Tag Archives: Best of Show Quilt

Road 2018 Best of Show

Congratulations to Claudia Pfeil  who won $10,000  from Sponsor Gammill Quilting Systems for her quilt, Fractal Claudia Pfeil is a quilting pioneer in Germany.

She made her first quilt in 1984 without the now common rotary cutter and rulers. As she remember, “There was much “trial and error” as I taught myself the tricks of making templates and seams.” This quilt ended up being her only large sewing project for many years.

Claudia studied textile design at the University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein. This work drew her interests into different directions. She got the “quilting fever” –  but didn’t know it at the time.

In 1992, with the birth of her first son, Julian, Claudia decided that the work she had done in the textile arena would go in a new direction.  She started by going through her drawers and bins, uncovering  her “hoarded” treasures that she had been collecting over the years.  One of her treasures that she found were handwoven fabric pieces that she made while attending university, on a 16 shaft loom. She was dedicated to giving those 30×30 cm (almost 12 inch) blocks a new “right to exist“ in a quilt! Because she didn’t have the “proper ‘yarn’ for sewing,” Claudia went to the local sewing shop where she was introduced to her first rotary cutter, mat and quilting ruler.  Content with her  “learn by doing” approach, those experimental times gave her the courage to improvise.  She took her finished quilt to the sewing shop and immediately, the owners asked her to teach them her technique!!  Looking back, Claudia says she has “to smile about my self confidence without having any clue!”

It didn’t take long for Claudia to start buying and selling fabrics; first in the basement of her house, then in 1997, renting a small location in town where she opened Quilt & Co.  In 2002, the shop was moved to a larger – and current – location in Krefeld, Ritterstrasse.

The fall of 2004 totally changed Claudia’s world. She had brought Quilt & Co.  as a vendor to the French quilt show, Carrefour du Patchwork. Next to her booth was APQS. She played everyday on their Millennium quilting machine and was hooked with longarm quilting. She purchased her longarm machine in 2005, finding a way to “express myself through fabric and thread that was exciting, addictive and fun.” Claudia says free-motion quilting gives her the freedom–“like an eagle flying over the mountains”– to play with spaces and quilting designs.

When Claudia begins a project, she likes to work with a theme. Themes challenge her, get her out of her comfort zone, and start her thinking “out of the box.” Her theme for Fractal was kaleidoscopes. Claudia searched Google for pictures of kaleidoscopes and endless links introduced her to fractals. She admits that before then, she really didn’t know what fractals were.  She became fascinated by their dynamic , vitality and vibrancy.

Before falling asleep at night, she would collect dreams and visions of her theme and began thinking about how she could translate her visions into realistic designs. She began by preparing circles in different sizes out of white Dupioni silk on freezer paper templates. Next, she drew designs on to the circles, first with pencil, then if she was satisfied, she drew them with a black pen (Faber-Castell)  filling in the details and painted them with acrylic colors              (Stewart Gill) and Tsukineko ink pens. Playing and creating  the layers is one of the main parts of the quilt. She tried to enhance this impression with the choice and placement of quilting designs. Using 100 wt black silk thread, it took several backtracking stitches around the outlines of the circle designs to repeat and enhance the  black drawing lines. The design was couched with different yarns ( for example Razzle Dazzle and Yli ) around all outlines, respecting again the different layers to create a foreground and a background. Her final touch? 30,000 Swarovski Crystals!!! Claudia says her entire process took approximately 10 months to complete.

Besides learning about fractals, Claudia also learned by trial and error how to use mixed types of ink and paints and pens while making Fractal. She commented, “I learned that it is hard to get rid of pencil drawings on silk.”

When she received the news that Fractal had won Best of Show, it was around 5:00 AM in the morning in Germany. Claudia said she woke up “unintentionally” to check the time on her cellphone and saw that she had received several messages on Facebook telling her of her award. She went downstairs, opened her email and saw the official announcement from Road. Claudia said she was “shocked” when she found out she had won.

Where does Claudia go from here with her quilting? “I am working on my new project for 2018. I am bit behind my own time schedule this time. But the quilt is loaded on the machine and waiting to be quilted. In May, I will travel to the USA  to teach at several APQS Showrooms in Raleigh, Louisville, Austin and Dallas. In November, I will be at Quilt Festival in Houston and…. I am soooo hoping to be back at Road to California next year!”

Congratulations Claudia Pfeil for your outstanding entry.

 

 

 

 

So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt: Road 2016 Best of Show

Melissa Sobotka of Richardson, Texas made and quilted Silk Road Sampler, the 2016 Best of Show winner sponsored by Gammill Quilting Systems. Melissa received $10,000 for her winning entry depicting an ancient Istanbul spice bazaar.

