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Your Baby Clothes Memory Quilt – Choosing Your Keepsake Clothing

Editor’s note: This post is an update of a post from July 2015. It’s been updated for relevance and republished so this important content is visible to new readers.
Here’s where the fun starts! Bring those boxes down from the loft, or get those bags out from under the bed. Revisit those memories as you look through all those special baby clothes and get ready to pick out your favourites for your baby clothes memory quilt or keepsake cushion.

With all those cute clothes you may find that you have way too many and can’t quite decide which items you’d like to include. You might also be unsure about which will work best, what you’ll be comfortable working with and even have some items that you just don’t want to cut into.

Whether you are making your baby clothes memory quilt yourself, or commissioning it from someone else (us! us!), selecting the clothes that are going to be included in your keepsake is a very important step.

Top tips for choosing the best clothing for a gorgeous baby clothes memory quilt

Pick out any baby clothes keepsake items that you don’t want to cut into

It’s quite likely that you’ll have at least one or two items of baby clothes that are best kept whole. When I made a memory quilt for my daughter I found an outfit she’d been given as a gift that was so tiny it fit her doll – that was a keeper! You might have a tiny baby-grow that will remind you just how small they were, or items you’d like to pass down to younger children in the family, or even keep for future generations! Consider pulling out any items that are best kept whole and keeping them in a memory box rather than including them in your baby clothes memory quilt. 

Put aside any items that aren’t suitable for patchwork

Most baby and children’s clothes will work well in a baby clothes memory quilt. The only fabrics I’d advise against using at all are:

  • anything slippy or shiny like pvc, leather, rubber, treated rain macs etc,
  • very lightweight fabric like netting or tulle unless it has backing or is part of a frilled skirt or similar
  • heavy toweling (thinner stuff works fine)
  • heavy fabrics like a wool coat or heavy denim
  • open knits or crochet (hand knitted items can be really tricky to use – probably good candidates for that memory box anyway)
  • anything that can’t be ironed – not a hard and fast rule but is a challenge when piecing a memory quilt 

If you are making your own baby clothes keepsake quilt then you might have items that you are just not confident about using – it’s best to take those out too.

How can I be sure my baby clothes memory quilt will be washable?

It’s definitely a good idea to consider how washable different fabrics are. Most baby clothes will have been machine washed many times, meaning your whole quilt can be machine washed. If you include a dry clean only or hand wash only item this may restrict how you can clean the quilt. 

Preparing your keepsake baby clothes

Once you have your selection picked out, give everything another wash. Baby clothes often harbour stains which only become apparent on washing and ironing. Better to discover those hidden mashed banana stains now rather than after your baby clothes memory quilt is made!

Sometimes you won’t care about a stain, or it will even form part of your memories so you’ll want to include it in your patchwork regardless, but it’s best to be sure. 

If you’re commissioning a quilt then be sure to attach a note so we know that you are happy for it to go in as we will generally avoid stained items/areas otherwise.

Making the final selection for your baby clothes memory quilt 

You should now have a pile of suitable items ready to use in your baby clothes memory quilt. Yay! 

keepsake baby clothes memory quilt

Start picking out those items that are ‘must haves’ for your quilt. These are likely to be those with the most precious memories attached, favourite prints/motifs or things in particular colours.

When I was sorting my children’s clothes I found there were items that just jumped out at me, that got a firm ‘yes’ regardless of colour or style. There were the things that reminded me of very particular moments, people or feelings – it was quite emotional looking through them. I also found lots of things where I just loved the pattern or details – why I bought them in the first place – or that captured something the kids were really into, like my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine obsession!

Next supplement your ‘must have’ items with others that complement them. Don’t forget – you can also add in items like maternity clothing, cot sheets, light weight curtains, nursery bedding or even new fabrics.

Here are some things to consider to get a great finish on your baby clothes memory quilt:

  • A good mix of colour is helpful to give contrast to your finished quilt. If everything is a very similar colour palate then the quilt can look a bit flat. The most pleasing quilts have items in different ‘colour values’ (dark, medium, light) and at least one highlight colour. 
  • If all the items of clothing have busy prints or motifs then it can be overwhelming. It’s great to contrast with more subtle patterns or even plain colours. A mix of different scales of pattern gives texture, and some plains and spots/stripes are also great as fillers to help the more interesting pieces stand out.
  • If you have plenty of items to choose from, and you prefer a more coordinated look, then you might want to lean towards a particular colour combination or theme e.g. a yellow or turquoise with pinks, a red with lots of pale blue. 
  • If there is an item that looks really garish against everything else (it happens) then it might be as well to leave it out unless it’s very precious.
  • Motifs, appliques and embroideries on at least some of the clothes add interest and detail which draws your eye. It’s generally these elements that make a baby clothes memory quilt into something really special to look at.
  • Pay attention to any minimum or maximum number of items suggested by your maker or the pattern you are using. These are usually set for good reason and will help get a good balance of different patterns/colours across your quilt.

Baby clothes keepsake memory quilt

When you get your selection laid out you will normally find that it makes quite a pleasing combination! Baby clothes just seem to work that way.

Final Thoughts

If your selection is totally random or includes items that are stained or a bit ragged but everything is precious to you don’t worry. The most hotch-potch pile can still make a beautiful baby clothes keepsake (we have yet to make one we didn’t like).  The memories in your quilt are more important than anything else – that’s the point of creating a baby clothes memory quilt, after all!

We are here to help you

How have you found looking through your children’s baby clothes? Are these observations helpful? 

If you’ve ordered (or plan to order!) a Baby Clothes Memory Quilt or Keepsake Cushion from us, then we’d be very happy to answer any questions you might have about the clothes you’d like including, and advise on suitability if you’re not sure. If there are items you’d like used in a particular way, then just let us know. We can do all sorts of clever things with your clothes to produce a beautiful keepsake.

If you are making your own baby clothes memory quilt then please do consider our Baby Clothes Memory Quilt Tutorial. It’s full of loads of suggestions, tips and tricks, and straight forward instructions to help you make the most of different features in your clothing. Our friendly Facebook group (private to tutorial customers) is a great place to ask advice about particular items. You can get a free sample of the tutorial here.

Over to you

Please do contact us with any questions or join the discussion on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Thanks for reading!

Chris x

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