When you hear the term “memory quilt” what comes to mind? A family heirloom?
A quilt made in memory of someone who has passed?
Maybe a quilt to commemorate a specific time in someone’s life?
Are you planning on making a memory quilt, but not quite sure where to begin?
In this article, I will show you some unique and creative ways to capture those precious memories you treasure and turn them into a beautiful functional piece of art—a quilt!
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I am hoping this will help you think outside of the box and get those quilting wheels turning!
If it’s made from fabric, you can use it to make a memory quilt!
What is a “memory quilt”?
Memory quilts have been a staple in the quilting community for generations. People love to have an item they will actually use made from clothing or other fabric that has a specific sentimental value to them.
There is just something so special about creating a memory quilt from clothing for someone who you know is going to cherish it for years to come.
Every time they look at that quilt, a flood of sweet memories washes over them. Now a pile of clothes and fabric that used to sit in a closet unseen is the centerpiece of their living room or bedroom.
So what exactly is a memory quilt? It is quite simple—a quilt full of memories! Here are a few ideas of what the theme or dedication of a memory quilt could be based on:
The list could go on, but I think you get a general idea. When we have moments in life that are precious to us, many times we have tangible things that those memories are entwined into such as:
So let’s dive into some creative ideas and see how some of these things can be made into one-of-a-kind priceless quilts.
- What is a “memory quilt”?
- 10 Of The Best Memory Quilt Ideas
10 Of The Best Memory Quilt Ideas
1. Baby Bib Quilt
Bibs nowadays are made with such fun colors and patterns, you could use them to create a unique baby memory quilt. Even after your little one has grown out of using bibs, you can re purpose them and incorporate them into your next project.
Bibs are usually made from fleece, flannel, or another soft and durable fabric. This will add a wonderful texture to your quilt.
2. Applique Baby Clothes and Blankets Quilt
I’m pretty sure every mom has a secret stash of their kids’ favorite blankets and clothes. Big or small, there’s a stash somewhere. Instead of letting those clothes sit hidden deep within a closet, why not use them to create a special memory quilt?
Cut out some fun shapes like flowers, stars, or hearts to create applique pieces for a quilt top.
I know applique may sound intimidating, but it’s quite simple if you use an iron-on lightweight fusible web interfacing. This will fuse the two fabrics (your quilt top and the applique piece) together and make it a lot easier to sew the applique piece to the quilt top.
I love using this technique, it adds such a beautiful whimsical touch to any quilt.
3. 3D Effect Quilt
Doesn’t that just sound fun?! I have seen several extremely creative ways of making this type of quilt such as stitching an entire stuffed animal to a quilt top, keeping an outfit intact and sewing it directly onto the quilt top with the zippers and buttons still usable, or a quilt top completely covered with whole neckties!
This is a really fun way to keep your items “as is” and still make them a piece of art that you can enjoy.
4. Old Clothing and New Fabric Mixed Quilt
A lot of people want to use clothing that has sentimental value to them, but they also want to add in fabrics that have a pattern or theme that means something to them whether that be a favorite food, movie, sports team, etc.
So a popular idea when making a memory quilt is to mix the old with the new.
For example, you have a bag of your late father’s old flannel shirts that you want to use, but you also want to use some new fabric with his favorite sports team logo on it. Even if the fabric is new, it still holds a special memory because it was something he loved.
5. The Next Generation Quilt
No, I’m not talking about Star Trek, though that would be a great quilt idea! I’m talking about passing something down from one generation to the next.
I actually had a client do this with his curtains he had hanging in his room as a child, and they meant a lot to him. I used both curtains as centerpieces for quilts for his two children!
You could do this with curtains, t-shirt collection (more on that next), blankets, or basically anything that you hold dear and you want to pass down to your children or grandchildren. That’s the GREAT thing about quilts! If something is made with fabric, you can use it on a quilt! There are no “rules”!
