Friday, March 11, 2011

Civil War Reunion Star

Union Star
a Mockup using EQ7
and my Civil War Reunion prints

Towards the end of the 19th century Susie King Taylor wrote her memories of being a Civil War nurse. Bringing her story up to date, she described an 1898 ladies' fair in Massachusetts to raise money for the causes of the Grand Army of the Republic (the GAR), the Union veteran's organization.

Her contribution: "A large quilt of red, white and blue ribbon that made quite a sensation."

Susie King Taylor

Quilts were an important part of the fundraising and fellowship, especially in the women's auxiliary groups such as the Women's Relief Corps (WRC). Magazines published patterns with suggestions for making designs up in red, white and blue. An example:
"The Double Star makes a beautiful quilt for a G.A.R. or W.R.C. Fair. Make the outside of red, the star of blue and the center white. If the date 1861 is worked on the white everyone will recognize the significance, M.E.B."
(Ouch! say the quilt historians. Everybody 100 years later will think it's a quilt made in 1861----but I digress...)

GAR Parade about 1912 in New York

Union Star

The Ladies’ Art Company, one of the oldest businesses to offer quilt patterns, sold this pieced Union Star design about that time, probably because there was such an interest in Civil War reminders.
Although perfect for the Civil War Reunion theme, the pattern wasn’t often made up. The probable reason is that the piecing looks difficult, but the curves in the circle and Y-seams in the star are easy enough.

Here's a free pattern for a 9" finished block.

To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The top sewin line should measure 4-1/2" across.
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary. 

And see a red, white and blue G.A.R fundraiser from Massachusetts in the Quilt Index by clicking here:
It was signed by everyone from President Grant and General Sherman to Louisa May Alcott.

See one made of Civil War Reunion ribbons in a February, 2011 episode of the Antiques Roadshow by clicking on this video:

Read Susie King Taylor's Reminsicences of My Life in Camp at Google Books by clicking here:


  1. I have tried to access file, but it gives an error that the file cannot be found.

    "The system cannot find the file specified."

  2. Scary to think that quilters would put a date for significance, rather than when the quilt was made. Makes me wonder about some of the antique quilts I've seen. Hmmmm.

    Love the GAR fundraiser. I wonder how blue the 'blue' was originally, because I love it in the gray! The corner blocks are a great finish to the border, too.

  3. Love that fabric and it does look so beautiful in a quilt.


  4. I get the feeling we will see UNION STAR in an upcoming B.O.W. Maybe? :-)

  5. Thank you for the post and for sharing the star pattern. I always enjoy your posts!

  6. Many goodies in this post. Have to wonder if you are on the same page for "value" of the road show quilt? Can't hear so have no idea what the Houston Lady was saying. I sure would have been smiling a lot - as the ribbons in that quilt are not seen every day of the week.