Saturday, September 11, 2010

He will be missed, but his ability to inspire lives on.

The QOVF Community lost one of its most inspiring and prolific icons yesterday. Al Lind, WWII veteran and POW, died at his home at age 92. Al's dedication to making Quilts of Valor and reaching across the generations to offer honor, comfort and healing is a model for us all. He will be telling us to "Get off your duff and make a Quilt of Valor" until every wounded warrior is covered.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Survivor: Battle for Fallujah

Notes From Down Range by Karen Fredrickson

I want to extend my gratitude to Cheri Caiella and to Kathy Godwin for sharing their experiences with all of us via the June and July QOV newsletters. As you may recall, Cheri introduced us to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (I hate that word "disorder") and Traumatic Brain Injury through her experiences with her son, a Marine who served in Iraq. Kathy brought us in to her family's life as they learned that their son and brother had been killed in the line of duty in Iraq, and as they continue to live with their devastating loss. This month a Marine wife, Kimberly Ekholm, shares an article that she wrote almost 6 years ago. Kimberly's husband Kristian served with 1st Battalion 8th Marines and was with 1/8 as they fought their way through Fallujah, Iraq as part of Operation Phantom Fury. Kristian is still a Marine today. Kimberly serves as well, with the US State Department. And they have now been married 15 years. Kimberly will be sharing another article with us next month. After you read Kimberly's article I hope that if you pray, you will take a moment and pray a heartfelt prayer for all of those serving in harm's way and for all of the spouses back home who serve as well. I attended a young Marine's funeral this past week and I can tell you that nothing compares to the grief felt by a 20 something widow. God bless her, God bless our troops, and God bless their families who wait anxiously at home.

If you have comments or questions for Kimberly feel free to email them to me: and I will forward them to Kimberly.

Article in Full from September QOVF Newsletter

Survivor: Battle for Fallujah
A Military Spouse's perspective

By Kimberly Ekholm

I have something to say. I know I’m only a spouse/wife, but I’m a survivor too. Unless you are a military spouse who has waited night and day to see if your husband would call after a great battle or if it would be the Chaplain and another soldier coming to your door you can’t possibly know what I survived, what all of us survive as a military spouse.

As far as spouses go, well…military spouses are a different breed, especially if we survive. I’m referring to a military spouse that spends more Holidays and Anniversaries alone or without her husband because he is deployed. I’m talking about a spouse who has sent her husband away for longer than a fortnight and doesn’t expect to speak to him even with our advanced technology. I’m talking about a grunt’s wife and a spouse who made it through the battle for Fallujah!

Have you ever sat at the end of your street because you were too frightened to see if the military was in your driveway?? For a military spouse this is the ultimate scare. And, that’s what happens when a Marine dies. The military sends a Chaplain and another military member to your house to tell you in person that your Marine died. I am sorry for those women and families and admire their strength, their sacrifice and their valor. I can’t imagine their pain. My focus is on us, the ones that survive with their families intact, the ones that live to face it all again while we wait at home.

Anguish, heart-wrenching pain from the bottom of your gut could not explain what it’s like to wait while a battle rages and the world stops. At least, for me, it stopped. While the Marines saw heavy artillery dropped in the building next door and crossed streets as insurgents lobbed bullets and grenades at them….well, we’ve all seen the pictures and watched the news. But, I’ll never forget the battle I fought for 14 days. The battle that crawled in my door and raged right here in my heart and home.

Every morning, during Fallujah, I drove my son to school and returned to the end of my street, to wait. And gather the courage to crest the edge of the hill and peek around the trees, praying all the while that my driveway was clear, with no cars, no immaculately dressed Marines and no abrupt halt to life as I know it.

Every morning, I would surf the newscast to see what the reporters could show me of my husband. I scanned each picture and read each word just to catch a glimpse of him or see his name in quotes. Anything I could find on the web or glean off the newscast was my prey. I know, “if you watch too much you’ll become obsessed and that won’t help you get through this difficult time”. The psychos can babble all they want, but they would be doing the same thing if they had to survive what I did.

As the battle raged, so did my anxiety. Every phone call I received had the potential to be disastrous. Kristian could call and say he was injured or his 1st Sgt could call and say the military needed me to fly somewhere to be with him as his injury was very close to death. Or, and this was the worst, a spouse could call gulping out that she heard about a few deaths and didn’t know who they were.

