Anchors Away, a memorial quilt

It’s January 11, 2015 and we are saying goodbye to our father. We did so on a foggy, calm morning from Billy Bones Bay on Protection Island. He was a mariner all his life and it was a fitting way to say goodbye as he headed to the “Unknown Shore.” (Poem by Elizabeth Clark Hardy.)

As we cleaned out Dad’s closet, we picked out shirts to go into a memorial quilt for Mom. There was no timeline or pattern. Just a gathering of shirts for when it was time. I’ve made a few memorial quilts over the past few years and the timing needs to be right when you decide to go ahead with a project. For some it takes much longer to be able to sort through a loved ones belongings. There should never be any pressure to deal right away.

Sometime later in January 2015, while house sitting an oceanfront home, I cut Dad’s shirts into 6 1/2″ squares, cut off all the buttons and filed them away. I still did not have a pattern in mind but having the squares cut would dictate what I could and couldn’t do in regards to a design.

It’s now September 2016 and time to begin. I had decided that we would do a Trip Around the World pattern. At our 14th annual quilt retreat in Pt Roberts Pat and I began sewing the blocks together and before we knew it we had a twin size flimsy. The four light squares in the center of the quilt belonged to a shirt of his brother Bill who passed away in 1994. There are 3 pockets in this quilt as Dad loved to load his pockets with pens, glasses, work book, etc. The last shirt he wore is included too. After explaining to the memorial home staff why I wanted the shirt they quit looking at me like I’d lost my mind. :) Don’t be afraid to have what you want in your quilt.

We weren’t too sure if we could have it quilted by Christmas as Joan had been doing the Frances Camino and was away from early September to October 31st…there were a few customer quilts waiting in line.

Joan and I had talked about wanting a wool batting and something nautical for the pantograph. She chose this Anchors Away panto and green thread as that was Dad’s favourite colour. And as luck would have it she was able to get to the quilting on the 19th of December and I was able to get it bound and delivered to Pat by December 22nd.  We would give it to Mom on Christmas night.

Needless to say there were a few tears. We had Joan on speaker phone so she could participate too. When the grandchildren (our great nieces/nephew) saw it they asked if we could make them a quilt too. It was and will always be treasured. Our brother Mark was amazed just hearing about it and wondered if the story could be preserved…he learned that’s where a label comes in. I’ll make one on the computer that tells the story of Anchors Away. (No, I did not get it done in time for Christmas :) )

There are enough squares left over for either pillows or another quilt top. Guess I’ll leave that up to Pat to decide as I had her take them.

Here’s to more amazing quilts in 2017!

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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Quilting with T-Shirts & Jerseys

Back in August I made a trip to Powell River to help my good friend Judy get to work on her son’s t-shirt quilt.

He is a retired football player & two x Grey Cup winner, for both the Calgary Stampeders and the BC Lions. Needless to say his t-shirts were very big!    After choosing which t-shirts would go in the quilt we began cutting the fronts from the backs, saving pieces to use as filler strips when needed. 

<— I brought a bolt of fusible interfacing with me. It is my preferred method for making t-shirt quilts. No matter how old the t-shirt is, the fusible transforms the knit fabric and makes it easy to sew. We needed 10m to complete the top of this quilt. It took the two of us the better part of a day and a half to get this done, well, I think Judy still has 2 borders to add. :D  She is sending it off to Joan to quilt with the football pantograph. Jesse was so amazed at how the quilt looks that he’s been talking to a buddy about having his t-shirts made into a quilt!

<— The t-shirts in this quilt are from his high school football days, college football in Louisiana and both the Canadian CFL teams he won the grey cup with. An amazing trip down memory lane for him and his mom.

This is the quilt before the borders were added. Will post the finished quilt in December.


The quilt to the right is a commissioned quilt made up mostly of hockey jerseys. The beginning of this project had me dismantling a small quilt that was made up of the top left 9 squares. Since these 9 jerseys were already cut I had to go with the 15″ square size, making it a fairly easy quilt to make as all the blocks were the same size.  A jersey is heavier & bulkier in places. It is also more sensitive to the iron so always remember to use a pressing sheet. This quilt is waiting for Joan to quilt as well. Maybe it will receive the hockey pantograph!

