Canada 150

Shania Sunga Designs created this awesome “Homecoming” flag quilt. It measures 33″ x 16 1/2.” There’s always room for something this size on the wall of a patriotic Canadian!

This is the first one that I assembled. I changed the formation of the geese to the “Flying V,” somehow it just felt right. As I’ve written before, a lot of family and friends not only loved it but had coveted it as well. This one I gave to my niece Kadi.

Sean and Kayla had admired that one and when asked if they’d like one, the answer was Yes!! As long as the fabric stash holds out I’ll be able to keep making them. :D

This actually was the one I pieced/fused for Joan and it came back to me as she is going to have the “Autumn Homecoming” instead.

<— I haven’t made this one yet as it does say “autumn.” ;)  I’ve still got to make one for myself and possibly two more, all before the Canada Day 2017 celebrations.

I won’t be quilting this one but have definitely gotten a lot of free motion practice in on the other three with more to come.

This one is the third I’ve done for a friend of Sean’s. He saw a picture of it and immediately said ” I want it!!” Love how 30 yr old guys can appreciate this art form and how very patriotic they are.

Here’s a little about Shania Sunga from the CSM webpage A love of nature and wildlife is a tremendous source of artistic inspiration for Shania. Born and raised on the beautiful coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, her appreciation for nature is evident in the complex designs of her appliqué art quilts featuring the landscape and wildlife of Canada. Self-taught in art and quilting, Shania went on to attend the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, graduating with a degree in Industrial Design. Her art and quilt patterns are sold around the world.

The Canadian Mystery quilt definitely reflects her love of nature and Canada. I am hoping to have the quilt done in time for our annual Canada Day celebrations.

But seriously, the flags are small enough, and easy enough to do so if you have a kit, get it done! #Canada150

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye


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Curved Piecing for Quilt Camp 2017

Our 6th Annual quilt camp at Edenvale is happening June 23-26. I’ve had a request to teach curved piecing. I’d thought about using the two traditional drunkards path templates but wanted to try the templates used for the Ruby Reel. Cheryl Phillips has designed the Ruby Reel pattern for McCalls quilting and provided a web bonus of the templates we will use for this project.

We will be using the bottom two–> templates.

You will make either a small table topper <—- that measures 19″square.

Or a set of placemats —-> that measure   13″ x 18.”

I find paper templates easy to use with my rotary cutter and a ruler. Just be careful not to trim any paper as you go. These paper pieces can be glued onto cardboard and then cut out giving you a sturdier template to work with. Click on the PDF link to get your templates but disregard the printing on the templates themselves. We won’t be cutting that many pieces! :D  Ruby Reel templates

These pieces can be made with two contrasting fat quarters plus backing and binding fabrics.

<— This 27″ table topper is made using all three templates. It’s hot off the longarm so still awaits it’s binding. It is recommended for the advanced curve piecer but is an example of what you can do once you’ve mastered your fear of curves. ;)


Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye


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2017 Canada Mystery Quilt 2.0

It’s hard to imagine that we started  this Canada Mystery Quilt in the fall of 2015.  I started a Canada Mystery Quilt group on my Facebook page in November 2015 in hopes that it would encourage everyone to keep up with their blocks. The discussion has been great and I love that quilters are making changes to the blocks that do not inspire them. We are so close to the finish and I can’t wait to see the finished products. I wonder how many Canada 150 Birthday quilts will be produced?

I’ve had discussions with quilters who say they don’t have the patience for this type of work. It’s been a first for me, joining a BOM, and I had to learn patience for having to WAIT for the next block! :D

I’ve told them if they can trace and cut they can do this. The pattern is set up for raw edge applique meaning you just straight stitch around the pieces. I’ve chosen to change thread colours and use what ever type of thread I have. Joan is going with invisible thread to save time changing colours. It’s all individual. I’ve seen some use the Satin stitch and others use a Blanket stitch. Some of my blocks have free motion stitching on the applique too.


<—- The applique pressing sheet is the best tool to have for creating these detailed appliques.

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, but if you happen to have an applique pressing sheet, you can!



After you have patiently traced, fused and cut out your applique pieces the fun begins. Place the applique sheet on top of the layout guide. Follow the instructions of the pattern on which order to place the pieces that you are going to “lightly fuse, cool and set aside.” When the applique is cooled, gently peel it off the sheet. You will see that the fusible is still intact and ready to be place on the background piece.



There are 13 blocks blocks in this mystery quilt. One for each province or territory. The first block was from New Brunswick and I loved everything about it except the fabric chosen for the tree branch. I swapped it out for something in my stash that I liked. I have seen someone change the barn colour to red in the Alberta block. In the Northwest Territories block I decided to add a second polar bear cub, but otherwise loved  the block. :)

When I got to the eighth block, Ontario, I decided to make a change to a few pieces. I believe a lot of likes and dislikes with these blocks come from where we live & where we’ve traveled in our country. I had difficulty with the “dock” in the Ontario block, but that’s because the docks I know and love on the ocean do not look like that. A quilter from the east coast had the same difficulty. While I didn’t change the shape of the dock I used a “wood” fabric in place of the original piece. I also wanted to take advantage of the awesome red fabric for the #sharethechair that Parks Canada uses. Those red chairs are a delight to find while out enjoying our awesome National Parks. So I changed the colour of the chairs and canoe. One quilter has made a change to the land in the horizon, depicting “the sleeping giant” as seen on Lake Superior.

