The information below is taken from my book, My Paper
Memory Quilt: A Family History Pack
When we come across an old patchwork quilt, no matter how
worn or faded with age, we touch it with awe. In doing so, we connect
with the people who came before us and the memories they bring to
mind. Each scrap of material used for the many patches, or panels,
that make up the quilt came from a cloth or item of clothing that
was once used or worn by someone from the past.
Create a paper patchwork quilt that depicts a family’s history and most-loved experiences.
Order now directly from Bill Zimmerman for $12.95 (plus $4.50 shipping per book in the U.S. only).
To order by mail, write to:
Guarionex Press, Ltd.
201 West 77th Street, Suite 6A
New York, NY 10024
CLICK ON THE COVER ABOVE TO MAKE YOUR OWN MEMORY QUILT!
You can also record a family oral history with help from How to Tape Instant Oral Biographies.
A panel of white material with embroidered flowers may have
been cut from great-grandmother's wedding dress (what was she like?);
a strip of muslim from a shirt worn by great-great-great grandfather
(what kind of work did he do?). And we begin to think about these
people and wonder what their lives must have been like.
Not all of us are fortunate enough to possess an ancestral
patchwork quilt, but each of us can create our own paper memory
quilt to highlight the memories and special experiences of our lives
Such a quilt can be made up of individual cardboard panels.
(A good size is 7 inches by 7 inches, although panels can be larger
if you prefer). On them you and your relatives and friends - working
together or separately - can draw or write your special stories.
Tape or pin each completed panel on the wall. And, panel by panel,
your paper patchwork quilt will grow over time before your eyes
as you recollect the key events of your life. It will become an
This family activity can be done Saturday mornings over
the dark winter months or on long summer vacations or during family
holidays. It can provide a wonderful way for younger and older generations
to connect and produce a wonderful document showing family memories
and traditions. You'll need a few simple supplies, like oak tag
or cardboard, crayon or colored pencils, copies of favorite family
photos, a scissor, some glue, and maybe some favorite old magazines
from which you can cut out photos that may help you show your memory.
For example, a picture of the beach might be pasted on a panel showing
a happy vacation memory.
Each of us is a little like a patchwork quilt. Our ''patches''
are all the many things we have experienced, all the memories and
hopes - and even tears - we have accumulated. And as we sit with
relatives to fill in the blank panels for our paper quilt, we will
be telling the stories of our lives, much the same way our ancestors
did in sewing together their cloth quilts.
There are many subjects you can include in your panels.
(Go to: Themes For Panels of Your
Memory Quilt). Someinclude: key events in your family's
history; the special things that make you the unique person you
are; the fun times you have experienced, and your hopes and dreams
for the future. Creating a paper memory quilt can also help ease
your way through grief and sad times.
Author Bill Zimmerman with youngsters about to make a memory quilt.
As you complete each paper panel, you can pin or tape it
on a wall and over weeks observe a paper quilt, showing your life
stories, emerging in front of your eyes. The quilt panels can also
be stored in a folder and referred to from time to time, the same
way you keep photograph albums to record your life or store treasures
in a special chest that you open from time to time.
These panels represent the best things of your life. In addition,
you can tape-record the conversation you and a family member may
have had in completing a panel - this becomes an oral history of
the memory and makes the quilt project an even richer family experience.
If you create your own paper memory quilt, please consider sharing
your experiences with us by sending an email to: WmZ@aol.com.
We'll print some of them on the BLOG With Bill Zimmerman feedback page of this site.
Illustrations for My Paper Memory Quilt: A Family History
Pack by Maria Caluccio. Photos by Jim Cummins.