Jul 4, 2020

Celebrate Patriotic Quilting

My heart was so touched by the story a fellow quilter shared one morning long before Covid changed all our lives and all of the fun things I did and shared with other sewists and quilters.

 We both were volunteer quilting and blanket making at a monthly get together for "Alexia's Cozy Covers" on a Saturday here in Salem, Oregon.

I asked fellow volunteer, Terry Raphun,  if she'd gotten her last project done. She'd not only finished it but delivered it personally to Pierre Van Der Wielen from Golden Valley, Arizona.

And the QOV Arizona State Representative came from Tucson to present this quilt making it an extra special event for everyone involved!

A heart touching tribute and lovingly given as well as gratefully received! Terry said it was an awesome experience. Just hearing about it brought tears to my eyes as  it reminded me why we volunteer, why we quilt, and what keeps us giving and giving to others in our community and beyond.

The making of quilts from our hands, and filled with caring energies from our hearts, truly is the best gift in the world. But Terry also included a pillowcase for the quilt and a wonderful assortment of handmade gifts for the  QOV Representative. 

A wonderful extra for making the day even more special. How nice is that?!

In honor of our soldiers and in the spirit of good work and service that so many do in our country, here's my collection of links to free quilt or quilt block patterns. 

In includes some that are traditional, some that date back to the Civil War, and some amazing and wonderful stars, stripes, flags and even service banners!

After writing about Rod Raubeson, the former Marine who taught himself to sew in order to make Blue Star and Gold Star Service Banners, I decided many years ago, to make one, myself.

I was able to locate directions and a pattern for both the center star and the border measurements from The Quilter's Cache at: Armed Services Flag with alternate directions available from Blue Star Banner If a quilt is desired, directions and a pattern are available from the Military Mom's website at: Blue Star Banner Quilt

It is very important to understand that only families with actively serving members of the Armed Forces are to hangup an armed services banner such as this one. Anyone can make one or buy
one, but only families in active and armed military service are toactually hang one on display in a front window.

The concept of a service banner is both licensed and regulated. They are meant to honor and show respect for the families whose fathers, wives, sons anddaughters are away and serving during times of armed conflict. Today, Blue Star Service Banners are displayed by families in all branches of the Armed Services, including the National Guard and the Reserves.

To Make a Blue or Gold Star Service Banner you need basic sewing supplies
and fabrics of red ( for (4) 2 1/2" strips), white ( for a 9" x 14"center panel) and blue ( for a star that is about 7" x 7") I chose to make mine a quilted banner, so I also used a thin batting.

The 2 1/2" red borders are attached to both of the sides and then boththe upper and lower edges. Trim evenly to size. By using a machinedzigzag stitch or turning under and hand sewing, the star is thenappliqued to the background (white) fabric and through the batting.

 Right sides together, seam front and back together, leaving a small side opening for turning right sides out.

A narrow 'quilting rod' sleeve can either be hand or machine sewn onthe backing. I show it here with a cord indicating its location. Fold it under to the back and slip stitch down for the final project.

I also added free-motion or meander quilting stitches throughout thecenter panel's surface to create a decorative effect and emphasis the quilted banner aspect.

To 'hang', insert a wooden dowel or curtain rod through the quilt
sleeve unit in the back and hang with decorative cording, as desired.

As an alternative hanging method, you can use two narrow hanging loops and
insert the rod through them. Make them with two pieces of 2 1/2" strips
stitched down or seamed right sides together. 

Iron flat, and insert
between sandwiched layers while stitching top seam in Step #2.

To make a Gold Star Banner:

 Make as above, only using gold fabric to create a gold star for a family that has lost a family member due to their active duty in the Armed Services.

To make a Family of Stars Banner:

Add additional stars for each family member who served in the Armed Forces. My family had five members all serving at the same time during WWII. 

My father and four brothers all went to war from our little island in Alaska. But only 4 of the brothers returned home after service. One uncle was killed when the plane he was co-piloting was shot down at sea. The pilot was killed, but my uncle managed to land the plane, losing his own life in the process.   There were, however, survivors of the crash that survived their wounds ..the count of survivors vary but the final tally does not. 

My father and his brothers mourned the loss of their youngest 21 year old brother for the rest of their lives, but all of them were proud to be of service to our country...and this was before Alaska was even a state but still a territory of the United States!

