WARNING: Saga ahead. Feel free to skip to the pictures.
I have been participating in the SLC Home Machine Quilting Show design challenge for the past five years. A sponsor supplies the fabric, and individuals or groups design and make a quilt based on certain guidelines such as theme, size, additional fabrics, etc. These quilts are displayed during the show, then auctioned to raise money for charity.
Riley Blake Designs sponsored this year's challenge, donating $1,000 in prize money and "Isabella" fabric by Lila Tueller. I signed up again, and received the kit of fabric and batting last December. Other things took priority (quilting, writing patterns, teaching classes, etc.) and before I knew it, there was only one week left until the deadline for the challenge!
My friends Debbie and Tricia came to the rescue, and we went to work. Debbie always says, "Now why are we doing this again?" My response: "Because it's fun!" (We've also won prizes each time, which makes it more fun--1st, 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd place, consecutively). But it seems we always leave it to the last minute, then have a quilting frenzy getting them done. Most years, we are stitching on the binding/label as we drive the 50 miles to deliver the quilt... We don't call ourselves "The Midnight Quilters" for nothing! Besides, I had to wait until the fabric "spoke" to me to tell me what it wanted to become, the same process as in previous challenges. What does this fabric tell you?
To me, it had elements of turn-of-the-century style, Gibson Girls, Mary Poppins, and "The Music Man" (I played Marian the Librarian's mother in a community production). I was thinking hats in a store window, Tricia thought one hat, and while searching linline, Debbie found a picture of a hat stand. That was it!! Then the quilt practically made itsself. We chose hat styles that could feature the fabrics best, and made little parasols and a purse to use the remaining fabric.
It was my job to make the base of the quilt, which had to be constructed from the outside in. I fussy cut the brown wavy stripes so as not to lose the design, mitered the corners at the perfect spots, then filled in with more fussy cut stripes, and finally the center of the quilt, stitching exactly on the lines of the print. It could not have been more perfect. Deb worked on the individual hats whileTricia started making the dimensional roses. I drew and cut out applique shapes, starched the edges around cereal box templates, then turned it over to the girls to lay out and stitch down. We worked until midnight for a couple of nights, then it was my job to get it quilted--stopping at about 4:00 am, then finishing the next day. We had more fun loading up the embellishments and making the quilt come to life with details such as ribbon, feathers, the roses and rosebuds, beads, buttons, snaps. And a clip-on bird. A neighbor stopped by, wearing just the perfect beaded earrings, which she donated for the green hat. And when I added the wire-edged satin ribbon at the bottom, Debbie thought she was just going to be sick. Tricia and I voted her down, and the ribbon stayed. The girls finished the binding and the quilt was done. Almost. It needed just one more rosebud to fill a spot, which I finished stitching as we drove down the canyon to get it in on time. When we saw all of the beautiful workmanship and fine quilting of the other 22 entries, we said to ourselves, "Well, that was fun" realizing that the competition had gotten tougher, and hoped for the best.
The official phone call inviting us to attend the awards ceremony came, and we were tickled. We thought that it would be great if we received an Honorable Mention. We sat through all the quilt show awards, and the Design Challenge was the last competition to be announced. They announced the Honorable Mention award winner, and it wasn't our quilt. They even had another HM, and it wasn't our quilt. They announced the 3rd place winner, and it wasn't our quilt. We looked at each other, yes we had gotten the official invitation to come, so we knew we were supposed to be there! They announced the 2nd place winner, and it still wasn't our quilt!! All of us gasped at the same time in giddy surprise, and started giggling...then we saw our quilt on the slide show and heard our names called as the first place winners! A-MAZING!! We giggled, laughed and cried all the way to the podium!
But the best part came a few days later, when all the quilts in the challenge were sold at auction for the charity "Lifting Liberia" to help build schools in Africa. The auction brought in nearly $4,500. And even more amazing--our little quilt raised $850 for the cause, sold to a happy woman from Idaho. Boy, do I love quilting--everyone wins!!
Whew, finished! Thank heaven for friends! Now, on to the next project! UFO Sightings