Poppies Fabric is a quilting store in Washington state. During the summer of 2001, they decided to have a Challenge Quilt Contest which would feature RJR's new fabric line, "Stained Glass". The only hard-and-fast rule was that the quilt needed to be larger than 24"x24" and needed to showcase the Stained Glass fabric line, though you weren't limited to only that fabric. A customer of Poppies was a fellow participant on About.com's Quilting Forum and she posted a message telling everyone about the Challenge. To enter the challenge, you needed to buy a Challenge packet from Poppies, in which would be a selection of fabrics from the Stained Glass line. Although I had heard of various Challenges before (notably the well-known Hoffman Challenge), they had always intimidated me because they were on such a grand scale. This Challenge seemed a little more manageable and personal for me. So, I took the plunge.
Since this wasn't a big show, there was no lucrative prize involved .. if memory serves me correctly, the winner receives a $100 gift certificate to Poppies Fabrics. But more importantly to me would be the peer recognition of a job well-done.
My first mistake (you knew there were going to be some, right?) was that I misread the quilt size guidelines. At this point, I don't remember if all the rules were posted to the Quilting Forum or just a synopsis, but I had the definite impression that the maximum size of the quilt was to be 24"x24". Restricting a quilt to this small size was part of the attraction for me ... I didn't need to make a huge bed quilt. Imagine my surprise when I got my Challenge packet in the mail with the official rules .. the minimum size was 24"x24". Hmmm .. that sure made a difference. :-)
However, before I actually got the packet in my hot little hands, I put on my thinking cap and began to ponder what sort of design would best show off the Challenge fabric. I didn't want to do a stained glass quilt for two reasons: 1) I've done 6 Christmas stockings and 1 tree skirt using that technique so I didn't feel constrained to do another one and 2) I figured that would be the most obvious technique that others would choose. If one is entering a competition, it is better to have a unique design, so that it stands out from the other entries. Failing that, if your entry is similar to that of others, your technique and workmanship had better be extraordinary in order to be noticed.
Actually, truth be told, this is the first "challenge" I'd ever thought about doing. I figured knowing that someone will be LOOKING at the wallhanging would be incentive enough for me to take extra special care with the construction. Because ... if it's "just for me", sometimes I will tend to let details slide. And depending on who it's for, how tired I am and when the deadline is, I may or may not correct mistakes in quilts I'm giving away. Not a particularly wonderful work ethic, but I do realize what my shortcomings are. :-)
So, as I waited for my entry packet of fat quarters to arrive, I started looking in my reference library for designs. I came across a printout of a website and also here that had an intriguing sashing called, Garden Maze. I thought that if I had some interesting blocks to put inside the Garden Maze setting, this might be a winning design layout.
I knew that the challenge packet contained only Fat Quarters and I did not want to experiment using them, so I decided to make a mock-up of the pattern I chose, to see if 1) I liked making it and 2) to make any mistakes on the mock-up rather than with the challenge packet materials.
Well, groovy guys and gals, the result is the photo at the top of the page: I am really, really pleased with it. I think with the modifications for the challenge, it wwould be quite nice. :-)
For this test run, I simply used some colorful tropical fishy fabric that I had in my stash. The quilting was done with Superior's metallic thread.
Remember, this mini-quilt was just a mock-up, a practice run for me to see how the Garden Maze sashing was made. For the next phase of my competition entry, click on the "next" button below.