Memory Quilt Ideas

Hope this finds everyone well and enjoying their summer.  I have been traveling a lot visiting family and friends and it has been great.  I have also spent time designing quilts for my family that I can’t wait to get started on.  A few are in the works but since they are gifts I will share them at a later date.

What I would like to share are a group of quilts that I recently did for a client that used a variety of techniques that I teach in my classes and book.  Some of you may have seen some of them before in my or other quilts but I think it is good to see lots of examples of the flexibility these quilts have as far as what you can put in them and how you can add a personal touch to any quilt with just a little extra thought and work.

I did three quilts from this clients husbands t-shirts.  Each quilt had different shirts for the most part but several things were requested to be in all three quilts.

They are big Redskins fans and he had several shirts but only one pair of pajama bottoms.  I took the pajama bottoms and framed out the shirts in different ways and since I had only 2 shirts used the logo on the sleeve from one shirt for the third quilt. You can see in the photos below the different ways I used the fabric from the pajamas.

Photo 1 

Photo 2

Photo 3

These photos also show several different ways I combined shirts to make blocks. In photos 1 and 3 you can see that I combined two shirts.  Photo 3 also shows how I combined 4 of his polo shirts to make a block.  Each of the quilts has one of these blocks in it. Photo 2 shows how I took a white shirt and framed it in black so it would pop and not get lost in the sashing.  This photo also shows how I appliqued two logos from other shirts onto a whole block to include them in the quilt.

The daughter had a baby blanket that she wanted included in the quilt.  I put it in the four corners of the border.

Does it match perfectly?  No it doesn’t but that is ok these are memory quilts not works of art.  Of course you want to do the best you can to make a nice looking quilt but you are not always given things that match and necessarily go together perfectly. Sometimes a quilters perfectionism about matching and blending of colors and fabrics has to be thrown out the window for the more important idea that the memory of a loved one, time or place must take priority.  I sometimes cringe at what I need to do or am asked to do to make a quilt but when I see the look on the clients face and hear they cried when they got it I know throwing my perfectionism out the window was the right thing to do for the sake of the memories.

Each of the quilts had a quote embroidered and placed on them as well. Below is an example of one of them.  I am not comfortable embroidering directly onto a clients shirt so I usually use other fabric, in this case the extra fabric from the back of the shirt, and do the embroidery on that.  This way if anything happens during the embroidery process it does not damage or ruin the memory item. I simply applique the embroidery onto the shirt.  You can barely notice the applique since I used matching thread.

The last thing I wanted to show you was how I did one of the backs.  One of the quilts had too many shirts so I took five of them and place them on the back of the quilt.  It helped to utilize all the shirts she gave me and at the same time added a nice design element to the back of the quilt.

I hope these examples of different techniques gets you blood flowing with different ideas for your own quilts.  Don’t forget to think outside the box and when you have to make a choice be truer to the memories you are saving than to the aesthetic of the quilt.  This is very difficult for quilters, we are artists at heart which is why making these kinds of quilts is not for everyone.

I would love to see and share some of the memory quilts you have got going out there or did for graduations.  Drop me an email with some photos that I can share.  Also, don’t forget to contact me should you come across something you don’t quite know what to do with I will be happy to troubleshoot it with you.

Keep enjoying the summer and hope you are getting in some fun time with family and friends.

Happy Memories,  Trish


Conor’s Finished Quilt Top

Well, it has taken a while but Conor’s quilt top is finally done – YEAH!!! And I finished it before he was in Preschool or even High School LOL.  Life has been so crazy I haven’t had much time to work on it so I was excited that I finally had a block of time to finish it.  I still have to quilt it but I wanted to share with you.

The first two photos are of the train station, water tower and track observation building blocks. I used photos of real ones to make the applique’s.  I don’t add all the details from the photos, just make the basic buildings, so it is easier to stitch.

I sewed the center together first with the railroad crossing sign, station and water tower block.  I made sure this piece was the same length as the side train pieces.

When I added the border I decide to miter the corners.  I don’t usually fuss with mitered corners but in this case I thought the fabric I was using warranted it.  I am really happy with how it came out.