There seems to be a run on T-shirt quilts as I have another one commissioned for mid-November. :)

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye


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The 2016 I Believe in Blue Quilts

August 11th marked delivery day for the seventeen quilts from the 2016 quilt campaign. Such a magical day seeing the children, Poppy and staff so happy at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

After doing a show and tell of  all this years quilts Liz asked for a recount of how this project came to be. As I told the tale it made me laugh how crazy that first year was.

As the story goes we were making one quilt for each win the Vancouver Canucks had on the way to, what we hoped, would be the Stanley Cup. At the time we only made the quilts as the games were won and that made for a very crazy finish. Joan and I were in Powell River on June 4, 2011 teaching a sewing day. The Canucks played and won that night! While visiting at Melinda’s home on Maple Avenue we found her husband hosting a bar-b-que for his crew and watching the game. They were so excited for hockey and our project that they sponsored four quilts on the spot. We started out with five quilters willing to take this on and picked up five more quilters as the Stanley Cup frenzy picked up. The first quilt was started in mid April and the last finished at the end of July, 6 weeks longer than the actual playoffs! We delivered 17 quilts on August 3rd, ending the first I Believe in Blue campaign.

And, as the story continues, the enthusiasm by the quilters and sponsors was so awesome that they wanted to keep making quilts for the children and their families. We’ve just completed our sixth delivery bringing our total number of quilts for Canuck Place to 100.  Such an awesome achievement by all the quilters (22)  and sponsors (18) over the past 6 years.

The quilts just keep getting better and better. We have moved away from all about hockey themes to themes that would appeal to anyone not actually interested in hockey. ( And I wonder how that can be as I sit here in my Team Canada hockey jersey :D )

August 11th was another wonderful, sunny day so we drove in the convertible, top down, hair blowing and smiling from ear to ear. I hope the receiving feels as awesome as the giving.

Our mother, Mickey, joined us on delivery day this year. As did Poppy! Juli did an amazing job with the embroidery on this quilt and Poppy and her handler were very pleased. :) The middle quilt is Burr’s Tribute to LB, #100. The Rookie was a favourite of the staff and they can’t wait to show it to Jake Virtanen, the Canuck’s 2015/16 rookie.

As always, Joan and I feel blessed to have the support of all the quilters and sponsors. We couldn’t do this without you. Sincere thanks to you all.

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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Quilt Rescue

Wow! I don’t recall being this busy for a very long time! One post in early April and finally a post on the last day of May! :)

After work one day last week I made a run by Value Village to drop some stuff off and decided to go inside the store for a quick look. I found this wonderfully made, awesomely scrappy, double bed size Double Wedding Ring quilt. It had been pulled off the linen rack and left in a heap on some furniture. It caught my eye and I wondered as I walked towards it if it was one of those pre-printed quilts or one from a quilt store that sells quilts from China for cheap. Not so to my surprise! It was a beautifully pieced and quilted quilt! Amazing binding and a great label. Two aunts had made this quilt in 2005 to celebrate a relative’s wedding, I hope they never find out that it was discarded :(

As I walked away I couldn’t help but think how sad it was that this beautiful quilt had been discarded and priced at $24.99! As I was leaving I bumped into my sister-in-law and told her about the quilt. She and I walked back to take another look at it. That was it, I couldn’t leave it behind. It felt weird buying a quilt but there was just something so wrong about leaving it there. I will enjoy it until I find someone else who will appreciate this beauty…or it may just stay with me forever as I love scrappy quilts and this design too!

As some of you may know I work as a Community Health Worker and get to spend a lot of time working with seniors. This past work week I got to see a lot of beautifully made antique quilts gracing beds. It is a weird person who enjoys making beds cause they get to touch these amazing pieces of history. :D I hope that one day some of my quilts will still be warming the recipients beds, looking well used and loved.

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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It’s Coming Up Retreat Time

Hard to believe but it will be the 5th annual MLQ Quilt Camp at Edenvale April 18-21! As with any retreat there will be lots of inspiration, energy, good food and good friends. Can’t wait to get there.

