Book Review: “Memory Quilts” by Better Homes and Gardens

Hello all! I bet you thought I’d forgotten you! I assure you that isn’t what’s happened, things have just been a bit – well I’ll say it’s been unusual and leave it at that! But you didn’t come here to read about what’s kept me from posting – you want to see what I have for you today, right? Then here we go….

Today, I’d like to share with you some quilts that were made from a great book titled “Memory Quilts – with T-shirts, Autographs, and Photos”. The book is by Better Homes and Gardens. This time of year, with graduations, new babies and weddings just around the corner, we all have great memories to preserve – and what better way to do so than with something you have designed yourself?

The first type of quilt discussed in this book is the T-shirt quilt. T-shirts can say so much about the owner of the shirt, and putting together an entire quilt of them can really be a great way to showcase their interests, accomplishments, and passions.

Also, making a quilt from those shirts that will probably never be worn again gives them a great new life! Particularly for the graduate who is moving onto a new stage in life, the shirt that was worn with pride at a high-school football game may not come out of the closet once they get to college. But a quilt made with those shirts will be displayed and used with pleasure. This book has great ideas whether your t-shirts are all the same size or you have to be creative to make the different sizes work together.

T-Shirt Quilt

Here is a T-shirt quilt made by Bev of Elkhorn, NE. What a great quilt for one of her kids to remember some high school activities. There weren’t enough T-shirts for a whole quilt, so she used some of the ideas in the book to make pieced blocks to fill in areas that might otherwise have had another T-shirt patch. The closeup view on the right will show you a bit more detail on the blocks if you click on it.

It’s rare to find T-shirts that have been made for different events and with different themes that all come in the same size. So determining a block sized based on your largest t-shirt patch can help in creating your design. Sewing the final quilt together becomes a snap – as you only have to decide how the blocks look best together.


This quilt had even more of a challenge when it came to block size – so the quilter become a bit more creative. As you can see if you click on the photo to the left, I have marked some areas where borders and fabric strips were added to the quilt to make things properly.

This style of filling in the spaces makes the quilt seem a bit more difficult, but if you lay things out ahead of time, you will find that it really isn’t too tricky. As you can see, this particular quilt has 5 bands going down the length of the quilt. Each band has it’s own width, so once you get going, it’s hard to make a mistake.

Of course, this is about memory quilting – not just T-shirt quilts. And what better way to preserve your memories than with photos? Many of us have groups of photos on our computer hard-drives, just waiting for that ‘perfect’ way to display them. But you don’t always want to make a photo album. Why not a memory quilt with photos?

What a cute quilt this grandma made featuring her granddaughter, Katrina Rose. And years from now, imagine Katrina enjoying the site of this quilt that was made just for her!

Photo Memory

Just imagine all the ideas you could do with this idea. Feature a wedding anniversary, church events, school days, etc. In the book it will teach you how to work with fabric sheets you can print photos on (you may remember that earlier I did a series of ideas on photo fabric printing).

Take a closer look at this image on the right – a digital photo, printed on fabric, and then a picture taken of that fabric – and it’s still beautifully clear! What a great way to preserve those precious memories!
Pick up this great new book! Get the family and friends involved in making memory quilts!
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing
P.S. – watch for another idea from this book in a day or two.

Colorized Photo Quilt

Today, I have one last photo quilt for you – a rather unusual idea, but one that worked out very well as you will see from the photos in just a moment.

The quilt designer, Carol, wanted to make a quilt for her husband that could be hung on the wall of their cabin/retreat. She wanted it to be in colors that would coordinate well with the design of the room, and didn’t want the photos to detract from the quilt’s colors.

So, she took several black and white pictures of landscapes and images around the cabin, and took them to a printer to have the photos professionally recolored. If you have access to a good photo editor and are familiar with it’s operation, you can do the same thing at home using your computer (more on this later).

The photos were recolored to coordinate with her fabrics, a subtle green for one set of images, and an orange that is almost a pumpkin color for the other set. She then bordered each picture with two different frames (in their coordinating colors), as you can see below.

Here is an orange/pumpkin block – picture is of a barn.


And a sage green block – the cabin itself.

As you can see, the colorization of the photos adds a nice subtlety to the images. Since this quilt was made not with several small photos, but with nine large blocks – it makes the pictures the focus without making them stand out too harshly.

And here is the finished quilt!

Okay, I promised more about the idea of colorizing blocks. This is for those of you who are willing to experiment a little bit. If you want to colorize photos like this, you will probably need an editing program other than the one that came with your digital camera.

For this blog, the images are all cropped, brightened, and so-forth by my secretary/assistant using a program called Gimp (she tells me it is very versatile, and best of all it is a free program).

Here are the steps she took to colorize the image of a stuffed bear she had on hand when I asked about pictures.
Original Image
Changed to Black and White photo, using the “Colorify” command (no color was chosen so it defaulted to black & white)
A purple hue applied to the black & white image, using the “Colorize” command (the Gimp program uses sliders in this section, simply adjust until you like the color – if colorizing multiple images, make a note of the color values to repeat the exact color).
In this image, the “Colorize” command was used, adjusting both the hue and lightness sliders – to show more of the background the bear is sitting against.
If “Colorize” doesn’t provide the result you like, you can also try the “Hue Saturation” command – which is how this image came about.
Or perhaps red is more the color you are looking for? The choices are truly endless!

If you want to manipulate photos this way, then I suggest trying out the Gimp editor before investing in a more expensive program. The free download can be found here: GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Or, if you prefer to leave such things to the professionals, just about any location where you can make copies or get photo prints can assist you with this.
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

A Framed Life

I’ve been promising you a look at the quilt my daughter has been making, a photo quilt using pictures of important moments in her life. Some of you have been asking about this quilt in the Q&A section because you have heard me mention it at seminars recently – now, at last here it is, I hope you enjoy!

My daughter wanted to capture people and moments in her life that reflected her journey from birth to her senior graduation. This is the 5th quilt she has made like this, the other 4 were made as gifts for special friends and given to them as graduation presents. What a great way to capture those moments and what a special gift! When she decided that she wanted one of these quilts as well, she wanted to make it herself.

We came up with this pattern when she made her first photo quilt, because the blocks are fast to make and no seams have to match in the block – making it pretty ‘goof-proof’ to make the block.

Every photo album has a tub picture – and this quilt is no exception

First new car – independence day for a 16 year old.

Capture those moments from the getting off the bus on the first day of school to their graduation picture. Where did all those years go?
Thank you to photographer Carl Anderson of Images by Carl for the permission to be able to copy the senior picture in the quilt. If you ever need a professional photographer – check out his website ImagesbyCarl

What a great way to capture those special moments with family and friends – and preserve the memory for years to come.

And here is a picture of the full, completed quilt – not very clear, but you get the idea.

If you would like a free copy of this pattern, designed by me, check out the next post!
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing