It’s always difficult to know what to do with precious baby clothes once your baby becomes a full-blown kid. While most of them can be donated or passed on to other families, sometimes there are a few that are just too special. These are the baby clothes that instantly conjure up a sharp memory, a smell, or a small but memorable moment from those fleeting baby days. But, without any real plan for what to do with them it can feel a little silly. Rather than let them sit in a bag in your closet, I suggest you sew yourself a baby clothes quilt! Let me show you how I have made mine so you can make one yourself!
I have made about half a dozen of these baby clothes quilts and I really love the results every time. I made one each for my boys and a handful of others for families I am close with. Every time I make a baby clothes quilt, I get a bit emotional. Often my friends get emotional, too. It is not lost on me that I am being trusted with something really precious. They can be a bit of work, however, so I suggest setting aside some time.
+ Begin by sorting through your baby clothes and selecting 30 or so items.
+ Roughly cut up the baby clothes you selecting to isolate the designs or patterns you like the most. These will be a variety of shapes and uneven cuts. Don’t worry we are going to clean it all up. Keep some of the plain backs of t-shirts because you may need them for design purposes later on.
+ Next, with as many pieces as possible, cut your fabric into 6″ squares. Not everything will work when cut down this small but just do as much as possible. We will incorporate the larger pieces into the design when we get to that part.
+ For larger pieces, Just try to cut them down so that they have clean-cut and even sides.
+ Adding Interfacing: Cut up the same number of squares of lightweight interfacing as the number of jersey knit clothing squares you have. I suggest this product from Fairfield. (Note: I am a rep for Fairfield but I honestly love their interfacing. That said, any lightweight interfacing will do the trick.) Additionally, cut interacing pieces to match your odd-shaped clothing made of jersey knit.
+ Carefully iron the interfacing to the back of ALL pieces made of jersey knit, t-shirt material. This will help your sewing task IMMENSELY. By stabilizing your jersey knit pieces all of your material will essential behave like woven cloth. Trust me, don’t skip this step, it will save you lots of headaches later on! If your fabric has a printed design on it, be sure to place a pressing cloth over it while you iron so the image doesn’t melt.
+ Next, incorporate a few special items such as socks, buttons, hoods or tassels. To do this, cut a piece of woven fabric in a 6″ square and just simply stitch the item into the center.
Continue to improvise around those special items. These are really the details that make the quilt special.
For example, For one of my quilts, I wanted to incorporate the hole worn into a pair of jeans but didn’t want the quilt batting to poke through so I stitched the jeans material over a piece of plain, pink fabric.
+ Once you have all of your jersey fabric interfaced, your special pieces created and your odd pieces cut cleanly you are ready to create the design. To do this, decide on a general size. Probably around 40″ across and 50″ high. Translated into our fabric cuts, this is 7 fabric squares across and 8 fabric squares down.
+ Layout and design, for me, is a very improvised process. You may want to lay everything out precisely beforehand but I start by creating rows across that accommodate my odd-shaped pieces.. generally making sure that I am creating what approximates 7 fabric squares across.
+ IRON the seams after every stitch to be sure everything lays flat.
+ Continue to create rows in this same manner. Sometimes I am able to work in a bit of message that defines the child. Such as in this quilt when “Little Sister Love” looked so good together. Notice that I added bits of plain t-shirt to the sides of “Love” so that it fit under two standard-sized squares? This is the kind of improvising that this stage of the process requires. If you need to add an extra strip here and there, don’t worry. This isn’t about being perfect, it’s about saving a memory.
+ Once you have completely pieced together and designed your quilt top, it’s time to make the quilt.
+ Tape down your backing fabric, face down, and place quilt batting on top, I recommend this cotton batting from Fairfield*, which is 100% cotton and super soft and washable. If you prefer a polyester blend that will work just fine, too, but I do love the all natural materials. Your backing fabric and quilt batting should be a bit bigger than your quilt top.
+ Place the completed quilt top on the batting.
