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Quilts filled with the magic of winter

Meet the Winners of the Create a Jack Frost Keepsake Challenge!

   The day of the challenge judging was a lovely, warm summer's day, but inside Keepsake Quilting, our thoughts were of winter. The frosty blue and white prints in the challenge Medley™ provided the starting point for all sorts of wonderful wintry quilts. Each quilter had to use at least four of the six Medley fabrics, and could add two fabrics of her own choosing while making a 30" x 30" quilt. Judges were Judy Sabanek, founder of Keepsake Quilting and accomplished quilter and quilting instructor Denny Stringfellow.

Meet the Winners
   Both judges were happily surprised at all the creative interpretations of the Jack Frost theme, and were delighted to see old Jack Frosts, young Jacks and whimsical Jacks. A particularly handsome Jack Frost, the creation of Sheila Riess of Ellicott City, Maryland, won the day, earning the first-place blue ribbon. Jack Frost peers in through the window, the fingers of one hand pressing up against the windowpane, and the index finger of the other hand etching a shimmering heart on the glass. The quilt is appropriately named "Love, Jack Frost."First Place Winner

   Upon seeing Sheila's quilt, Judy said, "There's absolutely nothing you can fault." The artistry is amazing, and the workmanship, superb. It's truly remarkable how Sheila captured the expression on Jack's face and the detail of his hands and hair using only the challenge fabrics and lots of machine threadwork. It's especially remarkable that Sheila was able to capture such realism while limiting herself to blue, white, and just two other fabrics, the lavender background fabric and the yellow Bali fabric for the scarf. Sheila loves to work in a variety of colors, and some of her colorful portrait quilts have won national awards, including the Hoffman Challenge. This year Hoffman presented her with an applique award for her "Down the Rabbit Hole" quilt depicting her younger daughter as a redheaded Alice in Wonderland. The same daughter has also been Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood in other prize-winning quilts. Sheila uses her son and two daughters as her models. In real life, Jack Frost is actually her younger daughter's college-age friend named Neil.

   To create her portraits, Sheila starts by posing her subjects, taking some photos, and then sketching the designs. After choosing her fabrics and fusible appliqueing the shapes, she satin stitches the edges of each shape using rayon thread, and then layers and quilts her piece. Sheila said, "The quilting is intensive, but it's really fun, because that's what really brings it all to life." For her Jack Frost quilt, she used rayon, metallic and 30-weight variegated cotton thread for the machine quilting.

   Sheila says she wishes she had time to do even more quilting on her challenge quilt, but she was racing to finish before the deadline. She told us, "My goal is to finish. It's not so much to win something. When you do finish something, you've won." While Sheila may consider herself a winner simply for completing her "Love, Jack Frost" quilt, we consider her a winner because that finished quilt ended up being absolutely spectacular! Second Place Winner

   Another quilter who said she was in a mad rush to finish her quilt before the August deadline was Alexandra Tsubota of Torrance, California, our second-place winner. She told us that, luckily, her 12-year-old daughter was at summer camp when the deadline neared, so when Alexandra wasn't at her job working as a software engineer, she was at home working on her fabulous "Winter Wonderland" quilt.

   The judges gave Alexandra high praise for her beautifully balanced design, which fills the 30" x 30" space so well. They loved how the snowflakes, arranged in an asymmetrical design, just fall off the edges of the quilt. Alexandra said she wanted to create a feeling of being outside with snowflakes floating down all around you. She thought a border and binding would have confined the snowflakes, so instead of a binding, she finished her edges with a facing that folds to the back of the quilt.

   Just like in nature, each of Alexandra's snowflakes is different. She found snowflake clipart and redrafted all the designs, making full-size templates by folding butcher paper in sixths and drawing and cutting out each flake. She then traced the snowflakes onto fusible web. After machine appliqueing the snowflakes in place and layering her quilt, she then scattered machine-quilted small snowflakes (patterned after a cookie-cutter shape) throughout the background. The quilted snowflakes were done in a variegated thread, which makes the flakes seem to fade in and out of the background. The navy blue Bali fabric, which Alexandra chose for her background, is heavily machine stippled. The judges noted that the dark blue really provided a great light/dark contrast with the snowflakes. Alexandra also added a light gray Bali for one of the snowflakes.

   When we asked about her design inspiration, Alexandra told us, "I love the romance of snow. I've always lived in Southern California, so I've never had to deal with the reality of it. I always dream of a white Christmas, and I love snowy pictures." Well, she certainly made a stunning snowy picture for her award-winning challenge quilt. Pretty good for a Southern California gal!

