A Memory Quilt for Susie

Over the past two years or so, I lost contact with my friend Susie. We used to take long walks together, never running out of chit-chat. We both really enjoyed it but life got so that we fell out of the routine. In January of this year, I contacted her about a volunteer commitment we both work on and she told me her husband had recently passed away of lung cancer. I didn’t even know Rick had been ill. I felt awful that we had lost touch and I hadn’t been around to support her during his very serious illness. I know all too well how important it is to have friends helping you during such a dark, painful time.

We got together a couple of times soon after and I offered to make a quilt for her with Rick’s clothes, whenever she thought she would be ready to part with some of his shirts. About a month later, she brought me a large bag containing his bathrobe, some shirts and shorts. We took a look at everything and talked about whether she was ok with me cutting them up. Then we looked at different quilts I had pinned to a memory quilt board on Pinterest. She was drawn to a simple four patch block with sashing. Easy enough to make! Susie also asked if I would include two photos of her with Rick she had printed on fabric. I haven’t used that sort of thing before but of course I was happy to add them to a block.

Looking at the collection of shirts and shorts, it seemed best to use the two pairs of solid blue shorts and then two plaids for each four patch. Susie looked in the shop downstairs and chose a very neutral textured solid for the sashing and border.

Making four patch blocks

Working with clothing that has been worn is a bit tricky. Susie chose the items Rick favored most because she had the sweetest memories of him in those shirts or shorts. Of course this means some of them were well worn. I wish I could remember who it was, but on Instagram, a nice quilter reminded me to back any thin fabrics with a stabilizer of sorts. This was perfect. I fused a woven interfacing to the back of some of the chunks of fabric before I cut the strips. Once that was done, I cut 3 1/2″ strips wherever I could. Then made strip sets and sliced them up to make the four patch blocks.

What a sweet photo of Rick and Susie

The next step was to create two blocks where I could utilize the pictures of Rick and Susie. I wasn’t really sure how to do this? The fabric they were printed on seemed to fray easily so I didn’t want to stitch a border directly to the printed piece. Instead I chose to fuse the photo to a square cut from the neutral sashing fabric. After fusing it (with each edge pressed under to create a clean look) I topstitched around the perimeter.

Another sweet picture!

I think that worked quite well. One limiting factor was the shorts I used as a solid. I ran out of that fabric with two blocks to go. What to do? I decided to cut two more plain blocks from the sashing fabric. Then I took bits of the flannel bathrobe and cut two hearts from it. Those were fused to the background squares and appliquéd to the fabric. They look very cute and I like the pop of the deep red plaid.

Finally, we agreed the red plaid flannel robe would be the perfect outer border. I really love how the red flannel gives a cozy and rustic look to the quilt top.

This photo captures the true colors best.

The quilt top measures roughly 60″ x 70″ which should be perfect for my very tiny friend. Now I need to choose a backing and get it basted. This is the type of project I really enjoy. It holds meaning and comfort for my friend. I really regret not having made something like this when Mark – my first husband – died in 1994. I was overwhelmed with being widowed, single parenting my boys etc. Sewing was not at the forefront of my mind – in fact I didn’t really sew for many years after that. Making this for Susie is very satisfying. I am really looking forward to quilting it up so she can enjoy it. September will mark the one year anniversary of Rick’s death and I want to be sure she has this before then.

Linking to my usual spots – check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Watch for a special post coming up on Friday!! Until then, to my US readers, have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday! Also, I have a fantastic giveaway happening today and tomorrow over on my Instagram feed. Be sure to check it out. 🙂

31 thoughts on “A Memory Quilt for Susie

  1. Kathleen McCormick

    I love that quilt! I can see why as a widow it would be tough to make one for yourself. But your friend, she will be so comforted by this beauty. Love the simplicity of it, the hearts – the pictures…all perfect.

    Reply
    1. Louise Hornor

      Bernie, this is a lovely piece! I’m sure Susie will always cherish it. You’ve taken such care to make it just right. That love and caring shines through.

