Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tip Tuesday! Signature Quilts

"Tip Tuesday!" - Signature Quilts

I love learning new things and then sharing that knowledge with my quilting friends. So, every Tuesday I'll provide some tips, hints, tricks, tutorials, shortcuts, etc. that I've learned over the years and share them here on the blog. 

"Tip Tuesday" will be a collection of information about a wide variety of subjects garnered from a large variety of sources.  I am not an expert by any means and do not take credit for being the great wizard behind all of these hints and tips. I will gladly give due credit whenever possible.

These tips will be archived and accessible to you just by clicking on the "Tip Tuesday" tab above. 

Read, enjoy, and be inspired! 

I don't know about you, but when something happens that is out of the ordinary, I immediately think about making a quilt. Remember the AIDS quilt? What about the quilts for the people affected by Sept. 11th? Sometime these quilts include messages to let the recipient know that you care and are thinking of them.

Often, we make quilts to memorialize events in life such as a graduation, a wedding, a special birthday, moving away, etc. These quilts consist of blocks that have been signed with names, either stitched or written with pen. Although Signature Quilts were very popular in the mid 1800's they went out of favor in the mid 1900's. Fortunately, they've seen a re-emergence in the last 10-15 years and that's a wonderful thing. 

Signature Quilts were common gifts given to a departing pastor and his wife, to a retiring physician or teacher, or to recognize an individual's years of service. It is still a common practice in many quilt guild to give their outgoing president a quilt, and it often includes signatures. Signature Quilts (along with T-shirt quilts) are common gifts for students entering college. Signature Quilts are also seen in many churches today. 

Here's a sketch of the quilt that is being constructed to honor the 150th anniversary of our church. Various blocks were made and church members signed in the white area of each block. (All of the blocks have signatures, but I don't have a picture of the quilt so this EQ sketch will have to do. Inside the center wreath is a panel with the church name and important dates.)

Signature Quilts have been used as fundraisers for many years and were known as Dime Quilts because it cost 10 cents to add your name to the quilt before it was auctioned or raffled off. A contemporary example of the Dime Quilts, although it costs much more than a dime to sign them, are the various cancer awareness quilts. The purpose of these quilts is not only to make money to support the cause, but more importantly to make the general public aware of the issue.

Just about any block or quilt layout can be used for a Signature Quilt. As long as the blocks or quilt have open space for signatures, it can be used. Below are the most recent Signature Quilts I made. Click HERE and HERE for the back story of these quilts. 

There was no real block for this quilt, just a lot of open space for signatures.

Heart Quilt - 2.5"  squares - Signature Quilt

Here is a close up of some of the signatures. As you can see, they go every which way, which is what I wanted to have so no matter how this quilt is laid out, at least some signatures will be easily read. 

Heart Quilt - 2.5"  squares - Signature Quilt

Here's Paige's quilts. The signatures were mostly contained to inside the heart, on the alternating strips of fabric. I asked for that to be done so Paige knows that her friends will always be with her.  

Heart Quilt - 2.5"  strips - Signature Quilt

Here's the close-up of these signatures. Again, they are not all written right-side up, which is fine with me. 

Heart Quilt - 2.5"  strips - Signature Quilt

In the last five years, I have made at least ten Signature Quilts. I've made them for a variety of reasons, but they are always a big hit. I have taught a few classes on how to plan a Signature Quilt and one of the first questions I am asked is what kind of fabric to use.

Generally a heavy thread count fabric is suggested for use on the areas that will receive the signatures. It is easier to write with the heavier fabric and it generally looks better. Even though white or off-white fabric is the most commonly used fabric, any fabric can be used as long as the print does not interfere with the process of writing or distract from being able to read it.

The next question is usually about what kind of pen or marker to use. Pigma pens or other indelible pens should be uses for the signatures, as they will be permanent and not bleed. Do not be tempted to use a regular Sharpie or other marker that does not state it is for fabric. They often bleed or cause shading around the signatures and make it difficult to read. I have used and like Pigma Micron, Zig Fabricolor, and EZ Quilting Permanent Markers.

Zig Textile Markers   

EZ Quilting- Permanent Fabric Markers

No matter which pen or marker you choose, ALWAYS test before gathering signatures. This test should include not only the actual writing, but the washing as well. (Read the instructions carefully. Some markers need to be heat set while others need to "rest and set" for 48 hours before being washed.)

And the final question I am usually asked has to do with how to gather the signatures. I am not a fan of sending blocks in the mail simply because I always end up with a couple of blocks on which the person did not follow the instructions. Those blocks become a challenge with which to work and often require another block mailed out to be signed. I understand that there sometimes you have no choice but to mail the blocks, but if that is the case, I try to be very clear with the instructions on signing. 

I try to always have the blocks constructed before gathering signatures to avoid the possibility of someone signing in the seam allowance area. If the blocks are not pre-made or there is a chance that someone will sign along the outside edge of the block, it is advisable to be very explicit about the location of writing and I often use a water-soluble pen and draw a line representing the seam allowance. That creates a "window template" to control the writing.

I also try to stabilize the writing surface so the signatures look nice. Freezer paper is a great way to stabilize the fabric and to do this, I simply iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the area to be signed and remove it before sewing it to the quilt. I've also used wide painters tape instead of freezer paper and that works well. 

No matter what fabric or pen you use, Signature Quilts are fun to make. They are a wonderful way to commemorate special events and provide a terrific historical "document."

This post is linked to
Freemotion by the River 

Check it out for other linked posts!


Vroomans' Quilts said...

A wonderful, informational post.

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

Thanks for sharing all the information on making a signature quilt!