Quilt from Men’s Shirts
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.)
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.
I 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
One 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!