Modern Memory Quilts

Kindred Pillows

From Modern Memory Quilts

By Suzanne Paquette

Class Description:

Quilters can dive into memory quilting with this quick and fun project. It’s a great opportunity to practice modern memory quilting techniques before embarking on a larger quilt project.

In the Kindred Pillows class, quilters will learn about telling their story through color, fabric stabilization, managing bulk in seams, working with different fabrics, and fussy cutting.

At the end of the workshop, speedy quilters with quick decision-making skills will have a completed pillow or two. Meanwhile, more moderately paced quilters and those who prefer to spend more time working through the design process will have completed and possibly quilted their pillow fronts, depending on the detail worked into their pillow tops. They will also have acquired the knowledge necessary to complete their pillows at home. This class is for confident beginners to experienced quilters.

Class Length:
Single class session of 6 hours or two class sessions of 3 hours each. With memory quilting, many people find they like to spend some time thoughtfully considering the design of their project before jumping into cutting the clothing. In this case, the two 3-hour class sessions option is recommended.


The workshop can then be broken into two parts:

Class 1: Teach design techniques, tips for building color palettes, working with different fabrics, and fussy cutting.
Class 2: Teach cutting down clothing techniques, fabric stabilization, construction of the pillow fronts, and explore embellishment options.

This provides quilters time to learn techniques which will factor in to their design choices in the first session, and to give them some space before the second session to reflect on color choices and layout options. In the second session quilters will work on and possibly complete their pillows.


Class Supply List:

  • Required text: Modern Memory Quilts by Suzanne Paquette
  • Sentimental clothing or fabric (quantity as desired)
  • 1 yard of fabric in 3 colors (makes two pillows; see project instructions for breakdown of quantity per color)
  • 5/8 yard pillow backing fabric
  • 5/8 yard quilting cotton (to back quilted pillow front)
  • 21˝ x 21˝ batting per pillow
  • 14˝ zipper – 1 per pillow
  • 18˝ x 18˝ pillow insert – 1 per pillow
  • Thread for piecing and quilting
  • Sharp fabric scissors
  • Pressing cloth
  • Sewing machine
  • Rotary cutter, ruler, mat
  • Hand sewing needle or basting pins
  • Straight pins
  • Pencil, or any preferred drawing tool
  • Colored pencils or markers for planning fabric layout
  • Optional: Stabili-Tee interfacing (depending on sentimental fabrics chosen)


Other sales opportunities:

In-Store Color Palette Building Session: It is not always obvious how to build a color palette for a modern memory quilt project—especially if the clothing does not coordinate. This provides a good opportunity for shop owners to assist quilters in determining color palettes and purchasing a selection of quilting cottons to complement their sentimental clothing pieces. This could be done as part of the class, or as a complementary in-store session before the workshop or in between the sessions of the 2-day workshop.

Combining with Other Workshops: This class combines nicely with a free-motion quilting, embroidery, sashiko, or other decorative stitching workshop, as a means for further personalizing memory quilt pillows.

Other items helpful in class:

  • Stabili-Tee interfacing for stabilizing stretchy fabric
  • White cotton or a fat-quarter bundle of white quilting cotton to use as press cloths
  • Alex Anderson's 4-in-1 Essential Sewing Tool for pushing out pillow corners
  • Hera marker for marking quilting lines
  • Embroidery floss and needles for adding embroidery details to pillows
  • Pillow inserts (Recommended: Soft Touch Pillow forms by Fairfield World)
  • Good quality shears for cutting down clothing
  • Flatter by Soak for pressing quilting cottons and other non-starched fabrics


Other items helpful at home for pre-class prep or post-class work:

  • Soak laundry soap for prewashing sentimental clothing (especially clothing that is delicate/precious)
  • Phil Basin from Soak Wash Inc. to use as a starching tub at home
  • Spray bottle for starching
  • Zipper feet for sewing machines
  • Teflon feet for sewing machines
  • Walking feet for sewing machines

Consider creating a “Modern Quilt Accessories Bundle” with a Phil Basin, Soak, spray bottle, and fat quarter pressing cloth bundle.


Classroom Preparation:
Each student will need table space and access to an outlet for their sewing machine. Provide several pressing stations, approximately one station per 3–5 students. Design walls help in laying out pillow blocks. Provide scraps of different kinds of fabrics (T-shirt scraps, knit sweaters, sheer, silk, leather, suede, denim, fur etc., and some quilting cotton scraps) for students to practice techniques with.

If starching techniques are part of the workshop:
Provide additional pressing stations and designate starching and no-starch stations. Provide starching stations equipped with a low shallow tub, starch in a bottle (see instructions in book), ironing board cover (or large pressing cloth), sponge for cleaning out excess starch from tubs, and a sink for clean up. It is ideal to have these stations located closer to starch pressing stations and away from sewing areas.


Class Agenda:

Instructions for Kindred Pillows are found on pp. 98–106.


Student homework before class:

1. Select sentimental clothing or fabric.
2. Choose coordinating quilting cotton.
3. Pack machine and class supplies.

Class 1:
1. Give an overview of Modern Memory Quilt design and color tips and techniques (pp. 15–19).

2. Demonstrate techniques for stabilizing and sewing 3–5 different kinds of fabrics (pp. 20–27). It is helpful to ask the class what kind of fabrics they will be working with so that you can tailor what you choose to demonstrate according to their needs.
OPTIONAL: Start by demonstrating one technique, and then have students try the technique on practice fabric. When piecing, it is helpful to have students work with combinations of quilting cotton and the specialty fabric. Repeat with the different fabrics.


3. Students start planning their color palettes and the layout of fabrics for their pillows. You can provide printouts of the design template found at for students to work with to plan their design using colored pencils, markers, or scraps of fabric.

Class 2:
1. Demonstrate cutting down clothing (p. 23)and demonstrate or discuss fussy cutting and "un-fussy cutting" techniques (p. 16).

2. Have students cut down clothing and stabilize their sentimental clothing/fabric using the techniques learned in Class 1.
3. Cut and piece the striped blocks (pp. 100–101).
4. Piece the half-square triangle pillow fronts (pp. 101–104). It is helpful to demonstrate correct placement of the striped blocks to create half-square triangle pillow fronts.

5. Students wishing to further embellish their pillow fronts or back should do so before proceeding to steps 6 and 7.

6. Sandwich, baste, and quilt the pillow tops. Discuss things to keep in mind when quilting fabrics other than quilting cotton (p. 28).
7. Insert zipper and finish the pillow (p. 106).