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Marie White Masterpiece Award Winner 2019


Do you know why the second highest cash award at Road to California’s Quilt Contest is named The Marie White Masterpiece Award?


Marie White was the mother of Road to California’s founder, Carolyn Reese. Marie was very active in the quilting and doll making world until she passed away in 2011, six weeks shy of her 93rd birthday. An anonymous donor approached Carolyn a few years ago and offered to sponsor the first runner-up award on two conditions: One, that she, the donor, would remain anonymous and Two, that Road to California call the prize, “The Marie White Masterpiece Award.” Road gladly agreed to her terms.


The winners of The Marie White Masterpiece Award for 2019 were maker, Gail Stepanek and quilter, Jan Hutchison. They received $7,500 for Spangled.


The most common question people ask Gail and Jan is, “How long did it take to make your quilt?” Gail commented that that is a loaded question because Gail and Jan’s quilts involve two people in the making and quilting. Gail, who lives in Illinois, spends 6-10 months completing the top. Then, she sends it to Jan, (who is lives in Kansas), to do the quilting. This can take Jan up to 3 months to finish. When Jan returns it to Gail, the quilt is bound, photographed, and entered in to the Road to California contest by their October 1st deadline. By the time the Show is held in late January, Gail and Jan’s quilt is already about a year and a half old. Gail and Jan complete one competition piece a year.

What was the inspiration behind Spangled? Two years ago, a booth at Road to California was selling sheets of heat transfer glitter vinyl. Jan and Gail bought several sheets thinking they could possibly use it in a future quilt. Not being familiar with the product, they decided to test it out on the back of their next quilt. They used a hole punch to cut out glitter dots and ironed them to the back of the quilt. After a year of traveling to different quilt shows, the dots were all still there, so they felt confident in using the vinyl in another project.

Because Gail loves round designs, for Spangled, she used a typical Dahlia block with an additional line added to each petal, splitting it in half. The first seven blocks were paper pieced and discarded because Gail didn’t like their intense color and size. She reduced the pattern and replaced some of the colors in the block with background fabric to lessen the impact. By rotating colors and background in each block, it kept her interest and gave a different look to each one. Appliqued dots were used as sashing.

Jan flew to Illinois for a few days to help design the border for Spangled and add the glitter vinyl. They added glitter dots to the sashing and the glittery swag border design. Afterwards, Gail appliqued fabric dots to the border and then shipped it off to Jan for quilting.

Spangled has two layers of batting: Hobbs 80/20 and Tuscany Wool. Using heavy weight black thread, Jan mimicked the loopy border design in each pieced block. Contrasting black thread was also used in the outer border.

Gail and Jan had no idea what the judges would think about the use of glitter vinyl on such a traditional pattern. Gail said, “It was a risk that paid off!” They received an email with the news of the award and were “SO thrilled.” Gail attended Road 2019 and enjoyed talking to fellow quilters while standing by Spangled. Her portion of the cash award was spent at the vendors at the show. Jan is saving her award for future travel.

As an added note, Gail and Jan are not new to winning top awards at Road to California. In 2014, they won their first award for Outstanding Innovative Quilt and in 2015 they won, Outstanding Traditional QuiltThey also won The Marie White Masterpiece Award once before in 2017.

Cathedral Points

And last year, Jan was awarded Best Longarm Quilt for her independent work.  

Congratulations Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison for another Road to California winning design, Spangled.

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One Response to “Marie White Masterpiece Award Winner 2019”

  1. Becki Dunham says:

    Inspiration quilt

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