Quilters honor fallen Soldiers
November 10, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- While some South Carolina residents were eating fried Snicker bars, drinking freshly squeezed lemonade, and trying to keep it all down while enjoying the rides at this year's State Fair, one Fort Jackson Soldier was putting her craftsmanship to the test by competing for top prize in the fair's quilting competition.
Her artistic talents and years of effort toward her craft paid off.
Maj. Kathy Allison, chief, Financial Management Division at the Soldier Support Institute, took home four first-prize ribbons and one second-prize ribbon for her quilts.
"It's really exciting to have won," said Allison, who was first introduced to quilting during her senior year in high school when her mother, a seamstress, signed her up for a quilting class instructed by nationally renowned quilter Eleanor Burns.
Burns, who authored the book, "Quilt in a Day," taught Allison the log cabin quilting technique.
Allison set her goals high as she embarked on her first "quilt in a day" project.
One day turned into two years by the time it was complete. Allison said she was proud of her first quilt, and she and her husband used it quite extensively.
"We loved it to death," she said.
During the past 22 years, Allison made time for quilting on the weekends as she served in the Army.
Though she mainly made quilts for the self challenge, she often gifted them to family and friends.
She has worked with charities to make quilts for women's shelters, teen shelters and orphanages. She has helped make Quilts of Valor for wounded warriors. She has even helped teach middle school students the craft, as they integrated quilting into their math and art classes.
Currently, she is preparing to take part in a quilting project right here at Fort Jackson.
She is working with Fort Jackson's Survivor Outreach Services support coordinators who are in the planning stages of creating a quilt honoring all South Carolina fallen active duty Army, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers and their surviving family members.
"This will be a contribution of time and talent, as well as a labor of love," said Christina Clark, financial
counselor for Survivor Outreach Services, who is spearheading the project.
Since 2001, 188 active-duty Army, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers with ties to South Carolina have died or been killed. The Quilt of Honor will be displayed as a tribute to all of them, alongside a Wall of Remembrance located inside of the front entrance of the Strom Thurmond building.
Clark said she is looking for contributions from experienced quilters and novices alike to craft the Quilt of Honor.
"We want lots of hands in this project; many hands make light work," Clark said. "Anyone can participate, regardless of skill level.
"From a quilting perspective, some people like to just do the quilt top, while others like to do the backing," she said. "Some people like to do the binding, while others like to do the hand-stitching. You don't have to know how to operate a sewing machine. If you want to make contributions by hand-sewing, you can simply do that. I've talked to people who've said, 'I don't know how to sew, but can I help'' There's plenty of opportunity for everyone."
Contributing fabric or materials to build a display stand are options for non-sewers as well, she said.
All participants will have the opportunity to earn volunteer hours through the Army Community Service.
For more information, call 751-1103.