friendship quilts & thoughts | activism

tumbling blocks friendship quiltimage from The Metropolitian Museaum of Art.

Last month I borrowed a book from the London Modern Quilt Guilds roving library on friendship quilts.

friendship quiltThen I saw this quilt above on Pinterest from Hooked on needles, it got me thinking about the possibilities.  It would also be a wonderful idea wedding gift – with everyone attending the ceremony signing. Or children’s hands as a teachers gift, so many ways to interpret the idea.

friendship quilt

image from

A fantastic make for a guild, group of friends or bee and then I started to search for more ideas and the history behind them.  There appear to be two kinds of signed quilts, a friendship quilt was usually made of several blocks from the same pattern and the more formal quilts are album quilts made from many different blocks.

friendship blockimage via

The quilts originate in the USA from the mid 1800’s, at a time if loved ones moved away, they rarely returned home to see their families. The pioneers were also quilters and as part of their preparations were required to take 3 quilts or blankets for each child, man or woman making th,e journey.

friendship star tutorial

image source

I supposed, that the quilter would make a block, sign it and for it then to be used to make into a friendship quilt. Although this was a common, there were other ways a friendship quilt could be created. Sometimes one person collected scraps of fabric from others, made a block from each person’s contribution then signed each block with that person’s name.  This would have taken several years to make and often blocks were kept for many years before being made up into whole quilts.

wagon wheel signature quilt

image source

The embroidered quilt above I found on Etsy and is a twist on the theme.  Although we in Great Britain have a long and rich history of quilt making, dating back to the middle ages, friendship quilts don’t appear to have been part of our quilting heritage.

jigsaw craftivist collectiveimage source

I saw a piece on Craftivisit-collective in Red’s May edition, the jigsaw fabric pieces caught my attention.

Jigsaw-craftivistimage source

Made with fabric and embroidered with wonderful inspiring words in support of Save the Children’s race against hunger campaign.  So with friendship quilts, fabric jigsaw pieces, craft activism whirling around in my head – ideas are becoming more formed about how I ‘d like to progress with this.  I did wonder if anyone else would be up for making a block – signed, initialed or with a quote to be made into a quilt and would when finished be auctioned off and all funds donated to UNICEF.  I thought the simplest way would be a quilt baced on the Purl Bees’s Agate quilt, so a 3 3/8th inch square with what ever message, quote, inital or name inside and I will make it up.  If there are a few people interested in London will hold a sew day at my home and people can drop in at any time to stitch a square.  Please email me or leave a message below if you’d like to join in.


3 thoughts on “friendship quilts & thoughts | activism”

  1. Not sure if you’ll see my FB comment so thought I better comment here too – yes! Wonderful idea, I’m in!


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