Heirloom Memory Quilt

Having a warm blanket to wrap up in is so comforting. To make it more special, a Heirloom Memory Quilt can be made that can be more loved and remembered.  A memory quilt is an heirloom created with clothing from family members, friends or a special individual. Pieces of cloth are sewn together to form a handmade blanket full of memories.

This idea has been with me for awhile for my family. I love my father. Just the thought of him wearing his flannel and plaid shirts as a farmer in the field, brings me back to my childhood and my heart warm. So I asked my mom to start collecting his old worn shirts and jeans. So far I have enough to make a quilt, but wanted to also make one for each of my siblings, with a total of five beautiful quilts.  Using the flannel, plaid and jean material, along with new material for squares, it will make to be a beautiful heirloom for the future.



Plaid flannel is not redundant. A plaid is a pattern, and flannel is a fabric. Plaids are tartans; they originated in Scotland in the 16th century. There are thousands of registered tartans, but only a handful are consistently used in flannel shirts. Tartans were used for wool blankets and then kilts (often worn with a blanket over the shoulder). The word plaid is derived from plaide, the Scottish Gaelic word for blanket.

Cotton flannel became popular in the 1800’s;  and was mostly used for warm underwear. It has never been considered a luxury fabric. Plaid and cotton flannel were merged together by Carhartt, in the 1890’s. Plaid flannel shirts were developed for railway workers, loggers, and farmers.




Derek and Lauren from Design Sponge have created a tutorial for creating a DIY memory quilt:
-15 men’s shirts
-solid-color duvet cover
-rotary cutter
-self-healing cutting mat
-sewing machine

1. Our duvet cover measures 80″ x 80″, so we cut out 64 squares, each measuring 11″ x 11″
(32 from Derek’s old shirts and 32 from the top piece of our existing duvet cover, which we took apart at the seams.) We were able to get 2-3 squares from each shirt.

2. Lay out squares on the floor in an 8×8 grid and arrange them into a pattern that you like. Pin numbered scraps of paper (1-8) onto the first square of each of the 8 rows so they stay in order as you stack them up and bring them to the sewing machine.

3. Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew squares with right sides together to create strips. Press open all the seams with a hot iron.

4. Once all 8 strips have been sewn, attach strip #1 to strip #2 and press open seam. Attach strip #3 to strip #4, press open seam, and then attach to strips 1 and 2. Repeat with remaining strips until they are all attached. Make sure to pay attention to the numbered squares so they stay in the right order!

5. With right sides together, attach top (patchwork) piece to the bottom piece of your old duvet cover, leaving a 3′ opening at the bottom.

6. Turn right side out, fold up raw edges at opening and attach 3-4 buttons (from one of the shirts!) to the bottom piece. Use the buttonhole function on your sewing machine to create buttonholes on the opposite piece.

7. Insert your comforter or duvet, button it up and settle down for a cozy afternoon nap!


Photography: Design Sponge


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