Machine quilting a patriotic quilt – design ideas

June 10, 2019

As a little girl I remember being awed by my father in his Army uniform. He looked so big and powerful. I can still hear the sound of his massive boots hitting floor as he walked in the door. He spent 25 years as a Pharmacist in the Army Reserves and I’m thankful for his service. We all know someone who has served our country and, as quilters, we naturally want to wrap them up in quilty love.

The Quilts of Valor Foundation strives to recognize our nation’s military touched by war and to cover them in a quilt to honor them for their service. To date they’ve awarded almost a quarter million handmade quilts! I hope you’ve discovered this wonderful, all-volunteer group. Working on a patriotic quilt is incredibly fulfilling.

As we approach our nation’s birthday you may also be inspired to make a patriotic quilt for other causes, too. Recently at the APQS Louisville store we had two gals, Judy and Valerie, come in to rent time on our APQS longarm machines. They each loaded a big piece of backing fabric and quilted a bunch of lap quilts for local vets in hospice. Because they used one giant piece of backing fabric they were able to get a total of 12 quilts done in only a few hours.

Deciding what to quilt on a Quilt of Valor or patriotic quilt can be intimidating. However, there are so many great freemotion designs that will work for both sit down and stand up machines. My favorite is a simple wave.


It is so simple to do this on a longarm machine as you just move the machine down the quilt in a gentle curve and repeat it. Don’t worry about spacing or consistency. All you need to do is focus on making shallow curves and the end result will look like a flag waving in the wind.

Even a simple meander as Valerie has done on this quilt with our APQS Freddie is perfectly suited.

It allows the quilting to melt away and the piecing to come forward. Once you feel comfortable with a wandering meander stitching line consider adding a star as you travel along. Valerie did a great job sprinkling stars across her top.

Judy used this same freemotion design but added in a small loop between the stars. Doesn’t it look great?

Consider adding text to your quilts for a personal touch. If you are quilting for a specific recipient you could add their name and rank as you quilt.


Or, you could just add phrases like “Home of the Brave” and “Land of the Free” as Judy did. There are so many phrases that would be perfect for your next patriotic quilt top.

As we get ready to reflect on our nation’s history and those who have protected it with their service, quilt a top to honor them. We have collected some wonderful patriotic quilts over on our Pinterest page for you to enjoy. If you’d like more information about how to be a part of the phenomenal Quilts of Valor organization please take a look at this map to see where you closest chapter is located.