Signature Blocks

I’ve done several types of signature blocks, so thought I’d update my tutorial on how to make a signature block for friends.  The basic kind I make (L)  is a small block, that the people in the Bees I participate in, send with their blocks.  The larger size (R) is suitable for a friendship quilt, which we made for our friend Lora when she moved away.

Cut one white, or light, 3 1/2″ square and two 2 1/2″ squares.  I like to use the fabric that was in my block that I sent. (Click on any circle to enlarge it.)

Place the smaller block on the top of the larger block, aligning corners, right sides together, and draw a diagonal line.  Stitch one-to-two threads away from this line, towards the corner.  This is the same technique used when making snowball blocks, in order to give room for the fabric to turn over the stitching line.  Trim off the excess corner, leaving 1/4″.

In Circle 1, I’ve trimmed away the excess fabric and pressed the block.  The center should measure about 1 1/2″ wide (Circle 2).  In the last circle (seen from the back), I pressed a scrap of freezer paper, shiny side down, to the wrong side of the white strip in order to stabilize the area where I’ll be writing.

I’ve made myself a card that I place underneath the white area, to help keep my writing aligned; I use paper clips to keep it in place. I use a Micron Pigma 08 pen to write.

What to write on a Signature Block that is included with bee blocks? In our bee, we suggest: Name, IG name, the date (in smaller writing) and the city where the quilter lives.

When making the larger signature blocks (quilt shown above), I used a 6 1/2″ white square and a 5″ contrast square.  It gave a good amount of room for Lora’s friends to write their names.  I did back every white part with strips of freezer paper, and collected signatures from all the church ladies to give her a good send-off.  Many wanted to write a message, but we encouraged them to just leave a signature.

I’m sure you can see the double stitching on the corner.  Because this was a larger block, I did two lines of stitching on those corners, 1/2″ apart, then cut right down the middle when I trimmed.  That yielded a sweet-sized HST to use for other projects.


Some time ago, I made myself a signature quilt, collecting names of those who were significant to me at that time in my life.  Some six years later, all these sweet granddaughters who signed a block (above) have grown up.

Silver and Gold, 2013

In this case, I used the center of the King’s Crown Block (also the basis for the popular Meadowland block that is currently all the rage; see below), sending around white blocks of fabric backed with squares of freezer paper all over the country, asking them to write their names in pencil (which I later traced over with my Micron Pigma 08 pen).

However or whatever your need for signature blocks are, I hope these tips are helpful!

KingsCrown_Meadlowland Quilt Blocks


Photo Gallery Label

Sampler Quilt 2015with Sigs
I’ve circled where I used my beemates signature blocks.
Signature Blocks19_11
This shows the signature blocks of my beemates set in the back of a recently finished quilt, like kiss marks (sweet thought!).
Piggies-signature blocks
I inserted the signature blocks in a row on the back of this quilt, with my “label” the same size and shape in lower left.



Lora’s Quilt

Lora Quilt_frontTo Lora, with Love
Quilt #139

Pieced by Elizabeth Eastmond, Quilted by Lisa J (Lora’s niece and my friend)

Quilt for Lora_quilt top

This was the quilt top, and it measures 54″ tall and 43″ wide, before quilting and binding.

Lora quilt with bow

Lisa was headed up to Utah to see her Aunt Lora, so after she finished the quilting and binding…

Lora Quilt Label

. . . she sewed on the label I made, wrapped it up and took it over to Lora’s assisted living center to present it to her.  (More about Lora’s situation can be found *here.*)  Lisa and her two daughters arrived the same time as a lot of other cousins, so the room was full.  As soon as Lisa brought out the quilt, Lora began to weep.  Lisa read the label to her — more tears — and by the time they unfurled it and showed all the signatures, nearly everyone in the room was crying, too.

Lora receiving quilt

A few days later, after Lisa finished telling me the story, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for thinking up the idea of the quilt, but really, we thought of it together.  I’m really glad we did, as it obviously brought the message to Lora that we loved her and cared for her.  And we do.




Moments of Friendship


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.

200 Quilts · Quilts

Silver and Gold Friendship Quilt


Silver and Gold
The Toni Jones Quilt
finished December 2013

Toni Jones moved into the house up the cul-de-sac from mine, a welcome addition to our neighborhood.  With her six children to my four, our houses were jumping when we got together, and we did that a lot.  Her mother lived with them, and the three of us women got along famously. One late summer day,  Toni gave me a jar of her homemade pickles, made from her mother’s recipe and which used grape leaves as the secret ingredient.  As a pickle lover, I thought I was in heaven and still have her recipe in my file, although I have never made them (grape leaves are not easy to come by).

We because close friends very quickly, as we tried to sort out the three main things that concern young mothers: will our children grow up to be good citizens?  how do we manage our marriages? and how can I lose this weight?  The first is a universal, the second was harder for me, and the third was harder for her.  Too soon, my husband took another job and moved us to California, where the marriage finally cracked apart, and we divorced.  Toni moved to a town further south of our Texas meeting place, got a job driving a bus to help out with finances and our letters and phone calls still resonated with the three questions, occasionally adding in a few more thorny conundrums, such as: will I ever marry again (mine), will we ever feel happy inside (both of ours), and can I clone myself to get everything done?

Then I fell in love, married and moved to Southern California.  She and her husband, mother and family moved back to the Midwest from where they’d first moved.  That fall I received a lovely letter from Toni.  She was noticeably slimmer, posed in a family portrait with her husband and children surrounding her like bright satellites.  She was all heart, that girl.  Her letter glowed with satisfaction: she loved the Midwest, happy to be “home” again, and everyone was doing well.  And yes, she’d canned some pickles and wished she could share.

