can see the love you put it in and I'm sure Michael feels it. Who knew a quilt could make me leaky?

  2. Karen that is such a wonderful idea. I can't wait to see the finished product.


Thank you for stopping by; please leave a comment!