Honor, Courage, Bravery, Valor

Monday, March 28, 2016

I have been doing lots of secret sewing the past two weeks, but I can finally reveal my latest two quilt finishes!

military uniform quiltquilt of valor

(Warning! This is a REALLY long post! There are tons of pictures - and TWO quilts!)

A couple months ago, I received a very large box of Blake's military uniforms. He had served in the Army for eight years and his uniforms had four different types of camouflage.

With the help of his wife, Jenna, we decided on a random patchwork design in order to try to incorporate as many pockets and patches as possible.

I cut the uniforms into squares and rectangles in multiples of 4: 4", 8", 12", or 16" sides. Then I used the computer to digitally arrange what I had cut out and see what additional pieces I needed to cut to fill in any spaces.

I scoured the uniforms for "character." One ink spot and a dry cleaning receipt in a pocket. Nothing I could even fabricate a good story around! Ha!

The first cut into the uniforms turned out to be mentally harder than I expected. I could just feel the stories behind every cut. The people, the deployments, the sacrifice.

I began sewing the pieces together on a Sunday.

I broke the diagram down into large "quadrants" that could be sewn together without partial seams. However, once the eight or so larger pieces were together, partial seams became the only way to sew the top together.

The top became quite large very quickly.

I finished the top on Tuesday. Two days after I started sewing.

The back had it's own bits of character too - now sewn inside the quilt.

After sewing the main part of the top together, I had to travel out of state for a funeral. The boys and I stayed at my parents' house. The rest of the quilt was finished on my mom's sewing machine.

I had some help sewing the borders on!

Once finished, I was able to use my mom's longarm quilting machine to quilt it!

Even Jeremiah helped!

I chose to free motion a geometric design of squares/rectangles. This design allowed for me to quilt around the pockets, patches, and buttons.

I used a variegated thread in dark greens and tans.

I used a lightweight, thin, polyester batting and a solid tan 108" wide quilt back.

I used the desert uniforms to make the double fold binding (with help!).

I finished the quilt Saturday morning with a personalized label. Just 13 days after I started sewing the top.

The quilt finished at 88" x 90". It will fit a queen bed with about a 12" drop on each side.

military uniform quilt

military uniform quilt

The quilt is slightly heavier than a quilt made with regular fabric. Finished, it weighed 7.2 pounds.

military uniform quilt

military uniform quilt

Blake loved the quilt. He immediately mentioned how many memories were in every piece.

military uniform quilt

But wait, there's more! After starting the quilt, I had the idea to make Blake a Quilt of Valor. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. The quilts are registered with the QOV Foundation and awarded to U.S. veterans to honor their service. Blake is a perfect candidate, and I love a good surprise! 

I actually purchased the fabric before having a design in mind! While riding in the car, I found the tiniest picture in a magazine ad for a red, white, and blue quilt that I loved! (The pattern appeared in the 2015 "Quilts for Every Occasion" special issue by All People Quilt and Better Homes & Gardens.) There are specific requirements that the quilts must meet in order to qualify as a Quilt of Valor. Using the picture as a reference, the QOV guidelines, and some online block patterns, I did some quilty math and came up with a game plan.

I began cutting the fabric on a Sunday (one week after starting the uniform quilt!). Now I was sewing two quilts simultaneously!

I wanted to deliver both quilts together - on Saturday. Just six days away.

I had to multitask in order to have any chance of meeting the deadline!

Even though my mom and I have sewing machines that are only one model apart, I found it quite challenging to use an unfamiliar machine.

Three days later - the quilt top was done!

This is the only picture I have of the quilt back. It had to be taken quick - toddlers love to crawl on anything laying on the floor!

It was loaded on the quilting frame not long after taking the uniform one off!

I chose a pantograph from Urban Elementz called "From the Heart." (Available here.) It is the words honor, courage, bravery, and valor combined with stars.

I used white thread and a lightweight polyester batting.

I finished quilting it on Friday (just five days after cutting the first pieces!) and bound it the same day.

I buried the loose threads and attached a personalized label Saturday morning - the same day as delivery! From start to finish, the quilt took six days.

Making a Quilt of Valor was actually on my quilty bucket list! This was my first one, but I see more in my future.

quilt of valor

The quilt measured 70" x 88". It just covers the top of a queen mattress, but is better suited as a large throw quilt.

quilt of valor

quilt of valor

I submitted the information to the Quilt of Valor Foundation so it is registered to Blake for his service.

quilt of valor

I love this quilt. I don't usually make the same quilt twice, but I plan to make this one again! The colors, the pattern, the quilting - it all came together beautifully.

quilt of valor

quilt of valor

Two large quilts from start to finish in two weeks! I hope they bring much joy and get years of use by Blake's family!

Blake, thank you for service!


  1. Thanks Laura for the pictures. They are both beautiful! What an inspiration, just as the inspiration from all those who serve!

  2. This is beautiful!! I'm so glad I could read your story of these quilts! Thank you for sharing. :) It touched my heart. <3

  3. Love them both!! What a great job you did!

  4. Beautiful quilts and really nice to read the backstory on their creation. Man, you are a fast sewer! Very organized. Great that you and your mom share the hobby! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Both of those are so great! I love the step by step of the uniform quilt - I have to use some, and you gave me a great idea. That QOV is Amazing!!! The light and dark is so cool!!!

  6. Wow! I love both quilts, but the story and pictures of what you did with the uniform pieces is wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Laura, I'd love to talk with you about using the photo and your story in a presentation I'm doing about how to create profound remembrances and memories - these would be so powerful and inspiring for people to know about. Can you get ahold of me when it's convenient? Thanks, Kim

    1. Hi, Kim! I'd love to know more about this! Since you are a no-reply commenter, I can not email you. Could you email me at sliceofpilife at gmail dot com? Thank you!


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