Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Signature Friendship Quilts

As mentioned in my last post, our program at Monday's meeting of Piecemakers Guild was a presentation of antique and vintage signature quilts by quilter and teacher Peggy Gelbrich whose website is Yellow House Quilter.  Peggy has had quilts published in Quilters Newsletter and Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting, as well as having been nominated for Teacher of the Year for Professional Quilter magazine.

Peggy's long-time interest in the history and significance of signature quilts in the lives of our foremothers has led her to collect a wide variety of these quilts and to research their origins. Also known as friendship quilts,  I believe the earliest one in her collection dated to the mid 1850s.  She graciously allowed me to share some of my photographs of her quilts here.  I was so busy trying to capture images of these quilts that I didn't take notes of her comments regarding individual quilts, so without further ado, enjoy the beauty and occasional humor of these wonderful examples.

Each of the embroidered wheels in the example above contains sixteen signatures between the spokes!  Although the entire quilt is not pictured, it appears there are well over 700 signatures on this early quilt!

Peggy traced the applique outlines of the above quilt and is currently creating a reproduction.  Note the faded areas where the colors now appear brown or tan.

 This sampler quilt had a couple of independent-minded stitchers - note the deviation from the conventional white background on two of the blocks!

A delightful modern signature quilt Peggy received several years ago from a group of friends, the signatures appear on the free-floating teabag tags.  Note also the free motion quilted cup and saucer in the top row.
A beautiful embroidered example, and my very favorite block (of course!) shown below.

Peggy made available a handout containing books and articles about signature quilts.  Among these are two books by Linda Otto Lipsett that are in my collection:  Remember Me, Women & Their Friendship Quilts and Pieced from Ellen's Quilt.  Both are excellent reads for anyone who loves the history of early quilts.  A third book also by Linda Otto Lipsett that also contains several friendship quilts, along with patterns for some of them, is To Love & To Cherish: Brides Remembered.   

We all enjoyed a delightful afternoon surrounded by these quilted treasures.  You can see a gallery of Peggy's quilts as well as patterns she has available and her workshops by visiting Yellow House Quilter.


  1. How fun!!! Those are amazing signature quilts as well. I love the idea of the teacups for a signature block.

  2. I'm totally fascinated with the spoke wheel signatures....amazing! All are gorgeous and treasures for sure. Thanks for the great photos!! Hugs, Doreen

  3. You got some great shots here!

  4. Many designs here that I would never have considered for a signature quilt, but now see through different eyes. I especially love the baskets!

  5. WOW!!! What a fabulous quilt show!! It looks like it was a lovely time and what a joy to see!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think signature quilts are my very favorite. Did they happen to say the name of that second quilt?


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