Other Links:

Directions For Making a Blue or Gold Star Service Banner

Paper blue star banners for patterns or for personal use by military families with active members currently serving in the military ONLY to hang inside their home windows.

Legally,only government licensed sources may officially manufacture true BlueStar banners in mass. But just like paper flags during 9/11, unofficialforms of flags and banners, used and hung with respect do not infringe on copyright laws of actual manufacturing rules.

For those who cannot sew, but have family members in the military and wish to display a banner in their window, banners can be purchased at the American Legion website and and paper banners are also available for download at:

 Blue and Gold Star Service Banners


I've been making and donating a variety of patriotic themed quilts, bags, banners, hot pads, table runners..you name it..to military bases, local veteran's centers, veteran homes and hospice care centers and to families' that could just use a patriotic pick me up!

Many of my quilts are simple 'make as you go' designs where I use purchased center medallions or string quilting techniques to create my one of a kind patriotic quilts. But my blog posts are filled with photos of my process and will most certainly help you be inspired with ideas of your own.

I also collect patriotic sewing and quilting links from around the world wide web and these are bookmarked and shared below with my readers!

Check out my own free patterns, tutorials and links at my primary blog With Heart and Hands where I also blog about all of the quilts and quilting projected I create with more about this same kind of free-spirited, and liberated quilting. 

With patriotic, I often used store bought patriotic panels and simply create strings and bits to frame them..quick and easy and you can make a lot of them for donation in a hurry!

Making a string quilt block:

String quilting, whether done straight across, or on the diagonal, is simply the sewing down of a variety of strings, or strips of alternating fabrics of many colors into blocks. Diagonal strings have a tendency to stretch on the bias, so underlying foundation blocks are more essential for them, but not required in simple straight piecing.

And as for the 'skinny' on string quilting... strings for these quilts are usually somewhere in the 1" to 2  1/2" range unless you're working in miniature or super sizing something! Smaller than 3/4" is too small..it's easier to start big and sew a wide seam to miniature them for things like small format art quilts etc. And bigger than 3" like in my pillows, doesn't really look like strings much, anymore!

Start by simply cutting foundation blocks out of ANY scrap fabric..it doesn't have to be white! and then adding..from the center out to each diagonal end....strips and pieces of varying sizes, piece by piece until the block is 'all filled up.' 

To create a pattern in this final quilt top, I am using blue for the first center strip. But any repetitive color can be used as an anchoring strip. And if you wish, you can be totally random, as well..with no
center 'anchoring' color!

1. To begin this block, to make its final quilt, I used a 10" foundation pieces and a variety of cut strips of many colors. Others prefer blocks as small as 6" or as large as 12 1/2"...the choice is yours. Larger blocks multiply spatially a lot quicker! Lay down a center strip of any color, diagonally across the foundation piece. (I iron a fold into the center of both the foundation block and this first string piece for matching the two pieces. And repeat with the next strip.


2. Sew down the second strip, right sides together.  Then sew down the third strip, as shown.

 3. Press each seam open after sewing

4. Sew down each succeeding strip, one by one, ironing after each new seam.

5. When strips fill the foundation block, iron flat, then align and trim to size desired.

6. Lay out completed blocks on your design wall or floor ;) and select arrangement and desired size of quilt top.

NOTE: To add around a center panel or block, you need to either plan your block sizes, or wiggle and jiggle and trim, as I did! 

7. Finally, you would attach block seams in rows as desired, using additional strips to fill in size differentials around center panels or other additional blocks, sashings or cornerstones, if you so desire!

LINKS below, for cutting and pasting into a blog post where you make your own Patriotic Quilting Projects.

You may include one and only one of my photos. It is a copyright infringement to cut and paste my entire tutorials, blogs, patterns, or lists of free pattern links, themes, or tutorials!

And right above, and below,  small projects just to let a military family know that you are thinking of them! I love to make and give away  so many patriotic bags, neck pillows and so many other fun items!

Patriotic Quilting of Small Projects: Potholders
same as one block of a Patriotic String Quilt!

And finish like any potholder, or mini quilt!

