Autumn is such a special time of the year, especially here in New England where travelers come from all around the world at fall-foliage time to see our mountains, hillsides and country roads ablaze in hues of red, orange and yellow. When we challenged quilters to express the glory of autumn through a quilt, we received leaf, pumpkin, scarecrow, sunflower and geese quilts. We also saw squirrels, witches, kids playing in leaves, and even a cat turned goofy with the "fall-back" changing of the clock.
Entrants received a challenge Medley™ with six wonderfully coordinated prints. Each quilter had to use at least four of the Medley fabrics, and could add two fabrics of her own choosing. Judges were Judy Sabanek, founder of Keepsake Quilting, accomplished quilter and quilting instructor Denny Stringfellow, and award-winning quilter Marilyn Ray. Judy, Denny and Marilyn agreed that the coordinated challenge Medley gave entrants a great start, but it was the choice of the two additional fabrics that made certain quilts stand apart.
Meet the Winners
The variegated Bali fabric chosen by Gayle Shelton of Bridgeport, Texas, was one reason why her quilt earned first-place honors. For her second added fabric, Gayle chose a light gold mottled print for her background, which showcases an absolutely spectacular machine-quilted feather design done in shiny rayon thread. Gayle fussy-cut her Bali fabric and alternated it with strips of two Medley fabrics to create the beautiful leaves. A decorative machine stitch in variegated thread outlines each leaf, creating a serrated edge. The dark brown Medley fabric was used as the stem, topped with lots of thread work for texture. She cut out one side of each diamond from the green Medley fabric, and lined the elongated triangles along the edge of the border, gluing a tiny gold-metallic teardrop-shaped bead between each motif for just the right amount of glitter.
When we called Gayle to ask her about her prizewinning quilt, we wanted to know the secret of how she got to be such an accomplished machine quilter. According to Gayle, there's no magic potion, just lots of time spent at the sewing machine. She and her daughter go to Houston's International Quilt Festival every year where Gayle takes lots of pictures for inspiration. She likes quilting wall-size projects, because they're so manageable, but she doesn't shy away from bed-size quilts. She's even machine-quilted a king-size quilt on her home machine. She says, although it's not exactly easy, "you just roll them up as tight as you can, and move them a lot."
Gayle proves that practice truly does make perfect, especially when practice is combined with a large dose of talent. Gayle may get her inspiration from the world-class quilts at the Houston Quilt Festival, but her own beautiful workmanship and fabulous eye for design happen to be mighty inspiring, as well.
"What a difference the blue makes!" exclaimed Denny when she saw the whimsical giraffe quilt that won the judges' fancy and earned second-place honors. Who would have thought that, when we issued a challenge to create an Autumn's Glory quilt, that anyone would think of giraffes. Well, that's exactly what Suzi Lindsay of Cordova, Tennessee, thought of! She said, "I've had this giraffe rolling around in my head, looking up at something for a long time." She had sketched the giraffe looking up at airplanes and balloons, but she told us, "When the challenge came along, I said, 'That's it!'" If you've got a rich imagination like Suzi's, why shouldn't that giraffe be looking up and nibbling at autumn leaves.
Suzi's quilt is filled with whimsical touches, from the three-dimensional eyelashes and hair bows made with thread to the pink painted tongue of the girl giraffe to the three three-dimensional leaves. Even the lettering for the Emily Brontë poem is whimsical. The poem reads: "Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree." Suzi fusible-appliqued the letters (as she did the other elements of her design) and then top-stitched them by hand in red thread. Suzi also hand-top-stitched along the rickrack edge, and used colorful metallic thread to hand quilt swirls throughout the background. She made three double-sided leaves from the bright yellow print (her second added fabric), and tacked them in place on the quilt.
Suzi likes to do doll-size and miniature quilts, but quilting isn't Suzi's only creative outlet. Other hobbies include dollhouses, sewing and needlepoint. She says, "My house looks like Hobby Lobby®." Although she works full-time from home as a legal nurse consultant, this remarkable lady has even managed to write three novels. When we asked what types of novels she writes, she responded, "medical thrillers, of course." She hopes to have her latest, Negotiations and Love Songs, available by the first of the year. How's that for creativity!
The judges know fine workmanship when they see it, and that's just what they saw in the third-place quilt by Sheryl Patton of Salem, Oregon. Sheryl's quilt features a Mariner's Compass block
(inspired by the book Mariner's Compass Quilts by Judy Mathieson), bordered by a foundation-pieced New York Beauty design. Strips of narrow piping and abalone-shell embellishments with gold-bead centers run along each edge of the New York Beauty points. Sheryl hand stitched all the beads, even stitching beads on the back of the quilt! For her additional fabrics, Sheryl used a pale tonal print for the background and a green lamé fabric for extra sparkle and shine.
