This is 1 of 4 art quilts as pillows I created for a geologist.

art quilt pillow

He told me he me he makes an annual spiritual pilgrimage to Monument Valley, Utah and asked if I could make pillows using his photos as inspiration.

art quilt pillow

I hand painted the skies with fabric paints. In each photo the sky was a different shade of blue…maybe that was just the camera he used, but I tried to duplicate each color as I saw them. art quilt pillow

It’s funny—I had a large piece of hand-dyed orange-ish fabric that sat in my fabric cupboard for years. I couldn’t remember where I got the piece (or why!) but I finally had the perfect use for it. It gave me a great start for each monolith. art quilt pillow

 

 

 

 

 

I also tried very hard to capture important details about each one—-the shadows, highlights and textures.

My customer was very pleased with his pillows!

memory quilt from clothing, pictorial

This is a memory quilt that is a pictorial quilt, made from clothing fabrics. It’s my first true crossover commission!

All the fabrics (except the black background) was from a man’s clothes. The quilt tells the story of who this man was and was commissioned for his 7 year old son. He was a cowboy, wildlife biologist, lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains, camped and fished, and searched for arrowheads,  I was given examples of art for style inspiration and I did my best to give this quilt a sort of primitive/whimsical style.

 

 

memory blanket bear, horse, mountain lion

memory quilt mountains, horse, bobcat, trees, stars

 

 

There are lakes on each end of this double-sized bed quilt, rivers meander down the sides in front of rows of mountains.

Cowboy Memory Quilt detail 1

memory  blanket lake with fish, mountain lion

 

Bandanna centers looked kind of “celestial” and inspired the sky area in the center. Other symbols include horse shoes, feathers, arrowheads, and stars.

center of memory quilt, western, cowboy, horseshoes and starts

memory quilt from clothing, pictorial

 

I used bits of all the clothing that was sent—-about 6 shirts, 2 pairs of jeans and 2 bandannas, and I couldn’t have chosen much better fabrics myself for this type of quilt.

The lakes are from a blue chamois cloth shirt and all the trees were made from 2 green plaid shirts.

 

memory quilt bear, mountain lion, trees                                     Cowboy Memory Quilt detail 4

 

Quilting always adds a lot of interest as well as texture to quilts. The quilting I did helps tell the story.

bear quilted spiral

quilting

 

Spiral antlers add a touch of whimsy to this buck.

memory blanket deer, spiral antlers

Memory quilts from clothing can come in all shapes, sizes and styles. Contact me to discuss how we can create your one-of-a-kind masterpiece!  Amy@AmyCavanessDesigns.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance costumes and a ballet slipper included in a memory quilt from clothing!

This memory quilt includes super-stretchy dance costumes, tee shirts, baby clothes and a ballet slipper!

Quilt from dance costumes

I’ve developed a new technique to include more tee shirt graphics in less space (including more tee shirts in a given size quilt.) This technique involves stitching and quilting graphics on the quilt and then removing excess, or “blank” materials. The effect is like a collage—and pretty dramatic with this tee shirt!

sequinned dance dress and tee shirt combined

Photos transferred to fabric are always a great feature on a memory quilt.Memory blanket with dance attire

 

 

t-shirt, dance and swim suitin a memory quiltI especially love this section of the memory quilt. I stitched the graphic from the “epic” tee shirt over a section of a sequinned dance costume, then cut away the background material to reveal the sequinned zebra stripes behind the rays. It’s a small detail in the overall design, but I think it’s really fun. And yes, that’s a bikini bottom!

 

 

 

Sequinned dance costume, back side of blue jeans including the pocket, and bits of

jeans, t-shirt, dance costumebrightly colored homecoming dresses.

 

 

 

 

Here’s a photo showing a fantastic combination of materials—demonstrating what I am able to successfully stitch together in a memory quilt. Besides tee shirts, this section of the quilt has a baby jacket, sparkly dance costumes, the leg from jeans, and a ballet slipper. Ballet slippers are made by covering a very hard, tough base in beautiful satin. The hard slipper, though full of memories, wouldn’t be very comfy to snuggle with, but I wanted to find a way to include it. My solution was to carefully cut the satin covering off of the slipper and hand-stitch it on to the quilt. I also stitched the satin ribbon laces in a woven pattern to imitate how they would be laced on the ballerina’s leg.

 

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I love this little section—I transferred a darling black and white baby photo to fabric, cut out the figure and stitched it to the corner of a baby blanket, then it was all integrated in the design of the memory quilt.

Photo transferred to fabric sewn to baby blanket

 

The top of this dress was so pretty I just had to find a way to incorporate it in my design.

 

memory quilt from teen's clothing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern memory quilt from shirts

 Modern Memory Quilt from Shirts

Contemporary-style improvisational piecing

A recently completed modern memory quilt from shirts is this full-size bed quilt. This quilt was put together with fabric from a collection of women’s blouses and a couple of pairs of khaki slacks. The colors are lovely and rather summery—-yellow, orange, several shades of blue, mint green and white with a few touches of red. Sewing this quilt as we transition from summer to fall, the colors seemed to mirror what I was seeing out my window—the beautiful blue October skies and the yellows, oranges and reds starting to appear in the green trees.

