From Blue Jeans to Backyard Quilts

From Blue Jeans to Backyard Quilts

I Believe a Quilt Makes Everything Better

Since making a blue jean quilt for my oldest daughter’s graduation in 1999, I began my creative journey sewing one straight line (sometimes) at a time. I believe that a quilt made with love shows what is in my heart and soul. I’ve always believed that a quilt can give the receiver a feeling of comfort, support, and celebration whether in times of grief, in times of challenges, or in the joys of life. I knew that when I retired, I wanted to have creativity and flexibility in my life and somehow quilting was the path.

Usually I read quilt blogs before sleep each night and on June 1, 2017 I read about modern barn quilts made in California. I quickly wrote a draft email asking if I could be the Canadian distributor for these beautiful squares downsized to fit the suburban yard. This was the business I had been looking to fill my retirement/widowhood chapter of my life! I asked my daughter, Kristin, to read over my draft email the next morning and her response was “ Mom, you can make this yourself for Canada!” ( Why do our children still think we can do anything and everything???) When I began to check out the production possibilities in Saskatoon, I was told that the material used in the California quilts would not be suitable for our extreme cold weather. Barry and I found a printer in Humboldt, SK, who loved our idea and knew how to make a durable and lightweight quality product. We were on our way to design, produce, and offer this unique and vibrant art for Canadians.

All this started during Barry’s final few months. Sadly, Barry succumbed to the prostate cancer he had been fighting that September. He was a huge part of starting this business since he had experience in management. He loved numbers (and spreadsheets) so organized meetings and discussions with all his visitors to give their opinions about this idea. He organized lunch meetings with his business friends to guide my business planning. I made the designs then outsourced the production to a print shop in Humboldt, SK. Once samples were produced, he showed these with pride to all who came to our back yard and later hospital. It was so healing to focus on something other than medical treatments and appointments. Our logo was even taped around his room in palliative care to gather opinions toward our final decision.

The Healing Powers of Quilts

The next months after his death was a blur in many ways. But, I was able to focus and finish 9 quilts for various family members that first Christmas. Slowly, I gained stamina and clarity and resumed plans to begin selling these backyard quilts in the spring of 2018. As a quilter, these backyard quilts express my pride in this craft and love of the quilting community.

I mentioned that I outsource these backyard quilts to Humboldt . My first quilt show was in Humboldt a couple weeks after the horrific hockey bus accident that claimed 16 lives. My printer, Colleen Lessmeister, is also the printer for the Humboldt Broncos and was the designer of the car sticker to help  raise money for the go-fund-me page. The local quilt shop, Haus of Stitches, sent a call to action over Facebook to make 20 quilts for the families and ended up managing the creation of 4,000+ quilts!!

To pay homage to the families and the prairie city devastated by this accident, I designed a backyard quilt with the colors of the team. Money collected from these sales were sent to the quilt shop to assist in a very small way to with supplies to make the Bronco Quilts.

My beloved Barry was a respected pilot of 25 years at Saskatchewan Air Ambulance. All the nurses and paramedics were called in for the Code Orange on April 6, 2017. He too would have been part of that event. I will continue to give donations to Barry Hamre Pilot Scholarship fund and to the New Hope Hospice about to be built in Saskatoon from the sales of this Hockey Backyard Quilt.