Welcome!

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Welcome to our shiny new home. We are a small volunteer group trying to make a difference in the lives of Canadians through our love of needlework and quilting. We work with everything from single panel quilts for premature infants to multi-square custom designs for those with unique needs – children facing live-long challenges, First Responders who have been injured or become disabled in line of duty.

We are always looking for new faces to join our merry band. We are volunteer, which means you supply your own materials. We do help with quilt fabrics and batting as well as supplies for stitchers upon request. Our premature infant quilts have no deadlines, but we do try to complete and deliver our special request quilts in a timely manner. Most of our request quilts can take from 6 months to a year or more to complete. Our group is most active on Facebook, and the links to our page and workgroup are listed on the right. Though you do not need to join us there, we do suggest it as a way to share in the process of these quilts. Besides, we think we have one of the nicest groups of compassionate people around!

 

On PTSD and PTSI

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PTSD and PTSI (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Injury) are very much in the news these days, but few really understand just how deadly they can be, much less how stressful they can be to deal with on a daily basis. With the holidays just around the corner and the days growing shorter, these are often the hardest times for anyone trying to cope.

Made of all pieced quilt blocks

Many First Responders and military personnel are put in situations where they lay their lives on the line to protect their communities and countries on a regular basis. That is understood, and it goes with the job. What isn’t spelled out fallout from the job – the mangled bodies, destroyed property, the ugliness of mankind. These are the visions that swim through the brain – waking and sleeping. Those horrific images can be triggered by a smell, a sound, or even a hint. Sometimes they fade away, but other times, they reach out and strangle. These haunting images destroy marriages, relationships with family, and even lives. It isn’t something that happens to the weak. Even the strongest, most courageous among us are vulnerable. The ones with compassion for their fellow man are often the ones to feel the hidden pain the most.

Of course, there are ways to help. There are medications and counseling available. But the most important part is recognizing PTSD and admitting it. Just think of it this way – someone needed help and made that call that brought skilled and experienced responders to their side. They didn’t hesitate for a moment – They answered that plea for help and made the caller’s need their top priority. They helped them get the care they needed (if at all possible) and made sure they were on their way to get it. So why does society look down on those First Responders who ask for help themselves when our modern society is what caused the situation in the first place? Why don’t they do more to help?

Quilt top ready for finishing and presentation to a First Responder

Canada Stitches recognizes just how much strength and courage it takes to reach out for help when you are the one that is supposed to be the helper. The first step is admitting it and then seeking help. Rather than shaming these incredibly brave people, we have chosen to wrap them in our love through our quilts. Our quilts help not only that First Responder but their families as well. We do welcome special requests for our stitched quilts, and we are also participating in making quilts for one of the treatment programs. We do have an urgent need for quilt blocks at this time. The designs are simple. We give you all the information you need to help us help these First Responders. You can view some of our work in our galleries, visit our Facebook page, or even better join us to help make these lives a bit brighter. If you wish to request a quilt, please visit our Requester Page for complete information and examples.

Spring is Coming!

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Heart Premature Infant Quilt from Gail

Though from the weather, you may not be too sure. Our stitchers and quilters have been so busy the last couple of months. We have finished our 2nd First Responder quilt and it is on its way to the recipient. We have finished 2 children’s quilts – Myelle and Brandon. We now have a third First Responder quilt in progress along with another child’s quilt.

One of our quilters had a great idea for Canada’s 150th Birthday. Why not try to make 150 premature infant quilts this year to distribute to the various NICUs around the

Premature infant quilt from Andrea

country. Gail has been such an enthusiastic member from the very beginning, and her energy is contagious! These are just a few of the lovely preemie quilts they have made already.

These tiny quilts can be made totally pieced, like Gail did above, or with a stitched centre panel like Andrea did in this example. Many quilters have never worked with the stiffer Aida fabrics before coming to our group. Some are downright scared of damaging the stitching. While there is always that remote possibility, it usually doesn’t happen. Instead, we end up with lovely mixtures of talents and techniques.

The quilters are free to make their own designs for these. Andrea picked a simple 9 block pattern for hers, and it is very effective yet classic.

Gail got her feet wet with Aida doing these and admitted she had fun with it. It wasn’t as difficult as she imagined. She took this panel that was so generously donated by Quilts for Older Children and Adults, and built it up with different bands of colours.

It hasn’t all just been preemie quilts and request quilts. Early one, we learned that we do not always have the luxury of time with some of our recipients. Some need to have that comfort NOW. We started our quilter’s Block Party to gather pieced blocks to make these.

Gail got these lovely Starflower blocks and turned it into a beautiful quilt. She then took it over to her friend Tammy to have the longarm quilting done. Many of us think these quilts are just two pieces of fabric with a layer of batting in between. This is far from the case. If you left your quilt that way, the batting would shift around and end up all at one end or the other, or it might tear. So, the old time quilters did it by hand or tied knots at ntervals. The modern quilter has these wonderful machines at their disposal that let them do all kinds of fancy things.

Gail took her emergency quilt to Tammy of the Galloping Turtle Quiltworks for its quilting. Look at the incredible detail Tammy added to each block and area of this quilt. She is a true artist, and we will have another post showcasing her work as soon as the quilt is presented.

Eryn also made an emergency quilt from the Maple Leaf blocks. This one still needs quilting and binding, but the top is complete. Another stunning quilt!