 

Modern memory quilt from shirts

 

 

 

Backing and quilting

The blue backing was a purchased cotton. There’s a LOT going on on the front of the quilt, so the solid back and binding is a nice restful choice here.  I quilted the layers with my box-within-a-box quilting pattern. I like this pattern with these modern quilts—the pattern itself is contemporary looking and the angularity compliments the geometric shapes on the top of the quilt. Like the piecing on the front, this stitching is done without a pattern—-it’s free-motion stitching.

memory quilt from clothing back

 

Detail photos

Here are a couple of close-ups of the quilt.The way I put the sections together kind of disappears in the rhythms and patterns of color and shape.

Improvisational piecing detail

Contemporary pieced memory quilt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memory quilt wall hanging for a business

I was very honored to receive a commission to create a commemorative wall hanging for a business! Cambridge Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is celebrating their 25th anniversary. CBC is a microbrewery whose award-winning beers are being distributed in increasing numbers of states.

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72″ X 42″

Lots of memories!

I received a number of t-shirts, baseball team shirts, and even a baby t-shirt (“Brew Baby”—so cute!) I got creative with many of the t-shirts, slicing and dicing and putting them back together.

business t-shirt quilt

Photo transfers

I was sent digital photos of murals at the brewery/restaurant and other images which I printed on fabric to include in the memory quilt. I use a product called Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) to transfer images from a special paper printed on my printer to cotton fabric. As you can see, it works beautifully.

Each piece is framed with hand-dyed and batik fabrics which have been strip pieced into interesting sections themselves. The earthy colors are inspired by the colors in the Cambridge Brewery logo.

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 Beer Labels

Another important aspect of this commemorative wall hanging is the beer labels. Again, I transferred the digital images of the labels to fabric and sewed them into the quilt. I carefully free-motion quilted (stitched) around the images on the labels to highlight and give them texture. Then each label was framed with my own fabrics in a contemporary manner before applying to the black background.

beer label transferred to fabric

I found a great themed fabric that featured glasses of beer on a black background which I used for a border around the whole piece. There is a pocket sewn along the top edge of the quilt (on the back) through which a dowel or rod can be inserted for hanging the quilt.

The deadline for finishing this piece was met and I received word that the quilt was very well received.

Here’s to Cambridge Brewery’s continued success!

Today I finished a unique quilt.

This one is made primarily from school sports letter jackets. Nice 40th  birthday gift for a guy to re-live his glory days, don’t you think?

Sports Letter Jacket Memory Quilt

 

Things I liked about this one:

I cut the ribbing off the bottoms of all the jackets and made the border/binding around the outside of the quilt with them;

ribbing used as binding
photos on memory quilt
 I found a buffalo check in his school colors for the back
(notice the strips are on the bias for contrast with the squares);
buffalo check background
Quilting around lettering and graphics besides the
free-motion quilting make the front AND back interesting and textural
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free motion quilting memory quilt

This isn’t your average t-shirt memory quilt!

Unless your average day involves being a sound engineer for famous rock bands!

T-shirt Quilt Rock Bands

I make lots of memory quilts, the majority of which are memorializing loved ones who have passed away. The baby clothes quilts are always uplifting. And the beautiful emails I get from my customers are so heartwarming. But once in a while I get a really fun job like this one!

The girlfriend of a guy who does the sound engineering for rock concerts commissioned a quilt from his t-shirts. There are some big names in there (like the Rolling Stones in London.)

 

T-shirt Quilt Rock Bands detail 2

 

I know people commission work from me when they don’t want run-of-the-mill memory quilts, I don’t tell people how many shirts to send me. I don’t have a set formula for what size I am going to cut the shirt fronts. And it doesn’t end with fitting everything into a grid! I do lots of free-motion quilting outlining and highlighting the graphics on the t-shirt fronts, which makes the backs of the quilts really interesting, too.

T-shirt Quilt Rock Bands detail (back)

 

 

 

After seeing her final photos, my customer wrote me:

I am beyond blown away by your artistic vision. It is quite apparent you take pride in what you do! I love the black on black stitching of the front graphics on the back. It creates a simple but powerful look. Thank you for all your hard work, I’m so happy I found you and can’t wait to see it in person 🙂

This is what makes it all worthwhile!

Wife’s Shirts Hold Warm Memories

I recently shipped a memory quilt made from women’s blouses. A sweet man from New Orleans commissioned this quilt from his wife’s clothing, telling me he remembered her wearing every single piece.

My customer’s request was “keep it simple”—he didn’t want any fancy quilting/free-motion stitching or modern styling. So I accommodated his request for simplicity with clean blocks with sashing and backing from a subtle white-on-white print. 

Memory quilt from old clothes

Women’s blouses are smaller than men’s shirts so, when cutting squares there are fewer creative options. Each block was going to have the button tab as no blouse was wide enough to make a block with just the pocket, for example, like I do with men’s shirts sometimes. So to add variety, I ran the button tab diagonally on a couple of the blocks. A couple of the blouses had square cut-out necklines, so I added fabric behind the cut-out.

shirt blocks

I like to include special features of clothing, so I did include the entire collar on one blouse, carefully stitched down so it wouldn’t make a dramatic shift in texture. Another blouse had pretty white collar and cuffs, so I ran a sleeve diagonally across the block and the white cuff makes a nice accent.

A couple of denim shirts with Disney embroideries were included in the box. I cut the Disney characters out and appliqued them on another denim shirt, basically combining 3 shirts in 1 block.

 

Upon receipt, this is what my customer wrote to me:

“It is beautiful and brings back so many good and beautiful memories. Again I thank you from the bottom of my heart. What a great job! One more time, thank you, thank you, thank you”

I’m so touched and grateful that I could bring that kind of joy to someone.