Memory quilts come in all sizes and are made using a variety of different techniques. Some memory quilts are created with pictures printed on fabric. Others are constructed using special fabrics, or in a theme that commemorates the person, event or group that is being memorialized.
Your own quilt can be made to match a theme that's special to the person it's sewn for (or about). Working with the person's favorite colors or choosing novelty fabrics that include objects the person was (or is) fond of are two ways to create a special quilt.
You might even decide to make a T-Shirt quilt in memory of a person, place or event. Susie used T-Shirts from walking and running fundraisers to make her breast cancer awareness quilt.
Friendship Quilt Variations
Friendship quilts can be can be classified as memory quilts, but they are usually sewn by friends and gifted to someone who is moving away or has suffered a loss of some kind.
Album quilt blocks, such as Album Churn Dash and Album Star, were originally designed as friendship quilt blocks. Both quilt blocks have a narrow strip that's large enough for a signature or short message. Other quilt blocks can be used in the same way -- my Patchwork Heart quilt block pattern has become a favorite friendship quilt.
Use Photos to Make Memory Quilts
Photos of family and friends are often an important part of a memory quilt. Today's printers make it easy to print colorfast photos on fabric with your own fabric or cuts that are prepared commercially.
Be sure to browse the Themed Quilts Photo Gallery, since many of those quilts are close cousins of memory quilts.
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80th Birthday Quilt for Mom
Marcia says: I wanted to do something special for my mother's 80th birthday, so I made her a memory quilt. I had made a few quilts before, but this is my first memory quilt. She loved it.
Every time I spoke with her on the phone, Mom would tell me how much she enjoyed looking at the quilt and how it brought back so many memories. Mom passed away the next year, so I'm glad I made it for her when I did.Continue to 2 of 15 below.
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Memory Quilt for a Special Daughter
Dottie says: I made this quilt for my daughter, Michelle, for Christmas. I machine embroidered the quilt with the date of her birth, marriage and her daughters' birthdays. This is my first pieced quilt, and it is quilted with heart motifs. The quilt measures about 60" x 70" and my daughter loves it.Continue to 3 of 15 below.
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Memory Quilt for a Retiring Co-Worker
Pictures of Memory Quilts
Sandy says: When my supervisor at OKDHS retired, I had two months to make this quilt, get all the employees to sign it, and have it quilted. I worked so hard on it and got it finished, then got pneumonia and couldn't even be there for his party! He loved it and everyone else at the party did, too. They used the quilt as part of the Fall decoration theme.
Try a PatternContinue to 4 of 15 below.
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Danny-Forever in our Hearts Memory Quilt
From Maxine: My 28-year-old son, Danny, was killed in a tragic auto accident on 4/3/09 in Beverly Hills, California. I gathered up a bunch of his favorite cowboy shirts, jeans and work pants and cut them into squares. to make two quilts -- one for my daughter and one for my other son.
I used pictures of the three together and fabrics that meant something to them. The quilts are about 4' x 6' in size.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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Detail: Danny-Forever in our Hearts Memory Quilt
Pictures of Memory Quilts
Detail of the quilt Danny-Forever in our Hearts Memory Quilt. You can see the full quilt on the previous page.Continue to 6 of 15 below.
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Healing to Whole, a Broken Dishes Memory Quilt
From Cathy: When I was a forensic nurse, I created this quilt for our county's victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to have something beautiful to look at during the medical-legal examination they agree to endure.
There is much symbolism in the quilt.
- The quilt's center is a photo of a broken dish and a whole dish.
- Small blocks of the broken dishes quilt pattern surround the center.
- The corners are whole pieces of fabric.
- The color purple is the awareness ribbon color for sexual assault.
I hope our patients believe they can heal to wholeness again. If nothing else, at least, it provides something pretty for distraction in the clinical setting.Continue to 7 of 15 below.
