While growing up, my dad was a career Air Force Officer – so we lived all over the country and moved fairly often. My favorite place he was stationed was Ellsworth AFB, near Rapid City, South Dakota. I loved it there – I’ve even been back a few times and the wide open spaces of the plains and the beautiful Black Hills are just like I remembered – and it still makes me smile just to think about it. We lived in Rapid City back in the early 1980s, while I was in high school. During these four years, my mother, who is a nurse, worked at a Sioux hospital called Sioux San. My mother’s mother was a quilter, so she has always loved quilts. While working at Sioux San she had a co-worker who made and sold star quilt tops that my mom often admired – so before we moved away, my mom was able to get this one from her friend.
From what I’ve read, star quilts are important in the Sioux culture – they are often given as gifts to mark occasions such as memorial feasts, celebrations, naming ceremonies and marriages, or given to special friends. In 2016, there was a stunning statue erected in Chamberlain, South Dakota, to honor this Sioux tradition of quilts. The statue is called Dignity and overlooks the Missouri River. My last trip back to the area was before this statue was placed, so I have not personally seen it – but now this gives me another reason to go back to South Dakota! To read about this statue click this link, it will open a new window.
My mom gave me the star quilt top many years ago, but after all this time it had many condition issues – the edges were on the bias and had stretched out, several areas had thread and seams that had either fallen apart, disintegrated or come undone… I finally braved doing the repair work myself, which included resewing several seams and recutting and resizing some of the white background fabric between the star points to make the edges roughly square again.
I needed to use a quilting design that would both stabilize the edges and accent the star itself – so I did some simple continuous line quiltng in the diamonds of the star and then a dense all over design in the white areas that, in my mind, roughly feels like wind. After quiltng, the finished size is about 70″ square. I used cotton batting and thread – and at this point have not washed it.
My husband, who is a blacksmith in his spare time, forged a hanging rod for me – and added a single deer antler prong on each end. He also made the hooks the rod is hanging from, which you can see in the second picture below.
I feel honored to have a Sioux quilt in my home, and hope that my quilting would make the Sioux woman who made the top proud.