4th of July, Veteran’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day… the list goes on! Patriotic holidays in the U.S. are plentiful and many of us like to decorate our homes in solidarity with, and in honor of, these holidays. Think American flag quilts, patriotic table runners, and the like.
As quilters, we have the means to bring warmth and meaning to a space with fabric, needle, thread and a bit of quilting know-how. 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).
Rich in history, patriotic quilts are a way to bring the American spirit into a quilt top and make great keepsake quilts and gift quilts. There are so many quilts that have become historical placeholders and quilts that are being created today that will be added to that lot. Quilts like these are pillars of American society and are representatives of the culture and environment of their time.
An example of this is seen in 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.
Another example of the historical presence of quilts includes the Nine Patch quilt block. This block has been around for hundreds of years—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. You can see quilting history stitched right into these quilt blocks, and when included in patriotic quilt patterns like Nancy Mahoney’s West Point, an even bigger tale is told.
Stars are a mainstay of patriotic quilt designs from yesteryear and today. Star quilt blocks have a traditional look, they’re interesting to look at and they fit in well with patriotic and Americana quilts. Sometimes, they can be a challenge, though, so starting small can be a comfort for some quilters. Table runner quilt patterns are a great place to start and can be the focus of the room when placed on a kitchen table or countertop.
Many of you know that we feature at least one Quilt of Valor® in each issue of Love of Quilting. In the latest issue—Love of Quilting July/August 2017—Marianne Fons shares her latest 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, in fact, that it graces the cover of the latest issue and is the focus of episode 3010 of the upcoming Love of Quilting 3000 TV series.
For those of you looking for even more quilts that meet the Quilts of Valor® Foundation guidelines, we’ve assembled eight popular patriotic quilt patterns that are sure to please and inspire you.
Tell us about your patriotic quilt experiences and make sure to share pictures with us on the Fons & Porter Facebook page. We love to see your work!