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Looking Back: Best of Show Winner

With the pause in our traditional quilt contest, Road realized that there are probably a lot of quilters who were forced to pause in their creating of potential show winning quilts. Also, there’s probably been a pause for quilters who were looking for new inspiration as well as missing the opportunity to show appreciation for outstanding quilt work. Since we temporarily won’t be able to look forward to our next contest winners, Road realized that perhaps for now, great quilt inspiration will have to be found by looking back. Do you remember these past Best of Show winners and their award-winning quilts?    

Once Upon a Time

Sharon Schamber of Payson, Arizona, received $6,000 in 2014 for her Best of Show winner. The quilt was inspired by her love for the romantic and delicate details of the Victorian era. Said Sharon, “I love how things are both simple and complex at the same time. I wanted to create a medallion quilt that spoke to that romantic notion.” Sharon chose blue roses because “they were unique and the quilt asked/demanded something special like them.”  At the time she started on the quilt, there were no actual blue roses, but by the time she had finished, they became available. Sharon likes to think that “maybe the quilt knew something that the rest of the world hadn’t thought about yet.” Sharon actually began Once Upon A Time in 2000. Her lengthy process to complete this best of show winner taught Sharon that each quilt truly has its own schedule and identity. “You have to follow the clues it gives you if you want the best out of it and yourself,” remarked Sharon. Even though it took 14 years to finish, Sharon felt it was an amazing adventure and she “enjoyed every minute of it.”

Vivaldi by Moonlight

Best of Show Winner

In 2015, the prize for Best of Show increased to $10,000. That year, the winner was Sandra Leichner, from Albany, Oregon.  Regarding her winning design, Sandra shared how she wanted to make a different style of wholecloth and at the same time, challenge her skills. She said that she was mostly known for her handwork skills and felt that her machine quilting skills were “inevitably overlooked because the viewer focus was always on my handwork.” From the onset, Sharon said that “I knew I did not want feathers etc. I wanted to create a totally original design in my artistic style using only machine quilting to create the overall design. Although it is a wholecloth, I have used a subtle monochromatic thread color palette to create added depth and incorporate more visual dimension to the intricate twining quilting design.” Vivaldi by Moonlight was originally made for Sharon’s bed but when the quilt became “too fancy to allow my neurotic kitty Milo, who lives on my bed, to sink his claws into” it, she decided to enter it and “see what would happen.” What happened was the best of show winner for 2015.

Silk Road Sampler

best of show winner

Do you remember the fuss this 2016 best of show winner caused on the show floor? Road received many complaints that maker and quilter, Melissa Sobotka, just stitched around one piece of fabric. It wasn’t until one looked up close at the immense detail of this art quilt, that one realized that Silk Road Sampler was truly a masterpiece. It took Melissa 5 months to complete this best of show winner which was inspired by a picture she took in the spice market in Istanbul. She thought the designs on the pillows were something that many appliquers would appreciate and that it would be a busy enough design for her to enjoy working on for many months. About 4 months into the project, Melissa wondered. “What have I got myself into?” The detail on the bottom section nearly put her into “a straight jacket.” But as with all her quilts, Melissa just “faced the challenges head on, a little more each day, until it was finally completed.

It is so fun to look back at past best of show winners. Stay tuned for the best of show winners from 2017 – 2020 in our next blog post.

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