Even if they don’t actually own one or could make one themselves, nearly all Americans know what quilts are. These large fabric pieces can often be used as blankets, though they can also serve as decorations and hang off a rack, or even be displayed on a wall. What some Americans might not realize is that making quilts is tougher than it looks, and custom quilts are best made by experts in the craft. T-shirt quilt makers and memory quilt makers may accept commissions from customers and make custom memory quilts, often out of old clothes or other fabrics. Typically, custom memory quilts and memory quilt patterns are made from sentimental fabrics, often meant to celebrate a marriage or family, or represent a phase in a person’s lifetime. In this way, a custom memory quilt is as much a piece of art and expression as it is a simple blanket. So, what is there to know about quilts?
The concept of a quilt is older than some people might realize. Even the ancient Egyptians and Chinese made them, and these old quilts were made with three layers of fabric: the top, batting for warmth, and backing. They are all stitched together to prevent clumping or slipping, making for a fine end product. Today, the oldest surviving quilt is the Tristan Quilt, which was made sometime between 1360-1400. Meanwhile, the world’s biggest quilt is the AIDS Memorial quilt, and this particular quilt weighs an incredible 54 tons.
How many people make quilts, and how big is this industry? A study done in 2014 showed that American quilting is in fact a #3.7 billion industry, and that same survey showed that around 21 million Americans are quilters. Overall, that means that 14% of all American households have at least one quilt maker in them, and quilting proves popular up north in Canada, too. Back in 1981, the Canadian Quilters’ Association was launched, and by now it has around 20,000 active members that hold annual conferences. Meanwhile, among dedicated quilters, 81% use traditional methods by default, and 38% make use of art quilting and 35% like to use modern quilting styles (a quilter can use more than one style). This is some dedicated work; a typical dedicated quilter will own an average of $13,000 worth of tools and supplies, and fabric worth around $6,000 in total. This quilter may have a room or studio set aside solely for this work.
Making Custom Memory Quilts
It is clear that making quilt is not something for the ordinary homemaker to try casually, so instead they may find and make contact with local quilters who can handle a job. A customer may provide t-shirts, old blankets, and any other material they have, and ask a quilter to make a quilt out of it all. This may take some time to finish, but the end product may be a thick, comfortable, stylish blanket that can represent a phase of the customer’s life. As mentioned earlier, a quilt like this can be used a bed comforter, or hung up for display as art.
These custom memory quilts will totally vary in contents, but a person may choose, for example, to gather up all their clothes from their college years and make a quilt out of it. Or, they can use all the clothes and bedding they used while living in a certain region or country, or even have a quilt made to commemorate a marriage or a child’s birth. A quilt can include clothes and stitched images that act as a sort of scrap book of a marriage, making each quilt sentimental and unique in this way.