Monday, December 21, 2020

The Autograph Quilt: Chapter 4, Now What?

 It has felt good to get
the story of this unique quilt written.
It's something I needed to get done
for quite awhile.
Thank you for following along.  

Our group of three mothers and three daughters
kept up the letter writing for almost 3 years
and then 
we all came to the same conclusion: 
We were done.

Now what?
How to do come up with a design
that is simple enough to allow 
all those special names to be the stars,
yet make the quilt interesting.

At the time, I was thinking patriotic and 
chose a deep rich blue and a red with stars.
If I were choosing today, I might 
have chosen differently.
1996 verses 2020  
Colors and styles have changed.

I drew out a simple sketch

and thought a simple 6" blue square
surrounded by the signature rectangles 
and then using the red star
fabric as the connector squares
would work, allowing
our huge pile of signatures 
to each find a place of honor.

I began to sew them together in no particular order.
And it grew and grew.

The center was now 74 inches by 74 inches

It was there I stopped.
I didn't know what to do with the rest 
of the names.
So I put it all away
for a very very long time.

Now fast forward about 20 years
One day out of the clear
I decided to simply sew the remainder
of signatures into a piano key border.

After almost 20 years of starting this quilt,
 the top was finally finished in 2016.

Autograph Quilt
1994 -2016
91 inches by 91 inches

Are you wondering about the big white square?
One of the other mothers of our group, asked the touring company
of the Phantom of the Opera to add their names to our quilt.
She boldly went to the stage door at the Buell Theater in Denver
and left 3 squares which someone placed somewhere
and someone returned to us.

Amazing, isn't it.

In order to keep track of where I
had sewn names, I had to draw out a chart.
I should really do it over, but kind of
like my cut and tape version.

And now fast forward another 4 years to 2020.
The question is:
What do I do now?

I have really wrestled with this.
How should this unique quilt be finished?

Should I hand quilt it?
I really don't want to spend 
another decade doing that.  hahaha
Of course, this was my original idea back in 1996 and 
 quilting something fancy in the blue squares?

Maybe now is the time to have it machine quilted?
(no stitching over the writing)
Quilting in the ditch and a star patriotic pattern 
in the blue squares?
Or maybe leave it simply as a top?
(It would take up less room and no creases
from folding the quilt)

Awhile ago, I had written to a well known quilt historian
asking if she felt the quilt had any historical value
and how I should proceed.
I was told signature quilts are quite common
and I should go ahead and finish it so my family 
could enjoy it.

So I'm not sure if it will ever find
it's way to any place other than with my family
and that's okay.
We had made it for and with our daughters
as a snapshot in time.

You might be asking what the other 2 friends
have done with their signatures.
Sadly, nothing.
Although, one of my friends
is committed to working on it in 2021.
Me too!

Here are the fabric she had originally chosen
 and the design is more 
of a Chinese Coin strip layout.
It really has been on overwhelming project.

So I need your help.
What do you think?
What would you do?
Any opinions?
I'm committed to getting 
this quilt finished.

I played detective the other day
and guess what?
I figured out who belonged to the mystery scribble!


We had written to Le Var Burton in 1994
and thought he had never written back.
Our family were big "Star Trek, 
The Next Generation" fans.
Le Var was also popular on a series 
for children called "Reading Rainbow".
We're so excited.
I'm surprised I figured it out, but
thank goodness, for the internet!
Until Next Time-
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,


  1. Wow .... where to begin is right! I do like your layout and your plans for simple quilting. The obsessive person in me would have put the white square in the centre .... but that is me. Finish quilting it and then have it appraised for insurance purposes and then go from there. You have quite the history in your hands.

  2. It is amazing and would be quite the conversation starter. As for finishing it, I would probably have it machine quilted in the ditch so you could document it with a label. You have a very cool quilt!

  3. In the ditch around the names, stars with waves in the blue squares and a straight line chair rail type quilting in the outer border. I would be happy to quilt it for you if you trust me. I am new, but will be doing it all by computer, so it should turn out nicely. No charge, just the honor of quilting it.

  4. Excellent choice for the border. I believe you should get a second opinion on the importance of this quilt. Did she fully understand the historical significance of the signatures you have? This is no "community quilting group" signature quilt, and I believe much more than your family would appreciate it--not that I am trying to rob your family of it. :)
    Very cool that you figured out the mystery signature.
    You have received good suggestions on the quilting. I would have it quilted and enjoy the marvelous feeling of getting it finished!!

