One of a kind-Centennial Quilt! Lots of photos...

I didn't think I had properly posted the full story of my journey on the Smithers 2013  Centennial Quilt. 

Here are more photos close up so you could see some of the fine details of this quilt and some of my thoughts of taking on a huge project.

It began because I had a dream. 

I just couldn't fathom that our largest community in the Bulkley Valley would not have a centennial quilt when celebrating 100 yrs. We live very northern lifestyles. If we want opera, we must fly to Vancouver paying lots of dollars to get there.

I felt we have so much to celebrate in our community that it was only fitting that we have an awesome quilt to represent the growth in the last 100 years of Smithers.

I originally had discussed this idea with Heather Gallagher at our local Chamber of Commerce and she was inspiring, telling me of her idea of a train barreling down a line. Hence, the train became the lower focus of the entire quilt. 

I took the project on with as much zeal as I ever do! I drafted a plan on graph paper, played with some colors and dreamed away the last winter months of 2011. 

Early in 2012, I wrote a few articles for our local newspaper to alert the community to my exciting community quilt undertaking. I asked for quilters to join me in this once in a lifetime kind of project?  I was really pleased when 6 local artists joined me in this undertaking and they each supplied me their individual work of art, compiled in this quilt.

Top left on the Centennial Quilt is "Old Church Block" which is a local landmark and was the first church built in the start out days of Smithers.
Nicole Tessier was  the only brave local quilter, one who as it turned out to be, the only other quilter on the project. It was her undertaking that brought about this lovely, fine detailed work on the Old Church. Bravo to Nicole! Thank you so much!

I took the artistic license to embellish her Old Church block with musical instruments and a Bull Moose walking by on the street, which is quite common in our community for some reason.

Then we have the "Forest Crazy Quilted Block" that I made which represents the awesome forested land of miles and miles of untouched wilderness, valley's to dream of and rivers and creeks flowing over rocks and tumbling down glaciers. This was my thinking when I started to make this block.

The middle top block of a man standing with some sort of odd instrument in front of him is known as our local "Alpine Al" which represents the Swiss connection so strongly identified by our farming and pioneer families in the valley. Thank you to my good friend Marta Wertz, who is a local artist, jewelry making and great local volunteer!

Here Martha stands in front of the Bugwood Bean on Main street best coffee in the valley!

Then we have the "Babine Range Thread Painting Block" which I did to represent the eastern side of our valley is also part of what makes Smithers so attractive to amenity migrants like the hundreds of new faces we see every year in our community.

Smithers is an eclectic, recreational and solid likable community filled with all ages and all interests.

The stitching was overlaying of stitching onto tiny pieces of fabric I had glued down onto the range. Then I turned on some good music and stitched a landscape that is driven into my brain. I pass this range everyday of the week, they are stunning and beautiful all months of the year!

The below the Babine Range on the right, the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, representing our First Nations neighbors who form an integral flavor to these northern parts, many who still trap, fish and hunt as a means to put food on the table every day. My thanks to the Elders of the Office of the Wet'suwet'en for their approval of inclusion into this memorable stitched artifact for future generations.

This project grew as time went on and I learned that taking on a project this large is not for the faint at heart. It takes commitment, courage to put yourself out there in such a 'public' way and the willingness to put aside all sorts of other fun projects, time with your hubby and time with friends.

I made time to take off with our long time friends and listened to the sweet music that our husbands made on a warm summer evening.

A lot of alone time occurred with this quilt. The memories of fireside fun sustained my journey. I kept in touch with the other artists along the way  via email.

Then to the left of Office of the Wet'suwet'en logo is the textile art piece made by Linda Stringfellow of Telkwa, who is a local artist with some awesome annual shows.

I love this piece by Linda, she has captured the playfulness of freeform textile art.

You can see how lovely and fitting her piece made in the whole grand scheme of things, this photo was the weeks before the completion in mid-April of 2013.

The Town of Smithers in  gold embroidery while not the blue of our town colours, somehow the idea of blue words on the quilt, didn't turn my crank. BV Cleaners did this work for me and took a load off of the potential of hand embroidery.  Sorry I didn't have a exact photo of this embroidery for some reason!

This quilt caused so much learning and stretched my wings so many ways, its hard to remember all the moments of 'uphill battles' and simple & joyful discoveries that presented themselves to me. 

One such challenge was the sunset and Hudson Bay Mountain painting in acrylics that my good friend Perry Rath made, which was originally 18 x 24 inches. But I tried all sorts of ways to make the original work, but without wrecking my sewing machine, it had to be transferred and during the transfer process, we lost inches. So there was another revision of the graph paper layout of the quilt. 

So if anyone reading this wants to take on a big project like this, build in more time than you think. This project had 11 revisions to the planned quilt layout. I had thought and planned for maybe three revisions. But as soon as the June deadline was over and I began to assess the pieces turned in, I was left with realizing that one artist had actually created the piece horizontal, rather than vertical, so here was the another revision.

Below Perry's piece, you'll see the awesome original design of salmon in aboriginal art style these are an original of Todd Tracey Lace who is a chef by day and artist by night who designed the salmon block for the quilt.  The acrylic original included the blue background, this didn't turn out as nice as I wanted for Todd's Salmon. Just the salmon were transferred to fabric and done up in machine embroidery. I came up with the background of water for the three fish. They represent the importance of fresh water wild salmon for First Nations food fishery and for our own recreational and commercial ocean fishery that these salmon are connected with.

Anne Havard is a real trooper, her skill in art leaves us all breathless all the time and I commend her tenacity to actually make her piece in fabric right from the beginning. Anne has not spent years becoming a quilter, but she persevered and we're so glad she did. Anne's block represents the days of a 100 years ago, when all our supplies were brought into the valley on pack trains of mules.

