Memory Quit from Men’s Shirts

Quilt from Men’s Shirts

full side 230-IMG_3332

This is a memory quit from 12 men’s dress shirts.

The man who commissioned this memory quilt requested that I create a Queen sized quilt from his shirts He wanted a contemporary style pieced quilt and even sent me a “rough concept” painting to give me an idea of what he wanted. He didn’t want a memory quilt that had collars, cuffs, etc. I was to only use the fabric from his shirts.





I enjoy corresponding and collaborating with my customers and Aaron and I exchanged quite a few emails about his quilt. We discussed the color options (given the limited palette of blue and brown with a single shirt with orange in it.)

Memory quilt with Kaffee Fassett backing

Aaron wanted the quilting done on the top with an orange thread.  He chose a Kaffee Fassett fabric for the back that had stripes of different widths on a brown background. I used a dark brown thread in the bobbin. I even sent him ideas for the quilting design so he could give me an idea of what he liked. I ended up doing the quilting in a pattern of squares and rectangles that complimented the overall design.


IMG_3355I did  lot of different styles of piecing—some straight edge, some softly curved. I did strip piecing, cut the blocks of strips and switched them around to create new blocks. I cut right through blocks and inserted strips in crisscrossed patterns. I did some log-cabin style piecing, some crazy piecing, some nine-patch type piecing. This was a big exercise in piecing with a very contemporary twist.


Limits Push Creativity

62-IMG_3365One of the things I enjoyed most was the challenge of the limited palette. Having boundaries/limits is a great way to push yourself creatively. It seems counter-intuitive to say limits are creatively freeing, but it’s true.

Designing a quilt from someone’s clothing is an exercise in designing with limits. It’s really so much easier to go the quilt shop or dig through a stash and pick out just the right pieces of fabric—and go back and get more if things get challenging. With a memory quilt, I can’t do that. My boundaries are to use whatever I am given and make the most of it.

Aaron was concerned that there wasn’t enough variety of mediums and darks. Well, one thing I did was use the reverse side of some of the fabrics. One of the blues was woven so that the right side was a very pale blue while the wrong side was a rich medium hue. Both of the brown striped fabrics looked much darker on the reverse sides (the stripes were much duller on that side) so I could use those wrong sides as an almost-black. I think from a distance you can’t really tell how few fabrics there are in this quilt!




Just for fun I took a photo of what was left of the shirts, backing and batting when I was all finished. This is it. I think I did pretty well using up my materials!








>Crazy Piecing Tutorial continued


Crazy Piecing (continued) Be sure to check out the first part in Previous Posts

Image10Here I have started Fabric 3, laying a straight edge right side down along another raw edge of my base piece. I drew a pencil line with a ruler because my base piece wasn’t exactly straight. I’m laying my top piece along that pencil line and stuck in a pin so I can get it under the needle in an orderly fashion.

Image12After sewing along the straight edge, I Image11flipped the Fabric 3 over, right side up. I finger pressed the seam, stuck a couple of pins in along the foundation edge and turned everything over. Now I will trim away the excess Fabric 3 along the foundation piece edges.

Image13Here’s the crazy piecing now. We have the large flowered base piece, the painted fabric (Fabric 2) and the striped silk (Fabric 3).

Image14Next I decided to audition a new piece. I want to get the flowers pieced in without too much getting chopped off, so I lay the fabric on top, folding under right where I want the seam line to be. I finger pressed this fold to give me a sewing line. (This way you don’t have to worry about cutting, allowing for an exact seam allowance, before you sew.)


Ok, I stitched my piece on, leaving the dreaded “L”—2 raw edges to fill. Not to worry.


I sew my next piece along 1 raw edge and, after turning right side up, fold under the raw edge covering the other side’s raw edge. IMG_0018

I stitch very close to the folded edge. IMG_0020This is where embellishments can cover a multitude of sins! A little embroidery stitch or ribbon will look great here. And a button or other cute doodad at the corner completes it.

This new “fabric” will be used to make a handbag that I’m giving away to the 7th visitor today (or whenever). Haven’t actually made the handbag yet, but will in the next day or so and will publish a photo of it when I’m done!



To be a truly “crazy” piecer, you have to be a little crazy!
Here’s a shot of my studio Friday as I was starting to do this project! I’ve been doing a lot of different things, so EVERYTHING is out, and little Dickens finds the piles of fabric to make a lovely nest!

Crazy piecing starts best with a 5 or 6 sided piece of fabric.

Here I’ve started with a 5 sided piece. I usually do my crazy piecing on a foundation piece of fabric. Here I’m using some duck cloth. I like it because it’s quite firm, so when I get ready to do embroidery or embellishments, I don’t worry about using stabilizer.

If you’re crazy piecing to make a garment (like my vests), cut out your pattern with muslin, using EXTRA WIDE seam allowances all around. Here I’m just making a couple of rectangular pieces to make a handbag with.

Next, pick 1 edge and lay another piece of fabric over it, right sides together, with straight edges even.

The top piece DOES NOT have to be exactly the length of the bottom edge, just BE SURE it’s AS LONG.

Now stitch along the straight edges with a narrow seam allowance.

The seam allowance DOES NOT MATTER! (Hello, Quilters! Did you hear that! ; ) What does matter is that you sew a STRAIGHT line.

When you’ve finished, flip the new fabric over. Press (or finger press) the seam open.

Now you can put a pin or 2 in to secure your outer edges together if you wish–depends on how big a piece you’re working on.

Next flip the foundation piece over and trim off the excess of Fabric 2, even with the edge of your foundation.

Now turn everything right side up again.

Looks good!

This is the basic idea. You keep adding fabrics going around the edges of your original 5 sided piece, then piece around those until your base is covered. Because I use scraps that are oddly shaped, I sometimes draw a straight line with a pencil on my foundation piece to help guide me in sewing the straight edges.

I have tons more photos and wanted to write A LOT more, but formatting photos in Blogger is insane!!! Tutorials need LOTS of pictures and this site is not designed for ease of inserting photos. So this is to be continued………..

Well, I’ve found Windows Live Writer to help with blogging, so the rest of the tutorial is posted on May 30. Please post your questions here and I’ll answer them promptly.