As my husband Eric and I approach our 2 year wedding anniversary I think it is *ABOUT TIME* I share with you the ins and outs of one of my favorite wedding projects: Our Wedding Guest Book Memory Quilt.
There is something so special about capturing all the wonderful wishes of our loved ones and I knew I didn’t just want it to sit in some book that collects dust. Naturally, I decided to put my quilting skills to use and chose to make a Wedding Guest Book Quilt. This memory quilt involved having each of our near & dear loved ones sign a quilt block, which I now have all sewn together and quilted.
What Counts as a Memory Quilt?
The concept of this Wedding Guest Book Quilt can be expanded far beyond just weddings – this is a Memory Quilt set to capture signatures and well wishes! You could make one as a graduation gift, birthday present, retirement gift, present for a special teacher or mentor or coach, or for many other occasions! Really any important date involving a lot of people is a great reason to make a signature memory quilt.
Regardless of your special occasion for making a signed memory quilt – I want to help you succeed in making it your own!
Prep Work for Making a Signed Memory Quilt
The first, arguably most important, step is to find a design and fabrics that fits your design aesthetic and the occasion itself. For the fabrics and colors of my memory quilt, I chose ones that went with my wedding color palette and also matched my home decor. My bridesmaids all wore varying shades of dusty blue and slate grey, so this set of coordinating solids was perfect: Kona Cotton Overcast precuts.
Choosing the design was just kind of instinct for me. I’ve always had an affinity for Sawtooth Stars and decided to make a bunch of 8″ star blocks! I did not have an AccuQuilt fabric cutting machine at the time I made the quilt blocks, but I HIGHLY suggest using one like this if you love quilting and love quilt blocks. You can also find lots of free quilt block patterns online for some more inspiration!
Which Permanent Fabric Markers Work the Best?
Picking out your markers can be a tricky thing and is one of the most important things if your memory quilt will be comprised of people’s signatures and notes of love! My personal recommendation is Marvy Uchida in Black. I tested a handful of different kinds of permanent fabric pens, and I liked Marvy Uchida the most because it was the easiest to write with and showed up the darkest.
I have heard tips of ironing freezer paper to the back of the fabric to make it easier to write on, but I found that was not necessary with these permanent pens. You may consider trying it out to test the difference!
How to Keep People from Signing in the Seam Allowance
If people will all be signing the memory quilt at an event, it is important to note that most people are not quilters and actually know very little about sewing in general. My personal strategy was to have the quilt blocks already pre-made for guests to sign so that I had complete control over how the quilt ended up.
The reason for having the blocks ready in advance was because many non-quilters don’t understand seam allowance, so having them already sewn together eliminates any possible issues from happening. You might wonder – how do you know how many quilt blocks to make? If the memory quilt is a wedding guest book quilt, I suggest that you make just a little more than half as many as you have people coming. This will account for the fact that many couples or families will just sign one block from the group. Another rule of thumb could be to make one per address that you mailed an invite to. I had 140 people total and ended up with 72 blocks in my finished quilt.
I’ve heard of people making memory quilts and having the entire top finished in advance, however I would caution against that. It’s possible that a guest could sign inappropriately on already-made quilt tops, and I personally would rather have the option not to use one of the blocks if the need arose.
If you do not have the time or desire to make the blocks in advance, another method I have seen for keeping the seam allowances clear is to have an example piece of fabric with 1/2″ margins marked off and a sign that shows not to write in that area. People may or may not adhere to the advice, but at least that way they were warned 😉
Tips for When the Memory Quilt Gets Signed
If you will be having everyone sign the memory quilt at the same event, like I did for my wedding guest book quilt, you should keep some things in mind to make the process easy and streamlined. Here’s what we did for things to run smoothly at the wedding:
- Set up a designated quilt block signing table to keep it all in one place
- Provided plenty of pieced quilt blocks in advance
- Bought some pretty baskets to store them in/display them
- Markers – I tested a handful of different ones and highly recommend Marvy Uchida. Get a few so more than one person can sign at a time.
- Have someone in charge of facilitating the signing (manning the table) and make sure to keep the signed blocks all safe and clean – no red wine near the quilt blocks please! It helps a lot if this person is someone who loves talking to strangers and can help people come up with ideas for what to write!
The wedding day, or other event if it’s for another occasion, will literally FLY BY but at the end of it, you’ll have tons of really sweet messages on quilt blocks for you to cherish forever and ever.
Putting the Memory Quilt Together
Once I got back from my honeymoon I gathered all the blocks and figured out the best layout; I went with a rectangle 8 blocks x 9 blocks. For yours, you will want to create a layout that makes sense for the number of signed blocks you have.
Some of the blocks in my quilt I ended up signing myself with sentimental words and Bible verses on marriage that I really loved. Feel free to make those for yourself at the end once you know exactly how many signed blocks you have, in order to fill in any spaces you might need for your quilt to be a finished size. Embroidered designs could also be a really fun way to fill in empty spaces! I had around 65 signed blocks from the wedding and then filled in the rest myself.
Once I had all the quilt blocks laid out and the placement of each colored block figured out, I added thin borders between each block because I liked the look, and then pieced them all together like you would for any normal quilt. My mom did the long arm quilting for me in an orange peel design that adds a great texture without taking away any of the focus on the signature quilt blocks. I am super happy with how it all turned out now that the quilt is all finished! This memory quilts is a continual reminder of just how loved Eric & I are!
Every time I see this quilt, I think about all the supporters and cheerleaders in our lives who vowed to help us keep our commitment to each other. I thank God for each person who signed it as I think about how we truly are blessed beyond measure to have such amazing humans in our lives.
Your Memory Quilt
Now it’s your turn! Whether the memory quilt you plan to make is for yourself or a loved one, I know it is going to be cherished for years and years to come! I can’t wait to see how yours turns out – be sure to tag me @homemadeemilyjane on Instagram if you post photos there! I have been using #weddingguestbookquilt for my own photos as I have documented the process.
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