Grandma’s Memories

My Grandma turned 90 this summer, in July, and she was having a surprise birthday party on July 9. I have always loved the idea of a memory quilt and so I wanted to use pictures from everyone in the family to make it. I used the quilt pattern Summer Squares, found on the Moda Bake Shop page, because I thought the pattern lent itself well to look like picture frames. I found the perfect fabric for her, which was “Summer Breeze” by Sentimental Studios. (I realize that they have since put to market a Summer Breeze 2 and I would love to get my hands on that! I loved this line!!)

I knew getting those pictures was going to be the hardest part of all, since no one lives near me, not even in the same state. So I talked to my family member in April about this.  I didn’t hear any thing, so I though they weren’t interested. At the end of May, my mother tells me that yes, they are all interested and they would indeed all send me pictures. I was anticipating having some trouble getting pictures from my mother. She mean well, but she’s a bit of a procrastinator. I am not.

And I was right. The last of the photos came a week before her surprise birthday party. Remember, those are the photos that are in the quilt? Yeah.

This is just the beginning of things not going smoothly.


I didn’t want to buy the pre-done fabric sheets you can print on, for I know that over time, they will crack and peel, not to mention they are horribly expensive (at least when you have 40+ pictures!). So I did some research and decided upon a product called Bubble Jet Set 2000. It is a solution you soak your 100% cotton or 100% silk in and it makes it possible to print on fabric.

I ordered it but it was taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to get here from Eugene, OR. (I guess that’s what I get for paying for “economy shipping”). 7 days before I was due to send the quilt out, I learned that the ETA was July 6 when it needed to be in the mail no later then July 7! Not good.

So I did what any other quilter with a fast approaching deadline would do: I panicked!! I called around to various quilt stores to see if they carried the solution Bubble Jet Set 2000. Please keep in mind that we live in northern Wisconsin, aka “the middle of no where”! So it was no real surprise that no one did. The store in Rhinelander did have supposed pre-treated fabric, so I bought 3 yds of it, even though I thought it was way more than I needed. At almost $9 a yard, it’s not cheap stuff.


The said fabric didn’t work! We printed out 42 pictures and the ink came out!! My heart almost stopped. Thankfully, the Bubble Jet Set 2000 and Rinse arrived the day after I bought all this yardage, which was earlier then supposed, and I was able to do a test run on some muslin to see if it would work. It did!!

So I used the rest of the not-cheap fabric, followed the directions, and let them dry over night.

On Sunday morning, we started to print out the pictures only to run out of ink half way through. Of course! Why not? The only thing to do was go to Rhinelander and get some at Wal*mart (we combined a little grocery shopping then too, so it wasn’t a totally wasted trip just for ink. Rhinelander is our “big” town around here, about 8,000 people and is 40 min away.). 4 hours later, we printed out the rest of the 45 pictures (by this time, I got the last 2 remaining photos), and held my breath.



The one with the cranberry border was taken about 2 years into their marriage in San Francisco. It’s my favorite picture, which is why it’s center stage! If you look real close, you’ll see that the cranberry ribbon bled on the white. But it’s only around the perimeter, so I’m okay with it. It adds a little bit of dimension to it, I think.

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My Grandfather’s picture has the yellow border and my Grandmother’s has the blue one. Their wedding picture is in the quilt, but the photo is dark and faded, which is why it’s not in the middle.

On Monday morning, I started to sewing the blocks together, but I only got half way through and we needed to go to a family birthday party at noon. We didn’t get back until about 8 o’clock. I then proceeded to stay up until 4 am striving to get the top all together. I didn’t get it all done, but it was really close. I was able to cut all the Summer Breeze fabric up while I was waiting for the Bubble Jet (and pictures!) to get here. And I’m so glad I did!

I decided it was time to go to bed when I was clipping threads and nipped the quilt top a little.

On Tuesday, July 5, I was able to finishing all the applique, put the top completely together, add the borders, piece the back together, sandwich the quilt with the batting and back, and get it half quilted. I then took a break to go watch Adam play softball…..

We got back home around 8 pm and I stayed up ‘till midnight, in which time I finished the quilting and sewed the binding on.

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The center strip was quilted with an over-all meander (but not over the borders and pictures) and the rest of the quilt was quilted following the seam lines, both vertical and horizontal. I chose this to make each “picture frame” separate from it’s neighbor.


I love pieced backs! Just because it’s the back, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pretty too! Never mind all that puckering and pulling. This actually was only my 4th quilt, with 2 of the previous 3 being baby quilts. I’ve learned a lot since then.

The morning of my deadline to get it in the mail, July 7, I finished a little hand sewing that was needed and I was able to get it to the post office before 1 o’clock! I paid for the 2 day guarantee so it would arrive in time for her party. Whew!! Believe me, it took me about a week to catch up on sleep.

The end result was a quilt that I was quite proud of and was happy to send to my Grandma. She loved it!! It was the star of the party and people who come to visit her ask to see “the quilt”. That makes me feel good! Open-mouthed smile


Did I mention I was 9 months pregnant with my 7th child?


I am linking up to Blogger’s quilt festival at Amy’s Creative Side.

5 thoughts on “Grandma’s Memories”

  1. I love your quilt and the story behind it. I’m actually in the process of getting ready to make a memory-esque quilt and really enjoyed reading about the way you treated your fabric. Does it withstand washing?

    Also good job for completing it so fast and while pregnant! =)

  2. What a precious quilt! Interesting story to go with it and very glad you were able to accomplish such a lovely gift for your dear grandma. My daughter has six children and homeschools…it has been a super blessing for their children. Thanks for sharing and have a great day

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