New Orleans House Project

Monday, January 23, 2012

Memory Quilts

Today is the second anniversary of my dad's passing.  Although he's been on my mind a great deal in the past few days, I didn't realize until just a little while ago that today was the actual anniversary.  I guess I've been honoring him in my own way though, because I've been working on memory quilts made from my dad's shirts.

When Dad died, Mom wasn't sure what to do with his closet FULL of plaid and striped shirts.  I eventually brought home two trash bags full of shirts and began cutting them up for quilts.  Inspired by Bonnie Hunter's Scraps & Shirttails (and her other books as well), I pieced two quilt tops made almost entirely of shirting fabrics.

The first top completed was inspired by Bonnie's Star Struck pattern (the pattern is called Star Gazing in the book and includes sashing, cornerstones and a pieced border).  I added some greens and neutrals I pulled from my stash.  In some cases, the light vs dark values of the shirting fabric don't provide a lot of contrast, so you may have to squint a little to see the stars!
Among other things, my dad was an avid fisherman.  
Arlan Bowen, late 1960s
I found some great novelty fish prints for the back of the Star Struck quilt.
And Cindy Braiwick, my long-arm quilting collaborator, added wonderful quilted fish and other sealife to the quilt top.

For the next quilt, I was determined to use only shirting fabrics, as the pile of fabric seemed to be growing instead of shrinking. I chose Blue Ridge Beauty from Adventures in Leaders and Enders for my inspiration.
I've tweaked the colors here to try to give a truer representation, but it's hard to get dark blues to show up properly.  The outer border is a navy blue Quilter's Linen from Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
The pattern is made up from four-patches and half-square triangles set in a barn-raising formation.
Dad playing guitar at the Sopchoppy (FL) Senior Center, 2009.  His buddy, Roger Walton, is playing banjo.
My dad was also a musician; largely self-taught and not a professional, but he loved to play the guitar and sing.  After retirement, he found a group of like-minded individuals, and they played together every Friday morning at the local senior center.
I thought this Michael Miller "Jam Session" fabric would make a great back for this particular quilt.  It is now with Cindy Braiwick; I can't wait to see what magic she creates with her quilting!

After making those two memory quilts, I needed a little break from all that plaid fabric!  I focused on some other projects and finished up several other UFOs.  But about a week ago, the plaid started talking to me again and yesterday I started playing with design arrangements.  I need to make at least five (!) more quilts so all the children and grandchildren can have their own.  That's a lot of memories to share!