Saturday, June 23, 2018

Quilters Through The Generations - Gail Sheppard


Gail Sheppard lives in the lower mainland of British Columbia, is a retired nurse educator, and her passion is quilting!!  She says that teaching quilting is great fun and she loves doing trunk shows. She is part of 2018 New Quilt Blogger group and bravely stepped forward when my message of recruiting quilters to be featured in my Quilters Through The Generations series was shared with the bloggers.  She has a lovely story of making quilts for family members using her grandmother's fabric... Enjoy!

Have YOU ever made a quilt?  
Yes. I have. My mother didn't quilt, but she taught me to sew – simple clothes, blouses with buttons, skirts with zippers. My grandma, Edith Pearl, lived in Ontario, I lived in BC. We rarely saw each other, but she was my inspiration!

My Grandma was a seamstress as well as a quilter.  Apparently she even went to textile school to learn how to be a seamstress.  She made all of her own clothes.

Tell us about your first quilt...
I made my first quilt when I was 17.  I used cereal box cut-outs and designed my own pattern. I had no idea about what I was doing, I just went ahead and made the top with my mother’s scraps of fabric.   On the phone my paternal grandma, Edith, told me to “tie” it since it would be too hard to quilt it without knowing what to do.

I used my first quilt for 3 years (living in a dorm-like setting) then after I got married, it became the dog’s blanket and was either buried with the dog or burned (it was falling apart by the time the dog got it).  Regretfully, there is no picture.

In the spring of 2016, I was in Ontario visiting my aunt and she asked me if I’d like to have my grandma’s fabric.  Well, that was a question that was easily answered.  My grandma was a sewer and a quilter.  She died in 1978, so the fabrics were at least 39 years old.

Once I got home, I spent several days cutting up her fabric into 3 ½″, 2 ½″ and 2″ strips and squares.  Some of the fabric was obviously from dress making and some of it has some polyester in it.  I used it all.  I decided to make 13 quilts.  They were a lot of fun to make.  

Why 13, you ask?  Well, I have 11 cousins and a sister from my Grandma’s side of the family.  I thought it would be nice if each cousin and my sister & I each got a quilt made with Grandma’s fabrics.  

I made 13 of them between June 2016 and January 2017.
Five of the quilts were gifted Christmas 2016, so I didn't have all of them to take a picture of them all. The rest of them were gifted Christmas 2017.

When I found out that one of my cousin's daughter had cancer, I made the 14th one for her.  It is the only one (using Grandma's fabrics) that was made for a specific person, with only 2 fabrics (the rest are scrappy) and it is the only one with a flannel back. It was started in June 2017 and finished in July. 

In the end, I made 14 quilts with my grandma’s fabrics - you can see pictures of each quilt on my blog (Link given above).

Below is a photo of a quilt that Grandma started and I finished after she passed away in 1978... I completed it in the 1990s.

We would visit my grandma only about every four years.  But I remember that every time we visited she would have a chocolate cake that she made.  It was my favorite, still is.  But none have ever tasted as good as hers.

Have YOU taught someone to quilt?  
I have taught some friends and guild members how to quilt.

How many quilts have you made? 
I have no idea! Probably 200 or more … most have been given away.

Do you have a favorite quilt?  
Yes, several … depends on my mood

Do you participate in any quilt groups?  
I am a member of the Boundary Bay Guild (Ladner BC).   Our guild aims to provide opportunities which encourage our members in their love of quilting through workshops, demonstrations, guest speakers and small groups. We hope to inspire creativity, learning and friendships among our members; also to provide outreach where help is needed in the community.  

I have two different groups of friends that quilt together.  My Retreat group made up of friends from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia meet for a week each spring. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?  
Mostly the internet.  I love scrappy and have done many Bonnie Hunter mysteries.(You can see these on her blog as well...)  

My favorite part of quilting is choosing the colours/fabrics, cutting, piecing, quilting, binding … I like all of them! When I was working full time – quilting was a stress reliever. Now, it's still a stress reliever, but I enjoy the process and the creativity.
Gail did an amazing job making the 14 quilts...  And what a treasure for each recipient!  

Have you ever received a fabric collection from a family member?  
Yes?  What have you done with your collection?

Leave a comment... I would love to hear about a special quilt or project that you made.

Quilt Happy!



  1. Great job pulling that story together Melva.
    I've never received any fabric from a family member but Gail did ask me if I wanted any of her leftovers from Grandma's fabric. I had only been quilting a few months at the time. I'm so grateful that she received the fabric because with her generous heart she found a way to put it to the best use.

  2. Never have received a collection from a family member. I have repaired a few quilts for my sister-in-law, made by her grandmother. All wonderful and well loved quilts. Fun to meet Gail here!

  3. What an amazing story and use for her grandmother's fabric stash!

  4. Thanks for featuring me on this post, Melva!
    My main blog is
    Happy Quilting! :-)

  5. Hi Melva!
    I so enjoyed reading the quilting history of Gail and her grandmother. I have followed her blog, and enjoyed the pictures of the quilts she made from that fabric. How special and unique is that remembrance for her, her sister and cousins to enjoy?! I think that is just a fabulous way to honor her.
    Happy Sunday! ~smile~ Roseanne

  6. I really enjoy your blog. It is wonderful to hear the stories of different quilters.