Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Rail Fence Memorial Quilt

I have been asked again and again to post about the winter work I did for a memorial commission quilt. First of all, let me say that when working on a memorial quilt, you are entrusted with clothing and other very personal items that need special care and consideration.

This quilt was one of those where the image of the person passed was watching me all day, every day. Consequently, I felt that the design of this quilt was partly determined by the young man speaking to me through this image.

Through the design process, I realized the quality of many of the personal items were less than appropriate for inclusion into the quilt. Sometimes, this happens. I had very good communications with the family and continued by adding Sujata's version of Rail Fence blocks to surround the "Poker Table" of this quilt.

Rail Fence blocks are very interesting and almost give you a sense of peace and contentment I felt. The blocks go together well and with some careful interpretation you can go other new and exciting places. The "Poker Table" had to be a multi-color abstract because the whole large green traditional background did not do the memorial aspect justice and respect.

Playing cards were scanned from original playing cards and transferred to 100% cotton and when this is done, you must ask your professional that the ink used is water resistant.

The center piece was made off the cuff, with only the outside edge of the poker table measured. The inside layout included the dark blue and black areas of polyester shorts and you can see that the white area of the only t-shirt is too much and needed additional thought.

I chose to measure the area below the image and designed an earth centered woodsy approach with leaves, stems and rocks. I used fusible paper on two sides to glue down the design and onto the white t-shirt. It meant massive fussy cutting and then massive outlined seam sewing around each edge. This had to include a space for the "Royal Flush" set of playing cards.

You can see the black rick rack around the outside edge of the white t-shirt was then appliqued with over 500 french knots.

When it came to sewing the whole border and center piece together I called on my machine quilter Jennifer Watson of who has this awesome large table to lay this border top out so that I could tack it down and get the centerpiece exactly centered on the top. Thank you Jennifer.

I took this photo when hand sewing the binding onto the quilt.

Thank goodness I had extra helper this day to hold the very large quilt up. This concludes my way of putting this lovely quilt together and I hope you enjoyed reading about my process. Thank you Sujata for this new version of Rail Fence.

For more on this quilt go to

Happy Quilting everyone,



  1. The Rail Fence blocks are an excellent choice for setting the centre for the memorial quilt - you're right the colours are very quiet and relaxed. It looks a pretty large quilt too.

  2. You did a lot of justice to this memory quilt. I love the calming colors and the layout of the quilt.

  3. Oh,my goodness...this is just did a great job!

  4. Thank you for writing about your design process for this Poker Table quilt.
    I think it's a beautiful tribute for a young man.


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