+ Pin through all three layers to hold it in place. I aim for 2 pins per quilt square to be sure it is secure.
+ Sew by stitching in the ditch on all seams of the quilt. If you have a walking foot, you will find it incredibly useful for this sewing.
(If you aren’t familiar with stitching in the ditch, it’s just a fancy way of saying that you want to sew in-between the seams as much as possible. )
+ Once you have sewn inside the seams as well as you can, you can sew one last stitch all along the edge of the quilt and cut off any excess batting and backing fabric.
+ Apply a quilt binding in your preferred method. This is my favorite way to do a quilt binding but follow this tutorial if you prefer hand-stitching.
You are done! Enjoy the beauty you created!
The best part is that while these quilts capture pieces from the fleeting baby days, it’s also possible to see more of the future in watching kids react to seeing them for the first time. My own kids giggled, pretended to fall asleep, and jumped up to point at things they recognized in the quilt and they suddenly looked so big. The days of onesies and swaddling blankets seem so far behind while SO MANY amazing and incredible moments seem just up ahead.
Note: As I mentioned, I work with Fairfield and am an affiliate for them. They did not, however, compensate me for this post and my opinion and recommendations about their products is my own. If you purchase their batting after clicking on this link, it provides support to me. Thank you!
kristen powell says
awww, how wonderfully lovely!! they look beautiful!!
Melissa….you did such a great job! They look awesome!
Roberta Ireland says
absolutely wonderful idea! I still have my 26 and 29 year old daughters clothes in a tub (they both just had baby boys). I’m really excited for another project!!!
Thank you! Memory quilts are an awesome way to make something with all those special clothes! Go for it!
So lovely! I have started cutting out squares for my memory quilt…really must cut some more!
So lovely! I’ve started cutting out squares to do a memory quilt (my first quilt). I really need to get on it. Love the socks!
Melissa Q. says
OH, thank you Abby!
How exactly did you use the interfacing and stabilizer? I made a pillow case for my niece using bits of her baby blankets and my seams pulled apart and had to be repaired. I’d like to make a matching quilt using the rest of the fabric, but I’m afraid of this happening again. Any tips beyond 1/2″ seam allowances?? Thank you! The quilt you made turned out beautifully!
Melissa Q. says
This is definitely one tricky aspect of the baby clothes quilts. Yes, use a hefty seam allowance. Also, I applied lightweight interfacing to every piece of jersey knit fabric. To do that I simply used a pressing cloth over both the interfacing square and the fabric square but follow the instructions on your interfacing for best results. Thanks for the kind words!
AMINATH SHASHEE says
This is just awesome. I love the work that you have done here.It has inspired me to start one for my little one (who is not so little anymore)
Melissa Q. says
Yay! I’m so happy to hear this inspired you! Go for it, it will be such a lovely memory maker!
kristy smith says
thank you so much for this i am blessed to have my niece she is the only one i wil ever be able to have and she has hydrocephlus and i was givens her clothes to give away but i said to my mom i would love to do something special but i didnt know what and if it could be done and now i have the confidence to be able to make her something so special thank you sooo much you have made me so excited to do this 🙂
Melissa Q. says
Oh, I’m so happy to hear this! How touching! I hope you share with me how it turns out. Good luck!!
Barb Elliott says
Beautiful quilts! How did you attach the socks?
Melissa Q. says
Thanks! I simply pinned them a whole bunch and stitched carefully along the edge!
Can I pay you to do mine?
Melissa Q. says
Sorry. I do not custom make baby quilts. I have seen services for this though, you might have some luck checking out sewists in your area or trying a search on line for t-shirt quilts.
What tools did you use? I have a sewing machine, fabric and scissors. Do I need anything else?
I created a response earlier and it’s not showing so Im not sure if it posted.
I am looking to find all of the necessary tools for creating a memory blanket. I have a sewing machine, scissors and a cardboard cut out. Is that all?
Melissa Q. says
How exciting!! You will want an iron , interfacing and safety pins as mentioned in the post. Good luck!