Friday April 11th 2014

My Quilt Story: Susan Stewart

OUR WHOLE LIFE by Susan Stewart

I know anniversary quilts are not uncommon. But this one, as my Dad tearfully described, “is our whole life.”

I made this quilt for my parents’ 50th anniversary in 2002. At the time, I was a seamstress, not a quilter, but I wanted to make something special. A book called The Collectibles Quilt by Wendy Etzel, 1995, RCW, got me started with the idea of a photo transfer bookcase quilt, and I took off from there. I managed to get photos of five generations of family, and made enough fabric photo transfers to create 52 “framed” photos on the bookshelves, including my parents’ wedding picture and their wedding invitation.

The titles of some of the “books” are the names of my grandparents, my parents, my sister and me, and our children. Other “books” are titled with where we were born, significant events, and interests in our lives. As an added touch, I machine embroidered a Peace rose, which was my maternal grandmother’s favorite flower, and added a basket with a piece of crocheted work spilling out of it. This was made by my father’s aunt, who was born deaf, but did exquisite crochet work.


When they saw the quilt, they were both speechless and teary-eyed, and my father said, “This is my whole life!” Yes!




Editor’s note: Susan Stewart is an award-winning quilter and the author of  Heirloom Machine Sewing for Quilters, available at AQS members receive a discount. Wendy Etzel’s second book, The Collectibles Quilt II, is available from the author. Please contact Wendy at for more information.

Posted by Christine N. Brown, American Quilter magazine editor-in-chief


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12 Comments for “My Quilt Story: Susan Stewart”

  • Debbie Law says:

    I think that’s one of the most beautiful quilts I’ve ever seen. I don’t know any of your family or you, but it brought tears to my eyes, the love it contains just fills you up!!
    Great job…I know you are very proud of it and it will hold a special place in the heart of everyone in your family. Thank you for sharing it!

  • Paula Pardue says:

    Beautiful; what a stunning tribute! You done good, kid!

  • Amy Beth says:

    This is a perfect way to use photo transfers in a memory quilt. Your quilt is gorgeous and meaningful, and doesn’t that describe all the best quilts?

  • Donna Babchuck says:

    All I can say is “WOW”!

  • Lynn S says:

    Susan, your quilt is amazing! I hope you do decide to create a pattern for this for others. I know I would be interested! I know each person’s story is different–but what a template! I showed it to my husband too–and all he could say was WoW!

  • Kathy Gordon says:

    Your quilt took me to my living room 50 years ago and Mom’ shelf with all our family pictures. Thank you for bringing those memories back to me. Marvelous quilt.

  • Pamela N. says:

    I love this. I was wondering, what dimensions did you make yours to get this many pictures on it? I found the book you mentioned to help. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful gift.

  • Karin says:

    What a fabulous idea…. Incredible !!!! Thanks for sharing

  • Dorothy says:

    Can’t believe what I am looking at this is so beautiful,takes your breath away well done

  • Donna says:

    I was stunned by the wonder and meaningfulness of this quilt. I was looking for fruit jar quilts and came across this one. My MIL will be 100 years old this summer. I think it is to ambitious for me to tackle something similar but it certainly makes me want to try. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!

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