This is the Quilt of Valor I've made for my father-in-law using Kevin the Quilter's Sapphire Stars Mystery that he ran the second half of last year. The design actually stitches out a wee bit larger than the official QOV size limit, but as it's custom made for a specific person, its 72.5 x 96.5 inches will be fine.
It's a heavy quilt, even with a single layer of Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting and a wide backing to make it easier on myself.
|Scott and his dad, Sterling, enjoying last year's eclipse.|
Sterling Caulkins served for almost two years in the Army National Guard before transferring to full active duty in the Air Force. He served as a supplies personnel for 20 years and 21 days before retiring in 1976, putting in deployment time in the newly post-war Korea arena as well as the Vietnam arena a generation later.
When I called him to ask him when he retired and when he started, he perked right up and immediately gave me a full rundown of each base he'd been stationed at with the dates, even, of the changes. I was astonished. I would have to take a good bit of time with each transfer to run our list of PCS's, deployments, and their dates.
Which goes to show just how much this quilt will mean to him. So I listed his stationing places on the label - too bad there wasn't room for the dates. The pocket's functional, though, so he can have us type up some of his stories and put them in there if he wants. (He is mostly blind from macular degeneration, so all the details of this quilt will be "seen" in his mind's eye.)
When Kevin revealed the finished design, the rows in the borders immediately called to my mind the ribbon boards on military dress uniforms. So I knew from the start that I would quilt oak leaf clusters and stars recalling the devices placed on ribbons to signal that a person has earned a given ribbon more than once.
Don't ask me what the difference is between an oak leaf cluster and star. It's a military mystery. They like those. This quilting was put in using Glide 40wt honey gold. It was the last quilting to happen even though it was planned first. And marked first. I used blue quilter's pen and white chalk pencil to trace stencils I cut out of a cereal box before I loaded the top on the frame.
The background was easy for me to figure out. That would be inch-wide single lines to match in with the SID between "ribbons" around the device motifs. Those were made in 50wt. navy Aurifil. [Can you imagine how super-slow I went between those light ribbon colors?? I put in the SID lines before I quilted the motifs, wanting the travel lines in the navy to be under the gold highlighting thread. That worked really well, exactly as desired.) I liked how the straight-line background quilting made it look like the central and border fields are all floating on that single-fabric navy background.
I had no idea how to quilt the rest of the quilt's designs. After playing with my acrylic overlay panel, I decided to put feathers in the star points and faceting in the gemstone centers. The feathers were easy for me. Glide 40wt navy thread. (many brands in this quilt - my longarm thread stash is still meager, so I used what I had)
I wasn't happiest choosing the meander for the stars' background, but I haven't worked at the longarm yet with the McTavishing I would have preferred. This worked fine and met the need for a finish in a timely manner. Superior Microquilter in Lace White. I put in SID and a 1/4" echo line around each star as I did the fill in each section. (To stabilize the quilt at the beginning, I SID all the sashing and the diamond centers of each star with that Microquilter thread.)
So I picked it all out and went with the wisdom that sometimes less is more: I stuck to some simple echo lines inside the gem areas, done in an Affinity 40wt. variegated turquoise.
I needed this to be an Air Force quilt, so I made letter stencils to mark in the USAF's on the sashing. I took the extra time to do individual triple lines on either side (start and stop for each one of those suckers, and I'm a tie/tucker. . . so much work, but the effect I wanted for this). The Lace White worked great here, blending right in on the gray. This quilt has a lot going on, so I didn't want to add extra contrast at the letters. I oriented these the same way around each star - so half the stars have the letters facing them all around, and the other half are the other way.
The cornerstone patchwork on either end of each sash got chevrons radiating from the star points. (also done with the Lace White microquilter thread)
That left figuring out what to do in those vibrant, criss-crossed yellow and red diamonds around the stars. I needed something that would play nice with the rest of the quilting, and wanted to somehow play down the fracturing of the diamonds. My curved ruler came to rescue with some crossing arcs in 40-wt Isocord red or yellow that vaguely made me think of something wing-ish. And therefore somehow AirForcy-ish. You probably had to be in my mind to get that. :)
So that's all the quilting. To finish the quilt, I obtained an authentic Vietnam-era uniform shirt with Sterling's rank on it. His own uniforms were destroyed in a fire, so I had to find one elsewhere. Thanks to Tech Sgt. Simmons, I could make a flanged border with the uniform fabric my husband associates with his father's active duty days.
I could also sew the correct rank patches onto each corner.
And I could make that cool Air Force shirt pocket label. Thank you, Tech Sgt Simmons, and thank you Sterling, for your service during a very difficult period in our military history.
I'm looking forward to this quilt being presented to him. I'm sure he'll keep it on the sofa in his man cave downstairs and show it to everyone who visits.
~*~ Linking up at:
TGIFF Thank Goodness It's Finished Fridays at Sandra's this week
Whoop! Whoop! at Sarah's
One Monthly Goal (OMG) at Elm Street Quilts
2018 Finish-A-Long Q1 at Sandra's