Monday, March 26, 2018

Framed Memory Quilt Block

This is the story of a fairly quick and easy project.  Do you like that word, "fairly"?  Qualifiers aside, it really was pretty simple.

I wanted to make something with Dad's ties, some kind of memory piece.  The thing is, Dad used to have more ties before he retired.  That was over 30 years ago, so at the time he passed away, he was down to only three ties in regular rotation.  With the dress code for church and weddings and funerals being more relaxed these days, he didn't need any more than that.

And he was a clip-on tie kind of guy.  Always.  He was all about simple solutions.

First I hand-washed the ties in Woolite, and when they were dry, took them apart.  Turns out once you cut the knot off, there's not a whole lot of fabric in a clip-on tie when it comes down to it.  Therefore my project, whatever it was, would need to be small because of the limited resources (and variety) of three clip-on ties.

Ties are cut on the bias, so I fused a lightweight interfacing onto the backs of the pieces to stabilize them.

This block, which I saw on Pinterest, was my inspiration.  Unfortunately, the link did not lead to any information on the maker.  If anyone recognizes it, please let me know so I can give credit.  

My thought was to feature the tie fabric in the center star.  I have three siblings, so I could use a different tie for each block, along with some of Dad's shirt scraps left from the memory quilt.  And then I'd frame each block and give one to each of my two brothers and sister as a memento.

I was thinking of a shadow box style frame without glass, but that wasn't easy to find.  Something square, not rectangular, larger than 6 inches but smaller than 10, that didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Then one day while shopping at Dollar Tree, I saw these square signs.  Thought I might pop out the glass and be able to use the frame for my project.  The price was right, a buck, so I bought one to experiment with.  Well, it turned out the glass was glued in with some kind of super-tough epoxy that my razor blade could not budge! 

Plan B:  Leave the glass in place and try scraping off the lettering with the razor blade.  Bingo!  A couple minutes later, the lettering was gone and I had a 7.5-inch square frame for my block.

The next step was to make the block.  Figured the easiest way to do it was draw up a paper piecing pattern.  

The block consists of four identical sections joined around a 2.5-inch center square.  There's a partial seam involved in sewing the block together, but that's not difficult.  The hardest thing for me was remembering how to paper piece!  I did have to un-sew a few seams on the first attempt, but then I got the hang of it.

(I would be happy to share the paper piecing pattern, crudely hand-drawn as it is, but I don't know how to insert a PDF download link.  If I figure that out, I may come back and edit this post.)

To insert the block into the frame, I bought a piece of black foam core board at the dollar store and cut it to about 7-3/8 inches square. 

Used a few dabs of washable glue stick to help center the block on the board, and then gently pushed it into the frame.  It fit just right, not too loose or too tight.  I could seal it in place with a bead of hot glue, but for now I'm okay with leaving it as is.  It seems stable enough.  And I like the option of being able to remove it easily, if you want, from the frame.

Finished blocks.

I ended up making four, so I can keep one.  I used the one of the ties twice, but a different part of it, so the center stars don't look the same from one to another.  

That's how it all came together.  Fairly simple, right? 


  1. What a lovely memento for your siblings,and yourself of course :)

  2. What a thoughtful, creative project! This is such a sweet way to remember your dad and keep by his photo. :) I'm at the age where my friends have aging parents, so I will keep this project in mind to make them as a keepsake. Yes, I would love to have a paper-piecing pattern, but I'm no help in adding a PDF on a post.

  3. Those look fantastic! Not every memory/memento piece needs to be a queen size quilt. Sorry about your dad, but yay you!

  4. This is a great idea for a memory keepsake. They turned out great, and who knew you could scrape off that lettering so easily? I wish I'd kept some shirts or something of my dad's; I saved a cool cushion aka pillow cover to make with a shirt.

  5. What a lovely way to make a memento of your dad with such limited fabric. I like that they are the same but different.


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