Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Encouragement to Make Quality Quilts!

I’ve been making QOVs since 2005 and represent QOVF along the Gulf Coast, both with area commands and with various public awareness venues. It’s been a wonderful experience and I encourage people to get involved, and stay involved. I was asked for my thoughts on making the quilts and I offer the following comments with no intent to offend, but to encourage others to make their quilted gifts to wounded service members - the best reflection of the QOVF mission and standards. They are based partly on my quilting experiences, but mostly from my experiences in delivering QOVs made by others.

Being a volunteer doesn’t confer a “make all your own rules” status. I read ALL the links on the website and then comply with those instructions. If I have questions, I contact QOVF. I have always found Catherine and her staff very willing to help and to give encouragement! Following are suggestions on specific areas.

1. QOVF tells you to wash your quilt right before mailing. This is not said as optional; it’s essential! This is the best way to check for loose threads or seams. Washing will remove animal hairs/dander, tobacco odor and the unavoidable accummulation of lint, etc. from the quilt-making process. This is really important if your recipient has allergies, is a non-smoker, or is in the hospital dealing with open wounds following surgery that are highly susceptible to germs! How awful if your lovely gift were to add to the veteran’s problems.

2. Labels. There’s room for creativity here, but keep it within QOVF parameters. The label fulfills two equally important necessities: identifying the quilt at a Quilt of Valor (not just an ordinary quilt) and that it belongs to a specific service member (not just anyone’s quilt). That said, labels need to have an identified line for the recipient’s name to be later written. It needs to state that it is a Quilt of Valor. The other important information includes a short message of respect and appreciation and the name/location of the quilter(s) and the date completed. Explaining the design and any personal information about you is best done with an enclosed letter.
Label size and lettering technique (pen or machine embroidery) are also important considerations. If you make 6” or larger labels and don’t wash your quilt, your quilt looks just fine. But when that large a label, with just handstitching holding it to the quilt, is washed, it becomes puffy and no longer as attractive. Machine satin-stitched lettering looks lovely, but too much makes for a stiff and rough , possibly abrasive to the touch, feeling. Quilts are all about comfort and a stiff fabric or rough lettering won’t feel all that comfortable on bare legs.

3. Presentation cases. QOVF uses that term for a specific reason, but because people often substitute the term ‘pillowcase,’ they instead, make them to a larger than necessary size which is less attractive than a “made to size” for that specific quilt.

QOVF is a terrific organization and I value my involvement! It has expended my life in many ways; I ‘ve made new friends along the way and have been privileged to personally present a number of my QOVs to our wonderful servicemembers .

-Roberta Speh

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