  Our third-place winner, Gayle Shelton, of Bridgeport, Texas, may only get a bit of snow about once a year, but she knows all about the fluffy white stuff, because she's originally from the Denver area. She told us, "I love the snow, but far away." Although she'd just as soon not be shoveling, she certainly appreciates the miraculous beauty of each snowflake, as you can see by the exquisite snowflake she created for her challenge quilt. She admitted that drawing isn't her forte and that it took a lot of paper folding and tracing to get a snowflake that measured up to her Third Placestandards. Gayle said the challenge fabrics worked easily into her machine-appliqued design. She used five of the six challenge fabrics and added a fabric from her stash for the background, a deep blue dusted with metallic glitter. She brought lots more glitter and shine to her quilt with her gorgeous silver-metallic machine-quilted feather designs, which fill every bit of the background.

   Gayle says that lately she's been trying to whittle down her fabric stash, but then she reads about a new quilt contest and can't resist entering. She's won ribbons in earlier Keepsake Quilting challenges, and, like our first-place winner, Sheila, has won various Hoffman Challenge awards, too. Although she's received national recognition, her number-one fan is her daughter, Camille, who told us that her home is filled with her mother's beautiful quilts, saying, "I ooh and aah at Mom's handiwork, and have appointed myself as her cheerleader." We join with Camille in giving a big cheer for the artistry and talent of her mother, Gayle.

   Sharon Hammond of Four Oaks, North Carolina, won the staff's-choice award for the skating scene that reminded Keepsake Quilting staff members of a Christmas Staffs Choice Winnercard. Sharon tells how a remembrance going back 60 years inspired her charming quilt: "When I was about five years old, I was staying with my grandmother in the Adirondack Mountains in New York during winter break. One morning, when I got up, my grandma told me that Jack Frost had come to visit during the night. I asked her where he was, as I didn't see anyone else in the house, and she simply said, 'We will go and see him after breakfast.' After breakfast, we gathered up our ice skates and went to the frozen-over lake to skate. The sun was shining brightly, and it looked to me like someone had sprinkled a gazillion diamonds all over everything. I remember telling Grandma that it was the most beautiful snow I had ever seen, to which she responded. 'You can thank Jack Frost for that, as he is the man in charge of decorating the world in winter.'"

     Jack would certainly have approved of how Sharon decorated the scenic skating fabric. She scattered sequined crystals on the trees and bushes to capture Jack Frost's magic and covered all the snow in the printed scene with silver-etched snow from one of the challenge fabrics. She layered the snow and machine quilted with silver-metallic thread along all the appliqued edges to add more glitter and shine and to give the snow a dimensional look.

Third Place    Although Sharon only started quilting five years ago after she retired, she has sewn for years and told us she does have a fabric stash. That must be quite the stash, since the skating fabric she used for her challenge quilt was 20 years old. That fabric certainly was a great choice for her nostalgic quilt filled with memories of her grandma.

   A clever interpretation of the Jack Frost theme won an honorable-mention award for Margo Ellis of Key West, Florida. Her "Ice in my Drink Beats Ice on the Rink" quilt was inspired by her move to Key West after a cold, icy winter in Maine.

   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 a Jack Frost Challenge. All entries will be pictured on our website. The winning quilts will be on display in the shop until November 17, 2013. 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 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.

Call for Entries

Give a traditional block an updated look

Enter the Create a Nine-Patch Pizzazz Keepsake Challenge!

  It may be one of the most classic and easiest of quilt blocks, yet the tried-and-true Nine Patch is anything but dated. It's as popular today as it was two centuries ago. Show us your 21st-century version of this well-loved block as you create a Nine-Patch Pizzazz quilt.
   Your quilt may be pieced or appliqued, embellished in any way you choose, and must be hand or machine quilted. It must have a finished size of 30" x 30" and must use at least four fabrics from the challenge Medley™. You may add up to two other fabrics of your choice. 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 17, 2014. 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 Keepsake Quilting summer catalog.
   The winning quilts will be displayed in the Keepsake Quilting shop until September 7, 2014. 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 7, 2014. All other quilts will be returned after the judging.

Create a Nine-Patch Pizzazz Challenge Medley

Make an old favorite new again.
Turn this six-piece fat-quarter collection into a Nine Patch quilt with a modern twist.
#3305  $15.99 

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