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Front Page » June 28, 2011 » Emery County News » Stitched with love: Quilts of Valor for injured service m...
Published 1,212 days ago

Stitched with love: Quilts of Valor for injured service members


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

It's a project which started 10 years ago when Hazel McMullin found an ad in a quilting magazine called "Unlimited Possibilities" which asked for volunteers to make Quilts of Valor. These quilts are distributed to injured servicemen and women in hospitals around the world.

McMullin thought it sounded like a great project as she is an avid quilter and her friend Reva Fillmore was her quilting partner much of the time. She excitedly placed a phone call to Reva telling her about the project and Reva was soon on board as she felt it a worthwhile project as well.

Reva passed away in March of this year and now her granddaughter Kate Chmieleski is following the tradition of quilting and following in her grandmother's path as she creates Quilts of Valor, too.

Kate said, "I have spent many summers in Emery County learning to quilt alongside my grandmother. This is a way of feeling close to her now that she is gone, too. When we cleaned out her fabric we found many, many unfinished quilt tops. I decided to work on Quilts of Valor for a service project I am doing at my school in Bristol, Conn. I attend an all girl's school and one of the requirements is to plan and implement a service project of your choice. Then you report back to the school what you have completed and why.

"Grandma Reva worked on these quilts for 10 years and she left her knowledge of quilting and sewing to me. I am carrying out her work. We commit 80 hours to our service project. I am enclosing a letter with the two Quilts of Valor I have made so far. The letter thanks the soldier for his or her work in protecting our freedom. My grandma left so much fabric it was like a fabric store in her house. I chose one patriotic pattern for a quilt.

"I pieced my first quilt when I was 10. I even made quilts for my cats. I made a flannel quilt for a bed and a 4-H quilt to enter in the fair. It was bright fabric with a tie dyed back because Grandma was learning how to dye fabric in one of her classes," said Kate.

Kate has learned to use her Grandma's big quilting machine. She is currently hand quilting a wedding quilt for one of her cousins. Quilting takes a lot of practice whether you are a hand quilter or a machine quilter or both. Kate has been in the county for three weeks now and her mom, Sharon came out this week and they will drive back to Connecticut together. Kate has been working on her quilts at her grandmother's house.

Sharon said her mom Reva passed away at age 81. She led a very active and full life, taking great joy in family, quilting and her yard. She had several machines including some antiques. Her large quilting machine was 14 feet long.

Sharon grew up in Emery County and met her husband at the University of Utah and he was from Connecticut, so that's where she ended up. She said the climate there is about like Emery County, but they sometimes get ice storms in the winter. She enjoys her visits back to Emery County.

Kate said, "Miss Porter's is an all girl school. I really love it. The community there is so welcoming and the girls come from all over the country to go to school there. It is a prep school, like a mini-college where all our classes are in different buildings. There is a boy's school nearby so we sometimes have dances and socials with their school. I have a lot of friends there and have met a lot of different people. It's fun. I look forward to my trips back to Emery County."

Kate has enjoyed a lot of different experiences during her summers in the county. She has helped with farming and been involved in the stock show. She is currently staying with her aunt and uncle Dale and Angie Fillmore in Lawrence. Sharon said she was a Fillmore before her marriage and she had five older brothers; Royce who passed away, Carl, Dale, Blaine and Blair all still living in Lawrence. Sharon the only girl is the one who flew the coop. Her next brother is 10 years older than Sharon.

Kate said, "This project has become so important to me because it was important to Grandma. It's been a good way to say goodbye to her. It's been nice. I am taking her Bible back to Connecticut with me. It's not a real Bible, but it's filled with notes and articles and patterns on quilting. All the little tidbits and advice are listed in there and some of it is written out by my Grandma. I am also finishing projects that Grandma started. We have found so many quilt tops that need to be finished that Grandma started. I really like the piecing of the quilt best, that's fun. I also like arranging the fabric pieces on the flannel wall to see what patterns and fabrics work best together."

Sharon has donated some of her mother's fabric to quilting guilds in Emery and Carbon counties and some fabric was given to a sister. One thing for sure Reva's well loved fabric has gone to good homes.

Hazel has been working lately on a couple more Quilts of Valor that were pieced together by Patsy Johnson. Hazel is taking the quilt tops that Kate made and is quilting them for Kate. After a Quilt Of Valor is completed the quilt is bound, washed and labeled. Then you call the Quilts of Valor and see where you need to ship the quilt. She has sent quilts to hospital ships, Walter Reed hospital, Afghanistan, Fargo, N.D., CheyenneWyo., and many destinations. She once had a batch of six quilts that were more feminine and when they told her to send the quilts to the women's psychiatric center, she knew why she had been guided to create these quilts for wounded female soldiers.

Hazel remembers a lady with an injured soldier husband and they wouldn't let her ride on the military plane to the hospital back in the states. But, this military wife felt better when they wrapped her husband in a Quilt Of Valor for his ride home. The home crafted quilt made with love helped her feel safe until she was back with her wounded husband again.

One father tried to send a quilt back when his wounded soldier son passed away, but he was told to keep the quilt to help him remember his son.

Hazel said sometimes her late husband Lee would question her need for so many sewing machines, she had six at the time. But, Hazel's quick wit guided her to say, "Lee, and just how many tractors do you have?"

Hazel owned and operated Fun Fabrics on the Huntington Main Street for 20 years. She met many wonderful friends over the years and they had sewing classes and everyone brought projects to work on. Hazel was taking a class up north to learn how to sew lingerie and she remembers thinking one day on the way home, 'This is fun.' then the idea popped into her head to call the fabric store, Fun Fabrics. Because there is much fun to be had creating quilts and other items for your own use or to give away. Some ladies even made wedding dresses during their sewing time at the store.

These legacy projects from the past are connecting generations as the past and the present combine to make the future a little warmer and more cozy. Kate will return to Connecticut, but she will take a bit of Emery County with her in fabric and the fond memories she made with a grandma who took the time to share her talents for creating quilts with her granddaughter and performing service for others.

Hazel remembers a lady with an injured soldier husband and they wouldn't let her ride on the military plane to the hospital back in the states. But, this military wife felt better when they wrapped her husband in a quilt of valor for his ride home. The home crafted quilt made with love helped her feel safe until she was back with her wounded husband again.

One father tried to send a quilt back when his wounded soldier son passed away, but he was told to keep the quilt to help him remember his son.

Hazel said sometimes her late husband Lee would question her need for so many sewing machines, she had six at the time. But, Hazel's quick wit guided her to say, "Lee, and just how many tractors do you have?

Hazel owned and operated Fun Fabrics on the Huntington Main Street for 20 years. She met many wonderful friends over the years and they had sewing classes and everyone brought projects to work on. Hazel was taking a class up north to learn how to sew lingerie and she remembers thinking one day on the way home, 'This is fun.' then the idea popped into her head to call the fabric store, Fun Fabrics. Because there is much fun to be had creating quilts and other items for your own use or to give away. Some ladies even made wedding dresses during their sewing time at the store.

These legacy projects from the past are connecting generations as the past and the present combine to make the future a little warmer and more cozy. Kate will return to Connecticut, but she will take a bit of Emery County with her in fabric and the fond memories she made with a grandma who took the time to share her talents for creating quilts with her granddaughter and performing service for others.

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June 28, 2011
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