Every quilt holds clues to a story. Just how much of that story we can tell depends on how well the quilt is labeled and documented. Some quilts turn us into detectives, seeking scraps of information from color, print, and design. Others spread out their stories as easily as they spread out over our laps.
Zak Foster’s quilts are known for their thoughtfulness. His memory quilts are a collaboration not just between people, but also across time. Garments from different decades are sewn together to create designs full of meaning to the quilt’s owner. But in the future, will we still remember that meaning?
Without a detailed label, quilt historians of the future may struggle to date a quilt containing such a wild and wonderful mix of textiles. Without provenance information (an object’s making and ownership history), quilt historians can sometimes estimate a date using the most recent fabric identified. However, if a memory quilt of fabrics from the 1930s-1970s was pieced in 2021 but lacks that information, the estimated date may be incorrect.
But even more importantly, the personal stories behind memory quilts can be lost with the absence of labels or documentation like oral histories. Memory quilts are a physical manifestation of love. They create a new tangible memory that did not exist before, while also containing countless nostalgic memories of loved ones who wore these garments. Being wrapped up in a quilt made of clothes helps us hold tight to the people who were most important to us. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, the fibers we stitch together from disparate fabrics will be passed down and remembered by younger generations—as long as they have labels.
Additional Quilt Information:
Materials Repurposed clothing, table linens, and a ball cap
Technique Machine pieced, hand-tied
Dimensions 60 x 60 inches