More Patriotic Sewing Tutorials, Links and Patterns:

Note: McCalls Quick Quilts is now requiring a free sign-up to access their free patters etc. So, if you get an error reading page...that's what that means. Sign up on the right of that screen for free viewing and printing privileges!Civil War Patterns

Free Patriotic Quilt Patterns:

Gunboat Quilts...applique motif ideas like above


    Flags & Heart

McCalls now requires a sign in to download next 16 patterns below but there is no fee:

True Colors


her free patterns including this American Eagle


Sweet Liberty Table Runner

The finished quilt top measures 21” by 42”
Made by Julie from The Intrepid Thread
printable PDF version

Country Spirit

Land of Liberty star15" x 20" pieced quilt project from Debbie Mumm


Liberate! block from Quilter's Cache

Patriotic Star string quilted star pattern from Maryquilts

Royalty...the 911 block

1890's reproduction by Patricia Cummings

In The Line of Duty (no longer links if you have one to this, please let me know!)

Shuttle (In Memory of the Columbia) Pattern

American Flag...free American Flag patterns flying horizontal, vertical, or waving!

Star in a Wall Hanging

Compuquilts: free patriotic blocks and quilt patterns as below:


The 4th Star Flag Block and Quilt

Scottish Stars Quilt (39" Square) by Joy Hoffman

From Darlene Zimmerman:

Army Star

Patriotic Block Patterns:
"A Dandy"...You will need six of these blocks!

"Log Cabin" ... You will need two of these blocks!

" Pieced Star" ... You will need two of these blocks!

"Starflower"... You will need eight of these blocks!

Finished Size: 15" x 33"
Moda Marbles Stars Tablerunner™

American Independence Free Quilting Pattern

Featured in the July/August 2011 Issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, this free civil war quilting pattern is perfect for quilters looking for a pattern that features a touch of tradition.
For instructions on how to create American Independence, please click on the link below.

Quilt Instructions

Patriotic Quilts E-book

Fons & Porter Design Wall

This free quilting pattern is offered in memory of the victims of September 11th.

This free patriotic quilting pattern is perfect for learning how to quilt!

Grand Old Flag Pillow Pattern and Mini Block | FREE Pattern

Thanks to Everyday Celebrations: follow her links to her blog!

  Grand Old Flag is now  available as a FREE download right here on my blog. I included material lists for both a pillow and just a single flag block too. It measures in at a tiny 3.5" x 5.75".

American Glory



 Of course, that doesn’t stop us from making quilts!  Here is a great one from Janet Mednick called “Patriot Proud”. 

click on the quilt to download free pattern

AMER_virtual-JM bl

I'm really happy that the weather turned so nice for some of Brenton and family's visit. My gosh, my weather app says it'll reach 80⁰ in Douglas by 6pm today! Herman might get heat stroke😉

click on the quilt to download free pattern

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!!! divider

American Glory quilt tutorial by Stefanie Roman for Moda Bakeshop

Stars and Stripes by Heidi Pridemore for P&B Textiles

Uncle Sam's Quilt by Andie Johnson for Moda Bakeshop

Variable Star Quilt by Alex Anderson, free pattern for Quilting for a Cause as seen at C&T Publishing

Flying Free wall hanging, design by Laurie Simpson, free wall hanging pattern at All People Quilt

Patriot Proud by Janet Mednick for P&B Textiles

 Flag of Valor pattern by Polly Minick and Laurie Simpson for Moda Fabrics

Broad Stripes Bright Stars quilt, 76 x 76", free pattern at Robert Kaufman Fabrics

American Pinwheels Quilt tutorial by Crystal Hendrix for Moda Bakeshop

Patriotic Points wall hanging, 48.5"square, free pattern at All People Quilt

Sisters-Mary, 52 x 52", free quilt pattern by Chris Hoover for the Downton Abbey Collection at Andover Fabrics

Stretching to the Stars
quilt, free pattern by Janet Wickell at About.com

Patriotic Quilt, tutorial by Courtney at Make All Things New

July Star Blocks tutorial by Allison Harris at Cluck Cluck Sew

Nine Patch Stars and Stripes, free pattern by Kathy Lichtendahl for The National Quilting Association (NQA)

A Cry for Freedom, Ohio Stars and Rails quilt, free pattern by Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville

Nine Patch and Four Patch Stars by Kate Laucomer at Quilters World

Flag Fanfare Quilt, free pattern by Retta Warehime at TLC Home

 Betsy Ross Flag quilt, free pattern by Stephanie Kepecs at Sewing with Nancy

Star Spangled Sky quilt by Jo's Country Junction for Moda Bakeshop

Show Your Colors, free pattern with prairie points by Susan K. Cleveland at Pieces Be With You (the link to the free pattern is on the left sidebar)

