This quilt is one I’m proud of – not so much about the finished product, but about the process as a whole. After completing this memory quilt, I feel like I made a new friend, not just a new customer. This is the reason I enjoy quilting for other people – I like hearing their stories and making a connection.
Let me backtrack a little – as well as having my own quilting business, I do contract work for my local quilt shop here in Rome, The Stitchery. I recently got a call from them about a customer who came to the store, literally in tears because the quilter she had hired to make a memory quilt from her father’s clothing had done such a dreadful job… she needed someone to take it apart and remake it.
And so I went to the shop to have a look at the quilt. I rarely criticize other people’s work, being very much in the “quilt and let quilt” mindset – but that quilt was stunningly awful. I’ve never seen anything sewn so poorly. I won’t bore you with the details, but the sad point is this – after hours of seam ripping, by both me and a couple of my local quilt guild members who happened by the quilt shop, there was not much of the original shoddy quilt I could even use. Luckily, the customer had leftover clothing! In the end, it was easier and cheaper to stop ripping, and just remake the entire quilt. So these photos are all my work – I decided not to include the “before” pictures since, well, it just didn’t seem very nice.
I met with the customer at the quilt shop, and we spent an afternoon picking out fabric and talking about her dad. She told me about one particular shirt that her daughter had bought for her grandfather (the light orange one you can see in the pictures), about how close her daughter and grandfather were, about which shirts she remembered him wearing and about picking out which clothing to include in the quilt. I hope ended up being a much better experience – she wasn’t given a chance for much input into the first quilt, so I think she was happy to be part of the process. And when she left, as I said, I felt like I had made a new friend.
She likes Dresden Plates, so we went with that traditional block – but made it fresh and clean with the white background and blue sashing. I really like how the white makes the Dresdens pop! The cornerstones are also from the clothing fabric- and I love how that helps to pull the whole quilt together.
We decided to use denim from his blue jeans for the center circles – I used a blanket stitch to secure them since the denim is thick, but just a straight stitch to hold the blades themselves.
For the quilting, I used a soft, curly design around the Dresdens since the piecing was angular and all straight lines. And I always try to make the quilt ready for gift giving by packaging it attractively, including a card with quilt care instructions, and in this case a blank card made with scraps for a personal note from the customer to her daughter.
It was truly a pleasure working with this customer – and I think she would say the same. Thanks for reading, and keep on quilting!