Monday, November 21, 2011

My Family Tradition : Handmade Heirlooms

My Parents and I circa 1988.
This morning I am making my "to do" list of handmade gifts I still hope to finish before the holidays.  I'm happy to report that many are completed but there are quite a few that get my attention every night before bed.

Handmade gifts are a tradition for me thanks in large part to my Mother. We would spend hours making quilts, crocheting blankets, making pillows and cross stitching. . . and I can't have a Christmas go by without wanting to dip pine cones in glitter. 

On that "to do" list are a couple of gifts for me that were started by my Mother nearly 16 years ago, shortly after my Father passed away.

Both gifts are quilts made from my Father's shirts. Sadly Mom passed away before finishing these - and gave them to me with the request that I finish and keep them for my family.

I have to admit I have put off finishing these quilts for years. . . I didn't want our last two projects together to end.

This quilt has a mix of my Father's Sunday Shirts and scrap squares of fabric my Mother and I used to make quilts for family members over the years. They still bring back a flood of memories.
I will admit that every year around the holidays I bring these two quilts out of storage. I hug and smell  them and remember all of the time Mom and I would spend together making new family heirlooms.

There was never a birthday or holiday that did not see a hand made gift given. While everyone else was out frantically shopping for replaceable things . . . throughout the year - my mother taught me the true meaning of giving.  

Photo on 2011-11-19 at 07:58.jpg
This quilt is made from all of my Father's flannel shirts. The stitch is a herringbone stitch that is made with alternating colors of thicker cross stitch thread.
I've decided to finish My Father's flannel shirt quilt this year as a gift to our family. I chose this one because it will take the most time and it will also help me include both of my parents in this holiday season.  I love how it reminds me of all of the wonderful memories from holidays past and that I can share those memories as I make new ones with my dear husband.

Remember - there is no greater gift than your time.


What holiday gifts will you hand make this year?

What is you favorite hand made family heirloom?

How do you include family members who have passed in your holiday traditions?


  1. Beautiful, beautiful. I have a huge rubbermaid storage bin full of skeins of yarn, cross stitch kits and embroidery projects that were my grandmothers who passed away 15 years ago. Sewing projects and handmade gifts were always "our" thing to do together when I was growing up. I know that I will probably never complete any of the projects but cannot bring myself to get rid of them because the memory that is inside that tub is worth more than the storage space that I'm losing.

  2. How awesome Kristen! Maybe one day you can work with your daughters to complete some of those projects. I'm sure it would be a wonderful addition to their hope chests. :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. The quilts are wonderful. I'm currently working on t shirt quilts as memory quilts for daughters. It's such a wonderful way to remember a father - to wrap up in his memories.

  4. Thank you Danielle for pointing out your post! Beautiful and filled me with joy!! My mother died Dec. 23rd in 2002, so your expressions of gratitude and "handmade" heirlooms passed down generations means so much to me. My whole pillow business was created because of the passion I have for the Main side of my family, my mother's family. My mother instilled in me a LOVE for all things cherished by family, from antique furnishings, hand-tatted lace, quilts, jewelry and pillows. I too spent years cross-stitching, creating one each for my mother and father on their 60th birthdays. (Probably started cross-stitching because my grandmother made one for me as a young girl). I have clothes from my mother, with a cardinal on it, that I've always wanted to make a pillow out of....and you've given me the inspiration for that project this Christmas. Thank you!! Have a wonderful holiday! Best, Deborah

  5. Jane - Thank you so much for your kind words. Be sure to share a link to your post on your quilts when you are done! Would love to see them. :)

    Deborah - Thank you so much. Love that my post brought you joy. Remind me to post a picture of the pillow cases my mother embroidered for me before she passed. They are still in the box. And I do hope you share a post on the cardinal pillow in memory of your mother. I would love to see it!

    Hugs to you both!

  6. Love the quilts Danielle. Great to have that energy passed down to you.

    I have my mum's recipes and have recently mastered her roasted potatoes (I'm a British transplant in the US.) My mum passed away last year...but I can still hear her telling me how to make those potatoes. Thanks for your follow...looking forward to your Twitter tweets!

    Sarah Lawrence Hinson
    A Mom On A Spiritual Journey!

  7. Thanks Sarah. Sorry to hear about your loss but can relate to still having the connection with your mother.

    I often wonder what my mom would say about some of the projects I've completed over the years - I miss her patience and perfume.

    Looking forward to your tweets as well. :)