Memorial Quilts

Last spring MLQ received a request to make a quilt from shirts of a man recently deceased. His daughter requested the quilt to be  big enough to cover the top of a double bed for now but could then be used on a single bed should her mother eventually need to move into care.

In August as I was preparing to head to the mainland to deliver quilts to Canuck Place I got a text from Joan telling me to bring my rolling suitcase…the shirts had arrived! There were two bags of shirts and ties. A note attached to one bag stated these were to be used and if needed, items from the other bag could be added in. Anything left would then be donated to someone in need.

Working with men’s shirts goes a lot quicker than little baby clothes but it is still a lot of work. Firstly buttons and zippers need to be removed. I then cut the sleeves off and open before taking apart the front and back of the shirt. Once that’s done it gives you an idea of how much fabric you have to work with. Then you have to decide how best to use the other items that may be included.

I used all the shirts from the first bag along with a light green shirt from the second bag. After I decided on the design for the quilt I decided that I would need to cut strips from the shirt fronts that include pockets. There are two pockets in this quilt as well as a cuff placket, this is after all a “shirt” quilt! Included in the first bag was a tie and 4 butterflies cut from his car seat covers.


Chris told me that her dad liked butterflies and flowers so we decided on a flower quilting pantograph to complete the quilt. This gave the quilt a little bit of femininity to go along with the masculine shirts. I’d kept a navy shirt pocket to use as a label if she would like to have one. Joan used her embroidery machine to complete this part. 

I was able to get 4 corner blocks from the tie to help frame the center of the quilt where I’d appliqued the butterflies. (Click on the pictures to get a larger view.)

Recently I was watching a discussion on the Canadian Quilters Facebook page about the pros and cons of making memory quilts. I was amazed how many thought it wasn’t worth doing. Yes, it’s a lot more work to cut and assemble a quilt from shirts/t-shirts than it is from actual yardage. You really have to like doing this kind of work (kinda like mending, lol)  but I find it extremely rewarding. In the thank you card from Chris she says ” In making this quilt you have given us something to hold and treasure forever from a man that meant so much to my mom and I.” Like the quilts that go to the families at Canuck Place, if we can bring a little bit of peace and happiness to someone, why not? :)

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye


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