Beginning this weekend, a Glenville quilt store will become a gallery for 53 patriotic quilts crafted by quilt designers from around the country in an expression of gratitude to America’s veterans.
The Joyful Quilter is one of four retail stores nationwide hosting the traveling exhibition “Quilted in Honor,” a quilt show spearheaded by the fabric company Island Batik to raise funds for returning veterans.
Island Batik’s president, Caleb Willis, was inspired to help the troops by a friend he had growing up. Willis watched his childhood friend, after four overseas deployments, struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome, financial problems and other issues that affect many returned veterans.
Willis wanted to help, but he wanted to make it about more than just writing a check. He sought to make the effort one that involved the quilting industry all the way from manufacturers and designers to hometown quilters.
‘Quilted in honor’
To this end, his team designed a line of 45 fabrics called “Quilted in Honor” as the springboard for the effort. “They’re created to inspire quilters, sewing enthusiasts, guilds and shops to really around our troops and give back in an innovative way,” Willis said.
Hearts of Gratitude Quilt Show
WHERE: The Joyful Quilter, 19 Glenridge Road, Glenville
WHEN: Saturday-April 6, during store hours
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 399-0128, www.joyfulquilter.com
Willis rallied his own troops in the quilting industry, partnering with companies that manufacture quilting supplies like batting and thread, to contribute a portion of sales to the cause. He also enlisted the help of prominent quilt designers to donate their services.
One of these designers is Ballston Lake resident Mary Hoover, who operates a quilt pattern company with her sister, Barbara Persing of Frederick, Pa. The two were excited to be part of the Quilted in Honor effort. Their father was a Korean War veteran, Hoover’s husband is a Vietnam veteran, and their niece is in the Army.
Their quilt, “Remember,” was inspired by a childhood memory. “What we remembered as kids is that at every parade or where you would see a group of military men, they were always wearing those red flowers, and we decided to just look up what those poppies meant,” Hoover said. The quilt features a field of red poppies appliqued on a background of blue fabric made up of panels of various width fabric strips sewn together in a random manner, a technique that the sisters developed. In the upper left corner of the quilt is a group of white stars. The “strata” is a quilting technique that the sisters created.
Patterns for the 53 quilts that are a part of the project are available either for free download or $5 each. The patterns and accompanying line of fabrics have been inspiring Capital District quilters.
Ballston Spa’s Debbie Mackley one. As the wife of a 25-year submarine service veteran, Mackley has worked on several of the projects. She has been piecing together a quilt named “Courage” by designer Kari Nichols. The quilt, which the Joyful Quilter will donate, uses batik fabrics that mimic desert camouflage uniforms. Mackley also made “Dawn’s Early Light,” a pattern by Doug Leko, as a gift for her husband. When Hoover taught a class on “Remember,” she also crafted that wall hanging, and she helped to make another design, “Military Stars” for the store to donate. On deck, she has downloaded the pattern “Amber Waves” to make for a friend who is a veteran.
“I married my husband when I was 21 years old, and we had two boys right away, and I know what it’s like to be alone,” Mackley said.
Store owner Susan Pettengill hopes that the Joyful Quilter show, which has been broadened in scope and named “Hearts of Gratitude,” will inspire conversation for veterans. “My dad served in the Army Air Force in World War II and never talked about it,” she said. During Veterans Day discussions at school, her children didn’t know that both their grandfathers were World War II veterans, she said. She plans to augment the quilt displays with military memorabilia that will encourage veterans who come to see the show to talk about their memories and their service.
While she was inspired to host the show because of her father, the more she learned about its charity, Operation Homefront, the more strongly she felt that she needed to support the effort. To that end, she is suspending classes while the exhibition is on display and is also making quilt kits for a “Quilters Newsletter” block of the month pattern that uses the Quilted in Honor fabric. “We have people participating in our block of the month from all over the country,” she said. “Our goal is to get 250 quilters making quilts which can be kept and enjoyed or donated.”
All 53 of the quilts, in creative, innovative and unique designs will be on display at the Joyful Quilter, and a grand opening with extended hours for viewing the exhibition will take place on March 28-30. The Voorheesville Village Quilters, a quilting guild, will help with the display.
While Pettengill hopes that quilt guilds and enthusiasts will come to see the exhibition, she stressed that it’s not just for quilters. “It’s really for everyone to come and enjoy what’s been created in an expression of gratitude to our military men and women. It is very moving even if you’re not a quilter,” she said.
Operation Homefront supports currently serving military personnel.