OK, I Changed My Mind. Again.

I’m allowed.

In speaking with the quilt in question, the one made from Mom’s shirts, we decided that my original anal plan was the one go with. It felt more comfortable.  It involved less “quilty thinking” and more “Mommy thinking,” which was the whole reason to make the quilt.

I was stressing too hard about my assymetry. It happens. I retreated to my comfort zone.

There is another quilt brewing that will be a little wackier, but this one just needed to begin and be done. The angst of planning it (or letting go, as the case may be) was overshadowing its primary purpose, so Mom and I went back to Plan A.

How anal is that?

Mom's Shirts Quilt Fairly. I cut up 12 different shirts a different color. From each shirt I cut six of each of the three size.” (I planned on a few leftovers.)  The fabrics were distributed evenly throughout the quilt top. I studied and squinted, and found no duplicate blocks. (If you spot one, please keep it to yourself.)

I created a series of three nesting templates so that I could center each of the  four squares precisely. The grain of each patch in the block runs in the same direction. Every time I fused I smelled the detergent the Alzheimer’s facility used and I smelled Mom. I probably should have just skipped the quilt and ironed her shirts.

Originally I was going to hand blanket stitch everything in place by hand. I gave that up after the first block. Majorly annoying, a real pain in the fingers. Cotton and spandex knit does not give itself up to the needle easily. Neither does the fusible interfacing that backs each background square, nor does the fusible web 1/2″ under the raw edge.  (Yes, each of the 54  6″ background blocks,  all 72 blocks (and their corresponding  fusible web) were fussy cut. And you wonder why this is taking so long?) 

The next plan was to blanket stitch around the outside edges through backing and batting, “blanky-quilting” it down.  The thought of wrestling the concentric squares (attached to the quilt) around and around made my wrists ache, so I opted to do that part block by block, pivoting at each corner. Thank you, Sulky; I love the 30 wt black cotton—all 500 yards of it. And yes, I did fish the tails to the back, tied two square knots to secure them, and hid the tails in the stitching… 216 times. Repetition frees the soul.


I joined the blocks with a sashing strips (regular quilting weight cotton) so the thick seams of Mom’s pants (the black) would never have to be folded back onto itself. It’s a heavy quilt, but it will be flat. I hand-basted each seam allowance in place with water soluble thread so that it would stay where I put it. Who knows when I’ll get to quilting it.

For right now, I’m putting it away so I can move on to other things. I’ve saved all the extra fabric. I’ll let the quilting design percolate a little before I decide exactly what to do.  Too many decisions right now.  I’m going to iron some more of her shirts and see what I feel like.

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27 thoughts on “OK, I Changed My Mind. Again.

  1. Your memory quilt turned out beautifully, Ami! I give you lots of credit…my dad has been gone for 18 months and I still can’t bring myself to cut into his shirts.


  2. Bless you, Ami – this quilt looks great, and your Mom would be proud! I loved knowing how you executed the design – and I also vote YES on the asymmetric design, too!! Even if you don’t use your Mom’s shirtings, but go with quilting cottons, you should still do that version, too! Hugs, Jan


  3. Amy…that is a true labor of love…I am working on making a quilt from my husband’s clothing(he died suddenly 4+ years ago) for my son…it was very hard (relating to your angst of letting go) getting started cutting into clothing that he used to wear…but as I work on it, it gives me a feeling of happiness that a part of him will go on and give comfort to my son. I plan on making one for my other son, then for myself. Depending on what clothing is left, may do quilts for his 3 siblings.

    I am sure you will be real pleased with the quilt when it is finished. It will hold a lot of memories of your mom.



  4. Hi Ami, I hear you working through being without your mother as you work through your quilt. I am going to Kentucky in a few days for my niece, Sara’s, wedding and graduation from medical school. It will be bittersweet. This is the first happy family celebration in a long time and mother will not be with us. She and Sara were very, very close and it will be hard for all of us eventhough I know mother will be close by in spirit. I just wish I could sit beside her with my arm around her during the festivities. Your quilt is wonderful. These remembrance quilts seem to have a life of their own, appropriately so, and they have a way of telling us just how they want to be done!
    Hugs to you,


  5. Ami, your quilt is beautiful!!! I think it’s funny, however, that you are going to let the quilting design percolate a little. This quilt has made all of the decisions so far. I think you are just supposed to enjoy the memories and the healing on this one. Looks like your quilt is a blessing in many ways. Bunny


  6. Congratulations on getting your quilt done! I have ties saved from my dad (he died in 2002) and I still can’t seem to gather myself together to put them into a quilt. So “good for you”! I’m sure your mother would love it!

    Thanks too for your work with the Alzheimer’s Association. My father in law died in 2006 and he had had Alzheimer’s Disease about 10 years. I am the facilitator for a caregiver support group through the Alzheimers Association so I know very clearly how great the need is to find treatments and a cure. Your efforts help to raise the hopes of us all.


