Monday, July 25, 2022

Dicey 80s Fashion Makes Noble Upcycled Baby Quilt

If you were conscious in the 1980s, you may remember men's plaid shirts with epaulets. Epaulets are fabric strips on top of  shoulders, originally associated with military uniforms. An approximate example is below, for sale on etsy here

My DH (that's not him above), along with millions of American men, wore them when they were in style, and then perhaps a bit longer. In 1993, when I was pregnant with our first baby I came up with a compassionate retirement plan for those shirts. I turned them into a baby quilt for our firstborn. Here it is.

I was obsessed at the time with creating folded effects with piecing - it's in the quilt's outer borders, on top of the next photo. 

(I learned how to do this from Cheryl Greider Bradkin's excellent 1992 book, Basic Seminole Patchwork, which I still refer to often.)

I'm not sure how I pulled off the 8-pointed star. 
After the baby grew bigger than the quilt, I hung it (the quilt) over our mantlepiece, and there it sat for about 25 years. Two weeks ago, I took it down and was happy to discover that I'd documented its history in a label on the back. (Identifying details are whited-out to protect the innocent.) 
It says: "[Son's full name], born [birth date] came home from the hospital the next day, wrapped in this quilt made by his mother [name] from old shirts of his father [name]. Made with love. Pasadena, CA, 1994."

Our mantlepiece gets no direct sun, so it was in remarkably good shape; the colors and fabrics had held up well. I washed it, and photographed it for the first time with a telephone. (When I first photographed it in 1993, I used a "camera" filled with "film," which went into the  "mail," resulting in "photos" on "paper" put into "albums," where they were never seen again.) 

Last week, I shipped the quilt off to my son and daughter-in-law, who are expecting their first baby - my first grandchild - in a week.

The morals of this story are:  

1. Label your quilt! In the blink of an eye, your baby will have a baby, and you'll want to remember all the details of the former's quilt when you give it to the latter. I'm going to make an additional label for this quilt, to record the new baby's name and birth date.

2. Dicey fashions make wonderful quilts, and when your loved ones get mad at you for mutilating their clothing, point out that you have also upcycled and immortalized it!


  1. This is why I think it's so terrible to cut up a quilt to make clothing. You took out-of-style clothing and made something that will never go out of style. Quilt cutter-uppers are doing the opposite.

    1. I'm ok with quilt cutting if the quilt is not unique and historic, and if it's in bad shape. But yes, cutting up a beautiful, unique, intact quilt hurts my heart! You've given me something to think about - what if someone in the future cuts up this baby quilt to make it into some kind of garment? (a bracelet? a hat? a purse?)

  2. OMG! Bobbye Cathy! Mazel Tov! I never saw that interesting style, but I'm glad you cut it up. The quilt is fabulous! I made quilts for my kids and nephewlets and neicelets with some fabric my grandfather acquired during the depression. They all know that it is special fabric. Again, Mazel Tov!

    1. Thank you for the heartfelt congratulations, Marla, big hugs to you! Old fabric can be a problem - it can rip more easily, depending on the fabric, but these shirts seemed to be in pretty good shape. And if they fall apart, no big deal, I have about 100 more quilts for this baby!


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