How To Sew A Family Hand Silhouette Quilt

How to sew a family heirloom keepsake quilt using hand silhouettes of family members.

Holding Grandma's hand always made you feel loved, right? Why not preserve that feeling in a quilt? How can you do that? Create a hand silhouette quilt to cherish and pass down for generations.

Choose a neutral colored fabric and with a fabric marker trace each family member's hand. An interesting option is to trace the hand that the person writes with. You might want to have them sign their names with permanent fabric marker and include their birth date. You will need to decide how large you want your heirloom to be. Will you include your in-laws side of the family? After all this piece will be cherished by your children as well as yourself. Do you want the hand prints of your third cousin and his family? Well it all depends on how big you want your quilt to be.

Collecting your hands might take some time if your clan is widespread. Mailing some material, a fabric marker and heartfelt, detailed instructions to your relations might speed things up a bit, unless you are planning a family reunion. (This might make a fun keepsake of a reunion too, if you do happen to be planning one.) You might become the butt of a few jokes, collecting hands, but usually folks will be touched at your idea to create such a keepsake.



After you have all of the hands you desire, cut them out, leaving a 1/4 inch allowance, snip to the outline so that this allowance will be able to be folded under. Now decide how you want the hands laid out. Smaller family groups within the large extended family might make a nice arrangement. Grouping by generations is another option, (leaving room for new additions in the youngest generation of course). A family tree type layout might be fun too. Lay the hands on a table, or on the floor if your family is very large! Now measure how much material you will need for the background.

When buying your background material, purchase an equal amount of either the same color or a complimenting one for the backing. Don't forget to purchase your batting and you will also need fusible web. Most fabric stores will be able to assist you in buying these materials. Sewing your basic quilt together really is not difficult. You are in essence creating a solid color quilt. Simply sew your quilt front material together, then sew your backing yardage together. Place these together, rights sides in, and add your batting on top. Now sew these three together, leaving an 18 inch opening to turn it all right side out when you are through. Whip stitch this opening closed. Now you are ready to add your hands.

Trace and cut a copy hand for each, with the fusible web. Lay out the hands on your background to be sure you are pleased with the positioning. Pin each hand in place. Follow the package directions for the fusible web. Usually this entails heat setting the applique with an iron. Be sure to tuck under your 1/4 allowance, as this will prevent the material from fraying. When all of your hands are ironed on, you could go back and hand stitch the edges. This might be a good idea if the quilt will be used on a bed, but usually the fusible web is strong enough to leave out this step. Of course, if you don't want to use the fusible web, you can sew the appliques on by hand. This will take considerably longer but is satisfying needlework.

On your own hand silhouette, you might want to inscribe a dedication, or create another hand to use as a label, sewn onto the back of the quilt.

Now you are ready to enjoy your family heirloom. None could be more personalized! Have fun watching your children match up their own hands and then compare theirs to all in the family. If you have Grandma's silhouette, you can once again hold her hand and feel the love that you have put into your creation.

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