Naming Quilts

Do you name your quilts?

Yesterday I offered my daughter one of two quilts. She moved into a new home recently. Though the quilts are very different, I thought either of them would be a great addition to her family room.


Stacked Coins design. 65.5″ x 72.5″. August 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.


Still Climbing Mountains. 57″ x 64″. August 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

She wondered why the Delectable Mountain quilt (lower) has a name and the Stacked Coins quilt (upper) does not. I didn’t have a good reason for her. Mostly it’s because I didn’t think of a name for it yet.

Do you name your quilts? How do you decide? When you do name, is it based on the pattern or design, or the colors used, or the person who will own it? My quilt names come from all of those. Untied is named for both the center fabric, as well as the uninhibited way I created it.


Untied. 41″ x 47″. Hand-quilted. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Moonlight Waltz reminds me of the colors of shadows in moonlight, while the pattern of pale squares within the middle blue border reminds of dancers waltzing around a ballroom.


Moonlight Waltz. 90″ x 90″. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Last night before I fell asleep, I did think of a name for the Stacked Coins. When I make the label, I will call it “If I Had A Nickel…”

And by the way, she chose Still Climbing Mountains. Because we are.

33 thoughts on “Naming Quilts

  1. shoreacres

    Just stopping by to say I thought of you night before last. I was in a grocery store in Mena, Arkansas,and while I was waiting to check out, I was scanning the magazine rack. I suddenly realized there were no tabloids, and only a couple of cooking magazines. But, there were seventeen — yes, ma’am! — seventeen quilting magazines in the racks. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that — not in a checkout line, at least.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for the thought. Yes, there are a lot of quilting magazines! Many of them are special editions of one kind of another, or are published quarterly instead of bimonthly. I don’t subscribe to any now, as they mostly focus on patterns — quilt designs published like recipes. Since I design my own, and can get plenty of inspiration for free or in my own books, I don’t need them now. In truth I don’t know how those companies stay in business, and in truth, not all of them do. Thanks again.

  2. Nann

    Sometimes I just use the block name. Other times a clever name pops right into my head. (“Forecast: scrappy with a chance of nine patches,” “Chasing. Rainbows,” “Stars in Her Crown.”
    I did a Chinese coins quilt out of leftovers and called it Loose Change.

  3. tierneycreates

    Enjoyed this post and lovely quilts. Your daughter is lucky to have such a talented Mom she can get quilts from! I too use the same things you mentioned in naming my quilts. I also might base a name of the feel I get from the piece, a special memory related to the making of the quilt, an inside joke (if giving it to a friend or family member), what inspired the piece, or a play on words.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, all good sources and some I use. I made a “plus” quilt for a friend who is a biologist. The plus signs were arranged like a strand of DNA. The background fabric was the color of denim. She once said you can go anywhere these days in jeans and a cute top. So I named the quilt “Genes and A Cute Top,” since the DNA strand has a spin to it, the way we represent it, like a top. And the letters in the title create an acronym of GATC, which is the letters ACGT, which we use to represent the nucleotide bases. Granted, that was one of the most complex puns EVER! But it was fun.

  4. cjh

    Some of my quilts have real names that come about as I work on them, which begin as short-cuts to myself to keep track of things. Last year at this time, I was working on Christmas gift quilts for my daughters. One of them was dubbed “Red Beast”, because it was big and had lots of red in it. The other one was “The Camera Quilt” because a feature was a camera print.

    Some others I’ve made have more poetic names, such as “Night Music,” “Fantasy of the Squirrels,” “Scott’s Bright Garden,” and “Dave’s Sawblades.”

    Still others have names in my head that are just descriptive, such as “Little parrot in the center medallion”, or “leftover 4-H scraps marionette wacky log cabin quilt”. So in that regard, they probably all have a formal or informal name. Names are fun, as they can categorize as well as give insight into process or personality. 🙂

  5. KerryCan

    Do you know, I’ve never named a quilt! Except I had to last year, because the guild show insisted on names, but I can’t remember now what I named them for the labels. Hmmm . . . I need to ponder this!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t think naming is required. For me it helps keep track of them. My photo files are organized by year made and name of quilt, or name of owner in some cases.

  6. snarkyquilter

    If I name a quilt in progress it usually means I’ll finish it. I’ve also been known to change a name on completion. So I guess some of my quilts have working titles, kind of like novels and movies. It just occurred to me that I didn’t start naming my quilts until I began to design them myself.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, some quilts have working titles — that’s a good way to put it. I can’t remember when I started naming my quilts. I mean, I know which was the first to have a name, but I don’t think the rest followed immediately from there.

  7. allisonreidnem

    I like to name my quilts – if for no other reason than to have a ‘title line’ for the label. Names are usually derived from the patchwork blocks used, colours, the quilting patterns or a design on the fabrics.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, on the title line for the label, such as for the “If I Had a Nickel…” For some I give to family, if it was made specifically for them, the owner’s name is more important, and some of those quilts never really get a different name.

  8. katechiconi

    I name every quilt, and names come early, because generally a quilt is for a particular person, and the name announces itself in some way… I can’t say I have a particular process for it, it’s more like the quilt tells me 🙂

  9. knitnkwilt

    Like you I use all the named ways to come up with names, plus some “untitled.” In order to write about them, I have a descriptive name, like “brown and blue quilt” or the name of the featured block when using a named block. If as I work on it, a better name occurs to me, I rename it. Sometimes it gets a name only because entering it into a quilt show requires it.

    Sometimes I do non-representational quilts and don’t want to limit perception by naming. And though as a viewer I dislike “Red Circles” type names, I sometimes resort to them.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      As I worked on my photo files, I found a few were never given names. For instance, the “big blue and brown quilt” only had that as its name. Since giving it to Dan, though, it has a name. It is “Dan’s Big Blue and Brown Quilt.” 🙂

  10. katlorien

    I enjoyed seeing your quilts and hearing about how you name them. I name mine. I stitched a big applique quilt, there are pink roses with yellow centres, liked dog roses. My sweet old dog slept in my sewing room while I was working up and as she died just before I finished, I call that quilt “Dog rose”.

  11. jmn111

    All 4 are lovely quilts. I do name mine – largely because they need a name in order to write about them on the blog, and for any exhibition I want to show them in. But naming a quilt is far harder than actually making it, I find!

  12. myquiltprojects

    Some quilts of mine get names right off the batt! Those are usually the ones I have struggled with and built character with :). Oddly there are times when nothing comes to me. I once donated a quilt to the library for a raffle and they asked me the name, my eyes got wide as I never thought to name it. Naming it right then on the spot, YIKES! It was applique tulips set on point like a medalion quilt. All was on black fabric. So I named it “Flower Bed at Night”

  13. piecefulwendy

    Love these quilts, and their names. Still Climbing Mountains is a stunner! That blue/teal fabric in the quilt really makes it pop!


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