Grandpa to Grandson: Linking Generations with a Very Special Quilt – Part 1 (Free Pattern)

Christy and I met in 1952, when our parents bought tiny post-war tract houses across the street from each other in a small New Jersey town. We were barely beyond the toddler stage, and the connection was instantaneous—and enduring. We grew up sharing childhoods, milestones, secrets.

That’s me on the left, Christy on the right. Our dads often took us on Saturday outings. Here we’re on our way to see the Mayflower II in New York City harbor.

I was maid of honor when Christy married Ray in 1969. She was 18, he was 20. People said it wouldn’t last. People were wrong.

In the spring of 2010, shortly after the couple celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary, Ray was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away last August, just before his 63rd birthday. As so often happens, very soon after, their youngest son and his wife discovered that their first child was on the way–the first male grandbaby. Sadly, this new little one would never know his Grandpa Ray.

Whoa! Not so fast! Within a few months, a box arrived on my doorstep. It was filled with…

…shirts! Yes, Christy had packed up a collection of Ray’s cotton shirts and sent them in my direction. I cut off the collars and yokes, sleeves, and plackets…

…and separated the body of each shirt into three large pieces.

I cut the large pieces into 5″ squares, arranged them on my design wall, and added some “hugs and kisses” with raw edge applique.

I stitched the squares together (easy peasy!), added a border, and voila!

“Hugs and Kisses from Grandpa” (39″ x 48″), made by Darra Williamson

Just in time, too.

Finnegan (Finn) Raymond Mitchell, born earlier this month in Florida. Isn’t he beautiful? He’ll be wrapping himself in Grandpa’s love very soon.

“Hugs and Kisses” is off being quilted, and I’ll include a photo of the finished quilt, with details about its pieced-from-leftovers binding and special label, in one of my July posts. Meantime, if you’d like to make this quilt for a precious little someone, you’ll find the instructions (including patterns for the letter appliques) in our Pattern Library.

I’ll be finishing off the quilt with a binding pieced from shirt leftovers.

Oh, and Grandma?

She’s doing just fine!

That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!

17 thoughts on “Grandpa to Grandson: Linking Generations with a Very Special Quilt – Part 1 (Free Pattern)

  1. Darra, you are such a great friend. The quilt you made will be love and treasured by the family. I love it as well. Diana in Canada


  2. Darra,
    What a wonderful gesture on your part. I am sure your love and heart were in every stitch.
    BW and I have been married for 53 years. In the last few years I have came close to losing him three times. So I totally understand how all can feel this loss and what this quilt will mean to them.


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  4. The quilt is a treasure and your friendship even more so. A couple of years after a friend’s husband had passed away she asked me to make a t-shirt quilt out of shirts he’d bought during their travels. She, who doesn’t sew, sent me pieces of the shirts. She’d cut out what was printed on each shirt with pinking shears! Each piece was a different size and shape and some areas didn’t have seam allowance space. What a design challenge! She loved the end result, though!


  5. Thank you all so much for your lovely responses to this post, to Alex Anderson who facebooked it, and to the gang at The Quilt Show, who wrote about it on today’s Daily Blog. I spoke with Christy earlier this weekend, and Mom, Dad, Grandma, and little Finn are all doing well 😉


  6. Darra, I loved the quilt and it will mean so much to everyone! I included one of my Dad’s shirts in a quilt made for my Mom (after his death) and it has meant so much to her. I tried to do the same with another shirt and my son insisted on wearing the shirt as his own….even better!


  7. This brought back so many memories and tears for me! I was 19 and my husband 20 when we met, fell in love and married ONE month later! Everyone said it wouldn’t last……..we were married 59 years almost 60 years, and had three wonderful children. I lost my husband in 2003 and I still miss him very much. Things were a lot different in those days, right after World War Two.

    The quilt is wonderful, and I am sure will be a treasure. Thanks for your web site, I enjoy it so much!


  8. Your story brought tears to my eyes. I love the quilt. I am thinking about making one for my friend who just lost her father.
    Thanks for sharing.


  9. what a great story! and, even better, the quilt that will be treasured forever. now, the quilt pattern and your pictures to show us how are the best. waiting for the next installment… thank you!


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