Ben's Memory Mural

Memory Mural made from Ben’s T-shirts

This past December I had the pleasure of making my first Memory Mural at the request of Debby, Ben’s mother, who wanted a long narrow quilt to fill the space above the wainscoting in Ben’s room now that Ben was gone.  She wanted a quilt to fill this space which would memorialize Ben’s extraordinary life and the things he loved, and give her and her family a sense of peace and calm.  Although she left the specifics to me, she did say that Ben loved the sea so she’d like an abstract seascape.  Although she also wanted a t-shirt quilt later, she chose to start with the mural. 

Memory Mural Detail

Memory Mural Detail showing dragon in the crest of a wave above and a batman logo below

As I thought about the mural and went through the t-shirts whose backs I would use for my materials, I noticed one had a striking blue and white logo of a writhing dragon.  It struck me as the perfect center for a breaking wave, so I asked Debbie if I could incorporate some parts of his t-shirts into the mural.  Just a few of them.  She agreed.  As I continued on with the mural, I added a batman logo below.

Jimi Hendrix logo inserted into Ben’s Memory Mural

I chose about five or six logos which I thought would fit into a seascape – the writhing dragon, batman, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, doggies wearing sunglasses, and a marvelous conglomeration which I loved.

Detail of Ben’s Memory Mural showing three logos: Bob Marley, doggies at the with sunglasses, and a marvelous conglomerate which I loved

Then I went to work. The first thing I did was to cut out the backs of all the t-shirts whose colors fit my design scheme (which was most of them). Next I stabilized them for sewing and also attached adhesives so that they’d be ready to go. Finally I cut out strips as I went along, glued them to a mural backing bit by bit, inserting logos where I thought they’d look best.  Below was the patchwork result:

Ben’s Memory Mural patchwork after initial attachments. Applique and quilting yet to be done.

After I attached all the pieces, I satin-stitched (appliqued) every seam with appropriate colored thread. Then I quilted it on my long-arm machine, which took about 12 hours due to all the glue which caused the thread to keep breaking. I trimmed it and bound it with a narrow black strip. I embroidered one label which was attached to the back and a second brief one saying “Remembering Ben” for the front. I attached a long sleeve on the back for hanging and sent it to Debby.

Ben's Memory Mural

Memory Mural made from Ben’s T-shirts

This was Debby’s response:  “Oh Rosie, the quilt is amazing!!! The box arrived yesterday evening and we opened immediately. WOW! There is so much to look at! I love how you wove in all of those different fabrics to flow so beautifully together. . . .Thank you Rosie, we are so grateful to you and will treasure the beautiful quilt you made in remembrance of Ben for many years to come.”

For a quilter, there is no better reward than to get a response like this for one’s work!  As a bonus, I thoroughly enjoyed this creative experience as it was so great to work with the wonderful colors and images in Ben’s shirts.