My cousin passed away unexpectedly last December and I offered to make my aunt and uncle and his sister a memory quilt from my cousin's old shirts, shorts and pants (no t-shirts!). I wanted the quilts to look like traditional pieced quilts, not what I had always seen done for memory quilts - with large squares of fabric from shirts sewn together in a 1-square pattern (click here to see what I'm talking about).
I had see this quilt on Instagram, and liked the idea of making a string quilt. I thought it would be a way to mix a lot of fabrics successfully, but wasn't sure how I wanted to construct the blocks. The "Blue Strings" baby quilt that I just blogged about was my first attempt at constructing string blocks. The primary color baby string quilt was my second attempt (though it's still waiting to be quilted).
The two different construction methods that I used worked well enough, but after making these 2 quilts, I decided that with my cousins shirts I didn't want to mix all the different fabrics in one block and I didn't want to have to tear out foundation paper. In the end, I didn't use either method that I tested, and instead tried something new entirely, and I loved it.
For my blocks, I cut apart the shirts and pants/shorts to make them in to the biggest flattest pieces that I could. I also left pockets and buttons where I could.
Next, I cut 12 1/2" squares from the biggest pieces I had (the backs and arms of shirts and the legs of pants), and cut the rest of the smaller pieces in to strips of varying widths (from 1 1/4" - 2 3/4"). Once I had everything cut and could see what I had to work with, I separated the large 12 1/2" squares in to a set of dark squares for my aunt and uncle's quilt in Wisconsin, and a set of lighter squares for my cousin's quilt in Florida. Then I went to work using the "slice and insert" method - slicing the 12 1/2" square and sewing in a strip of a contrasting fabric. I opted to use 1 fabric for all the inserted strips in each block, and tried to keep things consistent. For example, I used all the strips from the camo shorts in navy blue 12 1/2" blocks, and strips from the black and white shirt in light blue squares, etc. When I had inserted 4 strips in each square piece of fabric, I trimmed the block down to 10 1/2" square.
I backed both of the quilts with the same deer head print from Art Gallery fabrics (Hello Bear Buck), and quilted them with 1 1/2" spaced straight lines. Since some of the clothing fabrics are heavier than quilting cotton, the quilts are also a little heavier than my normal quilts, but have a lovely drape and feel to them. I was worried about incorporating things like Carhartt canvas in the quilts, but actually found that the canvas was one of my favorite fabrics to work with - the more slippery synthetic shirt fabric not so much.
I am thrilled with how these "memory" quilts turned out, and with the fact that people don't immediately recognize that the fabrics in the quilts are old shirts and pants. I think that they look like great quilts in themselves, and have special meaning to the people who will be using them.
Both quilts finish at roughly 60" square (using a 6x6 layout and 36 blocks each).
Blocks finish at 10" x 10"
For pictures of these quilts in progress, please check out #quiltsfrombeau
I feel like I haven't actually finished a quilt in a long long time, and it feels good.
This little guy was made for two reasons: the first was to try out piecing a "string" quilt using a paper tear-away foundation, and the second was to make a quilt that I could back with this particular fabric (see pic below).
I had fun pulling all these grays and blues from my fabric stash - and even had the green binding fabric on hand already. My friends tease me that I've made a lot of blue quilts lately (here, here, here, here and here), but I still love the cooling, calming feeling I get when I look at blues and grays together.
This quilt finishes at roughly 32" by 40" and I used blocks that finished at 6.5" square
I quilted it myself with straight lines spaced 1" apart, and I used my usual Warm & White batting.
I didn't love the paper foundation method that I used for this quilt - I'm never a huge fan of pulling the papers when the blocks are made (or when the quilt top is assembled). So for my memory quilts, I opted to go another way for construction. More on that soon!
August was a flurry of work and preparation during the first half of the month and then a couple of major let-downs in the second-half of the month.
For the first two weeks or so, I spent a lot of time preparing for the Sewtopia sewing retreat in Milwaukee. I cut up 7 yards of fabric for the class with Tara Faughnan, made a swap item, and finished two sets of traveling bee blocks to surprise my roomie (one of the sets of blocks were her blocks and I hoped to surprise her by returning all of them to her).
Then we got a call that my father-in-law had only hours to live (he's been fighting cancer for 2 years), and I had to cancel my trip to Milwaukee the day before I was set to leave (to stay home to watch my kids), and my husband rushed home to be with his parents. First major bummer was cancelling my trip. (My father-in-law lived through the weekend...and actually lived for two more weeks after that).
Since I wasn't able to deliver the traveling bee blocks to my friend in person in Milwaukee, I popped them in the mail to surprise her when she got back from the retreat. When, after a few days, she hadn't received the package, we tracked it and slowly figured out that it had been delivered Saturday while she was gone (it was Tuesday), and had been stolen from the lobby of her apartment complex. We lost all the blocks for two quilts. It was the last round for one set of blocks, and the other set was being returned to the person who started the quilt. Major bummer number 2.
The month ended on a very sour note, and I think that's why it's taken me a little while to get around to putting this post together. Moving on tho...
Works in Progress (WIPs):
I was happy to finish the second memory quilt top in August (above). So exciting to have an empty design wall once again.
I guess that my prep for Tara's Sewtopia class counts as a new project. I cut 7 yards of fabric in to 6 1/2" strips and had so much fun picking colors (top right) and actually ordering fabric for the project rather than just trying to pull from my stash. Friends who attended the retreat picked up the class materials for me, and I hope to start the quilt at our "quiltn' sisters" retreat in October.
August is "Back to School" in Colorado, and this year I opted to sew some boxy totes for my 4th graders to use as pencil cases. I had fun watching them pick fabrics and got a kick out of their choices (top left).
Traveling Bee Blocks:
I was really down-heartened by the loss of two sets of our traveling bee blocks. I felt terrible. Even to the point that I really didn't want to sew for a while. So many people had put so much work and thought in to their blocks. And now they were all gone - probably in a dumpster somewhere, because what thief wants quilt blocks? Regardless, below are the blocks I made, and above were all the blocks for made for each quilt. For Steph's Norwegian quilt (above right), I made two star-in-a-star blocks that were 16" square, and for Kayla's neon flying geese quilt (above left) I adapted a block by Kristi (@initialkstudio) and made 5 strips of flying geese. As always, you can check out the hashtag #iwishicouldgotootravelingquiltbee2 on Instagram for more pictures of all of our traveling quilts.
Every August my local quilt group hosts a quilt show and I had the project of making the award ribbons again this year. I've gotten the process dialed in and enjoy making and assembling the parts of the ribbons.
The other project that I finished last month was my swap item for Sewtopia Milwaukee: an English-paper-pieced pillow. I had made this ring of colorful hexagons to try out an idea for my next epp quilt, and it was tacked to my design wall partially finished. I was undecided on whether I wanted to make an entire quilt of these rings (or in the layout show in this post), and while I debated with myself on which direction to go with that quilt idea, I opted to make the block in to a pillow.
Fabric Purchased: 25.5 yards
Fabric Used: 31.5 yards
Net for the Month: -6.25 yards
Net for the Year: 45.25 yards
When I had to cancel my trip to Milwaukee, I totally tried to make myself feel better by going fabric-shopping in Denver. That little excursion netted me about 19 yards of new fabric, and then there was the 6 yards that I bought for Tara Faughnan's Sewtopia class.
I used up fabric this month by piecing together a large quilt-back (more on this later), donating some unwanted fabric to my local guild, making the bee blocks, and making a few assorted bindings and quilt backs for the memory quilts.
On to September!