I am going to finish the quilt this weekend as well as working on some other projects that have been in my queue since we are just hanging out at home.

What are you doing this weekend?   Whatever it is please take the time to give thanks for our Independence and all of our freedoms. Especially thank all our military and others who fight everyday to keep us free and allow us to enjoy this long weekend.

Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July. God Bless


A Few Odds and Ends to Share

Hope this finds you doing great. I have been busy finishing some quilts for my clients and dealing with family stuff.  There have been several posts on Facebook the last few weeks that I saved to share with you.  Since not everyone is on Facebook and, of course, not everyone who is on gets the same feeds so I like to share good information that I see so everyone can benefit.

Jenny Lyon of Quilt Skipper has posted several things that have been great information.

One of the recent items from Jenny is a post discussing Frixion pens and the good and bad points to them.  I had heard about the issues of “Ghost Marks” with these pens from other quilters and a few instructors but her post does a fantastic job of explaining exactly what the issues are so you can decide for yourself when it is appropriate to use them and when it is not.  Check out her post at

Frixion Pens Post

Jenny’s other post is one on choosing the right sewing machine for you.  She owns Bernina’s which I never have but her suggestions on what you should be thinking of mirror many things I have said before and are worth hearing again.  Check out this post at

Buying the Right Sewing Machine

Urban Threads posts on Facebook have some great suggestion on doing embroideries that I can’t wait to use.  One was on embroidering on pockets and one was embroidering on sleeves.  Check out these great videos.

Embroidering Pockets

Embroidering on Sleeves

Even if you think you know how to do something it is always great to watch a video done by someone else.  You can pick up all kinds of tips and ideas you may not have heard of or thought about before that you can use to help you in the future.

Hope you all enjoy these extra posts and come away with a little more information and a  fewer questions.

Have a great week.  I am planning on working on Conor’s quilt this week so hopefully I will be able to show you some updated photos by the weekend.  Take care and have a great week.

Conor’s Quilt Update

I told you I would keep you up to date on my precious Conor’s quilt.  Well, I was finally able to work on it this past week and it is getting there slowly, but surely.  I have the center block appliques ready for stitching out.  I will be appliqueing the letters onto the white railroad crossing sign and then cutting the white sign pieces down to their final size before appliqueing them onto the center fabric piece.

The train cars are finished and ready to go as well.  I will be adding the car details as I applique them onto the background fabric.

I love the process of designing the appliques, but it is time-consuming, as is the stitching of all the pieces.  These are not quilts that go quickly and I have to resist the urge to rush to get it done as I know from experience I will only regret it when I get to the end and am not totally happy with the results.

Do you find yourself getting impatient with a quilt that seems to be taking forever to get done?  I think that is how our UFO’s come to be. We get tired of the process and set them aside.  Luckily, for the most part, I finish the quilts I start. I can’t say the same for some cross stitch projects but we won’t go there, LOL.

Stay tuned for more on this quilt and I would like to wish all the mom’s out there a wonderful and blessed Mothers Day!!

How To Make A Great Small Ironing Board For Your Studio!!

When I teach my classes I usually always mention the small ironing board I have in my studio.   This table is great to sit next to your sewing machine and using for all your pressing as you make quilt blocks and sewing them together into rows.  The best part of it is the size. It is big enough to accommodate the entire large t-shirt blocks as well as the larger quilt blocks I make.  Most ironing boards are too narrow so you can only iron a portion at a time.  I still use my regular ironing board when putting the rows together but the smaller one is much more accessible as I am sewing. I keep it up most of the time as I have the room, but it can easily be collapsed and stored if space is at a premium.

One of my students asked me how I made it so I thought I would share it with you as well in case you would like a great addition to your sewing studio.

It has been a while but I believe I got table from Office Max.  It is a “Realspace Personal Folding Table”.   It is made of a sturdy plastic and the dimensions are 25 ½” Deep X 17 ½” Wide. The height is adjustable 23”-28” so you can fit it to just right height for you.

