My niece, Aleana Serene King, married Matthew Lap Yu on December 30, 2017, in Prince George, BC. My part in the wedding was taking a journey to create a 100 Blessings Quilt.
What is a 100 Blessings Quilt? In northern China, there is a centuries-old tradition to create a Bai-Jia-Bei, otherwise known as a 100 Good Wishes Quilt, to welcome and celebrate a new life into the family. One hundred family members and friends donate a piece of fabric toward the quilt. The quilt contains luck, energy and good wishes from all the family and friends who contribute a piece of fabric. The quilt is passed down from generation to generation.
Let me take you back several months to the beginning of the journey. On April 30 to May 1, 2017, a number of family members met in Regina to witness and celebrate Matthew’s graduation from the RCMP academy. My three sisters, along with members of the Yu family, spent an evening at the hotel getting to know each other better. I took a completed row-by-row quilt to Regina to show my sister, Marilyn, the end result. Francis Yu, Matthew’s father, was mesmerized by the work in the quilt and asked many questions. Francis explained the history and Chinese tradition of a 100 Blessings Quilt for newly married couples.
Marilyn, the organizer and “Let’s do this!” person, suggested I could take on a 100 Blessings project, as the quilter in the family, and create a masterpiece. Marilyn agreed to collect fabric from family and friends. We never dreamed what a project like this would involve – the designing, the sewing, the pressing, the longarm quilting, the binding, the final aha! and the presentation to the bride and groom.
Interesting facts about this quilt: there were 130 donations of fabrics, with sizes ranging from six-inch squares to more than a metre; most people who donated fabric are not people we know (they contributed simply to be a part of an interesting project – to be a blessing). A total of 115 hours were spent cutting and piecing the front and back of the quilt. It was longarm quilted by my friend, Sharon Baker, which took 70 hours. The quilt measures 110 inches square, the largest quilt I have undertaken.
Fabric arrived in July 2017 and the design process began. How can one take 130 different fabrics and make them look good together? After many hours of drafting, using pages and pages of graph paper, I developed a pattern and began to cut and sew.
I was troubled as to how to include every fabric in the quilt, since some were not compatible with cotton and silk. I sat down and wrote a poem about my frustrations and then felt peaceful about my decisions. Some fabric did not make it into the quilt top or back; however, I made a pillow for the newlyweds using the fabrics that didn’t qualify.
There are many good wishes and blessings in the fibre of this quilt, shared below:
Very best wishes for health and happiness always.
One of our fond memories of Serene coming to Saskatchewan at harvest was her excitement when her daddy would come in the door and invite her out for a special daddy-daughter star-gazing date.
Uncle Brian and Auntie Lorna Kennett
Matt and Serene, we wish you much happiness and many years together. Remember to always give more than you get, never go to bed angry and always find the best in each other. We love you.
Auntie Sheryl and Uncle Hal Garrett
It is a personal item. It has the Viterra® and Hi-Pro® logos on it. This was my greatest work achievement in my life. I took a poor business and transformed it into a tremendous success. In a sense, I did what Dad did, ‘I gave them the shirt off my back.’ Anyone can go to the store to buy things, but giving up a good personal item like my shirt is more personal, intimate and more of a true gift. I hope the good things in my life are remembered and passed on to Matt and Serene. And lastly, I can always make a joke about giving them the shirt off my back!
Uncle Daren Kennett, when asked why he sent a work shirt.