Personalizing Quilts

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Personalizing a Quilt with Embroidery (or just hand quilting)
Oftentimes the quilts shown on this blog (particularly the throw quilts) are given as gifts. I've gifted 5 quilts to date, 3 of which were to commemorate a marriage, and so initials+date indicators were added to suit the event.

Now that the Triangle Xmas Tree Skirt is personalized, it makes quite the package with a matching green doily and Wedding Invitation Ornament.

Completed wedding invitation ornament

Adding Letters/Numbers to a Quilt

This is the general process I use to sew letters or numbers onto fabric. It can require a variety of erasable pens or pencils, depending on the darkness of the fabric. Thread choice is largely determined by fabric color and how busy the fabric is. Busy fabric needs thicker thread.
For lighter fabrics (not white), print in reverse and trace with iron-on transfer pencil.
A1. For light, non-red fabric, trace with iron-on transfer pencil
Cut into pieces for required layout.
A2. Cut into pieces for laying out
Iron according to instructions.
A4. Iron, according to iron-on transfer instructions
Remove paper and sew/embroider.
A5. Remove paper, hand-quilt or embroider the outline left
For medium-darkness (or white) fabric, use a dark erasable pen/pencil and trace the cut-out of the desired symbol.
B1. For medium-darkness (or bright white) fabrics, cut out entirety of letter/number, and trace using a dark erasable pen/pencil
For dark fabric, use a white erasable pen/pencil and trace the cut-out of the desired symbol.
C1. For dark fabrics, cut out entirey of letter/number and trace using a light-colored erasable pen/pencil

Embroidery Personalization

Sewing thread after quilt-sandwiching, embroidery floss before.
The above processes yield the following effect, if done after quilt sandwiching. I typically do this as part of the quilting phase, and this will show the stitches in reverse on the opposite side of the quilt. For hand-quilting with sewing thread (below) this is fine, but for the future I'd probably do embroidery thread personalizing before the quilt sandwiching, so that the reverse stitches do not appear on the other side. In this case, I had started with hand-quilting but because the fabric was varying in colors and had lots of pattern, it was near impossible to see some of the letters, while other letters stood out significantly. Embroidery thread had to be used, although I only used 2 strands (embroidery floss usually has 6).
Complete embroidery with a double running stitch (this is actually back stitch, double running preferred) Complete embroidery with a double running stitch (this is actually back stitch, double running preferred) - back
A double running stitch would be much cleaner on the back of the quilt, rather than back stitch!
Hand-Quilt (or Embroider) with a Running Stitch
Hand-Quilt (or Embroider) with a Running Stitch Hand-Quilt (or Embroider) with a Running Stitch - back
The typeface in this example is 'October Twilight.

Hand-Quilting Personalizations

I've done this approach with some other quilts, although just as part of the hand-quilting process. For example, the Double Wedding Ring Quilt in grays, peaches, teals, and yellows below had the couple's wedding date subtly quilting into one of the rings:
Completed Double Wedding Ring Quilt - front - washed
A more complex design can be reverse-printed from the computer, and then transferred with a heat transfer pencil
Complex design, hand-quilted
I don't have a photo of it, but the modern bear paw quilt received a similar hand-quilted personalization right in that 4-square grey block outlined by the colorful paws.
Modern Bear Paw Quilt: Done!

Applique Personalization

You can also add appliqué letters or numbers to a quilt back or top to personalize. I have not done this for characters, but I have added a complex paper-pieced police box to the back of the Isosceles Triangle Quilt. You could use a similar approach with other symbols. In this particular case, the appliqué was added to the back of the quilt, before quilt sandwiching, so the stitches used to attach the appliqué do not show through on the front of the quilt. A similar approach could be used for embroidering someone's name onto the corner of the quilt top, if you didn't want the letters to show up in the reverse on the other side, as in the Christmas tree skirt above.
Back of the Isosceles Triangle TARDIS Quilt
Step 5: Peel off paper Wonder Under backing
Step 6: Place a damp cloth on top and iron each segment for 10-15 seconds, overlapping where iron was placed.
Step 9: Using a ladder stitch, sew applique to your project


Kristin said...

I just got a new sewing machine so I'm going to be trying some quilting this year. Yours are beautiful!

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