Making quilts


What we need most are adult quilts that are approximately 50" x 70" in size. There is a 2" leeway (plus or minus), however, so quilts that are 48"-52" in one direction and 68"-72" in the other direction are acceptable. If you are unsure, we recommend that you err on the larger size. The National Office avoids making quilts for youth or children, as they tend to sit on our shelves for months before being used. Quilts for adults are out the door as fast as they come in.

We also don't receive enough quilts for men. A good ratio would be to aim for 25% of the quilts made by your group to be appropriate for men. We don't send them flowery quilts (nor pink quilts), but quilts containing some subdued or discrete florals are fine. Earth tones are great, along with any themes relating to the outdoors, sports, and music. Very colourful quilts are also sent out if they are suitable.


VQC labelFor VQC members, please always use the bilingual VQC label when completing a quilt, as we are a national organization and you never know where a quilt might end up. It also makes life easier for the quilt packers because they then don’t have to replace a unilingual label at the last minute on a quilt that needs to go out.

When sewing the label to the quilt, we recommend that you turn the fabric under so that the black box around the text remains on top. This border defines the edge of the label and looks better.

Finally, if you wish to add a fabric border around the label, please use a generic pattern suitable for someone with any kind of cancer and that preferably repeats one of the fabrics on the quilt top. Using a pattern specific to a particular cancer (e.g. pink ribbons) creates more work for our packers because they have to replace the fabric around the label before they can send out the quilt. This slows things up.

Fabric and quilt washing instructions

Ideally, all fabrics should be washed first to make sure they don't run in your finished quilt. In addition, because many of our recipients are in situations where they must be careful with outside elements that may be harmful to their health (e.g. pet hair, food residue, etc.), we ask that the finished quilt also be washed before submitting it to the quilt packers. They do not need to be ironed.

Wash the quilts in cool or warm water (not hot) on the regular setting using unscented detergent. Avoid using single-dose laundry products such as pods, tablets and PowerCore Pacs, as they contain chemicals and scents that are not appropriate for people with environmental sensitivities. These products also contain far too much detergent for washing quilts one a time and leave a residue on the quilt that takes several washes to remove. Dry in the dryer, but don’t use any fabric softener to avoid any risk of an allergic reaction.

If you are concerned that a quilt may run, make sure to have colour catcher sheets (or other similar products) available and put one in with the wash. In addition, try to wash the quilts with like colours together. If there are a lot of dark colours in the quilt, try and avoid washing more than one at a time.

Colour setting and bleed removal products

If you are concerned about colour bleeding, below are some products available to set colours and remove the bleeding.

  • Dr. Beckman Colour Safe Colour Run Remover
  • Breezy Colour Absorbers
  • Grandma’s Spot Remover
  • Shout Colour Catchers
  • Clorox Bleach pen.

Quality control and quilt identification

Sometimes there are issues with the quality of a quilt that require repair before the quilt can be processed. These include:

  • the binding is not sewn on properly
  • the seams are coming apart after it has been washed
  • the final size is too small
  • the quilt was handed in with a fair bit of dye discoloration after being washed, from either the fabric, quilting thread or embroidery floss
  • the quilt was tied too tightly (resulting in significant puckering) or too loosely or the shortened tails were too long.

Please take time to check your quilts before sending them in for packing. There is nothing more disheartening for packers than to have to put a quilt aside for repairs when there are so many outstanding requests.

For quilts processed by the National Office, we ask that you attach a paper to the finished quilt that provides contact information on the group from which it came so that the quilt packers know where to return the quilt if it requires major repair.

Quilt bags

Instructions on making quilt bags are available on the Quilt patterns page. When making them, please use only lightweight fabric so as to keep our postage costs as low as possible.

Updated: December 10, 2019