In 1967, the United States Congress officially named Memorial Day as a day to celebrate and remember men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Services. For many years, quiltmakers have been making quilts to honor those service members or comfort the loved ones they left behind. This week’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight features a quilted tribute to a member of the armed service, a stunning and symbolic quilt Suzanne Botts of Missouri made for her oldest son.

Image “I wanted to tell about the one I’m currently working on, which is for my oldest son who retired from a twenty-year career in the Army last fall.

The main body of the quilt is a tan fabric that has a pattern in it that looks sort of like a cracked glaze on pottery. The cracks are an indeterminate color – gray, navy, olive. In the center of that top I appliquéd the head of an eagle from the 101st Airborne’s patch. I didn’t want to put a stark white head on the eagle because I wanted the colors to be somewhat muted in this quilt. And I was lucky enough to find a soft gray fabric that sort of looks like a batik and the pattern in it resembled the grain of feathers so I used that for the eagle’s head. And then his beak of course is a dark gold and his tongue is red as in the patch, the army patch. And I enlarged this and put it in the center of the quilt on an olive-green shield. The top part of the 101st patch that says Airborne, I did the letters for the Airborne out of felted wool. I felted the wool myself and appliquéd those letters on.

Down in the center of the eagle’s neck, I put in, in reverse appliqué, a cross-stitched Army emblem. I set this 101st Airborne patch in the center of an oval, which is meant to represent a tree. The tree stands in my front yard and has born any number of yellow ribbons for my sons who were in Desert Storm and then Chris in Iraq. I couldn’t afford $75 a yard brown linen, so I used a linen tablecloth and cut an oval to surround the eagle. And on the top of that oval, around the top third of that oval, in felted wool letters it reads, ‘We are a band of brothers.’ Around the lower third of that brown oval the letters read, “A rendezvous with destiny,” which is a famous statement made about the destiny of the 101st Airborne.

Up the sides of the oval I am in the process of appliquéing leaves, the pattern for which came from that same tree that carried the yellow ribbon. And segments of the yellow ribbon that was on that tree for the year while my son was in Iraq are being woven into those leaves and will be tied at the bottom of the oval right over a cross-stitch replica of the bronze star that he earned, was awarded for his service in Iraq. It will have his name and service dates. Then I have a collection of patches from all the units in which he served – about twelve of those. And I am cross-stitching labels to identify those patches with the location, for instance Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, the dates he served there, the name of the unit that he was in, and the motto of the unit – Screaming Eagles or whatever.

The cracked glaze fabric that makes up the center of the quilt is bordered with a two-inch wide navy blue band. Three eight-inch borders outside of that are striped with muslin alternated with red and blue striped fabric that has stars in it, representative of the flag. The top right and the lower left corners of the quilt borders are fabric that has the Pledge of Allegiance printed on it. The top left square of the border has a photo of my son, his flag picture, from basic training when he first went in the Army. The lower right hand square of the border has a photo transfer of my son in desert camouflage being greeted by his two daughters at the airport when he came home from Iraq. The caption under that picture will read, ‘Home is the warrior, Home from the fields.’ […]

On a back corner of the quilt near where I will sign my name and date as the maker of the quilt, I plan to put in some form this quote from a WestPoint manual: ‘It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag who allows the protestor to burn the flag.'[…]

The top was presented to him at Christmas. I had not had time since his retirement to complete the whole quilt. I’m still working on it, but the top was intact and we presented it to him at Christmas when the entire family could be present.”

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


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



How To Trim Flying Geese Without A Specialty Ruler

If you don’t have a Bloc-Loc ruler, you may find trimming these flying geese challenging. But by following these steps, you should be able to get four accurate geese in each color!

First, line up your ruler so the point of the flying geese unit will be trimmed exactly ¼” above the point. Try to line the unit up as straight as possible on the other three sides.

Next, flip the unit over. Line up the edge you just cut on the 2” line of the ruler as shown below, and trim the excess from the top.

Flip the unit right side up again. Line the lower left corner up with the 3 ½” mark on your ruler as shown above. Trim the excess on the right.

Finally, flip the unit over again so the point is pointing towards the 2” line. Align the left edge of the unit with the 3 ½” ruler mark as shown above and trim the excess on the right. Your flying goose unit is now ready to be pieced into your block!

Quilt Documentation Tip

 Andrea’s block story is all about the importance of quilt guilds. Quilting can feel solitary, but guilds bring us together. It’s a topic of conversation that was discussed with two Birthday Block of the Month Designers in a recent Textile Talk where the participants all shared emotional stories about their love for their guilds. 

Did you know that your guild can document your quilts as a group? Consider hosting a quilt documentation day in your guild! Follow these instructions and have members share three minute stories about one meaningful quilt in the Quilt Alliance’s signature Go Tell It documentation program. You could even host a screening so all of your members can see the videos! Get in touch at:

See You in October for Month Seven!

Thank you so much to everyone who has participated in the Quilt Alliance’s Birthday Block of the Month so far! Our designer for next month, the seventh block we’re making together, is Bonnie Hunter herself! 

Be sure to tag @quiltalliance and @3rdstoryworkshop on Instagram with your block photos this month, and use the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM. And leave any questions about this month’s block in the comments below!


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