6. Classic T-Shirt Quilt
T-shirt quilts are probably the most commonly thought of quilt when someone says the words “memory quilt”.
When you love a t-shirt, you REALLY love that t-shirt, right? So why not immortalize it, and put it on a quilt?
T-shirt quilts are extremely cozy and can hold a lot of memories for you and/or your loved ones. It’s no wonder so many people love them!
7. Their Favorite Things Quilt
So you want to create a memory quilt, but you don’t have anything that belonged to the person you want to dedicate the quilt to.
That’s okay — you KNOW that person! You know their favorite foods, activities, places, colors, even fabrics. You name it, and I guarantee you there is a fabric with whatever you can think of printing onto it. The fabric doesn’t need to be old to be special and memorable.
8. Wedding Dress Quilt
Oh yes. That wedding dress that has been hanging in your closet since your wedding day can be brought back to life!
True, the fabrics used to make wedding dresses will be a bit more challenging to work with than quilting cotton, but it will be well worth the effort to be able to see your dress and be reminded of that beautiful day, every day!
9. Memory Quilt Pillows
Maybe you don’t have enough fabric to create an entire quilt, or maybe you already have 10 quilts and you couldn’t possibly use another one!
No problem! You can make memory quilt pillows instead! These add such a warm, cozy look to any living room or bedroom and are much quicker to create than an entire quilt!
This is also a great idea if you have created a memory quilt and want to make matching pillows!
10. Handwritten Note Quilt
Technology is amazing, isn’t it? You can use it to create a personal touch to any quilting project.
All you have to do is take that note that you have cherished for years, scan it, and then print it onto fabric. You can even buy packs of “fabric paper” for this type of project.
You can use the same technique with pictures, or there are even companies that will print them for you!
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Get Creative and Sew a Memory Quilt
Whether you use memory quilt patterns or wing it on your own, you can see there really are no “rules” in quilt making. Memory Quilts are a great example of that fact.
What is important is the memory and the love that goes into each stitch of a quilt.
I hope your quilting wheels are turning so you can think outside the box and create something unique and special for yourself or for someone you love.
That truly is the foundation of a memory quilt–lots of love!
About the author: Miriam Ronne is a lover of all things quilting and sewing. She is a self- taught quilter and is constantly learning and broadening her skill set to create one-of-a-kind quilts! When she’s not behind her sewing machine you can find her playing with her fur babies or trying her hand at other crafty things.
7 thoughts on “10 Of The Best Memory Quilts Ever”
Thanks for all the new ideas.
I am a newby to quilting and loved reading your memory quilt ideas. I have 2 grandsons (2yrs & 9yrs) and 1 grand-daughter (6yrs) and want to make them each a memory quilt so this has given me some awesome ideas. I want to include a few of their favourite clothes (now outgrown) and a few different age photos (baby, toddler etc).
Thanks again for sharing your ideas.
Do you have any ideas for making a label for a quilt “In
Memory Of——“? Where would be a good place to write or sew it?
Hi, Marilyn! That’s a great question! I know most quilt labels will be placed in the bottom right corner of the quilt top. You could either make a small square and have it be part of your quilt top design, or you could take a square, fold it in half diagonally and then attach it when you attach your binding (lining up the raw edges of the triangle with the raw edges of the quilt). You could either hand stitch the words, write them with a fabric paint pen/marker, or there is a method of printing onto to fabric with your home printer.
I hope this helps! Good luck!
Memory quilts are a great way to get into quilting. What a special gift you will be giving your grandchildren!
Thank you for reading and best wishes with your projects!
I have just finished my very first memory quilt made with cherished t-shirts. I had never made a quilt before either. I loved doing it. Reading your article has opened my eyes for other reasons to make one. Thank you so much.
You are so welcome, Sandie! Thank you! Isn’t it amazing how much meaning and love go into t-shirts and other things we wear. Welcome to the quilting community btw! T-shirt quilts are a great “gateway” into the wonderful world of quilting.