May 23, 2014: Challenge Quilts and more…


Exactly 20 years ago in late May my quilting avocation took off for real.  A year before that I developed an interest in quilting and took out 2 Jinny Beyer videos from the UNH library to teach me what to do.  She does everything by hand and trying to hand piece 20 star blocks was almost the death of quilting for me!  I cut out pieces for all the blocks and after hand piecing 5 of them – I think there were between 30 and 40 pieces per block – by October, I put them away not knowing if I would ever go back to them.  In May of 1994 an NP I worked with at the time told me she thought I would like hand quilting if I could just get to it and offered to teach me how to machine piece the remaining blocks.  After one lesson, I finished piecing the last 15 blocks and sewed them together over the next 3 weeks. Layering and basting followed and I was on to the hand quilting which I taught myself to do over the next few weeks.  It took 2 more months to finish the quilt and I was thrilled and ready for the next one and haven’t stopped since!  (I don’t have a picture of that quilt handy right now, but will try to put it in my next post.)

Now I am ready to try some more hand piecing after a 20 year break.  Al and I leave for France in 8 days and I need hand work to take with me.  I’ve decided to take the doll quilt pieces and hand piece them.  Here are all the pieces appliqued:

52314 dollq#1

I cut the background pieces over-size to account for shrinkage while appliqueing and for fraying.  Now I’m in the process of cutting these down to 2 1/2 inches each:

52314 dollq#2

When the pieces are sewn together they will be 2 inches square and the tips of the leaves will touch.

The other hand project I’m taking on the trip is related to my Challenge quilt for my guild’s annual “Challenge”.  I joined the Cocheco Quilters Guild 17 years ago this fall.  Ever since I’ve been a member there has been an annual “challenge” in which members are challenged to make a quilt based on certain criteria.  Members are supposed to keep their challenge project a secret and one meeting a year is devoted to showing these quilts; members vote on their favorites.  Prizes are given.

This year I’m in charge of running the Challenge; this is the third time over the years that I have taken on this responsibility.  My other committee members and I decided the theme this year is “I love…” and members are to make a quilt that illustrates something or someone they love.  The perimeter of the quilt must be between 40 and 160 inches and there must be a recognizable amount of the following fabric in the quilt (everyone participating receives 1/3 yard of this fabric):


Any other fabrics can be added; any embellishments can be added.  There must be quilting of some type.

So….I finally started my project this week, but, of course, I can’t share anything more of it with you because I know some guild members read my blog.  It’s going to be hard not to share this with my readers until after they are shown at the guild meeting in September!  Anyway, there is handwork involved which I can take to France with me.

This will be my 9th Challenge quilt.  I seem to average doing one every other year.  The very first challenge quilt I made involved us being given 4 specific fabrics that we had to use in the quilt.  I believe we could supplement with a limited number of other fabrics, but there was no specific “theme” otherwise.  Here it is:


It’s still one of my favorites!  I had it hanging in my office at work for a long time.  I used the fabric that is in the center of the compass on the back and you can see how the light caused fading over time:


I still have some of this fabric and am thinking I may want to replace that center; It could be tricky, however, because of the hand quilting.

My second Challenge involved having to illustrate a favorite children’s book.  I chose “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (click on any pictures for great enlargements, esp. to see the hand quilting and applique details)

52114ChalLittle House


One of the other Challenges I was in charge of required us to use 25 of something in the quilt as we celebrated the 25th year of the Cocheco Guild.  My quilt has 25 points on each side:


Another one I was in charge of asked us to celebrate something and I celebrated being a fan of the Red Sox when they won the world series in 2004 and used the “grandmother’s fan” block to celebrate that as well as becoming a grandmother for the first time that year:


Another challenge required us to use a group of fabrics given to us.  They were in fall colors so I made an autumn tree:

52114ChalFall Tree

This next one required us to use a recognizable amount of a specific orange fabric in the quilt.  I used that orange fabric in one of the flowers.  I call mine “late bloomers” because of the flowers blooming in the fall:



For this one, we were given a bag of scraps and at least half the quilt had to be made of those scraps.  Mine is called “not resting on my laurels” because of the laurel leaves in the border and a Challenge quilt is all about challenging oneself to be creative and adventuresome and to try new things, i.e. NOT rest on one’s laurels!



Finally, the last Challenge I did, 2 years ago, required me to make a quilt inspired by a poem.  I chose “My Heart Leaps Up” by Wordsworth which challenges all of us to maintain the sense of wonder we have as children.  The first part of the poem says, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky.”  The fans are the rainbows.  The quilt is all silk and embellished with embroidery:


This next Challenge will be my 9th one and must be done by mid September.

Remember the picture of the front yard from a few weeks ago?

41614 front yard

Well, here it is now!

52114 Front yard#1

Last weekend we had a wonderful visit from Lee and Paul, our long-time, good friends from Nova Scotia.  What a pleasure!  The weather cooperated and we were able to enjoy a visit and dinner with the Werths, great conversation, a stroll through Prescott Park and Strawberry Bank in Portsmouth, and an excellent dinner out.  Lee and Paul – I know you read this blog, so Al and I both thank you for a wonderful wonderful time together and a much needed break from the stresses of our daily lives.

52114 Lee and Paul


What I’m reading:  books about France!!!  Can’t believe it is only 8 days til we are on the road!  We start with a week in Paris, then we rent a car and drive to the Dordogne region in southwest France and rent a house in a small village for a week, from which we will explore the area.  The last 3 days will be spent in the Loire Valley before we return home.  I can’t wait!  I should be able to get one more post in before we leave but I won’t be blogging while we are gone for the first 2 1/2 weeks in June.

Thanks for visiting!




2 thoughts on “May 23, 2014: Challenge Quilts and more…

    1. gladiporsche Post author

      Thank you for your kind comments! I have, indeed, won a few “challenge” prizes with these quilts.


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