The to the right of the pack train is my second crazy quilting block of the quilt. This is one very special because, in late November I got a call from my good friend Nola who asked if there was anything she could do to  help me? 
I lamented about the fact that I really needed a crazy quilt block in purple colours that represent the flora of our beautiful area, I was in love with the purple fireweed that thrives in northern B.C. But VERY challenged with the large amount of applique work I'd originally wanted for the flora.
Thank You Nola!

Then I couldn't forget to include Sir Alfred Smithers block in this write up.

Sir Alfred Smithers was the big wig of the Grand Trunk Railway at the time. His directions on the site of Smithers townsite earned him this special distinction. This color thread painted image was taken from the only photo we had in the book Swamp to Village, a history of Smithers.

Above and to the right of Sir Alfred is the block entitled "Wet'suwet'en Home" which honors the original people of this area, the Wet'suwet'en Nation. This block was made from a conversation I had with Charrine Lace, Todd's wife who spoke of this kind of memory she had of the original style homes. The dancers are wearing my version of traditional regalia similar to this image.

I worked over the winter months of 2012 & 2013 feverishly, taking every day off from my job to make this quilt. I longed for the end, had nightmares of not completing it on time!

This cold winter drew on as I worked on the quilt. I did have the submitted items from local artists, having those all submitted to me by the end of June 2012. From them on, I worked as the single artist making this quilt come together. Lists became a part of my process of making art. I checked off items as I worked through a long list of mini deadlines of my own to make this possible. Unfortunately, Nola Weston and Nicole Tessier were the only two quilters to lend a hand.

The Canadian National Railway or CN as we call it locally, was the main focus of the end of the quilt. This image of the train has multiple layers of cloth, thread painting and embellishments that are so subtle that you can't see them unless  you know they are there.

The whole vision I began to see as I placed and replaced the  blocks I saw the pieces floating against a black night sky. I decided in early November that the background was going that way and began the intricate and time consuming 'one off' style of piecing in order to create the multi-colored black sky.

In between the other more dominant blocks sit 'Poplar Grove' acrylic painting that my husband did to present the miles of poplar forest now so dominant in our northern region.

The Glenwood Hall was the first community hall in the valley. In the days of horse and buggy it made it a popular place to visit and socialize and its still in use for the same purposes today. Its owned and run by the Glenwood Women's Institute. unfortunately, the home made fabric transfer did not hold up to the amount of movement required to machine quilt this project. Sorry ladies! :) If you want a really good image transferred, please go to Bulkley Cleaners for their advice and expertise.

Heather Gallagher, Manager of Smithers Chamber of Commerce was the original seed planter of the  train coming around a corner. This was her idea back in the fall of 2011.

 I made it happen with the final days of hand sewing on the binding in preparation for the Smithers & District Trade Show.

And so without further a due, here is the finished Smithers 2013 Centennial Quilt.

All the doilies at the bottom of the page are from local pioneer families. The fell into the project like snow banks do, softly they become mountains of snow. They provided the bottom overlay of white upon the white fabrics purchased from my sponsor Mad About Patchwork. 
These little bags of delicate items found there way to my door step. Thank you to all those lovely families who chose to donate something of their family to this project.

On May 28th at 7:30 I'll present this complete quilt to the Town of Smithers Mayor and Council. This was an awesome ride, one that I'll never forget.


I'm linking up with Blogger's Quilt Festival, vote for this group quilt category!


  1. What a wonderful quilt! And such an experience for you. The blocks are all amazing. What a perfect keepsake.

    1. Thanks Linda, it has for sure been a wonderful experience!

  2. Wow totally amazing. You and everyone who contributed should be very proud:)

    1. Thank you Mary Ann, we are pretty proud of our effort on this collaboration. I really enjoy organizing group art pieces. This is my third one.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. 18 months of focused work went into this project. Thanks for popping in:)

  4. What an incredible amount of work and talent you and your friends have put into this quilt! What impresses me as much as the artistic work is that you managed to hold the group together. I hope you will enter this amazing quilt into shows and propose it to quilting magazines.

    1. Regina, how good of you to pop in. You make some interesting suggestions of shows and magazines. I will put some thought into this, right now, I'm just breathing again and finding some "me" space again. Thanks for your thoughts and support. Do you have suggestions of which shows this piece would fit into? in Northern BC, I'm kind of out of the loop on these types of ideas.

  5. What a beautiful way to make a beautiful quilt.
    Love all the blocks.

    1. Heh Carol,
      Thanks for popping in with your busy schedule! I make quilts in any way they speak to me. Thanks for your support! I was wondering if I can follow your blog with email? Love your posts, choice of colors and projects, maybe we can do a quilt along sometime?

    2. Thank you! :) I came back to say thank you for your lovely comments on my blog. I guess I need to add the option to follow with email... let me check on that.
      I'm off to find your pipeline quilt. :)

    3. Ok... got the follow my email on my sidebar. :)

    4. Yes, Carol, thanks so much, I am now a follower! Looking forward to reading and chatting!

  6. Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing all the details... it's so neat to read the history behind the quilt.

  7. I am so proud to have been a itsy bitsy part of this quilt Carli. I am very proud of your work. I posted the link to this page all over the groups and pages I am a part of on FB!! :D Congratulations on a job well done.

    1. Heh, Charrine, this quilt was a gift to Smithers and area. Your work and Todd's work were vital to the expression of total inclusion and its now hung at the Town Office, if you don't see it right away, ask the Front Desk.

  8. Babine Range - thread painting block. What a strong, interpretive visual of your area.

    1. I'm in love with thread painting and will be sharing what I've learned within this new medium this fall. Just keep on checking to learn when I'm posting it online. Thanks so much for commenting, it means a lot to me. :)


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