Sunday, March 25, 2007

Signature Quilts ....(I love a quilt that can "talk" !)

I LOVE Signature Quilts (also known as Album Quilts, Friendship Quilts, and Memory Quilts) . I first read about this type of quilt in the book I posted a picture of "Remember Me --- Women and Their Friendship Quilts" by Linda Otto Lipsett. Seems back in the pioneer days (around 1830's /1840's) when their husbands got the bright idea that it would be GREAT to pack up everything that could fit in a covered wagon and MOVE their wives (who were probably pregnant , just to add to the fun) to the far off wilderness to start a homestead completely from scratch, AND just to top it off, they could probably count on never seeing their families and friends that they left behind back east ever again. So, as going away gifts, and also to provide probably the only link to their former lives , many women were given "Friendship quilts" (aka signature quilts, album quilts, memory quilts). The quilts were often made up of blocks that had a blank area which allowed a place for a signature. I posted a picture of a signature block I made for a quilt that was being made for a lady in our little local quilting group. She and her husband were retiring, selling their house, buying an RV and were going to galavant around the country and Mexico. (Besides our little quilting group, I knew her because she was a teacher's aide in Evan's 5th grade class --- I'm hoping her decision to retire and get out of town had nothing to do with having my kid in her class room..... just in case, I thought I should do my best job on the signature block for her quilt!). Anyhow, I just love the history of signature quilts and how they can be a record of your own history. I decided to make a signature quilt for my niece Katie for her high school graduation. I made a bunch of blocks with plain muslin centers and sent them to her (she lives in Florida). At her graduation party, she had all of her friends and family sign a block and some also wrote little messages. The rest of the blocks were mailed to friends and family who weren't at the party. Well, of course this simple project wound up taking a teensy bit longer than planned..... so the picture of me (the one with the gross hair) and Katie holding her FINISHED quilt, finally occurred last July (a mere 4 years after I started it -- just in time for her college graduation!!! ) The other picture is of the label I sewed on the back of Katie's quilt. I'm sure you've all heard it a million times that we should always put a label on the quilts we make , with the names of who made the quilt for who, where and maybe why -- so that 100 years from now, somebody looking at the quilt won't be wondering about that stuff. Now, 100 years from now, I'm not quite sure what somebody would think if they read the label I put on Katie's quilt ... it has one old lady saying to the other " I hear it took her 4 years to make this quilt!" and the other lady says :" Well really !! some people are just slower than molasses in January!"

Anyway, if you're like me (i.e. apparently having so much to say that I'll never get it all said in this lifetime, and I need my quilts to continue talking for me after I'm in that great quilt shop in the sky -- or at least I hope that's where I'm going....) and you want to read more about signature quilts, you can type "signature quilt" in on Google and a bunch of sites come up (sorry, I still don't know how to do "links" in a post.....)

Mary Anne (aka Mare)


Busy Little Quilter said...

I love signature quilts, too. I will have to post some on my little blog (yes, I made one. I'm too embarrassed to show anyone. No pictures, yet. That's my new goal for this week.) I have one that I won in my guild. Everyone who made a block signed their block, our names were put in a hat, and the name that was drawn won the quilt(someone took the blocks and made them into a quilt). I won!!!

I also make signature quilts for my grand babies first Christmas', or anything special.

The quilt you made Katie is gorgeous.

I will post mine on my blog as soon as I learn how to do pictures, and as soon as I let my guard down and let people see "me".

Jenni said...

Love the history of quilts - you are lucky to have such a rich history of quilting in the States. I would love to see some old quilts in the flesh, not just in books. And I can't even see your hair!

Heidi H said...

Hello. I came across your blog this evening and had to say hello as I am a big fan of signature quilts. They are such treasures. I own a historical signature quilt created in 1928 in what is now Minnesota smallest town (population 6!)I have just written a book about this quilt and also tell the stories about just a few of the 530 people whose names appear on the quilt. The quilt was created as a fundraiser (a dime per signature) for a cook stove in the dance hall in Tenney. If you or any of your readers are interested in the book (which will be available around November 10 from the publisher), they can contact me at If not, that's OK too - just wanted to say hello to fellow signature quilt lovers.
Heidi H

mnquilter said...

I was searching for some new signature quilt patterns and came across you site.

I really like the signature quilt that you made for your niece Katie.

Do you have the name of the pattern, I would like to make it for my daughter who is graduating this year.

jake said...

I've researched the signature block because I have 4 that were made by my grt-grt-grt-grandmother for my grandmother on her 1st BD. I was able to recreate these blocks that are very different from yours, as I'm sure there are many variations. I am a member of an ancestry site in which I have "found" numerous cousins, many times removed. You've given me an idea to make a quilt with all their names and relationships to my grt-grt-grt grandmother. Thanks for the unique idea. Jake