Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Uncle Jeff-Jeff and Memory Quilts

I actually started using recycled fabrics a few years ago when I made a series of memory quilts for some friends of mine.

Our dear friend, partner, brother, and son, Jeffrey Tarkington passed away 6 years ago this past Valentines' day.  

To commemorate his short, but very bright life, and hopefully bring a bit of comfort to his loved ones, I embarked on a series of memory quilts using Jeff's clothing.  In order to stretch the usable fabric, as well as add a bit of contrast, I added some commercial fabric to all of the quilts.  To prepare the cotton shirting fabric, I used the same method described in the previous post.

Here's the first one, which I made for Jeff's sister and her hubby.  I chose a log cabin design, and put a bright orange in the center 'hearth' position.  

It's said that at the very moment that Jeff passed over, the fire going in the room where he was gave a mighty huff of brightness.   There was no question in my mind what pattern to use for this quilt!

Here you can see all of Jeff's bright plaid shirts and even some camo pants!

Front of Theresa's quilt.

Back of Theresa's quilt.
Detail of Theresa's quilt- hearth section of block.

Detail of Theresa's quilt- hearth section of another block.

Label on Theresa's quilt.

The second quilt was for Jeff's sweet 'Daddy.'  Here you can see Mr. Tarkington with his quilt.  I used a similar design here.  Instead of the the fire in the 'hearth' section of the block, I used a starry type fabric, as Mr. Tarkington was a firm believer in the Lord and that he'd see Jeff in heaven.

Mr. Owen Tarkington with his quilt.

Front of Mr. Tarkington's quilt.

Back of Mr. Tarkington's quilt.

Detail of Mr. Tarkington's quilt.

Block of Mr. Tarkington's quilt.

Label on Mr. Tarkington's quilt.

The following quilt was made for Jeff's partner Todd.  This one uses Jeff's favorite Tshirts.  Todd has told me many, many times how much he loves this quilt.  He just told me the other day that there was one Tshirt of Jeff's that he couldn't part with at the time, and now he really wishes it was in the quilt!
(If you'd like to make a T-shirt quilt, the fabric preparation is bit different.  I'll be writing more about that in the near future.)  P.S., T-shirt make some of the comfiest quilts ever!

Todd's quilt made with Tshirts.

 Well it wasn't too long after Jeff passed that his Daddy went to be with the Lord (and Jeff. )  So I made some quilts from his shirts too.  This one was for his daughter Theresa:

Theresa's quilt from her dad's shirts.

Detail of Theresa's quilt.

Detail of Theresa's quilt- this little raccoon image was saved from a baseball hat if I'm not mistaken :)

And this one was for Mr. Tarkington's sweetheart, Ms. Georgia.  I challenged myself not to add any extra fabric in this one.

Ms. Georgia's quilt.

Detail of Ms. Georgia's quilt.

Closeup on Ms. Georgia's quilt.

Label on Ms. Georgia's quilt.

So you can probably guess by now how much I love this family.  If you want to know why, I'll just leave you with the following story about Jeff, the main character in this post:

One of the sweetest memories I have:

Went to Nashville in '04 with the kids to visit Uncle Todd Todd and Uncle Jeff Jeff. We went to a shopping center, and the Uncles wanted to take the kiddies to an arcade.

Uncle Jeff, who loved a good 'claw' machine was trying to win Liam the stuffed dinosaur that Liam (3 yrs old) had been hankering for. 

Try as he might, the claw machine just wasn't cooperating, and about $25 later(!), Uncle Jeff Jeff was out of dollar bills.

Jeff was NOT leaving without getting that dinosaur for Liam. He hunted down the manager and actually talked him into opening up that machine to get that dinosaur for Liam!

I don't think anyone has ever done anything so damn sweet for of my kids. I'll never forget that day as long as I live  :)


  1. Impresionantes esos quilts!, Julie.
    Como siempre una genia combinando colores y buenos sentimientos.
    beso grande

  2. I'm the Theresa mentioned in the post above.My friend Julie is amazing. I've been wracking my brain for days for the right words, still keep coming back to the word amazing. So many other words are as descriptive but I have decided to go with less is more. She is an amazing friend, sister, wife and mother. Endlessly talented, creative, caring, smart, funny, selfless, oh wait, I said less is more, didn't I? See how you just can't do that when it comes to Julie. The quilts are among my most treasured possessions... For me, they're a tangible way to keep loved ones close- when I need a hug from my Dad, or brother I can wrap my arms around these....these are such a labor of love that everyone should consider making one of these. Thank you Julie from the bottom of my heart. You just may have inspired this "non-sew-er" to try one (t-shirts)myself. Much love.

  3. thank you so much Julie--this quilt is one of my most treasured possessions----while at the time you asked me to part with Jeff's tshirts, I was slightly hesitant because I couldn't quite wrap my head around what you were going to do with them---because of that, I held back my very favorite t-shirt of his. Well ,when I saw the beautiful quilt you made with his shirts, I couldn't believe it. All my favorite memories were in blanket form that I could wrap around myself. When I missed Jeff terribly ,I would grab the blanket that you made. What I also like about the quilt is the transformation from one thing ,a shirt that sits on a shelf, to another,the quilt, that I use all the time. I only wish that I had given you the favorite t-shirt to be included in the quilt. But again, thank you for such a personal treasure.
    With Gratitude and love,

  4. I remember when you brought these quilts to show-and-tell and how impressed I was with your color sense and kindness.

    Outstanding. Enough said.

  5. Cuanto amor para tus prójimos,como dice la palabra .Por cierto los quilts divinos

  6. I just LOVE these gorgeous quilts, the sentiment behind them and the stories. Thanks for sharing, Julie!

  7. These quilts are just spectacular Julie! Your kindness and generosity is boundless, and you never cease to amaze! So glad you shared pictures of these quilts along with their story.

  8. What a wonderful thing to do for that family. These quilts are a great way to hold on to the memory of someone who's passed