Our mission, should we accept it: Meet at the designated location at the designated hour and put together four quilt tops for the Quilts of Valor Foundation.
Preparations are put in motion. The sewing machines are quietly assembled, bobbins of thread are checked and needle tension set. The quilt patterns are reviewed, fabric strips delivered to each sewing machine and irons heated up. Cups of coffee are poured, sipped at and then scowled at; this is not our Starbucks coffee.
According to plan, a couple of agents went to the store earlier in the month to requisition the coordinating red, white and blue fabrics and to precut it into the strips required for the Rail Fence pattern. This is a time-saver as our mission of putting together four quilt tops will take a good portion of the day to complete. With ten people working 4 – 8 hours today, the mission should all be nearly completed by day’s end.
For some of us, this will be the first time we work on a mission such as this, while others are masters of the craft. Regardless, we have two things in common. One, we are all excited to come together as this local group of the Quilts of Valor Foundation for the first time, and two, we have all had someone close to us who is currently serving in or is a veteran of a war.
After bagels have been settled on, everyone takes a task. The ladies with sewing machines naturally become the seamstresses for the quilt tops being made today though some of us novices also try our hand at sewing a straight line, a critical step in this process. Other tasks include ironers, cutters and gophers. In our group, everyone is willing and able to help in every way so assignments aren’t really necessary. If someone sees something needs to be done, they ask what to do and then set to task.
Against the low hum of sewing machines, a quiet chatter begins to build. We discuss our families, how we miss our Starbucks coffee this morning, and the failures of boyfriends. Our ages range from late teen to grandmother, but we all relate to how boyfriends innately have many faults and typically show no signs of improving. (They often act like double-agents.) We all agree that those very same boyfriends don’t improve as they turn into husbands. It isn’t long before we all feel like a comfortable giggling family.
Half-way into the morning, talk turns to why we all accepted this mission. One of the ladies started our group after attending a previous mission; a quilting party at which quilt tops were being put together that day specifically for the Quilts of Valor Foundation. After researching the Foundation, she began assembling our local group. She recognized it would take a lot of local groups like ours in order to fulfill the goals the Quilts of Valor Foundation set for covering all combat servicemembers and veterans touched by war with a quilt.
While each and every one of us has at least one veteran among our family members, one member of our group is from a true military family. With a brother currently serving in the Navy, and a sister-in-law and husband currently in Iraq, and a brother who did four tours flying Scout helicopters also in Iraq, plus more family in Afghanistan, and more cousins in more branches of the military, she easily wins our one-upmanship as she starts ticking off the family members using fingers on both hands.
The end of the day finds us content with the amount of work completed. The quilt tops’ next stop will be the quilters where the inside batting and the backing will be sewn into the final quilt. Then it’s up to you. Your mission, should you decide to accept it: Use this quilt hand-made with love. Do not stick it on a wall. Do not fold it and leave it in a closet for safekeeping. Wear it out.
This message will self-destruct in five… four… three…