Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quilts of Valor

There is a group of national quilters who make Quilts of Valor, quilts donated to veterans.  It's a worthy cause, and just one way we can show our appreciation to the men and women who serve in the military. To find out more information if you would like to contribute a quilt, search for Quilts of Valor on the internet.  One of my quilting friends has a home for veterans in her area, and has undertaken the project of making quilts for each of the men who are in that home.  These are men of all ages who are receiving counseling and job training to ease back into civilian life, after their terms of service.  Many of our quilt group have volunteered to help her by making a quilt or two, and I just finished one top today. 

My choice was a variety of Log Cabin in red, white and blue. The instructions for making this top follow.

Log Cabin Medallion:
12” finished block,
made up of four 6" mini-blocks.
You can cut many pieces at the same time, although I have listed the pieces needed for one mini-block so that it is easier to understand.  When you decide how big you want your quilt to be, you can easily figure out how many pieces of each color you will need to cut.  Remember that it takes four of these mini-blocks to make one 12" finished block.  I cut a lot of pieces, and lined them up in the order I will use them, see photo below.  For each mini-block, you will need:  1 – 2-1/2” square for the center (I used a navy blue background with a tiny white star pattern)

Of background fabric (I used a cream background with red stripes and tiny blue hearts), cut 1-1/2” strips.
Subcut those strips into:
1 piece 2-1/2”
1 piece 3-1/2”
1 piece 5-1/2”
1 piece 6-1/2”
Of various blue and red print fabrics, cut 2-1/2” strips.  Subcut these strips into pieces that are 3-1/2” and 5-1/2”. 

To assemble the mini-block, sew a 2-1/2” background piece to the 2-1/2” center block.  
Working counter-clockwise around the block, next sew a 3-1/2” background strip to the first 2 pieces. 
Then, alternating red and blue, add a 3-1/2” strip, then a 5-1/2” strip. 
Still working counter-clockwise, attach a 5-1/2” background strip.
Last, add the final strip, a 6-1/2” background strip. The photo on the right shows the progression of the block as  each piece is added.

 Your mini-block is complete, as shown in the photo on the left.  Four mini-blocks, set with the red and blue fabrics to the center and the background fabrics on the outside edges, comprise one complete block, 12-1/2” unfinished. 

The pieces can be chain-sewn, and when the four mini-blocks are completed, I squared them up with my 12-1/2" square ruler on a rotary cutting mat. The rotary mat isn't a necessity, but it certainly saves moving the block to trim it.  The photo below shows the finished 12-1/2" block.  I like the way the center looks as if the fabrics are woven.  The four squares of the dark blue fabric seems to form a "square" in the back of the block.

 My quilt top consists of 20 blocks… 4 across by 5 down, plus half blocks around the perimeter. 
The photo below shows a close-up of one corner of the quilt top.  At each corner, there is one mini-block that joins the half blocks on either side.  The completed quilt measures 60" by 72".  I could add a border on the top and bottom to make it longer, but I don't necessarily think it needs to be any bigger. 
These quilts can be bed sized or simply a good size for snuggling under.  I will probably bind it in the navy blue fabric of the centers.  I plan to do some machine quilting on the top... some stitch in the ditch, and perhaps another design of some sort on the blocks and/or on the background fabric.  I'm still learning to do free motion quilting, and I my attempts are definitely not very professional yet.  Another photo of the finished flimsy is shown below.

The quilts are to be presented in a     coordinating tote bag or pillow case.  I will make a pillow case, but haven't yet decided on the fabrics I will use.

I made quilts for all of my children and grandchildren for Christmas gifts.  Only Griffin chose not to get one, but opted for lounge pants and slippers instead.  I had made him a Storm at Sea quilt some years ago, and I made some pillowcases to match in an Orca whale pattern. 

To the right  is a photo of my Minnesota grandchildren and their mother, with their Christmas quilts.  Notice how 4-year old Charlotte has hers proudly spread out so that the whole quilt is visible.  My son is absent from the photo, as he was the photographer!  Charlotte's quilt is another log cabin variation, made entirely of scraps (except for the borders) from other quilting projects.  My son said she giggled when she opened it, loving the kittens playing on the border.  Quentin's Cars 9-patch is shown in an earlier blog, as are Ava's and their parents' quilts. 

I will make another Quilt of Valor, perhaps something with a 5" charm in the pattern.  I am thinking it may be a variation on a Rail Fence block.  I will take photos and do a tutorial on that, also. 

Today I made some microwave bowl potholders, too.  They are the neatest things!  And so handy... I'll do a tutorial on my blog on those soon.  In the meantime, I hope you are staying warm and that your dreams are colored with crocuses and daffodils.  It won't be long before they appear... unless you are living in the frigid northlands!