I had this phone call often. Very often I would pick up the phone and hear a distraught voice at the other end. I knew that a spouse was on the other end trying to be strong and not fall apart. As she gulped out her words, we both thought, “Oh my God, is it me”. Neither of us said it out of sensitivity for the other spouse, but I know we both thought it.

We were all terrified that the next person to have the fatal wound would be ourselves as we watched, in our mind’s view, the military come to our door and pull the trigger. None of us could predict how we’d handle that situation. We’ve all seen the news about how one person torched himself and the DOD vehicle when he was told of his son’s death or how one of our own spouses stopped her car and got out to run down the street away from the notifying Causality Assistance team.

The sad truth is, we spouses that are married to the Marines of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines had to think about what we would do or how we might react to this grief should it be placed in our laps. Oh, I don’t mean a casual thought. I mean a truthful look into your own soul to view how I might handle a loss that was standing at my door waiting to blow it open.

My answer to that question is, and hopefully by God’s grace, will always remain….I don’t know. Let’s face it, I had to ask myself, but thankfully, I didn’t have to answer. I would like to think I’d be calm, cool and collected like other spouses that quietly take their husband’s flag or watch as a Marine drapes a gold dog tag around their children’s neck. Oh, the tears I spill just thinking of the grief for those that have sacrificed all…you and I can’t even fathom.

Today is my husband and my ninth wedding anniversary. We don’t usually exchange gifts because most of the time we are not together to see each other open the gift. But, today was different. Today my husband gave me a gift that was from his heart. The card was well written and the ruby and diamond necklace is beautiful, but that’s not the gift I’m speaking of.

When Kristian was ready to leave this morning I crawled out of bed to give him a kiss goodbye. He mumbled, as he raced into the bathroom, that he could wait no longer and handed me a card and a present. I opened both and was deeply touched by his enthusiasm and heartfelt gratitude for nine wonderful years of marriage. But, the greatest gift came later when I called to thank him. He said that this was a “special anniversary”. When I asked him why, since actually next year is ten years and that would be the world’s view of a ‘special’ anniversary, he casually blew it off and I could see him shrug his shoulders over the phone. What I realized, as we both hung up, was that this is his way of saying, “You survived too.” He fought in “the Battle for Fallujah” and came home unscathed physically and to a hero’s welcome, and, in his eyes, I fought and won my own battle as well.

It may not have been fought with guns, RPG’s, grenades and bullets whizzing past, but, it was fought with the same bravery, courage and valor every Marine needs to defend himself against the enemy. This battle was fought at the home of every military family that has a wife at home waiting, watching and praying. The irony now, is that my life will never be the same. I will always remember the slowness of the battle and the depth of my passion for my husband. He and I will always remember that we both survived a great battle and we both may have to face it again….and survive.

QOVs in the News

451st AEW receives quilts to comfort wounded
Lt. Col. Camille Looney, 451st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron CASF flight commander, said she is humbled to be a part of this process. She is also glad to have Quilts of Valor for her patients because she said it's nice to be able to send them to the plane with something to cover themselves with other than just a pair of pajamas.
"Most of the people we get through here are so critically injured that they're either unconscious or don't know what's going on, but we know what it means for them," the colonel said.

Homemade quilts warm Soldiers' hearts
“The true thanks belongs to the people who made these quilts,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Bertrand. “It is really nice of them to do something like this.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Southeastern Wisconsin News and Needs

We had a great response to our QOV display at Winkie’s Variety Store in Whitefish Bay during July. First, we did a presentation to the Milwaukee Slovak Historical Society. The Camo Quilts presented first and then we talked about Quilts of Valor. We called the Camo Quilts the departing quilt for those heading to war, and QOV the welcome home quilts for those “touched” by the war. We will be speaking to the Shorewood Women’s Club in mid-September, and presenting two quilts at that time. One is for a WWII combat nurse and the other for an active duty Army nurse who has served in both of the current war zones.

Another call was a request for us to participate in the Veterans’ Recognition Program being planned by the Milwaukee County Diversity Committee for early November. They have requested 80 quilts to be presented to Veterans and active duty military members who are current County employees. They have been deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. Some were in the first Gulf War, and a few in Viet Nam. WE NEED YOUR HELP in gathering all these quilts. Please let me know if you can send one or more quilts. I would like to have all of them by Halloween so that we can put the recipient’s name on the label, as well as name tags on the presentation cases. As you know, there’s no such thing as having too many quilts as we receive frequent requests and we will be working with Dry Hootch to identify returning Veterans who need what we have long called quilted hugs of gratitude.

