Monday, 20 July 2015

Herrick

When I helped my friend Berni make a quilt from her late brother's shirts last year, I had no idea I'd be making a similar quilt myself a year later. It's been a long, sad process but I'm pleased that it's finally finished and I can hand the quilt over to the recipient. 


This quilt was made from my beloved Uncle Herrick's shirts and is for his partner - Chris. Herrick died suddenly 18 months ago, which was a terrible shock for the whole family. I offered to make Chris a memory quilt of her own as I knew she'd get a lot of comfort from it, but even so, I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. Chris gave me the shirts at New Year (exactly a year after Herrick's death), but it took me about four months to pluck up the courage to even open the bags. I did open them eventually, and after lots of blubbing I finally started cutting out the squares for his quilt. This was the longest part of the whole process, partly because it was so emotional and I had to keep putting it away, but also because cutting up enough shirts for a sizeable quilt just takes ages. There were a few shirts left over so I made two of them into cushions as a little extra gift for Chris. They were super easy to make - look out for a tutorial on how to make them soon.



The finished quilt is large enough for a double bed and measures around 64" x 74". It's made up of 5" squares from as many different colours as I could find amongst his shirts. I decided to lay out the quilt top as a random design, which was actually quite a departure for me (in case you haven't noticed, I like things to be symmetrical, colour co-ordinated and lined up!) My only rule when laying out the patchwork squares was that no two squares of the same colour should lie next to each other. Sewing up the patchwork top was very straight forward, helped by my favourite new haberdashery purchase - Aurifil quilting thread from M is for Make. This high quality thread is fab - there were fewer instances of snarled up knots when sewing the squares together and it gave a lovely, precise finish to the top stitching.


The backing is just a plain, red cotton sheet (Chris wanted a red quilt back as Herrick was a lifelong Liverpool supporter) and the binding is the same blue and white striped binding I used for my son Charlie's quilt.





The brown square is from Herrick's work satchel - Chris had it personalised with his initials some years ago.


And this little Liverpool badge is from one of his football tops. The top wasn't suitable for using in the quilt but the badge was, so I unpicked it and sewed it onto the quilt back.


For the actual quilting, I sewed ¼" either side of each square, which gives a nice, neat effect on both sides.


I won't say too much about Herrick, as thinking about him still sets me off in floods of tears. He was only 15 years older than me, so was more like an older brother than an uncle and the funniest man I knew. There are so many little things that make me remember him…. I'll remember him whenever I see a terrible zombie film (watching Plan Nine from Outer Space with him was the time I laughed most in my entire life), I'll remember him when I hear the theme tune to Inspector Morse. I'll remember him when I see a copy of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. And I'll especially remember him whenever I hear Fagin's throwaway line in Oliver!, "Shut up and drink your gin." I miss him terribly.

I don't know anything about the individual shirts used in this quilt, they're Chris's memories. All I know is that it was a privilege to piece them together and make such a personal gift. I think its time to hand it over to its rightful owner now.  x


68 comments:

  1. Sniff!! Such a wonderful way to create something as a stitching memorial. Lovely and whilst it must have been hard, all the way through, I hope it helped you with your sadness and you know it'll be treasured by Chris. Beautifully written too xx

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    1. Thanks Winnie, I really hope it will help her with her grief. Sniff! x

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  2. What a beautiful and thoughtful gift, I'm sure it'll bring great comfort in all ways x

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    1. Thank you. I really hope so. x

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  3. This is so beautiful and such a wonderful idea to remember someone by, lovely post Jane x

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  4. Beautiful post and quilt, with such lovely personal touches.

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  5. such a lovely keepsake. i hope it brings them some comfort while they remember him. xxx

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  6. A lovely - and thoughtful - gift

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  7. Lovely idea and a beautiful result! Did you use only 100% cotton shirts? If not, how did you choose which would be suitable? and this id machine stitched, correct?

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    1. Thanks Martha. No, not all of the shirts were 100% cotton, some were a poly/cotton mix, or linen. I chose them by colour really, I didn't want the quilt to be too dark (he had a lot of very dark shirts like the one I used for the cushion). A few of the non-cotton squares misbehaved a bit but you can't tell once everything is quilted together and bound! x

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  8. It's such a beautiful quilt and a fitting tribute. I'm sorry for your loss. x

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  9. What a lovely thing to make from your uncle's shirts - it is fabulous and so personal. x

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  10. What a truly lovely tribute to your lost one. What a wonderful story and beautiful quilt. I am sure that sewing the wonderful treasure helped with your grief. Take care and thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you. It was hard but I think making it did help, it certainly made me remember him with fondness. x

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  11. i can't imagine a more thoughtful and comforting gift. i hope she can wrap herself in it and feel his warm hug. now i'm blubbing, too. truly, truly lovely.

