Before I could even get the shop door opened this morning, I had someone parked out front waiting on me. That someone wasn’t here just to shop either. No! That someone brought her finished quilt for the Row by Row Experience contest. Yes! Now we have a WINNER!!! And yes, our row was amongst the eight that she included in the quilt. Super! Who is our winner? Her name is Stacy Houk. She’s a local supporter of the shop and has been ever since we bought it back in 2004.
Stacy had help from her daughter in obtaining rows from outside of our area and in deciding which rows to put into this quilt. The quilt will eventually make its way to her daughter’s house, but for now it will be on display here for all who visit us to see and marvel over. Then I think she needs to enter it into our local county fair, or better yet into the Tennessee State Fair.
One of the criticisms that has cropped up with regards to some of the first quilts to be submitted to participating shops is that the quilts haven’t been completely complete. While the quilts are quilted, bound, and do have a label per the contest rules, many of the appliqué elements aren’t necessarily stitched into place. Sometimes none of them are. They’re just ironed on with a fusible webbing product. Anyone who’s worked with raw-edge appliqué knows that if it’s not stitched down it will eventually release from the project and might even fall off completley. Ask me how I know this. If you don’t believe me I can show you an example of what happens to a quilt when the appliqué elements are not stitched in place.
I can honestly say that every element on Stacy’s quilt was stitched in place as it should be. In fact, not only were all the appliquéd pieces stitched down, she even added quite a few extras. For example, the mermaid has some lovely golden tresses thanks to the Razzle Dazzle thread that has been couched down. Even her eye and lips are stitched around as are all the little bubbles.
Then there’s the sugar bowl. It has “sugar” beads pouring out of it and into the lemonade pitcher. The pitcher looks like glass because Stacy used a clear plastic for the pitcher. The bottle of water that helps to make the lemonade was also made using that plastic. Look at all those little drops of water pouring out of it that were stitched around, not to mention the stitching done on the lemons to make them look like they’ve been sliced. Makes my fingers tired just thinking about it.
The first row had lots of raindrops. All those raindrops were pieced! It would have been much easier to make each raindrop from one fabric, but I love the effect of the pieced raindrops much much more. In fact, I love that technique so much that I’ve been working on a project that does something similar with a couple of the appliquéd pieces. That will be show-n-tell probably when the snows of winter are falling.
Stacy even got extra creative with our row. The designer had used a blue fabric for the background and we had suggested you could also use tan to simulate sand thanks to a suggestion from Jo. The first weekend of the RxR hop a lady came in and suggested that the row could be split in half lengthwise with tan (sand) on the bottom and blue (water) on top. What a great idea! I wish I’d of thought of that. Stacy took that idea a bit further and split the row into three parts – sand, water, and sky. I love it! She said she carried out my idea of using scraps in the sunbrellas and pointed to a bright piece of fabric with jungle animals that had been used in a special quilt that she’d made. You can see it in the circle on the sunbrella as well as in the section on the right of the photo.
There was another row with pieced umbrellas and she hand embroidered the handles on each one of them. The more I looked over her quilt the more I wondered if she’d even been sleeping for the past several weeks.
Last, but not least, her label listed the name of each row, the shop it came from, and the city and state of the shop. The edges of the border around the label were stitched down by hand with a blanket stitch. I told her Miss Martha would be proud of her because I know for a fact she would.
You can tell Stacy put a lot of time and effort into her quilt. She’d hoped to get it further along with the rows she had on hand before her daughter and grandson visited in July but said she spent too much time cleaning house. Why do we do that for our children? It’s not like they’re real company or anything. But I digress… Amazingly, even with the welcomed distraction she managed to get her rows put together, embellished, and quilted before anyone else around here. Yes, I am impressed to say the least. Can you tell?
Now, before you get the impression that Stacy is Wonder Woman, I must tell you that the quilt was actually quilted by someone else. Yes, Stacy had it longarm quilted by Rhonda Griner who did a great job, as always, and got it done in record time. I don’t even want to think how much more difficult it was for Rhonda to quilt given all the little extras Stacy added, but she rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job. Well done Miss Rhonda!
So, put your hands together and join me in a big round of applause and a heartfelt congratulations to Stacy! Oh, yes. Feel free to give a long and loud whistle while clapping if you know how. If you don’t know how I’ll be glad to teach you next time you visit.