Several of our regular piecers and quilters joined us at the first Milwaukee Machine Quilting Show in early August. We all had a great time talking about Quilts of Valor with folks at the show. I think a lot of people thought the show was just for long armers and machine quilters, but there was something for everyone and we had a ball! We presented a QOV to Jim Simons, the event organizer and CEO of Quilter’s Rule. Jim is a Viet Nam Army Veteran and Bronze Star recipient. Jim’s quilt was pieced by Judy Johnson; quilted by Grace Park of Enchanted; bound by Jean Callaghan; and the presentation case made by Sandy Sylvester, all of Santa Fe, NM. Jim received a standing ovation from the teachers, vendors, and participants.

We’re ‘sew’ excited that Ye Olde Schoolhouse Quilts, the shop that hosts our monthly QOV sewing day, has been selected a Top Shop for the fall issue of Better Homes & Garden’s Quilt Sampler! Jeanie’s quilt is on the cover of the magazine! The shop’s QFL (Quilting Football League) team - the Bobbin Robins - have been very generous with their time and talents, donating blocks for quilts (three tops pieced, another to go) and nearly two dozen presentation cases! Some of our teammates are now coming to our sewing days!

Last but certainly not least, Dick has gone from “just” layout design to actually piecing blocks and assembling tops (okay, so I helped with the latter). Fortunately we have enough sewing machines that there’s no fighting over that - he uses the newest one!

Thank you all, for all you do!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Instructions for washing QOV materials and finished QOV’s

Wash all the material BEFORE you begin working on your project and use a Color Catcher in the machine.  If it comes out as white as it went in, your fabric was really colorfast, if it comes out any color other than white, just image what that would have done to your finished product.  We are mostly using reds and navy blues which have a tendency to bleed – even Batiks will bleed in these colors, so to prevent ruination of your finished quilt, washing before hand is a wise move.  If you prefer to have the ‘stiffened’ condition that new material has, you can always apply spray starch or fabric sizer to the washed fabric.
There are a couple of reasons WHY we also wash the finished quilt. 
1)Think about how long the material was in your stash, how long you spent on the quilt – cutting, ironing, being distracted, having a pet in the room, maybe even sometimes laying on it – in other words, dust, your skin oils and pet dander just may have gotten on the quilt top during the process.  And, if your top was sent off to a long-armer, you can’t be certain that the quilt was handled in a sterile environment (naturally all our long-armers are careful of your quilt top, but they are human and do have to touch the quilt to mount it on their frame - and add their skin oils)
2) These quilts are given in ‘thanksgiving’ for service to our country.  We are proud to be presenting them, and they should be in the best condition that they can be in – like the ‘spit polish’ inspections our service people are accustomed to doing.  Just because the material was washed before the quilt was made does not preclude the requirement to wash the quilt upon completion (besides, it fluffs it up nicely). 
Once again, use the Color Catcher – I’ve had some Batiks (navy blue) lose dye even after the third washing.  And, there is nothing more heart breaking than to have a quilt come out with the red dye run into the white – or if you have a large machine like I do, it bleeds onto another quilt as well.  I’ve personally suffered this distress more than once – especially when I completed someone else’s quilt without knowing if the material was pre-washed or not. 
Sometimes OXYCLEAN can remove most of the bleeding dye, if sprayed directly on the spot(s).  It’s like Almond Joy – sometimes it won’t.  But an additional washing (third time is the charm) will mellow it out without really fading all the material colors in the balance of the quilt.
Just like measure twice, cut once – wash twice and present with pride!!!
Suzanne Wade

QUALITY QUILTS (cont. from Sept. Newsletter)

Article in Full from September Newsletter

There is nothing I like better than quilts – I like choosing the pattern and planning the layout. I like selecting (another word for shopping) the fabric. Notice I am not saying I like cutting out the pieces. What I would like is to have an elf come in the night and cut out all the pieces for me, like the one in the shoemaker fairy tale. I like sewing all the pieces together whether it be by hand (yes, I do hand piece some QOVs) or by machine. For me it’s like putting a puzzle together and getting a beautiful picture when done. I like the feeling of accomplishment when the quilt is completed. Best of all I like knowing that the QOV will be awarded to a deserving individual who will know that they are honored and appreciated for their service.