  5. I have very much enjoyed seeing this quilt come together, with the stories and friendship that went along with it! Perfect is quite valuable, in itself, and of course, to you. I am not sure how to quilt it.

  6. I am so in agreement with Janet. I think your historian may have meant that it was commonplace for people to make signature quilts and even ones with autographs of famous people. However, IMHO, this quilt is extremely important. Not necessarily for the autographs, but for the story that goes along with the quilt. I think you are so right in saying that the autographs you did not get are as important as those you got because it is now part of the story. The fact that 3 young girls worked for 3 long years on a project that most would have long forgotten about is also part of this tremendous story. I'm not much of a machine quilter, but I think if you simply quilted in the ditch and then perhaps added the simple shape of a quill pen in each blue block it would be, as you say, "finished". And I'm sure the "Queen of labels" would want to save this treasure for generations to come. And, now have these blog posts to add to the story. Kudos Kyle!

  7. WOW! Great detective work. It's just amazing that you figured it out! Hand quilting this would not add any extra value to it But, I would definitely quilt it, with big stitch or blind tie so it will be together for display or Show n tell. Because it's a quilt meant to be shared again and again.

  8. I think this treasure deserves to be finished as a real quilt for you and your daughter to enjoy. Machine quilting would certainly get the job done fairly quickly and easily, and it would fare better for show and tell days to quilt guilds or grandkids' classes. With all your notes about the background of each of the signatures and your blog posts, it is well documented for late 21st century historians. Wouldn't it be fun to be a fly on the wall when they open a blanket chest and find this one!

  9. Great story and wonderful quilt! I think it should be finished as a quilt - not left as a top - and, if you’re not up for hand quilting, don’t hesitate to have it machine quilted. I agree with those who recommend a professional appraisal. Have a wonderful holiday!

  10. This is such a wonderful quilt! I like your idea of having it machine quilted in the ditch with a star in the blue squares. That will be a simple yet effective solution and the quilt would then be finished so you and your daughter can enjoy it for years to come. I wouldn't give up on finding it a more permanent home in the future if that's what you wanted to do. Perhaps a local museum or historical society would have an interest in adding it to their collection--or even the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. Whatever you choose the scope of this project is very impressive and you have the documentation to go along with it--a quilt historian's delight! Love it!

  11. P.S. Congrats on identifying that mystery autograph! So cool!

  12. Another super interesting post about this fascinating project. I can’t believe you figured out the signature!! That’s so cool! I’m agreement with others that this is no ordinary signature quilt. It’s a slice of history recorded in such an interesting way. I don’t think I would have the patience to handquilt it either. In the ditch is a good idea around the signatures and then some motif in the blue squares. I’m cheering you on to finish this fascinating quilt!!

  13. Thanks for sharing the whole story, Kyle! I like the way the piano key border adds a crisp texture to the quilt. Definitely finish the quilt with some quilting - whatever method and style seem most appropriate (and expeditious!) to you. Whatever happens to the quilt in the future, it will always be a treasured family memory!

  14. Le Var Burton - that is fantastic!! I can hear the Reading Rainbow theme in my head right now. I think this is a marvelous quilt! Love the bold and classic red white and blue. The piano key border was a great idea. If it were me, I would absolutely machine quilt it or send it out to be machine quilted, soon, and get it back and call it done and start enjoying it as a family. I would not worry yet about where it could or should go someday. What a monumental project - such a treasure!

  15. amazing that you figured out that signature. wow good sleuthing. Amazing bloc of the Phantom cast.
    Perfect simple layout for this special quilt. I'm undecided about my opinion on how to finish this quilt.
    I think I'll stayed tuned to hear what you decide to do.
    Whatever happens, it is incredible. Thanks for sharing the whole story.

  16. What an amazing story! I think you should get it quilted to make it a finished quilt and I do think it belongs on an exhibit or museum, at least for a while till it returns to your family. Maybe a museum in Hollywood or American history? It is a one of a kind masterpiece!

  17. Your quilt turned out beautifully. Love the colors and the layout. I am impressed you were able to get so many different signatures in a coherent pattern. I agree with the second opinion. Maybe at the time you asked her, signatures were common, but as you know, not many of those turned into actual quilts. Demand may be higher too at museums, etc. for these types of quilts now that quilts are in museums. Maybe ask a quilt museum?

  18. I agree with the others that the top would be best quilted. Machine quilting would be fine. I would suggest that you consider using a wool batt. Cotton batting tends to break down when folded and wool adds a lovely loft and no creases! And a detailed label would help save the stories of the quilt.