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Column #30

Using Quilts to Spotlight Natural Fibers

The theme for TDA's 2008 competition was "Toast a Rising Star," which highlighted Texas' wine and grape-growing industry. The quilt was designed and constructed by Terri Vogds and quilted by Johanna Iaia, both of Denton. The 2008 quilt sponsors included: Hobbs Bonded Fibers of Waco, Joy's Fabrics & Quilts in Godley, P&B Textiles of Dallas, Tandy Leather Factory in Fort Worth, and the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers' Association. Photo courtesy of the Texas Department of Agriculture.

What do wine grapes, historic ranches, rural community life, kids’ nutrition, and floral plants have in common? They’re all past themes of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) biennial Quilt Block Competition. The contest was designed in 1997 to promote Texas’ diverse natural fiber industry, which includes not only cotton and wool, but also leather, cashmere, mohair, and alpaca.

Themes for the contests originate in the TDA’s Marketing and Promotion Division. Then, with the help of sponsoring fiber-related businesses, 100 packets of materials are assembled. Each packet contains Texas-produced natural fibers, at least six of which must be included in the finished block. Contestants can add only three additional fabrics to the provided assortment, but embellishment with pearl cotton, embroidery floss, silk ribbon, or beads is allowed.

The blocks may be an original design or an adaptation of a traditional pattern, and may be pieced, appliquéd, or utilize a combination of both techniques, either by hand or machine. In addition to the pre-determined theme, TDA also specifies the size of the finished block.

“We try not to put too many limitations on contestants’ creativity,” says Mary York, TDA’s State Coordinator for Marketing Campaigns. “After each competition, we are always just amazed by the imagination and talent of the quilters who submit blocks. We’ve had entries from kids to seniors, novices to experts, and both men and women. It has really been popular and so much fun for everyone!”

Packets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, and out of the 100 entries, 24 finished blocks are chosen by a panel of judges. The winning blocks are then pieced together into a quilt top by Texas quilter Terri Vogds and quilted by volunteers.

The quilt is unveiled with much fanfare in TDA's Food and Fiber Pavilion at the State Fair of Texas in September, with winning contestants in attendance. The quilt becomes a part of TDA's quilt collection and traveling natural fiber exhibit.

The 2010 theme is “Texas Wildlife: Adventure Awaits” and it is intended not only to highlight the state’s abundant wildlife resources but also “to spotlight one of TDA's newest programs, the GO TEXAN Wildlife Initiative, designed to support the businesses and organizations that promote Texas' diverse and extensive wildlife industry,” according to TDA sources.

Although it is too late to enter a block in the 2010 contest, the popularity of the event ensures that there will likely be a new competition in 2012. For more information, see the Texas Department of Agriculture website.

The winners of the 2008 quilt block competition are shown with the completed quilt. The winners are always invited to the unveiling of the quilt in TDA's Food and Fiber Pavilion at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas in September.

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Archived blogs:

Column 149: Rosie’s Redwork
Column 148: The Quilt of Belonging
Column 147: Kanthas—The Quilts of Bangladesh
Column 146: Patterns
Column 145: Suzy on Carolyn Mazloomi's Groundbreaking Quilt Exhibit
Column 144: Texas Community Marks Juneteenth Sesquicentennial with History Quilts
Column 143: Maya Embroidered Patchwork
Column 142: Huipil Patchwork Quilts
Column 141: Tom Korn’s Military Medal Quilts
Column 140: The Return of Double Knits!
Column 139: Passage Quilts
Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery

See other archived columns here


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