Saturday, April 13, 2013

Big Bertha Brings home Big Blue

If you have read and followed my blog lately, you know I have been gearing up to go to the Machine Quilter's Exposition (now called New England Quilt Festival).   This is my favorite quilt show that is within a reasonable trip distance from where I live, and I look forward to going each year.  Today is the last day of the show, and I am now home.   Need less to say, it has been a whirlwind trip full of every emotion imaginable.  

I arrived Wednesday morning.  Judging was all over before then, and I did actually post full pictures of the three quilts I have entered on Facebook.  I knew before driving to Manchester, NH that I had earned a ribbon.  No details were provided to us winners, though, about which quilt earned a ribbon (if we entered more than one) or what the placement was.  It didn't really matter.  I had a ribbon and I was more than content.  I arrived early enough in the morning that I thought I might help with the quilt hanging before my afternoon class.  The pre-show scene was pretty chaotic, though, and I was tired, so I decided to just wait for my class.  In hindsight, it is probably a good idea because they might not have let me in there anyways!  

After my class, which I can go into in another post, was the awards ceremony.  It was fun to get to see friends I'd met last year at the show, and to meet facebook contacts that I've messaged with.  I asked one of the gals that was helping hang quilts, and she assured me that my quilts were all hanging nicely.  I'd worried a bit about my largest one, "Big Bertha" because it's 99"x99" and I have only seen it hanging once, and wondered how it would do.  Early in the awards ceremony I got a 2nd place ribbon for the quilt I expected to get something for (my small quilt showed in a previous post).  I had peeked through the show book in the afternoon and knew that the competition in the categories of my larger quilts was very stiff.  It seemed unlikely that I'd beat enough of them to ribbon.  All was good - I had the ribbon.  They got through the awards for all the categories, including the ones for my larger quilts - and as expected the ribbons went to the  quilters I figured would get them.  Quilting can be really predictable in some ways.  Then they got to the "big" awards...best quilting, best embroidery, etc.  I was pretty sure I wasn't up for any of these.  Now I can be like a card shark at Vegas too.  Because I had looked through the show book, I knew who of the "big hitters" had not gotten anything yet (but often do).  Often it is these quilters that take the bigger awards.  Sure enough, one by one, they were given out.  I had two quilters left in my head that I suspected might be up for the last award, Best of Show.  Not once did I even consider it could be me.  Seriously, not once.  I couldn't see how my quilt could beat the greats like Marilyn Badger, Janet Stone or Gail Stepanek/Jan Hutchison.  Heck, all of these had quilts in Houston, with ribbons.   They are phenomenal.  But then, I also knew that they'd already taken placements in their respective categories, so there were only a few choices left.  I'm telling you, when they called my name I think all the blood left my head.  Shock set in.  Part of me thought I was dreaming.  Winning Best of Show was not anywhere my radar, certainly not at MQX.  I am shocked, surprised, elated, and a thousand other words.   This award is mine this year.  Mine.
I am delighted that three judges critiqued my work, and got me.  They understand and like the choices of quilting that I designed.  I listened to head judge Scott Murkin explain the quilting designs I used to a class of his students.   They were on a guided tour of winning quilts.   I had a thought process for what I chose, and I'm thrilled that they saw that.   I'm not a one trick pony (or I try hard not to be)...I am constantly trying to open my boundaries as a quilter and select new motifs.  It can be risky, but worth taking that chance.
One of the biggest selling features for this quilt was most definitely the 106 scallop binding!   It is the first of this type that I have done.  I consulted with judge Linda McCuean on the binding early in the winter, since I have seen several of these that she has done.  She gave me fantastic pointers, and about 45-50 hours later, the binding was done.  It compliments the Dresdens exactly as I envisioned.  Despite a LOT of work, this binding sets the quilt apart and I am delighted to have chosen it.  I know that there are many times when I just want a quilt done, but I am the Tortoise here, rather than the Hare.  I just don't rush the making of my own show quilts.  There are many "Instant Gratification" quilters out there, and I envy their ability to not overthink projects and just get them done.  I am not that person.  Approximately 22 months after starting the quilt, it is at it's first show.  I estimate that this quilt took me between 600-700 hours from start to finish, cutting, designing, ripping, hand stitching nearly everything, marking the quilting motifs, quilting and binding.
There were many days I had issues with this or that, and I posted things to facebook.  I love and cherish all the great comments I got.  They gave me the determination to make the questionable change, and keep working on the quilt.  The dark green bias with pink piping was added primarily to cover the edge of the checked fabric.  It wasn't printed on grain, and the edge appeared "wavy", like I cut it crooked.  I love the fabric, and loved it on the quilt.  Since changing the check was not an option in my mind, adding something to cover it up was the order of the day (or week, as the Tortoise works).  In the end, it was a fantastic addition to the overall design.   The triangles of the outer border were started as traditional prairie points too.  I was on a mission to recreate a traditional quilt but with a modern twist.  Turns out I really do HATE prairie points, and I ended up appliqueing them down.  More so, to modernize the look, I thought it needed the pops of pink so I hand stitched over a hundred tiny dots to the border.

I hope you enjoy learning the ins and outs of how I choose designs.  I know I didn't post a ton during the construction of this quilt, but am happy to share it now.

