The guild's entry of eight quilts by individual quilters in the ultimate guild challenge quilt category was inspired by gift bags provided by the guild's vice president Madeline Gieselman. The American Quilter's Society chose the entry from a field of 472 quilts. If the guild wins, it is eligible for cash prizes ranging from $750 to $1,500.
Merle Deneke's sun and moon quilt was among the quilts wrapped in a tube and sent to Nashville for the show.
Deneke said she had never been a semifinalist at a quilt show before, but has received recognition in the past. She received honorable mention for a quilt entry at River Heritage's local show four years ago at the Arena Building. The guild has a show in even-numbered years. Deneke is also proud of the 95-by-125-inch quilt she worked on with 40 other guild members for Southeast Missouri State University's 125th anniversary. Displayed on the third floor of the University Center, on the north wall of the Program Lounge, the quilt is a representation of the many past and present buildings on the Southeast campus.
The sun and moon design of Deneke's 31-by-35 inch quilt was created from a gift bag provided by Gieselman. In all, 24 gift bags were available for members participating in the challenge. Competitors had 11 months to produce a quilt that could measure 30 to 60 inches wide and long.
"We try to do some sort of challenge every year," Grieselman said. She packed the gift bags with three "fat quarters," a generous quarter yard of fabric that had to be used somewhere in the quilt.
Deneke, a quilter since 1993, has not stopped since she started quilting and was ready for a new challenge. Numbers were drawn for gift bag designs, and Deneke said she felt comfortable with the bag she chose. But she said making the quilt was "a real challenge." She said it was a learning experience because she used techniques she'd never tried before. "I'm more confident in my quilting ability now," she said.
"Figuring out the composition was also a challenge," she said. "I did the sun and moon first and it grew from there."
The quilt took about three months to make and is machine quilted.
Another challenging area in Deneke's quilt is in the rickrack placed around the center motif.
Deneke is retired but teaches classes at the Golden Needle Sewing Basket in Cape Girardeau. "It supports my habit," she said, referring to quilting.
Lynne Taylor of Cape Girardeau has been a semifinalist before. Her miniature "Blue Star Flower" quilt was chosen from a field of 806 quilts to compete for $3,000 in 2006 at the 22nd annual American Quilter's Society Quilt Show and Contest in Paducah, Ky. She has quilted since 1986, and has been quilting more in the past three years after retiring as a Scott City art teacher.
Taylor had her heart set on an Aboriginal gift bag and considered herself lucky when her number was drawn to create a quilt based on that design.
Taylor used just about all the space given in the contest rules. Her quilt measured 59 1/2-by-59 1/2 inches. She considered the gift bag challenge inspirational and, like Deneke, found herself in a position to try something new. For her it was the curved pieceing seen repeatedly in the quilt from the center nine block borders to the outer edge.
"After I had the whole quilt together I did the dots," Taylor said. "I used fabric paint in little tubes I had mixed from my own colors. It was fun."
From the start Taylor knew she wanted more varieties of animals than the ones on the bag and made the animal drawings first. Some animals were drawn from the images on the bags. "I knew I wanted a traditional block pattern, and I intended to add dots to highlight special features," she said.
Gieselman knew of the guild challenge category at the Nashville quilt show and thought the guild ought to try it. She thought the reason River Heritage was selected as a semifinalist in the contest was because its entry was "the best".
The RHQG has its seventh bi-annual quilt show coming up Sept. 27 to 28 at the Arena Building. This year's theme is baskets. The guild gift-bag challenge quilts will be displayed then.
Other highlights include cash prizes, a miniature quilt auction to benefit breast cancer awareness, scheduled bed turnings and quilt appraisals. Deadline to enter a quilt is Sept. 12. Entry forms are available at www.riverquilters.bravehost.com/.
For more information, contact River Heritage Quilters Guild, PO Box 1905, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63702-1905 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
335-6611, extension 133