Recycling Shirts into Memories

Apr 28, 2022 7:00:00 AM / by Katy Sweigart

Fabric carries memories that can instantly transport us to another place and time. I think this is one of my favorite things about quilting! Katy here from KatyQuilts to share with you some ideas for recycling old clothing into memory quilts.



Katy Used Half Square Triangles to Make This Button Down Shirt Memory Quilt



Quilts Can Be Made with Anything 

After my dad passed away, I brought home a box of his button-down shirts. It took a long time before I was able to open that box. It was emotional and difficult, but it was also the beginning of healing. I made quilts for my mom, my siblings, and myself. It was a powerful way of processing my grief. 



To Remember A Loved One

I began by deconstructing the shirts and creating piles six layers deep for my GO! Dies, and ten layers deep for my AccuQuilt Studio dies, including the Studio Setting Triangles-8" Finished Die. Then, it was time for die-cutting.



Cutting Button Down Shirts Using the Studio Setting Triangles-8" Finished Die



I used Shape 2 and Shape 8 from the GO! Qube Mix & Match 12" Block to create a zig-zag patterned quilt for my mom, and I used the same dies to create another one for my older sister.



Katy Made This Memory Quilt For Her Mother
Katy Made This Memory Quilt For Her Older Sister



This quilt for my brother used just Shape 8 from the 12” Qube.



Katy Used the GO! Rectangle-3 1/2" x 6 1/2" (3" x 6" Finished) Die To Make This Memory Quilt For Her Brother



For my younger sister's quilt, I used the Studio Tumbler-6 1/2" (6" Finished) Die, but you could also use the GO! Tumbler-6 1/2” (6" Finished) Die.



Katy Used the Studio Tumbler-6 1/2" (6" Finished) Die To Create This Memory Quilt For Her Younger Sister



I had strips and strings left, but they didn’t go to waste! I used the Studio Diamond 60 Degree-6 1/2" Sides (6" Finished) Die to cut diamonds out of muslin.


Then, I used these as foundation pieces and sewed my strings onto that base. After sewing, I trimmed the excess to the edge of the foundation diamond.



Katy Used the Studio Diamond 60°-6 1/2" Sides (6" Finished) Die To Cut Muslin
A Diamond Shaped Muslin Piece with Cut Fabric To Sew Onto It



Once I had made enough diamonds, I made this quilt for myself.



Katy Made Herself A Diamond Patterned Memory Quilt



To Welcome A New Baby

Memory quilts aren’t just to comfort those left behind. I made baby quilts for each of my grandchildren out of dress shirts that had been worn by their Papa, their daddies, and their uncles to welcome them into the world!


For this one, I used the GO! Kite-4” Finished Die.



Katy Used the GO! Kite-4" Finished Die To Make This Dress Shirt Memory Quilt For One of Her Grandchildren



I used the GO! Half Rectangle Triangle-3" x 6" Finished Rectangle Die for another grandchild's quilt, but you could also use Shape 14 from the GO! Qube 12” Companion Set-Angles.



Katy Used the GO! Half Rectangle Triangle-3" x 6" Finished Rectangle Die To Make This Memory Quilt For Another Grandchild



This hourglass pattern uses Shape 4 from the 12” Qube. 



Katy Used the GO! Quarter Square Triangle-6" Finished Square Die To Make This Memory Quilt For A Third Grandchild


Use Recycled Fabric For Your Next Quilting Project

Before you throw that old, worn, or torn shirt away, think of the possibilities! It might just be the beginning of an heirloom and/or a way to remember a loved one.


If you use the ideas from this post to make a memory quilt of your own, we want to see it! Post your project on social media using the hashtag #AccuQuiltBuilt and tag @katyquilts and @AccuQuilt.

Topics: Tutorials, Quick DIY Projects

Katy Sweigart

Written by Katy Sweigart