I’ve gotten a few requests for thoughts on how I made my wedding signature quilt – so I’m compiling my answers here. Below is the wedding signature quilt from my wedding. You can read more about it here. If all this sounds like too much work, you can just order a quilt from me here!
- Fabric Markers and maybe Fabric ink and stamps
- Freezer paper and iron
- Masking tape
- Possibly fusible webbing (I like Pellon Wonder Under)
- Quilting ruler
- All the other things you need to make a quilt (i.e. sewing machine, rotary cutter, etc.)
Step one: Pick a Fabric!
Essentially, any quilt with light colored spaces can make a signature quilt. I used colored and white squares for my signatures, and I’m so glad I did. The standard is white for the signature squares and colors for everything else — but what about using colors for the signature squares and white for the blank background? I think it could look awesome! But, anyway, the main thing you need besides a fabric color that your marker will show up on, is fabric that is 100% cotton and also a fabric that will definitely work with whatever the manufacturer of your fabric markers recommends!
Step Two: Get Some Fabric Markers!
I saw FabricMate markers recommended online, and I recommend those. They write well with nice color. They are essentially a fabric dye, which means the dye may fade over time with many washings like any other fabric. I have washed this quilt 4 times and there is zero fading. As you can see, they allowed my guests to express their varying levels of artistic ability (including the above image of Paula Poundstone).
I also have washed and had good results with VersaCraft ink for stamps – NOTE THIS NEEDS TO BE HEAT SET. The FabricMate markers don’t need to be heat set, though I did anyway, by ironing all the squares and then running the whole thing through the dryer BEFORE washing. One fun option could be to set out some alphabet stamps and random cute stamps with an ink pad for people to play with. I forgot to do this at my wedding. Oops!
Step Three: Pick a Pattern!
If you can’t decide which quilt pattern you want, no worries! My tutorial will allow you to procrastinate this decision until after the wedding when you have way more time to waste staring at quilt patterns.
Some people make the quilt first and then have people sign it, but I wouldn’t recommend that – because you never know when people will get crazy and write all over the wrong part of the quilt, or spill wine on it, or, golly, have you been to any weddings? I’m sure you can imagine the terrible things that could happen to your quilt! So, I would instead bring unpieced blocks to your event, and then make the quilt after the fact with what tattered remains you can gather after your joyful guests scrawl sweet but sometimes insane messages all over them.
There are two types of quilts you could make – the first is an Applique quilt – this involves cutting out shapes and sewing (appliqueing) them onto your fabric. The quilt to the right has the world “Love” and the leaves/vines appliqued on. The squares around the outside are pieced. I made this quilt to be married in front of, so I kept it pristine, but it would have made a fun signature quilt. I could have had guests sign the blocks that make up the border or the words love.
Most signature quilts, however, use a Pieced Quilt Block.
With these, the basic rule is that you want to pick a pattern that has a ‘blank’ center block – this is your signature block. There are approximately a bagillion quilt blocks that are built around a center block – and this random quilt block generator (which is amazing, btw) will show you most of them. An example of a pieced block with a center block is this basic 9-patch quilt.
I like the shooting star because you have a number of different placement options for the same simple block, as you can see in my super fancy elaborate drawing I mocked up in MS Paint. You can also make the corner squares bigger and totally change the look of the block.
But, you don’t have to follow the rules! All you really need is a quilt with some places to write on it. Beverly St. Clair at Genome quilts has some great examples of non-traditional signature quilts. I also think her genome quilt would make an awesome wedding quilt for a science-y couple – maybe not the hepatitis virus genome though!
Another super simple option is the Chinese Coins Pattern and assorted variations.
Step Four: Create your signature blocks!
My final signature blocks were 3.5×3.5. I used .25 inch seam allowances on each side, which meant the total block was 4 inches cut out before sewing. This was more than plenty of room for drawings, messages, and etc.
APPLIQUE! If you are doing random shapes that will be appliqued instead of pieced: Say, leaves or hearts or butterflies or birds or clouds or other nice shapes that people will sign and you will later apply to fabric in a pleasant design, then you would want to iron your fabric to fusible webbing, then draw your shapes onto your fabric and cut them out. After they are signed, you will then construct your quilt using raw-edge applique.
Assuming you are using squares that you will be sewing together using seams:
Gather fat quarters and/or half yards of fabric and back them by ironing on freezer paper to make them stiffer and easier to write on. Then run 1″ masking tape in lines to make a grid with 3.5 inch squares of fabric exposed (or whatever size you want your squares to be (see picture).
I used a half inch border around the edge. A Fat Quarter is 18×20 and could hold 4 rows x 4 rows of these blocks (16 total) with some wiggle room. You can use full yardage, but I recommend cutting the fabric down to more manageable sizes.
The tape made sure there was no way for people to write in the seam allowance for the squares. Using the 1″ tape gave me a flexibility to square up and center some of the way off signatures.
After the wedding, I pulled off the tape and the freezer paper and used my quilting ruler to cut out 4 inch squares. I then pieced together this super simple blocky quilt. It was fun, colorful, and summery – just like my wedding!
Here are some other quilts I’ve made that I think could be modified to be wedding signature quilts:
1. Organic Windmill Quilt, 2. Wonky Star Options, 3. Wedding Signature Guestbook Quilt In Progress, 4. Quilt from “Stitched from the Soul: Slave Quilts from the Antebellum South.”, 5. It’s coming along. , 6. Flying Geese Mountains Quilt, 7. Circles and squares, 8. Pansy quilt post washing, 9. Henry and Dinosaur Quilt