This is a compilation of QUILTNET postings about rememberance quilts.
All comments are the OPINIONS of the person who posted the
Rememberance Quilts FAQ
Purpose of Quilt: Grandmother's 80th birthday
Theme: Family Tree
Who Helped make it: I sent 12 inch squares to each grandchild and
great-grandchild, and requested a painted or stenciled picture
that they felt best represented them. (Total of 12 grandchildren)
How Long did it take: About 2 weeks to get the squares back (not too bad),
then about a week to assemble (not working on it full time).
Special details: Large central panel (36 x 45) contained an appliqued
tree with the names of the children and spouses. Granchildren blocks
were bordered individually, and then set around the side and bottom
edges. The top center block (which would have covered 2 of the twelve
inch block areas contained a stencilied family tree and inscription
"For Memere with love from all of us". Due to a lack of time, the
top was tied and not quilted. All in all, a very popular gift.
She'll be 87 this August, and the quilt has not left the bed since we
gave it to her (except for its annual cleaning)
What would you do differently: I would have liked time to quilt it instead of
Any advice: Go for it...I never thought I could get everyone to contribute in
such a short time, but it worked out well.
Purpose of quilt: Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary
Did it have a theme? No, but I've named it "Everyone had a hand in it".
Who helped to make it? Entire family and guests at party, but I did the
piecing and my sister-in-law will be quilting.
How long did it take? Started it 17 months before party, and we're still
working on the back.
Special details: Chose one color for each child's family (Navy blue, purple,
green, gold, red) and black prints for my parents. Using a different fabric
for each person (my parents, my siblings and I, our spouses and our kids),
hands were traced then machine appliqued onto 12-inch muslin. These were
signed with each person's birthdate written below their hand. (We tricked my
parents into tracing their hands.) Their b/w wedding photo was transferred to
muslin. I made a "Tree of Life" block for the center - sort of like a
medallion - using scraps of the hand fabrics and a printed muslin. Sashed with
green/black print. At the anniversary party, guests were given squares of
muslin (pressed to freezer paper for stability), and fabric pens to write their
best wishes to my parents. These will be pieced for the back, centered around
a family tree to show the growth of the family. (Two grandchildren are already
married, a third is engaged, and there might be a great-grandchild on the way
soon!) My sister-in-law will get the honors of doing the quilting. Before we
give the finished quilt to them, I want to write an essay on how the quilt came
to be, and include some of the amusing obstacles we encountered - like mailing
blocks to far-away places like Hawaii to get them signed, and running out of
(We presented the finished top to my parents at the party, and it was greeted
by many ooohs, aaaahs, and quite a few tears!)
What would you do differently *next time*? I wouldn't slack off once I got
started. (Yeah, right!)
Any advice for someone starting a similar project? Get everyone involved.
My sisters, who can barely sew let alone quilt, helped to cut muslin squares
and press them to freezer paper, and that was a big help to me. Having the
party guests sign the muslin squares was a big hit too. Using the freezer
paper on the back of the squares really helped. As you can imagine, most of
the guests at the party were in their "golden" years themselves, and I wanted
to make it as easy for them as possible.
Purpose of quilt: Christmas present for Mother
Did it have a theme? No; everyone used the same pattern, a
simple bird shape with a calling card in his mouth
Who helped to make it? I mailed pattern and instructions to
Mother's friends and family members.
How long did it take? 4-5 months
Special details: Participants mailed completed blocks to me, and I set them
together with pale green sashing (Mom's favorite color). It was given to her
as a top; she had her church ladies quilt it. I did a similar thing for
MIL with a large applique butterfly pattern; friends signed their names on
the body section of the butterfly.
What would you do differently *next time*? :-) Next time I'm gonna make a
Sunshine &Shadows block (I think that's the name, it's a 12" square divided
into half diagonally; one triangle is black, and the other is diagonal
stripes.) I'll embroider the names myself on the longest stripe. I'll also
quilt this one before I give it away...or else give the top with the under-
standing that they are to give it back so I can quilt it. =-)
Any advice for someone starting a similar project? Most of the women who
participated in both quilts were in the "60 and over" age group; most of them
knew how to applique and embroider. Know the skill level of your participants.
Maybe they could just donate fabric for a block, if you have your heart set on
a specific pattern and they don't know how to hold a needle...
Purpose of quilt: My sister-in-law's high school graduation gift.
Did it have a theme? The theme was to make two blocks that portrayed
significant aspects of the quilt block maker's relationship with Nancy,
Who helped to make it? It was made by friends and relatives. In the case of
some male friends that didn't know how to sew or quilt, the guys helped with
block choice and design and the blocks were made by their mothers.
How long did it take? This took three months, but I wish I had started sooner.
Special details: At the time I made this quilt, I was not living in the area
of any friends or relatives of Nancy. So I mailed two squares of fabric the
size of the unfinished blocks to each person. This kept the colors
coordinated. People could either cut these blocks up and use them for piecing
or applique or use them as background and applique directly on them. The thing
which made this harder than expected was that only about 70% of the people who
had agreed to make blocks really did so, so I made some extra at the end to
have enough. Most of the people who did them, finished and sent them by the
requested date and they were gorgeous. However as you can imagine, these
delays meant that I had to quilt the whole thing in only a few weeks.