      Reply
  2. Roseanne

    Hi Bernie! What a fabulous story to share today. I’m sorry for your friend’s loss. I’m sure she is thankful to you and your support back in her life – they have to mean a lot to her. I love how this quilt top came together. I can almost picture her wrapped up in her husband’s love and yours as well. {{Hugs}} Happy 4th of July to you and your peeps. ~smile~ Roseanne

    Reply
  3. Wendy Tuma

    What a lovely thing to do for her, Bernie, and how nice that you two could reconnect over the quilt. The quilt is so nicely done, and I agree that the plaid border really brings it all together. I’m sure taking her through the process was emotional for you as well, but I’m sure your kindness meant so much. I’m sorry that both of you have had to go through the pain of losing a husband, but I’m glad you have a good friendship.

    Reply
  4. Edith Csokmay

    What a great quilt, Bernie. God’s timing is perfect and He put the two of you together when it was the perfect time. Susie will have her beloved wrapped around her whenever she needs his comfort thanks to your thoughtfulness.

    Reply
  5. Janice

    Oh Bernie, what a most satisfying make for you. It turned out so great! I love this story and I love what you made for your friend. It will have a double meaning now. A extremely meaningful keepsake about her husband and also a reminder how much she is loved by you.

    Reply
  6. Debra Miller

    I’m sure the quilt will bring Susie happy heartfelt memories for many years to come of both her husband and her friend.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Karin. I am so happy to make it – Actually makes me feel really good she trusted me to cut up Rick’s clothes and do this for her, know what I mean? Hope you are enjoying summer. I love this weather. Not terribly warm (yet!) Maybe we can get together for Iced tea or coffee sometime.

      Reply
  7. Cindy

    What a perfect memory quilt! I like the addition of the hearts and the photos. Your friend is going to lots of comfort from this quilt.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Julie – we are both happy to be back in touch. It takes effort to keep up with our friends – but it is so worth it. Hoping to get this quilt basted over the next couple of days. Then on to quilting it! Yahoo!

      Reply
  8. B2

    Bernie—unbelievable as always. What a treasure for your friend. You are an angel. I LOVE your blog!! 💕💕💕

    Reply
  9. Mari

    Oh Bernie, what a lovely gift, even for a sad reason. Those plaid hearts just break my heart. They’re the perfect touch. I hope this quilt is full of blessings for your friend.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      The plaid fabric is probably the most sentimental to Susie and she really wanted to include it. I love those hearts. I think they are so sweet. She is really happy with the way the quilt top looks which makes me so pleased.

      Reply
  10. Anja @ Anja Quilts

    It’s wonderful. Your ideas for the photos and hearts were spot on. It will be a great memory for your friend.

    Reply
  11. Barbara Bryant

    Thank you Bernie, for your very timely post. I have recently offered to do this for a friend if or whenever she wants. I have been quilting for a long time but am still very basic so I am scared about doing a good enough job to honour her husband, not something that will fall apart after a few washes. Fusing the material is a great idea, thanks.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      I am not a super experienced quilter. I tend to make simpler patterns. I bet you will do something very special for your friend. Also, I found that the plaids wouldn’t cut straight because the fabric was worn. I just had to let that go and be ok with crooked plaid lines on the squares. It isn’t a piece being entered in a show. It is something special to comfort my friend. Know what I mean?

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Emily. I am so happy to make this quilt. If only I could decide on how I want to back it. I am a bit stuck with this decision. I guess I want it to be just right. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts

    I’m so sorry to hear of Susie’s loss. I’m sure she’ll be greatly comforted by your quilt. It must have been daunting to work on such an important project with such cherished belongings – especially with the memories it brought up from your own experiences. I know you feel bad about having been out of contact, but it’s hard to stay in contact with everyone, all the time. You are a good friend for creating such a cherished gift x x

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks so much Kirsty. It was daunting to cut into the clothing but I really love the way it is coming together. For some reason though, I am really waffling on choosing a backing. I can’t decide!!

      Reply

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