Gwen’s Sugar Bag Quilt – Handcrafted Quilts from Generations
May 8, 2023 Comments Off on Gwen’s Sugar Bag Quilt – Handcrafted Quilts from Generations News and Events Horizons Quilting

Very Modern Ruler Work on a Very Traditional Quilt

Begun in 1969 just after moving to Ontario from Cape Breton,my cousin’s wife, Gwen Valeriote sewed the Dresden Plates with 50’s and 60’s fabric scraps brought from Halifax.

She appliquéd two of the medallions to a couple of sugar bags and then abandoned the project. 54 years later, I finished it for her.

Sugar Bag Quilt


I pieced the rest of the top and a backing from my own stash of sugar, flour and corn meal bags and decided on a very modern style of ruler-work quilting on a very traditional quilt. 

Sugar Bag Quilt Detail

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In 2015, Gwendolyn Valeriote, my cousin Peter’s wife, now a senior citizen, brought me pieces of a quilt she had started when she was 16, after moving to Guelph from Cape Breton, where she grew up.  She was cleaning out her cupboards and told me she didn’t want it anymore and I could do what I wanted with it.

There were 5 large pointy Dresden Plates, two of which were already hand-appliquéd with a blanket-stitch to a couple of sugar bags.  The scrap fabrics for the Dresden Plates had been brought to her from Nova Scotia by a visiting aunt, Sister Clarasita MacMillan, a Sister of Charity who taught Home Economics at the University of Mount St. Vincent in Halifax.

Sugar Bag Quilt Detail

I decided to complete the top with more sugar bags from my stash. Then I made a backing out of sugar and flour and corn meal bags.  It sat for a long time.  Gwen didn’t want it and in 2019, we moved from the farm to Ferguson St. in Guelph.

In September of 2022, after returning from 2 months in Europe, I determined to finish that quilt with ruler work on my Innova longarm machine.  The “ghost medallions” were done with the Circle Lord.  It seems to be a very modern finish to a very traditional quilt. 

Joan with long arm quilting machine
Joan with long arm quilting machine

However,  I could not hand-finish the binding, made mostly with strips of 30’s reproduction prints, until my right hand had healed from Carpal Tunnel surgery in October of 2022.

I had it photographed by a professional photographer this week and it looks stunning.  I presented it to Gwen and she was very touched.  She gave me permission to submit it to the National Juried Show of the Canadian Quilters’ Association, which will take place in Halifax this year. She will very gladly have it back.


Gwen’s Sugar Bag Quilt

Hi Joan:

Just to say “Hi”.

I saw your Show and Share quilt. I wanted to say how beautiful the quilting was.

I’m guessing that you quilted the rows going lengthwise rather than across; so there’s a piano-keys longside border.
A nice mix of arcs and quadrants plus the ghost Dresden plates, so very fitting.

Such an honest quilt, in a historical way, as the early quilts were. Simple, direct, not pretending to be anything but itself – a creation of forthright fabrics showing the talent of the maker with plenty of space to showcase the quilt stitching.

Well done!

Peter R-N

Joan Quilt Storm at Sea

Joan Hug-Valeriote

Horizons Services available

Joan has over 20 years experience quilting on longarm machines. She can provide you with a variety of machine-quilting services, for your finished quilt top, from basting prior to hand-quilting, to simple freehand and pantograph designs, to custom quilting designs.

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