Gallery of Party Quilts
This Missouri quilt artist's webpage is a
glorious riot of color and design, celebrating a multiplicity of Jewish
events. Below is a party quilt
she made for a Bat Mitzvah. (Guests signed the light hexagons. The
center is an open Torah with the name of the girl's parsha, Vaygash). See more of
Berta's vivid work
http://www.jewishart.org/fabric_art/quilt.html. Her email address is
A Family Reunion on Fabric
In advance of a family reunion, Elaine Martin of
North Platte, Nebraska made a small quilt from on-point blocks. She
alternated plain white blocks with bowtie blocks, made from madras plaids,
to reflect the rural origins of her family.
"In the center plain square, I printed the
names/dates for the ancestral couple from whom the reunion attendees all
generate," she explains. In the next circle of white blocks, she printed
their 10 children's names and dates. In the third round, she listed
members of the current generation .
At the reunion, family signed the blocks
next to the area Elaine had printed their names. "The guests had a lot of
fun finding their ancestry lines," Elaine says. "It was a great conversation
piece for adults and kids alike." The finished quilt, she adds, "makes a
wonderful table cover in my home as well as a fun remembrance of that
reunion." Elaine’s email address is
The Leaves Are Coming!
Sue Feinberg of Altadena, California ALMOST finished
this quilt featuring a Tree of Life, in time for her daughter Rachel’s bat
The quilt was batted, backed, quilted and hung on
the wall of her living room during the party. (Along the top of the quilt
is the date of the event. Rachel, a modest adolescent, refused to allow her
mother to put her name there.)
What was left unfinished? That tree. As in the
picture, it was mostly bare---just a few leaves, with photographs of
immediate family members on the branches.
Seventy-five more leaves, cut out and backed with
paper-backed fusible web, were set in a basket, on a low chest in front of
the quilt. There were also pens, and a sign with instructions.
Sue held the party after her daughter's bat mitzvah
in her back yard. Getting from the front door to the back yard required
walking through the house. The Mexican food was fabulous, so most of the
adults stayed in the back, chowing down. In the front yard, there was a
rented karaoke machine, so that's where the teenagers gathered.
In the meantime, the quilt and the basket sat in
the living room,
lonely as clouds. There were two routes to the back yard, the kitchen and
the living room, and most people apparently chose the kitchen route
I cared deeply about this quilt, not only because
Sue is my dear friend, but because I had spent much of the previous week
machine-quilting it for her! So when, halfway through the party, I peered into the living room
and saw that very few leaves had been signed , I knew I had to spring into
Like an overgrown Red Riding Hood, I seized the
basket of leaf appliqués, and the pens, and then went from table to table,
asking people to sign the leaves, and explaining why.
But one thing still went wrong. A couple of people
couldn’t tell the difference between the fabric, and the paper backing. So
they signed the paper side. Sue later traced their signatures onto the
Epilogue: This quilt sat in Sue’s closet for a year,
because she was too busy to sew on the leaves. Now it’s in MY closet,
because her family went to London for a year. I’m going to finish it any day
now, I promise
picture shows a detail from the borders. Sue is an incredibly talented
artist who specializes in lively scrapbook-style crazy quilting, using lots
of fun novelty fabrics, rubber stamps and photo transfers. Here, they reflect
Rachel's passions (friends, roller coasters, artichokes, Audrey Hepburn,
singing, etc.) Contact Sue at
Something She Whipped Up
Art quilter Jeri Riggs whipped up a great signature quilt/banner for her
son’s bar mitzvah. See it on my other site, at
http://judaiquilt.com/Gallery5.htm. Scroll down to Jeri’s name.
If the Guinness Book ever starts a record for 'Most
Signatures on a Party Quilt,' I'm betting that Marlene Glickman of
Clearwater, Florida, would win hands down. In 2003, this intrepid quilter, along with
a team of helpers, completed a quilt called 'Bridging St. Petersburgs,'
which is 6 feet high, 17 feet long, and was signed by more than 1,000
people, many at a municipal New Year's Eve party.
