How to Make a Signature Block (for a Bee)

SignatureBlockFeb

In two of the bees I’m in, we ask for Signature Blocks to be included with each block we make for each other.  Here’s one of my earlier ones.  I’m writing this post as a tutorial for the newer members of our bees.

There’s been some pretty creative uses of these blocks:

Back of Table Runner

Signature Blocks — image from Susan of Patchwork N Play

 

Sampler Quilt 2015with SigsI worked them into the front of my Sampler Quilt (in magenta circles), a blatant copying of Carla’s inventiveness in an earlier quilt.

Signature Blocks on Susan’s quilt (Patchwork N Play)

So here’s how:

Signature square_1Start with one 3 1/2″ square (base) and two 2 1/2″ squares (accents).  We generally use the fabric from our blocks.

signature-block-triangles2A

Snowball them onto two opposite corners.

Signature block sewn cut

Trim off the excess, then press open.

Signature square_2 Signature Square_3

Press a scrap of freezer paper behind the center white band.  Because I have a long name and a long screen name (what I use on Instagram and on my blog), I’ve made a cardboard template that I slide under the signature area.  I like to sign my name, then my screen name, and sneak in a date.  Then last, I put my city and state.
Signature Square_4

I use a size 08 Micron Pigma Pen.  The freezer paper keeps it stable while I write.  Peel off the freezer paper and send the signature block with your beemate’s blocks.

Signature Block Jan

Moments of Friendship

collage

I had some enjoyable moments last week with friends and family, and a funny little moment in a fabric shop watching these two little future quilters in the lower right corner climb up the shelves of fabric.  I was also able to attend Andrew’s baptism at the age of eight, and I got all teary listening to the talks, the messages from the bishop of that congregation, and enjoying seeing my son interact with his sons (he has four boys).

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 8.35.54 PM

Another friend and I traveled to Roger’s Gardens in Costa Mesa (Orange County) to see their holiday decorations, newly revealed and loved all their arrangements.  But since we didn’t rob a bank before going, we took snapshots of a lot of them for you to enjoy (although I would have like to have sent you all that beautiful wreath in the upper right).

Signature Quilt Top

And to honor another friend, we finally gathered up all the signature blocks we needed in order to make a quilt for Lora.

Signature Quilt top2

Another reminder of how the weekend went was the chance I had to listen to still another friend who had just lost her father, and all the attendant issues that come with the dismantling of a childhood home, of caring for the remaining aging parent, of dealing with grief and loss.

listeningSome of us have known each other for 25 years or more, and like all friendships, our ties to each other have come about layer by layer and shared experiences and I have had a chance to reflect on why they had impacted my life so deeply. The salient characteristic was as Emerson described: they listened to listen.  They listened to learn.  They listened and then asked questions and our answers and questions to each other would ping-pong back and forth.

Bizarro About me and my stuff

They never listened to me in anticipation of getting the conversation centered back on themselves, a commonplace experience nowadays.  Slowly over time, like the process of building a quilt,  we learned about each other, the years sifting over us until we found ourselves at a dinning room table talking about seam allowances, a flood in a kitchen, how a child is doing in college, a child’s wedding.  Not all friendships can go the distance, and perhaps Emerson’s words are a golden nugget for me to think about again and again.  All I know is that time with a good friend is a treasure, and this past week I had more than my share.

Signature Quilt for Lora

Lora suddenly moved away and two of us in our church group decided she needed a quilt to remember us. One day she was here, puttering around in her house. Then a fall, where she wasn’t discovered, which led a brief stay in a skilled nursing home. Her children rallied round her and took her to live near them, where Lora can be cared for.  So I went looking for ideas for a signature quilt (see them at the bottom of this post), and decided on the basic signature quilt block since it needed to be put together quickly.  My friend Lisa (who is our friend’s niece) and I decided on a 6″ block.

Signature Block 1

For every signature block, cut one bigger square in a light color (so the signatures will show) and two contrast squares.  The dimensions are above.  You can see that I double-stitched the diagonal seam, the lines 1/2″ apart. I then cut in between that line so I could have some HSTs in case we needed more places for signatures.  In case you haven’t done one of these, the directions are:

1–Line up the contrast square with the light-colored square and sew a diagonal.  I use The Angler tool from Pam Bono so I don’t have to draw lines.  Stitch a batch of blocks, then go back in and stitch 1/2″ away.

2– Cut in between the two stitched lines, then press the contrast fabric away from the center white block.  (Set aside the cut-off triangle.  You’ll now have a growing stack of Half-Square Triangles  (HSTs) for another project!)

3– Sew the other side (which is what you see above).

Signature Block 2

Done.  I then cut a bunch of strips of freezer paper and ironed them on the back of the white strip, so to make it easier to sign.  We’ll have them sign with a Micron Pigma Pen .08 as it leaves a nice line.

This same process is the one I follow when we make Signature Blocks for our bee, only we use the light colored fabric cut to a 3 1/2″ square and the contrasting “snowball” blocks are 2 1/2″.  I don’t save the triangles on those.

Signature Block 3

I finished 74 squares this past couple of days.  Isn’t the fabric beautiful?  Lisa has a whole collection of batiks which she graciously contributed to this project.  (Yeah.  I contributed the Kona Snow.)

Signature Block 4

I signed mine so you can see what it looks like.

Signature Quilt 1

Here’s a signature quilt, pulled from the web (sorry, I don’t have the attribution), and they used their extra HSTs in the borders.

Signature Quilt 2Here’s another version, without borders.

Lora, in her earlier years, made wedding cakes.  The rich, the famous, the well-heeled, and well, all of the young girls in our church all sought out her cakes, because not only did they look elegant and beautiful, they tasted good.  Rich and yummy, full of vanilla fragrance and just the right amount of sweetness to make you come back for seconds.  Or thirds. For my daughter’s wedding, she also made a double-fudgey chocolate groom’s cake.  It was only at the very end, a year ago, that she gave two of us her secret recipe for the frosting, and the secret ingredient that made my kitchen smell like her cake was baking right there.  She also did flowers, interior decorating, and we loved it when she decorated the church hall at Christmastime for our church dinner, transforming it to a winter wonderland, making us all feel like we were the rich, the famous, and the well-heeled, instead a bunch of modest church-goers.  Lora did everything up Big.  Every year she would get the giant wreath out of the storage closet at our church, get a ladder and hang it up on the wall behind the speaker’s podium, arranging and re-arranging the red glass balls so they looked like someone just tossed them up there.  That look takes real skill.  Lora was part of the warp and weft of our church, and while some say she’ll be back, others say she won’t.

I think the reason why this affected us all so much is that within the space of a couple of weeks, Lora’s life spun around on a dime and her life in her home, which she had decorated in rich autumns and golds, was probably over.  That quickly.  Yes, she’d had some health problems.  Yes, we knew she was more frail.  But how our lives in our carefully curated homes end is not something any of us like to think about.  So a fall can happen, or a sudden health reversal, and like a flash, we can be taken from our collections, our quilts, our memories: a sudden shearing off of a life.  And what happened to Lora is right around the proverbial corner for all of us, and we know it.  So perhaps by making her this quilt, we are saying we understand.  To the best of our abilities at this younger times in our lives, our hearts ache for you.

With this quilt we are saying, Lora, you are not forgotten.