January 7, 2017

Log Cabin Carpenter's Star -- a memory quilt

My father passed away this past spring, at age 93.  As a memory tribute, I decided to make a quilt from his shirts.  My dad was a builder, so a Carpenter's Star design seemed appropriate.  It also seemed appropriate to use log cabin blocks.

I cut strips from his shirts at 1.5 inches, for blocks that finish at 9 inches.

The border fabric, which is also used in the center of the log cabins, is a Tim Holtz print which reminds me of my dad's wooden carpenter rules.

For quilting in the diamonds, I chose a peacock feather motif (we had peafowl on our farm when I was young).

In the background, I used swirls and a grid of orange peels for the quilting.

I pieced the back of the quilt using the backs of the shirts.  I cut them at an angle following the cut of the shirt to make maximum use of the fabric, although I still had to add some partial rows.  The label is from Spoonflower, and incorporates a photo of my father.

I sorted the shirts by lights, mediums, and darks for the star, using 7 or 8 shirts for each grouping.  The orange/red/white plaid which appears on the back, though, did not fit easily into any of the groups.  I did piece a few strips from this shirt into the "whole" light blocks, where they are less likely to detract from the contrast of the design.

For the binding, I wanted to use a yarn-dyed plaid.  I chose a Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel for the colors.  It's a bit bulky for a binding, but I think it turned out OK.  I did cut my strips at 2.5 inches (rather than 2.25 as I usually do), and used a trick found here (step 5) to trim some bulk from the corners.

One of the shirts had some embroidery with a team logo above the chest pocket.  I didn't see a way to work this into the quilt, but I did save it to make a beanbag/pincushion, adding trim from a second shirt.  I gave this to my niece who also graduated from UNA.

The quilt itself is a gift for my dear sister, who lived next door to my dad and did so much for him.

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday. 


  1. I'm speechless. What a lovely tribute! So special for you in the making and your sister in the receiving.

  2. It's perfect. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I can't think of a better way to capture memories.

  3. An incredible quilt and a beautiful tribute to your dad and family. Thank you for sharing your design choices, it's great to hear about your process.

  4. Absolutely beautiful. What a precious gift for your sister.

  5. Your post choked me up. What a beautiful gift for your sister and such a nice way to honor your father. And your quilt is just beautiful.....

  6. What a gorgeous quilt! I love log cabins and especially this carpenter's star setting.

  7. What an amazing tribute to you Father, such a very cool, beautiful gift.

  8. Love this Quilt !!!! May dad passed away almost three years ago and I have all of his shirts and haven't made a quilt yet, but I plan to.

  9. I love this! It's a beautiful (precisely sewn!) quilt, but I especially love all the thought that went into it. (I loved the orange and red pieces best, so its funny to me that those caused you a little trouble) and it was so kind of you to give it to your sister. I am quite certain she will treasure it always. I am so sorry for your loss.
    blessings ~ Tracy

  10. Oh my, what a spectacular quilt. This is a prime example of why we quilt. All those little log cabin blocks made from little pieces. Quilting is gorgeous. All the thoughtful details. Perfect.

  11. This is amazing! Love the ruler fabric - compliments the whole quilt. Your photo at the beginning of the post is great! I had to stop and comment. Sounds like you were both wonderful daughters to your Dad.