Sheryl explained that the wonderful three dimensional flowers were actually little quilt sandwiches, complete with top, backing and batting, which she machine quilted and then gathered the centers to puff them up. Beaded abalone buttons were added to the centers.
With all the wonderful details in her "Autumn in New York" quilt, it came as no surprise that, years ago, Sheryl was a tailor, doing men's tailoring, wedding dresses and all sorts of other sewing projects. In the past, she entered and won tailoring competitions, but had never entered any quilt contests. She told us that she's been a Keepsake Quilting customer for years and always enjoyed seeing the challenge quilts in our newsletters, but had never entered a quilt herself. We're delighted that Sheryl's talent is finally on display for all to enjoy.
Another long-time customer, Jeanette Albaugh of Lewisburg, West Virginia, won staff's-choice award with a lovely floral quilt with the look of antique Jacobean crewelwork. The judges aren't the only ones who appreciate fine workmanship. Staff members are used to seeing all the stunning quilts that we photograph for our catalogs, so they know an outstanding quilt when they see one. They loved the quilt's flowing lines, the crispness of the design, and the masterful use of the challenge-Medley fabrics, which Jeanette fussy-cut to create unique flowers, leaves and stems.
Jeanette's quilt, inspired by Deborah Kemball's book Beautiful Botanicals, is entirely hand appliqued, hand embroidered and hand quilted. For one of her added fabrics, Jeanette chose a gold-etched orange, rust and black print with turkeys on it. You'd never know that some flower petals are really turkey-feather designs. Beads add another element of interest and beauty to the flowers.
The Beautiful Botanicals book had already inspired Jeanette to make two pillow cushions, and she had wanted to make a wall quilt in the same style for her dining room. So the challenge contest provided her with the perfect opportunity. She didn't sketch out her design beforehand, but just cut out vine, flower and leaf shapes and moved them around until she liked the look. She then place. For the final touch, Jeanette made a narrow bias binding from the green-diamond Medley print, precisely cutting it so that a line in the print runs right along the edging of the entire quilt.
Of all the honors she could win for her quilting, Jeanette told us that the staff's-choice award meant the most to her. We certainly hope that her award will make the local newspaper, especially because that's where Jeanette works as a typist and copy editor.
A quilt that made the judges smile earned Christy Stoner of Lincoln, Nebraska, an honorable-mention award. Her charming fusible-machine-appliqued "Pumpkin Run" quilt was inspired by a vintage Halloween postcard.
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; honorable mention, $50; and staff's choice, $200.
We thank everyone who participated in the Create an Autumn's Glory Keepsake Challenge. All entries will be pictured on our website. The winning quilts will be on display in the shop until November 18, 2012. 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 Libby or Heather at 603-250-6731.
Tips for what the judges look for:
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.
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 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.
| Enter the Create a Geometry 101 Keepsake Challenge|
Save your applique skills and your print and Bali fabrics for another day. We're challenging you to create a totally pieced quilt using only solid fabrics. To make this challenge extra tempting, the challenge Medley includes eight fabrics, instead of the usual six. Since you can add two more fabrics (solids only!), you can have ten fabrics in all. So make it modern, make it Amish, or make it traditional—but make it solid and make it pieced.
Your quilt must be pieced (no applique) and hand or machine quilted, and may be embellished in any way. It must have a finished size of 30" x 30" and must use at least six fabrics from the Challenge Medley™. You may add up to two other fabrics (solids only). The design may be original or traditional. If it is based on a copyrighted design, a written copy of the designer's permission for use must be included. All work must be done by just one person.
Gift certificates to be used for a shopping spree from the Keepsake Quilting™ catalog, on our website or in the shop in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, will be awarded as follows: first place, $500; second place, $300; third place, $100; honorable mention, $50; staff's choice, $200.
All entries must be received at Keepsake Quilting by March 18, 2013. Complete rules and an entry form will be sent with your challenge Medley. Quilts will be judged on creativity, design, use of color, and workmanship. The decision of the judges will be final. Winners will be announced in the Summer 2013 Keepsake Quilter™ Newsletter.
The winning quilts will be displayed in the Keepsake Quilting shop until September 8, 2013. All entries will be pictured on our website. The first- and second-place quilts will become part of the permanent Keepsake collection. The other winning quilts and quilts offered for sale will be returned after September 8, 2013. All other quilts will be returned after the judging.