Quilts for a Cause: Making the Stars and Straps Quilt

It’s time once again to make a quilt for a cause! In case you haven’t been following along, I plan to make one quilt per fiscal quarter to auction off through EBay for Charity in efforts raise money for various non-profit charity organizations throughout the year. Engaging in this practice helps me feel as though I am giving back to the world at large, all be it one small donation at a time. In addition to “being the good I want to see in the world,” I get a chance to play and experiment with different themes and concepts throughout the year. No doubt this practice will push me creatively and, in addition push me to finish my quilts!

The Q4, 2019 quilt will be auctioned off during November in support of the veteran’s charity Armed Services YMCA. The Armed Services YMCA is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves active duty military members and their families. Each year, ASYMCA serves more than half a million junior enlisted active duty Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen and family members from 200 service centers in 18 states. Whether providing respite childcare for parents in need, summer camps for kids, or assisting with emergency needs, the Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit with a mission: Strengthen Our Military Family. (Description above from the Armed Services YMCA website.)

In keeping with the theme of veterans, the quilt is in the colors of the American Flag; all red, white and blue with some parchment color – think US Constitution- for contrast and depth. The fabrics are a mixture of thrifted, old and new fabrics combining in my scrappy style for this one-of-a-kind throw quilt.

The pattern for the quilt is also part traditional and part invention, keeping with the tradition of America herself. The star blocks are the classic Sawtooth Star Block. Originating in the 1800s, the classic star shape was extremely popular during the Civil War era. Used by Northern women in anti-slavery quilts, the block was known then as the North Star. The block finally received the Sawtooth Star name in approximately 1884 when it was published in Farm and Fireside magazine, a publication based in Ohio, in publication from 1877 through 1939. Featuring a central square surrounded by eight points, the block can be easily sized up or down to fit the overall quilt design. The Sawtooth Star points can either be made using half square triangles or flying geese. I used the Fast Flying Geese Sawtooth Star Block pattern as outlined by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter. For my quilt I chose to make 8 1/2 inch blocks. 

The invented block for this quilt is the Strap Block. Having a desire for a large connecting element, I wanted a thin angled line block that would offset and frame the stars. Now, just like other arts, quilting has been around for centuries, so there no doubt exists a block similar, but I did indeed design the Strap Block myself through just a few experimental attempts. Play and experimentation are some of my most favorite qualities of the quilting arts and I usually cannot help but tinker around with every quilt. Made from four units, the Strap Block has a thin parchment fabric capped on either end with a red accent fabric. Those straps are then set into two triangles of background fabric on either side creating a square with the strap running diagonally through the center. For my backing I used a mixture of a thrifted blue and white striped fabric and Dashes in Blue by Cathy Nordstrom for Andover Fabrics (sorry, no longer in stock, as I bought the last bit) with its little blue dash lines reminiscent of the thrifted fabric. In hindsight a non-directional fabric would have made this quilt a whole lot easier. There were definitely blocks where I struggled to match the direction of the lines, or simply couldn’t line them up at all. I am not a perfectionist, so overall this doesn’t bother me and I think it adds another element to the quilt, but non-directional prints would avoid this issue all together and reduce fussing time. 

To create the overall pattern for the quilt, I created 32 Sawtooth Star Blocks and 32 Strap Blocks and alternated their placement across the rows and columns. I was very pleased to see the extra pattern created by the Strap Block where they are more of a wonky cross in the interior and diamond points where they connect with their neighbor.

Overall the quilt came out extremely close to my original vision. I just love when I can make this happen! I feel I have made great achievements in the past year in being able to translate a sketch or design concept into a finished project that really encapsulates the original vision. Success in taking concepts from inspiration to physical form so closely is one of my greatest aspirations, and when I feel I have done it, my greatest achievements!

Next week I will be finishing the Stars and Straps Throw Quilt and listing it for auction. The backing (and possibly binding, I haven’t decided) of the throw quilt, which will finish at approximately 64in square, will be this soft flannel in -yep, you guessed it!- red, white and blue. Hopefully it will raise a nice chunk of change for The Armed Services YMCA. Doing something like this through my creative talents is exceptionally rewarding for me, as well as a great opportunity to give pause and appreciation for all of the ways in which other people make the world a better or safer place. I hope you will consider bidding on the Stars and Straps quilt, as well as pass along the word to friends and family.

I hope you enjoyed the small history lesson and explanation of the Stars and Straps Throw Quilt. Consider making a donation to support military families through the Armed Services YMCA website. Have a creative week! Janice

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(©2019, Janice Bailor // laruedefleurs.com)