The ironing board cover I bought at either Walmart or Target and it fits perfect on the top of the table. You can either tape it down at the corners or use 4 of the elastic mattress clips across the underside of the table to keep it on.

The photo below shows how I attach two of the elastic’s together, via the clips, to make it diagonal across the table which is why you need 4, or 1 package.  I found the wide mattress clips and they work a little better than the regular ones but either is fine.

VOILA!!!  A great small ironing board table.

Hope this idea helps make your sewing a little easier. I just love mine which is why I never put it away!

I am spending my weekend working more on Conor’s quilt, hopefully next week I can give you an update.  Wishing you all a great weekend whatever your plans.

Take care & God Bless

Tips For Two Sided Quilts

Hi everyone hope this finds you all doing great.  We have been having a lot of fun spending time with our Daughter and grand-kids.  First we were in NC at their house and helped build the kids a play set and do some other things around the house then we caravaned the two kids and dog along with three adults down to our house in Florida for some fun in the sun and swimming in the pool.  We love being grandparents, it can be exhausting but absolutely precious.

While I was away I received an email from Billie asking about two-sided quilts.  As I was putting together my email response I decided it was a perfect thing to put in my blog.  I am always telling people not to forget the back of their quilts and to do something special but two-sided memory quilts are a little different.  I have put together a few tips that can help you when you are thinking about doing your quilts that will hopefully keep you out of trouble.

Tips For Two Sided Memory Quilts

Beware of how thick you make it. You can’t keep collars in or patches on shirts and have them on both sides of the quilt as it will be too thick to quilt through. Put those items only on the front side of the quilt.

Check with your longarmer to make sure that they will quilt a two-sided quilt.

Beware of thick batting. I use a mid loft on two-sided quilts and they can be pretty heavy. I don’t like to use thin batting as you can feel all the seams through it. You need to decide what is important to you, weight or softness.

I have done two-sided quilts where each side was made as a totally separate quilt and then they were put together. I have also done ones where one side is a complete quilt top and the other side, the back, has only 1 to 5 shirts on it as accents.

No matter how you do it you need to decide which side will be the front and which side will be the back. The back will need to have its borders 3” bigger all the way around to accommodate the quilting of the quilt. (Normally you make your backing a total of 6” bigger in length and width to accommodate this)

You have to understand that the design on the back of the quilt will not be centered. It is impossible to center something you can’t see. I have gotten to where I can get it pretty close but it takes patience to measure and get it all lined up just right and not everyone is going to want to do that. Again, check with the person who will be quilting it.

Here are some photos of a couple of my two-sided quilts.

This is the front of the quilt made with assorted shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters.

This is the back of the quilt where I made a Dresden plate with ties.

This is one side of our daughters soccer quilt made with all her High School and Travel Team shirts.

This is the second side of the quilt with all her town team shirts from her younger years.

Hopefully this will give you ideas for what you can do with your quilts and also the things you should avoid to be successful with two-sided quilts.

Don’t forget if you have any doubts about anything talk to the person who will be quilting it for you and don’t forget I am always available for questions.

Take care and have a great weekend.

New Toy and the Domino Theory

I am sure you have all heard about the Domino Theory where one thing leads to another and another and so on.  Well, that happened to me the past couple of weeks where several things I did caused a domino effect in my life.  Really two things happened to cause two domino effects, both good overall so no worries, but I am just going to discuss one.