<—The small project this year is a Quilter’s Angel. I had been working with the 2015 Row by Row fabrics and decided that they’d be perfect for this sweet angel. I used a charm pack, two fat quarters and a strip or two of yardage. I’d been saving abalone buttons for years for a project that may very possibly never get made and they are the perfect fit for this water themed sea angel.

The angel applique is from the free pattern inside this applique pressing sheet package. The background is pieced using 2 patches, 4 patches and 1 1/2″ strips. Any pieced background will work for your own Quilter’s Angel. The finished size is approximately 15″ x 24.”


And now to an update on the 2015 Row by Row quilts…I’ve been working on Joan’s rows, just cutting and appliqueing, no stitching ;) My plan is to have all her rows done in time for the retreat, I’ve only got 2 more to go! Most of Joan’s are made from kits and H20 fat quarter bundles. The background and clouds from the Dancing in the Rain row (the Cloth Shop) are from my stash but all the raindrops are fabrics from all the other rows…I love this row! I’m going to make one as a wall hanging :)

I started a new group for the 150th Canada Mystery quilt on FB. It is to encourage completion of these blocks as they come in so we aren’t behind the 8-ball when it comes to assembling the quilt for July 1, 2017. For me it’s a very slow process, waiting, waiting, waiting for the next block. Good thing I have lots of other things to keep me busy.

This one is block #4 from Nova Scotia. It is the iconic lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove. I’m using raw edge applique plus a little thread painting  and free motion stitching in some areas. Thoughts are to stitch in the ditch when it is time to quilt it. In case you were wondering the Osprey is the bird of NS.

Block #5 is from the Northwest Territories. I love how the sky fabrics in this kit make it look like we are seeing the Aurora Borealis. I also added a 3rd bear to the ice flow just because I could! :D The official bird of the NWT is the Gyrfalcon.

The next block is from the Yukon. Will we be panning for gold?

Best get back to finishing the retreat surprise and adding to the list of things not to forget!

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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Working as a “Noun”

This designation is courtesy of my friend Shelley :) It all started when she found out that I have been doing some piecing for Joan. I’m just helping out as I don’t have to get in shape to walk 800 Km through the mountains in Europe. Between working on the long arm and her other office job she wasn’t getting any sewing time in! And there is a trade off too, she does quilt some of my pieces. Back in the early fall Joan asked if I wanted to participate in the 150th Anniversary Canada Mystery quilt and I willingly jumped on board. Joan despises applique so I’m not sure what she was thinking participating…anyway, I seem to enjoy it and don’t mind tracing and fusing these pieces for her, she will do the actual stitching while quilting the finished top. The blocks come once every six weeks so it’s an easy pace to keep up with.

Now we come to the 2015 Row by Row H20 kits and/or free patterns. Back in June we, and you know who you are, went on a great Vancouver Island road trip, picking up kits and patterns from 7 different quilt shops. Most of these quilters live on the lower mainland and had access to many more stores, never mind having friends and family picking up kits from other participating shops. So I wonder how many kits/patterns were picked up? And what will you do with them? :D

A show and share of our quilts, table runners or wallhangings made from these kits is to take place in June 2016. That’s like a whole year to do something with those very pretty packages. Back in January I asked how those quilts were coming along and I got a variety of awesome answers…I now really understand how stashes are built and UFO’s are made! Now back to being a noun, Joan had only made one of her rows and I asked if she’d like me to make up the rows and then she would do the assembling and applique stitching…yes, please she said. When Shelley found this out she asked where she could get herself a “Raye.” This makes me laugh  every time I think about it. Besides being a nice big sister I really just wanted to encourage people to get these quilts done for our show and share.

I bought only one kit for this H20 Row by Row quilt as I had planned on working out of my stash…it had been collected years ago for a project that never got started ;)  I found doing the quilt this way took a little longer as you had to find the right pieces to use for each row. I had the flimsy done last September and just got it sandwiched this past February. After stitching in the ditch between the rows I decided this was the perfect quilt to practice free motion quilting…today it will be pebbling in the rocky fabrics. Piecing Joan’s rows has been pretty easy as the fabrics are already there. I used the 7 rows from our road trip plus 2 others, one from a trip to Salt Spring Island and the Rain row from the Cloth Shop in Vancouver.


