Memorial Quilt for my friend K

A change of pace this week: I’m posting a day early, and instead of showing you something new, I’m going to show you something I made four years ago.

Today would have been my friend K’s 30th birthday.  She was killed in a car accident a few years ago, and I decided that today would be a good day to show you the quilt I made for her family, especially her mom.

We had a memorial service for K on our college campus, and I put out 5″ squares and fabric pens (and other markers) for people to write messages.  I took those and used iron-on fusing to attach them to larger squares (because many of the messages hadn’t left seam allowances).  (Lessons learned: mark seam allowances, and don’t use permanent markers – some of the squares bled a lot, and I don’t know how this quilt will hold up in the future.)

I took a picture of K and printed it onto photo fabric, along with her name.  I used a zigzag stitch in blue thread to attach it to my center square, and I hand quilted a little pink flower next to her name.

Then I started adding the borders.  I used mostly batiks and added a lot of blue prints from my collection, K’s favorite color.  I love the lushness of the batiks.  When I look back at the pictures, I recognize a lot of blue prints I’ve used in other projects, some of which I still have.  A few of them strike me, now, as being children’s prints, but I think that’s appropriate.  I think it speaks to the innocence of a young life cut short.

The first border is batiks, in rainbow order.  The second border has messages, alternating with squares that are just prints.  (They aren’t all squares, actually – I had to do a lot of math to make all my rows even, so it’s more like rectangles.) Then another rainbow border of batiks, and finally another border with messages alternating with blank squares.  I used variegated pink thread to quilt little hearts in the corners of the innermost border.  I did the same in the third border (the outer rainbow border).  A couple of the hearts were done with yellow thread instead of the pink.  I also sewed down the corner of each message with a little yellow x. (It’s really not that much quilting, another reason why I worry about how it’ll hold up in the future.)

I finished the edge of the quilt with a blanket stitch in the pink thread.  That’s the only time I’ve ever done that.  I couldn’t tell you why I picked it, but I think the effect is really cute.  It gives it a sweet blanket-y feel.

For the back of the quilt, I used a fabric collection I had, mostly purples, greens, and blues with a little yellow mixed in.  I don’t remember what it’s called; at the time I’d had it for a while, and that was back in 2010.   (I’m not 100% sure the yellow was from that collection; I might have added it.)  It’s just a nine patch of large squares surrounded by a border of smaller squares and then a purple border.  I pieced it because I didn’t have anything large enough for the backing.  That’s my former roommate A modeling the quilt for me in our old apartment, before I switched jobs and moved to be closer to my family.

I want to share one close up picture.  Not everyone could attend the memorial and some people sent me messages that I printed on fabric.  I had one extra empty square in the top left corner of the quilt, in which I quilted three concentric hearts.  (Concentric is the right word, isn’t it?  I think it must be.)  I wanted to show you the hearts and one of the messages.  Many of us met on the Catholic freshman retreat on campus and I think the message of the hymn is beautiful here.  This way you can see the blanket stitch I used for the edging, too.

I still miss K.  Sometimes I think to myself suddenly “I need to call K!” or “I have to tell her about that,” like when one of her brothers had a baby and I wanted to congratulate her, or when I saw another brother in a play, or on her birthday.  Last year her birthday was a Sunday and I had mass said for her at my church.  I cried during mass and I still had the thought afterward that I should email her to wish her a happy birthday.  I forget that she’s gone.   This year I’ll email her mom, like I usually do, to let her know that I’m thinking of their family and that they and K are always in my prayers.  Sometimes I think I should make K’s mom another quilt, something to let her know that people still care.  Losing K broke her heart.  I’ll let that idea percolate and maybe something will inspire me.

I’m sorry if this week’s post is a little rambling.  I still get sad and emotional when I think about K’s death.  She was a wonderful friend.


4 thoughts on “Memorial Quilt for my friend K

  1. That is a beautiful post and a lovely idea for a quilt. What a great idea to print the written messages onto the fabric to include in the quilt

    • The printable fabric worked really well, especially for people who were out of town but still wanted to send a message. I got emotional writing this post this year – I always get emotional on her birthday. I’m glad I finally posted about the quilt.

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