December 14, 2017
Arts & Entertainment
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  • Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.
  • Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.
  • Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.
  • Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    Julie Banks Antinucci makes memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from a person’s life.

Local Quilter Crafts Tangible Remembrance In Memorial Quilts

Judy Tacyn
Judy Tacyn's picture
View Bio
December 5, 2017

To help people commemorate the lives of loved ones, Arnold resident Julie Banks Antinucci has been making memorial quilts using clothing or other meaningful fabrics from that person’s life. The process is an emotional yet joyful one for Antinucci.

“Memorial quilts are more difficult to make than an average quilt,” said Antinucci. “Taking someone’s clothes and cutting them up is always hard and takes a lot of time, much more time than a regular quilt. But the end result is something so much more meaningful than a bag of shirts or a quilt made of store-bought material.”

Antinucci was first contacted five years ago by an Annapolis woman who was referred to Antinucci by a local quilt shop that recommended her as someone who might be willing to make quilts using clothing owned by the woman’s husband.

“It was a heartbreaking story,” Antinucci recalled. “The quilts would be for her young children (one an infant and two older boys) after the death of her husband, the children’s father.”

Antinucci went to the young widow’s home and learned that the man was young, only in his 40s, and had cancer. She collected the items to be incorporated into quilts, brought the clothing home and got to work.

“That quilt was very hard to make,” said Antinucci. Among the clothes were the man’s bathrobe, approximately 40 dress shirts and other things. She said it was rewarding to make the quilt and “know that I was going to help those kids feel closer to their young dad.”

Antinucci’s latest memorial quilt was finished just before Thanksgiving, at the request of Beth Zehe, a Round Bay resident whose husband passed away in August.

“I had my husband’s shirts stacked up and ready to be delivered to Goodwill,” said Zehe. “But I realized that I really enjoyed looking at them and decided I really didn’t want to give them away.”

Zehe made a Facebook post on her neighborhood’s page asking if any Round Bay residents knew of anyone who would make a quilt for her. Multiple Round Bay residents sent Zehe in Antinucci’s direction.

Antinucci finished Zehe’s quilt in about two weeks — just in time for her to share it with her family over Thanksgiving. Zehe’s grandchildren called the quilt the “grandpa quilt.”

“I was absolutely blown away by the quilt and Julie’s creativity and attention to every detail,” said Zehe. “The finished quilt actually looks like my husband. I look at the quilt and I see the shirt he wore to our son’s wedding and the shirt he wore on a particular vacation. Every single square tells a story of happy memories we shared.

“To know that Beth’s family loved the quilt makes me very happy, and relieved,” said Antinucci, who is now making Zehe’s granddaughters memorial pillows out of their grandfather’s T-shirts.”

Zehe could not be more pleased. “When my grandchildren were visiting, they took turns cuddling up in it and that made me very happy,” she said.

Zehe added that the back of the quilt was made with T-shirts her husband collected from the many places the family had visited.

“When I am making a memorial quilt, I truly feel like that person is with me,” said Antinucci. “As I am handling their clothing, I feel like I am getting to know them. My craft room is filled with their smell and it’s very emotional.”

As she makes each cut, Antinucci said it does get a bit stressful.

“Every piece of fabric has meaning. Every pocket. Every button. Every cut I make has a purpose,” she said. “I think about the person who once wore these clothes and I wonder how they might feel about what I am doing. I want to do it right.”

In addition to memorial quilts, Antinucci said she has made celebration quilts, too. “Some people have their kid’s high school shirts made into a quilt for a college dorm,” she said. “I’ve also made a memorial quilt out of my father-in-law’s clothing for my mother-in-law, after he passed away from a long battle with lung cancer. I was very close to him and had known him since I was 14, so making that memorial quilt was bittersweet. My mother-in-law uses her quilt every day and says that he provides so much comfort to her.”

After Christmas, Antinucci will dive into another memorial quilt project, this time for one of her best friends whose grandfather passed away.

“This man was a very sweet man,” said Antinucci. “His clothes are exactly as I had imagined them to be. I’m honored yet again to have the opportunity to make this special item for a family who I know will appreciate it.”


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