Category Archives: Winning Quilts

So You Want to Make a Winning Quilt-  Outstanding Innovative Quilt

REBORN was the 2017 Road to California Outstanding Innovative Quilt winner.   Made and quilted by Molly Y Hamilton-McNally, Molly received $5,000 from sponsor, SewBatik.

Molly Y Hamilton-McNally is a familiar winner at Road to California. In 2012, she won Best of Show for Everlasting Bouquet, a quilt she made and that was quilted by Cindy Seitz-Krug.

Fear, loneliness and deep depression brought Molly to quilting in 2000 when she was diagnosed with cancer and later her mother and husband passed away. Molly realized that she had to find some way to bring her back to the light. An acquaintance encouraged Molly to take a class in basic quilting. Unexpectedly, she found herself developing a passion for this art form.

Now remarried, life is bright again for Molly. Reborn depicts the rising of the ancient phoenix and represents Molly’s rebirth as well. 

It took Molly roughly 1-½ years (the equivalent of 1600 hours) to make Reborn. Molly enjoyed the opportunity to continue to improve her abilities using her favorite technique, needle-turn reverse applique.

What was Mollie’s reaction when she heard she had won Outstanding Innovative Quilt? She says she was appreciative and happy. Also, she was pleased to have been honored by Road to California and gratified that her hard work had paid off. She plans to use part of her prize money to help pay off her longarm machine.

What does Molly’s quilting future hold for her? Molly wants to continue designing large, award winning quilts as well as small quilts which she will use to teach others her techniques.  To learn more about Molly, please visit her website.

Outstanding Art Quilt – Road 2017

Emma in the Looking Glass was made and quilted by Lenore Crawford who won $5,000 from sponsor, Handi Quilter.Winning Quilt by Lenore Crawford

Lenore Crawford is no stranger to Road to California. She has been a member of the teaching faculty in the past and in 2014, she won in the same category, Outstanding Art Quilt, for her work, Capturing Brittany.

Lenore started quilting in the late 1990’s using 2” fabric squares as her art medium in the watercolor quilting style.  She created impressionistic art quilts with the squares.  Up until that time, she hadn’t done any quilting; just lots of other things with different mediums.

What inspired Lenore to create Emma in the Looking Glass? Lenore along with her friend, her friend’s daughter and granddaughter were visiting Lenore’s mother’s gardens where there is a beautiful lily pond that Lenore’s step-father had built.  Emma, the granddaughter, was playing around the pond when Lenore took her picture.  It was a beautiful sunny day in mid-summer and Lenore was “really inspired by the whole scene.”

Lenore spent several months in the winter of 2016 creating Emma in the Looking Glass.  It was one of the very first quilts Lenore had done of a person using her fusing technique.  The most difficult part was finding the perfect flesh tone fabrics which in the shadows and water were very purple.  Lenore ended up using her fabric paints and painting the colors and values of fabrics that she needed for them.

When Lenore found out she had won, she thought that it was “very exciting to win a prize like this!  I like to have my art quilts in large shows so others can see what can be done with fabric.  If I win a prize that is the icing on the cake!” She is planning to use her prize money toward the purchase of a new car where she can “enjoy it every day!”

What does the future hold for Lenore? She has already finished a large piece this past winter that she plans to enter either in 2018 or 2019 at Road to California.  She loves to have a large piece in the works.  For Lenore, the larger the piece the more detail she can add to it which “makes it all the more fun!”

We can’t wait to see what Lenore has created next!!

To learn more about Lenore, please visit her website.

 

So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt: Director’s Choice

Yuja received the Director’s Choice Award at Road 2017. It was made and quilted by Linda C. Anderson. Linda received $5,000 from sponsor, Moore’s Sewing Center.Winning Art Quilt

Linda C. Anderson has two passions: sewing and drawing. She began sewing clothes at age 12 and has a Master of Fine Arts in drawing. She had no idea that she could combine both of these skills until 2009 when she saw her first art quilt.  It was then that she immediately knew that she had found what she was going to do for the rest of her life.  She went home and taught herself to do just that.  Quilt after quilt has been an ongoing learning experience for Linda, taking her to where she is today.

The idea for Yuja came from a PBS article that Linda found on Yuja Wang, a fascinating and very contemporary personality in the world of classical piano.  She knew after reading the article that she wanted to tell her story.  Telling unique stories of different people is what Linda says she is drawn to do.

