memory quilting

I am so excited to welcome Sherri Lynn Wood from Passage Quilting™ to whipup today. Sherri Lynn is discussing her Keepsake quilting philosophy and will also be hosting on her blog a 3 part series on how to make the quilt that she contributed to Whip Up Mini Quilts book + she is hosting a giveaway of the book.

I combine my knowledge of craft, sculpture, theology, and systems-centered theory to reacquaint people with personal agency, community, love and the basic skills of living. I have been making quilts since 1988 and began blogging in May 2010 at

Quilt Making Heals

In 2001 I was bored with all my materials and tired of consuming in order to create. You should have been at my studio sale as I purged my stash!

I was yearning to work with people in a more meaningful way. So I switched from an object based art practice, where I made decorative quilts for people’s homes, to a service based practice. I began working with people in transition to make improvisational quilts from their memory rich materials, such as the clothing of a loved one who had died. I soon realized the healing power of this hands-on, quilt making approach to bereavement, and named it Passage Quilting™ .

Gerda Renee Blumenthal (1923 – 2004), 74” x 80”, Fragments of Gerda’s housecoats, fancy dresses, sweaters, suits. Made for her nephew Peter Romani.

Gerda Renee Blumenthal (1923 – 2004) 67″ x 78”, Fragments of Gerda’s housecoats, fancy dresses, sweaters, suits. Made for her nephew Michael Brenson.

Gerda Blumenthal’s clothes and the two quilts made from them are pictured above:

Over years of working with people in the midst of change and loss, distinct correlations between Passage Quilting™ and the bereavement process became apparent:
1. The Clothing Left Behind is the gift that holds the story and memories of the person who gathered and wore them over time. In a way working with this clothing is a collaboration with the beloved.
2. Choosing The Clothing is an opportunity to gather together and actively remember, share and tell the stories of a person’s life, relationships and death.
3. Cutting The Clothing Apart is a definitive and symbolic acknowledgment of change and the beginning of transformation. The word bereavement literally means “to tear or rend apart.”
4. Remembering The Body through the architecture of the clothing holds the personal essence of the beloved. It is the starting point for the improvisational piecework.
5. Improvisational Piecework, piecing the quilt top without a predetermined pattern, provides a model for examining life patterns during a time of disorientation.
6. Hand Quilting provides an opportunity for reflection, meditation and prayer. It serves as a safe container for experiencing intense emotions of grief over time.
7. Quilting Together can be an opportunity for sharing emotions and experiences in fellowship with others.
8. The Finished Quilt is functional, providing warmth, comfort and consolation. It serves as a vehicle for remembering and sharing the life of the beloved.

Linda Susan Wood (1943 – 2003), 2006, A passage quilt I made for myself from my mother’s clothing.

The process outlined above can apply to just about any life transition including divorce, empty nest, menopause, career changes, marriage, birth and more. When Kathreen asked me to submit a project for her book, Whip-up Mini-Quilts. I presented the idea of a Keepsake quilt based on the Passage Quilting™ process (see the first image above).

To create the sample for Kathreen’s book, I asked a friend of mine, who at the time had a three year old, if I could make the mini-quilt in celebration of her maternity experience and the birth of her first child. She gave me a favorite sailor suit worn by her son when he was an infant along with one of her favorite maternity tops.

Interested in exploring an important life passage by making a quilt? Join me on and enter a giveaway to win a copy of Kathreen’s Whip-up Mini-Quilt book. Then gather your materials and stay tuned for a three part Keepsake Mini-Quilt / Passage Quilting™ How-to on daintytime in March.