Quilted Memories

Our son, Brad, was very active in his High School orchestra. The orchestra teachers connected with a youth orchestra in England and they did exchange trips. Brad was able to travel to England twice, and both times I went along as a chaperone (I couldn’t have my son play his cello in Salisbury Cathedral – and not be there!) On one of these wonderful adventures I had the pleasure of meeting Art and Debby Abe. Their daughter was also in the orchestra and they decided to chaperone the trip too. I discovered that Debby was a quilter, and we’ve run into each other in the quilt world numerous times since that trip.

A few month’s ago I taught at the Ben Franklin retreat (to read that post click here), and Debby was there too. My heart ached for her when she told me what had happened in her life this past year. Then she showed me some pictures that made her story so endearing to me that I asked her if I could share it. Here it is in her own words:

“This is a memory quilt made from my husband’s clothes. Art passed away unexpectedly last April at the age of 60. I created this quilt with the thought it could be used as a picnic blanket, as it is backed with his jeans and pants.


As I was assembling this quilt, I was thinking how it is so much like our lives. In sewing the pieces together I did the best I could with the flawed and imperfect materials I had to work with, it was a challenge putting them together, because of the different fabric types. But in the end it turned out beautiful. Just like life – we are flawed and imperfect and have challenges, but in the end GOD’s “project” turns out beautiful!
Just like in the center of the quilt is what Art wore to church, so should God be the center of our lives. When we live a God centered life, we will have peace and joy – despite the heartbreaks of life.
And so (in quilter language) when the challenges and trials of life cause us to fall to pieces – we pick them up and stitch back together the fabric of our lives and press forward.”

Debby chose to make a unique memory quilt for each of her children:


Then she went a step further: “As a Christmas tradition, I would make a “Christmas eve” gift.  We open gifts on Christmas morning. This year I took my husbands ties and created a memory gift. The girls ( my 3 daughters, 1 daughter-in- law, and 2 granddaughters) received a purse. My son and 3 son- in- laws got a key chain made from the end of a tie (sometimes it was the tie used for his wife’s purse). For my grandson I cut down one of Art’s ties to toddler size.

Purses from neckties

Here’s my granddaughter Ellie – who promptly filled up her purse and wore it around after receiving it.”


What an incredible labor of love! Thank you for sharing your story with us Debby – and God’s blessings to you and your family!

5 Opinions

  • Donna Stephens said:

    Absolutely beautiful! A wonder-filled tribute of love.

  • Jeanie admin

    Thanks for sharing this blog of Debbie Abe’s quilts to her children. It touched my heart. What a loving way to keep their father in their memory.

  • Judy admin

    What a wonderful tribute to her husband by making those things for her kids and grandchildren. I am sure they will treasure them for a long time. How something so simple can mean so much, heh?

  • Betty admin

    Your post, Quilted Memories, is one of the most touching you’ve written. Debby’s words are wise. Quilters find comfort and meaning in fabrics and patterns. This is a good example.
    I was asked by a coworker to make quilts for her children after her father died. He wore flannel shirts, so I got the pile and used 6 simple patterns to make ‘Bumpa Blankies’ for the 6 boys. I don’t know the boys, but she told me a couple times how much the blankets mean to the them.
    Thanks for sharing in your blog,

  • Cheryl Parker said:

    What a wonderful tribute to her husband, and to God. Thanks for sharing it.


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