Toward the end, the quilting situation became funny though. It was time for us
to make the 10 hour drive to the location of her graduation. We arrived
several days prior to her graduation, but the quilt was unfinished. Everyday
when she went to school we got the quilt frame out of the trunk of the car
where we had it hidden and assembled it. Then we retrieved the quilt from its
hiding place and quilted as fast as possible until shortly before she arrived
home from school when we disassembled everything and hid it. We buried the
thread clippings in the bottom of a garbage can at that time as well. Then we
involved ourselves in some other project around the house and tried to sidestep
those questions about what kind of fun things we had done all day.
We finished it in time and had the joy of presenting it to her at her
graduation party. I will always remember the look of stunned speechless joy on
her face as she realized what everyone had done for her, and then her added
pleasure as I told her who had done each block and the significance of the
memories connected with what was portayed in that block connected as well.
What would you do differently *next time*? :-) If I did one like this again,
I would ask everyone to write a letter to the recipient and make a notebook of
them. I would also make a label for the back that told who did each block and
also include name of recipient and information about the occasion. I would
have done that at the time, but had never heard of anyone doing that.
Purpose: Parents 50th wedding anniversary
Theme: Memories of the golden years
Who helped make it? I sent a short letter and two 6-1/2" 100% off white
cotton squares to 60 friends and relatives of Mom and Dad. (this also
included all immediate family members). 48 people returned their completed
squares. Many also sent a letter for mom &dad and many also sent "old"
photos.I gave suggestions on how the square might be embellished and told them
the only requirement was to use their imagination, creativity, and love for
mom &dad when completing their square. (some suggestions were simply writing
a message using pigma pens, cross-stitch, fabric paints, applique, photo
transfer, etc.)I was not real specific because i did not want to limit
anyone's creativity. I asked only that their square represent a special
memory they have of mom &Dad (or of a time they shared with them). I gave
them a two month deadline to respond. I also enclosed a self addressed,
stamped brown envelope to return their square (and my phone number :-) I had my
sister help me arrange the squares (this took HOURS) once they were all
completed and returned. I machine pieced and machine quilted it.
How long did it take? My first mailing was the first of september with an
october 31 due date. I finally received the last square i was to get the
first week in january (after many long distance phone calls and some idle
threats. i understood if they didn't want to participate, but when they said
they would and then didn't get it done.....) I teach, and over my two week
Xmas break, i assembled all the tiny nine patches for the corners of every
square and the triple sashing strips to join the 9 patches. i asssembled and
quilted it over the next 6 weeks. Their anniversary was march 6. My husband
made a handmade inlaid wood quilt hanger for it (the size was about 75" X
50"). My parents love it and treasure it! They cried and cried when it was
presented at the celebration (110 people, many from out of town, aattended). I
took photos of the quilt &mailed one to every person who contributed.
Special details: i made a big square, heads only, of mom, dad and the four
children (size of 4 squares including sashing, corners etc) using photo
transfer (at my local tshirt shop), and hand applique and hand embroidery.
The pics were all different sizes and each had to be separately done so the
heads would all be the same size. The cost for 6 transfers was about $54 but
WELL WORTH it. Make sure that everyone signs their square on the FRONT. I used
Thermore batting which is wonderful. It hangs beautifully. I quilted (in the
ditch)on all squares, sashing, and 9 patches. Since the squares finished to
6" size, a also quilted around one or two things inside each square. The
squares returned were awesome. I never knew people could be so creative and
do such beautiful work on a 6-1/2" square. I had hardanger, intricate
cross-stitch, fabric painting, fabric applique, photo transfers with ribbon
embellishments, hand embroidered memories and poems, etc. The time and love
that went into each square is very evident!
What would you do different the next time? Nothing, this worked fine!
Any Advice for someone starting this? Start way ahead of time. Plan
thoroughly, keep things simple. Plan on quite an investment of your time
and money. make sure you include self addressed, stamped return
envelopes, and send a picture of the completed quilt to all who respond.
Purpose of quilt: Wedding quilt for daughter and son-in-law
Did it have a theme? A block for each of the 80 guests at the wedding
to commemorate the wedding celebration.
Who helped to make it? My daughter's mother-in-law, who organised the
wedding, gave me a list of all the guests at the wedding, arranged into
groups such as college friends, groom's family, groom's high school
friends, his high school teachers, members of church congretation.
My daughter-in-law helped me to put quilt on basting frame and to pin
baste it. I did all the rest.
How long did it take? Five months as my major activity. That is
working at least a couple of hours a day on it. I hand embroidered the
names of each wedding guest into the centre of each block. It took an
average of 1 hour per embrooidered name. Women's three and four part
names took longer.
