Saturday November 28th 2015

Sparkly Jeweled Memories

Kathy Schmidt, author, of Rule-Breaking Quilts (AQS Publishing, 2010), offers some great ideas for showcasing unused jewelry.

“My great-aunt Maggie was a young woman in the roaring twenties era and quite the local fashion plate. She always maintained that a lady never left her doorstep without lipstick and jewelry. And jewelry usually meant a necklace and a brooch, earrings, and a ring or two—shining and glittery and glamorous to a young girl. Most of us remember someone who dazzled us with their ‘sparklies,’ but we are more casual today and don’t use those dress-up jewels as often as my Aunt Maggie did. It’s sad to think of all those beautiful brooches and necklaces sitting in a box somewhere, unloved and unseen. I want to see that glitter and glamour again, even if I don’t want to wear it out my door!

Kathryn Schmidt loves the sparkle of vintage brooches on her embellished quilt.

Since I’m a quilter, it seemed obvious that I needed to showcase Aunt Maggie’s jewels on a quilt, but I wasn’t sure of the best way to create that display. I turned to my art quilt group, the Knot Even Quilters, and asked for their suggestions. We decided that quilts are not the best format for bangles and rings, but perfect for necklaces and brooches. Earrings require a little creativity but add so much dimension and drama that they are worth the extra effort.

The ostentatious dazzle of all of Aunt Maggie’s rhinestones on a single quilt might be too much, though the thought of all that bling in one place was very tempting!

Suggestions included a series of family graduation pictures with jewelry of each era. An ornate rhinestone necklace could become an ornate gazebo. A collection of ‘flowers’ look great collected in little basket quilts. Displaying family memories instead of tucking them away in a drawer really appealed to everyone in my group.

Julia Freeman's quilt features a lovely dragonfly pin.

We agreed that brooches are the easiest of all jewelry to display. A special treasure from a beloved relative also gives us a chance to experiment with silks, velvets, and wools rather than our usual quilting cottons. An antique crazy-quilt block will work but could overwhelm a dainty necklace, so choosing a bolder piece would be wise. One great suggestion was an appliqued earring tree for all the lost-but-lovely single earrings to find a home again. Adding hand stitching, embroidery, or beading is another way to integrate your treasures into lovely works of art.

And don’t forget you can always attach the jewels in a non-permanent fashion, in case you want to don them and go out dancing with the lovely memory of your own Aunt Maggie sparkling along.”




Thank you, Kathy and the Knot Even Quilters, for these great suggestions and photos. For more creative and quirky quilt ideas, visit And be sure to check out Kathy’s article on free-form piecing, titled Crime Wave, in the September 2012 issue of American Quilter magazine, on sale now at your local book, grocery, fabric, or craft store.

Posted by Christine N. Brown, American Quilter magazine Editor-in-Chief


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5 Comments for “Sparkly Jeweled Memories”

  • Sandy says:

    Love this idea!

  • Rebecca says:

    My mother always wore a butterfly pin in her shoulder everywhere she went. She wanted it to look as if the butterfly had just landed there. That butterfly is now attached to the sunvisor in my truck so that I am reminded of her regularly.

  • Suzanne says:

    I have a lot of butterfly pins I no longer wear. This is a wonderful idea to use them & at the same time make a quilt to remind me of a dear friend & fellow quilter who loved butterflys.

  • ELIZAJANE says:

    Great ideas I have bags of jewelry from my mother/grandmother and hate to give it away. I’m going to start with a Christmas tree Quilt ,a friend has a small wall panel tree-,which is decorated with jewelry. It looks great even if only for the holidays.

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