Memory Quilts

In Spring of 2017, I was starting to work up the courage to start my business. My friend, and neighbor at the time, trusted me and became one of my first clients. She had a box of onesies and shirts from her two kids when they were babies and toddlers. There were memories in these garments and I could tell that she cherished them. But she wanted them on display rather than in the box in her closet. So those cute little baby clothes became memory quilts. Like this Christening suit that was shared between the brothers, each one got a part of the suit on their quilt.

To be entirely honest, I was scared to cut in to these precious clothes! I did a lot of reading around the blogosphere to figure out how best to make the quilts and collected a bunch of tips from here and there. Unfortunately, I have lost those links otherwise I would link them here.


First thing was to cut the garment seams. For the most part, I was only using the front design, but there were a few exceptions.

Interfacing was key, most of the garments I was going to use were knit vs woven. Based on the smallest sized onesie, I decided that I was going to make shirt squares 6″x6″. Some of the shirts required different dimensions based on their designs or what I was trying to highlight. After cutting some lightweight interfacing squares (used 6.5″x6.5″ to allow error), I ironed them to the design area I wanted.


I had some chipboard in my crafts supply so I cut out some cutting templates and cut out the shirt squares with it.


The rest of the quilt is fabric that I purchased based on the color preferences of the child the quilt was being made for. I had to get fabric for:


  1. quilt squares – used to frame the shirts
  2. quilt sashing – the strips of fabric that went around the quilt squares
  3. first border
  4. second wider border
  5. back piece
  6. joining back pieces


The quilt squares are 10″x10″ and I attached the shirt squares to the quilt squares using a satin stitch and embroidery thread. This became my foundation. It also took a WHOLE lot of time to go through 70 squares. I was immensely grateful for the start and stop button on my sewing machine!



Once all the quilt squares were done, it was time to figure out arrangement. I first drew out how I wanted the quilt to look.


Then arrange the squares, take a photo, rearrange and repeat until I was happy. A few things I kept in mind were that the squares that were not flat needed to be further down the quilt and not close to each other; and I wanted the middle square to be the shirt that was the first of the child’s (at least what seemed like the first to me).



The rest of the quilt was pieced together based on the diagram I drew out and calculated how much of each fabric I needed. The back was also pieced together because I did not have wide enough fabric to go the entire width.

Quilt Sandwich

To make the quilt sandwich, I pinned the back piece down to my carpet. I used nice thick quilting pins to do so and really stretch it out. Then I did the same with the batting. Both the back and batting were intentionally larger than the front by a few inches all around to compensate for shifting. I used quilting safety pins – they have a bend in them to help pull up from a flat surface – to pin the sandwich together.


Free Motion Quilting

Classes I recommend:

  1. Free-Motion Quilting With Lines, Curves & Loops, with Debby Brown – Debby goes through different letters in the alphabet to give you a basis for different types of stitches. I can’t recommend this enough if you are learning to do free motion quilting. She also has a pdf file with all the different types of stitching patterns to help you out.
  2. Free Motion Quilting a Sampler, with Leah Day – Leah helps with putting together a quilt to stitching patterns.


I started off doing a “ribbon candy” free motion on the top and down one side of the border.


Then went to the middle quilt square and did a pattern with in the block. I quickly realized the size of the quilt was too big for me to handle so each block got a different stitch pattern (don’t hate me if I’m using the wrong terminology!). I should have sat this way!


It was easier to go row by row quilting each block. And in between each row I ran a sine curve in the sashing to help keep it all from shifting to much. In the end, I’m happy that I had to quilt this way. I tried to personalize each block based on the type of shirt it had.

“one two three”:RPX_6253

Bumble bees:RPX_6252

Little army bootsRPX_6251

Merry Christmas:RPX_6248

Spider webs:RPX_6222


I did a machine binding using the left over fabric strips I had. Attaching the binding to the bottom side first then folding it up and doing a stitch really close to the edge.


The finished binding:RPX_6263


Well there you have it! Two twin size memory quilts done and done! I hung some rope on my deck posts and used clothes pins to keep it up. It was very windy that day making it hard to get nice photographs before the quilts started falling out of the clothes pins!



The back view

And some more squares:





Have you seen or made any memory quilts? What are some tips you have for another quilt like this?

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