Memory quilts are a very old way of telling the history of one's family. They are comprised of bits of fabric that come from things people wore or cloth items that held special significance for each member of the family. Over the years, new pieces of fabric are added to the quilt to tell another part of the story of one's family. If you also want more than just a verbal history of the family's memory quilt, you create a diary to go with it. Here is how to start a memory quilt of your own family, and keep a written record of it, too.
Special Pieces of Cloth
All the members in your family will want to contribute to a memory quilt when you tell them what you are doing and what kinds of cloth pieces you are looking for. Ask for pieces from wedding clothes, baby blankets, anniversary tablecloths, birthday outfits, etc.. Ask for large square pieces so that you have plenty of material to work with, or if you want to make a really simple quilt of just squares. Search your own cloth and fabric mementos in your home to find some materials to use for the quilt. Each piece you cut should follow a pattern, and each piece should be stitched together on a sewing machine (unless you feel particularly confident about your hand sewing skills).
Buy a Special Journal Just to Record the Progress of the Quilt
There are actually quilted journals and cloth-covered journals that may be very appropriate for what you are going to do next. You can also use spare pieces from your own quilt to create a matching journal cover for the journal. Start with the entry on the very first day that you sew the first few sections of quilt together. Create a diagram showing the pieces and include a description of each piece and where that particular piece of fabric came from. Also include the significance of each piece of fabric as it relates to telling a bit of your family's history. Continue to do this after each new piece is added to the quilt.
"Finishing" the Quilt
Since the quilt is a family heirloom, it will never be truly finished. However, when it reaches queen or king mattress size, you can attach a back to the quilt to help hold all the pieces together. As new pieces are added by future generations, additional backing can be added as well.