Over the years quilters have made many a quilt for the Red Cross, quilts to warm disaster victims, refugees and others in need. But did you know there is a specific quilt called the "Red Cross Quilt"? It is made up of simple nine patch blocks of red and white making a red cross. White sashing between the blocks separates each cross. The completed quilt has numerous red crosses on it. The white area between is covered with signatures by both famous and ordinary people. Some have larger crosses in the middle and perhaps the corners. Participants would pay to have their signature on the quilt with the money being given to the Red Cross. These quilts were first made during World War One to raise money.
In 1918 there were many events held to raise money for the war effort. At one a Red Cross Quilt was exhibited to reflect the "common threads" of volunteers and other concerned individuals. There are more than 900 signatures on the quilt including those of several famous people including President Woodrow Wilson, Sarah Bernhardt and Helen Keller.
In December, 1917 the magazine Modern Pricilla had the following instructions on how to make a Red Cross fundraising quilt. This quilt is illustrated in the right column. The center cross is make of five 6 inch squares with large white six inch squares around it. The crosses were made from a 4 ½ inch square with a 1 ½ inch square cut out of each corner. These crosses were appliquéd on 6 inch white blocks.
Although this pattern was offered for the Red Cross Quilt the article mentioned that some quilters would prefer to design their own original pattern. One alternate suggested was to interlace the crosses to save fabric. The pattern as published required 6 yards of 90 inch wide bleached cotton sheeting and 6 yards of 27 inch wide turkey red fabric.
A quilt like this could earn as much as $1,000 by charging 25 cents for small signatures that would surround each cross. Much more could be charged for a signature in a prominent position like the corner squares and the white squares around the central cross. The signatures were usually embroidered or written in indelible ink by one skilled person. It is pointed out in this article that $1,000 could buy an army ambulance.
The Red Cross still needs our donations. An old fashioned quilting project like the one suggested by Modern Pricilla would be great fun and help others at the same time.