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Meet the Winners of the Create a Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge

We were so happy that we let the entrants in our latest challenge choose whatever theme they liked. All they had to do was use Bali fabrics to interpret that theme. As a result, we received an amazing variety of designs. There were Eastern-inspired quilts, tropical quilts, stained-glass quilts, traditional pieced quilts, flowers, birds, a lighthouse, roosters, and even good ol’ Sunbonnet Sue made an appearance. The quilters ranged from seasoned quilting veterans to a 13-year-old girl and a gentleman who made his first quilt.

“It’s so hard to choose when they are completely different,” said award-winning quilter and judge Marilyn Ray. Keepsake Quilting founder and judge Judy Sabanek added, “They were really strutting their stuff.” Both judges were delighted and thoroughly impressed by the creativity as well as the fine quality of workmanship on display in this Bali challenge. In the end, a greyhound named Jasmine ran away with the day.

Meet the Winners

Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge First Place Winner - Diane McClure of Citrus Springs, FL Diane McClure’s portrait of her dog, Jasmine, who Diane says is the sweetest dog in the world, won both first-place honors and the hearts of the judges. Diane who lives in Citrus Springs, Florida, carried through the “jasmine” theme by surrounding her dog with ruched jasmine flowers, which she has actually planted in her yard in tribute to her precious dog. Leaping greyhound silhouettes in the border add a unique, artistic touch to her incredibly creative design.

Jasmine’s portrait was executed with impeccable hand applique, hand quilting, hand embroidery and precision piecing. The foundation-pieced pink and black circle is Diane’s interpretation of a racetrack, since six-year-old Jasmine is a retired, rescued racer. Diane told us, “Limpin’ In was her racing name, so you can tell that she didn’t win any races.” She says she never hesitates to recommend adopting a greyhound as a companion pet, saying that Jasmine is a great ambassador for the breed.

For some time, Diane had been playing around with the idea of making a quilt in Jasmine’s honor. The Keepsake Quilting challenge provided her with the perfect opportunity. Underneath Jasmine’s portrait, she hand embroidered, “I’m a little behind.” She got that idea while visiting a guild in Tampa to give a lecture. A woman showed off a wall hanging she had made depicting the hind end of a zebra, and said, ”I'm a little behind.” Diane doesn’t know the lady’s name, but is grateful that she gave her the idea for Jasmine’s quilt. It just goes to show—you never know when inspiration is going to strike.

To make her quilt, which she entitled “Go Baby Go!” Diane used all six challenge Medley™ fabrics and two additional fabrics. She used the lightest challenge Medley fabric to make Jasmine’s body and face, which she embellished with fabric paint to achieve realistic shading. She added an even lighter Bali for the center background and a brown Bali for the binding, stems and Jasmine’s eyes. Jasmine may not have been considered a winner when she was adopted four years ago, but she sure is a winner now. Diane, give that dog an extra bone!

Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge Second Place Winner - Gayle Shelton of Bridgeport, TX Second-place winner, Gayle Shelton of Bridgeport, Texas, found inspiration advertising the Dallas Chamber Music Society. “Wow!” is all Judy could say when she saw Gayle’s fabulous machine quilting. In general, quilting is a supporting element, secondary to the piecing or applique. Not so in Gayle’s quilt. Her quilting shares star status with her beautiful appliqued design. This master machine quilter filled every available space with swirls, feathers, circles and texture-adding motifs using variegated and metallic threads. The threadwork showing on the deep purple quilt back is a piece of art unto itself. This gorgeous machine quilting is all done on a standard sewing machine.

Gayle’s artistry goes way beyond just her machine quilting. It extends to her sense of design and her fusible-applique work. The judges said her bold, graphic design brought out the exuberance of Bali fabrics. Gayle added a purple Bali for a great punch of color and set her design against a light yellow/green mottled Bali. Red sequins added just enough “bling.” “I like the sparklies, says Gayle.”

When we asked Gayle if she spends much time quilting, she told us, “My husband might tell you I’m obsessed.” We can’t imagine a more wonderful obsession, especially when it results in quilts as awesome as Gayle’s. Oh, by the way, Gayle was competing against herself in the Keepsake Quilting challenge, submitting a second Beautiful Bali challenge quilt—another stunning creation. Now that she’s made bed quilts for her children and six grandkids, she likes entering quilt contests and is now doing smaller quilts. When we asked if she had been a winner in any of the other contests she has entered, she said, “amazingly,” she had. We certainly don’t find it amazing at all. Gayle is a wonderful example of how a small-town gal who learned to quilt from watching Simply Quilts on television and by reading magazines can go on to become an award-winning quilter.

Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge Third Place Winner - Ann Feitelson of Montague, MAAnother award-winning quilter wowed the judges with her challenge entry. Ann Feitelson of Montague, Massachusetts, transformed a basically simple geometric design into a fascinating study in lights and shadows. Ann told us, “My passion in quiltmaking is color and design, which is to say, color first and foremost.” It wasn’t only her exceptional design and use of color that won praises from the judges. She garnered top marks for her fine machine applique, machine quilting and finishing techniques as well. It didn’t surprise us to learn that Ann has a background in art, has won many top quilting awards and has even had a quilt on the cover of Quilters Newsletter magazine. What may be surprising is that she’s also the author of a popular knitting book, The Art of Fair Isle Knitting. Now, how’s that for talent!

Although Ann enjoys entering quilting contests, this is the first time she’s made a quilt for the Keepsake Quilting challenge. Inspiration for her challenge quilt came from the book Circle Play by Reynola Pakusich. Ann said, “I love the way Reynola Pakusich’s framework —the half-square triangle beneath the halved circle—indicates luminosity or transparency.” It was remarkable that Ann was able to capture those visual effects using just the six Medley fabrics and two additional batiks. She told us, “I tend to organize colors into sequences, or runs. I added a pink and a burgundy to make a group of four shades of red, from light to dark. And I saw the other four Medley fabrics as a flow of cream through green to black.” Once all the colors were arranged to her liking, the white circle reminded her of the Cat Stevens song “Moon Shadow,” and so a line from that song would become the name of her quilt. We’re so pleased that Ann decided to enter her ”Followed by a Moon Shadow” quilt in her first Keepsake Quilting challenge and share with us her wonderful sense of color and artistry.

A fusible machine-appliqued, and machine-quilted eagle—with pink wings!—grabbed the attention of Keepsake Quilting staff members, who were also drawn to the sentiments machine embroidered on the quilt: “Freedom isn’t free,” and “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15.13.”

Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge Staff's Choice Winner - Flo Brooks of Stockton, CAOn her entry form, staff’s-choice winner, Flo Brooks of Stockton, California, wrote about her design inspiration: “The pattern ‘Spirit’ by Toni Whitney inspired my creation of ‘Johnny Eagle’ for my husband, Johnny Owen Brooks. Johnny is the inspiration to all my quilts, and I especially love to make eagles and patriotic tributes, since Johnny sacrificed so much for our country. John was wounded in Vietnam in 1969 and has lived a life of bravery and courage every day for over 40 years! He is my hero! Quilting brings me great joy—it’s a wonderful way to tell John’s story and give God praise for all He does for us.”

Flo had already purchased the “Spirit” pattern from Keepsake Quilting, and when she saw the challenge announced, she thought it would be great if she could use the Medley fabrics for her quilt. But when the challenge Medley arrived, she wondered how in the world she could ever make an eagle from pink and fuchsia with turquoise. Well, she did find a way even if it meant stepping outside of her comfort zone. She said the people at Bigfork Bay Cotton Company graciously gave her permission to use Toni’s pattern for her tribute to her severely disabled husband, who she says inspires her every day. “I felt like [the quilt] was like a parable of mine and Johnny’s life,” she said, “It wasn’t something we would have chosen, but God has made our life into something beautiful.”

Although Flo doesn’t get out much and is unable to join a quilting group, since her husband needs around- the-clock home care, it’s quite clear that quilting truly does bring great joy into the life of this sunny, upbeat lady—the joy of the quilting process and the joy of being able to create quilts to honor her beloved husband.

Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge Honorable Mention Winner - Pamela Schafer of Granville, NYPamela Schafer of Granville, New York, won an honorable-mention award for her beautifully hand-quilted and needle-turn-appliqued quilt based on the William Morris-inspired “Tudor Rose” pattern in Michele Hill’s William Morris in Appliqué book.

Congratulations to all of the challenge winners! Each winner has received a gift certificate for a Keepsake Quilting shopping spree: first place, $500; second place, $300; third place, $100; staff’s choice, $200, and honorable mention, $50.

We thank everyone who participated in the Create a Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge. The winning quilts will be on display in the shop until September 19, 2010. The first- and second-place quilts become part of the permanent Keepsake collection and will join the traveling exhibit, which is available for quilt shows, guild meetings and art exhibits across the United States. For information on hosting the exhibit, contact customer service at 1-800-525-8086.

Everyone who entered the Create a Beautiful Bali Keepsake Challenge received these 6 fabricsTips for what the judges look for:

  • Creativity
    Color, fabrics and patterns used in an unusual way. Design reflects something unique about your personality or style.
  • Use of Color
    Color values (lights and darks) arranged in an interesting way. Color accents lend spark, design interest or movement.
  • Workmanship
    Piecing fits together smoothly and lies flat. Applique stitches are invisible or add to the design. Binding is neat and square. Embellishments are tasteful.
  • Design Balance
    Design has a focal point. Size of the design elements are in scale with the overall design, and the sashes and borders are well proportioned. Uniform amount of quilting over the entire quilt top.