Linda’s art pieces usually take between 2-3 months to complete, depending on size and complexity of detail. She will typically work on a piece 6 days a week, 8 hours or more a day until it is finished. Beginning in 2015, Linda reported that Yuja took 2 solid months to create.  She has learned not to shortchange the outcome and just do the tedious work the stitching details require. Linda loves detail stitching. It isn’t until she gets in to the actual stitching that she realizes there is always more details than what she originally considered.   So, as Linda says, “I just plow on, because the final result is worth my time.”

When Linda found out that Yuja had won Director’s Choice, she was “incredulous, and thrilled, to say the least.  I know there are hundreds of juried entries, and the quality is always so high.  I go each year to learn from what I see and keep improving.  That my piece was selected as Director’s Choice (was) a huge honor.”

What did Linda do with her prize money from Moore’s Sewing center? She reported that she is “a big saver in general,” but that she does have her “eye open for a new loveseat for our kitchen area.”

Where will Linda’s art quilting take her next? She went to China last year and took a lot of photographs.  Linda says, “It’s a spectacular country, rich in history and beauty.  I am currently creating art quilts for a series entitled, Dreams of China, that I will be continually adding more pieces to this year and the next.  There are a lot of stories of people there to tell.”

You can learn more about Linda and see some of her art quilts on her website.

***Editor’s Note: The Director’s Choice Award is personally chosen by Road to California’s Show Director, Matt Reese. Since Matt has a bachelor’s degree in music, there’s a pretty good chance that any music themed quilt entry will be considered for this prestigious award. (Wink. Wink.).

Marie White Masterpiece Award – Road 2017

The second highest award given by the judges in Road to California’s Showcase is the Marie White Masterpiece Award. This prize is sponsored by Road to California and is worth $7,500.

The 2017 Winner was Cardinal Points

Made by Gail Stepanek (l) and quilted by Jan Hutchinson (r), this was the sixth quilt they have collaborated on together. 

Gail is from New Lennox, Illinois and Jan is from Kansas. They have been partners for five years, having originally met on the internet after Gail saw some of Jan’s work. They didn’t actually meet in person until two and half years after they partnered together. Jan said that the two of them have “become good friends along the way.” Gail offered they get along so well because “we both have a sick sense of humor.”

The idea for Cardinal Points came from an antique quilt Gail had seen that had a similar pattern but was made from much larger blocks. Gail decided to reduce the size of the blocks to “teeny tiny” dimensions for her original design. It took Gail one year to finish the top. Creating a block pattern that was paper-pieced with lots of teeny-tiny pieces was “not the easiest thing to do,” said Gail.

Jan spent three months on the quilting. She decided to treat each circle with a different type of quilting. Consequently there are lots of different patterns throughout the quilt that she designed freehand.  Jan also wanted to keep the quilting traditional because the top is traditional. She used metallic thread twisted with silk to make the quilting more subtle.  “I loved doing this quilt,” remarked Jan.

They had a difficult time coming up with the name. Because the quilt is a variation of a Mariner’s Compass block design, they decided to name it Cardinal Points– the parts of a compass that point North-South-East and West.

The Marie White Masterpiece Award was the second time Cardinal Points had won recognition at a quilt show.  Previously, it had won First in Show and Third Prize overall at Houston in 2016.

What is Jan and Gail going to do with prize money? Why make more quilts to enter in shows, of course!!

You can stay up to date with Gail and Jan on their Facebook Pages.

So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt: 1st Place Innovative, Wall, Pieced Road 2016

Beth Markel won 1st Place: Innovative, Wall, Pieced for Spring Storm at Road 2016. She received $1,000 from sponsor, Artistic Creative Products.1st-place-innovative-wall-pieced

Beth Markel’s interest in quilting began when as a little girl, threading needles for her Grandmother Broyles, who lived with her family.  Grandma Broyles was always cutting a quilt, sewing a quilt, and quilting a quilt – 3 quilts in 3 different stages.  Heaven for young Beth was sitting under the quilt frame her father built for her grandmother, practicing her spelling words.