St. Petersburg, Florida is one of many U.S.
cities which host a New Year's Eve 'First Night' arts celebration. The
2003 celebration was particularly important--- heir city,
founded by Russian immigrants, was celebrating its 100th birthday,
while the Russian city which had the name first was celebrating its 300th .
Marlene wanted to make a community quilt that
would serve as a sort of 'Happy Birthday' card to its sister city. She
started by making a huge central pictorial panel---about 11 feet long by 6
feet high---of the two cities connected by a bridge. Quilting friends
Virginia Robinson, Pat Lamb, Carla Schulz, Jan Boyer, Linda Dawson, and
quilters from the Suncoast Quilt Guild, and the Tampa Bay Surface Design
Guild helped with the monumental tasks of making computer transfers of
buildings from both cities, machine embroidery, bead work, and finishing
work. Longarm machine quilter Cathy Kessler did all the quilting. Marlene
also made two plain side panels, each 3' wide by 6' high.
Next, Marlene cut over a thousand 3” squares
from a variety of gold, yellow and orange fabrics, including cottons,
synthetics, silks and lame's. “I wanted it to be glittery, like sunshine.”
She tested gel pens until she found some
colorful ones that were permanent after ironing and washing. She was ready.
Marlene's team was assigned to a downtown tent .
The quilt with its side panels was hung behind them. Pens and piles of
fabric squares were set on a table in front. The celebrants started to pour
in. “People wrote messages like, 'Happy Birthday!' and 'We love you,
Russia.!' Some people just signed their names. Others spent 15 minutes
making a work of art!”
As each square was completed, it was pinned to a
side panel. Everything went well--- until, speaking of pouring,
a torrential rain began. Attendance dropped, so they collected “only” about 300 signatures that night.
Undaunted, Marlene brought the operation to the
Perkins Middle School of Art in St. Petersburg, a few days later. By the
end of the day, she had collected 700 more signatures from students and
Leaving all the squares edges raw, she sewed
one end of each square down to the panel, with a straight stitch, set in
overlapping rows. “They hang over each other like Post-It© notes,” Marlene
explains. The squares covered both sides of the rotating side panels.
The quilt was displayed in a museum for several
months, then shipped to Russia. But it may not be finished yet.
Marlene enclosed more fabric squares and more gel pens---along with an
invitation for the Russians to continue adding their names and good wishes
to this astounding, trans-oceanic party quilt.
second picture shows one of Marlene’s smaller quilts.
This 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 foot piece done as a retirement/thank you gift
for a woman who started 'First Night International' (city-wide New Years'
Eve celebrations) . The extra wide borders are composed of layered,
hand-dyed silk squares. Several hundred conferees signed those squares as they arrived, and
the quilt was presented the next day. Contact Marlene at
When Less is More
The first sports-theme applique signature quilt that
Amy Fitzpatrick made, on the left, is complex and wonderful. She brought it
to her son Adam's Bar Mitzvah, and instructed her guests to sign the quilt
and add messages.
Years later, Amy made another quilt with a
similar composition for a client's Bat Mitzvah. The family adored it. In
fact, they loved it so much that they refused to let people sign it. So they
asked her to make another one for signing.
They needed if fast. So look what Amy made. That
larger-than-life name, floating in that big sea of light purple, Melissa's
Amy's second composition did the job. The family set it
out on an easel with permanent pens, and people happily signed it, not
feeling like they were doodling on Mona Lisa. This is a fine - and fast (er)
- party quilt! THe lucky family wound up witha showpiece quilt AND a
signed keepsake. Contact Amy at
Quilter Raymond Houston attends the
Episcopalian-Anglican Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, where the Dean
and his wife were retiring. Raymond decided to surprise them with a quilt
signed by congregants. Raymond specializes in sophisticated tessellated
designs, and he made a fantastic one in honor of the Dean. (See it on
Raymond's site, at http://www.nachograndmasquilts.com/gallery_017.htm)
"Several weeks before the retirement service," Raymond
recalls," I took the quilt (machine-quilted, but unbound) to a meeting I
knew the Dean would not be attending, to begin gathering signatures. When
I opened the quilt, the peoples' eyes popped, and their jaws dropped. They
refused to sign it. "
Fortunately, the back of the quilt was plain white. The
mutinous congregants elected to sign THAT. The back became almost as
striking as the front, because many messages followed the angled quilting
lines from the front. (The back is at
Raymond's email address
firstname.lastname@example.org , and you can get to more images of his work
from his home page, at
Raymond also teaches a fantastic class on designing tessellations ( I took
it and loved it), at
A Rainbow of Hope
Sign-it-at-the party quilts are not only for joyful occasions. They can also be a healing experience for difficult times.