Silk Road Sampler by Melissa Sobotka

Silk Road Sampler by Melissa Sobotka

You had to see Road to California’s 2016 Best of Show winner in person to believe that it was truly an art quilt!!! At first glance, some of our guests actually thought that winner, Melissa Sobotka, just stitched over and around a piece of fabric. That’s how intricate and amazing the appliqueing was for Silk Road Samplers.

Melissa got in to quilting by accident. “I was making some banners for my church when a friend suggested if I put some batting in the banners and added some stitching, I would have an art quilt. I had never heard of Art Quilts. I did some research and was fascinated by this art form so I got some scraps of fabric and taught myself.”Melissa Sobotkaheadshot

It took Melissa 5 months to complete Silk Road Sampler which was inspired by a picture she took in the spice market in Istanbul. She thought the designs on the pillows were something that many appliquers would appreciate and that it would be a busy enough design for her to enjoy working on for many months.

About 4 months into the project, Melissa wondered. “What have I got myself into?” The detail on the bottom section nearly put her into “a straight jacket.” But as with all her quilts, Melissa just “faced the challenges head on, a little more each day, until it was finally completed.”

Melissa confided that she was in “total shock” when she heard she had won Best of Show. “Road to California was the quilt’s debut show and you never know how a quilt will be received. I feared people would look at it and wonder why anyone would create a quilt of pillows.”

What did Melissa do with her prize money? She took a trip to India for the color festival, Holi, searching for an idea for her next quilt. Melissa hopes that her quilting will continue to evolve; that it will build off what she learns from each quilt that she makes and from the innovations and techniques of her fellow quilters.

 

So You Want to Make a Winning Quilt? Meet Sandra Leichner, Road 2015 Best of Show Winner  

Sandra Leichner, from Albany, Oregon, won $10,000 for her Road to California 2015 Best of Show Quilt, sponsored by Gammill Quilting Systems. Sandra started and finished her quilt in 2014.Best of Show

How did you get started in quilting? When my children were toddlers, I could no longer balance my painting and their instantaneous needs. I had learned to do handwork, sewing and embroidery at a very young age and after seeing a quilting magazine on my mother’s sewing table, I realized I could focus my art and sewing skills into one creative outlet.

What inspired your winning design, Vivaldi by Moonlight?  I wanted to make a different style of wholecloth and at the same time, challenge my skills to the fullest and beyond. I am known for my handwork skills and my machine quilting skills were inevitably overlooked because the viewer focus was always on my handwork.

I knew I did not want feathers etc. I wanted to create a totally original design in my artistic style using only machine quilting to create the overall design. Although it is a wholecloth, I have used a subtle monochromatic thread color palette to create added depth and incorporate more visual dimension to the intricate twining quilting design.

I had originally made this for my bed but the quilt became too fancy to allow my neurotic kitty Milo, who lives on my bed, to sink his claws into. So I decided to enter it and see what would happen.

It took you a year to complete the quilt. What did you learn along the way?  This was an extremely difficult quilt to create using a domestic sewing machine. The quilt took six months to quilt and two months just to cut the trapunto. The hand embroidered dragonflies took one month alone to complete.

I used a jacquard fabric for the wholecloth and I will never do that again. It intensified the difficulty level by several percentage points. With a sewing machine, I do not have a large frame to keep the quilt sandwich taut and the tension always perfect so my fabric choices can make or break the experience. This almost broke me and more than once.

What was your reaction when you won Best of Show? Absolute dumfounded open mouthed shock—seriously. I had to read the email over and over a few times to see if I was misreading the news before I would let myself get too excited. Then I started running down the stairs and through the house to tell my husband. When I reached him, I paused and then said, “I better go check that one more time to be sure” and ran back upstairs to my computer to re-read the email again. Then I went crazy –bouncing around the house with supreme happiness crazy. 

I have been competing for ten-plus years and have many prizes but this one meant a lot to me. This quilt was a totally different technique focus and direction and I was thrilled that the judges got it. As with all my quilts, the closer you get the more detail you see.

What are you going to do with the prize money? College always sucks the coffers dry and this fall I will have two children in college so the money will definitely come in handy.

What are you going to do next with your quilting? I will go back to my “day job” of applique and designing applique patterns as well as continuing to teach applique and my embroidery techniques internationally.

The diversion of a wholecloth was fun and I am off on a new challenge to keep my quilting process continually interesting and prevent it from becoming formulaic and monotonous.

