Treasure Chest Thursday: Life Story Quilt

Denim Quilt TopMy post this week is about a treasure of very personal sort — more than a decade in the making (and it’s still not finished!). Back in high school, I started saving scraps of denim whenever I turned a worn pair of jeans into a pair of cut-off shorts. I originally planned to make pillows out of them. In college I learned to quilt, and so the denim scraps that had been piling up for years found their purpose.

During winter break of my senior year of college, I started piecing together the first square. That was nearly 11 years ago. The quilt is a sampler (each block is a different pattern) and I accented the denim with pieces of other clothing. One block has pieces of the dress that I wore for high school graduation. Another includes flannel from my grunge days. Over the years, I obtained used pieces of clothing from friends that they planned to discard — some thought I planned to wear the dresses/shirts myself. Others knew I was really going to cut the material into strips for quilting.

Side ViewNow, some of the quilt’s blocks contain pieces of a shirt from a college roommate. Other blocks have a floral pattern from a dress a former coworker and dear friend gave to me. I love the quilt all the more for the people and times that I recall as I work on it.

After I finished piecing the blocks I bought yards and yards of thin denim for the borders on the top of the quilt and to make the backing. The top, backing and a thin layer of batting are basted together and I’m in the quilting stage right now. The quilting is also sampler-style, with different patterns along the border and in each block. The layers are so thick, and the quilting needle I use is so long and sharp, that I must improvise a thimble using a metal spoon in order to protect my fingers.

The Other SideThe quilt is queen-size and completely covers me as I work on it. It is so heavy (mostly due to all that denim) that I can really only work on it during the winter. It’s actually been several years since I did so (like many things, it took a backseat to grad school). I’m determined to get back to work on it again now that the weather is turning colder. It will no doubt be several more years before I can finally finish the edges and call it done. Not unlike a scrapbook, it documents nearly half of my life thus far. Every stitch has been done by hand. It is my opus.

12 thoughts on “Treasure Chest Thursday: Life Story Quilt

  1. Jenna says:

    The quilt is beautiful! All the more so because the pieces of fabric have specific meaning to you.

  2. baysideresearch says:

    Thank you, Jenna!

  3. Gini Webb says:

    What a way to honor your life, I love it! My husband just retired after 30 years. He had several T-shirts that pertained to his job, the acadamy he went thru. Over the years he thought he was getting rid of them, I was saving them (about 12). My daughter’s stepmom quilted, I was going to have her make a small quilt out of the T-shirts and give it to him as a retirement gift! She passed away suddenly and the T-shirts have been sitting. Recently I found a friend of a friend that is doing the quilt for me. I am so excited and it’s a way of preserving a career he loved so much. When it’s done I wanted to put it on my blog too. I love that our descendants will be able to have something to hold onto.

  4. baysideresearch says:

    That’s exciting, Gini — I can’t wait to see your quilt!

  5. billie says:

    What a wonderful quilt!

  6. arlijohn says:

    I love your project. What a great quilt.

  7. baysideresearch says:

    billie and arlijohn — thanks so much!

  8. Apple says:

    I love that not only is every square different but that they represent different people. I give you a lot of credit – I don’t have the patience for hand quilting.

  9. baysideresearch says:

    Thanks, Apple! I usually need something to occupy my hands while watching TV, etc., so something like this is perfect! Does require patience though (especially at the rate I’m going!).

  10. Mary Corley says:

    Beautiful and each block wonderfully crafted–a real treasure. The quilts on the beds in our guest room were all made from scraps from my dresses–makes for a memory lane trip.


    • baysideresearch says:

      Thanks, Mary! That’s so neat about the quilts in the guest room — I had meant to ask about where the material came from.

  11. […] I mentioned in a previous post, I like to quilt and my main quilting project is too big to work on most of the year. During the […]

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