Now in its 17th season, the CBC’s “Murdoch Mysteries” transports fans to early 20th century Toronto to solve crimes with the pioneering Detective Murdoch. Costumes play an important part in telling these stories, which inspired Emily Mooney, a Toronto-based knitter and quilter, to stitch together a new story.
Mooney began watching “Murdoch” with her teenage daughter. She began thinking about getting the knitwear she made onto the show, which prompted her to join the online fan community and attend in-person events with the show’s cast. At a few of these events in 2019 and early 2020, Mooney met Joanna Syrokomla, who has been the costume designer for “Murdoch” since Season 12. When the pandemic hit, Syrokomla and her costume department began sewing fabric face masks, which prompted Mooney to reconnect. The two began collaborating, and Mooney began knitting bespoke items for the cast to wear onscreen, which have appeared in Seasons 14 through 17.
On a visit to the Murdoch set, Mooney noticed piles of scrap fabric leftover from making the costumes for the show. She asked Syrokomla if she could have some to make a quilt—and ended up with “five huge bags’ worth” from Seasons 12-15.
Mooney wanted to create a community project, and set about organizing quilters from around the globe. The fabric she received from Syrokomla was sorted by character and colour and packaged into ready-to-quilt bundles. Mooney then asked Murdoch fans who sew to make a block or two in the Victorian “crazy-quilt” style. Quilters from across Canada, England and Hungary volunteered. Once all of the squares were sent back, Mooney, Syrokomla and quilter Johanna Masko assembled the finished blocks into a quilt top in December 2021. Michelle Reddy, a longarm quilter who owns Quilted Memories, quilted and bound the final product.
Nineteen quilters and an organizer were involved in the project. Each block tells a story not only about the character who wore the costume, but a story about the quilter who made it.Several participants contributed their first-ever quilt blocks. One was so taken by the project that she visited the finished quilt twice, flying in from the United Kingdom.
The Murdoch Quilt comes with an informative diagram which outlines which outfit was worn by which character. The black fabric that forms the grid lines between the blocks are leftover fabric from Detective Murdoch’s signature suits, while the black border is made from the uniform pants worn by the constables who work with Murdoch.
The quilt appeared briefly in season 15, episode 23. It was also featured in the Murdoch Mysteries Exhibition at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener, Ontario, in late 2022 and early 2023.
ABOUT THE AUCTION:
The quilt will be auctioned off at Waddington’s from December 9-17, 2023, in partnership with Shaftesbury Films. All proceeds go to the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, a Canadian registered charitable organization working to end racism since 1975. UARR works with labour unions, school boards, grassroots groups, and all three levels of government to address discrimination, advocate for and build safe and healthy communities, and provide opportunities for racialized youth to engage in policy and government.
Charlotte Anderson, Mississauga, Ontario
Ali Burns, Richmond, British Columbia
Natasha Burns, Richmond, British Columbia
Joanne Flint, Toronto, Ontario
Louise Flint, Toronto, Ontario
Erin Hawke, Coldwater, Ontario
Angharad Jones, Nottingham, England
Éva Friedmann, Pécs, Hungary
Cheryl Marshall, Lancashire, England
Johanna Masko, Toronto, Ontario
Emily Mooney, Toronto, Ontario
Liz Newman, Ridgetown, Ontario
Nina Okens, Toronto, Ontario
Michelle Reddy, Mississauga, Ontario
Janet Robinson, London, Ontario
Charlene Seniuk, Toronto, Ontario
Judy Steward, Komoka, Ontario
Nancy Stewart, Etobicoke, Ontario
Joanna Syrokomla, Toronto, Ontario
Catharine Watts, Mississauga, Ontario
Missy Westgate, Toronto, Ontario
Organizer and administrator:
Scott Young, Oshawa, Ontario