Friday, July 29, 2011

A Quilt of Valor

Less than 3 weeks ago our guild got a request to make some Quilts of Valor for a group of 30 injured Marines who recently returned from Afghanistan to Camp Lejeune, NC. A week or two before that we had been sent 20 blocks from the Just One Star project that Moda promoted with a request to complete a quilt using them and adding sashing, borders and backing. The gal who got the request and I had both contributed blocks to that project - here are mine.
 Moda wanted enough stars to make 100 quilts, using 18 stars per quilt. It is our understanding that they got about 12,000 blocks  -- so they have farmed them out to various state organizations for further distribution. I've searched but have not found any information to confirm that number. Also, not sure my guild friend got info about finishing the particular quilt shown on the Moda page. Anyhow, she got permission from the person sending her the blocks for us to use the blocks she received to make a quilt for our specific request.

We scheduled an emergency sew-in for July 13 at our local quilt shop - A Scarlet Thread. There were probably 15-20 of us there during some part of the day - this is out of a guild of 35-40 members - good turnout I'd say. Our plan was to send as many as we could collect by that Friday (July 15) and then send more by today.  I did not have any red, white and blue quilts finished, or started, to contribute, but I do have lots of red, white and blue fabrics. For our particular project they were willing to take some that were not those colors, but they did want them to be no longer 70" with a width of 55-65", so I still didn't have anything finished to contribute. On Monday night I started looking for a pattern to use to make one from scratch. I looked at some that had larger blocks, but didn't find anything that struck my fancy. Eventually decided on Bonnie Hunter's Starstruck pattern. I had made a few blocks for another charity quilt using this pattern and really liked how it turned out. Unfortunately, it takes 16 pieces to make one 8" block and I thought I needed to make it 7 rows by 8 rows with one border. Hard to believe now, but I got enough pieces cut to make all those blocks out of my red, white and blue scraps, and to make two blocks to see how I liked the pattern. That is about 900 pieces cut in 2 nights. I must say here that although I am retired, and would therefore appear to have plenty of quilting time, my husband is now also retired and has lots of ideas about things he wants us to be doing - and none of them have anything to do with quilting! So mostly my quilting time comes after dinner and into the wee hours of the morning. Most nights during this project I was up until at least 1:30, and several nights it was 3:00-3:30.

On the Emergency Sew-In Day I managed to get two rows of 7 blocks each sewn together - that was with my being there from 10:30 - 7:00. So, only 1/4 of the blocks done - still lots to do. I let the leader of this project know that I wouldn't have it done by that Friday, but promised I'd get it done before today. After auditioning a single dark blue border I decided to put 2 borders on instead - a narrow red one and a wider dark blue one. That would allow me to only have 7 rows of 6 stars each, so it would take less time to make the 8" blocks. Of course now I have lots of extra pieces cut, but ... so be it.

After staying up several nights til at least 1:30 and sometimes as late as 3:30 I had the top finished, and the backing sewn together, in time to take them to the leader of this project the following Friday, July 22, so she could give it to the guild member who had agreed to do the quilting on it. The quilter was able to give it back to me on Sunday afternoon, and I added the binding, which I had made earlier, stitched down the binding and added the official QOV label by Tuesday night. I also made the required matching pillowcase for it, and washed the quilt, also required by the Quilts of Valor program. Here are pictures of the finished quilt front
 and back,
  a close-up of the quilting that was done on it,
 the pillowcase
  and the label

A word about the pillowcase - it is really pretty easy to make. I followed this pattern on Quilting. It looks really neat when it is done by the special trick with the cuff, and the French seams stitched on the one side and bottom. I used some of one of the reds from the top for the narrow contrasting flange; the cuff is made from the backing material, which is an official QOV fabric. The body of the pillowcase and the inner border may also be official Quilt of Valor fabrics but I can't say for sure - they are definitely patriotic though. The labels can be purchased in panels of several at quilt shops that carry the QOV fabrics. The binding fabric is also patriotic, and may be a QOV fabric. I made it using the continuous bias process described in this video - I love the way striped fabric done this way turn out to be diagonal!


Cheryl Willis said...

wow, great job, I love to see the work done for these great donation projects. Bless your group for taking this on. And you for going above and beyond. The quilt is lovely. cw

Julie Fukuda said...

That is an amazing amount of work and such a nice finish. I just can't imagine working at those hours and getting anything worth looking at in the end.

Vesuviusmama said...

Most impressive, Nance! Thanks for giving us the full story here - your FB post left out all the gory details!

Nancy said...

Thanks Cheryl, Julie, and Erin. Yes, Erin, my FB posting left a lot out, but most of my FB "friends" aren't quilters! I find that I go on too long probably in my blog postings, but I am using my blog, believe it or not, as a record of what I am doing in quilting, so it helps me to tell the story - the process - so I can remember it! Our guild's next meeting is Thursday - I expect to hear then how many quilts we were able to send off.

Andee said...

It looks great! Congrats on getting it done!

Nancy said...

Thanks Andee!