5 steps to organizing the clothing of a deceased loved one for memorial quilts and/or pillows
Make a list in order of importance of who should receive a quilt or pillow.
Mark on your list who gets a quilt and who gets a pillow.
Sort the clothing into piles based on cleaning directions and feel.
Set up a box or bag for each person receiving a quilt or pillow.
Sort the clothing into each person’s box or bag.
Have you considered having a memorial quilt or pillow made from the clothing of someone who has passed? With a memorial-clothing quilt, you can wrap up in their clothing and hold their memory close.
If you are planning to have a quilt or two made from your deceased loved ones clothing, here are the steps of that planning process.
1. Decide who may need or want a quilt or pillow.
Begin by deciding who might like a quilt or a pillow. This will be contingent on your budget and how many clothing items you have. Here is a link to the pricing page on our website. This will help you determine your budget. We have found that a typical adult wardrobe can make about 5 to 8 queen-size quilts or many smaller quilts and pillows.
To Do: Make a list in order of importance of who should receive a quilt or pillow.
2. Decide who receives a quilt and who receives a pillow.
Next, figure out if you need quilts, pillows or a mix of quilts and pillows made. This will depend on how many people you have on your list and your budget.
Here are a few examples:
A young parent has died and left two children and a spouse. This would be a great time to have a quilt made for each. If the parents of the deceased are involved, they might like to have a pillow. Possible Solution: three quilts and perhaps two pillows
A grandparent has died and has 8 grandchildren and a spouse. The spouse may like a quilt. A pillow for the grandchildren would be a wonderful way for them to remember their grandparent. Possible Solution: one quilt and 8 pillows.
A child has died and has left behind parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. Depending on the age and wardrobe of the child, there might not be enough clothing to make something for everyone. We would suggest first making something for the siblings and then the parents. If there is enough to make additional pillows or small quilts, then the grandparents might be next in line. Possible Solution: a small quilt for each sibling, and a larger quilt for the parents. Or a large quilt for the parents and a pillow for each sibling.
A baby has died. The baby clothing, blankets and bibs could be made for the parents. Although these are the saddest quilts for us to make, we know the impact of the quilt is enormous. Read more about baby clothes quilts here. Possible Solution: a quilt for the parents of the child.
To Do: Mark on your list who gets a quilt and who gets a pillow.
3. Select the items for each quilt or pillow.
This can seem overwhelming! Before you become overwhelmed, here are two articles to help.
To learn more about having a quilt made from clothing, here are some directions to help you get started.
Here are some things to consider when you are choosing what to include in your quilts and pillows.
As you work through the clothing, you need to think about the type of fabrics you choose to put in your quilts and/or pillows. If you choose an item that is dry-clean only, then what you make out of it will have to also be dry-cleaned. For example, if you put a dry-clean only blouse in a pillow with 5 other items you could wash in a washing machine, the pillow will have to be dry-cleaned. Read the washing instruction label to know.
Why does this matter? You might know that the item makes the pillow or quilt dry-clean only. But the recipient or someone the recipient gives the pillow to might not know this. The quilt or pillow might end up in the washing machine at some point in the future. This could lead to heartbreak.
We would suggest you consider this when you are choosing which items to include. You would want to keep dry-clean only items out of pillows. Pillows will be washed more frequently than a quilt. If you are giving a quilt to a child, this would be another place to avoid dry-clean items. If a child is using a quilt, it will need to be washed more frequently.
Consider the type of fabric if you are making pillows and to whom you are giving the quilt.
How Many Clothing Items Are Needed?
This will depend on how many items you have and how many quilts you plan to have made. Typically, we will cut one quilt block from each clothing item. 30 to 40 items would make an interesting quilt.
If you want a small quilt, then we would use a smaller piece from each item. Conversely, if you want a larger quilt, we would use larger blocks from each item and perhaps multiple blocks from each article. The larger the quilt you want, the more pieces of clothing you can use. So for a queen or king size quilt, you could choose 60 to 70 articles of clothing.
We suggest that you choose 6 coordinating clothing items for a pillow. We cut 4 to 6 blocks from each item. Remember, when choosing the clothing for the pillow that you want to choose soft items that feel good to touch or lay your face on.
To Do: Sort the clothing into piles based on cleaning directions and feel.
4. Separate the clothing into a grouping for each pillow or quilt.
Set out bags, boxes or laundry baskets labeled with each person’s name. We like to have each quilt named so when we talk to you, we can easily reference what quilt we are talking about. It’s also helpful for you to have each quilt named so you can easily remember what goes into which pile.
Place the appropriate clothing items in each bag, box or basket.
If you have clothing that needs to go into more than one quilt or T-shirt, then you need to set up additional bags or boxes. In these put the clothing that needs to go into more than one quilt. Make sure to label this for your quilt maker!
For example, say you are having three quilts made - one for Sue, Bill and Jessica. If you have an item that needs to go into all the quilts, you will have a spot for those items. If you have an item that needs to go into Sue and Jessica’s quilt, you will need to have a spot for those items.
If you have a specific part of an item that needs to go into Jessica’s quilt and another part than needs to go into Sue’s quilt leave us a note on blue painter’s tape with the directions. If there is a T-shirt in this pile with a front and a back, tape the name of the quilt that that particular side goes into.
Please clearly label each bag so we know which quilts the items need to go into.
Place an order form in each bag with any special instructions you may have. On the order form, please write the quilt’s name at the top. For example, “Jessica’s quilt.”
How Too Cool T-shirt Quilts will work with your items:
We will set up a plastic storage box for each quilt. Then, we will cut the items from that bag into its box. When all the individual groupings are cut, we line up the labeled plastic storage boxes. Then we work from the bag containing items that needs a piece to go into more than one quilt. As we cut that clothing item, we put a piece in each specified quilt box.
We are very meticulous about how we go about cutting items for each memorial quilt. They are so special. We do our very best to make sure they are what you want.
To Do: Set up a box or bag for each person receiving a quilt or pillow. Sort the clothing into each person's box or bag.
Memorial or memory quilts are always sad to make. We know from personal experience that these quilts and pillows can have a positive impact on loved ones as they grieve.
We have been making memorial quilts since shortly after we began making T-shirt quilts in the early 1990’s. We have years of experience, including personal experience, making memorial quilts. If you need help or guidance, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help you through this process. If we can ease a little of your grief, then we are doing our job.
For more information about having a memorial quilt or pillows made check out the link blow. Or feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have.
Andrea Funk is the inventor of T-shirt quilts made with multiple blocks sizes. The modern method of making T-shirt quilts. In 1992 she founded Too Cool T-shirt Quilts. Her life has been immersed in T-shirt quilts ever since.