Monday, October 8, 2012

The Design Star Quilt Challenge

 I was looking through a McCall's Quilting Magazine last spring and happened upon an offer to all designers to participate in the 2012 Design Star Challenge.  There weren't too many details given, but all I had to do was send in a photo of a completed quilt.  So, I went ahead and sent in this photo (above) of my "Autumnal Equinox" quilt.

The general public had to vote for their favorite quilt, up to once a day, for a designated voting period. After approximately two weeks, one of the McCall's Quilting editors contacted me and said I was officially in the contest as a "professional" category contestant.  "Oh boy...", I thought, "what have I gotten myself into?  It's not as if I don't already have enough to do already!"

After accepting the challenge, I was told to make a quilt top that used the "Storm at Sea" block.  The only other guideline was that it had to be at least 24" square or larger.  I dug around in my stash of fabrics and found lots of pretty blues, purples, and teals. I love the Storm at Sea pattern, so I blew it up and then incorporated my other favorite block, Mariner's Compass into it.  Here's how it came out.

I named this one "Lost at Sea" because I made it as a tribute to my great grandfather who was a sea captain and had a harrowing time while lost at sea.  He finally made it back home and married the love of his life (I guess if he hadn't, I wouldn't be here to tell his story!)  My great grandmother made him promise to never go out to sea again!
 I've learned a bunch of stuff during this whole of which is that you must have good  lighting when you take a photo of a quilt!  The colors in "Lost at Sea" are much more vibrant than they look....I blame it on the poor lighting!
So once again the public voted and my quilt was chosen.  The field of 35 contestants was narrowed down to 15.  I was anxious to see what the next challenge would they sent us 1 yard of just about the ugliest fabric I've ever seen.....
The rules this time were that at least 20% of the quilt top had to utilize this stuff.  UGH.  I hung it up on the wall and stared at it for a very long time.  WHAT was I going to do with this stuff?  But then I looked more closely and look what I saw.....  an alien monster!!!!!!

As soon as I saw him, the ideas started flowing!  I stayed up one night into the wee hours of the morning playing with this fabric.  I wasn't sure that the general public would like my idea, but I had loads of fun putting this one together.  I named it "Family Reunion on the Garden Planet LuLuThi".  (LuLuThi is the name of the fabric). 
I had a blast making these little monsters doing all kinds of fun activities at their family reunion picnic.

Of course I had to put a clown in there as part of the entertainment!
Anyway, I was quite surprised when this one "made the cut" and I was moved on to the final round of the contest.  There are now 9 of us competing in the professional category and 9 competing in the amateur category.
For the last round we were given the theme "Opposites Attract".  This quilt was supposed to be at least the required minimum of 24" square and totally finished. They gave us a bit more time to work on the project since it had to be quilted and bound and sent in to the McCall's headquarters.  Did I take advantage of the extra time???.  No, of course not!  It happened to fall upon the beginning of the school year, so my life was crazy hectic (I am a teacher, too).  I have also been very involved with the preparations for my oldest son's upcoming wedding, and Autumn is my busiest season for clown the quilt contest sat on the back burner for a while.  I basically designed, pieced, appliqued, and quilted "Fire and Ice" in about a week. I didn't get much sleep, but I got it done and in the mail on time.

The inspiration for this one came from a fond memory from this summer when my youngest son and I laid down on the dock up at the lake and watched meteor showers.  I don't think that it is physically possible for an icy comet and a fiery meteor to come close enough to collide  in space, but just think of the awesome display in the sky if that were to happen!  I had the most fun quilting this one. I used metallic threads and did it all free motion.  I wish the quilting details showed up in the photo!

One of the unexpected perks of all this was that the McCall's people sent "goodie boxes" of some really nice prizes (like luscious fabric...yum) to contestants after completing each round.  I wasn't expecting that...but it was a really nice surprise.  I think the grand prize is a sewing machine, but I never had that in my sights from the beginning.  I just did it for the fun of it.  It got my creative juices flowing.  The only stressful part was during the last round when I had so much other stuff on my plate.  I have had many friends cheering me on as I have gone through this challenge and I appreciate their support very much. One of the nicest things that happened is that I have also met a new friend.  Julie is another one of the contestants and we seem to think along the same creative lines.  We have developed an on-line friendship, and I hope to meet this talented lady in person someday.

Folks can vote for their favorite quilt every day up until October 21st.  Here is the link to my submission.
 I will post the final results after October 23rd.
Thanks for your interest and your votes!
Kristi Parker
Chicken Soup Designs

1 comment:

Beth Helfter said...

You are a rock star! I am so proud of you!