Quilted Memories – A Contemporary Twist

Shortly after I posted to my blog last week, Cheryl commented that she has a booklet about the Sunday School Picnic quilt.

That led me to do an internet search and I was thrilled to discover the whole story of this amazing quilt. I added the link to my post, but by then over 300 people had already read it, so I thought I’d better share the link again here for those of you who might be interested. It’s a fascinating story and well worth the read. Click here for the link.


This week I’m going to follow up on the vintage memory quilts by showing my own modern version. The majority of those antique quilts were bed sized and hand quilted. You don’t see many memory quilts like those being made today. But we still want to make quilts to commemorate people, places and events. I love to travel and I’ve often thought about making one quilt about my travels. The problem is I’ve been so many places – praise the Lord – that it seemed to be overwhelming.

Last year while planning for our Sew We Go cruise from Quebec to Boston I had a “light bulb” moment. What if I would choose one photo from each trip that triggered all the wonderful memories of the entire vacation? Then I could make each photograph into a block and …

Modular Memory Quilts was born! I gave a lecture on this “quilt”, and all the techniques I used to make the blocks, for our group while on board the Norwegian Dawn and it went over quite well (to read about the projects on that trip click here).

This block is one of my favorites from the “quilt”.

It’s from Mike’s and my first visit to Hawaii when our son, Brad, was a senior in High School. We invited his best friend along and, while stopping at a waterfall on the Road to Hana, the boys decided to climb to the top and jump!

Others were doing it and it was a real case of “monkey see, monkey do”.

To make the block I used a bunch of techniques: glue-stick raw edge appliqué, stitched cheesecloth, and even thread painting on tulle to create my jumping Brad. What fun – and what a great memory.

As you may know, Wendy and I are taking a group of quilters to Hawaii this January. We still have a few cabins available, but since this trip will fill, Norwegian Cruise Lines is requesting all the “non-spoken-for” cabins be returned to them soon. If you have been thinking about joining us – click here for all the details and instructions for signing up while you still can!


Now back to Modular Memory Quilts  🙂 .


One of my favorite parts of making Modular Memory Quilts is that each block is made, bordered, quilted and bound as a separate unit. There’s no quilting and finishing a big quilt! Then I connect them together with my own unique technique, using hair bands and safety pins (yes – really 🙂 ). This is what makes it completely modular. The blocks can be moved around; additional blocks can be added over time; other’s can be taken away; or, if the “quilt” becomes too large, it can be broken up into two separate quilts.

I was working on this project during the Madison Quilt Expo last September and, while walking through the show, I was delighted to see my friend Wendy Butler Berns had made a quilt in a similar fashion and entered it in the show (click here to visit Wendy’s website).

“Unconditional Love – Always” was made as a triptych of quilts of her children with their pets, using her Picture Image Machine Appliqué technique. She put them together with strips of fabric and buttons, so they can eventually be separated and each child can have their own quilt at some point in the future. What a wonderful idea!

Since making my travel quilt, I’ve thought of many more types of memory quilts that would work well as a Modular Memory Quilt: children’s art, grandma’s embroidered squares or hankies, workshop samples … just think of the possibilities! Here’s one – the project we’ll be making on the Hawaiian cruise is a type of “Paint-stik™ appliqué” I wrote about a few months ago (click here for that post). I made three quilts with this technique and decided to combine them “modularly”.

I’ve since made a few other of these “quilts”. Completing small, individual block quilts is quick and a lot of fun. I’m very excited about the results and I’ll be doing a lecture on these fun souvenir quilts at the Madison Quilt Expo this September. Not only will I talk about the quilts and my connecting technique, but I’ll also demonstrate step-by-step instructions for many of the techniques I used to create the blocks. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

3 Opinions

  • Renee Watry said:

    Loved your quilts making quilts from pictures. The portraits were very nice
    I would be interested in taking a session from you. Only I will not be able
    To attend a class until after late October . I planning on having knee surgery and that will take time to heal.
    Wait to hear from you. Have fun at Madison Expo.

  • Patricia Nieman said:

    I’ve been thinking about making a quilt like these but never knew there was actually a name for them. Thanks for the information you have shared here. I’m not sure yet how I will “attach” them so they can be moved or added to. Maybe I will be able to attend your lecture at Expo in September. Any suggestions on how to do this would be greatly appreciated.

    • clkquilt admin

      Hi Pat, I’m still working out the details so that my connecting technique is simple and secure. I’m hoping to add this lecture to my resume and perhaps do a book on the technique in the near future. If you’d like to discuss it one-on-one, please email me at


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