Fran Goldberg, of Skokie, Illinois, a quilt
teacher and professional quilter, made one such signature quilt, called
'Many Lives, Many Journeys.' An overview is above, left.
"My client's sister-in-law was dying of cancer," Fran recalls.
In her honor, her family decided to fund a family room in the Cancer
Wellness Center in Northbrook, Illinois. "The room would be
mostly used by children of cancer patients, to help them understand what is
happening in their lives. They wanted a special quilt for
Fran used a rainbow of fabrics, she says, "Because a rainbow
means hope, and a promise of something better."
Fran brought the white squares of fabric to the
dedication of the room. "People wrote their messages of
encouragement. The woman was not able to attend, but she did get to read them,"
Fran recalls. One is in the picture at right.
Fran pieced and finished the quilt later. And today, that quilt lives on---as a memorial to a
courageous person, rich with heartfelt inspiration for everyone who uses
Contact Fran at
For a new baby (and a big sister)
One of the
great things about party quilts is that they can serve as a party activity
during the celebration, as well as an heirloom afterwards. Kristin LaFlamme
of Leimen, Germany (near Heidelberg) sent me this neat picture of a baby
shower project. "I
provided squares of white-on-white fabrics, taped to cardboard for
stability. I also brought
an assortment of fabric paints, stamps, brushes, markers and fabrics with
fusible web already adhered. I limited the color palette, so that all the
squares would coordinate."
Another great thing about party quilts is that you never know what will
happen - and you may wind up with even more than you expected. "The baby's
big sister wanted in on the action. So I helped her make a few squares and
them sewed them into a pillow for her. The mom loved the finished quilt and
pillow. The project was such a success that one of the party guests asked me
to make up a party quilt kit for her son's first grade class." Kristin's
email address is email@example.com.
A Library of Love
Miriam Sokoloff (right), and Judith
Solomont (left), under the 'Library of Love' quilt.
In the Spring of 2003, Ms. Sharon Steiff, a a
much-loved English teacher, at the Maimonides school in Brookline, MA, was
diagnosed with leukemia. By that summer, her doctors determined that she
needed a bone marrow transplant. Her community sprung into action with a
bone marrow screening drive--- an ambitious and expensive endeavor,
undertaken with the assistance of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry (www.giftoflife.org).
About two weeks before the screening drive, quilters Miriam
K. Sokoloff and Judith Solomont decided to undertake a signature quilt, to
help defray the costs of the screening. Their goal was to provide Sharon
with a signature quilt that would bring her messages of comfort and hope
during the weeks of hospitalization required for a transplant.
With little time to prepare, and some help from quilting friends
online, Miriam and Judith found a spectacular library print
fabric featuring endless rows of books, plus several complementary
almost-solid batiks. They cut the batiks into hundreds of 4” squares, and
the bookshelves into sashing and border strips.
“In a moment of madness,” Miriam reports, “I drew pencil lines on
an old, king size sheet .” They pinned all the blocks and the borders to the
sheet, following the lines.
Next, Miriam and Judith took several plain manila file folders.
They glued a 4” square of sandpaper inside each folder, and cut 3 ½” windows
into the folder covers, so that, when the folder was shut, the window would
fall over the sandpaper square. For signing, the 4” blocks were to be placed
directly on the sandpaper. The sandpaper and closed folder would hold the
square steady, while the window kept the writing inside the seam allowances.
