Wrapped Up in Love (Part I)

When my husband passed away, my life changed forever. But, it wasn’t just me whose life changed forever that day; he has two beautiful daughters in their mid-twenties who lost their awesome Dad way too soon. He also has a now 2-year-old granddaughter who won’t have a memory of the grandpa that was so enamored with her. And his brother lost his only sibling. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t given thought to the loss they all feel as well.

I knew I wanted to make something for his daughters as a special memory of their Dad–using his clothes, the signature jeans and t-shirts he lived in. I’m not a fan of traditional t-shirt quilts, and the carpenter jeans he wore to work every day were so a part of his persona, I really wanted to incorporate the denim as well. I found this inspiration quilt — and at a retreat in October, I started making a quilt for each daughter with the idea of finishing them for Christmas.

I finished most of the top for his youngest that weekend:

EliceTop1It includes pieces of t-shirts from places they toured together, a camp they shared memories of, from her college, there’s even a hammer loop from one of his pairs of carpenter jeans (both quilts have pockets from carpenter jeans, button plackets from his shirts, t-shirt collars, etc.):

EliceQuilt1There is some Minnesota fabric in each quilt (their home state), and of course, plaid flannel, another staple of his wardrobe:


EliceQuilt3The label on each quilt (on the front bottom right) is a banjo–an instrument he taught himself to play over the past few years.

LabelI finished the second quilt top on a sewing weekend in early December:

LacyTop1His oldest was on the first Des Moines based roller derby team, so his Derby Dames t-shirt went into her quilt, as well as a few others that I knew would be meaningful to her:



LacyQuilting2I used some Chambray in both quilts for the look of denim without making the quilt too heavy:



LacyQuilt1The quilting is an overall pattern of music notes and meandering. The backing is Navy minky, because I wanted these quilts to be something they could snuggle up in; a comfort quilt. Trina helped me get these quilted in the last few days before Christmas.


Here is a full shot of both quilts, photos I took before gifting them and then lost when I got a new phone a few days later. This collage was the only photo that survived because I had posted it to Facebook. Oops. Thankfully the girls each emailed me a few photos of their finished quilts so I could show them here. Collage3

Frank would have thought these quilts were so cool, as he would the quilt I’m planning to show you in my next post, it makes me smile to imagine what his reaction would’ve been. I hope they bring a little bit of that same comfort to his girls.


12 thoughts on “Wrapped Up in Love (Part I)

  1. I just love, love, love your memory quilts. I, too, am not a fan of the traditional tshirt quilt. I love flying geese so this really appeals to me. I am sorry for your loss and hope that these quilts can ease some of the loss for the family members. Beautiful, thoughtful and loving job done on these wonderful quilts!

  2. Love, love, LOVE. I want to do the same kind of thing for the kids with Lino’s clothes, but like you, do not like the “traditional t-shirt quilt” look. Nice inspiration. Thanks

  3. These are wonderful, real treasures. Another wonderful memento that can be made with clothes is an apron, made from a man’s button-down shirt. You retain the collar and front, while cutting out the sleeves and back. Use the fabric cut off to make apron strings. You can fashion a front pocket, too. I’m considering making aprons for my girls from my husband’s shirts. You can google for instructions, if that is something that interests you.

  4. Doris, these are beautiful, I love what you’ve done with the T-shirts, just little “windows” (actually they remind me of the folded flag of a soldier who died in the field). I hope making them gave you some peace and even pleasure as you traced the contours of your love in the clothes he wore.

  5. Amazing design! I love this take on tee-shirt quilts! What a wonderful gift.
    Was it difficult to work with the tee shirt fabric? Did you interface it?

  6. Wow, what a great way to remember Frank. And the quilts look awesome. I bet his daughters really appreciated them. That’s such a cool way to use t-shirts and shirts without the “t-shirt” look. I love the design.

  7. What beautiful and thoughtful gifts for the girls. March IS a hard month, isn’t it? It was the ten-year anniversary for Caleb. I can hardly believe it has been a whole decade. And you were never far from my thoughts either. Hugs. Can’t wait to see you.

  8. Whoa, these quilts are so cool! Like a piece of artwork that you could look at many times and notice new details each time. So personal and cozy, making you feel close to Frank by look at those details and snuggling up in the memories. Wonderful!

  9. Pingback: National Quilting Day | made by a brunnette

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