EMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS OF MEMORIAL QUILTING
by Cassie Matz
PREPARING YOUR CHILD'S ITEMS FOR QUILTING
The first step in memorial quilting is to go through your child’s belongings and choose pieces for your
quilt, pillow, or wall hanging. Many parents have found this part to be very difficult. Others have found it
comforting to go through their children’s belongings. Either way is perfectly fine and normal!
Because articles of clothing often have a memory attached to them, there are many different emotions parents
may have during this process. You may feel sadness, longing, or other difficult emotions. You may laugh,
smile, and remember happy memories that you had with your child. There may be other unexpected
emotions that arise as you look through their things and choose which items will be a part of their
memorial quilt. There is no right or wrong way to feel during this time, and every person will have a
different reaction to the process. Remember, the items used in the quilt are your choice. You do not
have to include anything you do not want to. You can choose which items you would like to choose, and
save others for later or to not be used at all.
Regardless of how you feel (or expect to feel) about the process, it may be helpful to develop of plan of
action before beginning surrounding what the process of going through clothes will look. This plan will
give you direction and the support you need from others around you in order to be able to choose what
items to utilize. Common pieces of similar plans are:
1) Who (if anyone) will be there with you to support you through this process? Think about
people who have been good emotional supports to you in the past. You may also think
about friends who are good organizers or who have good time management skills. It is also
ok to do this alone- you do not HAVE to have anyone present with you while you choose.
2) How will these people help you? Do you prefer emotional support only, or will you need
someone to look through the clothing and give you input? Give them direction as to what
you anticipate you may need from them throughout the day.
3) How many articles of clothing will you choose? It is ok to bring as many (or as few) clothes
as you wish to the workshop.
4) What criteria will you choose clothing by? Keep in mind the information you have learned
about which clothes tend to quilt better. You may also want to keep in mind what types of
clothing you will want. You may want to choose a variety of clothing, or stay focused on one
specific type (like t-shirts or holiday outfits only). This is your choice as the quilter!
5) How much time will you spend choosing items? It may be too overwhelming for you to
choose everything in one sitting. Conversely, you may decide that you only want to go
through the items and choose once. Think about which technique works best for you.
6) What will you do after making your selections? Develop a plan for your day after you finish
your selection. Choose to do something that you enjoy, and practice active self-care. You
may want to pick up a coffee from the coffee shop and read a favorite book, or go exercise
by yourself or in a favorite group. You may want to be alone, or you may ask others to be
with you for support.
"CLOTHING TRANSFORMATION" AND MEMORIAL QUILTING
Once you have chosen the clothing you would like to use for your quilt, pillow, or wall-hanging, you may
want to think about what the actual process of quilting will feel like for you. Memorial quilting is a
transformational process. You will be cutting into your child’s clothing with the goal of creating a new
item for you to cherish and display. The clothing will no longer look exactly as it did when you bought it
for your child. It will be transformed into a new object, with a new purpose. This process can stir
There will likely be sadness and laughter from the memories jogged by the clothing you bring
and the process of quilting. There is no right or wrong way to feel during the quilting. Every quilter will
be given the space at the workshop to feel exactly how they feel. We hope you will be able to share the
stories of your children with each other and support each other through the quilting process.
The goal of the Colors of Healing quilting workshop is to surround you with a caring community of
parents who have all experienced the loss of a child. There will be support throughout the day from
Bereavement Program staff, and from other parents. We hope you will build connections and gain life-
long support from the other parents you work alongside. The outcome of the workshops is to create a
beautiful, heirloom-quality memorial quilt or pillow that weaves your child’s clothing into one cohesive
item. You can use this item however you like. You can hug the pillow you create tightly, cover yourself
with the blanket you make, or create a wall hanging for your home that everyone who enters can see.
We will have other parents’ memorial creations at the workshop for you to view and gain inspiration
from. This is your project, and you can complete it at your own pace, in the manner that feels safe and
comfortable to you.