O! Canada!

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I’ve just returned home from the Saskatoon Quilters Guild show and now must catch up on posting all about it! I did take a tonne of photos at the show but unfortunately cannot post them here on my blog due to privacy rules. I can, however, finally show you all the photographs I’ve been taking over the past few months, including process shots from the design wall. I thought I’d start with my quilt entitled O! Canada!

Pulling fabrics

When I initially decided to enter this year’s show I carefully read through all the various categories and was inspired to create a piece to celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial that would fit the criteria for the wallhanging category. My design concept was to create a modern version of our flag that contained various abstract symbols representing the diversity of our country. I started off by choosing some fabrics in shades of reds and browns, and in my stash, discovered the wonderful red fabric printed with cream circles. This particular print set the tone for the entire piece, with the O’s on red it made perfect sense in my mind – O! Canada!

Forming blocks

I worked in a very improvisational manner, cutting freeform semi-circles with no rulers or templates, and allowing the design to develop organically. The only perimeter that guided me was the size restrictions that would allow the piece to fit within the show’s category. This was actually more difficult than it sounds, as the piece kept wanting to grow larger as I worked on it, and at times it was a real battle to restrain myself from allowing it to happen.

Tiny maple leaves

Knowing that this piece was entered into a judged category, I realized that perhaps the improvisational, abstract techniques would perhaps be ‘not to everyone’s taste’, especially if the judges leaned towards the more traditional style of quilting. That’s what lead me to include the small maple leaves throughout the center of the design, rather than the one large leaf traditionally shown on the flag . I hoped this would demonstrate a greater versatility of my skill level and in reality, this decision truly stretched my abilities to the max. The leaves were tiny although not difficult to make, but inserting them into the curves of the design while not losing any tips/points and keeping the blocks flat took some finesse.

All blocks complete

As you can see, the improv cutting and piecing resulted in a vast array of different sized blocks and the trick to getting them to fit together is like a jigsaw puzzle where you have to cut all the puzzle pieces yourself and still maintain the finished picture.

Ta! Da!

Although there may be some things I might have changed along the way, I’m pleased with what my ‘flag’ represents: our vast and beautiful landscapes, the diversity of our people coming together to create a nation, the wind that has scattered us from one end of the land to the other, the openness we have at the heart of our country, as well as the flaws that we need to accept and to learn from in order to grow and develop into an even better Canada.

Final result!

Many more techniques were added to the quilt top before it was complete including using oil paint sticks to add the numbers one and zero to the five that was printed on the fabric just left of center. I cut my own stencils to make the numbers and the oil sticks kept the 150 quite subtle. The entire piece is machine quilted using the words from our national anthem and then I added hand sewn seed stitch in hand-dyed threads to surround the 150, causing it to come forward slightly in more dimensional manner. I bound the edges with a hand turned facing/binding on the back, in keeping with the ‘flag’ concept, as I thought a traditional binding would distract from the overall design. In the above photo there appears a blue line at the bottom right hand side, which is not part of the design, but rather a piece of blue masking tape. After completing the machine quilting of the anthem, I had signed my name and dated the piece with the sewing machine but had to cover it for the judging process. This quilt was awarded third prize in its category and I now have a special wall hanging commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday.

As always, carol

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4 Responses to O! Canada!

  1. Tammy says:

    You finessed yourself right into a 3rd place ribbon! Awesome! I am so proud of you!

  2. carol says:

    Thank you, Tammy! The most wonderful thing about this whole experience was how it motivated me to get back into the studio, working on my own designs, and creating a lovely flow of new ideas.

  3. Janine says:

    Fantastic creation! I love it!!

  4. carol says:

    Thank you, Janine! It’s so great to hear from you!

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