Category Archives: Challenges

January 2017 Challenge: Spots in my Log Cabin

Challenge: Spots in my Log Cabin
Challenger: Cleo Ward
Due Date: June 2017 Potluck Meeting

My challenge to you is to take a traditional log cabin block and alter or adapt it in a new way. Log Cabin includes a whole family of strip pieced blocks, including Barn Raising, Streak of Lightning, Courthouse Steps, Whitehouse Steps, and literally hundreds of others. You may change the structure, play with value, omit a part, add something, or whatever you choose.  You must be able to explain how your work relates to the traditional block.

The second part of the challenge is to use some polka dot fabric in your piece.  It needs to be more than just a tiny obscure square or strip; it should be a contributing fabric to the overall design.

Your challenge piece may consist of one, several or many blocks.  There are no size restrictions.

This will be due at the June potluck guild meeting.  Enjoy!

Download PDF Version of the Challenge

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July 2016 Challenge: Say It With Flowers

Challenge: Say It With Flowers
Challenger: Cleo Ward
Due Date: December 2016 Pot-luck Meeting

The challenge to you is to include text in a quilt.  Words may be printed, appliqued (any method), stamped, written by hand, printed by computer, stitched or any other method that you may think of. To fulfill the challenge, you must apply the words yourself; using commercial fabric that has writing as part of its design will not count.

You must also use at least three floral fabrics in your quilt.

There is no size requirement other than the upper limit.  All sides of the quilt  added together should not exceed 160 inches.  It may be as small as you wish.

This will be due at the December guild pot-luck. Enjoy!

Download an Acrobat PDF Version of the Challenge


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January 2016 Challenge: It’s a Southern Thing

Challenge: It’s a Southern Thing for
Challenger: Cleo Ward
Due Date: June 2016 Meeting

The title of our challenge is “It’s a Southern Thing,” and the idea is to make  a quilt representing something that is characteristic of the southern United States.  It may be something that you like about  south or something that you don’t like; It may be serious or light-hearted; it may be significant or insignificant. I hope you will have fun with it!

The only other requirement is that the piece finish 12″ square.

– Cleo Ward

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Challenge: Self-portrait

Challenger: Cleo Ward
Due Date: December Pot Luck Meeting

The challenge to you is to create a self-portrait in fiber. This does not have to be realistic! It
may be your inner you, the way you wish you looked, or the way you remember looking at some time in the past. It may also represent what’s important to you, a person or place or activity. Try to think of something that reveals the real you. This doesn’t have to be serious; it can be whimsical or fun.
All sides of the piece should add up to 80″. That means it can be a 20″ square, or a 15″ by 25″ rectangle, or whatever shape you wish, as long as all the outer edges added together equal 80″. There should be a recognizable spot of red somewhere on the piece. It needs to be bigger than just a line of red quilting thread.
This is due at the December 2015 potluck meeting, where we will display the pieces and vote on our favorite.


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Cone Challenge due at June Meeting

Due: June 2015 Meeting

Download PDF here for diagrams & examples

At the September guild meeting, Gyleen Fitzgerald mentioned during her program that quilts with cones as pieces would be favorably received by judges. Okay, we can try this! The next challenge (due at the June meeting) is to do a quilt with a cone piece featured somewhere in the quilt. You can use the cone either as the focus of the quilt, or as a border, or both. There are no size restrictions.

As I see it, there are four possible ways of doing this:

  • Y-seam piecing, with diamonds and hexagons as the other design elements. See first diagram for an example:
  • Converting the Y-seams to straight seams, by cutting one of the pieces down the middle (but add a seam allowance), sewing the halves to each of the other pieces, and then sewing these two pieces together:
  • Straight-seam piecing: adding an equilateral triangle to the blunt end of the cone creates a diamond, and it’s all straight seams from there. See second diagram for an example:

An example of a border would be the portion of this layout which is between the horizontal lines. For this, you would add the triangles to the sides of the cone instead of to the blunt end, again creating straight seams

  • If you prefer stained glass (as in the last challenge) and/or fusible appliqué, you could do this as a stained-glass quilt. It should look nice!

I’ve included a cone pattern piece (last diagram), drawn on computer. To make it a diamond, extend the short sides. You are adding an equilateral triangle, otherwise formed with sides one-half the length of the cone’s long sides. To make a hexagon, cut an equilateral triangle from the cone’s long sides, of the same size as that formed when you made the diamond. But remember to add seam allowances!

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Challenge: Stained Glass

Due Date:  December Pot Luck Meeting

Stained Glass Challenge

The first challenge for this year is to do a stained glass type of quilt. In stained glass windows, panes of colored glass are held together by glazing; in stained glass window quilts, the same effect is achieved by bias tape (usually black or gray) in place of the glazing. Almost any quilt could be done as a stained glass quilt, by sewing bias tape over the seams (which as it happens will hide mismatched corners), but designs with curved lines (whether pieced or appliquéd) can make particular use of this technique because it is possible for the bias tape to cover the raw edge of the curve without the need to sew curved seams.

