Finished Retirement Quilt

This lap quilt was a retirement gift for a wonderful friend I was lucky enough to work with in my last job. It’s a bit hard to see in this photo, but it’s covered with well wishes from her friends and colleagues from her 28 years with our company. It’s a fitting tribute for someone who has touched so many lives with her warmth and quick wit.

Signature Quilt, Front

The idea for a signature quilt came to me months ago, but I couldn’t settle on the perfect pattern. That is, until one of the Philly Modern Quilt Guild members brought this quilt to a meeting. With it’s negative space, ‘Birdbath’ was a perfect fit.

Signature Quilt

Pattern: ‘Birdbath’ by Elizabeth Hartman

Fabric: Assorted aqua and brown prints

Dimensions: 49″ x 58″

To start, I e-mailed a blank block template with instructions to Pat’s friends and colleagues. They wrote messages on them, scanned the template, and e-mailed it back to me. No muss, no fuss. I thought briefly about sending out fabric squares and markers, but it would have been a logistical nightmare. Then I traced each message onto fabric by hand, the old fashioned way — taped to a window!

Signature Squares

There seem to be varying schools of thought among quilters on the ‘net as to what type of marker is best to use for this kind of project. I elected to go with an extra fine point Sharpie.

I was terrified to wash it the first time, but the messages only faded a bit. On a second wash, there was no discernable difference. Whew! As it’s a lap quilt, I don’t anticipate it being washed as often as, say, a bed quilt, so I’m confident that the messages will stand the test of time.

Here’s a closeup shot before washing…

Signature Quilt, Detail

… and another after washing. Still perfectly legible, trust me, even though the artsy lighting is washing it out.

Signature Quilt, Detail

It was really fun to see what everyone had to say. All wished her well, though some were a touch wistful while others were pretty damn funny.

Signature Quilt Blocks Signature Quilt Blocks

Once again, my homemade design wall came in very handy when laying out the blocks.

Signature Quilt, On the Design Wall Signature Quilt In Progress

For the back, I opted to deviate from the pattern as written. I had three extra messages that I centered in a white strip on the back. For the bottom strip, I cut scraps from the leftover prints and arranged them in a gradient. This is probably one of my favorite backs I’ve done to date.

Signature Quilt, Back

This was my first foray into straight line quilting. Usually my go-to method is stippling, but it could have made the messages difficult to read. I experimented with a few methods and settled on a suggestion from my husband. I quilted inside each ring using color matched thread. Because I can’t let anything be easy, I also matched the thread color to the back. The first few rows of blocks weren’t too hard, but once I got to the last two, I was changing thread for both the front and the back multiple times within each block. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but I wasn’t thrilled when it came to working in all those thread ends! I’m glad I put in the extra effort, though. The back looks just as finished as the front.

For the majority of the back, I used a wildly appropriate aqua and brown octagon print. Couldn’t have asked for a better match!

Signature Quilt, Back Fabric Detail

Here’s a shot of the recipient when we gave her the quilt. She was so touched!

Retirement Party

I spent about a month on this quilt, sewing while I was home between trips. Hardly seemed like work — it was a pleasure to make something I knew would really be appreciated.

Signature Quilt, Folded

Wishing you the best in your retirement, Pat!

And because no quilt post is complete without a hammy hubby cameo…

Signature Quilt, Back

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10 thoughts on “Finished Retirement Quilt

  1. Denise in PA says:

    Wow! It looks fantastic – and the back is awesome too! I’m really considering making my own Birdbath after seeing yours and Becky’s. I’m sure Pat was thrilled! (Oh, and love the hubby cameo too – LOL!)

  2. Heather says:

    I am going to be working on a signature quilt for someone who is undergoing cancer treatments. We are getting friends and family from all over to sign it and your idea of e-mailing a template is brilliant. I’m still new to this so any advice where I might get a template square to e-mail would be greatly appreciated?

    • sticksonaplane says:

      Hi Heather! I’ve sent you an email with the template that I designed. I don’t have the Word file any more unfortunately, but hopefully the .pdf file will help you on your way.

  3. sandra bower says:

    love the quilt…I am also going to make a quilt for someone who is getting ready to retire… would love to have your pattern if at all possible…

  4. Jessica says:

    This quilt came out beautifully and helped me decide on this pattern for a gift we are making my sister before she has her first baby. Would you be willing to send me the size for the template? I have already requested the book from the library but I am waiting. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  5. Jessica says:

    Would you be willing to send the template you had the people use? I am going to have people fill out squares at my sister’s shower.

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