In 2003, a mother from Anacortes, Washington, watched her son go off to war. And while the nation’s focus turned toward sending much-needed supplies to troops in the field, Catherine Roberts wondered about the wounded soldiers returning home from battle. What would they receive to comfort and honor them for their service?
Catherine is a quilter, and she did what quilters do when help is needed—she made quilts. She started with three—what she calls Quilts of Valor—and she started the Quilts of Valor Foundation. Today, Catherine’s compassion for post-deployment soldiers has touched thousands of other quilters, who have made more than 65,000 Quilts of Valor to date.
A new Quilts of Valor documentary premieres today on PBS. Martingale is a proud sponsor of the documentary, hosted by Marianne Fons of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting fame. Joining Marianne are three stars of the quilting world—Eleanor Burns, Alex Anderson, and Mark Lipinski—and they each show a new quilter how to make their own Quilt of Valor during the show. The rookie quilters include an Olympic champion; a song-and-dance icon from The Lawrence Welk Show; and one very special everyday hero—a wife and mother, married to an army guardsman who has completed three military deployments.
As you watch three Quilts of Valor take shape before your eyes, you’ll learn how Catherine’s foundation has inspired quilters to make quilts for combat veterans from all branches of the United States military, and you’ll hear personal stories from soldiers, veterans, and their families.
How can you get involved?
1. Make a quilt. Raid your stash, shop ’til you drop, throw a fabric-swap party with your quilting friends to get started—but make a quilt! Get basic quilt requirements; download free Quilts of Valor patterns.
Here’s a free quilt pattern (left) you can download to make your own Quilt of Valor. Donated by 12-time Martingale author Nancy Mahoney, “Square Crossing” features easy strip-piecing and folded-corner techniques. Make the quilt as shown, or substitute blue fabrics for the black pieces.
2. Spread the word about the “Quilts of Valor” documentary. The show starts airing today—check your local PBS station for times. If you aren’t able to find a showing in your area, contact you local PBS station and request that they air the program.
3. Ask your local quilt shop to host an “Under Our Wings” event. Encourage a shop to open its classroom space to make Quilts of Valor for a day. Bring new quilters in and show them the ropes. Then donate the results of everyone’s efforts. Learn more about the “Under Our Wings” project.
Have you made a Quilt of Valor? If not, who would you make a Quilt of Valor for? Share your story in the comments—and be sure to watch the Quilts of Valor documentary (or ask that it be aired!) on your local PBS station.