Sunday, July 21, 2013

Autograph Quilts Revisited

Since my last post I've been doing some more work on autograph quilts, looking for patterns to use for blocks to take to several retreats and conferences that are coming up for me this Fall.  There are many choices, but over the years I've developed some criteria by which I evaluate a block.  From experience I have learned that a good block for signing, especially by non-quilters, should:

1) have enough room for them to sign.  We're accustomed to signing on some pretty short lines on myriad forms we have to sign, but quilt blocks seem to be different.  Maybe they seem more daunting, particularly to those who haven't done it before, and people are afraid they'll mess it up.

2) have "boundaries" for the signing built in.  It's not reasonable to expect people to allow for a 1/4' seam, even if you ask them to, or explain why.  It is much easier for everyone if the piece they are signing is already pieced, all the way around, into the block.  My retirement signature quilt had a bounded piece for friends to sign, and it seemed to work perfectly.

3) be a shape as close the to a rectangle as possible.  (Though, the larger an odd-shaped piece, the easier it seems to be; see #1)  I've asked people to sign diamond-shapes, in a Square-in-a-Square, and it's harder to "map out" how to fit your signature into the shape.  After the fact, of course, I realized that I would probably be scratching my head, myself, if faced with a small-ish diamond shape.

4) have some sort of backing to stabilize the fabric.   It could be freezer paper ironed on the back. or a piece of foundation fabric on a string-pieced block, or the paper foundation of an English Paper Piecing piece.  One of my quilting friends said that painter's tape could be used instead of freezer paper.  I haven't tried that but I don't know why it wouldn't work.  I think you wouldn't want to leave the tape on for very long, though.

So, here's the design I've chosen for the next quilt; they'll be signing the larger hexies, which will be pieced around the paper templates but not yet sewn to the stars.  That means that I can have the 120 two-inch hexies basted ahead of time but won't have to worry about having all the stars finished.  That many hexies and stars will make more than one quilt, so one quilt will have blue and purple stars and the other will have....something else, to be decided later.  That's the beauty of this one--I can do the signed pieces ahead of time and finish it up later.  

 It wins 3-1/2 stars:  the hexies are 2" on a side so they're large enough; they have boundaries built in (the pieces are whip-stitched together, so seams are already set by the basting around the paper); it isn't a rectangle but at least they aren't sharp points to work around they're big enough to mitigate that issue; and they stabilizer is also built in, in the form the paper that the fabric is basted around.

(Oh, and as a bonus, this can be another sample for the English Paper Piecing class!)

What blocks would you nominate as good signature blocks?

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