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Meet the Winners of the Create a Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge

Cute, cute, cute! How else can we possibly describe the quilts entered in the Create a Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge. Not only were they cute, they were also amazingly creative. We gave the entrants an added challenge in this, our 41st, challenge contest. The challenge Medley™, which had always included six fabrics, now included five fabrics plus a 20-piece collection of Keepsake Quilting’s die-cut teddy bears. Entrants had to use four of the five fabrics and five of the bears. They could also add two fabrics of their choosing.

The gals who had the happy task of judging the quilts were accomplished quilter and quilting instructor Denny Stringfellow, quilting teacher and master machine quilter Ellen Peters, and Keepsake Quilting pattern designer Bonnie Knott, filling in for founder Judy Sabanek.

Meet the Winners

Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge First Place Winner - Barbara Warner of Ballwin, MOFirst place winner, Barbara Warner of Ballwin, Missouri, cleverly gave a traditional alphabet quilt a new twist. Her “Crossword Puzzle” quilt started with the phrase “Welcome baby” across the top and features sweet words such as “smile,” “laughing,” “lovely,” “boy,” and “girl.” Barbara got high marks for her creativity as well as her topnotch workmanship. The judges loved her choice of background fabric-a softly hued yellow watercolor fabric with touches of pink, lavender and blue. Barbara’s second added fabric was a green alphabet print. She machine embroidered over each letter with deep purple thread.

Barbara said she loved using the teddy bears, especially since teddies are a symbol of comfort for children. She certainly gave personality to the bears in her quilt by hand-embroidering the faces and paws. She hand appliqued the bears in place before machine buttonhole stitching around them. The rest of the quilt was machine done to perfection.

Barbara enjoys both machine and handwork, and as the leader of a crazy-quilt society in St. Louis, has been passing along to a new generation the hand-embroidery skills that she learned from her mother and grandmother. Barbara added, that although she loves traditional handwork, she encourages her students to take advantage of all the tools of today, from rotary cutters to embroidery machines.

Quilting isn’t Barbara’s only talent. She has written books on dollhouse miniatures. In 2001 her miniature replica of the poet Eugene Field’s home in St. Louis was selected as a Christmas ornament for the White House. Barbara, we applaud your artistry and are delighted to have you as our first-place winner in the Keepsake Quilting challenge.

Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge Second Place Winner - Laurie Wozniak of Columbia, SCOur second-place quilt proves that inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places. Laurie Wozniak of Columbia, South Carolina, got the idea for her stork from the expectant-mothers parking sign at a Publix supermarket. The judges loved all the wonderful details of Laurie’s quilt, including the pastel rickrack around the oval center, the beaded edges of the three-dimensional teddy bears with button bellies, and the alphabet beads (the type once used as hospital bracelets). Laurie’s use of fabric was also brilliant. She used cut-up teddy bears for the stork’s beak, cheek, knees and hat; the elephant’s ear (from the animal print) for the stork’s eye; and a real cloth diaper to hold the baby doll. Her second added fabric, a green dot for the background, provided wonderful contrast to the pastel challenge fabrics. A thin purple cording around the outside added a nice touch. According to Laurie, she only added the cording, plus an additional inch of background, because her quilt ended up being too small.

Laurie said that figuring out how to use the bears was an “unbearable” challenge. She met the challenge by turning them into balloons on satin strings. The judges felt that the choice of the stripe for the announcement was great. She didn’t plan to use the stripe, but she had sent so much fabric to her twin sister, who also entered the challenge, that the stripe was all she had to work with. Laurie successfully met each design challenge as she created her adorable prizewinning quilt.

Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge Third Place Winner - Alice Rust of Greensburg, INThe old song “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” inspired a number of the challenge quilts, with one of those delightful quilts earning third-place honors. Alice Rust of Greensburg, Indiana, got the judges’ attention with her great use of fabric. To the pastel-hued fabrics and bears in the Challenge Medley, Alice added a dark green for the trees and a deep, mottled blue for the sky and border, giving her quilt wonderful contrast in color. The use of a variety of sizes of Bear Paw blocks along the pathway was a really clever idea. She even quilted the Bear Paw design along the border.

Alice says that she enjoys singing “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” to her two little granddaughters, so when she saw the Challenge Medley, she knew that would be the theme. To decide how to use each fabric, Alice photocopied the fabrics and cut pieces from the paper before cutting into the real fabric. She embroidered the bears’ faces and the picnic basket by hand and machine embroidered the words of the song along the border. Her challenge quilt demonstrates a variety of hand and machine techniques.

Alice retired in 1997. “Since that time, I have just been happy to get up each morning, because I’m thinking about what project I’ll do.” Happy for us that Alice woke up one morning and decided to make her “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” quilt as her very first challenge entry.

Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge Staff's Choice Winner - Karen Kerner of Radisson, WIThe Keepsake Quilting staff fell in love with an adorable, furry bear when it was time to determine the staff’s-choice award. Karen Kerner of Radisson, Wisconsin, said she was shocked to receive a ribbon in her very first challenge.

Karen’s design came from a quilt she had designed about 30 years ago. Back then, she thought that, since little tots are always dropping their stuffed animals, why not create a quilt so that a child could carry a teddy bear and blankie at the same time. When Karen decided to bring her teddy bear idea back to life for the Welcome Baby challenge, she simply had to go into her fabric stash for the imitation fur. Karen cut the bear’s body from one piece of fur; then added another piece for the nose. The other added fabric was just the solid white background.

Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge Honorable Mention Winner - Caroline Kluge of Brookhaven, MIFor her machine quilting, Karen did quilted hearts along the outside border, cross-hatching in the blocks and stippling around her furry bear. Since Karen has a longarm-quilting business, most of her quilting time is spent working on other people’s quilts. She says she only manages to squeeze in time for a couple of her own quilts each year. We’re so glad that she took the time to make such a darling quilt for the Welcome Baby challenge.

Two quilters won well-deserved honorable-mention awards for their challenge entries.

Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge Honorable Mention Winner - Penny Klug of Wheeling, WV Caroline Kluge of Brookhaven, Mississippi, made her adorable “Every Parade Should Have Bears” quilt based on the animals printed on one of the challenge fabrics. She turned three of the bears in her quilt into whimsical balloons.

Penny Klug of Wheeling, West Virginia, also included balloons in her sweet quilt, but hers were made of yo-yos. She chose the perfect fabric (a tan basket-weave print) for her antique baby carriage.

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 theCreate a Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge.

The winning quilts will be on display in the shop until November 8, 2009. 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 Welcome Baby Keepsake Challenge received these five fabrics, as well as a 20-piece collection of our die-cut bearsTips 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.