<—All was fine until I got to Manitoba. The block depicts bison in the rolling hills with a grey moon over the horizon. I didn’t like the choice of fabric as the fabric design seemed too big for such a small block. One piece in particular seemed all wrong as the pattern in the fabric seemed to be directional and this piece was cut in the wrong direction. I pieced this block (it’s Joan’s) and then found out the fabric was indeed cut wrong for all the kits. But what are you to do when the block is finished?

<—For my block, I chose to swap out the green/yellow piece for a piece of green from my stash. Never having spent any amount of time on the prairies I don’t understand the moon on the horizon so I left it out. Maybe one day I’ll go to Manitoba and get a real feel for this part of the country. Like I said, I believe where we’ve lived and what we’ve seen goes a long way to understanding our country and what it looks like.

We’ve had ten blocks depicting the countryside, animals, birds and flowers of our provinces/territories. Now we come to Quebec, the eleventh block. Boy was I not expecting this one.

Quebec’s block is made up of historical buildings. A lot of black and grey, big patterned fabrics. I have had this kit for awhile now and just can’t wrap my head around it. I do not like it and the majority of discussion on the Canada Mystery group chat indicates I’m not the only one. I’ve been to Quebec. It’s beautiful and there is a lot of beautiful scenery to look at. I have decided to draft a block from a photo I took of the Quebec City fortified wall. I will be able to keep with the building theme but have some green from the top of the walls, a tree and will add the provincial flower, the blue flag iris.

One quilter in the group has done a block depicting Perce Rock. It captures the Gaspe Peninsula region on the Gulf of St Lawrence. It’s amazing.


Then just the other day another glitch happened.  From the Cantik Batik Team : “In the making of the fabric for BC block, the colours came in wrong. We have been hoping the fabric would be corrected in time but we will not release a product until it is right.” I’m glad that they will send a corrected colour kit but this gets dicey when it comes to finishing on time. But then again, there are many worse things that can happen to us. ;)

In May 2016 the Cantik Batik Team took a break from mystery blocks and gave us this amazing pattern, Homecoming. It is 33″ x 16 1/2.” 

I’ve made two, the first for Joan was a flimsy and this one is quilted with the geese flying in the V formation. I’ll be making more as this one has been spied and coveted by two family members! If word gets out I’ll become a master flag maker!! :D :D Loving #Canada150!

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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Machine Binding

Binding, it seems, is dreaded by many. I actually don’t mind binding quilts. But as I get older my hands have a field day with pain after I’ve bound a quilt by hand. Joan convinced me to learn to bind both front and back by machine. I wasn’t too keen on that as I’d seen some messes and there is nothing worse (IMO) than ruining a beautiful quilt with bad binding. The key to doing this is having the right feet for your machine. In the above photo there are 3 walking feet for a Janome machine. The one on the left is for quilting, the middle has a quarter inch seam and the right is for stitching in the ditch. I’m a happy camper when I use these feet to apply the binding.


Using the quarter inch foot stitch the binding on the BACK side of the quilt. I usually start in the middle side of the quilt. I find leaving a 10″ gap between the start and finish of the binding gives me lots of ease to join the two ends of the binding.




Bring the two ends together in the middle of the gap and press. Cut one end of the binding on the fold line. On the other end of the binding cut 2 1/2″ from the fold. ( I find using a 2 1/2″ binding easier and cleaner to handle when sewing the binding on by machine.




Fold the quilt and clamp or pin together to allow ease for the next step of joining your binding together. Lay the cut end of the binding on top of the 2 1/2″ extension of your other end, just as you would when making binding. Mark and stitch using your regular walking foot. Cut excess fabric and press open.


There is another tutorial for joining the binding together. Look under Categories for Tutorials and choose “Joining the Ends of your Binding.”

Once you’ve cut and pressed your joined binding, stitch the completed binding down using your quarter inch foot.

From the back of the quilt press the binding away from the quilt all the way around, just as you would when stitching it to the front of the quilt. This makes for a crisp clean binding.



Fold your binding over to the front of the quilt and start stitching with your stitch in the ditch foot. Adjust your needle to the position you need to catch the binding along the edge. I don’t pin the binding down. I just stitch a few inches at a time, adjusting the binding as I go to keep it straight. But I do pin the corners. Stitch right up to the corner and pivot, continuing to stitch along the edge.


<—- Sorry, I neglected to take a photo of the finished binding on the above quilt. This is from one of my Canada Day quilts and it’s been washed and dried and it still looks great.

Hopefully this tutorial works for you. Click on the individual photos and they will appear larger for a closer look should you need one.

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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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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