Thursday, September 1, 2016

What's in a name?

Debbie @aquilterstable recently posted about quilt names on her blog, and she's got me thinking about how and why I name quilts.

According to my records, I started naming my very first quilts around when I started quilting 6 years ago (in fact, I am so glad I have been blogging for so long; it's so easy to look back!). At the time, it seemed that so much work deserved a name. Here and there, I simply leave quilts untitled, but the large majority of my quilts (including mini quilts) have names. Sometimes I think about the name from the very beginning; other times, it's an afterthought (while I'm quilting: "I should probably think of a name for this thing..."). I don't usually feel pressured by it, but to me, the quilt doesn't feel done until it has a name (and a blog post!).

Often, I name by design. When I'm exploring a specific shape or concept, like orange peels, I enjoy a series. For example, "Scatter," "Soar" (left and right, above), "Breeze," and "In The Wind" (below) all revolve around the scattering of the traditional orange peel block all over the quilt. It's definitely become something of a game to come up with similar names!

I named my first, cool Star Light, Star Dark quilt "Illuminate," and I think I've decided on "Ablaze" as the name for the warm version (thanks to your help!). Ideally I'd like them both to deal with light, since the quilt is about stars and they are two very different color palettes.

Finally, "Autumn Wind" and "Spring Wind" are purposefully similar but differ in their color schemes.

When I think back to favorite names, a few jump into mind:

"Postcards from Prague," my voile quilt and favorite cuddle device, gave off a very Bohemian feel (to me, at least). It was my way of saluting one of my favorite cities in the world. I use this quilt every day at the computer - in fact, I'm using it right now. This was actually made using Debbie's Postcard Quilt tutorial.

"Peace" was meant to bring just that, in both the sentiment of giving a quilt and the color. Ironically, it's chaotically improvisationally-pieced!

I love "Hibernation" because it's a different take on the bear paw block (both in the center and in the maple leaves), and because it was made for my dad to nap under. And nap he does. :)

"Facets of Emerald" was my first improv quilt, made to mimic the actual facets of a gemstone.  

Finally, "Emergence" meant a lot to me and my personal journey of emergence (I talk a lot more about that in the blog post).

Do you name quilts, too? If so, does it come easy to you?


  1. I *love* naming my quilts and the "name game" is super fun for me. It's not always easy to find the right name and my husband is great to bounce ideas off of, but I really do feel like quilts each need a name as well.

  2. I've never named any quilts I made specifically for someone... it was their quilt. But when I made a lot of quilts for our church sewing circle to sell, they had me name them. They actually told me the quilts sold better if they had names! Maybe people recognize it more as a labor of someone's hands if it's named? Dunno, but raising money was the goal, so name them I did.

    1. Hi Robby! I don't have your email, otherwise I would have emailed you a response. I hope you see this! Anyway, that's such an interesting point. I can totally see that being a buying factor. Something to keep in mind when showing the general public a quilt, I guess! Thanks for sharing this tidbit.

  3. I do name my quilts, but I tend to go for something simple and usually obvious. I name them usually at the end and feel it is the final piece of the creative process. x

  4. I am inconsistent at naming. I get excited when a clever name comes to me! Doesn't always happen though. Your quilts names are wonderful and I LOVE looking at all the gorgeous quilts! The butterfly one with peace and chaos combined is genius.

  5. My husband actually names all of my quilts, and if we're keeping them, they are always named after songs. If they're going to someone else the names are boring and mundane "Erika's Baby Quilt #2" kind of thing. The ones we've kept so far are: September, Take the A-Train, Video Killed the Radio Star, The Green Door, and Somebody Told Me. :D

  6. I am the one that names all of the patterns that we write. Most of the time they are plays on the quilt blocks used in the quilt and often times I use colloquialisms and puns, because I'm a super nerd.

  7. Wow. I wish naming quilts was a fun, easy thing for me. I am trying to name my first pattern and am seriously struggling with it. Nothing fits. I tend to stew over the names thinking of word after word. I know that when I come across the right one I will feel it.
    I love how there is a connection between different quilts of yours with the same theme.

  8. I like naming all of my quilts too, some make more sense than others :)

  9. This was a fun read! ;-) I appreciated hearing more about your thoughts on naming AND seeing some of your terrific (named) quilts...

  10. I was fortunate enough to learn how to make a quilt through classes run by a couple of members of a local quilt group. The final step was to make and attach a label. It was good to get in the habit of naming and labelling quilts right from the start. I like coming up with names - belonging to a family that loves puns and wordplay it's a fun challenge!

  11. I name most of my quilts, even the ones I give to charity. The exceptions seem to be the handful of smaller wall quilts and table runners. I put the names on the labels of the first few quilts, but found I really really REALLY hated the labeling process! So I had custom labels made that say "Lovingly Handmade by Louise" and that's what I use on all my quilts except the charity ones. (The charity I give to most has their own labels that I sew on.)

    But this discussion is making me think, hmm, how will anyone else know the name of their quilt if it isn't on the label? Does that matter to me? Does it matter to them? Would anyone except a quilter even suspect that quilts have names? I have a beautiful quilt that was made for me and it never occurred to me until just now to wonder if the maker named it!

    I blog about each quilt, and document the names on my blog. For now, I think that's sufficient, but I'll be pondering this!

  12. I have never named a quit.... I should. They are all laying on the dining room table, or stacked actually. none are sandwiched or quilted, or bound.
    I know, I am a little bit sad about that, but hopefully I can work on that soon.
    Then, when they are done, I will name them.
    Then I will make a label with all of the important information on it, along with the name , and maybe other details, but not too verbose.
    Happy week-end

  13. I try to name my quilts, but I'm not very good at it! Maybe I try to hard. Red quilt, yellow quilt....that's better! LOL!

  14. When I first began quilting, I read an article about labeling each quilt and it talked about the importance of naming your work. It is part of the history of the quilt. I do name each quilt either by theme or by fabric colors - the name comes to me usually when I complete the quilt top. I keep a journal with what is written on the label; the name, the number of hours spent, date completed or presented, my signature, each quilt is numbered. And, I add a bright pink french knot in the corner as my signature, too.


Let's start a conversation! I love comments and I'd be happy to reply to all who have an email address accessible. Thanks for commenting!


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