There’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving: delicious food, the presence of family, the sharing of gratitude, the after lunch nap. But this week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving: Turkey! From an aptly named quilt pattern to rework embroidery to a special international quilt swap, we’re celebrating all things Turkey today at the Quilt Alliance.


 Marlene Feldt of Colorado shared her ‘Turkey Tracks’ quilt and a story about the origins of this pattern’s name:

“The quilt is Turkey Tracks. It’s a very popular, common pattern, except that it’s usually done in reds and yellows. I think basically reds. I’ve done it in browns. Turkey Tracks wasn’t the original name. It has sort of an interesting story. The original name was Wandering Foot. Apparently, nobody wanted their kids to have wandering feet, or their husbands to have wandering feet, or what have you. So the name was changed to Turkey Tracks somewhere along the line and that’s how I know it by of course.”


ImageThe border of Judith Robinette’s railroad-themed quilt was inspired by a boyhood memory of hitchhiking turkeys:

“I wanted to create the look of railroad tracks around three sides. A year or so ago a friend of mine, Orin “Bub” Kepper, who has since passed away, spoke at Winfield’s annual Railroad Day of his boyhood days with the railroad bisecting the family farm. He told how their turkeys would fly over the fence and get on the tracks. How, when the engines stopped and the men would climb down and shoo the turkeys off the track, a few turkeys would fly up on the cars and ride away to Washington [Iowa]. He said the railroad always claimed they returned all the birds on the return trip, but he just knew they enjoyed free turkeys for Sunday dinners. He also told how he and every other kid would place pennies on the tracks to be flattened by the next passing train. So, I decided to place a turkey and a penny on the tracks in Bub’s memory.”



Olga Jean Christoper McLaren celebrated Texas with her Turkey red embroidered quilt:

“The embroidery is all in redwork called Turkey red. There were a lot of the early Germans who came to Texas that did this work. I thought it was unique to them until a friend gave me a book, “Red & White American Redwork Quilts” by Deborah Harding, that I learned the true history of redwork. And that this came from Europe. The old ideas were that people thought anything from Eastern Mediterranean countries was really from Turkey. This was the only fast red thread so it became know as Turkey red. It was available in America after 1829. [T]his quilt has a number of aspects and all about Texas. It has the early flags of Texas, and the Texas flag is the dominant part of the quilt. I think our state flag is one of the most appealing and beautifully designed of any flag. There are other aspects of the state such as the heroes of the state, places of historical interest, and all of the state’s symbols.”

Linda Poole of Pennsylvania shares the story of collaborating with a quilter in Turkey and discovering a quilt’s power to bring people together:

Image“This quilt was an exchange between twenty Turkish girls and twenty Americans and we each got to keep our block that we exchanged with our block mate from the other country and the American girls sent twenty floral blocks over to Turkey and they’re going to finish our blocks into little small quilts and the twenty blocks we received from Turkey we will finish into small quilts and I just finished curating an American-Turkish Quilt Exhibit… The label on the back is called “Sunrise, Sunsets” and I can read this: ‘This quilt began in Ankara, Turkey, with my friend Gunsu Gungor the designer/maker of the center square. The border and quilting were added by me. Our friendship will always be the sunrise and sunsets of my life, a constant joy.’ We are very, very good friends. I wished we lived closer, because there is a whole ocean between us… I think it [quilting] brought women together. In the last millennium, it definitely, there are so many guilds and groups. I want to say camaraderie again–it’s my word for everything. It’s a common–you can talk to people and not even know them and you can–Just look at us two we have a common friendship with someone in Turkey.”

You can read more quilt stories (with and without turkeys) on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance site.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories