How to Make a Panel For The Quilt

You don’t have to be an artist or sewing expert to create a moving personal tribute remembering a life lost to AIDS. It’s not as complicated as many people think. It doesn’t matter if you use paint or fine needlework, iron-on transfers or hand made appliques, or even spray paint on a sheet; any remembrance is appropriate.

You may choose to create a panel privately as a personal memorial or you may choose to follow the traditions of old-fashioned quilting bees by including friends, family, and co-workers. That choice, like virtually everything else involved in making a panel, is completely up to you.

When AIDS began to attack her friends, Gert McMullin was heartbroken and angry. Along with 5 gay men (who knew nothing about sewing), her team began to create what is now today considered the largest community arts project in history: the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Gert has not stopped sewing these past thirty-five years, helping everyone remember the unique lives and stories of those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS. 

Now you can help memorialize these stories. “The mother of the AIDS Quilt” invites you to join her at an upcoming quiltmaking workshop. No sewing experience is required!

  1. Every 2nd Saturday of the month at 543 Castro Street in San Francisco,
  2. Every 4th Saturday of the month at 130 Doolittle Drive, #2 in San Leandro

For more information, email


1. Write us a letter/send photos

Please take the time to write a letter about the person you’ve remembered. The letter might include your relationship with them, how they would like to be remembered, and a favorite memory. If possible, please send us a photograph along with the letter for our archives.

2. Fill out the panel maker information form and include it with your panel.

3. Send us your panel. Once your panel is completed there are several ways you can submit it to the National AIDS Memorial so that it becomes a part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Send it to us directly: National AIDS Memorial ATTN: New Panels, AIDS Memorial Quilt, 130 Doolittle Drive, Suite 2, San Leandro, CA 94577. Be sure to send it by registered mail or with a carrier that will track your package. We recommend panels be shipped via Federal Express or UPS. Or

Bring the panel to a Quilt display. Please be sure to contact the local display host first for more information on how and when they are collecting new panels (many displays accept new panels only on the last day of the event, while others are prepared to accept new panels at any time during a display).

Bring a new panel to one of our chapters. Your panel will stay in the community for up to three months, being used for education and outreach, and then will be sent to the National AIDS Memorial to be sewn into the Quilt.


No matter how you decide to turn in a new panel, please be sure to print out the panel maker information form, fill it out and include it with the panel. This information helps us to stay in touch with you and keep you up to date on both the panel and The Quilt.

How your panel becomes part of The Quilt

When a new panel arrives at our national headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is carefully logged and examined for durability. Some panels might require hemming to adjust for size; others may need reinforcement or minor repairs. Next, new panels are sorted – some grouped geographically by region, others by theme or appearance. When eight similar panels are collected, they are sewn together to form a twelve-foot square. This is the basic building block of The Quilt, and it is usually referred to as either a “12-by-12” or “Block.”

Once sewn, each 12-by-12 is edged in canvas and given a unique number, its “Block Number,” which makes tracking the block possible. All panel, panel maker and numerical information is then stored in our Quilt databases. Once this happens, you are sent information including which block the panel you submitted has been made a part of, how to request the block for displays of The Quilt, and a current display schedule.

The entire process, from our receiving the panel to incorporating it into a 12-by-12 in The AIDS Memorial Quilt, typically takes between 90 days and six months.

Please Consider Making a donation

If you are able, please make a donation to help pay for the cost of adding your panel to the Quilt. The National AIDS Memorial depends on the support of panel makers to preserve the Quilt and keep it on display. Gifts of any amount are welcome and greatly appreciated.

Questions? Email us at

“Thousands of people have died in San Francisco, millions in the world. The point of the National AIDS Memorial Grove is to remember them, one at a time.”

– Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Download the flyer. Learn about our Call My Name panel making program by emailing

Marking 35 Years of Love, Activism and Legacy

On June 11-12 the National AIDS Memorial displayed more than 3,000 Quilt panels in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for the largest display of the Quilt in more than a decade. Presented by Gilead Sciences, this event honored lives lost to HIV/AIDS and was a touching reminder that the fight for a cure is not over.
Learn about the June 11-12 display

See A Panel Online. Search for Names on the Quilt

The National AIDS Memorial, through a partnership with AIDS Quilt Touch, brings all 50,000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to people all around the world to experience each panel’s story, beauty, and love that represents one of the largest acts of activism and social justice. We invite you to search the Quilt, view each panel, search for a friend or loved one and share your story through our social media channels.


Email the Quilt team at

Latest Projects


Our work helps ensure that the 50,000 panels of the Quilt are cared for and protected so each name that is stitched into its fabric are cared for and their stories forever known to future generations.