Patches From the Past
Scraps of Fabric, Sewing & Quilting History

Home of the Brave Quilts Project

~ quilts to honor soldiers wounded or lost in Afghanistan & Iraq ~

thanks to Donald Beld for this picture

Sometimes it is a comfort to remember history in coping with the hard reality that many soldiers have been injured and even lost their lives in both Afghanistan & Iraq. When thinking of the past our minds can't help but go to the Civil War and the enormous loss of life in that conflict.

At the time of the Civil War the Sanitary Commission was established with the purpose of preventing and treating sickness and injury during the war. It was realized that many deaths in a war were not from battles but from other causes. As the urgent need for soldier's bedding became apparent the Sanitary Commission added the collection and distribution of donated bedcoverings to their activities. Women were called upon to help with this need and by the end of the war they had made over 250,000 quilts and comforts for the Union soldiers.

Members of the Citrus Belt Quilters Guild of Redlands, California are now making replicas of these Sanitary Commission quilts to give to families who have lost a soldier in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Quilts are being made for those wounded in these wars as well. The group is presenting these quilts with a certificate explaining the their history. Authentic touches are added including making the quilts 48" by 84", the size recommended by the Sanitary Commission to best fit on an army cot. A stamp has even been created so that the quilts can be stamped like the originals were. The only difference is that the stamp indicates the quilt is a replica by saying "U.S. Sanitary Commission Reproduction". This project is being done in coordination with the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

The Redlands group decided to make their quilts copies of the Sanitary Commission quilt displayed as a part of a Lincoln Memorial Shrine located in their city library. The pattern is known as the Album Cross and a section of one of these quilts is shown in the photo on this page. Thanks to Donald Beld for permission to share this picture. There are other typical patterns that were used for these quilts including both the Chimney Sweep and Nine Patch. Barbara Brackman's book, "Quilts from the Civil War" includes a pattern for a Sanitary Commission quilt that could also be used for a project like this.

The Citrus Belt Quilters are encouraging both quilt guilds and other groups to follow their lead in making similar quilts in to honor soldiers in other parts of the country. It's a great idea and it would be wonderful to see this undertaking spread across the United States. If you are interested in starting a project like this contact Donald Beld at for more information.

My home state of Arizona has joined the "Home of the Brave Quilts Project" If you live in our beautiful state go to Home of the Brave Quilts Project: Arizona to find out how you can become a part of this project. We have lost over 65 men and women in in Iraq and Afghanistan so there are a lot of quilts to be made. You can contribute by making just one block or a whole quilt.

2004 Judy Anne Johnson Breneman (Do not reproduce this article without permission from the author.)

Related Webpages:

Civil War Quilts for Fundraising and Soldiers
Learn the history of sanitary comission quilts.

Home of the Brave Quilts: State Coordinators
Go here to contact coordinators about a soldier's family in need of a quilt
or if you want to help by contributing a quilt.

Sanitary Commission Reproduction Quilt Block Directions

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