It’s a matter of respect
I’ve been making quilts since I was a kid and I think that memory/memorial quilts, for me, are the hardest kind of quilt to make, for a variety of reasons.
Having made my own clothes before, and knowing how much work goes into the construction of a garment, I have this mental block about disassembling a garment that someone else made. Some part of my brain says “STOP! THIS IS SOMEONE ELSE’S HARD WORK YOU’RE RUINING!” It has long been the one thing keeping me from buying clothes and modifying them to make me fit me, and why I prefer to just make my own clothes from scratch.
Then there’s the actual disassembly part itself. Quilts made from brand new fabric are significantly less labor intensive. You just iron out your fabric and go. But when you’re starting with fabric in some other state, you have to take the time to cut apart each item at the seam. Since you can’t exactly just pop over to the local fabric store if you make a mistake and need to get more of the same fabric, the disassembly part is extremely important, and requires making as little waste as possible, so that the resulting fabric can be as usable as possible.
Once you’ve got your garment disassembled, there’s the issue that most fabric used to make clothes have a stretch that normal quilt fabric doesn’t have, which means that you’ve then got to add stabilizer to every piece of fabric before you can cut it out, so that the quilt pieces don’t distort in the process of making the quilt.
When it’s finally been established exactly how much fabric I’m working with, and what it all looks like, only then can I get to the task of designing the quilt itself. Normally, I would design the quilt FIRST, then go source the materials needed to bring my vision to life. With a memory/memorial quilt, designing is the LAST step. I have to let the fabric tell me what it wants to be and how it’s going to go together. It must be done in such a way that the end result is reflective of where the fabric started, and what it was before it was a quilt.
All throughout this process, my utmost concern is remembering to show respect to the person that wore the garment I’m now cutting apart, and the person to whom the finished quilt will be given. This was someone’s life in my hands. This is someone else’s loving memory of that person’s life. This is hope and love and joy and sadness and every human emotion shared between the source and the recipient, be it newborn child and parent, or grandparent and grandchild.
Know that when I’m working on these quilts for you, I don’t take my job lightly. I hope that the end result shows for you the care and attention that I put into each stitch.
Peace and love to you,