Clothing holds our memories. Maybe it’s the first outfit that your baby wore. Maybe it’s the tiger costume that she refused to take off for a solid year just three years later. Maybe it’s what you wore to your wedding or the camp T-shirt that you wore to the summer camp that you went to every single year as a kid. Maybe it’s the trucker hat that your grandpa always wore or your grandma’s favorite apron.
For preserving memories big and small, DIY memory quilts made from your favorite clothing are both beautiful and practical. They’re not another thing to stuff in a closet or set on a shelf, but something that you can actually use. They’re heirloom quality, but don’t have to be prissy or stuffy.
There is a LOT of variety in what you can do with a memory quilt! Whatever your taste, you’ll find something that you’d love to make (or have made for you!) in the list of my favorite DIY memory quilts below:
This method is one that you can use with another, more traditional, quilt top. It’s a great way to preserve the entire front of a garment, whether it’s a tiny onesie or a pair of jeans decorated with Sharpie.
2. Baby Clothes Quilt
I love this tutorial for making a memory quilt out of baby clothes because it doesn’t get too hung up in a particular pattern. Instead, it shows you how to make the most of cute baby garments, preserving them as much as possible. It also includes THE best way to incorporate a pair of jeans with a hole in the knee!
3. Bunting Quilt
A lot of memory quilts use very simple quilt blocks, but not this one! This quilt includes your favorite fabrics but turns them into flags for a bunting.
4. Memory Quilt Blocks
On the other hand, if you do really want a traditional quilt look, this is how to accomplish it.
5. DIY Memory Pillow
Here’s another great way to share memories with loved ones without making them responsible for the care and keeping of an entire quilt.
6. Double-Sided T-Shirt Quilt
Do you have so many T-shirts that trying to make just one quilt from them would be ridiculous? Make a double-sided quilt, instead! T-shirts are so soft that you really can get away with using them for both the front and back of a single quilt, doubling the memories. For the comfiest quilt, try to put all the vinyl-type graphics on one side and the higher-quality graphics one the other, so that your recipient has a guaranteed soft side to snuggle with.
7. Dress Shirt Quilt
The pattern used here is a peek-a-boo block, which is a really fun way to make the colors and patterns of typical dress shirts more visually interesting.
8. I Spy Quilt
Here’s a great quilt to make for a very small child. Even if you don’t have a lot of garments with novelty prints to work with, you can use the same concept more simply with just color or more traditional patterns.
9. Memory Bear
Okay, this isn’t a quilt, either, but some people would rather have a stuffed teddy than a quilt!
10. Onesie Quilt
It can be tricky to cut and sew those soft and delicate onesies. This tutorial walks you through the process.
I know that this isn’t a quilt, either, but it IS a memory! Since ornaments are small, you can make a whole set from several favorite garments, or just one each for a whole bunch of extended family.
12. Photo Quilt
Did you know that you can incorporate not just favorite fabrics into your DIY memory quilt, but also favorite photos? If you have the right kind of printer, you can even print them onto fabric yourself!
13. Postage Stamp Quilt
This quilt is a great way to, for instance, give some memories of a favorite grandparent to a whole slew of cousins. It also makes a good family reunion quilt, with every member of an extended family contributing something special to the whole.
14. Quilt Embellished With Crocheted Appliques
Along with teaching you how to embellish a quilt with pieces of crochet, this tutorial also gives you a very clear understanding of exactly how to prepare clothing appliques for your quilt, including cutting down the unseen parts to avoid bulk, and enclosing raw edges.
15. T-Shirt Rag Quilt
Jersey knit doesn’t fray, so exposing the raw seams can be a really interesting look.
16. Western Shirts Quilt
There are a couple of really great tips in this tutorial! First, it’s possible to make a memory quilt by isolating just a specific type of garment from a loved one. In this case, it’s Western shirts, but it could also be flannel shirts, blue jeans, maxi dresses–you name it!
It’s also possible to sort out garments in specific colorways for your quilt. I love that this author was able to make some blue quilts and some maroon quilts, and also some blue AND maroon quilts, displaying not just the memory of her grandfather’s favorite type of shirt, but also his (or his wife’s!) favorite colors.
Do YOU have a favorite memory quilt? Tell me about it in the comments below!