While Beth is a 5th generation quilter, for a while it didn’t look like she would be a part of her family’s tradition.  She got discouraged with sewing when her 7th-grade Home Economics teacher commented to Beth, “Stick to cooking, because you can’t sew worth a darn.”  It wasn’t until Beth was 36 years old that she decided to attempt quilting and made her first 9-patch. She has been hooked ever since.

Beth and Sophie

Beth and Sophie

The inspiration for Beth’s winning design came from an experience she had after graduating from college and starting her first job in Boston. She had to travel often to New York City and one sunny morning when she was at a farmer’s flower market, a spring storm roared through.  Beth recalls, “Literally, one minute there were purple iris and golden daffodils and crocus, and the next there were purple and yellow petals spinning and whirling through the air.” That impression has stayed with her to this day.

Spring Storm is the first in a series of four seasonal quilts Beth is designing. Beth believes “there are seasons in our lives.  Spring happens when we’re young, a little wild, tempestuous, naïve, and turbulent…the beginning of growth.  Evolution.  Storms.  Setbacks.  More growth.  Beauty.  So stand back.  No, literally, stand back!  The only way to see the twister is to stand back a way, then be slowly drawn into the joy that is every single decision, every single choice, and every single piece that together, tell a story.”

It took Beth almost 14 months to make and quilt Spring Storm partly because  the piecing got so tiny (less than ¼” x ¼”) and all the seams were ¼.”  The quilt has a lot of “stitch in the ditch” as well as quilting in individual squares.  All of the threads were tied-off and hidden because she used her regular sewing machine, a Bernina 300, to do the quilting.  Because of the basis of the piece, Beth wanted to give voice to each individual piece of the pattern.  And while her choice was “tedious and wildly time-consuming,” Beth says it was “worth the effort in the end.”

Persistence is what Beth says she learned the most from Spring Storm.  When she decided to start the 4-Seasons series based on her life, she knew she had something specific to say.  Her youth was fairly wild, and she was constantly straining against where others wanted to pigeon-hole her.  Beth has realized that growth begins “when we’re honest with ourselves, regardless of what anybody else thinks about us.”  Spring Storm actually began as a 9-patch and then a 16-patch, hearkening back to her first quilt – with determination to say something new.

When Beth heard she had won first place, she was “speechless surprised.” She used some of her prize money to enroll in a writing class to help her with her blog. The rest of her winnings was spent on more fabric.

Where does Beth go from here? She is currently working on her second piece of her series, a summer themed design, which is up to 5,000 small pieces at this point. She has a “fun & interesting” trunk show which she presents to quilt guilds, as well as teaches 1, 3 and 5-day workshops. Two of her quilts are currently hanging in the National Quilt Museum as part of the book, “Art Quilts of the Midwest” by Linzee McCray.

Thumbs InVinoVeritas by Beth Markel

Thumbs InVinoVeritas by Beth Markel

Another two of her quilts are part of the exhibit, “Circular Abstractions:  Bull’s Eye Quilts” curated by Nancy Crow, which opened in August, 2016  at the Muskegon Museum of Art.  She continues to write on her blog, discussing everything from long-arm quilting to what happens when a quilter passes away with unfinished projects.

Beth’s quilting interests are many, varying from applique, fabric painting, indigo, and fabric dying to thread painting and using Shiva sticks. Whatever she is working on, Beth remains steady with her “persistence in fine-tuning her voice, breaking down walls between groups of artists, and making textiles relevant to people who only see “quilts” as worn-out bedspreads their grandmothers made…grateful & joyfully!”

To learn more about Beth Markel and her work, please visit her website.

 

So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt- 1st Place Modern Piecing

Rebecca L. Smith of Rapid City, South Dakota won $1,000 from sponsor Clover USA for winning 1st Place for Road 2016 Modern Piecing.

Modern Medallion

Modern Medallion

Rebecca L. Smith says she was “very fortunate” to have had a grandmother that quilted who patiently taught her to hand piece and quilt many years ago. Rebecca added, “I miss her every day.”null

Modern Medallion was started in 2014 and finished in 2015, taking 60-70 hours to quilt. The quilt was inspired by Rebecca’s rather large collection of beautiful gradated fabrics and from the interesting curved patterns from Sew Kind of Wonderful. She said she learned a lot about curved piecing on this project.  The quilting on Modern Medallion is mostly free hand.

