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Sapphire and ‘Preemie’ quilts celebrate guild’s 45 years of sewing in Surrey/Delta

Fraser Valley Quilters’ Guild members created The Connected Project quilt during pandemic
Fraser Valley Quilters’ Guild members Sue Treen (left) and Nancy Chan with examples of their work placed on the floor of the Museum of Surrey, where “The Connected Project” quilts are featured on a wall. The guild celebrates its 45th anniversary with an open house May 28 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 11040 River Rd., Delta, from 1 to 4 p.m. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Members of Fraser Valley Quilters’ Guild have stitched together 45 years of history in Surrey and Delta.

The group’s “sapphire” anniversary is reason to celebrate during an open house Saturday, May 28 at Trinity Lutheran Church in North Delta, where guild members have met in recent years, save for pandemic-triggered Zoom calls.

Over the years they’ve aimed to show their love of quilting to the public by way of displays and demonstrations, and get inspired by workshops and guest speakers.

Nancy Chan, a Vancouver resident, has been a member of the guild for 30 of its 45 years.

She grew to appreciate the art of quilting while watching a TV show hosted by Eleanor Burns, “who was a bit of a card,” Chan recalled. “You know, she used to throw scraps of fabric over her shoulder, and I thought, ‘I can do that too.’ I don’t have anybody to pick up my scraps, though.”

That was in the day of VHS tapes.

“So I’d record her show (“Quilt in a Day”) and then make a few notes, stop the tape, run into my sewing room and sew a few squares, come back out, hit play again, and that was my process back then.”

Asked if she could now host her own TV show, Chan paused.

“I don’t think anybody would watch,” she replied.

“I would,” said Sue Treen, a fellow quilter who lives in Guildford.

“That’s what good friends are for,” said Chan, as both laughed.


Chan and Treen spoke about their love of quilting in a lobby at the Museum of Surrey, which currently showcases examples of work by fellow Fraser Valley Quilters’ Guild members.

Designed by Berene Campbell and assembled by others, “The Connected Project” involved 48 guild members who sewed separate blocks to create a quilt 96 inches square, starting in the early days of the pandemic. The quilters each created eight of the same paper-pieced blocks. In a “swap,” they then mailed off seven of the blocks to others and received back seven other blocks in their colours from the other group members.

Also featured at the museum are four “Preemie” quilts, to be donated to a hospital in Vancouver. The quilts are given to children and families, a panel explains. “The quilts accompany a baby when it is time to leave the hospital. Sadly, some babies do not make it. Those parents have the quilt as a treasured tangible memento.”

Since 1990, members of the guild have made and gifted more than 10,000 such quilts to hospital NICU wards (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).

The FVQG is a non-profit association, meaning such charity work is not an option for members, it’s an obligation.

Guild executive rep Joan Anderson says close to 80 per cent of members live in Surrey. Currently there are around 125 quilters in the guild.

“That number is probably shrinking,” Chan admitted, “because in the heyday I think we were up over 500 members, but that’s when there were no other guilds to join. When its started, Fraser Valley was the largest guild in the Lower Mainland. But there are other guilds now.”

Over the years, guild gatherings have moved around to five or six different sites in Surrey and North Delta, with Trinity Lutheran Church the latest site. Guests can attend their first meeting for free, and after that they’d need to join as a member for $50 per year.

The guild’s May 28 open house will run from 1 to 4 p.m. at the church, 11040 River Rd., Delta., with quilt displays, member vendors, sale of books/magazines, raffles/prizes, tea corner and more. Event details are posted to

“We’re going to have fabric draws and we’ll showcase our Sapphire quilts,” Treen explained. “It’s our 45th anniversary – the sapphire anniversary. Anybody who wanted to has made a quilt with a theme, using a piece of sapphire fabric, and the size is 45 inches square, to match our 45th anniversary. Those quilts will be donated to Surrey’s pediatric emergency ward. We’ve collected around 40 of those quilts for display that day,” before they’re donated.

“All things quilts, that’s where to go that day,” Treen added.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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