Patches From the Past
Scraps of Fabric, Sewing & Quilting History

Making Quilted Memories With a Friendship Quilt

Friendship quilts were a way to stay connected with dear friends and relatives before the phone and Internet could keep us all connected. In our busy world very few traditional friendship quilts are being made. It is unlikely that all of a woman's friends would have the time or skills to make a block for the quilt. Probably the best way to make such a quilt today is for one person with quilting skills to make the quilt. People could sign their names on a piece of fabric before the quilter even sews the blocks together. In other cases everyone might sign a block on a finished quilt at a special gathering like a retirement party. Special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, and family reunions are ideal times for a friendship quilt.

Any block pattern with a space for signatures will work fine for a friendship quilt. The book, "Remember Me: Women and Their Friendship Quilts", offers the patterns for reproducing three vintage friendship quilts along with the stories of the women who made them. There are even sites online sharing friendship block patterns.

find this book at

In this new computerized world quilted memories have taken a exciting new turn. We can now print actual photos of friends and family on fabric using our computer. If you don't have the equipment for that you can have it done. Copy machine businesses often do fabric copies. Quilt and scrapbooking shops are beginning to offer this service. There are several books out on making photo transfer quilts.

Quilts incorporating precious photos have become a popular gift for 50th anniversaries. The quilt might contain photos of the couple's extended family or pictures of the couple through the years if their marriage. But there are many other purposes a memory quilt could serve. Perhaps a quilt of a teacher's class doing various projects would be a prefect retirement gift. How about a quilt for a child? Children love looking at pictures you have taken of them. It could include the child at play, with friends, fishing or opening birthday presents. What other ideas for a memory quilt can you imagine?

Although an old tradition is fading a new has begun. Like the earlier friendship quilts it takes time and effort to collect the photos for a quilt. It can be a challenge fitting them on the top, especially if they are different shapes. New patterns will evolve. We live in an electronic world but quilting prevails, it simply takes a new turn now and then.

2001 Judy Anne Johnson Breneman (Do not reproduce this article without permission from the author.)

Check out Kimberly Wulfert's review on "Keepsake Signature Quilts" for a great resource in making reproduction friendship quilts.

Recommended Website: Friendship Quilts: Signature Quilt History

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