  7. I had to smile when I read your comments about smelling the detergent in your mom’s shirts when you were fusing. Occasionally I’ll get out something of my mom’s and, and I catch a whiff of…what?… I can’t identify it, it just smells like MOM! It’s very comforting to know that she’s always with me. Also, from out of nowhere, I sometimes smell a combination of cigarette smoke and Old Spice – my dad’s always hanging around, too! I think you are doing all the right things to honor and remember Beebe in your own way. Keep it up! :-)


  8. Such a wonderful way to remember your Mom–did you ever see the quilters of Gee’s Bend exhibit–one of the most touching quilts there was one made of a woman’s late husband’s workclothes-such beauty in seeing his very worn work pants/shirts incorporated in a quilt. I wish I had been quilting when my parents passed so I could have done the same thing. It’s really lovely.


  9. I love this quilt! What a nice memorial to your mother. Maybe you should call it “Ami’s Almost Amish Mommy” — kinda has a nice ring to it!


  10. Ami – You and I have emailed before, both about Alzheimer’s and Leader Dogs. My Mom had Alzheimer’s 12 years (that we were sure of), and I still miss her terribly. The “detergent smell” that you described brought tears to my eyes, because I have kept a coat that belonged to my Mom, and when I’m feeling really down, I grab that and take a good whiff of my Mom! It makes me feel so good, but also makes me miss her more. Your quilt is beautiful and I love the pattern. I’ve used different fabrics from my Mom’s stash in things for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as for my sisters and brother. I’m about to the end of the box, but still manage to incorporate it into the quilt I’m doing for the family.
    God bless you for bringing more awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease. You are an amazing person, both inside and outside, and we’re fortunate to have you among us, both quilters and non-quilters.
    God bless – Joy


  11. I am working on some quilts for a family whose mom just passed away. They want the Dresden Plate pattern. It is going quicker than I anticipated. I am attaching the plate(s) to the background with the blanket stitch. Most of the fabric is cotton. These 6 quilts will be hand quilted as well. They haven’t given me a time limit, Thank Goodness. I hope they enjoy them as much as I am enjoying working on them. The mom was a very dear friend of mine.



  12. ASSymetry – so that’s why my jeans don’t fit right! I must not have a symmetrical one.
    Sorry – couldn’t help myself!


  13. Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but your Mom’s memory quilt (that’s what I call it) reminds me of Amish work or something the Gee ladies would have come up with..except your blocks are even and I knoewthey would approve!

    This is going to be such a wonderful heirloom piece and maybe you should consider creating an album or scrapbook with it’s picture and pieces of the actual scraps left over to go along with with other pictures of Beebe and family with appropriate dialogue.

    Toss the idea around with family and friends and especially Madison and see what comes up. It doesn’t need to be really fancy but I think it would be another healing step for ALL of you.

    Just a thought.


  14. Dear Ami,
    No matter why you made this, no matter where the fabric came from, no matter what the ultimate quilting stitching is, this is a beauty. The high-contrast colors in each block just sing to me. This is a lovely piece of work, that’s probably very meditative as you work on it as it is to look upon it.
    Best regards to Madison.


  15. Love your quilt, Ami–wonderful colors and design. It is a lovely way to honor your mom’s memory, as well as to work thru some of your grief. (We have emailed back and forth in the past about your mom.)

    I have to say–you have inspired me, both thru your Alzheimer’s quilt initiative and thru your sharing of your grief as you lost your mom a little at a time. I, too, lost my mom a little at a time, not thru Alzheimer’s but thru another form of dementia, aggravated by small strokes, untill all that was left was her beautiful smile.

    So…I have started a small quilt, fusible applique–it has laundry on the line, and loaves of rye bread (which mom baked every week almost my whole life, until she couldn’t any more), bars of music fussy-cut from fabric (she sang and hummed while working around the house, also was church organist and choir director), etc. It seems every time I would think about it or work on it, something will bring tears to my eyes….but I think it is important for me to remember her as she used to be, not as she was in the momths before she died, 2 years ago.

    Now there’s the matter of my dad’s neckties, which I still have four years after his death…..



  16. This is such great grief therapy! When my mom pased away 10 years ago, I took some flannel she had and made myself a rail fence lap quilt. It got me through the tough days and I still get a hug from mom whenever I need one!


  17. This quilt is beautiful. As I was looking at your post, some of my students saw the quilt and commented on how ‘cool’ it was and told me I should make one just like it! Keep up the good work!


  18. I love the quilt, and I love that you are able to think of her and smell her during the making and healing process.

    My mother is terminally ill, and I hope I can do a small quilt for each grandchild when the time comes.



  19. I love everything you do and deeply wish I had saved pieces of my children’s clothing, since I made most of it (way back when). I have visited your workroom with “The Gathering of Quilters” many years ago and enjoyed your lecture the night before. What struck me funny in this post was your mention of blanky-quilting. Beside my regular blog (which is on writer’s block right now), I have one called BlankityBlog….where I can stick stuff that I don’t want my family to see.
    http://blankityblog.blogspot.com/ Keep up the fun stuff, Ami!


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