Aside from religious themes, the most common types of stained glass designs include floral (such as some of the Tiffany stained glass), giant dahlia (think rose window), and Celtic, but plenty of art nouveau, landscape, mosaic, and oriental designs have also been published. If you have a certain quilt you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t face the piecing, this may be your chance!

Suggested resources:

There are a LOT of free patterns available on the internet. Try

For Celtic patterns, Philomena Durcan has a series of books, especially Celtic Spirals, which may give ideas as well as instructions for laying bias tape.

Dover Publications has a few books devoted to stained glass patterns.

Tips (from me):

If you want to recreate the effect of stained glass windows, I’d suggest jewel tone solids.

Try not to pick a pattern with a lot of lines meeting at one point (usually the center). You are likely to end up with a small mountain of bias tape as the strips overlap each other, creating a raised lump.

You really do need to lay the entire quilt top out (aside from the bias) before you start sewing; for one thing, to make sure your fabrics work together, and for another, to be able to plan how your bias strips will be laid out and in what order you should affix them.

The ends of pieces of bias tape have to go under whatever bias they are intersecting, so that the junction is hidden. (Don’t permanently affix tape until whatever has to go under it has been laid.) A given piece of bias tape has to be long enough for its segment; if it isn’t, you have to cut a new longer strip and recycle the short one for something else.  So lay the longer pieces first, to avoid waste.

You can’t have bias strips ending in nowhere land, unless it’s the edge of the quilt which will be covered by binding. Think about how a window is held together. You can have your tape turn sharp corners, in which case you have to miter the tape. If the corner forms an angle of less than 90 degrees, you’re going to have to trim the underside of the miter so it doesn’t show or present too much bulk. Actually, it’s best just to plan your design without such acute angles.

You can, of course, make your own bias tape, but it is a lot less trouble to use a roll of Clover Quick Bias Fusible Tape, which in 11-yard rolls can be found at While the adhesive can’t be trusted to last very long, it will at least hold its shape when ironed so that with assistance from a few pins you can then sew it down. You can reposition this tape if you lift it while still warm from the iron. Another option is to buy ordinary bias tape and trim the width to the desired thickness, press the new raw edge under, then pin and sew. With wider bias, you have more room for error in its placement, but you will also have more trouble turning corners and following along curves. I’d recommend bias not less than 1/8” and not more than ¼” wide. One further way you could do such a quilt is to incorporate extra pattern pieces, representing the glazing, into the sewing of your top – but I suspect that this will be a lot harder than using bias tape over the seams.

Although the bias tape can cover the raw edge of appliqué, I think it best to sew the appliqué pieces together as much as possible, then lay the bias tape over the seam – all the more so if you are using very narrow bias. Alternatively, you could fuse the pieces to a background before laying the tape. If you fuse, I’d recommend a very slight overlap of the pieces so you have only one raw edge to worry about hiding. And if you must lay the tape over a raw edge, BE SURE to sew first the edge of the bias which is next to the appliqué fabric with the raw edge, to be certain the appliqué will hold. Then sew the outside edge of the bias (and not before you insert any bias coming to meet it). I’ve had too much trouble with appliqué fabric working out from under the bias tape, no matter how carefully I thought I had stitched it.

It may save you some work if you are able to sew only the inside edges of the bias tape while assembling the top, and sew the outside edges in the course of quilting. You probably would want to quilt along the tape lines anyway, and this could save a step. But it does require some preplanning.

There is no size restriction on this challenge, but unless you are either planning a very intricate design or intending for people to view it from a distance I would recommend keeping it fairly small.  Large pieces of the same fabric (especially if solid) can become monotonous, and this is a situation in which it’s the design rather than the fabric which you want to feature. (But pieces which are very small can be a real pain to work with, and they do need to be large enough so that after the bias is applied they can still be visible. If your chosen design has some very small pieces, consider either enlarging the intended quilt size or consolidating these tiny pieces with their neighbors.)

Downloade Acrobat PDF Vesion of stained glass challenge

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Challenge: Eight Point Star

Due Date: May 2014 Meeting


(Example of Eight Point Star)

This challenge is based on the Leila Adam book, Tile Designs: More Than 100 Ready-to-Use Tiling Patterns, which is in the CPQlibrary. It can also be found used, very inexpensively;ISBN1-55407-485-1 or 978-1-55407-485-3. The book was actually designed for laying tile, but since it’s all squares and half-square triangles, it adapts easily to quilting.

The author adapted many designs she observed in the Middle East, especially of Islamic art. A feature common to many of them is the eight-point star formed by superimposing one square on another, rotated 45 degrees.

Please download the full challenge to see the examples.


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