They tied permanent pens---on long pieces of fishing line---to each folder.
At the screening, Miriam and Judith set up a table with a
sign asking for donations, two sewing machines, and an ironing board.
Several high school students helped. As each person who had completed the
screening arrived at the table, one of the helpers unpinned a square,
inserted it in a manila folder, and handed it over.
“People signed and watched, while we stitched and pressed,” Miriam
recalls. “As we finished sewing each 9-patch, we re-pinned it to the sheet,
so the quilt really took shape throughout the day.”
They ended up with twenty-five 9-patch blocks, signed by
more than 225 people! Within ten days, they had backed,
batted, tied and bound the quilt. The project raised more than
$3,000 for the Gift of Life foundation. “The quilt is lovely, and the good
wishes are very moving,” says Miriam. Miriam can be reached at
Barbara Pozek, of
Kimberling City, Missouri made an Ohio Star quilt, with blue stars on a
yellow background, in honor of her father-in-law's 80th birthday. Guests
signed the center squares of the stars. "Nothing intricate, because I was
pressed for time to get it completed for his birthday." This is a lap size
quilt, "perfect for napping in his easy chair, or on the couch." Machine
pieced and quilted, 2000. Barbara can be reached at
extraordinary art quilts and dolls are at
Proving that party quilts can be exquisite, we have
Lori Weiss. She is not only one of my favorite people in the world, but her
design sense and use of machine embroidery is unsurpassed. One of her bar
mitzvah signature quilts appears in the January 2004 issue of Quilters
Newsletter Magazine Here’s another jawdropper. The figures and the name
are all machine embroidered.
And if that’s not amazing enough, Lori made a
quilted Ketubah – a traditional Jewish marriage contract – which was signed
at the wedding. You can see it on my Judaiquilt. site, at
http://judaiquilt.com/Gallery.htm. Scroll down to her name. Lori can be
Lori brings her bar and bat mitzvah quilts to the
parties fully assembled, and tacks them on cut-to-size posterboard, on a sturdy custom-made easel.
Portrait of a Bride,
a Groom, and a Cake
Pamela Quebbeman of
Brookfield, Wisconsin pieced and appliquéd this wedding quilt based on a
design by Mary Lou Weideman. It was quilted by Janice L. Walsh of
Brookfield, WI The 69” x 81” quilt served a chuppah (wedding
canopy) for Pamela’s daughter’s wedding in 2002.
The blocks that line
the sides (pinwheels, baskets, etc.) were brought to several wedding
showers, and signed by family and friends. The bride and groom didn’t know
what the center would look like until the wedding.
Weideman’s design by substituting her daughter’s wedding colors (tangerine
and fuchsia). And she made the cake an actual portrait of the couple’s cake
(orange cake with raspberry trim!) Contact Pamela at
(For more about quilted
chuppot, see my other site, at
Marine Comfort Quilts
Annabelle Hammer, of Sterling,
Virginia, told me about a national quilting project called Marine Comfort Quilts. “
The mission of the group is to make quilts for the families of US soldiers
killed in Iraq. The website has a Gallery section where you can see
the quilts, at
"Members from all over the
country make and send in twelve-and-a-half-inch blocks signed with
messages of love, support, and condolence." Annabelle explained. "The organizers put these into
kits, consisting of 30 such blocks, along with backing fabric. The
kits are sent in batches to members around the country. These members
provide the batting and sew together the quilts. The quilts are then
hand-tied with embroidery floss . The member who has put together the
quilts then send them back to one of the organizers, who then sends the
quilts to the soldiers' family with a letter and card of condolence from MCQ.
Yes, it does take 2-3 months for this process to take place, at the very
least. The group is at least one year behind in making some quilts.
"Here’s the party part: 1)
Members have get-togethers to make and sign squares at the beginning of the
process. Either they get together with others in the MCQ group who live
nearby, or with their friends or families if no other members are near. 2)
Members also have get-togethers at the final stage also when they sew up and
hand-tie the quilts. I've found that it's fun to work with other ladies on
this project because most of the time we are working on our own.
