Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I made it home in 8 hours, door to door from Kathie's house in Pittsburgh, PA to my own home in Wallburg, NC....I thought it would take longer! But then I didn't stop anywhere other than to fill up with gas and visit the facilities...just couldn't make myself even pull over for an antique mall or a gorge view overlook photo op in West Virginia....just...KEEP ON DRIVING!

I've got a week before I teach in Asheboro NC, and I am so excited to be visiting local quilters! That's only an hour down the road and I love those ladies down there!

This week's goal is to get the next book quilts ALL LABELED and ready to ship to Kansas City for the photo shoot on Aug 13th. They need to be shipped ahead of time because I can't carry those AND the trunk show on the plane with I go there on the 8th.

I've been thinking a lot about labels....and while computer generated looks great...more and more as I study antique quilts I am leaning to grabbing a micron pigma pen and just writing on the back of the quilt....it can't be removed that way....it will have MY handwriting on it to tell the story.

I just think that over time we will lose the intimate connection to a person's signature if everything is printed out in computer font all the time.

My mom still writes letters. She writes hand written notes and letters to all of her 8 kids, and all the grand kids in turn...I have stacks of her letters and I love seeing her handwriting on an envelope. I also know that inside that envelope there will be cartoons cut out of magazines she knows will bring a smile to my face, and there will be a stick of gum wrapped in a dollar bill. And I am always so excited to see it come!

So here we are in the information age, and we are great on communication by email, by text, by phone calls,by internet chat.....but all of our contacts are electronic and gone with a click of the delete button.

What about that stack of love letters? Remember those, the ones you saved? (if you did) Do kids save anything now? How personal can it be when it isn't written by that person's hand? How can we reflect back to it if we just reply and delete, reply and delete..poof, it's gone? That is....unless it is on twitter, then it goes into the library of congress? O_o

This is just something I've been thinking about as I face labeling these 12 quilts ready for the next book. Hand writing. Personal signatures. That connection with that person from years ago long gone. The stories that quilts and letters and personal memoirs leave behind for those who come after......what do our own signatures and handwriting tell about who we are?

Or doesn't it matter any more??


  1. After my mom died, I was going through her stuff and found a cookbook that was meant to be a later Christmas gift for me. She'd signed it, "To Lucy, for Christmas, 19--, I love you, Mom". I love to see that even though it brings tears EVERY time.

    Lucy (in IN)

  2. I have hand written with pigma on the back of several quilts and sometimes I'll write all along the back of the binding. I'm donating a quilt that I just for quilted and I'll be writing the block makers and my name directly on the back.

  3. I feel that hand written labels are best. But if you are making lots of charity quilts, I guess machine made is ok, though not very personal.

  4. Hi Bonnie! Glad you made it home safely. I was at your trunkshow last night in Pgh. (I was wearing the black t-shirt that says "Don't Drink & Quilt"). It was a wonderful evening of inspiration!You signed my book and that makes it extra special to me.-thank you.
    I inherited my Gramma's Betty Crocker cookbook (you know the red plaid one) she has notes in some of the page margins. She's been gone for over 25 years but I still remember her handwriting and seeing it brings back memories of her.
    I like making computer labels, but before I stitch it to the back I use a pigma pen and write the information on the back itself, then cover it with the label. I figure if the label gets removed somehow the info is still there for the ages. :)

  5. I love to write letters and notecards in my own sloppy handwriting!! My labels are pretty much the same too:)
    Congrats on getting all the quilts and directions ready for the next book!!

  6. I have a number of unlabeled quilts and I realize it's because those nice labels, take a LOT of time! For a while I printed a bunch of Generic labels, similar to label size, stuck them to fusible, and fused them on with an added date. I think I'm going to quit doing that and just WRITE the basic info on the quilt for those quilts donated, and who don't know me at all. If it's a special quilt, I might do something more creative.

  7. You are so right Bonnie! I still hand write all my quilt labels. I too love seeing my Mom's perfect cursive handwriting, and maybe my children will like to see mine someday?!

  8. I love written letters... I have tons from my hubby, stored away, and I wonder if my daughter will one day think we are so corny...
    the idea of writing a letter will go obsolete...
    Personally, I still teach her to write thank you notes for everything...
    I think email invites,thank yous etc are ,well, very impersonal...
    So i too, hand write my quilt labels... something for the quilt historians to savor one day...

  9. Handing writing does seem more personal and of course giving a quilt to someone IS a personal thing, why do we rush the last steps of things, attaching borders, binding and labels...aren't they ALL part of the quilt you have just spent how many hours on?
    I have tried to instill in my children the importance of thankyou notes too.
    I wanted to send you a thankyou card via snailmail to say thankyou for the lovely book Leaders and Enders...but as I didn't have a postalfor you, I emailed you...somehow it just didn't seem 'real'.

  10. I've been writing directly on the back of the quilt, cause then it can't be taken off. Have also seen lovely labels made that are appliqued to the back before quilting and then quilted through, so they can't be removed. I haven't been organised enough to do that, but like the idea. I remember one friend who made a logcabin quilt and used her lettering on sewing machine to write her son's name on some of the 'logs' before she made blocks. She though this would deter any thieves! As there would be so much to unpick.... not sure about that logic as I don't think a thief would care, but it looked good.

  11. Hah! I just found a box of my letters to my mom from when I was at college. Pure drivel- it was hot/cold. i had a big test/paper. I went to a movie. Over and over again. I didn't consider my life to be boring, but the letters were snoozers!

  12. I like to make the "stashbuster type of labels- a square 3-4" folde to a triangle and put into the bottome corner with the binding. I write on them the name of the pattern and recipient of the quilt with the date with a Pigma pen. If I mailed you a signature squuare would you sign it for me and my buddy, we are making signature quilts of notable quilters whose patterns we like to make. If I'd been able to attend Sisters I was going to bring my squares with me. All I need is your snail mail address.