When I begin to plan a QOV several things come to mind, the first being what pattern to use. I tend to gravitate toward patterns with lots of little pieces and then wonder what on earth I was thinking as I sit sewing all those blocks so I try to save those patterns for my hand piecing projects. Patterns with huge pieces aren’t the answer either. They don’t have the same beauty or demonstrate the talent of the quilter like the smaller pieced blocks. It is about personal preference though and one suggestion would be to think - would I like to receive a quilt made with this pattern? If the answer is yes, then there you go.

Next is choosing the fabric. Somehow, even though I have lots of fabric (stash) it never seems like I have just the right color or pattern for the project. So that means I have to go shopping. (I am sure that has happened to all of us and it is such a chore.) Anyway, even though a fabric may be 100% cotton that does not necessarily mean it is suitable to use in a QOV. The fabric should be soft and smooth to the touch and thick enough so you cannot see through it. If the fabric doesn’t “feel” good to me and I wouldn’t use it for a “personal” quilt then I don’t use it to make a QOV. I want the QOV to be soft and cuddly so the recipient wants to wrap up in it and it feels good. That brings up the issue of size. The minimum size for a QOV is 55” x 65” and no larger than 72” x 90”. I lean toward the larger end of the size requirement as I want the QOV to provide comfort and I want it to be used.

Attention to detail results in a quality Quilt of Valor. Precise cutting and sewing demonstrates the skill of the quilter and enhances the beauty of the quilt. Measuring from top to bottom and side to side for borders can prevent wavy edges. Tip: when measuring for borders, measure in the center of the quilt top from top to bottom and across the middle from side to side to determine the length of the border pieces . It may take a little more time but the end result is worth the effort. Quilt backs are also important as they can be a showcase for the quilting. We want the back to be as soft and comfortable as the front. Backs should be at least 3 inches larger on all sides than the quilt top. I tend to make them 6 inches larger all around to give the longarm quilter plenty to work with. My preference is to use flannel for the backing but be aware that prewashing flannel is necessary as there is definitely shrinkage.

So, finally the top is done, the back is pieced, the quilting is finished and then binding is on. One would think that is the end but not quite. There are 3 “little things” left to do. The first is a label. Each QOV must have a label which identifies it as a “Quilt of Valor”. The names and locations of the quilt topper and machine quilter should be included. The date completed is also important, even if it is just the year in which the QOV was made and there should be a space for Presented to:________________ so the name of the recipient can be written on the label. You can also include a short dedication or message to the recipient. The second “little thing” is a journal or letter or note. It has been my experience over the years that a journal or letter or note makes the gift so much more personal for the person receiving the QOV. During the presentation of a QOV I have seen eyes tear up after reading just a short note from the quilter. It makes it just that much more special. And the last “little thing” is the presentation case. I think of it as the “gift wrap” for a QOV. The case may be of a size made just to fit the QOV or it may be the size of a pillow case. If you don’t have a favorite pillowcase pattern or you are unsure about the case, one suggestion would be to view a demonstration of the “sausage pillow case” by Judy on YouTube. I have become addicted to the pattern and don’t make the cases other way now.

Thankfully, I have reached the end. I know I have rambled on and on and could have probably just put together a “list” of requirements but that would be boring so just to summarize:

Use quality 100% cotton fabric

Minimum size 55x65 and no larger than 72x90

Backing at least 3 inches larger on all sides than the top

Must have a label

Must have a presentation case

Suggested to include a journal or letter

My personal thanks go out to all who continue to support the mission of Quilts of Valor Foundation. It is my pleasure and privilege to be a part of this endeavor.

Laurel Braunstein
Reg. 9 Coordinator

Tips and Ideas for You

My tip is this: wear or carry something that displays "QOV" (such as a t-shirt or tote bag). That small gesture provides an opening for discussion when shopping LQS or in the community. I also try to show at least one or two completed quilts to the guilds I belong to each month and ask anyone interested in further QOV information to contact me at the end of the meeting.

Submitted by: Cynthia Chaffee

Pellon Batting Discount

The Pellon company is making it possible for those who quilt an average of 2 or more QOVs per month to purchase 60 yd rolls of 60” Legacy 80/20 batting at cost ($66)plus the distributor’s shipping costs. 
This means than the participating Legacy Longarm Distributors make zero profit on these rolls.  Therefore, they want to be sure they are selling it to verified QOV quilters.  They are doing that by emailing me to see if you are signed up as a longarm volunteer and actively quilting QOVs.