I sent off my Christmas card in 2004, adding a scrawled a note and busied myself with preparations.  Shortly after the holiday, instead of her usual Christmas card, I received a letter from her husband.  He wrote that just before Christmas, Toni and her mother had been killed in a head-on collision on an icy road.  By the time the accident was discovered, they were both gone.  The news was stark, severe, sucking the breath right out of me.


Toni was the first woman close to me that had left too soon, and I resolved to capture all my friends, those who were close relatives, women who had mentored me.  I decided to make a quilt with everyone’s signature, my own memorial to Toni and to my friendships.


So many lived far away, so I ironed fabric to freezer paper, enclosed a letter giving instructions to sign the square in pencil, and included a self-addressed stamped envelope so I’d get them back.  Most did.  Other times, I carted my squares with me to family reunions, to church, to a therapist’s office, to quilt group, as I had made a list of women I needed and began checking off the names as  the squares grew.  Not all of my close friends are included, as I decided to limit it to a time frame, otherwise I’d never be done.



I gathered up all my granddaughters’ names this fall, and made them squares.


My mother, Barbara, and my daughter, named for my mother, are kitty-corner from each other.


I took the quilt to my quilter a week before Christmas and she turned it around quickly, so I could show my granddaughters when they came to visit.  Emilee, the oldest daughter of my son, beamed brightly when I showed her the square with her name on it.  Brooke, the four-year-old, wanted to sign another one, but I’ve left two blank in case my last son has daughters.


I had purchased the backing when I bought all the fabrics for the quilt, so it came together quickly.  I felt some urgency to finish it off, as this Christmas we celebrated my 60th birthday (it’s really not until January, but all the children were in town, so we did it early).  I hesitate to say the number, because I remember being thirty and thinking that sixty was the kind of number where people were shipped off to Old Folks’ Homes, fitted with canes, walkers and rocking chairs and consigned to a life of reminiscence.  But I am young in my mind (although sometimes the body doesn’t get the memo) and want to celebrate what I’ve learned and the people who have touched my life, providing instruction, guidance and a listening ear at critical junctures in my life.

So, with this quilt, I remember Toni.

With this quilt, I celebrate a lifetime of women.


This is Quilt #126 on my 200 Quilts List.

FinishALong Button

It is also a quilt from the 2013 FAL Quarter 4, hosted by Leanne, of She Can Quilt.

200 Quilts · Creating · Quilts

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

Well.  Almost the last week before Christmas (ten days to go, says the Advent Calendar on our fridge).

Dec MCM Bee Blocks

Given that I’ve been >>sick<< with ick and asthma and blah for too long, and that I have TONS of stuff to do, I leapt into action and made my bee blocks for December for Mary at Molly Flanders.  I mean, that is the prudent thing to do, right?

Dec MCM Bee Blocks_2

It was actually quite restorative working with old-fashioned prints and calming neutrals.  A whole lot more fun than trying to get the last of the Christmas decorations up (but I did finish them today, thank you very much).  I enjoyed the process.  One thing that our bee does, which I like, is that we make each other a signature block with our name, our blog name and our location and send it along with the blocks.  I have a row of signature blocks on the back of my Santa quilt (which has been idling all these past couple of weeks on my sewing room floor while I have graded and rested) which makes me smile when I see them.

Blocks all done

And maybe it’s because I have signatures on my brain.  Here are all the blocks for my signature quilt put up on my pin wall. They lack the sashing and the borders, but what fun to see a flower garden of my friends!

Mistake on block

Whoops.  I had to fix one of them.  Mind you, that block has been like that for nearly eight years, and I’m just now noticing it. What’s fun about working with signature blocks is that you think about the person who’s name you are holding.  Kendy would have a fit if her block were wrong, as she was always perfectly put together and perfectly modulated in all comportment.  (Look it up–I kid you not.)

Tracing Toni's NameI had one more signature that I had to get, and I couldn’t just contact her and get it lickety-split (more on Toni in a later post).  So I found her Christmas card from a few years back, enlarged her signature and traced it onto a prepared fabric square (a square of fabric that had freezer paper ironed to the back of it).

Toni's Block

Toni’s square, all bordered in greens.  She would be pleased.

Often at Christmas, all the relatives gather, or we go to their houses.  If you want to start a signature quilt, have a stack of squares ready for them to sign.  Choose a block with a wide open space for writing, and a simple frame for that signature.  Then cut the center square about an inch larger than you’ll need it, back it with freezer paper.  I drew the 4″ center square directly onto the freezer paper, so that it would show through and give people an idea of their boundaries.

I used a Micron .05 pen for people to sign their names.  Those who I couldn’t get (who lived too far away), I sent the block to them and had them write their name lightly, but legibly with pencil, and then I traced it in the Micron pen when it came back to me (I included a SASE so the blocks would come back).  I only had one that never returned to me, but then that woman get could get her dander up quickly, and she carried a grudge longer than anyone I’ve ever seen.  She was still wonderful to me, though, and I loved her.  I’m sorry she didn’t return the square.

Yes, all this quilt is women.  Relatives, friends, mentors, and the latest batch of my granddaughters.  At some point, I realized I had to cut off the additions, otherwise it would never be done.  So, with the exception of my granddaughters, I stopped adding, even though there are still people who are important to me without their names on my quilt blocks.  I love looking at it.  I drop it at the quilter tomorrow, and since my granddaughters are coming for Christmas, she has promised to have it done by the 23rd.  (I’ve already made the binding!)

Why did I start this?  Because of Toni.  I’ll tell you more about Toni, and why she was the inspiration for this quilt in another post–probably after Christmas, after all the company’s gone home!