What did Rebecca think about winning 1st place for Modern Piecing? She was ‘so excited” when she found out and was pretty sure she spent her prize money on buying more fabric.

Rebecca is hoping that her future quilting endeavors will challenge her to design an original pattern for her next quilt .

So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt? 2016 Excellence In Hand Quilting

Elegance was made and quilted by Elsie M. Campbell. She received $1,500 from sponsor, World of Quilts Travel.Elegance-Excellance in Hand Quilting

“Quite pleased,” was Elsie’s reaction when she found out she had won the prize for Excellence in Hand Quilting.

Elsie Campbell’s love for quilting is in her genes; from her mother, grandmothers, aunts…… and even back several more generations.

Inspiration for Elegance came when her son took Elsie in September, 2007 to an exhibit of antique quilts from the Henry duPont collection at Winterthur, duPont’s childhood home. The collection had been opened to the public more than 60 years ago as a museum. There were some exquisite boutis (trapunto or stuffed work) quilts that fascinated Elsie. She decided that if women from the 18th and 19th century could do this form of quilting, “I surely could, too.”

Work on Elegance began soon after Elsie returned from the exhibit and continued until September of 2015 – a total of 8 years to complete. During those 8 years, Elsie also made 50+ other quilts AND wrote 2 books ALONG with her traveling schedule, teaching quilt making techniques to others across the nation. Elsie said she never doubted that she would complete Elegance. She would stitch when  she had a few moments here and there, usually in hotel rooms while she was on the road and at other odd times. Says Elsie, “A little bit of time here and there really will allow you to accomplish something significant. Just keep at it. If you enjoy the process (and I do!) it doesn’t matter how long it takes to make something of lasting beauty.”

Close up of Elsie's work

Close up of Elsie’s work

Elsie also makes heirloom machine quilted quilts, quilting them on a domestic sewing machine. While she loves to do all kinds of quilt making techniques, she started off quilting everything by hand and still loves taking the time to hand quilt.

What is Elsie working on next?   Elsie is a new iquilt.com instructor. Her online workshop is based on another award-winning quilt, Aunt MiMi’s Flower Garden quilt. The first version of that quilt won the Judge’s Special Merit at Road to California in 2009, and the second version won Best Traditional Quilt in 2014, and several top awards at the AQS Shows.

Aunt Mimi's Flower Garden II - 2014

Aunt Mimi’s Flower Garden II – 2014

The workshop features 7 online lessons, complete with patterns and professionally produced instructional videos.  Elsie still travels to teach quilting to guilds and at quilt shops and national quilt shows across the USA, delivering programs, and workshops, and generally enjoying herself. She sums it up by saying, “I love it ALL!”

To learn more about Elsie, please visit her website.

 

So You Want to Make A Winning Quilt? Road 2016 Best Use Of Color

Technicolor Deco was made and quilted by Shirley Gisi of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Shirley received $1,500.00 from sponsor, Primitive Gatherings.Technicolor Deco by Shirley Gisi

Shirley Gisi has sewn most of her life, primarily with garments and home decoration.  Quilting was just a natural progression for her. IMG_0162 (3)

In creating, Technicolor Deco, Shirley used designs both from traditional quilting and stained glass.  She noted that the elements have a somewhat art-deco feel.  Shirley had recently taken a trip to Cancun, Mexico, and used some designs from an Aztec museum there for her quilting. Shirley said that she spent nearly every day for two to three months working on the quilt.

How did Shirley react when she found out she had won Best Use of Color at Road 2016? “I love color and so this particular award really speaks to me.  I like to use bright warm colors and gradated fabrics which I believe intensifies the piece.”

How did she spend her prize money? “We were doing some kitchen remodeling so I applied the award money to the project.”

What is Shirley working on next? She is continuing to try new things and work on new techniques.

To see more of Shirley’s work, please visit this Pinterest account.

