Monday, April 10, 2006

$100,000 Quilting Challenge

A friend of mine saw the magazine $100,000 Quilting Challenge and picked up a copy for me. I finally got a chance to look through it this weekend. Have you seen it?

The concept as promoted by the magazine publisher is to "bring the excitement of reality TV to the quilting and publishing worlds." The idea, I guess, is that people enter their quilts into one of 10 quilting categories, judges choose a finalist in each category per round, and at the end of the year, judges and the public (subscribers, maybe?) choose one grand prize-winning quilt.

The idea is clever, actually. Sort of like "American Idol" but without the bad singing! And this first issue of the magazine is pretty good, with substantive articles by well-known quilters like Ellen Anne Eddy, Katie Pasquini Masopust, and Becky Goldsmith & Linda Jenkins.

But here's what surprised and sort of disappointed me: some of finalist quilts revealed in this issue are ones I've seen before, and are from professional quilters and teachers. Somehow, I'd thought that this would be about seeing new, undiscovered talent, and wasn't going to be just a new method of judging the same quilts from the same usual people. I guess the comparison to reality tv is what created that expectation, because when I skimmed the rules, I realized that there isn't any prohibition from professional entering quilts that have been in other juried shows. And really, since anyone can enter I guess new quilts from new talent could show up along the way.

I was pleased to see that Frieda Anderson is one of the finalists for her "Shimmering Foliage," which is my favorite of the finalists. The finalist quilts are impressive ones in their categories. .

I'd like to see a quilt competition like American Idol -- better yet, like Project Runway! Take a bunch of quilters -- mixed traditional, contemporary, users of various techniques. Put them in a big studio (in Paducah!) and give them short periods of time to make quilts. Imagine the challenges!
* Take them to the Salvation Army, give them $20 and an hour to shop, and see what they come up with in 48 hours.
* Give them all the same assortment of solid color fabrics.
* Have a challenge where they can't use a sewing machine for ANYthing.

What challenges would you propose? The possibilities are fun to think about. Yep, I'd watch THAT!


  1. Anonymous11:44 AM

    I'm not a big fan of "reality" TV and so have been avoiding the $100,000 quilt challenge and all it's hoopla, but your challenges sound like a ton of fun! I'd love a thrift store/$20 challenge! How about a challenge where the quilters have to swap their projects halfway through.

  2. I, too, like your challenge idea. Actually, on a smaller level, it's an interesting idea for guild program chairs!

  3. Ok.. so we could repeat the 5 yards of musling challenge, couldn't we? Only smaller... let's say 2 yards (one for the front/one for the back). Let them paint, dye, trapunto, embroider or whatever.. but the only fabric they can use is that 5 yards of muslin.

  4. I'd love to see some kind of quilty/crafting show along the lines of Project Runway.

    The thing about the first round of $100,00 quilt challenge is that they didn't get very many entries. I guess all of us "undiscovered talents" need to get busy! I do like the interviews they do with the quilters in that magazine, but then I've become a bit of a process junkie lately.

    BTW, you sounded great on the Quilting Stash podcast!

  5. I would so love a chalenge like that. I think I do my best work when under pressure and I can't over think. Really sounds like fun.

  6. My son suggested a show called Monster Quilting a few years ago. Instead of modifying motorcycles--this group of quilters would make quilts with all kinds of "personalities" and differences of opinion and working styles.

    I like the idea of this Project Quilt show. We need to do some work on this and sell the idea. Five yards of muslin, shopping at the dollar store, making a quilt out of your clothes, making a quilt for a big star, making a quilted piece of clothing----wow! this could be exciting.

  7. My husband said one night that there ought to be a machine that combines a sewing machine with an exercise machine. "Like, where you have to pump, say, a treadle, to make the machine go? That'd be innovative!" We got laughing at the idea of marketing old treadle sewing machines as "Exer-sewers" and making a fortune!

  8. That competition sounds great! I think a good idea would be to have a scavenger hunt, the quilters have to canvass a neighborhood and see what clothes or such they can get people to donate, and they have to make their quilt from whatever they get.

  9. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Ooh, ooh, I just thought of another one--no rotary cutters or rulers. Maybe even no scissors! This is fun.