  13. I have gotten so the I "sign" a quilt in the machine quilting. I put my initials and the date. If it is a gift, especially for a wedding I "write" the recipient's name in one of the borders. Here's a link to show what I did for Micah's quilt.http://www.joscountryjunction.com/?p=487

  14. I'm with you on the handwritten labels and notes... I have started writing letters to my grandchildren. I love getting "mail" and hope to pass this on to them. However trite the letter may be, its still a treasure.

  15. Bonnie, I agree with you. I still write my labels by hand even though I have an embroidery machine and a computer. To me it makes the quilt have the home made touch.

  16. What an opportune subject - I have recently started labeling my quilts as I make them by inserting a 6" light color fabric square pieced in with the backing fabric in the left, bottom corner (when looking at the back). After the quilt is quilted, I go back and write my information as I too think my children would rather see my handwriting than a computer font.

  17. Signatures are treasures that last centuries, and I believe in handwriting labels. As well, signatures can be very revealing as I found out, first hand, and definitely provide a "sense of the era".

    I am the proud owner of a 'Signature block" quilt made for my Great Uncle upon his retirement in 1894 - that quilt is hanging in the Adirondack Museum in New York. The quilt holds a couple of mysteries but we have been able to identify most of the signatures based on historical records. It's beautiful as all the blocks are 'hand sewn/embroidered' it's so beautiful and those signatures hold the key to it's beauty (at least for me).

    Please take a look at my Heirloom Quilt at the Adirondack Museum (Page 4)

    If you'd like to see my pictures of the quilt:

    PS: I got a giggle when I read "....there will be a stick of gum wrapped in a dollar bill." I'm curious ... How did that tradition start?

    Paula Z in AZ

  18. I agree, use pigma pen.I wonder about our photos too, who takes time to have them printed anymore.
    My brothers and I still love to go throught Mom's old box of photos when we are together, our memories can be erased with the delete button.. I am guilty too. I am going to try to clean up my act.

  19. My quilt guild and I learned the hard way, the importance of labeling our quilts. A quilt we'd donated to the Sr Center raffle ended up in the local Fair the following Summer; someone else was taking credit for our handwork! It got a blue ribbon, Champion, and Grand Champion ribbons. We did get it cleared up with the Fair board as to who the true makers were and we learned all our future quilts needed labels--particularly labels that couldn't be removed! Writing on the backing is a good solution.

  20. Ahh...I remember the times when I'd write letters to my brother while he was stationed at locations around the globe. There were also all the letters I'd write to my Grandma just becuase I was thinking about her. I still send thinking of you, special occassion, and holiday cards to family and friends. Everyone loves to receive them. I like your idea about signing the quilt back but it could be a challenge on the fabrics you might use and the pigma pens that are available.

  21. I have thought of this too. I would love to come across an evelope, card or anything that has my Dad's signature on it...... but alas, I didn't save any. And if I did, someone when through my saved stuff years ago and took out what they wanted, so alot of my things are gone. Seeing that persons handwriting is such a personal thing - and yes, we do not write 'real' things to each other anymore. It's bad enought that people text to each other when they are in the same room!!!!

  22. I love to find the hand written recipes from my family. I write the label directly on my quilts. It is a personal think.

  23. Just yesterday, as I was picking out a little quilt to give as a gift, I decided I would just write on the backing fabric. I thought...."the fabric is neutral enough that I will see the writing and then I do not need to prepare a label and sew it on." I believe it doesn't matter how it is done, as long as you label it in some fashion.
    Then, my six year old daughter, Anne, informed me that I still needed to add a "message" to the back of her quilt. Her sister has a "message" on the back of hers, but I hadn't put one on Anne's yet. Wow, I had not realized how important that little "message" on the back was to them. I had my reasons for placing them there, but for my children it was something different...a special message from their mom just to them that would be there always, just as special as the quilt I made for them. Now more than ever, I will leave my "message" on everything!

  24. I think it's a good idea to write your quilt label - I've had some that I printed on the computer and when washed, they faded, even though I followed the directions carefully for making them permanent :o( What a disappointment. Now I write my labels with pigma pen. Also, I have some letters from my Mother and I just cherish them since they're in her own handwriting. Nothing can replace the "written hand" -

  25. Great comments. I usually write on the back of my quilts and usually feel guilty about not making a proper label. Now I will just sign them on the back and leave my message if it is for a close family member.

  26. That's EXACTLY what my (brainy) cousin was telling me a couple years ago.

    Even IF you were the type to save on computer disk or hard drive ALL your personal emails.... will 2 or 3 generations from now, be able to "read" your old-to-them operating system?!??

    And the thrill of finding a stack of old hand written letters, in an attic trunk wouldn't be the same, as finding an old computer disk, that you wouldn't be able to put into your laptop.

    Thanks for blogging about this. *grin*


  27. A number of monthes ago I sat and listened to a radio show.... (see people do listen to talk radio!) about how people aren't writing quite soo much anymore. The guest was saying that it hit him in the face when someone he knew was sooo excited because they had found a web site that actually made you a personalized fond that looked like your own hand writing! He was so astounded that the person didn't even realize that they already had that with their own handwriting! I think people forget that handwriting is a personal thing, whether you dot the i's with a heart, or you make all your hanging letters loop de loop... it's all yours! Now.... everyone's hand writing looks the same because they use the same font! So sad! I too, like to hang onto letters, although, I hope that I don't quite do what my hubby's grandparents did.... they had an entire attic over the garage full of all the letters that family send most all their lives! That's a bit of an over kill!


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