Getting Ready for the Edmonton Festival of Quilts

Part 14 : Putting a quilt together and the Alberta block


I can’t believe I have finally come up with a block for the last Canada block. As an art quilter I have a new found appreciation for the history, evolution  and variety of traditional quilts. I was also surprised that so many of the blocks used over a hundred years ago are still popular ( and copyright free to use ) today. I had lots of fun playing with my very old EQ5 program to come up with designs and  more important cutting instructions …. which I have not figured out how to add to the blog.

Thankfully I don’t need to deal with lack of fabric chooses in a multitude of colours. If I get really desperate I can buy always buy some  turkey red dye to make my own colours!  I think I will stick with very the simple grid and log cabin strip styles. I look forward to seeing more elaborate works from those that are more patient matching points that can pass quilt police scrutiny. But before I can start making my blocks I guess I had better come up with a layout for the quilt top. I normally start with an basic idea that change as I start stitching it together. I don’t think that will work this time.  It would be fun to stray down a more artsy look at this point but I think I will try for a look that would not be out of places in the 1800’s.

So as I prepare to put together my 1st traditional quilt together I will try embodying a few rules … or lets call them guidelines.

  1. All blocks will be pieced with only squares, rectangles and triangles.
  2. I can only use traditionally recognized patterns of the 1800’s.
  3. In the popular style of the time, white (or cream) and turkey or barn red colours will appear in all blocks.
  4. Layout should not be something that would be out of place in 1867.
  5.  And finally I can’t tell you how thankful I am that the home sewing machine was invented by the time of confederation! I would hate to not to be able to use this tool.
  6.  I am allowed to use a rotary cutter and other modern tools.

I think, I should be able to do this??? Now I just need to figure out the layout without making the quilt too large or the provincial block too small. Kind of like the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. I guess that will be my next blog!

Finally the Alberta block…..




I can’t quite decide why I left Alberta as the last block. Maybe it is because it has been my home since 1980. It is a province of so many contrasts. It was the 1st time I saw a real mountain and also a prairie and badlands. I saw my 1st oil rig, bought a horse and finally learned how to ski. I was a wide open playground anywhere you went. It was also the 1st place that showed me that women could do the same jobs as men. I had never seen women drive buses and deliver mail in Hamilton! It was the province of Emily Murphy the 1st magistrate in the entire British Empire. It was a real challenge to pick a block that reflected the place to me.

The wild rose block is a beautiful traditional block. The roses grow just about anywhere and are a symbol of this province. But in the end I fell back to my feeling of what symbolized, what made this physical place. I decided that mountains would symbolize my province. It might seem an odd choice as certainly BC can claim to have a lot more mountains! But it is the mountains that make Alberta what it is and so different from our western sister. The mountains act as a barrier to the mild maritime temperatures in winter, drier and those big blue skies. It gives crazy Chinook winds and presents a special challenge for meteorologist trying to forecast the weather.The foothills is the 1st place that storms travelling from the west reform after disappearing in the mountains and is the birthplace for strong summer storms that travel across the prairies giving us more hail, lightning and tornadoes than just about anywhere else in the country. Yes just wait a bit and the weather is sure to change in this province.




I hope there are others of you that will stitch your own Canada quilt to celebrate our country coming together. Each area different but fitting together so well. It would also  be nice to have a few more experienced traditional quilters show me what can really be done especially when it comes to making those perfect point!

Better get started…. The Festival of Quilts is in June.

If you have any extra blocks I would love to be able to sell them as a fundraiser at our member market. Maybe it will be the start of someone’s 1st ever quilt. Or in the tradition of sharing fabric we can trade blocks with our sister (or brother) quilters. Stay tuned for my next blog.



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