We always have heartwarming projects going. If you would like to be part of a team effort like this, consider joining us! For stitchers, you can live anywhere in the world. The only requirement is that you love Canadians and want to help them. Because of the high cost of shipping back and forth, it is easier to have our quilters living in Canada. Joining us is simple – just follow the Facebook Group link on the right column and request to join.

Until next time, Happy Stitching!

The Journey of a Square – Part 1

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I stitched this cozy little cabin as a spare square for any quilt that needed it. With the simple lines and bright colours, I knew it would be great on any child’s quilt. Instead, it ended up being needed for a recently completed First Responder quilt. My edges are whipstitched so that they don’t fray. The fabric on this measures a generous 12″x12″, not including any selvage.

So, what happens to the squares once they are stitched? I wash mine and press them, then send them on to our Project Coordiantor. She gathers all the needed squares, washes them, presses them, and roughly trims them to match. Then, they get sent on to the quilter along with the fabrics Kim has chosen and any other supplies necessary. But what then?

I had Andrea, the quilter walk me through this process on just this one square, and I learned a LOT. There are SO many steps involved and each one is critical. This cabin square was a last minute replacement, so she had to wait for it to arrive. While she was waiting, she prepped all her border and sash pieces. Each stitched square or pieced blocked is trimmed then framed.

The first thing she did was decide where to trim it. Our finished squares are 9″x9″, with 1/4″ seam margins all around. She uses a clear template to allow her to get just the perfect placement. Notice all that lovely extra fabric poking out from under her template. I did my job well as a stitcher – plenty of fabric for the quilter to work with, nicely centered. (I did not sign my square, so she did not know who stitched it!!)

Andrea says, “It’s really important to make sure the selvage is outside the 9.5 inches. Quilts are made with only a quarter inch seam allowance, and if you leave that 1/2 inch selvage on, part of it is going to show!” Yes, we have had this happen! We try to have our blocks be a uniform size so that they look perfect on the finished quilts.

Andrea happens to have access to a construction-type serger that not only captures that cut edge but also sews a seam in one pass. The Aida cloth that the hand cross stitchers use frays a LOT, we whipstitch the outer edge, but not where she has trimmed. These quilts will be used, so we want them to last a lifetime or more.

She will put the black border on all four sides of this block to match the other blocks she has prepped. Here’s the back of the finished block (thankfully, I was neat in stitching this one, and my back actually looks pretty nice!) You can see that all the cut edges have been nicely captured in the serging. It’s really a nice touch, don’t you think?

And, here is the front of our square, all neatly bordered and ready to join the other blocks Andrea has already prepped.

I think this is going to be one fantastic quilt, In our next post, we will look at the steps Andrea took to assemble the top.  (The completed quilt has not been presented yet, so we can’t show you everything.. yet)

So, until the next time, Happy Stitching and Happy Easter (or Passover)!!

Happy Holidays!!

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As our third year winds down, we are all busy scrambling to get our homes all ready for the upcoming holidays as well as finish all that Christmas shopping. Many of us still have gifts and decorations to finish, too.

15123262_1404546916252826_4128187628144507006_oOur quilters have been busy turning some of our squares into quilts for premature infants. It’s not only something we enjoy doing, it’s also a great way for our quilters to see how easy it is to work with Aida cloth. I know, that sounds strange but most quilters work with the poly-cotton quilting fabrics. Aida is a lot thicker and stiffer than what they are used to, even after we wash it. There are more pictures in our Premature Infant Quilts Gallery as we simply have too many to post here!!

Our final quilt for 2016 will be heading to the quilter in early January. It’s hard to believe because we don’t have that many pictures up in the gallery of the squares, but we are all stitching like crazy to make this happen. We have also started assembling some of our Quilter’s Block Party pieces into quilts. We should have pictures soon.

It’s always exciting around Canada Stitches. We have several quilt requests already for next year. If you are a quilter, machine embroiderer, or hand cross stitcher and want to get in on the fun, please do contact us and we will be more than happy to let you join our merry crew.

Until next time, Happy Stitching! And may you and your family enjoy the warmest of holidays!

A busy time

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It’s a very busy time around here. We have 1 child’s quilt ready to be quilted and two more in the stitching process. We also have one First Responder quilt going, in it’s final stages of stitching before it goes to the quilter in mid-November. Some of us have also been helping another group make quilts for a fallen officer. We do have another child and another RCMP officer to start after the beginning of the new year.

We also found ourselves in need of more labels for our First Responder quilts and put out the call. Up until now, each machine embroiderer has pretty much come up with their own label ideas. It works, yes. Then, I had the brainstorm. Why can’t we have a file for our machine embroiderers that has all the text, and that I can give to our stitchers without fear of license violations? Not all of our embroidery crew feels confident about doing custom lettering. I approached one large machine embroidery design company that I have dealt with in the past. They barely gave me the time of day and said it was impossible. Each embroiderer would have to purchase the file for themselves and add their own lettering. Really?

Then I turned to Jen of Jen’s Embroidery Designs. One of our ME stitchers found her last year and we all went nuts over all the fantastic and hard to find Canada related designs. Not only did Jen agree to help us, but she donated her design time to make not just one, but two designs for our quilts. This wonderful lady has a site full of gorgeous designs for machine embroidery – including the best collection of Canadiana we have ever seen. Add her can-do attitude and you have someone that deserves our business. She deserves yours, too. You will find her proudly linked on our right sidebar. If you can’t find what you want, contact her and see what miracles she can do for you.