Happy to Be Canadian

Back in the 1970′s I used to do a little sewing on the off season to supplement the lack of fishing income.  At first I only made clothes and put them on consignment at a little shop in Lantzville. In the 1980′s I opened up my own little cottage industry, The Thread Bear. It was at our home where I sewed and mended for clients as well as making clothes for my family. I made most of the boys clothes and some of my own. I especially remember a lovely seer sucker dress with forget me knot flowers that I made for my grandmother. This would be where my special scrap stash collection began and has followed me around ever since. I didn’t make my first quilt until 1984 and that was all purchased fabrics. The second and third quilt would happen over the next two years, with pieces of all three quilts added to the stash. I just happen to love scrap quilting. It started because of limited funds but it continues because I have so many happy memories in those particular quilts.

Firstly, I found this amazing pattern, Oh, Canada! by Cheryl Arkison, a Canadian quilter and designer. It was first published in 2013 and I’ve had it since 2015. This is what Cheryl had to say: Designed in perfect proportions to the original flag, Oh, Canada! pays patchwork homage to this symbol of Canadian spirit and drive. Make one block or make a dozen. Piece the fabric together from scraps to echo the diverse nature of Canada, or make it solid to showcase the fabric. Secondly, I didn’t think twice when it came to making this quilt scrappy. I had a very large green bin full to overflowing and it was time to get started. I made a giant mess on the carpeted floor of my sewing room just sorting through the colours. Once I had a pile with golds, yellows and beige I separated them as well. There is one yellow and one gold flag in the overall design. In the yellow flag there is a piece of not very good quality cotton but it holds very dear memories for me and there it will be. It was a leftover piece from the stuffed pelican I made my nephew for his 2nd birthday, 37 years ago. :) I made and sold many more over the years.

This was the 2nd last flag. The yellow with blue flowers is in Ty’s Pelican. There’s an even older yellow piece with grey and white flowers. It is from a doll dress made for the rag doll I made for my sister Judy Christmas 1970! See where I’m going? ;) Memories.  Actually, I just now did the math and that last piece is over 50 yrs old!! Yikes!!

This pattern is a scrap quilt makers dream. Build a slab and cut to size. The maple leaf is made from a slab piece too. It is then raw edge appliqued onto the white block. As this was a scrap quilt I used only the white cotton I had on hand. This meant I had to piece some of the white background pieces. I loved making these individual flags.

How do you make a slab? From Cheryl: Take two pieces of fabric and sew them together. Do that a few more times. Then start sewing more pieces to those first pairs. Sew groups together. Add additional pieces of fabric as necessary to get up to your finished size. Start with small bits or big ones, it doesn’t matter. Raid your scrap bins and go with what you’ve got. There is a grey with pink flowers in this flag that was left over from a pair of pants with matching jacket that I used to wear quite happily…wonder if I have a photo?

I started this quilt in June 2019. It is important to me to add a new quilt every year for Canada Day. Target date was July 1st 2020. Being a Canadian, buying Canadian and supporting all things Canadian was something that we grew up with, along with don’t bite your nails & sit up straight! Guess something stuck. :D

This top has been finished since February. I had a few other things to do before starting the quilting but when I finished the PPE gowns I found that I had the perfect size of 100% cotton sheeting left over for the backing. Two more memories to add to the quilt courtesy of Kadi & Velma. :)   After sandwiching the quilt, I stitched in the ditch (SID) around all the blocks. The next order of business was to free motion stitch the maple leaves.  My hands, far too often, don’t cooperate. This can sometimes make quilting a little bit challenging. All twelve maple leaves have their very own unique stitching pattern. ;) Next up was the sides of the flags and lastly the white background. This quilt is 72″ x 48″ and the perfect size for domestic machine quilting. Some time ago I stopped in at Kaleidoscope Quilting in Duncan for no specific reason. Amrit was busy cutting a piece of fabric from the end of a bolt. It was so beautiful I had to buy the remaining piece. No particular idea what it would be for but turns out to be the perfect piece for binding this #ColourfulCanadian quilt.




Did I mention my hands are uncooperative? Must be Covid-19 brain that thought it would be a good idea to hand stitch the binding on. It was 2 hands pulling a needle pulling thread. I’ll be rethinking that next time!! :D But I am very very pleased with this finished product. It has endless memories attached and I can’t wait to see it hanging on Canada Day 2020.

Check out Cheryl’s Blog here —> http://www.cherylarkison.com/ and maybe give slab piecing a try.

Happy to be Canadian…Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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