Parents are always looking for ways to preserve the precious memories of their children’s early years, yet we give away a cherished memory without even realizing it all the time. We take thousands of photographs and endless hours of videos. And if you’re like most parents, the pictures and tapes get boxed away for the future, or possibly get organized into albums that are stored away. We store away their early art work or projects, curls from their first haircuts, and most everything else we can think of that someday will bring back those fond memories of early childhood.
The one thing we seem to ignore is the clothes that they wore during those years. We donate them to good causes, pass them on to friends and family that have younger children or simply discard the ones that may be unsuitable for wearing any longer.
We all have our favorite outfits that we dress our children in - the ones we know made them the most adorable kid around. It may be the little blue dress with a teddy bear on the front, the tiny tan corduroys and jean shirt that showed he was ready for the toddler’s version of GQ, or perhaps its daddy’s baseball tee-shirt she adopted as her favorite night shirt. These outfits will either be given away, destroyed, or if you’re sentimental you may pack them away in the attic – that is until now!
One of the greatest gifts a mom could ever receive or give to herself is to turn these pieces of clothing into a treasured keepsake and a true work of art. Creating a memory quilt wall hanging can be one of the most fulfilling quilting projects you will ever enjoy. If you are handy with a sewing machine and not sure of exactly how to create a memory quilt, many local quilt shops will offer classes that will guide you from start to finish. If quilting and sewing is something you feel is better left to others, those same local quilt shops can most likely find someone that will create the quilt for you and allow you to help in the design of the quilt.
When creating a memory quilt there are a few points that will make it extra special:
* Be selective – choose items that bring about the fondest memories for you. Do not simply dismiss an item because of a stain or hole. You do not need to, nor should you use the entire garment. You can always find a useable piece of fabric from any item.
* Think outside the box – stay away from squares. Sure you will need to have some straight edges to square up the sides but inside the quilt you can use the round edges of sleeves, the bottom of a dress, or just about any kind of shape you can imagine.
* Use texture to your advantage – select different types of fabrics that lend a variety of surfaces to the quilt. Make people want to touch and feel the materials you used, by using the fur collar from a coat, mix flannels and cottons.
* Use photos – if you have photos of your child in a particular outfit, scan the photo into your computer and print the photo onto fabric specially designed for inkjet printers. Cut the photo fabric out and incorporate it into the quilt by sewing the photo onto the very outfit in the photo.
* Stabilize stretchable fabrics – sew or iron stretchable fabrics onto a stabilizing fabric. This will help the quilt retain its shape and make it easier to work with.
* Experiment – lay the items down onto a large table, the floor or a design wall to envision how the finished product will look. At this stage you can simply overlay the clothes without actually cutting. This will allow you to make changes before it’s too late. As always, live by the quilters and carpenters golden rule here – measure twice and cut once.
* Don’t traumatize your children – if you have a child emotionally attached to a particular item, think twice about cutting it up. If it has been out of sight for a while and not been missed, then it’s probably safe to use, but don’t cut it up in front of your child.
* Have fun with it – remember this is a work of love and the more fun you have creating it, the more love will show in the finished quilt.
A memory quilt wall hanging can be the ultimate gift a husband can give to his wife on mother’s day. Now, I know that most husbands are not capable of doing this alone. Perhaps you can enlist the help of a sister-in-law, sister, mother or yes, even a mother-in-law to assist you. Even if you do nothing more than organize the effort and sneak the clothes out of the house without her noticing that will be a huge help. If you do manage to surprise her, I assure you there are few gifts that will measure up to a treasured tribute to her children. If it’s impossible to surprise her, simply suggest the idea to her, participate in the project and you will be a hero in her eyes.
Don’t throw away your memories – preserve them and decorate your home at the same time with a priceless family heirloom.
Lori J. Ferreira has always had a love of the arts. She has a B. A.in Theater/Costume Design with a minor in Art History. She has worked in theaters, art galleries, retail and corporate environments. Her hobbies include quilting and cross-stitch. She has created a vehicle to promote artisans and craftspeople online with Lori J Gallery and Lori J Gifts . To see pictures of her latest memory quilt creation please Click Here .