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I am a quilter living in Woodbridge, Suffolk who has made quilts since I was a teenager. I also ring bells! Both are great British traditions....I will try to feature some of my antique Welsh and Durham quilts, the quilts I make myself, my quilting activities and also some of my bellringing achievements. Plus as many photos as I can manage. NB: Double click on the photos to see greater detail, then use back button to return to the main page.

Monday 4 April 2011

American Red Cross Quilt

Earlier, I talked about Grandmother Marie Fuller's patchwork patterns; among the items was this book - The Priscilla War Work Book - Comforts for Soldiers and Sailors. It cost 25 cents and was published in 1917. Publisher's Note - "The purpose of this book is to provide the home worker with specific information in regard to the making of the many different articles which are needed for the comfort of the men "at the front"....Finished articles are to be sent to a local Red Cross Chapter if possible....keep in close touch to find out for what articles there is the greatest need...Directions....may be followed with the assurance that the finished articles, if well made, will be acceptable". Ah! the insistence on good workmanship! This was not the first instance of using quilts to raise money - quilts were often auctioned or sold in the past for funds. My Hawick quilt was made and sold by a church quilting group for funds to build a new church after the original one burned down. Signature quilts were a well known means of fundraising - Quilt Treasures (Quilters Guild book documenting the UK quilt documentation days 1990 - 1993) shows several quilts with signatures including one made to raise funds during WWI. Many date from the 1890's. Of course the idea of signing or inking quilts had started much earlier, including the well known Album Quilts circa 1850's, made to give to church members who were moving away. But the Red Cross quilts were a high profile effort - and helped to establish the fundraising signature quilt, incorporating as it did the values of volunteer work and community, bravery and the care of the sick and wounded. Here you can see the suggested quilt design - a variation of the simple four patch block. You can double click on this photo to see the detail. It is suggested as an uncomplicated project for small groups of women. Squares or spaces were to be sold, with names inked or embroidered with the name of the contributor. Printed slips provided a receipt to the donor, with the remainder given to a treasurer along with the money collected. With a sliding scale of charges, over $1000 could be raised. Memorial blocks in the centre were the most costly at $25 each, corner blocks $5,with other spaces going for 25 cents. Plain blocks were available to those who did not want their names displayed but who still wanted to donate money.
A pattern was given, although it was suggested that more original ideas could also be used. Materials to be used were white cloth and turkey red cotton. The back of the quilt could contain plain white blocks which could be sold for additional funds. It was suggested that the money raised might be used to buy yarn, "with which to supply knitters who are only too happy to do the work, if the materials can be provided".

A modern version of the pattern is given at this site:

The original pattern called for 6 yd of 90" wide bleached white cotton sheeting, and 6 yd of 27" wide turkey red fabric.

The American Red Cross Museum has a Red Cross quilt signed by, amongst others, President Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Theodore Roosevelt and Sarah Bernhardt. Normally this quilt is able to be viewed online, but at the moment the link is not working.There are WWII vintage knitting patterns available on this page:

Here is another Red Cross Quilt from the IQSG website; it shows a quilt made by the Third Grade Sunday School Class of the First Methodist Church of Lincoln,Nebraska, date given circa 1916. Size is 76 by 66 inches. Pretty good work for third graders, I think they might have had some help!

And here is a modern quilt made to the Woman's Work pattern -no signatures. Find it, with further photos at this site:

This quilt is more heavily quilted than the original, which was very minimally quilted (only a diagonal line of stitching at each corner of the block).

Well - lack of quilting lets me off the hook! but I am interested in how the idea of fundraising and making items for comfort giving is still alive and flourishing today.

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