1. Memory Quilts with Lucia from Quilt atelier Werkerij, the Netherlands
I’ve interviewed Lucia from atelier Werkerij Achterhoek. Lucia loves to work with fabric from second-hand stores and old clothes. Or to explain her style in her own words:
Quilting fabrics are too neat. I love the unpredictability of second-hand stores and fabrics.
Also, she thinks the sewing machine is an underappreciated piece of engineering which is not accessible enough to everyone. It’s true, lack of a sewing machine can be a barrier for people to quilt (you can do it by hand, it just takes longer!).
In the interview, we mainly talk about her work making memory quilts for people who have lost a loved one.
- Do you want to make your own memory quilts? Keep an eye on my socials to join in on one of the ‘A taste of Quilting’ memory quilt sew-a-long.
Memory quilts are a way to use fabrics of people who died, in which memories are captured, into something lasting.
2. Interview Lucia on Memory Quilts
What kind of quilter are you?
I’m a mix. I use recycled fabric and make robust quilts. I also love to use different techniques to see what works for me. I do paper piercing too! I love theme’s, animals, lines. It all depends on the intention of the quilt I am working on.
I also love to make memory quilts. Memory quilts are a way to use fabrics of people who died, in which memories are captured, into something lasting. It’s wonderful. I use ties, blouses, vests, shirts, whatever comes. It’s not always suitable fabric for quilting, but I try to make it work nonetheless. I love to play with colours. It can be complicated to combine all the different colours and fabrics, and it’s a great challenge.
You can also make a stuffed toy or a pillow out of the clothes. (...) The main thing is that people want a tangible memory.
Besides using all the different types of fabrics and colours, I also love the social interaction that comes with making memory blankets. People come with a box of clothing, but moreover they show up with a box of stories. Whenever I meet new people, they tell me a lot of stories about the memories they have of the person and their clothes.
Do you use all fabrics in such a box for your quilts?
I only use the fabrics that are worn a lot, especially when its difficult fabric to work with, for example the vest of a mother. When fabrics are not suitable to quilt, I use adhesive tape to keep the fabric in place. Also, when there is lace or knitted parts, I applique that on some other fabrics. I am not bothered by official rules.
I only use the fabric if it was worn a lot. A vest from a mother, for example. I use adhesive tape to keep things in place, or something that has lace or knitted parts, I can put that on some other fabric. I’m not bothered by official rules.
I love the social interaction that comes with making memory quilts. People come with a box of clothing, but moreover they show up with a box of stories.
How does your memory quilt process look? Do you work together with the people, or do you use a pattern for example?
I do not have any set patterns I use. The end size of the quilt determines a lot. Also, the clients are not quilters, so they do not know about patterns.
We decide together the rhythm of the quilt and how many different fabrics I will use. It doesn’t work for me to use too many fabrics. Also, the choice of background fabric is important because it influences the overall look of the quilt.
For example, a while ago someone had a lot of aprons. We mixed those with accents of some other fabrics to accentuate the aprons and that worked very well.
People don’t like overly complex patterns, they want to recognize the fabrics. A dress from a party, for example, should still be recognizable and therefore the patterns I use are quite simple. Usually I use triangles or something.
I also always try to use accents of clothes, such as a button or a label of a dress, to give the memory quilt that little extra personalization. Also, sometimes people have a specific colour they want.
When fabrics are not suitable to quilt with, I use adhesive tape to keep the fabric in place. Also, when there is lace or knitted parts, I applique that on some other fabrics.
People are often emotional when they bring the clothes, so it’s good to pay extra attention to what the clothes mean to them and the stories the clothes carry. Most of them are not familiar with quilting, or they would have made the quilt themselves.
So, the memory quilts are a way for people to do something with the clothes of a departed loved one?
Yes, but it can also be done with different kind of clothes like baby clothes. What do you do with those clothes once the baby has grown up? That is a very different mood though.
You can also make a memory quilt for the elderly with their memories. For example, I’ve made a quilt for my mother-in-law with all the houses she has lived.
You can also make a stuffed toy or a pillow out of the clothes. It depends a bit on how many people want to receive a quilted item. The main thing is that people want a tangible memory.
Who usually decides to make a memory quilt and for whom?
Typically, one person decides to make a memory quilt. I do offer to make addition items such as pillows when there are more people involved.
Sometimes before I start a new project, I do not know how it will look in the end. You get into the rhythm of cutting the fabrics, and you will see and feel whether a certain layout is working. With quilting, you have to feel if the design works or not.
And sometimes you also make mistakes, but if it isn’t obvious, I keep the mistake. Typically, people don’t see it.
A good tip is to hang the quilt top somewhere once you are done for a day or two. It will make it easy for you to see if there are any mistakes.
Whenever I meet new people they tell me a lot of stories about the memories they have of the person and their clothes.
3. Conclusion: Memory Quilts are not well-known yet
I enjoyed learning from Lucia of atelier Werkerij how she turns clothes into a memory quilt!
Unfortunately, she told me that many people do not yet know about the concept of a memory quilt. Which is a shame, because I am sure many people would love to have a lasting memory of a loved one. For example, Floor also made memory quilts of the clothes of her sister.
Spread the word about the memory quilt by sharing this interview with your friends and family! Also, you can learn to make your own memory quilt with the ‘a taste of Quilting’ mini memory quilt quilt-a-longs. Keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram or sign up for the newsletter below to get updates on the next event.
Find Lucia / Werkerij Atelier for memory quilts here
- Have you ever turned clothes of a loved one into a quilt?
- What kind of quilted item would you love as a lasting memory of a dearly departed?