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How to Make a Memory Quilt

Mary has many hobbies and shares her ideas and passion in an easy to read user-friendly way.

Quilting by hand

Quilting by hand

Commemorative Quilts

Have you ever heard of a memory quilt? These are quilts made to commemorate someone or something special as a lasting memento. I have many quilts that were made by my grandmother and great aunts, these too evoke memories. I can look at my quilts and remember dresses that were made for me and my Barbie® dolls forty-five years ago. My grandmother would sew together the small pieces of fabric whilst sitting next to her husband watching Jeopardy. She didn't need to look at the screen to call out the answers. She just kept quilting. This was part of her nightly ritual, for many years, and although she has now passed away, her handiwork still holds a pride of place in the homes of my family.

Quilts holds memories and it is this, I believe, that makes them so special as no commercially produced bedding can achieve this level of attachment.

Events to commemorate with a memory quilt

Many events can be commemorated by making a quilt. Weddings, anniversaries, births, deaths, graduations just to name a few. The key is to gather items together that are special to the person that will be receiving it. If you aren't sure, ask their friends and family for ideas.

I have a video below that shows just how easy it is to print a photo onto fabric to be used for your quilt. Using this method, you can create stunning keepsakes, for yourself, friends and family.

Although I am using the word quilt, which usually means to stitch layers together with a batting between, it doesn't have to be like that. You can merely applique this onto fabric to make a large wall hanging or a cover for the bed. The end product can be whatever you wish.


Use items that are memorable

If someone has passed away, a good thing to do with the t-shirts is to make this type of quilt. You don't have to know how to sew, there are people who can do the this for you. If you supply the t-shirts, the notions and the fabric for the seamstress, she will be able to create something totally unique and unforgettable.

The reason to use t-shirts is everyone has their favorites. Some have quirky sayings on them reflecting the interests or sense of humor of the person that passed away. It is this part of the shirt that will be used to form the front design.

There may be t-shirts from favorite bands, beers, or even fishing t-shirts. If these were left as t-shirts they might be given away to a charity shop such as Goodwill. By creating this quilt, they will be on view and hopefully help with the healing and grief process .

The names of 5,953 service members cover the beautifully-woven memorial quilts, which are displayed in honor of America’s lost heroes at Camp Pendleton’s South Mesa Club until Oct. 8. The eight World War II-inspired quilts were made by Elaine McDonal

The names of 5,953 service members cover the beautifully-woven memorial quilts, which are displayed in honor of America’s lost heroes at Camp Pendleton’s South Mesa Club until Oct. 8. The eight World War II-inspired quilts were made by Elaine McDonal


Memory of graduation

A memory quilt can also be made to commemorate a graduation as well.

Print graduation photographs onto fabric and put these into a quilt. The school logo, the year of graduation. Maybe even a report card! If the student participated in any clubs or sports, these should go onto the quilt as well.

Remember for printing, it doesn't have to be just photographs, it can be artwork as well. If you aren't skilled at art, there are many clip art sites on the internet where you can download them and some are even free.

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Photographic quilt

Photographic quilt

Wedding quilt

Wouldn't this make a fantastic wedding gift! You could show pictures of the couple together. Things they enjoy together. A picture of wedding rings.

You could use their invitation and print this onto to fabric to be stitched in. . If you have pictures from their youth, these too can be included on the quilt. Ask the families if they have any photos that would be suitable. You will only be scanning them so there will be no damage to the photo and it can be returned to them.

One suggestion is to include a tree , this could represent the start of a family tree. Be sure to include the married name.

Baby's first year

Baby's first year

Baby's first year quilt

What can be more special than your baby's first year? It will fly by and before you know it. Keep those memories safe by making them into a quilt . This could be the blanket that your little one came home from the hospital in or squares of their pajamas or clothing. Photographs are of course important, but what a wonderful way to have something to hold on to. This is something that can become an heirloom and perhaps given to them when they are older.

More ways to save memories


Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 26, 2013:

Hello Bill,

I must admit, I hadn't heard of them until my sister wanted one made from the t-shirts of her boyfriend that died. I think it is a wonderful idea. Quilting I believe is a mixture of art and sewing. I love looking at them. Thanks for stopping by and I hope your Sunday is a peaceful one.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 25, 2013:

I have heard of memory quilts my friend. My grandmother had one and left it to us when she died. Quilt-making is a beautiful art form.

Wonderful read!

Have a great Sunday!


Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 23, 2013:

Hi Grand Old Lady,

Quilts have evolved over time. Before they were used as a method of making blankets for warmth and using any available fabric. Now, there are so many patterns and can be quite ornate or simple. With the use of the printer, the possibilities are almost endless.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on May 22, 2013:

Very nice article. I remember a movie about an American quilt. Now I understand what a meaningful tradition this is. It's really very lovely. The video is also very helpful in showing how you can use photos to make the quilt. Thank you!

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 22, 2013:

Hi Diana,

That is a great idea. I hope the receivers realized how special they were and the history behind it. Thanks for sharing your story.

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on May 22, 2013:

These are great projects. When my grandmother passed away back in 1972 she left behind a stash of fabric which I still have some of today. Even the small pieces can work in a quilt or wall hanging. I used most of the pieces handed to me for covering special picture albums with. They were welcome gifts at weddings and baby showers.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 22, 2013:

Hello Ms Dora,

Oh that sounds like a wonderful project. What a good idea. I am pleased you enjoyed these ideas. Thanks

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 22, 2013:

Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas. I have seen memory quilts. I belonged to a women's organization in which groups of women from one location contributed patches of landmarks from their area. I t was a fun exercise.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 22, 2013:

I know what you mean. Some get too sentimental to use. This is not the case with my quilts, they are on the beds, ready for use. In the UK my kids and I would sit beneath one on the sofa watching TV together. Thanks for the vote and comment.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 22, 2013:

Hi Frogyfish,

That is just the thing, you don't have to make it. My sister had one made after her partner passed away. She gathered up his favorite t-shirts and took them to a lady who advertises to do this. The end result was wonderful and my sister gave it to her boyfriend's mother. I feel it helped both of them with their grief. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

moonlake from America on May 21, 2013:

Enjoyed your hub. I once helped my friend make a memory quilt. I think they are so nice. I kind of like the older quilts. It's funny when quilts start getting to fancy I don't like them as much and I know how much work has been put into them but they just aren't what I like. Voted up.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on May 21, 2013:

Interesting and informative article and video. Guess I'll never make the quilt, but it is a fantastic idea and craft. Thank you for sharing this hub.

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 21, 2013:

Helllo Same DiNamics,

Years ago women made quilts as a necessity, now it is more for pleasure and for keepsakes such as these quilts. Some are beautiful works of art.

Thank you for your comment and welcome to Hubpages.

Dianne Hunt from Maryland on May 21, 2013:

This is really neat. I like the idea of quilting but have yet to try it out. One day I'll get there. :-)

Mary Wickison (author) from USA on May 21, 2013:

Hi Joe,

Glad you enjoyed it. Although quilts may not have been needed in your home in Hawaii, I'll bet you need them up in the Pacific Northwest!

As always, wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on May 21, 2013:

This was an excellent topic to write about, my friend, and I love that you presented it in such a reader-friendly manner. Thank you, too, for including the cool video about how to print photographs onto fabric. Aloha, my friend, and have a nice week!


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