‘Sunshine Blooms’ by South Surrey quilter Barb Baker

Colour, creativity collide at FVQG biennial exhibit

Fraser Valley Quilters Guild presents Wrapped in Colour June 12 and 13 at George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley

Fraser Valley Quilters are ready to show their true colours.

The guild, which has been in existence for 35 years and draws its more than 200 members from communities all across the Lower Mainland, will present Wrapped in Colour, a biennial show of all things related to quilting, on June 12 and 13 at the George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley.

More than 300 traditional and modern quilts will be on display during the two-day event.

Among them will be work by this year’s featured quilt artists — South Surrey’s Barb Baker and Nancy Chen of North Vancouver.

Chen took up sewing in 1968 and joined the FVQG in 1992. With her first meeting, she knew that she’d found “her people.”

Being a part of the FVQG has given Chen the opportunity to travel to quilt shows, workshops and retreats, as well as try out new techniques and build a “library” of fabric, books and notions.

“But I think my most valuable asset is the friends I have met through quilting,” she said.

Baker is no newcomer to the quilting scene, either. She first picked up a needle and thread in the late 1970s and began teaching herself the finer points of the craft. In 2001, recognizing that her technique would benefit from some expert instruction, she joined the FVQG.

Over the years, Baker has discovered that not all aspects of the craft are equally appealing. She loves appliqué, but despises the fussiness of piecing together squares.

One of her favourite parts is when the design comes together in her mind — long before needle and thread meet fabric.

“What attracts me is not just the colour, it’s the pattern,” said Baker. “The thing I enjoy most is going to the store and picking out fabrics. I can spend hours. To me, that’s the most exciting part.”

And, at the other end of the process, she will happily spend hours quilting every stitch by hand, to create a one-of-a-kind finished product.

This hand-quilting technique is a large part of what makes Baker’s work stand out, said Gwen Arnold, fellow guild member and publicist for this year’s show.

Arnold, a retired home economics teacher, began quilting five or six years ago after she got tired of making clothes. With her background, the sewing part came easy, as did the ability to select colour combinations and compose eye-pleasing designs. The rest she learned from mentors within the guild.

While Baker tends to work in the traditional style, Arnold was quickly drawn to the modern-style of the form, which incorporates plain fabrics and places a greater emphasis on negative space.

There will be plenty of examples of both styles at this year’s show.

One of the highlights of the exhibit will be the quilting challenge, said Arnold, with about 60 people participating.

Weeks ago, each competitor pulled two pieces of fabric from a bag to form their colour scheme. Using a pre-determined traditional block, they then had to be as creative as they were able within those parameters.  Members of the public will be asked to vote for their favourite when they are unveiled during Wrapped in Colour.

Visitors will also be given ballots to select a single viewers’ choice quilt from the hundreds on display.

The showcase will also feature a quilt raffle, merchant mall, tea room and a members’ boutique. There will be $2 grab bags of fabric and patterns available for purchase, along with quilting books and other related items.

Proceeds from the raffle of a queen-sized quilt will be donated to this year’s selected charity, “The Princess Project,” which helps provide stylish graduation dresses, at no cost, to young women who otherwise would not be able to afford one.

In addition to their shows, the FVQG has donated around 300 preemie quilts to the special care nursery of the B.C. Children’s and Women’s Health Care Centre in Vancouver.

Through their work, they also support White Rock/South Surrey Hospice and Cops for Cancer.

“That’s a very emotional experience,” said Arnold of the police officers who cycle around B.C. and present quilts to sick children.

When the hospice asked the guild to provide a shroud quilt, members contributed blocks in shades of blue and mauve, and a dove was incorporated at the centre of the blanket.

“They loved it so much, they hung it on the wall and we had to make another one, said Arnold.

Fraser Valley Quilters Guild is always looking for new members for both its afternoon and evening groups.

“One of the great things about quilting is that you can do it at all ages and stages of life,” said Arnold.

Wrapped in Colour takes place on Friday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, June 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

George Preston Recreation Centre is located at 20699 42 Ave. For more information about the guild, visit fvqg.org.