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Tribute to Jack Frost Memory Quilt
From Nancy: We lost Jack Frost, one of our top English Pointer hunting dogs, to cancer several years ago. It was truly heart-wrenching. I decided to make a quilt of our dogs, past and present, for my husband for Christmas.
Some of the blocks aren't quite the same size because I was in such a hurry to get it done that I just started sewing and then decided I had better have a plan. The quilt still brings tears to our eyes as we lay in bed and talk about the different four-legged family members we've had to let go.Continue to 8 of 15 below.
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Tribute to Jack Frost Memory Quilt
From Phyllis: I made this quilt for our local historical society raffle to help raise funds for repairs on one of its buildings. The quilt is made up of pictures of our town's history, all set into shadow frames. It fits nicely on a queen size bed that's outfitted with a ruffled skirt.
Make Your Own Attic Windows QuiltContinue to 9 of 15 below.
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Quilt In Memory of Brian
From Sheryl: My son was killed in a motorcycle accident on Mother's Day in 2008. He was a musician. I made this quilt for my cousin, also a musician, who was very helpful to me during that very trying time.
There was a tornado the night he passed away, and it is represented by the spiral design in the corner of the quilt. The sheet music includes the words to a poem that I wrote about my son the night after the accident.Continue to 10 of 15 below.
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Mom's First Quilt
From Fran: My first quilt was inspired by being unemployed, 60 years old, and needing something to occupy my time when not looking for a job -- being productive creates a positive feeling. It is a full-size quilt. The front depicts our son's wedding picture and a photo of our grandson.Continue to 11 of 15 below.
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McKaylee's Memory Quilt
From Nancy: My great niece, McKaylee, came to visit us in Colorado, along with my brother (her grandpa). We took her to Garden of the Gods, horseback riding, had a barbeque and traveled to the mountains.
The memory quilt was a Christmas gift to commemorates her visit. She was excited to receive it and loves looking at the pictures and remembering her visit.Continue to 12 of 15 below.
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Little Bit of Happiness Quilt
From Marilynne: After my husband's first wife passed, he remained close to her mother, Mona. When we married, Mona became my surrogate mom. So naturally, I had to make her a quilt featuring her favorite colors - green and apricot.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Grandma's Family History Quilt
From Dana: I hand pieced and hand quilted this quilt for my grandmother as a Christmas gift from our entire family. Her four kids (including my mother) sent me photos and contributed to the cost.
Four generations of our family are pictured. This was the easiest quilt I have ever made, and my favorite.Continue to 14 of 15 below.
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1959 Remembered Quilt
From Judy: I designed and constructed this quilt to be auctioned at my 50th high school class reunion. It was purchased and is now cherished by a fellow classmate who lives many miles from our school.
The quilt has a traditional label on its back, plus a label with the Class motto, color, flower and other items specific to the school. Another label lists our Alma Mater, and there's also a label that lists the deceased classmates.
After the purchase, I made another label with the purchaser's name, class picture and a picture of him with the quilt. It was fun!Continue to 15 of 15 below.
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Sandra's Memory Quilt
From Sandra This memory quilt was a birthday gift for my husband. He was in the Navy back in 1960 and 1961 and has recently been contacting some of his old buddies, who have been delighted to hear from him. I had no idea what I was doing since I have made quilts but not designed one. I started printing his Navy pictures onto cloth and placed them against a dark blue background that reminded me of the sea.
- I used jute to section off the pictures and to symbolize ropes on the ship.
- The braid around the pictures is like the braid on their uniforms.
- Under each picture, I embroidered a description of it.
- I used embroidery designs to fill in between pictures.
I made a drawstring bag for the quilt with the Navy insignia and my husband's name embroidered on it. He takes the quilt everywhere to show it off and has even sent pictures of it to the friends whose pictures are on it.
The quilt measures 72" square. The backing fabric depicts flags and the Declaration of Independence as an all over print on a cream background.
Take a look at the Patriotic Quilts Photo Gallery.