<— This table runner is made from a kit from Carola’s Quilt Shop in Gibson’s. I picked up this kit after I’d assembled the quilt top from my other row patterns. There was enough fabric in this kit to add 2 1/2″ borders and make it into a table runner. I know some of the quilters have started working on their rows and hopefully the group will feel encouraged, not harassed to get it done. It’s been a lot of fun and I might participate in the Row by Row this year, even if it’s only to have an awesome day trip around the Island with my friends!!

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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Canada Mystery Quilt 2017

Canadian designer Shania Sunga has designed a 13 block Canadian themed quilt to help us celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017.  Kits will be released every 6 weeks until April 2017, with a finishing kit arriving in May. I just realized that said MAY 2017! That’s going to be a very tight finish for July 1st!! :)
I guess the best way to stay on top of that is to do your blocks as they arrive. This is the first time I have participated in a project like this, waiting for and then receiving the next kit. It was kind of weird to make one block and then wait 6 weeks for the next one. I made the first two blocks and was puzzled by some of the instructions. Like assemble the chickadee & branch by “lightly fusing, cool and set aside.” I didn’t know you could do such a thing if you happen to have an applique pressing sheet. During our November sewing day we (Jackie & I) asked the applique expert, Liz, what the heck that meant. She showed us how to use the applique pressing sheet that Jackie owns and, wow, that makes it much easier to work with little bits! I was able to assemble Joan’s #1 New Brunswick block much faster than my own.  Here is a video on how to use one of these sheets:
#2 block is Nunavut and was fairly easy to do as the applique pieces were larger. After making the first two blocks I just assumed that all the blocks would have the official bird of the province/territory.  Not so as you will see with the third block.
I was intrigued with the names of the line of fabric designed for this project.  The covered bridge from the first block is made of fabric utilizing the Muskoka chair.
The pieces of fabric in the kits are pretty small so we don’t get a really good idea of what the print is. This is definitely a Canadian icon buried quietly in this celebratory quilt.
Block #3 Alberta: I waited anxiously for the third block to show up in my mail box! It’s a pretty cool block too. We get a horse and not a bird! Did you know that the Great Horned Owl is the provincial bird of Alberta? I still don’t own an applique pressing sheet so just assembled as I’ve always done, one layer at at time. :)
I’ve seen quilters post pictures of their finished blocks and a lot of them are using satin stitch applique. I am working with raw edge applique and matching threads. I think there are way to many teeny tiny pieces to do anything but…but then that’s just my preference. And I guess there’s nothing else for me to do but wait till the end of February for the next kit, Nova Scotia. Will we get the Bluenose?
To see the different types of fabric and which province/territory will be next in line check out Contemporary Sewing
Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye
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We Believe in Blue & Canuck Place

When we delivered quilts to Canuck Place back in August they promised to send a picture of Lorraine’s quilt to Eddie Lack. They did so via Twitter and he responded with an “awesome.” We can’t help but smile as that’s the closest any of us will get to this former Vancouver Canuck netminder.  Bo Horvat also responded to the picture of his quilt by Liz with a re-tweet to his followers.

During our July quilt-a-thon we did an interview with Heather from the Quilter’s Connection magazine. She wrote about how the quilts came to be, back in 2011 and the hopes that one day (and it won’t be this year) the Vancouver Canucks do win a Stanley Cup.


We received our magazines on December 2nd and, again, we can’t help but smile as we don’t know if we’ll ever get published again. QC mission statement: Quilter’s Connection Magazine is a national magazine dedicated to quilters who love to quilt. Quilter’s Connection entertains Canadian quilters with news and reviews, projects, motivational stories about quilters and their achievements, quilting tips and techniques. Our magazine inspires, informs, and offers connection among quilters across Canada. Joan and I are thrilled to have our story published and encourage you to get a subscription from this Canadian magazine.

