The hardest part about making a memory quilt: it’s not what you think

I was pleasantly surprised a few days before Christmas when we received two boxes with a big note on them saying ‘Do not open until Christmas’. One box was addressed to me, the other to my husband John. The boxes were from quilter Paul Léger of Paul Léger Quilts. I was even more surprised on Christmas day when we opened the boxes to find what is called a memory quilt in each box! It’s surprising to get a quilt in the mail, it’s even more exhilarating to find our favorite photos on it! Photos of our children, our mothers, our fathers, and us!

These are our memory quilts made by Paul Léger of Paul Léger Quilts. These are still on display.

Once I had the chance to soak the moment in, my eyes couldn’t stop gazing over the photos again wondering how he pulled this off unbeknownst to me! Calling Paul that afternoon to thank him I found out he had a little help from Facebook and our daughter. I was so happy at the choice of photos, some of our very favorites are on these quilts to treasure forever and possibly for generations to come.

A few weeks later, Paul had the idea of making a memory quilt for each of our mothers and writing a tutorial on the process for his May blog posts on QUILTsocial. There are several things to know about the process including choosing photos.

For this second set of memory quilts, it was my task to choose the photos. I had scheduled an hour on a Sunday morning to gather 20 photos I knew Mom would love. I looked through recent photos and not-so-recent ones, and thought oh gosh, what about some from as far back as her wedding?! I kept searching in our digital library and the old-fashioned photo albums until I had collected a good number, way over 20 ‘favorite’ photos. Suddenly, I started to feel a little peckish. I looked at the time and noticed two hours had already whizzed by! I stepped away from the photos and realized there was no way I could finish the selection of photos that day. There was a feeling that I might have missed ‘the’ photo. I resolved to give it a rest and pick it up again the following weekend – again, it wouldn’t take more than two hours this time, since I already had such a collection! Right?

When I resumed the search, it was more about checking as many photo albums as possible to make sure I hadn’t missed ‘the’ favorite photo than it was about finding more photos. This took another three hours on a Saturday followed by another three hours on Sunday for the process of elimination.

The hardest part of making a memory quilt is choosing your favorite photos. As Paul said, it was easy for him to choose photos for my quilt and John’s quilt as he’s removed from the emotional engagement the task brings. As I began my search, every photo took me to the moment each photo was taken. I’ll admit I got teary-eyed when coming across cherished relatives that are no longer with us, children that were little and now have a life of their own, and great times celebrating every occasion in the calendar – pre-Covid! At one point I was so tired of reaching for tissues I brought the box closer. I didn’t expect to be so moved by the experience, but I know it will all be worth it. I can only imagine how the moms will react! I’ll make sure I have a box of tissues handy.

Don’t miss Paul Léger’s tutorial the week of May 9 – 13th on QUILTsocial. That’s when you get to find out everything you need to know about how to make a memory quilt after you’ve gone through the process of choosing your photos.

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