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  • Writer's pictureKatie Done

Remembering Loved Ones

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

I get asked a lot if I can create keepsakes in memory of a loved one that is no longer with us. It sometimes feels like asking permission although it certainly shouldn't be. I have known loss, but not in a way that has meant me having to sort through the clothes of someone I loved, and then trying to work out what on earth to do with them. There are so many items that hold memories in pictures, memories of special occasions or when and where the item was bought. To simply donate them must sometimes feel impossible. A keepsake quilt or cushion is the perfect way to move forward and preserve the memories.

So, if you are thinking "could you create a keepsake for someone that I have lost?". The answer is I absolutely can and would be honoured to. Knowing where to start is the next question and that is where this blog comes in.

Although my listings may look aimed towards baby and children’s clothes, they can all work with adult clothes too. The style and size will depend on the type of clothes. Here are a few examples.

If the clothes are simply plain or patterned and are more about texture, any size will work. Equal sized squares, which are 6” wide before they are sewn in, will be the best option. The basic size options are:

  • Small – 70cm x 70cm – 25 patches

  • Medium – 80cm x 120cm – 54 patches

  • Large – 115cm x 170cm –96 patches

  • Extra Large – 125cm x 195cm –126 patches

  • Extra Extra Large (double bed size) – 195cm x210cm – 210 patches

When it comes to adult clothes, I can usually get dozens of patches out of one item. I will always pick out points of interest like patterns, motifs, pockets and buttons unless you request otherwise. Since I have more fabric to work with when it comes to adult clothes, the number of items is very flexible. I can make a small quilt or cushion with only a small number, but 5 allows a good variation; I have the option to make a cushion with a single item too.

This Extra Extra Large quilt was made with just 10 items.

The equal squares can be made into quilts or blankets, however if it includes thicker fabrics like fleece and denim a quilt is the best option. A blanket is two layers – the patchwork and then backed with fleece. The quilt is three layers – patchwork, bamboo wadding and then backed with 100% cotton. It is the extra layer in the quilts that means the different textures do not feel as bumpy on the back.

If the items include a lot of t-shirts with large motifs on, a mosaic style will be the best option. If you are happy for motifs to be cropped into several patches in the equal squares, this is absolutely an option. It will still create a fun design and capture the essence of the clothes. Understandably, having the full motif is often the preferred choice.

The sizes will be roughly the same as I have listed above but can vary as I work to make the most of the clothes I have. The mosaic style will always be completely unique but if you have seen a style that you prefer, please let me know.

The top of the quilt, made with the clothes is known as the patchwork. The actual quilting is the way the layers are stitched together. To keep all the layers together I must sew through them all. On the equal squares I do this along the joins (or in the ditch if you want the sewing term). With the mosaic option this is not always possible because the quilting must be no more than 8” apart. In this instance I usually go with a diagonal design. The thread I use will depend on the quilt but usually grey works best to compliment a range of colours. The quilting over the top can feel like a scary prospect but it “knits” the clothes together and adds an extra dimension to it that I really love. I can do the diagonal option on the equal squares too if you prefer. This works really well when the items are plainer.

When it comes to what I can include there are a few things to consider:

  • They will all be washed together when they are sewn into a quilt so make sure you are happy for them all to go through the wash together. I would suggest doing them in one wash load before you send them to me with a few colour catches.

  • Washing will always be as per your most delicate item. Always use a colour catcher for the first few washes.

  • If you include silks and chiffon or other delicate fabrics, along with buttons and zips, remember to be careful as over time they may catch on each other.

  • Denim, fleece, and thicker fabrics can be included but these are best suited to the quilt option.

That more or less covers the basic questions I get asked, but I thought I would share a few more points that you may be thinking or hadn’t thought about.

The reason for the keepsake can vary and every situation is different. The keepsake maybe very personal and only relevant to you. In other situations, you may want to share the memories. When it comes to making keepsakes for loved ones, I often end up making more than one which is nearly always possible. A few examples of this and other considerations are:

  • Losing parents / grandparents and having a combination of both of their clothes together in keepsakes for you and your siblings.

  • Having cushions made alongside your quilt to give to other family members, often grandchildren.

  • Having a separate quilt for different people including items that are more special to them.

  • If the keepsake is for a young parent, a combination of their clothes alongside the children’s is an extra special touch.

  • A combination of your own clothes with your loved ones, whatever your age is also a great way of combining memories.

  • The backings can be one of my standard cottons but I have hundred of options if you would prefer something more personal. I have also used a special blanket that held memories to the owner to back their keepsake.

When it comes to creating your keepsake, I will be in touch throughout the process. I will read and follow any notes you have made before sending you the first layout photos. Sometimes that means going straight ahead and sewing, other times it means making some swaps and changes. I may have questions about cropping items and will always double check this first if I am unsure, this is more with the equal square option.

I hope that helps put your mind at ease. Whatever your reason for having the keepsake made, I can’t begin to imagine being in your shoes, so please feel free to ask me any questions before and during the process.

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