The last few days have been overwhelming getting to meet so many of the folks that have followed this quilt either here or on facebook.  I cherish the many congratulations and hugs received this week from all of you.  Those complete strangers that go to the trouble to introduce themselves to hug me are delightful.  Being a somewhat reserved person, the experience leaves me grateful for the outgoingness of the rest of the population.  Thank you.

Quilt details...
Fabrics...over 50 modern or semi-large scale green prints, all solids for background and outer border are Michael Miller Krystals, quilted with 3 shades of silk thread, and highlights in red on the flower centers are in 40wt trilobal poly.  I used QD wool over Hobbs 80/20 batting.  The dark green bias  wave and prairie points are machine appliqued, but every Dresden and dot are done the old-fashioned way (aka needle turn). FYI - the Tortoise loves handwork :-)  It was on the frame a total of 6-7 weeks for quilting, for a total of 175-200 hours.  Remember, it is 99" square finished.  All quilting is free-handed (no computer).  All photos here are compliments of the great Jeffrey Lomicka - MQX photographer extraordinaire.

33 comments:

Marlene said...

AWESOME Margaret! Congrats!!!

Busy Quilting said...

Margaret This quilt is stunning. Congratulations on its BIG win.

Quilting Babcia said...

Absolutely exquisite! Worth every minute you put into creating this masterpiece!

Sewing Junkie said...

Congrats.... It is stunning. Your planning paid off well. Chris

Vicki W said...

Congratulations! I am so happy for you!

sophie said...

Congratulations! What a beauty--Big Bertha is truly wonderful.

Susan Lawson said...

I am so excited for you!! Congratulations on such a huge win!! Big Bertha is absolutely stunning! :)

Yvette said...

Your story made me cry happy tears. I am so very happy for you. Bertha is GORGEOUS!!!

Rebecca said...

WOW!!!! Way to go......
Congratulations! It is awesome.

What Comes Next? said...

it is gorgeous Margaret - congratulations!

Deb said...

Congratulations! I saw it in person and photos cannot do it justice.

Deb said...

Congratulations! I saw it in person and photos cannot do it justice.

Virginia said...

Congratulations!!!! This quilt is definitely a winner. Your quilting skills, artistry in designing, not to mention all your hand work deserve this award.

Sharon said...

Congratulations! Stunning quilt. Thanks for sharing the details of making it.

Vivian said...

Congrats on your Best In Show win! Going against those heavy hitters and taking it means you have ascended to the stratosphere of the quilting firmament. IN the words of Beth Ferrier, you are now a "Quilt Goddess"!

Carol from Panama said...

Thump! That is the sound of my jaw hitting the iPad - WOW that is - breathtaking. Congratulations on a well deserved "Big Blue."

LynCC said...

Congratulations!! Very exciting. I always love watching your construction and design process. It inspires me greatly even though my technical skills and physical setup lag behind the example. I love this quilt. :)

Rebecca said...

WTG!!!! Congratulations! Big B is BEAUTIFUL.

Gramma Quilter said...

Stunning. congrats!

Sue said...

Congratulations! Beautiful, and a well-deserved win.

Alicia said...

mmm mmmm mmmmm! AWESOME!

Quiltdivajulie said...

Fantastically beautiful -- congratulations!!

regan said...

I was so happy to see your quilt with it's Best of Show ribbon!! It is truly stunning! Congratulations! I'm so bummed that I didn't bump into you! Maybe at the next show!

Bev said...

I can't even think of an appropriate word to describe the beauty of your quilt! If you ever decide to teach classes I will be here in a heartbeat! Though, I doubt that vision like yours can be taught.

Sally Bramald said...

So exciting, so very well deserved!

Shannon said...

Super-duper congratulations!! I'm so happy for you. I hope it's going to MQS so I can see it in person!

Michele said...

Truly amazing!
Congratulations to you. You must be over the moon and rightly so!

Linda said...

Congratulations. It is indeed a beautiful quilt. Sewgratefulquilts.wvordpress.com

Jan said...

Wow - so many months of design and
work; your quilt is beautiful; but
you always do such great work. I
received the quilt for my sister
and at first I thought it hadn't even been quilted, the quilting is
so very subtle, and yet so very
beautiful at the same time. I am
putting the binding on it and need
to create the "sister-label" and
then it will be off to North Carolina. It is my "SHOW" quilt; you are always number one with
me. Thanks, again, congratulations.

Jan

Jan said...

Wow - so many months of design and
work; your quilt is beautiful; but
you always do such great work. I
received the quilt for my sister
and at first I thought it hadn't even been quilted, the quilting is
so very subtle, and yet so very
beautiful at the same time. I am
putting the binding on it and need
to create the "sister-label" and
then it will be off to North Carolina. It is my "SHOW" quilt; you are always number one with
me. Thanks, again, congratulations.

Jan

Jan said...

Wow - so many months of design and
work; your quilt is beautiful; but
you always do such great work. I
received the quilt for my sister
and at first I thought it hadn't even been quilted, the quilting is
so very subtle, and yet so very
beautiful at the same time. I am
putting the binding on it and need
to create the "sister-label" and
then it will be off to North Carolina. It is my "SHOW" quilt; you are always number one with
me. Thanks, again, congratulations.

Kelly said...

I wanna quilt like you when I grow up!!

Millie said...

Beautiful! A very well deserved win. Congratulations.