"Thanks for reading my long note
about MCQ. It has been a unique quilting experience for me to be involved
in it. I have met a lot of terrific ladies online and finally, in person,
through this group."
Annabelle's email address is
Fabric Sand, Real Coconut
This spectacular and original wedding quilt features an actual photo
transfer of the couple! Cheri
Guariglia of Parkland Florida, made it for her daughter's wedding in Spring
of 2004. She explains, "The bride and groom
got engaged in Key West and
married in Key Largo on the beach. I thought it only appropriate to make a
beach- themed quilt, where the guests could sign their best wishes along the
border on the machine appliqued shells.
" I used hand -dyed fabric for
the background sunset and water. I photo transferred their engagement
picture on a separate fabric which I appliqued. I hand -appliqued the palm
tree and sewed coconut shell buttons on for the coconuts. I also sewed on
some actual small shells on the beach. Hope you enjoy!"
I did enjoy it, Cheri, and thank you! Cheri's
email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
In Memory of Sherri Young Dunbar
Dunbar’s wedding quilt: Back with signed butterflies. Front, with the UNSIGNED butterflies.
In the Spring of 1993, I posted an inquiry on the
QuiltArt list asking if anyone had made quilts that were signed at a party.
I heard back from many wonderful quilters, including Sherri Young
She told me about a project she'd done for her daughter's
wedding in 1998, and sent me some photos. The quilt was extraordinary,
but still in process. I told her it that if she did complete it,
it might be
photographed for a magazine article. She wrote back, "That will give me some
motivation to get it finished." In the meantime, she described it
extensively for me.
In September of 2003, I sent her my draft description of her quilt
from the information she'd sent, and asked for her permission to use the
quilt and her quotations in
my book proposal. She wrote back that she would be pleased to have the quilt
in my book. She edited and approved the following text:
Sherri Dunbar, of Wyncote, Pennsylvania, made this quilt for her
daughter's wedding. To the wedding reception, she brought lightweight white
silk,with freezer paper fused to the back. She had drawn butterfly shapes
all over the silk . At the party, she had each guest sign an uncut butterfly
with a fabric marker. After the party, while the fabric was still on the
freezer paper, she painted each butterfly with Setacolor (tm)
paints---"just pastel washes of color."
"OK, that was almost five years ago, and I still haven't finished it,"
Sherri told me last spring. "But," she vowed, "It will be done for
their 5th anniversary!"
Her original plan was to hand appliqué the signed butterflies to the
front of the quilt. "But the signatures looked too tacky and some people had
run their signatures over the butterflies boundaries. So I fused these to
the back of the quilt, and hand-stitched the leftover unsigned butterflies
on the front."
Sherri's daughter was born in Korea, and she married a man of Irish
heritage, so the quilt top features an Irish linen tea cloth from
Sherri's mother-in-law's collection. The quilting design is the ancient
Asian yin-yang symbol, with Rose of Sharon blossoms (Korean national
flower). The couple's honeymoon destination -- Colorado --is signified by
the Columbine flowers in the corners. The large motifs are hand quilted,and
the stippling is done by machine, with silk thread.
Both sides of Sherri's wedding quilt look similar---but on the back , the
butterflies are signed and fused, and on the front, they are plain and
appliquéd by hand. The quilt has no title, other than "The Wedding Quilt".
It is 32 1/2" x 32 1/2"
I wrote her back one more question the same day:
"Sherri---is it finished? I'd love to add that information!"
And she wrote me back,
"Oh, yes, it's all finished. I'm giving it to Traci and Scott on their
5th!! anniversary next month.
Sherri died suddenly on February, 11, 2004. Her art and nature
quilts live on as a memorial to an extraordinarily gifted artist, and a
wonderful person. They can be seen, for now, at the website maintained by
her husband Ron, at
Thanks to Ron Dunbar for permitting me to share this story.
More to come! Especially if you email me!