Friday, November 24, 2017

Medallion Challenge quilts take center stage

Monday, November 20, came much too quickly for some of the 2017 Choo Choo Challenge participants. Names will not be mentioned, but let it be noted that more than one quilter arrived a little breathless for the reveal, her entry still warm from the light on her sewing machine. Nonetheless, every entry was stunning! Chosen by secret ballot, here are the 2017 Choo Choo Challenge winners with their Medallion quilts.
2017 Choo Choo Challenge winners (from left): Garie McClelland—1st Place;
Cristy Clark—4th Place; Dawn Johnson—2nd Place; Sherry Baldwin—3rd Place.
Guidelines for the 2017 Challenge were straightforward: (1) begin with a 20" center or medallion, and (2) add at least 3 pieced borders. The resulting quilted pieces were anything but straightforward as each participant was led in a unique direction to produce her own inspired creation.

Explaining the process
We got an insight into each participant's processes as they explained the techniques and tools used to create the pieced borders and the "Make it Work" approaches they took to "fit" pieced borders into the design of their tops.

Sherry (3rd Place winner) used a printed round medallion she got in Montana as her starting point. For the outside border, Sherry used a specialty ruler to create the patchwork blocks.
Sherry Baldwin won 3rd Place with her 2017 Medallion Challenge quilt.
The center was from a printed panel. The circular motif was echoed in the quilting.
The light fabric on the back shows off Sherry's machine quilting.
The quilt back shows the quilting designs.
Ginny had to dig deep to find inspiration for her Challenge quilt. She channeled Mary Ellen Hopkins and pulled it off with this lovely quilt made with green, turquoise and a variety of light neutral batiks.
Ginny Minninger with her 2017 Challenge quilt
titled, "When Life takes a U-Turn, You Turn."
Ginny chose to add a dimensional, free-hanging strip of flying geese to balance the geese in her borders. A specialty ruler was used to make no-waste flying geese units. Her quilt was machine quilted with both free-motion and straight line designs.
Detail of Ginny's quilt.
Dawn (2nd Place winner) used a block from a previous guild Challenge—the 2013 Brown Bag Challenge—for the medallion in her quilt.
Dawn Johnson won 2nd Place with her 2017 Challenge quilt.
She machine quilted her piece with free-motion and straight line designs.
Detail for each of the pieced borders.
In the spirit of a year of "Making Do," Dawn added other fabrics when she ran out of one to complete her patchwork borders. Leftover blocks and scraps make up the backing.
Pieced back of fabric scraps and leftover blocks.
With no pre-planned layout, Martha indicated her quilt designed itself with the addition of each border. To make the quilt rectangular (rather than square), she added the second border on the top and bottom only.
Martha Griffin with her Medallion Challenge quilt.
The the triangles in the second border are echoed with a smaller version in the third border. Martha machine quilted her quilt said she learned a lot from making it.
A zigzag inner border and a third border with small triangles.
Theresa decided on a blue and orange color palette for her Challenge quilt and added green for an accent color. She said she used a specialty ruler to create the blocks in the outside border.
Theresa Kitchell and her 2017 Challenge quilt.
Theresa embraced several "make do" opportunities during her quiltmaking process—using scraps from one border to use in another, using the trimmings from blocks, and adding strips and bits of background fabric to make borders fit. Her quilt is machine quilted and she is considering filling in more of the background areas with additional quilting.
Detail of the borders on Theresa's quilt.
The theme and name of Garie's (1st Place winner) quilt was "All About Reindeer." With insufficient amounts of certain fabrics, Garie also found ways of "making do" with the design of the pieced borders.
Garie McClelland won 1st Place with her "All About Reindeer" quilt.
Garie hand quilted her quilt. She also gets extra points for having all the reindeer in the black fabric facing the same direction!
Fused appliqué reindeer was outlined with a buttonhole stitch.
The red, white, green and black color scheme was well suited for the theme of this quilt.
Pieced borders in Garie's reindeer quilt.
A star block was pieced into the backing.
A pieced backing.
Cristy (4th Place winner) took an asymmetrical approach with some of the borders on her Challenge quilt. A bundle of shot cotton yarn-dyed fabrics was the impetus for her quilt, which she also used throughout the year to illustrate possibilities for piecing borders.
Cristy Clark won 4th Place with her 2017 Challenge quilt.
Cristy had a "make do or make it work" moment (and a $36 express shipping charge) when she ran out of the decorative thread just 2 motifs shy of finishing the quilting.
Detail of the free-motion quilting with variegated thread.
 A strip of leftover pieces from her fat quarter bundle found its way into the quilt backing.
Pieced backing.
Vista chose a fabric variety of small prints with a color palette that coordinated with her medallion of vintage hankies. 
Vista with her hankie Medallion Challenge quilt.
Gaining confidence from our workshop with Mary Kerr, Vista was able to "cut into" the vintage textiles for the center of her quilt. Using perle cotton, she did some hand seed stitching (quilting) in the open areas of the hankies. The free-motion quilting was a nice counterpoint to the vintage hankies and complemented the patchwork design.
Detail of vintage hankie center.
Another group of blocks from the 2013 Brown Bag Challenge resurfaced to comprise Kim's Medallion quilt. It was fun to see these blocks again—especially in a finished quilt!
Kim Huston and her 2017 Medallion Challenge quilt.
Two of the pieced borders surrounded the center block and the outer border completed the pieced trio. The blue triangles add a brightness and sparkle to the warm brown and gold color scheme. Extra layers of batting produced a trapunto effect in the center block.
Detail of pieced borders and one of the quilt blocks.
Kim's quilt was machine quilted by a long-arm quilter. The dense quilting can be seen on the back of the quilt.
Back of the quilt shows the dense quilting.
The guild is grateful to Cristy Clark for coordinating the 2017 Challenge. Congratulations to all the winners and participants! It was another stunning Guild Challenge reveal.


  1. Thanks for this fine write-up, Veronica! It's great to see all the challenge quilts in one spot. They are all terrific!

    1. Another great guild Challenge! Thank you to Ginny for writing the intro to this post.

  2. I appreciate so much that I can go to this blog and see what we Choo Choo Quilters have done, are doing. Thank you, Veronica, for posting all the pics, the entire quilt and close-ups, and for the excellent commentary on each one. Ginny's intro was captured the moment. I echo Cristy's comment... all of the quilts were wonderful.