Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Creating a Signature Quilt

My mom turns 80 years old on Friday.  To celebrate, I made her a quilt that contained signatures from the 36 members of her family.  This includes her brothers and their wives, her daughters, son-in-laws, the grandchildren and one granddaughter-in-law.

I'll share the finished quilt in Friday's post - on her birthday! - but today wanted to share today how I approached the process of designing the quilt.

Like many of my best ideas, there usually isn't much time between the idea of something I want to make and the opportunity for giving.  I started with several design elements (or restrictions.)

The first was to include 80 flying geese blocks.  Flying geese (the real kind) spark a special memory for my mom.

The second was I wanted everyone in the family to sign their name onto fabric.  In addition, I wanted to include some extra blocks with written memories from growing up.

The third was that the signatures needed to be the star of the quilt.  This was my first EQ7 design, rejected because I thought the geese were competing too much with the signatures.

After auditioning several scrappy fabric layouts in EQ7, I settled on a pretty fabric from my stash.  I knew mom would love the color and it wouldn't compete with the signatures.

Collecting Signatures

For this quilt, I had about two months to make the entire project before gifting.  32 of the 36 signatures needed to be collected by mail at twelve different addresses.

Into every envelope went:

  • a pen
  • a 4.5'' piece of fabric marked TEST so everyone could practice writing on fabric
  • a combination of squares and rectangles as needed in one plastic bag
  • a couple of extra of each size in a second plastic bag
  • a return stamped envelope
  • a second envelope to mail the project onto the next person
  • instructions with pictures to make sure everyone understood the concept of the 1/4'' seam allowance!

To prepare the fabric for writing, I ironed freezer paper wrong side of my neutral fabric and then cut this into  4.5'' squares and 2.5 x 4.5'' rectangles.

I found these pens from Amazon (affiliate link) and tested them first by sending fabric through the washer a few times.   (I just love how my son even tested out different formats of his signature!)

No package went to mom's house - a sister who lives nearby was tasked with getting my dad's signature in secret.

It was so much fun to get back all the signed fabric!

Everybody did their job and promptly signed and mailed things along on time.  I was very proud - and I'll admit - a little surprised on how well everyone followed directions.

Designing the Quilt

While I waited for the signatures to return in the mail, I started playing more with possible designs in EQ7, looking for a design that used 80 geese, ten 4.5'' squares and 35 (2.5 x 4.5") rectangles.  EQ7 gave me the opportunity to try many different things, including the design below which I never finished.

Once all the signatures had been returned, I stared playing around on my design floor as well as EQ7

I was finally able to settle on my final design after yielding one of my original design parameters - I made more geese.  

With the number of geese restriction lifted, the fun began and I started creating many different design possibilities.  I never drew the final one in EQ7 but this one is close to where I ended up.

I'll share the final quilt on Friday and my special quilt label.

Several friends offered guidance, options and encouragement along the way.  Since Mom reads my blog, I had to keep the whole project secret.  Thanks Kris, Frances and Paige!

Have a wonderful day! Patty


  1. That is a fabulous idea and I love that family was so eager to participate and return the signature blocks! :)

  2. Great idea for your Mom's special quilt and your execution just made it so special!! Wonderful Patty!

  3. What a great project and love how it turned out! I like that second idea also!

  4. This is such a great project and I have loved those pens for writing on fabric for a long time. This will be such a special gift.


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