Special details: I was not able to go to my only daughter's wedding in
the US because of health problems. My husband and I spoke to daughter and
her husband and to son and his wife, to my mother and other relatives and
to new in-laws while they were at the wedding dinner. I had said I would
make a wedding quilt and my daughter had picked about 100 fabrics from my
cupboard before she left to be married. The quilt was a way of
participating in the wedding without having been there, and extending the
participation for months. We presented the quilt when our daughter and
son-in-law came to Australia for Christmas 16 months after the wedding.
The quilt was made up of simple nine patch blocks using two fabrics which
both harmonised and contrasted in color and design for the outside
squares. The centre of each block was a cream-colored square of fabric
leftover from the wedding dress, on which I embroidered each guest's. I
made all the squares first, using favorite fabrics, with blue-green and
mauve-violets perhaps dominating. No real effort made to coordinate
fabrics and each fabric was used only once. When blocks were all finished
I chose special ones for the people I knew (favorite colors or styles,
etc.) and embroidered names on the others from the list as they came up,
using the plaids and more 'masculine' fabrics for older men I didn't know
just incase they did not want to be represented by purple lace. Nine
patches look from a distance like crosseswith light centres.
To harmonize the diverse colors and styles of the name blocks I did blocks
with a slender diagonal cross. These blocks had smaller, less exhuberant
prints and the crosses were in tone-on-tone prints that read from a
distance as solids. Colors were chosen to give a particular color tone to
the quilt as a whole.
To assemble, I laid out the name blocks around a central X block. Bride
and groom names on either side, block above with place ofwedding,
blockbelow with date. Then all the guests are laid out in groups, grooms
family and friends on one side, brides on the other, shared friends
above, members of the congregation below. With very careful planning each
person block is related to those next to, above, diagonal, etc. Colors
did not always harmonise with the blocks nearby,so the X blocksfor the
spaces in between were placed to create visual harmony. Works very well.
From a distance the X blocks make diagonal connections across the surface
of the quilt, enhancing the visual sense of community.
The quilt back uses the same X formation without the actual X: Broken
Dishes pattern of four triangles four different large scale prints for
each square. If the front of the quilt is wedding guests, the back can
be seen as the wedding food, melting ice cream, cake, and salads.
I used the same fabric in as many colorways as possible so that children
will be able to have fun looking for matching and almost matching pieces.
What would you do differently *next time*? Hand quilt. It was a
pleasure to make and I would have like to make it last even longer.
Any advice for someone starting a similar project? The best and
most satisfying part of quilts like this has to be the individuality and
particularity you bring to it. Choosing a pattern you really like,
fabrics that have or can hold some sort of special meaning, special
details. Our son drew an image of a telephone for me to embroider in the
corner of my block and my husband's to indicate our telephone presence at
the wedding. Don't plan it all in advance. Leave room to adapt, alter and
embellish as you go along, to include unanticipated memories and details.
Purpose of quilt: To commemorate a 25th anniversary
Did it have a theme? My Aunt and Uncle and their family
Who helped to make it? I did it myself
How long did it take? About 1 year
Special details: I used the Twin Cities pattern from Judy Martin's Ultimate
Book of Patterns. The center square was a cross stitch piece. Each square
represented one family member and had 5 symbols depiciting them, their likes,
hobbies, and what I loved about them. Even the dog was included in my cousin's
square sitting on the boat she (my cousin) liked to sail. There were six
squares total and it was a wallhanging. Machine quilted and pieced.
What would you do differently *next time*? :-) Not have it be my first ever
quilting project-although I am hooked now! Take a picture!
Any advice for someone starting a similar project? Start early and borrow
books with cross stitch patterns to reduce the expense. Be prepared for many
tears and feeling really good that you spent the time and effort!
From : Sherrie
Years ago my elderly neighbor gave me alot of old dresses
and aprons and such after his wife died. He said maybe I could wear them
(she was a small woman and I am a good size 14 ! At any rate the clothing was
from the 50's !!! and not in the best shape. As most was cotton, I washed
and dried it and then started cutting sections that were dec
ok and then made square and finally a good sized lap quilt made from the
dresses, aprons, his or his sons old shirts and his daughters dresses.
I used an old flannel blanket for the bat and an old tablecloth for the
back - things he had also sent over. Only the border was newer material-
a navy cotton. At any rate, it was the fastest that I've ever finished a
piece--just tied, but I wanted to get it to him as soon as possible as he
was so lost and alone without his wife of 60 years or more.
I brought it over to him , not wrapped, and placed it in his lap and he
looked at me and said "What's this?" and I replied " A memory quilt.."
and then I pointed to different squares and told him what they had been,
a small boys shirt, his wife's dress, a girls jumpsuit, etc. and
suddenly his face lit up and he started pointing out pieces to me and
telling me what he remembered-- I'll tell you, both of us were in tears
but his were shining with wonderful memories instead of grief. I never
felt so blessed as I did at that moment. A short time later, he took a turn
for the worse and had to move to a nursing facility but he took the
quilt with him. The family said it was on his bed and only let him to
be washed by family and only overnight, so he would not be without it
for long. When he died, his wish was that he be buried with the quilt
over his suit--so it was buried with him. The family said that they
hoped I didn't mind! I was so honored.... and so thrilled that it
meant so much to him.)