Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hugs from friends: signature quilts

Friends and colleagues signed quilt blocks instead of a guest book at my retirement party last month, and today I finished the binding.  Binding is always a wonderful, meditative activity for me but this one was even more special as, sitting under the quilt as I sewed, it felt as if I were being hugged by all of those friends.
(BTW, the display rack I now use for photgraphing quilts is fabulous--I can set it up and make all the adjustments by myself; I bought it from Craftgard.)

Autograph and signature quilts have long intrigued me and I have made occasional forays--or, at least starts, into signature quilts.  I am thinking about doing a series of classes on signature quilts and various blocks and have dug out some pieces from those forays/starts.

Fifteen years ago I made traditional Chimney Sweep blocks for visitors to my home to sign.  I don't remember why I stopped making them, whether time or sheer forgetfulness or who knows what, but I have enough of them to make a small quilt--provided I do alternate plain blocks.  I am still working on layout and fabrics (and pressing!) for the alternating blocks and side triangles but it will be finished.  Sooner or later--and now I'm sure it will be sooner!

Some years later I embarked on another signature quilt project, again from people visiting my home (which, by this time, was a house instead of an apartment).  I remember liking this one very much, and the blocks would certainly take less time to make but, again, it went by the wayside.  It re-surfaced, coincidentally, a couple of weeks ago and looking at it now I can see that I am a better piecer!  It will be something of a challenge to put these blocks together accurately but I would like to resurrect this one for visitors to my home.  I have some catching up to do!

My retirement was from public employment and I am enjoying my new "job" (how can you call something that is so much fun a "job"?) as a quilt teacher and designer.  I love teaching, and learn so much from students; I'd love to have autographs from students in the classes I teach and I have started yet another signature quilt.   I have a bit of catching up to do, from a few classes that I have already taught at Cut Up and Quilt but I'll start with the classes I have coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Many years ago I started yet another signature quilt. (Are you seeing a trend here?  It's time to break that trend, don't you think?)  This was an applique quilt, with autographs from librarians attending an annual continuing education retreat in a woodsy setting.  Each librarian signed a leaf made of fabric, to be appliqued to....well, that was the problem.  I never made a decision about what the background would be.   There's something abstracty in the back of my mind and one day soon it will come to the front and manifest itself.  :-)   (I DO know where the leaves are.  That's a point in my favor, I think.)

I also have a plan in mind for autographs from people who may be part of larger gatherings.  With luck, that will be ready for a short return into my pre-retirement library world this fall.  We'll see how that goes.

The signature quilts are wonderful reminders of places and events of my life but, more importantly, of the people.  Looking back at the names on the older blocks I remember friends who have passed out of my life, one way or another, as well as those who are still a vital part of it.  They all piece together into my life, past and present.  And in the future the quilts that friends are signing now will remind me of these days, and the part of my life that bring me to that point.   I will be hugged, even when I am alone.  

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