Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Signature Quilts

Some of my favorite quilts are signature quilts. That's probably because they have such a sentimental element to them. I posted a picture of one that I made in my Facebook group the other day and then remembered a post I wrote here several years ago about these types of quilts.

Friendship Is a Sheltering Tree quilt from A Prairie Journey book

Linda Otto Lipsett, the author of the book Remember Me, Women and Their Friendship Quilts, tells us "Not until I made my own family  friendship quilt, however, did I realize the full depth of what I am doing - that in piecing blocks, gathering signatures, and signing cloth we are connecting with women's spirit of the past."  

The sentimental quilter in me also loves the stories some of the antique friendship or signature quilts tell. Besides names, they often held loving messages from friends and family. In 1853, Susan Tenney wrote on her signature quilt - "To Mrs M -- , "Remember all who love Thee and all who are loved by Thee.' "

Sometimes Friendship blocks came with wonderful long verses: 

"Accept my friend, this little pledge
Your love and friendship to engage
If ere we should be called to part
Let this be settled in your heart
That when the little peace you see
You ever will remember me."

                                 -  M.E.A.

This is the very first signature quilt I made (from my book Prairie Children & Their Quilts).

Here's another little signature quilt called Sisters Signature quilt. Replace the middle shirting fabric strips with muslin for signing.

* * * 

I've arranged or hosted several signature block swaps in my online groups over the years. These are wonderful ways to bring quilters together to share and preserve memories of friendships. By making, signing and exchanging quilt blocks. They're also a great way to celebrate special occasions or family events. 



In 1847, a woman named Betsey Wright opened an envelope addressed to her. She carefully unfolded a lovely quilt block with this inscription:

"Accept this trifle that I send,
Not as a stranger, but as a friend."

                      - Charlotte N. Follett,
               Hubbardson, Mass., 1847

You can imagine what a special gift that was to her and how it touched her heart, to hear from a dear friend who lived in another state. Over the years, I've often had a similar experience receiving signature blocks from members of some of my groups. But, like 50 times over, LOL. And some from different countries. 

Quilt made with blocks from all over the world. (pattern is in Civil War Sewing Circle book)

Someone in my group mentioned that they were going to try to do this among some of  the members in her sewing group. The blocks in a signature exchange do not have to be complex. Sometimes simple is better if you're making numerous blocks. I've participated in signature block swaps with over 50 members.  



                      Some blocks I've sent.


            Some blocks I've received. 

What strikes me is how special quilts like these can be and that we are, in some way, connecting our own spirit with the spirits of other women through our quilting. In the case of online groups, the signed blocks allow us to connect with quilters we may never have even met, not only from all around our country but perhaps the world as well. What a wonderful experience this can be for many. I hope you all get a chance to participate in making a signature or friendship quilt someday. I know I'll always treasure mine.

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Some of you e-mailed me that you would be interested in purchasing a pattern for the small needle case I made and posted last week.  I wrote a pattern and put up a listing in my Etsy shop. Sweet and simple. And small. I really love this one.


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