I went to a quilt show and saw the Brother Scan and Cut. I am an avid appliquer when I can be and love designing my own, Conor’s quilt being just one example. Well, I got a demo of the machine and was hooked.  I am good about not making big purchases without lots of research so I went home and did my due diligence.  It happened the shop that demoed it to me was local and the same place I bought my serger in October.  My hubby and I were helping my “sister” Vinell take her HUGE embroidery machine there to be serviced and I thought it was the perfect time to show him the Scan and Cut.  He loved it, not just for me but his brain was thinking train stuff.  We were sold.  That is when the Domino effect started to creep in ever so slowly as first.  Rachel, who demoed it for us at the shop said, “You know this works with the Brother Dream Machine 2”.  We should have run for the doors right then but, LOL, we followed her to the machine and OMG it was my dream come true.  Don’t get me wrong. I have loved my Viking Designer 1 for 14 wonderful years and it is still going strong but this machine was made for me.  You know how you just know you must have it or your life will be over.  Well, it wasn’t that dramatic but I did love all the things it did, especially in the applique department, and that was it.  My adorable hubby just laughed and we both blamed Vinell for bringing us there in the first place.  Again, I did my due diligence and went home and looked at lots of videos and checked machines from all the other companies and none of them did what this one did in the way it did it.  Five days later I bought it.  It was a show special. They were teaching at a show so were selling them at a discount after the classes.  I couldn’t pick it up till the next week.  That actually worked out because I lucked out that they were having an orientation class for the machine when I was scheduled to pick it up so I signed up for it. I had a whole day to play and learn the machine before bringing it home. It was wonderful!

Now, back to the domino theory.  Before I get my new machine I am sewing on a project with my Viking and new serger and am going back and forth between counters because of the way my studio is set up.  Remember, I didn’t have my serger until Oct so new toy, different way of doing things.  My old studio layout was not going to cut it and the new Brother machine is huge. I had to make sure it would fit where the Viking had fit.  I ended up changing my entire studio around including cabinets, as certain cabinets went with certain work areas. That is the Domino Theory in full effect.  I am so blessed with my hubby. He just laughed, listened to my idea and, when I got to where I needed his help with counters and cabinets, he lent me his muscle.

This is my new baby, isn’t she pretty!!!!


The serger is where my office space use to be. Now I just swivel between my machines.

Life is crazy but good. You just have to beware of the Domino Effect and go with the flow!  I have rewritten my daily to do lists numerous times this last week to fit in the changes that have occurred, but in the long run it was all for the good and I can’t wait to get into all the special things this machine can do.

Do any of you have the Dream Machine 2?  How do you like it?

How about any new machine that has caused you to rethink your studio layout? Mine is still a work in progress but I am enjoying the process.

Hope you are all having a great weekend, I need to get back to a project I am in the middle of.  I would show you, but its a gift so mum’s the word.

Take care and watch out for those Dominos.

Note from Doug: After reading this I do have to point out that she never mentions the cutting machine after the start! Guess the domino made her forget that the machine was part of the deal with the store as well! I can’t wait to get my hands on that one.

Quilt for Conor Update

Hope this finds my family and friends in the frozen north recovering from the snow.  My son, Christopher, in Syracuse got about 2 feet but since they are used to it up there they recovered quickly.  We have been pretty cold down here but we really can’t complain although the tourists down here for spring break certainly are. 🙂

Welcome to the second installment of designing Conor’s quilt.  When I am designing a quilt with applique I draw everything out on paper first to make sure the sizing and layout works the way I want it to. This photo shows my design being worked out with paper.  I lucked out that the center block ended up being the same size railroad crossing that I used in his Granddaddy’s quilt designed for my book, “Easy Memorabilia Quilts, ties, t-shirts, photos & more”.  I just used the pattern from that and moved on to designing the train cars.

I decided to design the train engines like the one on the fabric to carry on the theme. I also picked a black zigzag print fabric to act as the train tracks. Neat huh!!!  I am a caboose nut so each train had to have a caboose and I made those the same. Doug and I decided it would be neat to do the rest of the cars all different so I picked five other train cars to design.  The three cars above are two passenger cars and a box car. The three below are the beginnings of a coal car, a logging car and a tank car.

Once I had the designs for the cars set I started cutting them out in fabric. The following photos show you the process. The engine is done and ready to be mounted on the fabric the passenger car is in design mode with me trying out fabrics for windows and wheels to see what I like.  Nothing is ironed together as a completed applique until I know for sure it is exactly how I want it.

I am hoping this weekend to work on it some more. As I said it is time-consuming and I am picky so it takes a while to do but I really enjoy the process.  Some people hate applique but I really enjoy it and the freedom that it gives me to be creative.