 

So You Want to Make A Winning Quilt? Road 2016 Best Traditional Quilt

The Paisley Peacock was made and quilted by Bethanne Nemesh. Bethanne won $5,000 for Outstanding Traditional Quilt from Janome.Best Tradtional Quilt

While both of Bethanne Nemesh’s grandmothers made quilts, quilting for Bethanne was largely a process of self-discovery.  Her mother didn’t quilt, but she did sew and Bethanne remembers “truly hat(ing) the fabrics from my youth.  The late 1970’s and 1980’s calicos did not do much to inspire a young artist.”  It was when Bethanne went to college and met a fiber artist who did hand dying and printmaking that she realized she didn’t have to tolerate what the stores had to offer. Later, when she moved to Pennsylvania with the rich quilting culture there, Bethanne really took off with her quilting.Bethanne Nemesh headshot 2016

Paisley Peacock was inspired by a henna tattoo that Bethanne got at the beach one summer; the tattoo had swirling paisley designs. She was also inspired by a rich ribbon edged sari fabric from India.

The quilt took close to 200 quilting hours, but that only tells a part of the story.  The design time for the quilt was also significant, but most of her work was with the edge treatment.  Bethanne is known for doing specialty edges on her quilts. The handmade edge for Paisley Peacock is a combination of beads enclosed in a sleeve of fabric and individually made tabs placed carefully around the quilt.  The edge itself took an additional 150 hours to complete.Best Tradtional Quilt

Bethanne was “quite surprised” that Paisley Peacock won one of the top prizes at Road 2016.  Winning Outstanding Traditional Quilt was an enormous honor for her, “especially since a huge number of entries at the show were traditional.”

What did Bethanne do with her prize money? In August 2016, Bethanne sustained a hip injury that required extensive surgery. She is still not fully recovered and so trying to maintain her 2,500 square foot front yard garden of perennials has been challenging. Winning this prize allowed her to hire a professional landscaper to design and execute a drastic –yet still beautiful– scaled down version of her front garden.

After achieving this honor, Bethanne  hopes to continue to push herself creatively making meaningful show quilts.  She is currently working on two quilts that she really feels strongly about. Bethanne also hopes to travel and teach at a west coast show in the near future.

 

 

 

 

Road 2016’s Top Modern Quilt

Modern Mojo Two was made and quilted by Linda M. Thielfoldt of Troy, Michigan. Linda received a $5,000 award for Best Modern Quilt from sponsor Riley Blake Designs.Outstanding Modern QuiltWhen Linda Thiefoldt was 12 years old, she tried her hand at quilting for the first time. Her sister was having a baby and Linda wanted to make her a quilt.   It was an original design and tied with embroidery floss. Her winning quilt at Road 2016 has come a long way from that first simple quilt.

Modern Mojo Two was very special to Linda.  She had a bad ski crash and broke her ankle and shoulder.  It was very painful and she couldn’t quilt or sew for 6 months. It was a full 10 months before she was done with physical therapy.  There was a point where she thought she might never be able to machine quilt again. It was a very dark time for her.  Modern Mojo Two was the first quilt Linda made after her physical therapy where she felt like she was back. She had a lot of charity quilt practice but she felt her quilting was pretty awful due to her limited range of motion. Linda was fearful that she might never get back to competitive quilting again. It took a long time as she could only quilt for an hour or so a day due to the lingering pain. The quilt was in the machine for 4 months.  Linda learned “that you have to make the most of every day and push harder through adversity.   Had I given up, which trust me I wanted to on many days, this quilt would have never come to fruition. It was a very humbling and soul searching time where I had only my faith to rely on. The thought of losing something so central to my life was very scary.”

The winning design was most influenced by the white fabric with the different sized dots she found. She had previously drawn out the stripes in the layout and was planning on doing some quilting in the background “white” space in a grid type format. But when she found that one print with the “spikey circle things,” the design changed and the spikes and circles really took center stage.

When Linda found out her quilt had won, she was “beyond thrilled.” Linda said, “I live in Michigan and I’m sure if you had been paying attention, you could have heard me squeal all the way to California.  I was stunned that this quilt which has so much meaning for me was chosen for this award and to make it to the “top tier” of awards was such a welcome. I have been competing a long time and have been blessed to have won many ribbons but this one by far has the most meaning to me.” Linda used some of  her prize money to pay off the balance on her embroidery machine and set the rest aside for a future longarm machine. LindaThielfoldt_headshotCropped

What is next for this modern quilt winner? Working on another modern quilt, of course. Even though she has been a traditional quilter all her life, Linda has found that she is most inspired by the open and negative space that is such a huge part of modern quilts.  Linda plans to keep the same name, developing a series: Modern Mojo One, Modern Mojo Two…..stay tuned.