Business Anniversary Wall Hanging 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!

Sports Letter Jackets Memory Quilt

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

Out of the ordinary T-shirt 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!

Old Clothes Hold Good Memories

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.

 

Modern Memory Quilts from Shirts

memory quilt from shirts

I’ve recently shipped out a commission for 5 colorful memory quilts. These quilts were made in memory of a man who passed leaving a wife and 3 young boys. Each of them and his parents will receive a quilt to honor his memory.

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The customer requested the quilts be made in Modern style and sent me a box of 80 beautiful dress shirts. I wanted to be sure to distribute the materials well throughout all 5 quilts so first I cut all the shirts apart. I saved the collars, cuffs, and button tabs for a friend who is a multi-media artist. (I just love recycling textiles!)   I sorted and grouped the materials by color groups so as I work and know a color I want, I’ll know where to find it. Solid white and pale blue shirts were set aside to use on the backs of the quilts, supplemented with some other pale colors.

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Depending on my mood each day I chose a set of colors to work with. This type of piecing requires lots of cutting, sewing, re-cutting, sewing again..and so on.

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Working this way I created sections of unmeasured sizes, but most were 18″ – 30″ on a side. I do love the challenge of keeping it interesting, being imaginative.

I layered batting and backing and spent meditative hours quilting these sections. They were still pretty wonky around the edges at this point, but I leave them that way until I’m ready to put a quilt together.

Putting a quilt together is a big jigsaw puzzle—-balancing sections of shape, color and pattern with enough material to fill the requisite 55″ X 70″ (times 5, remember!) I really loved the whole process!

shirt quilt

 

The Broach Foundation for Brain Cancer Research is a Texas-based 501(c) charity that has raised over $1,000,000 to help fund research and find a cure for brain cancer. Please consider them for your charitable donation: The Broach Foundation

New Memory Quilt from Baby Clothes

New Memory Quilt from Baby Clothes

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I finished a cute memory quilt from baby clothes today. Every quilt I make is different and this one is no different. This memory quilt is a combination of baby boy clothes (from twins) and little girl clothes. I love the combination of styles and colors!

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Quilt from clothing

The commission is a surprise for the mother of the children—the dad contacted me and coordinated the whole thing, including sneaking the clothes out of the house and paying via cashier’s check so she wouldn’t see a “mystery” charge in the bank statement. How awesome is this guy?!

 

 

 

The design of the memory quilt was left up to me. I made this one without “sashing” (strips between blocks) because there were a lot of items to include and I didn’t want to take up space with the sashing. It sort of resembles a crazy-piecing technique (only neater!)

 

 

 

 

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Brian included a handmade quilt in the package to use as the backing (I used the front of that quilt showing on the back of my quilt.)

 

 

I worked to fit my design exactly to the dimensions of the other quilt, then opened up the other quilt’s pink binding and re-sewed it to bind both quilts again. That worked out nicely!

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Brian’s only special request was that I include his children’s names on the quilt. To accomplish this in a creative way I found some fun fonts to use to create the names digitally. The boys’ names are in a Lego font and a train font (with an engine and caboose.) He included a t shirt with a monogram that he thought might be a nice start for the girl’s name. I found a font that I thought complimented the style.

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After creating and sizing the name graphics, I applied them to the quilt with a product called Transfer Artist Paper. This is an awesome, versatile product and the results are machine washable. The names are scattered on the quilt and I thought it might be fun for the kids to hunt for their names when they look at the quilt.

I’m blessed to have a bit of a backlog of memory quilts to create from clothes. My most recent memory quilts have been from baby clothes—most of the next few will be from adult clothes and there are some very creative projects coming up!.

Memory Quit from Men’s Shirts

Quilt from Men’s Shirts

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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.

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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.

Piecing

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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family History Preserved in Many Ways

I have a family history of family history. We have letters from the Civil War. We had a wool cape from the Revolutionary War (it’s in a museum in Vermont now). We had a drummer boy’s uniform from the War of 1812. And furniture—I have furniture made by and owned by my ancestors. My dad became a genealogist extraordinaire, researching his and my mother’s ancestry four or five centuries and writing books about these farmers, politicians and pioneers.

Growing up with all this personal history around me made me value many things that my friends didn’t. For me, history isn’t just dates in books and on tests. History is my family’s stories. It’s the homesteads that were built, the births, the weddings, the funerals and the lives that continued through the events recorded in the family bibles. These were real people, not just names in books. I feel a connection to them—through the bed they slept in, the letter they wrote, the desk they built and the christening gown they wore.

 

One of my absolute favorite treasures is a crazy quilt made by my ancestors who were sisters, seamstresses in Vermont. It’s got to be the most extraordinary crazy quilt I’ve ever seen! And guess who has that fabric-love running through her blood? Oh, yes!!!

 

 

This valuing of history has, I’m sure, influenced me to create memory quilts and story quilts to help preserve  other people’s stories.  Modern technology has done away with records of a great deal of our written personal correspondence and piles of pictures. I think making something that captures snippets of cloth, pictures and memories will help today’s families give their ancestors something to remember them by.

For those interested in this amazing quilt, I’ll be posting more photos and further descriptions of its history and the techniques used to make it. And yes, crazy quilting is one of my specialties, too!