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How to Plan Multiple Memorial Quilts from One Person's Clothing

September 21st, 2020

By Andrea Funk

Memorial quilt by Too Cool T-shirt Quilts

Memorial Quilt Planning Step-by-Step

  • Determine a Budget
  • Figure out how many items you have to work with.
  • Determine Who Needs a Quilt or Pillow
  • Set-up a Box or Bag for Each Quilt or Pillow
  • Choosing Who Gets What
  • Analyze Each Grouping
  • How to use one item in more than one quilt. 

Can you imagine planning 21 quilts and five pillows from one person's clothing? Perhaps not. But it happens. Here's how they planned their quilts.

Below are thumbnails of each of the 21 quilts and the five pillows we made for one family from their Husband/ Dad/ Granddad/ Great Granddad's clothing. This might not be in the realm of reality for you. But the methods this family used to planned these quilts and pillows can apply to anyone making multiple quilts from one person's clothing. 

21 memorial quilts and 5 pillows from clothing from one man.

Determine a Budget

Your budget will determine how many quilts or pillows you can have made. Here's a link to our pricing page. From that page you can get an idea about the cost of each quilt or pillow. With this information - cost of quilt or pillow divided into budget - you will know how many quilts you can have made.

In the example here, most of these quilts were large lap size. A lap size quilt is a great size quilt for a memorial quilt. 

Figure Out How Many Items You Have to Work With

This will help you determine how many quilts you can have made based on how many clothing items you have.

How Many Items Do You Need for a Quilt?

How many T-shirt quilts for a Too Cool quiltI knew you were going to ask that question. I don't have a set answer such as 32 or 15. How many items you need depends on how many items you have and how you want to use those items. 

  • Larger quilts need more and can accommodate more items.
  • Smaller quilts need fewer items and can be made with fewer items.

I would suggest beginning with our how many T-shirts chart here. This can give you an idea of how many clothing items you might need.

memorial quilt made with plaid shirts plusBut clothing is different than T-shirts because we can cut multiple pieces from each clothing item. 

For example, most of the quilts we made for this family were each made from 6 to 9 clothing items. In the photo here you can see that we used 4 to 5 pieces from each item. 

  • The fewer items you have, the more and the larger blocks we will cut from each item.
  • The more items you have, the less we will cut from each piece. And if you have a lot of items, we will cut smaller pieces from each item. 

For large lap size quilts like these, I would suggest no fewer than 6 item and no more 25 items. But the system is flexible. 

If you only want one block cut from each item, then I would suggest you send closer to the top number for the size you want in the chart above. 

To Complicate Planning...

You can use a piece out of one shirt for many quilts. Depending on the size pieced used, you can use the same shirt in 5 to 8 quilts. The smaller we cut the blocks, the more quilts you can use that item in. 

We can take one shirt and cut it so there is nothing left but the old seams. Or we can just take one block out of a shirt.

What Can You Use in a Memorial Quilt?

Memorial Pillows

We would suggest between 4 and 8 items per pillow. So much easier!

4 pillows lined up - you see the front and back of each


Planning a memorial quilt or pillow?
Here are step-by-step directions for ordering your Too Cool quilt or pillow.

How to Order a Memorial Quilt


Determine Who Needs a Quilt or Pillow

Memorial quilts from grandmother's clothingYou now should know how many quilts you can make. This will be based on how many you can or want to afford. And how many you can make from the clothing that you have. 

Now start marking a list of who needs a quilt and who needs a pillow. This might be a very short list if you only want a few quilts made. It might be a longer list if you start including children and grandchildren.

Try not to leave anyone important off your list. And this includes yourself. Most of the time you are the parent or the spouse of someone who has died. Don't leave yourself off the list.

Don't do what I did when my husband died! I made 10 quilts for his friends and family. It wasn't until I mailed them off that I realized that I had not made one for myself. I kick myself every time I think about it.

Set-up a Box or Bag for Each Quilt or Pillow

planning memorial quilts involves a lot of careful planning.Starts with your list of everyone who needs a quilt or pillow.  Write each name on a slip of paper. Then attach the name slip onto a box or bag. You will put each clothing item that goes to that quilt in that box or bag. 

Next, it's time sort out your loved one's clothing. Please read this article for a how to guide that will take some of the thinking out of the job! How to sort out a deceased loved ones clothing for a quilt. 

Go through the items one at a time and sort into your piles. You will have a pile labeled for each quilt or pillow. Then make one for donation. As you remove each item from its hanger or drawer, consider what quilt or pillow it should go into. Remember that if an item is dry-clean only, the quilt you put it into will also be dry-clean only.

Choosing Who Gets Which Clothing Items

Memorial Quilt with overall and necktiesDon't let this become a family freak show. Most items can be shared between more than one quilt. See more on this below. 

Most people have an outfit that they remember that person wearing most. Start there. Put each person's favorite item in their bag. 

Then think about photos you have of that person. What were they wearing and who were they with? This is another way to divide up the clothing. This works great with two person photos. 

Are you making a quilt for a young person or child? If so, don't put a dry-clean only item in their quilt. If you put a dry-clean only item in a quilt, the entire quilt becomes dry-clean only. If they can't wash their quilt, they won't use it. And these quilts should be used and enjoyed.

What Can You Use in a Memorial Quilt?

Analyze Each Grouping

Clothing quilt - look at all the clothing in one pile to see if they all look good together. After you get everything sorted out, open up one bag or box at a time. You want to look at all the colors in the stack of clothing. Do they are all go good together? Step back and squint at the pile or stack of items. Is there one or two items that just look awful? Pull those out for now.

As you check your other groupings, look to see if the ones you pulled out from another grouping work with that grouping.

Keep shuffling your groupings to find the right mix of colors and textures.

How to Use One Item in More Than One Quilt

Memorial quilts made from plaid shirtsThe simple way is to divide up the clothing items into one stack for each quilt you would like made. But, we all know that life is not simple. There are some items may need to go into each quilt. Other items may need to go into two quilts, but not, say, all four.

Start by setting out another bag for the clothing items that need to go into more than one quilt. Stick a piece of blue painters tape on each clothing item listing the name or quilt number that should have a block from that item.

If there is a T-shirt in this pile with a front and a back, tape the name or quilt number of the quilt that that particular side goes into.

In the photos here, each quilt has the same shirts. They are just arranged and used in different ways. 

Memorial quilts made from plaid shirts Memorial quilts made from plaid shirts

How Too Cool T-shirt Quilts will work with your items:

How Too Cool T-shirt quilts cares for your T-shirt when there are in houseWe will set up a plastic storage box for each grouping or bag of items. Then, working one grouping at a time, we will cut the items from that bag. When all the individual groupings are cut, we line up the labeled plastic storage boxes and then 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 know how important your T-shirts and clothing items are to you and your memories of your loved one. We will treat them as if they were our loved one’s item – with care and consideration.


Take your time planning your memorial quilts. They are too important to rush. If this seems too hard to think about right now, it's too soon. Put it off another 6 months or year. Just put the clothing aside for when you feel more up to it. Here's an article about how to know when the right time to have a memorial quilt made.

We are more than welcome to call us here for more information. 517-541-8225. 


To learn more about memorial quilts and pillows, visit our Learning Center.
We have over 200 articles about all aspects of memorial and T-shirt quilts.

Learning Center



6 memorial quilts made from clothing lined up 

Andrea Funk

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.