Heather sent along some extra copies and they arrived in time for our visit to Canuck Place’s House Light-up. Joan and I felt honoured to get the invitation to this event and it was a very enchanting evening.

The night was perfect, sandwiched right between wind and rainstorms. We enjoyed refreshments, Christmas carols, Fin and the lighting of the entire house and yard. It was pretty cool to see Henrik Sedin, Kirk McLean & Orland Kurtenbach hanging out with everyone.

We couldn’t be this successful with our I Believe in Blue quilt campaigns without the support of all who encourage, sponsor and quilt for this most worthy cause. Thank you. The 6th annual campaign will be starting up shortly and we look forward to delivering 17 quilts to round the number up to 100!!

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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Wow…it’s January 2016!

What happened to the last 2 months?  I know I’ve been busy but one post in two months and I can’t even say I was on a long holiday :)  Last post was November 3rd and it’s now January 3rd!

I’m usually pretty good at photo journaling what I do but not so much during this time…I completed three commissioned quilts and made Christmas gifts with but one photo taken.

My niece Amanda asked me to make this Ottawa Senators quilt for her husband. It’s a pretty simple design with most of the work coming in the form of the team logo. It was a pretty weird experience working with these colours after 5 yrs of blue and green (the best colours) Vancouver Canuck quilts.

The other two commissions were made using the licensed fabrics of Transformers & John Deere.

I had a lot of fun making really simple fabric baskets, a great tutorial here at

I made several in three different sizes. Pat took these photos for me as I wasn’t about to unwrap the gifts :D These ones were made from 13″ squares and my favourite size. They fit a reusable plastic container really well so you can put just about anything in these baskets. These are also perfect to practice your free motion quilting on.

I found this cool potholder tutorial and made a couple sets for my daughters-in-law…and then I had to make another one to show you that I really did try the tutorial! 

It’s one of the quickest and easiest potholders I’ve ever made. This one was made using the same fabrics for all four corners as I was feeling extremely patriot while watching the World Juniors. :)

One of my favourite things I made this year were travel bags for my grandsons. These days there are weekends away to play hockey so they each got a kit filled with all those things one needs to look their best after a sweaty game!

And of course I didn’t photograph them before wrapping so I had to make another one! The boys travel bags were made from the black flannel hockey fabric and looked really cool. My grandsons always buy me fabric at Christmas so I used this mushroom fabric to make another bag. The inspiration for the bag came from the Snappy Slippers & Travel Bag at!patterns/c23os. Her bags call for fifteen 5″ squares to be sewn together. On these ones I chose solid pieces of fabric making them quick and easy. Again, a great piece to practice your free motion quilting on.

I’m currently waiting for that third Canada Mystery BOM to arrive in my mail box. Got the first two complete and can’t wait to get to the next one.

Happy New Year and Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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Label Challenge: #jellybeanrow

My label is complete! The label I chose was from a bottle of wine from the Auk Island winery in Twillingate, Newfoundland. Back in 2008 I was lucky enough to hang out in St John’s and thoroughly fell in love with the city. This photo was taken from Southside Road and shows the colourful houses of the heritage district in the downtown core. (Click on picture for larger view.) Check out this link to the history of Jelly Bean Row houses:

After drinking this not so good wine (sorry Auk Island) I peeled the label off and recycled the bottle. I decided to start with a background canvas of 15 1/2″ x 13.” I love working free form…the purple and white fabrics were over laid about 3″ and then I cut a gentle curve through this area. After stitching these two pieces together I was able to see how big the row houses would be. These houses were fused onto the background after they were randomly cut to fit together. The windows and doors were also free form cut. I like to say it’s about being whimsical but really it’s because I cannot draw a straight line! Besides this is much more fun! :)  Most of the work putting this together was from the stitching on the windows. The letters were all hand drawn and raw edge stitched. I decided to added 2 1/2″ borders to the sides of this piece and bound it with the background purple. Finished size: 19″ x 13.”

I really enjoyed the freedom of working on this piece and am looking forward to make a few more from photos taken on various trips. A little side bar, if you haven’t been to Newfoundland you should go. And on this side of the country a visit to Haida Gwaii is a must as well! Lot’s to see and be inspired.

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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