If you have not signed up as a longarm volunteer, even if you signed up for the longarmer email list, I do not have you on any of my active quilter lists.  Sign up now! 
If you are a local group who wants to purchase the batting for your quilters, you must be registered as a local group and report your donations of QOVs if you are not going through Destination Requests on the website.
Questions? Please contact June at

Region 5 News

Lincoln QOV

On May 21, at the Lincoln Guild Quilt Show, QOV’s Regional 5 Coordinator Sara Kenny gave a demo on making string blocks on a paper foundation. We displayed several string quilts, Kaleidoscope Star and Pyramids which we learned at the Bernina Sewing Studio QOV Workshop with Judy Gasseling from Minden, NE.

June was a busy month for Lincoln QOV! On June 13, the Legion Riders Post 3 held their Legacy Scholarship Raffle. The raffle was held at the Legion Hall in Ceresco, NE, I had the pleasure of drawing the winning ticket!!

The winners: Rick and Marte Mills

Mr. Mills is the Sergeant-At-Arms for Legion Riders Post 3

Received the following note from Ed Waymire, Commander, American Legion Riders Post #3, Lincoln, Nebraska---It (the quilt) really couldn't have gone to a better home or a more deserving couple. I know it will have a cherished place in their lives. Thanks again for all the work you folks put into doing this and helping us raise money for the children of our service men and women killed on and after September 11th.

Commander Waymire said $1,500 was raised in ticket sales for the raffle. How about that?

June 18, 4 Quilts of Valor were presented to members of the VR-21 Reunion (U.S. Navy, my husband’s unit) in Branson, MO. A BIG thank you goes out to several members of the Lincoln Guild for helping me reach the goal of 6 finished quilts. Two QOV’s will be mailed to their recipients’; they were unable to attend the reunion.

I will continue working with VR21 Reunion organizers, Ken & Sherry Coop, to cover the reminder of the VR-21 vets.

Upcoming events, again this fall Quilt of Valor will be involved in the Lincoln Guild’s Outreach programs. Our first date at IQSC will be September 11. Also plans are in the making for another event hosted by Bernina at the Hancock Fabric store here in Lincoln. I was contacted via our QOV site map. So it does pay to record individually or by group name. It will be a busy fall for Lincoln QOV!!

Happy Quilting
Julia Schroeder
Co-Regional Coordinator
Region 5

Recognizing Dot Smally


Every month Dot Smally designs the" Valor quilt' which our guild will make for the month. Dot makes a pattern of "One Square"-then posts the pattern on the computer-She also shows us what the quilt will look likes when completed and we can down load the pattern.

At our meeting each month Dot collects the squares that have been made and puts the squares together and we sew the squares at the meeting. If we are unable to finish the quilt top, Dot will sew the rest of the squares together herself. If Dot is short some of the squares she will make the squares to finish the quilt. After the quilt is sewn, batting, backing and doing the quilting. Dot brings the finished quilt to the quilt meeting to show us the quilt and then Dot presents the quilt to a service person at the hospital who is recovering from injuries.

Submitted by: MJ Hayes

Tidewater Quilters Guild

The afternoon of Saturday, 24 July, a QOVs workshop was held at What's Your Stitch 'n Stuff quilt shop in Virginia Beach, VA to celebrate the guild's accomplishment of sending 1,000 QOVs to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center ICU in Germany. The ten tops assembled by Tidewater Quilters Guild members, many which are already in the hands of guild longarm quilters, is a great way to start the next group of quilts bound for Landstuhl.

During the workshop a QOV was presented to gold star mother Darlene Kelly of Virginia Beach. It was made for her by her friend Susan Long. The local newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, send a reporter to the quilt shop to write an article and take a few photos. The article appeared as the cover story for the Sunday, 1 August edition of the Virginian-Pilot's Beacon (Virginia Beach's local insert to the paper).

Mary Lynn Slough
Wartime Quilter

Mildred Sherreitt Has Completed 100 QOVs!!

Mildred Sherreitt, Downey, Ca, just had her 100th Quilt of Valor completed by Cameron Teasdale, Moraga, CA. Each quilts was carefully pieced in red, white, and blue and contained a special embroidered block as well.