Freebies & Features

Creating with the Experts

Springtime remains the most popular wedding season, and we’ve enlisted the knowledge of party quilt expert Cathy Perlmutter for a quick primer on the subject of party quilts, also known as signature quilts. Here are her tips for sharing your quilting talents with the Happy Couple and wedding guests alike. (Remember that these special heirlooms are also perfect for other special occasions, like birthdays, retirements, anniversaries and more)

“Instead of a blank book, why not have guests sign a wedding quilt? A signature wedding quilt is a joyous addition to a celebration, and results in a wonderful heirloom. But this type of project does require planning. Here are some tips:”

  1. Make it personal: Interview the couple, and then look for fabrics that are about them. I ask about favorite activities, flowers, and colors; religious inspiration; ethnic heritage; special places, sports, pets, etc. There's a theme fabric for just about everything!
  2. Think outside the block. Traditionally, signature quilts followed a one-block-per-signature formula. But that's not always the best choice for quilts that are signed at celebrations. I prefer to create large, uninterrupted areas for signing ---like blank borders--- so people can write as little or as much as they like. As you’re collecting design ideas, see the examples on my website, at
  3. Test the pens. There are many varieties of permanent pen. It is VITAL that you test the candidates first---in every color you want to use--- on a prewashed sample of your quilt fabric. Is the pen easy to use? Do you like the way the ink looks? If the pen label says that heat-setting is required, iron the writing. Then, run the sample through the laundry. If the results are good---for each and every ink color---they're okay to go.
  4. Bring the whole quilt, or just the pieces. You can bring the finished quilt to the wedding for people to sign, or ---if you run out of time---bring separate blocks, appliqués, or an unbacked quilt top. With a finished quilt, the batting will hold the fabric in place for signing. Unbacked fabric should be backed with ironed-on freezer paper or fusible interfacing; or set sheets of fine-grained sandpaper on the table.

A signature wedding quilt is a big job, but it's worth it. It combines the soul-satisfying joy of indulging in your favorite activity with the unique opportunity to meditate about some special people.

Last but not least, that joy is followed by a ridiculously fun party. Even if, like me, you are not a “party person”, you are going to have a really great time at THIS party. The guests will thank you with sincere delight for the opportunity to contribute to a beautiful heirloom. And the recipients will be thrilled during the party, and for many years afterwards.

Cathy Perlmutter is an experienced party quilter. Learn more about making quilts for weddings and other special celebrations at her websites,, and