From the time I was very small, I was a frequenter of thrift stores. My Mom, while not a quilter, was a good seamstress; at the thrift stores, she would buy for herself and for me clothing to wear and clothing to alter into other things. My Halloween costume when I was 5 or 6 years old was made from a quilted, leopard-printed circle skirt -- she made a pair of pants, shirt, tail and little tie-on cap with cat ears -- all that was left to do was draw whiskers on my face with an eyebrow pencil. So I have always looked at used clothing as a possible source for fabric.
I am not alone in doing this. There are many quilters who use the good cloth in old clothing for their quilt projects and have many reasons for doing so -- economy, philosophy, memory, to name a few.
Men's office shirts are a great fabric source. The many shades of blues, the many varieties of stripes, plaids and checks make for lovely quilts. Here is one by meliBismakingthings.
This awesome one, called Office Stripes, was made by Binita.
Some quilters have more of a philosophy to use thrifted clothing and textiles in their quilts. LeilaBadBlood is one. She has made many beautiful quilts from recycled cottons and linens and has been commissioned to make quilts using family textiles. One of my favorites is M's Quilt.
Another and special category of quilt from clothing is the remaking of a loved ones things into a memory quilt. As quilters, we can take a stack beloved dresses or shirts or pants and create for ourselves something that will always bring to mind our loved ones. sewandtellquilts did that with her Grandmother's dresses and her Grandfather's shirts.
Even without knowing these people, I can look at these quilts and peak inside the lives of the people who wore these clothes -- Grandma loved her flowered dresses, Grandpa was more traditional with his plaid shirts.
I will always be grateful to completely cauchy not only for this blog post, but for bringing to my attention the wonderful This I Believe essay by Priya Chandrasekan. "I believe that to love, and to bare the boundless depth of our love, we must have the courage to reshape what we inherit."
Sometimes we quilters can give a wonderful gift to friends mourning a loss. Look at this lovely post by nifty quilts -- Sacred Work indeed. J R Webb was also able to provide a beautiful memory for someone. He made this amazing quilt and even a necklace with the buttons from the shirts.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Sherri Lynn Wood and her Passage Quilts. Sherri teaches, consults and does commissions of the making of these beautiful and touching quilts that commemorate lives. A lovely example is her quilt made from her Grandmother's clothing, a gift to her Father.
"Old clothes carry something with them. You can feel the presence of the person who used to wear them. It has a spirit in them. Even if I don't know the person, I know someone wore these pants, and it feels lovely and warm to me."
Mary Lee Bendolph
Gee's Bend, Alabama
My thanks to everyone who allowed me to use their quilt here. You can find these and other "I LOVE these quilts!" in my flickr gallery.