SENECA — Hospice of the Foothills has received an addition to the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail through a quilt block donated by the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail and acquired by Jan McKinney of Salem at the Hospice Foundation’s annual Christmas Tree Gala auction.
McKinney then donated it to the Hospice property located at 390 Keowee School Road in Seneca.
The pattern is called Prairie Star and was made by Barbara Schoonover of Salem. She told us she was taught to quilt by her maternal grandmother, Dessie Decker, when she was 8 or 9 years old in Ohio, where she grew up.
“We would sit around a large floor quilt frame and Grandma always wanted me to sit beside her so she could make sure I didn’t get any blood on the quilts if I stuck my finger on the needle,” McKinney said. “My mother, Beatrice Howell, was also a quilter and I have several pieces of her work. I am always amazed at how small and even her stitches were. Today, my quilting mentor is my younger sister, Bobbie Moore, who makes beautiful quilts.”
According to the National Park Service’s Quilt Discovery Experience booklet, stars are probably the most common motif used on quilts. Homesteaders traveling west used the stars for guidance and they looked upon stars as religious symbols of their faith in God.
Hundreds of star patterns exist. Some quilts have just one large radiating star, often called the Star of Bethlehem or Blazing Star, while other quilts display dozens of smaller stars. The simplest and most popular star pattern is an eight pointed star.
A star pattern is not the easiest to cut and sew. Precision is extremely important as any inaccuracy in cutting or piecing is multiplied as pieces are added. If poorly pieced, the quilt will not lie flat when finished. An intricate star pattern was one way for a quilter to show her needlework skills.
Many times, the quilter deliberately sewed a mistake somewhere in the quilt, perhaps to reflect the maker’s faith in God, for only God can make a perfect thing.