In 2004 I began trading signature blocks with other quilters of the world via the Dear Jane quilt list. (Google Dear Jane. Prepare to be amazed.) I used to love swapping with these awesome people all over the world and made quite a few quilts from different swaps. My signature blocks are made using a square pattern that was in the original Jane Stickle quilt which was made in Vermont in the time of the Civil War. This quilt now lives at the museum in Bennington Vermont and is only on view in the autumn months. There are signature block designs of all shapes that have been made for hundreds of years by parish women for their pastors, by friends for families who were moving, for raffles and weddings and other occassions.
When I discovered Dear Jane, there was no Facebook or Instagram but there were mailing lists where people shared their stuff, art, quilts, writitng, expertise – ad infinitum, and some blogs. I found the Dear Jane list through an article in the NYT that was about retailers who only sold one thing. The article linked to a store in Amsterdam that only sold Dutch Reproduction Fabrics. In their eshop was a Quilt Book called Dear Hannah which was written by the author of the Dear Jane book, Brenda Manges Papadakis. Brenda, a math teacher, was entranced by the quilt and created her book based on the patterns of the quilt. Sadly both books are now out of print but there is a software disc if you wish to become addicted. Thousands of quilts have been made usng the patterns in these blocks. There was one yellow and gray version that won the 2017 International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. A quilter named Linda Franz even made a version which elongated the blocks into diamonds and wrote an amazing book called Quilted Diamonds. (This book taught me how to hand piece.) I still have all of my books.
This tangled thread changed my life and I was forever stitched into the world of amazing Dear Jane quilters some of whom I have traveled the world to visit and others who quietly stitched the four and a half inch blocks in my very own local quilt guild.
This was all brought to mind recently when a quilter whose blog I follow mentioned she is looking for some signature blocks for a quilt she is making. So you can thank Karen for this trip down Quilty Lane. Karen makes amazing beautifully hand quilted quilts!
Below is my “siggie” quilt with blocks collected over the years from all corners of the USA mainly and as far away as Australia. I also had family members sign some of the blocks and even one little girl who lived next door 🙂 So. there you have it. And I will be sending my siggie block to Karen soon.