Saturday, September 26, 2015

Into Retirement

I guess I knew that this day was coming, eventually, but it just seemed that this quilt did so well everywhere it went.   So I kept sending it to shows.  This weekend, it is at the Jax Quiltfest in Florida, and is wearing it's last ribbons - a Best of Show, no less!  Talk about a happy note to go into retirement on.  Now, the Jax show has been more of a regional show, and some do ask me why I have entered it the last few years.  I have a client who lives out of the country, and she visits family there, and enters her quilts there.  We thought she was going to be there, along with several of the quilts I did for her last year, but her plans changed.  I had still entered this though.  In addition, I lived in Jacksonville twice as a kid, even graduated from high school there.  It is my old stomping ground.  I was told that there was a lot of competition there -- 500 competition quilts.  The photos shown on Facebook really show the level upped this year.  Zen was lucky to win.
Four years after she was completed, she still hangs nicely.  I only have a few pictures of the construction of this quilt, unfortunately.  I made it in early 2011, and started the quilting in the fall of 2011.  When I think back on that, I had only had my longarm two years when I did this quilting.  It is pretty amazing that this quilting still holds up in competition today!

Here is a little graphic I did using scrapbooking software, when I was trying to design this quilt.  I didn't yet have EQ7!
This quilt top was made exclusively with fabrics I had in my stash.  I was in my "poor" business wasn't booming, and I wasn't surviving on my show wins!  I had kids at home still (not in school that is), yet I had quite a pretty stash.  I had seen this cool strip-piecing technique somewhere to make this carpenter's star, except that I didn't want 10" plain setting squares.  At that time, that was WAY too much plain fabric for me to mess up quilting!!   That is the reason that they were designed to have applique.
That is apparently the extent of the photos I have of this quilt's construction!...I don't have anything from when I designed the quilting, but I know that it was not nearly as overthought as quilts I make to day.  In fact...the flowers that were appliqued around the border of Zen Garden were mostly from leftover fabric from when I made the star.  I had made a couple of strip sets that I didn't really like. These went into the flowers.  I also made some which were a little smaller.  This quilt had the most hideous tan solid as a background.  I stuck true to my intentions of not buying any fabric for the top. Because I hated this tan so much, I covered it up with the applique!

This next photo dates the quilt for me.  I know that this is taken about the time my daughter Sophie started kindergarten -- 4 years ago! She was my little fabric helper, even then! The quilt was off of the frame, but is obviously not quite finished.  There is no quilting on the flowers.
Many of the photos I have here show the quilt almost done.  I know that there was a little more detail stitching done, but you get the idea.  The colors of the quilt are very vibrant, and just sing to me.  I often referred to it as a "blooming" carpenter's star because the fabrics allowed the floral materials to bloom. 
 Here is the center.
It was one of my small victories when I decided to add these butterflies.  They were fussy cut from another fabric, and I colored them the color I wanted them to be with Sharpie pens.  The garden just needed butterflies.

The quilt has a layer of Hobbs 80/20 and a layer of wool batting.  I stitched using mostly Invisifil thread -- a first for me.  The solid tan left such incredible texture with this nice fine thread.  I was infatuated at the time with using McTavishing with pebbles.
The colorplay on this quilt was so great -- I don't know if I have or if I ever will combine colors and fabrics so effortlessly, and so beautifully.  Seriously, I can't wait for this quilt to come home so I can hang it in my home.

This next photo shows the center in it's finished state -- There were a few more echo lines added on the applique from pictures I showed earlier.
And a piped binding.  This one was done twice.  The first binding didn't lay flat.  It was ripped off, and redone in the dark green.  Seems to be a common trend in my quilting!! 
This is actually a professional photo Jeffrey Lomicka took...prepping the quilt to be in a magazine. That notion seemed so foreign to me then, so unattainable.  It was mind-blowing to think that Zen Garden was going on a magazine cover!
I sent this quilt to many shows over it's 4-yr show life.  It started out at MQX in 2012, earning an Honorable Mention in very stiff competition.  But the big event for that year was that Zen got accepted at Paducah.  This was HUGE for me.  The quilt I tried to get in the previous year was not accepted.  But in 2012, I got two quilts in.  I made plans and went to the show.  
Zen earned an honorable mention at Paducah - I was over the moon!  This was a huge show with many, many great quilters!  

Images of my quilt were appearing in other places too.  The Vermont Quilt show chose to use it as the cover for their class brochure for their show.  It had been at the VQF show in 2012.

In July 2013, the MQU mag sported Zen Garden on the cover.  In fact, one of my Handi Quilter ads was on the back cover, so I joked that I was on both covers!  Later that summer, the quilt won the Best of Show at the Lowell Quilt Show.  Many of you don't know of this was in Lowell, MA and used to have a nice display of quilts.  It draws viewers from my general area, so I was more than tickled to have calls from new clients because they saw my work in the show.