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    1. I hope she can too. Thank you. x

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  12. What a wonderful gesture, and comfort for Chris. Lovely quilt too.

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  13. Wow- beautiful and sad but what a lovely gift. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. The beauty of the bittersweet is something else isn't it? How wonderful to be able to recreate (as best possible) the feeling of a dear, departed loved one. Must've been quite cathartic for you as well, no doubt.

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    1. ...of cuddling a dear, departed loved one that is...

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    2. I think making it was cathartic, even though it was sad. Thanks! x

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  15. Thank you for blogging about this. I have friends, a husband and wife, one of whom has terminal cancer, and have thought of suggesting this eventually. Knowing that the quilt was appreciated makes me a little more confident about the idea and when the time comes (I pray not too soon), I hope I can make something as lovely as your quilt of Herrick's shirts.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend Vicky. I think it would be a lovely suggestion to make (I waited at least six months before suggesting the idea to Chris). It's difficult to know what will help with somebody's grieving, but if your friend is keen then it's also comforting to know you're making something that will be truly loved and appreciated for ever. xx

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  16. How incredibly moving. Such a special gift that I'm sure will only become more and more precious.

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    1. I hope so Rachel, thank you. x

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  17. That is such a wonderful thing to do, so moving x

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  18. Oh Jane, I got a big lump in my throat when reading this! You are a superstar to have made this, and it is absolutely beautiful.

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  19. Such a beautiful present Jane, I imagine she will be very moved. Berni x

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    1. She's worth all the tears, I hope it helps her. Thanks lovely. xx

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  20. What a thoughtful and wonderful gift to give to his partner; and of course, this is points for you. You will always remember him and the loving task you undertook to honour him. Good on you. It's beautiful on many levels.

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  21. Oh, wow that's quite an emotional undertaking! Well done for sticking at it and getting it finished. The end result is beautiful in many ways :-)

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    1. Thank you. I'm so pleased I can finally give it to Chris as a gift. x

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  22. A lovely tribute. The approach might be too brutal for shirts carrying so much emotional weight, but I can recommend the method of 'deboning' a shirt that scrap quilting expert Bonnie K. Hunter uses. There is a short video on her Quiltville website that shows how - she reckons you can strip it down to usable fabric pieces in about 5 minutes and I found it worked. It's even quicker if you decide not to go after the smaller scraps in collars, cuffs and yokes. http://quiltville.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/deboning-shirt-movie.html

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    1. Thanks so much for this link. It's similar to how I took the shirts apart - by the end of it I'd got it down to a fine art! x

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  23. What a gorgeous keepsake with a flood of memories. You have me tearing up over here, what a beautiful thing you've done and made and a lovely tribute. Sending much love and hugs. xx

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  24. I got a bit teary. This quilt is such a thoughtful and beautiful keepsake. Big Hug xx

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    1. Thanks Rachel, I hope she treasures it. x

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  25. Thank you for sharing this post. This is such a thoughtful present, I would not have had any idea to honor the memory of a loved person in this way. In addition, your quilt is beautifully made and surely, Chris will love it. I am sorry for your loss,
    SaSa

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  26. What a wonderful thing to do Jane. A great use of those shirts and now Chris can keep getting lovely warm hugs from your uncle for years to come x

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  27. Wow this is amazing. So thoughtful, beautiful colour scheme, we'll done

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  28. What a wonderful post. I wish I'd done this when my Dad passed away, it is so much nicer than giving all those memories to the charity shop. This is an item to be treasured forever, and you are a treasure for doing it!

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    1. Ah thank you. I'm glad I was able to use the shirts to keep his memory alive (not that it will ever fade!) x

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  29. Oh, Jane, what a lovely gift. I'm really sorry for your loss, but I'm glad that you were able to make such a sweet keepsake for Chris.

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  30. What a moving blog post and such a lovely, lovely quilt.

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  31. Sorry for your loss. The quilt turned out nice and I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated.
    Might I recommend that you send/give the receiver of the quilt a box of dye catchers... if you have them there for purchase. They are to be tossed into the washed just before you put in
    the quilt. They get wet first, then you add the quilt (or any non-stable fabric for that matter) and if there is any problem with the dyes running, the dye catcher catches it and it will not ruin your item.
    Prayers are with you and your family.
    Jean Cogdill
    djcogdill@q.com

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