Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Memory of Ryan

Ryan was only 8 years old when he passed away last June.  I did not know him or his family.  I was "introduced" to them last fall, when a childhood friend of mine asked if I would be be willing to make a quilt for Ryan's family using some of his favorite clothes.

My friend, Joan, lost her own beautiful daughter a few years back.  Since that time, she and her husband have founded the Gabby Rocco Let It Shine Foundationa "Christ-centered not-for-profit organization that is committed to supporting the physical and spiritual needs of families grieving the loss of a child."

(Not necessarily the best pictures... but I was in a hurry to get them in the mail and I wasn't thinking "blog worthy photos" back then.)

I was so honored to work on this quilt for Ryan.  His mom sent me Disney-themed t-shirts and jackets and sweatshirts and PJs, and I learned the story behind many of them.  I grew to love Ryan and his family with every stitch.  This was the hardest quilt I've ever made (for many reasons), but it is far and away one of my favorites. I added some appliques (made from his clothes) and some hand-stitched words, requested by his mother:

Ryan loved to ride horses on the weekends.

Butterflies were released at his funeral.

"Loved with a love beyond all feeling.  Missed with a grief beyond all tears."

Ryan was a shooting star.

We also included a shirt with his hand prints and a photo of Ryan with his dog.

Using some of the leftover clothing (and a few more items his mom sent), I also made pillow cases for his older sister and brother.

16 inch square pillow case with zipper closure in the bottom.

The reverse of the square pillow case.

This is a standard size pillow case.  The opening is on the right side.

This is the reverse side of the standard pillow case.

All this brings me to my recent finishes, which were on my May Small Project Sew Along list.  Using more of Ryan's fabric, I made (at the request of his mom) four small wall hangings that can be given to some supportive family friends.  These finish at 4" square and are made of his t-shirts and PJs.

I also made 3 stuffed "Mickey heads" for his mom, brother and sister.  His name is embroidered onto the front of each one.

None of these items would win any beauty contest or sewing awards, but I know they all mean the world to his mom.  I pray every day that their family will find peace and comfort and strength in warm memories these small reminders of the beautiful life Ryan lived.


Here's my updated list for the May Small Project Sew Along:

1. Complete H2H quilt - link here
2. Complete Laura's quilt - link here
3. Make pillow to match Laura's quilt - link here
4. Finish quilt for Sujay (flimsy is complete)
5. Make 3 small memory (t-shirt) wall hangings (1 done, 2 not started) - DONE!
6. Make 3 small memory (t-shirt) Mickey pillows - DONE!
7. Make a green mug rug in time for Mother's Day  
8. Make a pink mug rug just because I want to
9. Finish April Seasonal Skinny (flimsy is complete)
10. Complete 2 ladybug Seasonal Skinnies for May
11. Cut fabric for summer hexie project
12. Make a portable sewing kit / bag / holder / something-or-other link here
13. Start (and finish) embroidery for "The Forever Project"
14. Complete "Om" block for "The Forever Project"
15. Make or find a simple pattern for a tote / beach bag
16. Make a year-end gift for my kindergartener's teacher
17. Make a year-end gift for my 3rd grader's teacher
18. Make a birthday gift for kindergartener's BFF
19. Make a "surprise" for my 11 running partners + myself
20. Make an Unruly letters pillow for Kim
21. Update my running scrapbook (no sewing involved!)
22. Figure out a plan of attack for the "Unless" quilt

~*~ May your day be full of Love and Ladybug Hugs ~*~


  1. Wow Wow Wow Wow Wow!!! These look fantastic! It's so sad to hear about young children passing away before they got the chance to live a long life ... these items will be gorgeous reminders of the blessing Ryan was for his family!

    1. Thanks, Larissa. I cried and cried when I opened that box of clothing from his mom. I have two young daughters and I can't imagine that kind of loss. It took several weeks before I could bring myself to make a single cut into the fabric. It was a labor of love but worth every second, knowing how much comfort this has brought his mom. I backed it with a microfleece blanket, which is what they would snuggle under together to read bedtime stories. I'm also going to be making an 8" block to go into a quilt his mom's grief support group is making.

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  3. I am speechless after reading this post and seeing the beautiful things you made for this family. Wow. The details - wow!

    1. Thanks, Beth. I think memory quilts are the hardest -- but also the most rewarding -- to make.

  4. Hi Kat! You did a great/outstanding job on this T-shirt quilt!!! I have made 2 myself, and they are not easy to make~ Yours is so intricate and well thought out. Mine was just cut t-shirts~ Great job! ♥♥♥

    1. Thanks so much, Cathy! I think that t-shirt quilts are the hardest to make (because of the fabric) but it's even harder to know these items are so special. If I make a mistake, I can't just order another yard online.


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