Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Riley Blake Quilt Challenge for HMQS 2012

 I entered the HMQS Riley Blake challenge in 2011 and almost gave up quilt shows altogether.  For some reason, I missed the fact that it was a judged challenge.  I knew they were auctioning off the quilts for charity, so I figured I was being a good citizen by donating my time to make a quilt.  However, I about cried when I unexpectedly received my judges comments in the mail.  As positive as they tried to be, they were honest about the fact that my quilting, in their opinion, did not compliment the quilt.  Honestly, I loved the quilt and the quilting, so I was devastated by their remarks.  I remember saying to myself, "I can either give up quilting right now, or I can take their comments into consideration and let it make me a better quilter." I decided I didn't want to give up quilting.  So when I heard about the 2012 HMQS Riley Blake challenge, I was eager to redeem myself.  However, I didn't realize what I was getting myself into.

I had picked up a quilt pattern years before and thought it would be perfect for the challenge.  It was a paper piecing pattern, which I had never attempted before.  So the month before the deadline, I opened the pattern and looked through it.  I had no idea what to do.  The pattern must have been created for experienced paper piecers, because there were no instructions on paper piecing.  Thankfully, some wonderful ladies had posted some YouTube videos on how to paper piece, so I began cutting and piecing my pattern.  Halfway into it I discovered the pattern makers had made some measurement mistakes and in order to get the correct measurements I would have to email them.  I had 2 weeks to finish piecing and quilting this baby.  I didn't have time for emails and revisions!  I started adding borders to make up for the measurement discrepancies, which I ended up really liking anyway.

At work, I had started tinkering with Electric Quilt 7.  I was having so much fun with it that I decided I wanted to change the corner stars in the original pattern to something cooler from Electric Quilt. I put in all the correct dimensions, but corners and points weren't matching.  So after sewing 4, I printed out templates and sewed 4 more stars.  Still no luck.  I still don't know what I did wrong, but now I was down to only 1 week left to quilt it and bind it.  It was time to forget about perfection and move on.

I loaded my quilt and decided to quilt it to death, even though I knew hardly any of it would show because my quilt was so busy.  I wanted to show those judges that I knew how to quilt! I quilted day and night for a week straight.  My family got about as much attention in that week as they usually do in 1 night.

I was most proud of what I did in the center of the quilt.  I digitized a beautiful flower in Art and Stitch and quilted it out on the Handi Quilter Pro Stitcher.  I then beaded the stamen and set out to enhance it with my quilting.

I finished the quilt the night before the 10AM deadline the next morning.

I didn't win any awards, but I was thrilled when I got back the judges comments.  Their comments were positive (except they thought I should have used white fabric where I used the lime green) and they circled 'degree of difficulty', which meant that they recognized the difficulty level of my quilting as being exceptional.

I still have a long way to go with my quilting, and I swore I'd never do that quilt challenge again, but I'm so very glad I faced my challenges and didn't quit quilting!

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