A Red Patch

My friend Vicki Spiering is a talented, award winning quilter who did something simple when she first began making quilts – that I wish I had done! I’ll let her tell you in her own words:

I was introduced to quilting in 1989 by enrolling in an MATC adult ed quilting class at Greenfield High School. I had been a 4-H girl, loved to sew but didn’t know much about quilting. It was probably during one of these early classes, when the ladies of the class were visiting and getting to know each other, that an elderly lady in our class told me about an aunt who had made quilts for family members, placing a small green patch in each quilt (I’ll assume they were Irish). The quilter’s descendants had scoured antique stores checking old quilts; when they found one with the green patch, they knew that they had found their ancestor’s work. This idea appealed to me and my next fabric shopping spree included 2 yards of a red pin-dot fabric to incorporate someplace in my quilts. 

It’s been almost 30 years, and yes, every quilt of mine has a little red patch. And I still have plenty left from that 2 yard purchase.


In the early 90’s, for a few years, I had a little cottage quilt pattern company – and naming my business “A Red Patch” was easy. When friends and family receive my quilts, almost the first thing they do is hunt for the patch (red arrow added).

I don’t necessarily try to hide the red fabric patch, but I also don’t want it to stand out and distract from my quilt either.

I have my rules too. I now find it part of my art and think in advance where I might place it. The Red patch is never more than a single triangle in a block, or a leaf in a floral appliqué. I don’t want it to be obnoxious or a focal point in my quilt.

I do think of  my legacy and descendants who might search for my work knowing that my quilt, large or small, can always be identified by this red piece of fabric. It’s been fun.

This is a picture of the very first quilt I made with the red dot fabric in it:

I brought this quilt out to photograph for your blog and can’t stop thinking about how I went about starting it in1989. Class #1 was all about getting excited, talking about what a quilt was, patterns we might be wanting to make, etc. I jumped ahead of Class #2 and went out and bought my fabric. The pattern I picked said that I needed 36 – 1″ squares with 1/4″ seam allowance for each complete block, etc. I still remember cutting up a cereal box and making my cardboard templates. Then tracing around and hand cutting out 100+ little squares, half blue, half peach. I came to class with zip lock baggies full of little cut up squares and I was sure I was going to impress my teacher. Her mouth dropped and she felt so bad …. because class #2 was talking about tools, (Olfa cutter and rulers) and tricks (like strip piecing for a 9-patch). I threw the baggies out and bought more fabric. How far I’ve come :)”

Vicki’s most recent email included this message and picture:

“A few years ago I was in San Francisco and my husband Kurt (architect) and I visited a frank Lloyd Wright building. It was then that I discovered FLWright had red tiles made and one tile is in many of his buildings.”

What a nice addition to her story – and I’m pleased to add her image to the rest. Thank you Vicki for sharing your story and quilts. It almost makes me want to go back and add a patch of something to all my quilts, but I’m afraid it’s too late.

Has anyone else had the forethought to do something clever like this to make your quilts identifiable? Please share your story as a comment to this blog. If it’s too long – and you have pictures – please send me an email.


Ben Franklin Quilt Fest – Oconomowoc, WI

I’ve been invited to be one of the speakers at this year’s Quilt Fest! My talk will be about my new passion: Modular Memory Quilts! If you missed my lecture at the Madison Quilt Expo – here’s your chance  :-)! For information on all the activities go to: https://benfranklincraftswi.com/2018-quilt-fest/

5 Opinions

  • Connie said:

    Love your red squares Vicki.
    I don’t know if it was forethought on my part, but, as a primary teacher I always marked my students papers with an apple. I’ve carried this through on most of my quilt labels, which are in the shape of an apple, with a stem and a leaf usually using 3 different fabrics used in the quilt. On smaller pieces, I simply ink in an apple at the end of my name. My grandchildren are the recipients of many of my quilts. They always look for the apples and the message Gram wrote just for them.

  • Peggy said:

    I made quilts for my great nieces, then used a piece from each quilt in an I-Spy quilt for their brother. I love these other ideas!

  • Bernadette Martin said:

    Thanks, Chris, for welcoming me back to the fold.
    I am already enjoying it.

  • Kay Franzen said:

    I don’t do this on every quilt but on the quilts I make to comfort someone after a loss I always put a butterfly somewhere on the quilt as to me it symbolizes my faith.

  • Liz said:

    My now 98 year old aunt suggested I always put something on my quilts to mark them as mine. My love for dachshund dogs has caused me to hide one somewhere on each quilt I have done.


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