Creating “Fading Memories”

Last week I wrote about creating what is probably my last quilt for the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative.  I included a picture of my favorite AAQI quilt Fading Memories.   Several people asked how I made this quilt, so I thought I’d write about it, since I made it before I started blogging.

Fading Memories

Fading Memories

Both my parents served in the Navy in World War II, though they didn’t meet until after the war.  I started with portraits of them in their uniforms, and I overlaid these with photos from throughout their lives, including their children and grandchildren.  The basic technique I used was the ‘cut out’ methods of Maria Elkins and Marilyn Belford.

Here are the two portraits I started with.

parents-portraits

And here’s the montage of photos that I put together to create the background.

parents-background-montage

Starting with the portraits, I “posterized” them in Photoshop.  This is a technique to reduce the number of colors in a photo — I reduced the photo to 4 levels.

parents-portraits-posterized

For the next step, I printed out the posterized photo at the size I wanted for the finished quilt (about 10 by 8 inches).  I printed it as a mirror image since I’d be using the resulting pieces as templates for cutting out my fabric pieces (more on that in a bit).

I traced around the different colors in the photos and labeled them from 1 (lightest) to 4 (darkest).  The results of my cutting template are below.

parents-full-map

To do the ‘cut-out’ method, I’d need 4 different values of fabric.  So, using my photo montage, I created 4 sepia-toned versions in 4 different values, and then printed them on fabric using my inkjet printer.

The ‘cut-out ‘ method uses the lightest fabric (#1) as the base fabric.  Then you add the next lightest fabric (#2) over the top of #1.  This is done by cutting away the #1 areas of the portraits from the #2 fabric.  I don’t have a photo of this, but the #2 fabric would look like the picture below, with the green areas cut out of the fabric.

parents-cut-out-layer-1-map-with-fill

Each layer of fabric had fusible webbing on the back so that the entire top could be fused together when everything was cut out.  I used Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 for the fusible webbing since it has a pressure-sensitive adhesive that allows for a temporary hold.  I stuck a paper copy of my cutting template onto the back of layer #2 and cut away all the layer #1 bits.

Next the #3 fabric layer is created by cutting out the #1 and #2 areas of the portraits. These cut out areas are in green below.  I also used the #3 fabric for the background of the photo (the blue areas below).

parents-cut-out-layer-1-and-2-map-with-fill

Finally, the #4 layer was created by cutting away all the #1, 2 and 3 layers (green areas below).

parents-cut-out-layer-1-2-and-3-map-with-fill

Here’s the quilt after all the layers were fused together.

parents-before-quilting2

And here’s a detail which shows the different layers of fabric.

parents-before-quilting-detail2

To create more contrast between the sepia portraits and the background, I cut out the portraits and fused them to a black and white version of the photo montage.

parents-before-quilting-with-background

The next step was to figure out the quilting.  First I outlined the portraits to make them stand out even more.  I wasn’t sure how to quilt the faces, and when I tried, it was almost impossible to stitch them due to the multiple layers of fabric.  In the end, I decided there was enough going on with the faces, and to not add any quilting.  However, I was a bit worried about the fused pieces staying in place without any quilting, so I covered  everything with a piece of transparent, very sheer fabric to hold it all in place.  Then I did a bit of quilting on the uniforms to give them some definition.  Here’s the partially quilted piece.  I added some quilting lines in the background to finish it.  

parents-some-quilting-and-background-in-place2

For the back of the quilt, I did a similar technique, but all in Photoshop.  I used the same photo montage as the front of the quilt.  I put the montage in the bottom layer, with an opacity of about 75%. The middle layer was a recent photo of my parents (100% opacity).  And the top layer was the photo montage again (25% opacity).  Here’s the result.

parents-back-of-quilt

Marion and Charlie, about 1950:

Mom-and-Dad-~1951

Marion and Charlie, 2001:Mom-and-Dad-2001

Visit Nina-Marie’s blog for Off the Wall Fridays and be inspired.

Every stage of life is interesting, even this one.

Marion, 2002, and suffering from Alzheimer’s

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