Hope you are enjoying this journey with me.  Would love to hear about your creative process.  Do you applique?  If so how do you do your designing?

Stay warm this weekend and hopefully you will be able to get some fun sewing time in.

Take care, Trish

Designing a Quilt for Conor

I have been working on designing a quilt for my grandson Conor.  Since his Granddaddy is a model railroader there was never any doubt in my mind as to what theme I was going to make, I just had to come up with the design for it.  It has been a slow process with everything else going on but I am not one to rush my babies quilts because I want them just right.

Like most quilters I start my designs by asking myself a bunch of questions.

Who is the quilt for?

Am I going to do a theme quilt with a special design, like an applique, or follow a specific quilt or block pattern?

What colors do I want in the quilt?

Sometimes I find fabric that just speaks to me – telling me all those things right off the bat.  That is the perfect fabric and color for Aunt Louise and I know the perfect pattern for it.  Whatever the process you go through the end result is hopefully something that really makes you proud and adds a huge smile to the face of the recipient.

When I decided to do a train quilt, Doug and I started looking for some children’s train fabric. There were not a lot of choices at first and we didn’t like some of what we saw.  I have tons of adult train fabric for the hubby and projects I have done for him and the house but nothing for the little guy.  When Doug and I were in Tennessee this summer at Tennessee Quilts we found the perfect fabric in the perfect colors for our little munchkin.

The two main fabrics are this one for the borders:

And this one for the back:

Aren’t they fun?  We were so excited to find something so perfect.  The next thing to do was to do a basic design for the quilt.  The borders are going to be wide to show off the great train border fabric and the rest is going to be appliques of Doug’s and my favorite train cars and other train buildings.

This is my basic pattern layout:

The next thing I did is to get the fabrics together that I will use for the appliques on the quilt.  First I went through my stash and then I went shopping for the fabrics I needed to supplement the ones I had.

This is such a fun project and such a labor of love. I am really enjoying taking my time with the design process.  I have started designing the appliques for the train engine and rail cars, which has been fun.

Stay tuned next week to see some of the appliques and for more on our precious Conor’s quilt.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Cutting your smaller shirts to bigger sizes

In my classes and when I talk to people about making their quilts I talk about how to cut their shirts for the maximum flexibility. I thought I would show you an issue that comes up a lot for people that is easy to get around if you take steps to avoid the problem ahead of time.

When you are making t-shirt quilts that have blocks that you want the same size, or just a specific size, it is important how you cut the shirts initially.  I advocate cutting along the side seams, under the armpit across the lower sleeve seam.  Then I cut across the top of the sleeve and the shoulder seam. Some people cut straight up the side seam and then cut off the sleeve.  Most of the time cutting your shirts this way won’t be an issue but you will run into problems when you end up with some shirts that are smaller than what you need for your blocks.  This can happen when you have a couple of women’s regular shirts or smaller women’s and children’s shirts in with a bunch of t-shirts that are larger.

I am working on a quilt right now where all the t-shirts are plenty big enough to make the required 15 1/2″ square but there is one shirt that is a smaller women’s shirt.  If I had cut off the sleeve I would have not been able to make the block the size I wanted without a lot of extra steps. By not cutting off the sleeves I am able to cut the shirt the size I need by going across the sleeve seam and into the sleeve itself to make the block.

The photos below show how cutting the squares with my All Squared Up Tee’s Templates you just take in the sleeve seam to make the full 15 1/2″ square block that you need.img_1994 img_1993

Here is the block,

img_1997 img_1998 img_1996Without any extra work I can use a smaller shirt and still get the size block I need for my quilt.  If you cut all your shirts the same way all the time you rarely have to worry about not having enough for the size blocks you want.

Hope this little tip helps save you time and frustration in the future as you design and make your memory quilts.

Don’t forget, if you ever have any questions as you are making a quilt I am always available via phone and email.  As I tell people technology is our friend.  Take pictures of your “issue” and send them to me or post them on my Happy Memories Group Page. I will be happy to give you suggestions on how you might be able to deal with them.  Together we can have fun with the process and make great quilts.