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Memory Quilt




A baby's clothes acquire history so quickly: There is the blanket she came home from the hospital in, the overalls she wore while learning to crawl, the flannel pajamas she fell asleep in at night. For those items too precious to give away, or too stained to pass along, there is a solution more creative and less cluttering than a box in the attic -- a baby memory quilt that is sure to become an heirloom.

Don't worry about piecing together fancy shapes; the simplest patchwork is an easy-to-assemble checkerboard of four-inch squares. Find an interesting part of your baby's cast-off clothing, and use that as a patch: Include smocking, a bit of embroidery, a section with ribbons. You can also use vintage fabrics, hand towels, sheets, children's pillowcases, textured fabric like dotted Swiss, or a bit of a flannel sleeper. In general, stick to 100-percent cotton fabrics of similar weight. Avoid knits, stretchy material, and thick textiles that will pull and wear differently than other pieces.


  • Rotary fabric cutter (optional)
  • Self-healing cutting mat (optional)
  • Clear acrylic quilter's ruler
  • Scissors
  • Clothing and fabric for quilt squares
  • Straight pins
  • A steam iron
  • Preshrunk 100-percent cotton batting
  • Safety pins; 1/2-inch-wide double-fold bias tape
  • Prewashed cotton fabric for backing (we used a vintage piece of matelasse bedspread, but
  • Yarn or embroidery floss


  1. Step 1


    Use a rotary cutter and a self-healing cutting mat (or scissors) and the clear ruler to measure and cut squares of fabric for patchwork. Our patches were 4 1/2-inch squares (4 inches with a 1/4-inch seam allowance); our quilt measured 12 by 18 squares. On a table, arrange squares, grouping or scattering colors into a pattern that pleases you. Use extra squares to make a pin cushion or a matching quilted pillow.

  2. Step 2


    Pin squares together to form rows, then sew. Press seams so seam allowances all lie in one direction (rather than open, as for clothing); this will make them stronger when the batting is attached. Then precisely pin together the rows of patches, lining them up and measuring an exact 1/4-inch seam allowance. Sew the rows together, ironing the seams in one direction.

  3. Step 3


    Lay the patchwork onto the batting, leaving 3 inches of excess batting on every side. To avoid slippage, safety-pin each square to batting, starting in one corner, continually smoothing layers as you go. Sew the two pieces together by "stitching in the ditch," or sewing exactly over the seams. Trim excess batting. Remove safety pins.

  4. Step 4


    To create trim, lay 1/2-inch wide double-fold bias tape around perimeter of patchwork, with double edge flush with raw edge, and the folded edge facing inward. Pin, stretching around each corner to prevent puckering.

  5. Step 5


    Cut backing to the same size as the quilt, leaving a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Leaving straight pins in trim, place backing over patchwork, right sides facing; pin around the perimeter. Sew edges through all layers. Leave 1 foot open on one side; turn quilt right side out. Hand-sew opening shut; iron with steam.

  6. Step 6


    Safety-pin layers together so backing doesn't slip. Using yarn or embroidery floss, make a 1/4-inch tufting stitch across each intersection of four squares (tufting stitch should be made by stabbing needle straight through quilt along one seam, 1/8 inch to either side of intersecting point). Tie square knot; trim ends. Remove safety pins.

Martha Stewart Baby, Volume 2 2001



Reviews (11)

  • memory threads 21 Oct, 2014

    Here is an important step if you plan to use stretchy cotton clothing and onesies in your memory quilt: Before cutting the fabric into squares, iron a fusible interfacing (Pellon makes good ones) to the back of the fabric in order to stabilize it. This way the material won't get stretched and pulled in different directions, making the quilt lopsided. The feeling you get from making (and owning) a memory quilt is priceless. Have fun! - Jenna

  • xmom 19 Sep, 2010

    I just made this quilt using my baby's onesies and t-shirts. I used his crib sheets as the backing. It's not perfect, all of the squares don't exactly match up, but I LOVE IT!!

  • SassyMermaids 3 Jul, 2010

    Very Sweet! I just had put my Ruby Ann's outgrown baby clothes in the attic wishing I could Cherish them a little longer. I will be getting them down from the attic to make a wonderful quilt :) !! Thank you so much for all the great sewing projects that you share. I am very thankful! Happy 4th of July to All!!

  • lisacrafty 3 Jun, 2010

    I actually made this about 6 years ago, when my daughter was 4 yrs. old. I saw it in Martha's then Baby magazine. It now hangs as the main wall decor in my daughters room. The quilt is very special because I look at some of my daughters baby clothes and remember "That was what she was wearing when she first rolled over..." etc. At first I was saddened that no future children would use the clothes but realized that it would be more special for my daughter and even her children. Amazing!

  • labaticha 18 Feb, 2010

    This is an amazing craft, and will without doubt be very memorable to future generations. I am definitley going to try this out . :)

  • austindog32820 7 Jun, 2009

    I know how much this project will mean later!!!See my Mom lost her Mom when she was 12 yrs old ,so I never got to meet my Grandmother. she taught her a lot of things.My Mom has carried all around with her a quilt her Mother made out of my Mom's baby clothes. .My Grandmother never got to show her how to sew a quilt.But now my Mom is getting up in years and memory failing at times,but I have that quilt and I run my fingers over the quilt at time to feel my Grandmothers hand sewing every piece by h

  • kid_valkyrie 22 Aug, 2008

    I actually did this with my daughter's receiving blankets and bibs! Its a wonderful keepsake for them later in life. Because these items are so inexpensive, I would rather make them into a personalized gift for each child than re-use the blankets and bibs for the next baby.

  • Eliza-Linda 16 Mar, 2008

    It would be easier and stronger to sew through all three layers together before adding the binding after. And you would not have to tie the quilt. If you wanted the tied look you could still do it Just a thought from a quilter. Lovely idea though to save precious memories

  • love4jtag 21 Jan, 2008

    I love this idea for a memory quilt! What a sweet way to show off some of our favorite baby memories and possible pass them down to the next generations to come.

  • love4jtag 21 Jan, 2008

    I love this idea for a memory quilt! What a sweet way to show off some of our favorite baby memories and possible pass them down to the next generations to come.

  • love4jtag 21 Jan, 2008

    I love this idea for a memory quilt! What a sweet way to show off some of our favorite baby memories and possible pass them down to the next generations to come.