Firework Flag, 18 x 18", free pattern by Gigi Khalsa at Quilters Newsletter

American Beauty quilt, free pattern by Leslie Sonkin for Windham Fabrics

Fourth of July wall hanging, free pattern at Sew Bitter Sweet Designs

Stars and Stripes Quilt, free pattern by Stacy Harpole, fabric by Pat Sloan for P&B Textiles

Vintage View - 10¢ a chance, free vintage quilt pattern at McCalls Quilting

Another Quick Flag Quilt tutorial by Tia at Tia Curtis Quilts

America Lives On by Larene Smith for Windham Fabrics

 A Real Firecracker
table topper, free pattern by Diane Volk Harris for Quiltmaker

American Flag Wall Hanging tutorial at Jill Made It

Long May She Wave mini quilt tutorial at Mel's Own Place

Old Glory quilt by Maggie Hall, free pattern for Quilting for a Cause as seen at C&T Publishing

Quilted Fireworks Table Runner, free pattern by Calli at Make It Do

Sweet Liberty Table Runner tutorial by Julie from The Intrepid Thread as seen at The Quilted Fish

Salute to Stars, free table runner pattern at All People Quilt

Patriotic Hexagons table runner, free pattern by Sherri McConnell at All People Quilt

Americana Summer Quilted Table Runner, free pattern at TLC Home

American Flag Quilt table runner, free pattern by Beth Lancaster at Moonlight Quilts

Flag Map Mug Rug, free paper piecing pattern by Caroline at Trillium Design

 Patriotic Star Pillow by Kimberly Walus at bitty bits and pieces

Patriotic Pillows tutorial at Sewn Studio

Nantucket Knots Free Table Warmer Quilt Pattern Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here
Four Flags Quilt Block from Better Homes and Gardens Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

July Flag from Quiltmaker.com : Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Rainbow Stars from Better Homes & Gardens: Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Stars & Stripes from Benartex: Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Union Star from Quiltmaker.com: Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Veteran's Pride from Quiltmaker.com: Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Free pattern, click here.
Susan K. Cleveland prairie points tool flag

Pat Sloan's Patriotics: See all her free patterns!including these amazing beauties!
Liberty Heart


Liberty Stars made with her Sweet Liberty Fabric line
CLICK HERE to Download the pattern

Sweet Liberty fabric and her free Stars and Stripes pattern:

CLICK HERE to Download the pattern

Patriotic Heartstrings of Memory idea made by Michele Bilyeu "With Heart and Hands":

see:String Quilting:Tutorial and Free Patterns

Patriotic Checkers from Bernina and Sewing.org: Free Patriotic Quilt Pattern Here

Blue or Gold Star Service Banner

Patriotic Miniature Quilt

US"We Support" Ribbon wall hanging


An 1890s reproduction quilt, and a free pattern for you

by Patricia Cummings

Patriotic Miniature Quilt

US"We Support" Ribbon wall hanging

Military Free Printables

And for pure inspiration (but not free patterns) check out:America's 9-11 Memorial Quilts Web Site Military Free Printables

Check out:

Camp Sherman: A Token Gift, Left Behind

Patriotic Sewing Frenzy

Shown at top:
one of my lap-sized string quilts with a pre-purchased center panel, makes up quickly and easily and is perfect for someone who is usually seated, as in a wheelchair.
String Quilting
Comfort Quilts
Patriotic Heartstrings

Were you really looking for a Liberated Star Quilt Block Pattern???and google sent you here????  Check out:
 wonky or liberated stars, churn dashes, alphabet letters, rail fences blocks, hearts, log cabins, etc.
Go to:

With Heart and Hands: Liberated Quilting: Free Pieced Blocks ...

Sep 5, 2010 – Great List of Wonky, Free-Pieced, or Liberated Quilt Block Patterns, Techniques or Ideas: ... Twinkle, Twinkle, Wonky Star from Sew Take a Hike ...

Wonky or Liberated Quilting..Free Patterns, Tutorials, Ideas

The idea of liberated or wonky, free-pieced houses and liberated stars was born...and it ... Great List of Wonky, Free-Pieced, or Liberated Quilt Block Patterns, ...

My Most Popular Links:

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.

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