Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Capture an occasion with an album quilt

Signature block, album block, autograph block, memory block… whatever you call it, a quilt block with a personal note is a great way to commemorate a special occasion. It's an autograph book… in fabric!
Signature block.
Recently, a group of new quilters [they call themselves the "Squirrels"] wanted to surprise the owner of their local quilt shop, Pins and Needles, with signature quilt blocks to commemorate the shop's first anniversary. Since they were all beginners, they enlisted my help.
My signature block included a date, city and state.
I suggested that the Squirrels use this great block pattern that my friend, Janice Pope [Anything But Boring patterns], wrote. It was perfect for the "Secret Squirrel Signature Block Mission."

So, what makes a good pattern for a signature block?
  • look for a quilt block that has ample space for a personal message or for participants to sign their names. (The center square of this block finished at 3.75"). 
  • it's best if the signature area is surrounded (on all sides) by patchwork. This prevents people from writing in what become the seam allowances—especially if non-quilters are participating in the project.
  • a simple, graphic pattern (in this case, a star) is visually pleasing, will unify the layout and is manageable for quilters of every skill level.
  • a pattern that requires 2 (or at most 3) different fabrics or values (including the signature fabric) is a good choice. Variety will happen innately when the blocks are collected.
  • consider an appropriate block size relative to the number of participants. For example, fifty 12-inch blocks could make a queen size top (without any sashing or borders). Choose a block size that will produce the size quilt you want in the end. This block finished at 9".
  • you can choose a color scheme, or let everyone's personality come through in their fabric choices.
  • Keep it simple. The signatures are the star of this show!
This block pattern worked especially well because the star points floated. The blocks were constructed oversized and then trimmed to 9.5" (unfinished). All the beginners in this quilt group were successful!
Variety will be achieved from the fabrics chosen by each participant.
The shop kitties were represented in a block.
And the blocks were packaged and delivered in an inconspicuous box from a favorite local restaurant. The shop owner thought the group brought in a box of Marco's cheesy bread to share… and she even tried to warm it up in the toaster oven! (We stopped her.)
Blocks were packaged in a box from a favorite local restaurant.
Stacy, the shop owner, was surprised and touched. (The pouty face was her trying not to cry.)
Stacy (right) opens the box of quilt blocks.
Her daughter, Gabby, is on the left.
 Here she is reading the messages on the blocks.
Gabby (left) and Stacy (right) reading the signature blocks.
Want to make an album quilt? Here are a few tips:
  • Iron a piece of freezer paper on the back side of the block in the signature area. This will stabilize the fabric for writing.
  • Use a waterproof fabric marker (like a Micron .05) to write a message or sign your name. These pens are designed to work on fabric and come in many colors.
  • Include your first and last name and a date. Years down the road, you might not remember who "Jane" was. A date will help authenticate when the quilt was made.
Stabilize the signature area by ironing a piece of freezer paper on the back.
As for keeping a Signature Block Project a secret? You're on your own for that.

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