Sometimes life calls for quilts…sometimes friends, family, and loved ones need to be wrapped in our love…even if we can’t be with them.
And sometimes people need to be wrapped in the love of more than one person…and when those times come a friendship quilt is in order.
I’ve had the privilege of putting together several of these friendship quilts and I love each and everyone. But with each quilt I’ve learned a little something to make the next quilt even better and today I’m going to share with you my biggest piece of advice for constructing these sweet quilts.
Tip #1. Don’t worry about what the end result is going to look like….this quilt is going to be CRAZY no matter what you do. When you have people writing and drawing on quilt blocks its going to be a hodge podge. That is part of the charm. Sooooo….pick some fun fabric, make it scrappy and just go with it.
Tip #2. Pre-cut charm packs (5 inch blocks) are THE BEST to use for these quilts. I usually buy a charm pack or two and then cut a pile of white 5 inch squares for everyone to draw and write on. Then I mix and match the autographed (message) blocks in with the fabric print blocks.
Tip #3. Encourage people to write or draw what ever they would like…but for have ideas in mind for those who want to make a block but “can’t think of anything” to put down on a block. (Remember When…How You Met…Favorite Thing About Them…etc.)
Tip#4. Let everyone make a block…young, old, good writing, bad writing…who cares…let anyone who wants to decorate a block make one. You will be surprised at the gems that are created.
Tip #5. Score each individual white quilt block with a pencil or fabric marker to show those who are decorating the block where your stitching line will be. (If not, they will write to clear to the end of the block and part of their message will be lost in the seam allowance when the blocks are sewn together.)
Tip #6. If Tip #5 seems like too much work at least make a stitching template that they can use to help guide them as they write…and be prepared for that template to get trashed. The photo above shows a template from the last friendship quilt I made and the photo below shows how it can be slipped under a fresh white square and used as a guide…even when it’s trashed. 🙂
Tip #7. Cut and prepare a lot more white squares than you think you will need. Some people will want to make two…some people will mess up and need to start over…whatever the reason you will need almost twice as many white squares as you think you will.
Tip #8. Quick is key. The faster you make this quilt the better. Get it cut, gather the autographed/message blocks, then get it sewn, quilted, bound, and DELIVERED. The magic of these quilts is in the delivery. So get them done!!! It won’t do the intended recipient of the quilt any good to just have those blocks piled up in a closet somewhere…stitch them together and give it away!
(Trust me…I know this from experience. The quilt in these photographs took me just over a year to get put together and delivered to some very dear friends of ours….that was TOO LONG…too long I tell you. They needed the quilt a year ago and that is when I should have finished it. So take my advice, learn from my mistakes….see the need, get to work, get it done, and GET IT DELIVERED!)
So there you have it…8 of my favorite tips for creating these fun friendship/autograph quilts.
I really do love these quilts…they are perfect for when friends move, when loved ones are in the hospital, graduations and weddings….and after you have created one and have watched the recipient read the blocks and see the love they feel from those who contributed to the quilt you will be looking for reasons to make more of them.
Trust me on this as well.
My mother-in-law’s church friends made one of these for her when she had cancer. She loved it so much, she wanted it to be buried with her. Good thing they stitched it up quickly!
Do you have a recommendation for markers to use for these?there are a lot of options that can be expensive, so if you have a brand that’s tried and true, I’d love to hear about it.
Sarah J says
I love these tips! I made something along these lines for my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and she loved it. I was worried about kids going all the way to edge of the charm squares so I used washi tape to secure the squares onto thin cardboard to encourage them to decorate only the area that would be seen. The cardboard also gave them a sturdier surface to work on and the tape helped hold the fabric securely so they could decorate them more easily. I used a white charm pack for the kids to decorate, but cut all the other 5″ squares– wish I would have just used all charm squares 🙂 It turned out to be one of my most favorite quilts I’ve ever made (kinda wanted to keep it for myself!).
This is such a great idea. My daughter graduates from high school next year. I think I will have her and her friends sign multiple squares and then I’ll make one for her and her two very best friends for a graduation present. Guess I should have them start soon as slow as I am about getting things done! And Sarah J, that is a great tip with the washi tape!
What markers do you use so it’s washable?
Little Quiltsong says
Thank you for these tips and sharing your quilt!! I’m still trying to find the proper pens that won’t smear or wash out. I have such trouble with that! Love the quilt that you made and what a great idea for so many different occasions!
What writing utensils do you recommend? Would love to make one.
Carolyn Kuespert says
I sewed simple dresses, pinafores, tops , skirts, slacks and shorts for our 3 daughters when they were little girls. I have many scraps of these projects still in my “Stash”. Perhaps I can gather enough to make a pillow or small quilt with them. I am a simple quilt maker and assist a group of seasoned quilters at our church. We make baby quilts for local NICU’s at two local hospitals. Sometimes 300 to nearly 400 per year are completed. It is a fun group to work with. I am learning from some local sewists..
Marcia G. says
Google permanent markers/pens for quilts.