 I will continue to step out of my comfort zone because if I don’t fail from time to time, then I am not discovering and learning something new that may lead to a prize like this one or the pleasure the process brings in making a quilt.

Congratulations Sandra on your stunning Best of Show quilt!!

So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt? 2014 Best of Show

Sharon Schamber of Payson, Arizona created the Best of Show winning entry, Once Upon a Time, and received $6,000 from sponsor, Gammill Quilting Systems.Best of Show

Sharon Schamber began quilting in 1999. Her winning entry, Once Upon A Time, took 14 years to complete. This quilt was inspired by her love for the romantic and delicate details of the Victorian era. Says Sharon, “I love how things are both simple and complex at the same time. I wanted to create a medallion quilt that spoke to that romantic notion.”

Sharon chose blue roses because “they were unique and the quilt asked/demanded something special like them.”  At the time she started on the quilt, there were no actual blue roses, but by the time she had finished, they became available. Sharon likes to think that “maybe the quilt knew something that the rest of the world hadn’t thought about yet.” Talk about romantic!!!

When Sharon started the quilt in 2000, her plan was to finish it as any other quilt she had worked on. But that didn’t happen. Sharon would work for a while, and then stop because she didn’t feel like she knew what she needed to do next. During each pause, she learned and developed additional techniques to have the tools needed to continue on. This lengthy process taught Sharon that each quilt truly has its own schedule and identity. “You have to follow the clues it gives you if you want the best out of it and yourself,” remarked Sharon. Even though it took 14 years to finish, Sharon felt it was an amazing adventure and she “enjoyed every minute of it.”

How did Sharon feel after she won Best of the Show?“I was ecstatic. Road to California is a prestigious and well respected show. The best quilts in the world are competing here, so winning Best of Show was an honor.”

What did she do with her prize money? “Since winning any award is a surprise, I never have plans to spend the money. I am passionate about machine embroidery, so I bought a few things that’ll allow me to explore this art form in new and different ways.”

What does the quilting future hold for Sharon? “My plan for the future is to combine every aspect of quilting into one piece. Traditional piecing; hand embroidery; needleturn appliqué; machine appliqué and machine embroidery. Each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses and I am exploring the limits of each. You name it, and it will be in my work.”

Congratulations Sharon for winning Road to California’s 2014 Best of Show.

 

 

 

 

So You Want To make A Winning Quilt? Thoughts From Our 2013 Best of Quilt Winners

The best way to set out to win a quilt contest might be to learn from quilters who have done just that.  We’d like to introduce you to this past year’s big winners as they share their thoughts on what they did to achieve their high honors. Starting off with our Best of Show winners, meet maker Claudia Clark Myers from Duluth, Minnesota and quilter Marilyn Badger of St. George, Utah who teamed up to win $5,000 from Moore’s Sewing Center, for their quilt, Red Feathers.   

Claudia first got interested in quilting in 1991 when she attended the Minnesota Quilter’s annual show. She was amazed at the quilts she saw there and so she went out and purchased a rotary cutter, mat and Trudie Hughes’ book. Marilyn began quilting in the late ‘70’s when there was no such thing as a rotary cutter and mat. She marked, cut and pieced everything by hand.

The designer of Red Feathers was Claudia. She decided to use traditional patterns in a non-traditional way. Claudia commented, “I couldn’t see why a Mariner’s Compass couldn’t have feathered points, so I decided to draft it that way.”

The quilt was pieced and appliqued by Claudia in 2-1/2 months after which it was sent to Marilyn to quilt. That process took about five months to complete because Marilyn and her husband were building a house at the same time. When the quilting was finished, Claudia got the quilt back and spent another 3 weeks painting it.Red Feathers

What was their reaction when they won? They were both floored. They had been competing together on their quilts since 2002 and had never won this kind of prize before. According to Marilyn, “Best of Shows don’t come around very often and a Best of Show at Road to California is just the best of the best.”

When asked what they did with their prize money, both women spent it on things for their homes. Claudia said she and her husband are moving and wanted to change their decorating style from Victorian to Mid-Century Modern, so she used her share of the award to purchase new furniture.  Marilyn bought window coverings so she could “relate where the money came from.”  

Attaining “best of the best” is a hard act to follow. Where do they go from here?  For Marilyn, she needed to take the past six months off from quilting so that she could take care of her husband, who recently passed away. She hopes to get her enthusiasm back and spend lots of time in her sewing room again. As for Claudia, she will continue to paint her quilts which will be puzzles of some kind. She “loves to create quilts that bring a smile to people’s faces.”     

What was your reaction to Red Feathers?