I am so excited about today’s blog post! My childhood friend and schoolmate is involved in an “epic Quilts of Valor” project. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation (QOVF) is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.
A lot of folks think of Memorial Day as a good time for a cookout or to enjoy having the day off, but in reality there is more to the history of Memorial Day. According to the US Departments of Veteran’s Affairs and the Memorial Day History, three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)—established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. To read more history, click here.
I personally wish to express my appreciation to all of the veterans and our activity military men and women out there. It is because of you that we Americans have our freedom today and for that I am truly grateful.
Sandra Behne lives in Ballinger, Texas. What started out as a simple gesture to make two or three quilts has snowballed into a blessed avalanche. She asked one of the administrators of her “Just Us Quilters” Facebook Group, if she could host a block contribution to gather nine patch blocks—that she would transform into Disappearing Nine Patch star quilts for QOV. She had no idea how great the response would be. In just over a month she has collected 812 blocks! These blocks were stitched by female and male quilters from all over the United States as well as Canada and Australia. Some quilters have donated more than once and one wonderful gal sent over eighty blocks! Only one block was requested but most sent several for the project. Donations of postage funds, fabric and batting have also been received.
Sandra commented, “I wanted to do something positive as I have a small quilting business and this was a slow time for me. I cannot work outside my home as I am partially physically limited due to two major back surgeries, so working at home allows me to make my own schedule. I do tend to go a little stir crazy if I am not doing something with my hands 99% of the time. So I thought, ‘what better project to take on!’ Also the fact that my husband lost a nephew from injuries he received when his tank was hit in Ad Duluhia, Iraq, has prompted me to help to heal those who have been affected by war as his family has been. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be so well received!”
She told the postman about her project and warned him about the large packages that would be coming in quickly. Sandra explained, “I think after a few deliveries, he was as excited as I was, letting me know where the longest distance was for each delivery. Being in a small town, the simple things still bring joy to most of the folks here. To him, this is no small thing. He has been telling many others about it and some have offered to help in one way or another.”
The pattern idea came from a February 7, 2014 Facebook Post (QOV Group) by Linda McKee Kau. The pattern she used was from wequilttogether.blogspot.com. Click here to see a tutorial with steps to create a Disappearing Nine Patch Star block.
Sandra felt that any level of quilter could participate, since the block was simple. Once the blocks come in, Sandra photographed them, to acknowledge the person who sent them, and added them to a Facebook album for all to see. Posting the photos stirred additional interest to add more blocks and getting groups involved in making their own QOVF quilts to give away.
Once the blocks were photographed and acknowledged, she started the process of turning them into star blocks. She sent enough for ten quilts to a QOV group in Oklahoma. They have the easy process now of turning them into finished quilts.
Sandra quilts the tops on her mid-arm Juki TL98Q. To date, she has converted 812 Nine-Patch blocks into Disappearing Nine Patch Star blocks and the blocks are still coming in. When it’s all said and done, those blocks will yield thirty-five quilts, twenty-five being machine quilted by Sandra and ten by the QOV group in Oklahoma.
One finished quilt went to The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Sandra continues to ask for destinations of the remaining quilts, in order to be fair to all who contributed, although every state is running low on quilts.
Sandra ends by saying, “Words cannot say ‘Thank you’ enough for those who have served. I have always said that a blanket may warm one’s body, but a quilt warms their souls as it was made from the heart full of love to be wrapped around those we care about. Just as a single piece of fabric may hold no significance, once sewn together along with other fabrics, it turns into something of importance. The same with a person, by themselves, they may not be much, but once partnered with others, anything is possible, i.e. soldiers forming a battalion to fight a battle or quilters coming together to make quilts for those who gave of themselves so we may continue to be free. It all starts with one!”
All photos courtesy of Jimmy Behne, Sandra Behne and Nancy Kemp. Used by permission.