Val's Alaskan Inspired Quilt
Val's Alaskan Inspired Quilt

Alaska, the Great Land, has nearly 34,000 miles of shoreline and some great quilting shops! To celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary, my husband and I ventured there on a cruise, starting in Vancouver and finishing on a land tour of the wilderness up to the Arctic Circle.

Before we left I downloaded the quilting shops which were in the towns on our itinerary – well, they call them cities in Alaska, but they are the size of our small towns.

First port of call was Ketchikan, where I headed for the Silver Thimble. Here, in a small mall was an amazing array of fabrics – over 4000 bolts – kits, books, fat quarters and lovely displays of quilts hanging around the mall. Also, another quilt shop next door. Having so much choice was very interesting and I came away with 25 fat quarters, all showing aspects of Alaska; bears, whales, totem poles, fish, float planes, and so much more. Also, several yards of varying fabric. Remarkably cheap!

Totem Pole detail
Totem Pole detail

Next day we stopped at Skagway, once the most dangerous city in the world during the gold rush of 1898, when the prospectors spent a gruelling winter climbing up the mountain passes to the Yukon in their search for gold. We took a trip up to the Yukon and returned by train and were amazed at how incredibly dangerous the journey was then, thousands of people, and ponies, lost their lives. By the time most reached the gold fields, the gold had already been mined. Sadly, we arrived back in Skagway too late to visit the Rushin’ Tailors Quilt Shop.

Juneau is the capital city, only accessible by plane or boat, as it’s surrounded by mountains. Here, we took a whale watching trip and saw at least nine humpback whales. Upon our return, sadly, the quilt shop was closed; Raintree Quilting.

Glacier detail
Glacier detail

My idea for making a quilt showing all the sights of Alaska was now making me feel really enthusiastic, and a cruise around Glacier Bay was an opportunity for us to take photo’s of the amazing glaciers, which are just so breathtakingly massive.

Seven days after leaving Vancouver we disembarked the cruise ship and boarded a dome car train for a week long trip into the wilderness, which we enjoyed, as it included wildlife tours and cultural trips. A stay in a small village called Danneli surprised us with a quilt shop find! Miles in the interior of Alaska here was a small shop where I purchased enough fabric for the quilt backing; Northern Lights by Robert Kauffman, as well as buying more fat quarters, and a lovely chat with the proprietor – no web site here.

Val Maple
Val Maple

Our final destination was Fairbanks where we were to take the return flight to Seattle. No time to visit Northern Threads, but who knows, maybe another time!

Each year the quilt shops in Alaska hold The Great Alaskan Quilt Hop, which is a fun way to explore and buy different panels from each shop which are then sewn together to make a quilt.

Since our return I have made my quilt from my own design, it is double bed size and warm.

Each panel was cut 12 1/2", some just as the fabric is printed, and others cut in shapes and foundation pieced. The photo panels were printed on cotton computer fabric, as are the words of the story I wrote of our trip and put into the quilt. I made the whole panel of the glacier from silk, lace and sequins, as I couldn’t find suitable fabric.

I am really pleased with my quilt and it is a wonderful reminder of the romantic trip of a life-time taken with my lovely hubby.