When patriotic holidays are upon us, some quilters like to decorate their homes with flag quilts and patriotic table runners. Quilters bring warmth and meaning to a space with fabric, needle, and thread in solidarity with, and in honor of, the holidays that mean so much to us. We can even donate our quilts to the Quilts of Valor® Foundation to honor servicemen and women (these quilts do not have to be patriotic, although they tend to be).
Patriotic quilts have become pillars of American quilting society and are representatives of the culture and environment of their time. An example of this historical significance in quilting is the 1861 Mary Rockhold Teter quilt called Stars and Stripes. The National Museum of American History notes:
In 1940 Eugene Teter donated to the Museum this patriotic quilt made by his great-grandmother in 1861 for his grandfather, a Union soldier from Indiana…She personalized it by quilting the name of her son, George Teter, and the names of Generals Scott and Taylor under whom he served…Mary died in 1897 in Noblesville, Indiana. This “Stars and Stripes” patriotic quilt is a reminder of her devotion to family and country.
The Nine Patch quilt block has a strong historical presence in the quilting world, as well, and when combined with stars, makes a lovely overall design like we see in Nancy Mahoney’s West Point. The Nine Patch has been around for hundreds of years as an integral part of American history, especially during the time of the pioneers and their move west. Women sewed, as was tradition, and children began their sewing education with simpler projects, like Nine Patch quilt patterns. It seems only natural that the Nine Patch would be incorporated into a patriotic design.
As we all know, stars are a mainstay of patriotic quilt designs—they are a go-to block for patriotic and Americana quilts. There is a wide variety of star block designs to choose from which means the level of difficulty varies. For some, starting small can be a comfort. Table runner quilt patterns, like My Patriotic Table Runner by Jean Nolte (rated easy), are great projects for decorating a kitchen table or countertop and don’t require the commitment that a bed-size quilt does.
Small doesn’t always mean easy, though. Grand Ol’ Flag by Judy Olmstead is an ambitious wall quilt design, although not because of any one technique. The combination of several techniques—strip piecing, a traditional apple core quilt block with curved piecing, and appliquéd stars—make it a bit of a challenge, but they’re also what makes this wall hanging spectacular. They work together to create the undulating waves of this gorgeous flag quilt.
We feature Quilts of Valor® in each issue of Love of Quilting and McCall’s Quilting. In the Love of Quilting July/August 2017 issue, Marianne Fons shares her Quilt of Valor® with us called Parade Rest. She chose a classic Pinwheel Star quilt block as the focus and it’s pretty fabulous. So fabulous, that it’s the cover quilt for this issue and the focus of episode 3010 in the Love of Quilting 3000 TV series.
“I have always loved all things Americana—and the color combination of red, white and blue. It brings a feeling of national loyalty, pride and gratitude as my father is a Korean War veteran, I have two nephews who are veterans and one nephew who is an active duty Green Beret. I think this would be a great Quilt of Valor® for any one of them.”
For more patriotic quilts, take a look at the quilt patterns below and peruse our Patriotic Quilt Gallery.