November is family story month, and this quilt’s got my family talking. It’s a signature quilt with the names of my relatives, a special way to celebrate our family ties.
This is Kate from the marketing team, and today I’m sharing my latest quilt with you. For 74 summers, my father’s family reunion has drawn our kinfolk to the hot, scrubby land near Fredericksburg. This year, the gathering drew about 150 family members for camping under the old pecan trees. There’s practically no cell service, so everyone puts down their screens for a time to reconnect with one other. The kids play outside all day.
Signature quilts (also called album quilts) date back to the mid-1800s. They’ve long been popular for collecting signatures or messages on a quilt, often to mark a special occasion such as a wedding or graduation.
With the holidays around the corner, there will be many family gatherings and visits with friends. Those are perfect opportunities to collect signatures for a quilt! You can commemorate your New Year’s Eve gathering, make a quilt for a birthday or retirement gift. You can invite people to sign their names or write special messages for the recipient.
First off, I made a writing tablet of sorts to make it easy to write on the fabric. Fabric tends to move a bit when you mark on it, so I used a piece of fine grit sandpaper to grip the fabric.
Then, I cut a 1/2″ seam guide from posterboard in the same size as the fabric rectangle. By placing this over the fabric it keeps writing away from the seam allowance.
I secured the the seam guide, fabric, and sandpaper on a clipboard. I also provided a tester set up for people to practice writing on before committing to the fabric, and told my family to start writing in the middle and work out from there.
I brought a handful of Micron size 08 pens for writing on the fabric. They’re permanent and archival. But I’ve also read that standard permanent markers will do the trick, too.
I made my quilt using the Free Jelly Belly Bars Quilt Pattern in the 54.5″ x 60″ quilt size, with a small change to the layout. My changes are noted below in bold. This pattern is pretty flexible and comes in five sizes, so you can scale up or down easily.
- FREE Jelly Belly Bars Quilt Pattern
- Two Magnolia Flower Pot Junior Jelly Rolls by Lella Boutique for Moda Fabrics (or thirty-two 2.5″ x width of fabric strips)
- One Off-White Bella Solids Jolly Bar (or thirty-two 5″ x 10″ rectangles of background fabric)
- 5/8 yard of binding fabric (I used SKU# 1660-83)
- 3 5/8 yards of backing fabric (I used SKU# 5164-14)
- Pigma 08 Micron Pen
Gina Tell of Thread Graffiti did custom quilting, drawing leaves and swirly patterns in and around the signatures, and it looks beautiful! These are some work-in-progress photos from Gina where you can clearly see the quilting.
More Signature Quilt Ideas
Any quilt block with at least 2″ by 4″ of white space throughout will work. For my quilt, I chose a pattern with 4.5″ x 9.5″ of white space for writing and several size options because I wasn’t sure how many fabric squares we would use. There are many more patterns from Fat Quarter Shop that make excellent autograph quilts, and I gathered several pattern ideas on our Pinterest board!
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My signature quilt will become a cherished heirloom that reflects the fellowship and bonds of my family for years to come. Have you ever made a signature quilt or plan to make one? Drop a comment below and share about your project.
If you’d like to make a memory quilt with photos printed on fabric, here’s a free photo quilt tutorial you can check out.