Sunday, December 23, 2012


St. John Anglican Church 
Squamish, B.C., Canada
Wall Hangings

Madonna Hanging
We began our quilting journey at the church with a group of interested women in 1976.  A few of us became very interested in the craft and after making a few quilts in the old fashioned way including sitting around a frame in the church hall to do the actual quilting, it seemed time to design one of our own to hang in the church.  The central design of the Madonna was based on a pattern in a magazine, and the designs outside the Madonna were our own. The technique used throughout is hand applique, a time consuming method but pleasing to the eye because it presents a softness that machine applique cannot do. Various people chose a block to do, and I made the Madonna block, using the satin from my wedding dress for Her dress.  The black binding to simulate the lead of stained glass was all made by hand and hand stitched on.  The quilt was made in memory of the wife of our Rector, Aubrey Godwin, who was there when we began to quilt.  The hand dyed blue fabric for the background came from a quilt shop in Navan, Ontario.  The hanging has stood the test of time fairly well in terms of the fabric fading very little.  The hanging is usually at the rear of the church but is moved to the sanctuary during Advent and for the Christmas season.  It has been hung outside to be freshened up over the years and was once professionally cleaned (as were all the hangings) after a minor fire in the church.
The Pall 

The Pall
When my husband , who was the Honorary Assistant for many years at St. John's, died in 1995, I borrowed a pall from another church for his funeral.  The ACW at the time decided they would like to purchase one for the church in his memory, but it was then decided to make one instead.  The technique used in this hanging is called Watercolour quilting and the technique was originally designed by a woman in England.  There are over 2000 2" squares of fabric which were placed on a design wall sheet of flannel, section by section.  Many squares were placed and then removed time and time again until the proper flow of colour was achieved.  Many people donated fabric so that we would have a huge choice, something vital in a design of this sort.  Once the top was completed, it was put on a large frame and all hand quilted.  It was displayed in a large show of sacred hangings in Grace Church on the Hill, Toronto where it received much admiration.  It has faded over the years but is still in very good shape.  It has been used as a pall a few times but since cremation is so much more common now, it ir rarely put to its original use.  It continues to receive many fine comments from visitors.

 Spirit Hanging

Spirit Hanging
By the time this hanging was made the number of quilters had declined and so there were just a very few of us to tackle this project.  The design was loosely based on a photo we had seen in a book, but we changed that design to suit our own ideas and choice of fabrics and colour.  We did not call it "The Holy Spirit" but just "Spirit Hanging" because we wanted it to give a sense of general spirituality.  The making of the pattern pieces from the design was rather difficult but we finally achieved what we felt would be pleasing to the eye.  It took some time to select the correct fabrics which were then cut using the pattern pieces and sewn together by machine.  Once again it was put on a frame, but this time a frame adapted to house size was used.  It was entirely hand quilted and when finished was embellished with beads sewn on by hand.  The hanging is usually at the front of the church for most of the year.

Rose Window

Rose Window
This was a project that I did on my own in thanksgiving for the long time friendship of Ruth Fenton, another quilter and long time devoted member of St. John's.  It is based on the design of the Rose Window in Notre Dame, Paris, France.  The symbol of a round hanging reminds us of the eternal nature of God, and the rich colours are to replicate the stained glass in the Cathedral.  Once again I saw a photo and then made the design myself based on the photo.  It is entirely done by hand applique and hand quilted as well.  It has hung in various places in the church and seems to have stood up well to the exposure to so much light.
At the moment, this hanging is not up but will be by Christmas. 

Some 5 or 6 years ago we had a "Sacred Hangings" show at the church and had submissions from all over the country.  It was a superb display and well received.  This hanging was my submission for the show and I offered it to the church later and it was accepted.  It, too, is based on a design I saw many years previously at a show in Ontario.  It consists of 5 panels, made again entirely by hand applique with very rich fabrics - silk, satin, velvet, lame, and much gold braid.  Some of these I found in fabric shops in New York City when I was visiting there.  It was a real challenge working with such slippery fabrics which frayed badly, unlike the   cottons we usually use.  A friend made the special stand that it hangs on , the one you likely saw with the Rose Window hanging on it.  It has a netting superimposed on the front with angels appliqued on .  It was a project unlike anything I had ever done, and it was very satisfying to see it turn out well.

Thank you: To congregation members Andrea Gaulius and Maureen McDougall 
                 for information and identification of the banners. To Maureen Dougall
                 for the detailed description of the banners and the love and devotion 
                 with which she worked on them.
Photos: Taken in December 2012 by SW.
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