 In the fall of 2013, Zen Garden was part of Meander Publishing's booth display at Houston.  This was particularly fun because I worked in the booth several days, and got to see it and talk to other quilters about it.
 Sometime in 2013, AQS announced that they were modifying the rules to their shows, starting in 2014.  Previously, you were only allowed to enter a quilt once if it happened to ribbon.  This rule altered to read "if you did not win a cash award on a quilt in 2013, it could be entered starting in 2014 for a full 12 months".  Zen did technically ribbon at Paducah in 2013, but there was no money, so for giggles I entered it at the 2014 Lancaster show (along with Big Bertha, which I actually had better expectations for).   Both quilts did well, but I was blown away when Zen Garden won the Best Wall quilt at that show.  This came with a huge check too!

 Sorry...this is sideways, but AQS got to publish photos of Zen Garden several times in 2014 because I entered it at 4 of their shows, and it ribboned at each of them!  When I pieced and quilted this in my 2nd year of longarming, I never imagined where this quilt might go.
AQS also used images of the quilt on luggage tags, which were sold at shows in 2014.

Funny thing, about every quilt -- and Zen is no exception -- For every 5 good critiques of a quilt, there is bound to be one dud.  One in particular sticks with me, even to this day.  A couple of years ago it was at PIQF.  It got a scathing review because the judges really disliked the crystals on it.  This was finished in a time when I did like to use a few crystals.  I knew it was not going on a bed because of its size.  I saw no harm. Besides, the crystals were a size 6 -- very tiny!  The quilt just twinkled under most show lights, and not like a Vegas billboard if you know what I mean.  But all in all, the quilt was well received.

To everyone that has seen this quilt somewhere and emailed me afterwards, thank you.  Your words were kind and I appreciate every one of them.  I received many requests to pattern this quilt, and maybe now that my version of the quilt has lived it's competitive life, I will consider the request more seriously.  I have retired a couple of other quilts in the last two years, but it didn't make me stop and take pause as this quilt does.  This quilt launched many great things for me.  I am truly grateful.  It's been a great ride~

 Zen Garden's Resume...
Best of Show, Jax Quiltfest, 2015Best Wall Quilt, AQS Des Moines 2014Best Machine Quilting AQS Lancaster 2014Best Mixed Media (Pieced & Applique) award, Vermont Quilt Festival 2012Exceptional merit, Maine Quilt Show, 2013Best of Show, Maine Quilt Show, 2013Best of Show, Images Lowell Quilt Festival, 20131st place, Jax Quiltfest, 20151st place AQS Grand Rapids, 20141st place medium wall quilt NQA 20141st place large wall, Georgia Quilt Show 20131st place Minnesota Quilt show, mixed small quilt category, 20131st Place A Quilters' Gathering, Color Compatibility, 20122nd place AQS Chattanooga, 20142nd Place A Quilters' Gathering, Machine Quilting Excellence, 20122nd place Vermont Quilt Festival 20122nd Place A Quilters' Gathering, Overall Craftsmanship, 20122nd Place Quilt Odyssey, Hershey, PA - mixed wall quilt category, 20123rd place Shipshewana Quilt Festival 20153rd place AQS Charlotte, 2014Honorable Mention, Indiana Heritage Quilt Show, 2013Honorable Mention AQS Paducah 2013Honorable Mention traditional wallhanging division MQX East 2012Honorable Mention HMQS 2012juried into Wisconsin Quilt Expo, 2012juried into PIQF 2013juried into Road to California 2014juried into Dallas Quilt Show 2015


KathyinMN said...

Such a fun post to reminisce through. The question I had was what would it be doing in its retirement, but you answered that-hang on your own wall! Congratulations, not only on this quilt, but all the quilts that came after.

Rebecca Grace said...

What a great story, Margaret! I can understand why this quilt means so much to you. And I laughed out loud when I read that you added all of that applique just because you hated the background fabric and wanted to cover it up! :-)

Heritage Keepsakes said...

That's fantastic and congratulations on such a successful show quilt.

Lynette said...

Your work has always been exquisite, Margaret. I love this quilt, and I still remember how excited I was to see it on the cover when my magazine arrived. I love every single time one of your quilts gets a ribbon - partly from a selfish point of view since it also reflects in my own quilts' value that you worked on! lol But seriously, "Zen Garden" is fabulous, and I loved reading its retirement post. Congratulations on the Jacksonville Best of Show!

Becky (My Fabric Obsession) said...

Thanks for sharing this journey, so fun to re-live the life of this quilt. It's beautiful and inspiring to hear that you were only long-arming for 2 years when you did this. Shows what hard work can get you!
Your comment about the crystals is funny to me. I was just at the Mancuso show in Oaks, PA and I was totally surprised at all the crystals on quilts. It seemed like the majority of quilts had them. I'm not well versed in show quilts at all (this was only the 2nd show i've been to in 7 yrs of quilting). I didn't know it was such a thing with show quilts, but when done right, it was really stunning in the show lights!

PeggyinNO said...

Talk about going out in style! Congrats on the Best of Show ribbon! It is a beauty and if you ever sell patterns for this one, I'm in!!

Linda Steele said...

I loved reading the story of this quilt. Congratulations

Unknown said...

Stunning, just stunning. What an amazing journey!!

Unknown said...

fantastic job on writing this…
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Mary said...

What a wonderful detailed article about this quilt. Congratulations!