This quilt was made for the bar mitzvah of my quilting buddy Suzy's son, David. This young man has a deep passion for he Jewish heritage - not to mention basketball and  NASCAR racing. (Jewish NASCAR fans? Who knew?) And both David and his mother liked the idea of including his portrait.

So the tan borders are 'Western Wall' fabric (now, unfortunately, out of print). The lighter rectangle is a batik with blueish blotches (and some of those blue blotches are guest signatures with blue Micron pens). The dark blue rectangle is a Jewish star fabric with appliques of cars, sports equipment, etc. And, of course, there's a a photo of him, transferred to fabric.
When it comes to bar or bat mitzvah quilts, I always want to use the child's art, if possible. But not all kids make visual art. This young man did - with a special passion for drawing manga (Japanese animation people? creatures?) His mom scanned drawings from his sketchbook for me, and I transferred them to fabric using the techniques described here.  They surround the central star. Guests signed the white wide borders. (Which are also intermittently embellished with Judaic-themed rubber stamps, appliques, and photo-transfers of family). 
Sarah is a voracious reader, who declared during our first quilt interview that she loves "all books."  Under closer interrogation, she admitted a special love for Tolkein and the Harry Potter series. She was also into horses, travel (to Italy), and  anthropology. She had her own personal subscription to National Geographic magazine (with its yellow spine).  She  reported several favorite colors:  Sky blue, yellow,  light purple, lavender, and forest green. Her mother informed me that she almost never wore clothing with patterns. 

The results are at right. Images from novelty fabrics (horses, dragons, Harry Potter, the Leaning Tower of Pisa) were raw-edge appliqued to the dark borders. In the photo below, a detail from the bottom-center of the quilt, the fantasy fellows are arguing over who gets to say Kiddush). There's a photo-transfer of the family in the lower left corner. Guests signed only the light colored 'books' stacked around the borders.
(It's even better if your girlfriends can come from near and far to prop up the quilt,and you, for a picture.)

This is the quilt I made for my son's bar mitzvah celebration. At the center is a tree he drew while fiddling around in Adobe Illustrator the day I first opened the program. (I was still struggling to locate the 'Pen.' During a break in my frustration, he sat down in my chair and started layering transparent green circles. When I came back, I was aghast. "You can't do that! You haven't read the manual! How do you know you're doing it right? YOU CAN'T JUST CLICK ON THINGS!"). Well, he can. When I got my chair back, I woke up fast and set about locating 'SAVE'  I knew I might need it for his upcoming bar mitzvah, because this is a kid who almost never draws anything.)

Later, casting about for a focus for his bar mitzvah quilt (he wouldn't let me use a photo of his handsome poonim), it hit me that I could declare his unauthorized doodle a Tree of Life. I upsized it large enough to fit four sheets of photo transfer fabric, and printed it out (using the techniques described here.) Then I seamed the four pieces together, cut around the edges, and  raw-edge appliqued to the dark blue batik circle.

If you must have a big bar or bat mitzvah celebration  -  if it's not enough, after the services, for the family to go out for hot fudge sundaes and then lie down for long, well-deserved naps - well, then, the  celebration may as well be personal, spiritual, colorful, and a reflection of the child's interests and connection to the community and to his or her Jewish heritage. 

And there's not much that does all that more effectively and creatively than a signature quilt.
Along with batiks, there are son-approved novelty print fabrics: Jewish stars, soccer balls, musical notes, composers' heads, and some abstract navy circles (You too can search for theme fabrics your offspring might like.) I created a large white border along the bottom, and narrower ones up the sides, for signatures.

The quilt was all finished - backed, bound, and labelled - by the time of the party. I laid it on a long table, along with a set of the darker-colored Identipen Fabric Pens (I did not bring the yellow, which would barely show, even on white.) Identipens have two points, narrow and broad. I wanted the guests to use only the narrow, because it's difficult to write neatly with the broad end. So, with strong packing tape, I wrapped all the broad ends shut. Only one guest managed to wrestle that taped cap off  - he must have used his teeth - and and then signed, right smack in the middle. I'm not bitter. Plus, of course, an explanatory sign.

I kept an eye on the quilt during the party, shifting it around occasionally to space the signatures evenly. Afterwards I ironed the signature area, to set the ink.

Today, this large quilt hangs behind my son's bed, a colorful memory of a magical day. Looking at all the signatures and good wishes, I'm glad we went beyond hot fudge sundaes and a good nap.