Let me explain some quilting concepts and terms you may find on my website:
Technically, a quilt is 3 layers: the top, the back, and a layer of batting in between. These 3 layers are usually held together with machine stitching. If not stitched, the layers can pull apart, shift and look messy. The stitching is called “quilting”. Most of my quilts are quilted decoratively or by stitching along the lines of pieces of clothing.You can easily see the quilting designs by looking at the back of the quilt.
The top of the quilt is where I focus most of my design attention. For memory quilts this is where I arrange all the pieces from clothing in an artistic, attractive way. The design most people think of when they think of memory quilts is a “grid” of squares or rectangles with strips of material in between. These strips are called sashing. Sashing on my quilts can be as narrow as 1 inch or as wide as 3 inches. Sashing is where we can introduce “themed” fabrics based on an interest or hobby.
“Contemporary” or “improvisational” piecing is another style I can use to make a memory quilt from clothing. This sytle is more modern or abstract with pieces that are irregularly shaped, unusual angles, and interesting patterns.
“Crazy piecing” actually dates from the 1800’s and is sort of a blend of a grid design and contemporary-style piecing. There are actually “rules” for crazy piecing so it’s not really improvisational, but still has the fun, whimsical look within the constraints of a grid.
“Art quilts” or “picture quilts “ are created with the same 3 layers, but the top is a picture “painted” with many small pieces of fabric. I often use batiks and hand-dyed fabrics, as well as fabric I have painted. Usually an art quilt is designed to be hung on the wall.
The back of the quilt is usually simpler. I can use purchased fabric (cotton, fleece, etc.) or sometimes materials from the clothing (like the backs of shirts).
The batting gives the quilt softness and dimension. I can use many types of batting, and I usually use a “low loft” cotton batting. Other options include wool batting, silk batting, and bamboo batting. Each has different qualities, pros and cons.
Finally, the quilt has binding around the edges. This binding can be quite narrow or as wide as several inches. This is another place to use themed or contrasting fabrics, or it can just match the back.
Handmade VS factory made
Please remember that quilting is an art that has been practiced for hundreds of years. I stitch by machine and free-motion quilt by machine. Computer-operated quilting machines are available to home quilt artists but I do not own one. My quilts are considered “handmade”. The quilts you see at retail stores are generally not unique, handmade creations. They are cranked out by computer-run machines at factories so, like other mass-produced things, those quilts are less expensive than what I create. Those quilts are not made especially for you. With your clothing and materials. With your memories. And with my great care and unique artistry. A perfect example of “you get what you pay for.”