iron quilter challenge: two hours = six quilts :: Okan Arts
iron quilter challenge: two hours = six quilts

iron quilter challenge: two hours = six quilts

By Patricia Belyea

HOUSTON TX  Being a solitary and plodding quilter, I loved Iron Quilter Challenge—a fast-paced spectator sport—on the Monday night of Quilt Festival. Six teams of five, led by a quilting celebrity, were given seven yards of fabric and two hours to complete a quilt top.

Due to a mix-up in timing, I arrived at the venue an hour early and was first in line. From my vantage point, I could watch a couple of lumbering flatbed dollies hauling Baby Lock machines into Ballroom A at the convention center.
Now, there are two important elements of this event—the quilters and the audience. If there is no audience, there is no excitement. Once the red doors opened, the audience-bait became apparent.

Across the front of the hall was an endless table loaded with neon yellow giveaway bags and one spanking-new Baby Lock sewing machine. The goody bags would be awarded to lucky winners throughout the evening, culminating with the grand prize of the Baby Lock. (The non-functioning, diamond-encrusted gold iron was the coveted trophy for the winning team.)

Most of the seating was oriented toward the stage where six oversized bulletin boards draped with 14 half-yards of fabric stood ready. Satellite groupings of chairs faced six workstations—with two long tables, two Baby Lock sewing machines, an iron and ironing board, and design wall.

Scattered throughout the hall were beautifully appointed buffet tables laden with jumbo bowls of corn chips, salsas, and the world’s best guacamole—all Texas-style bounty.

The fun event started with opening statements—bravado fighting words—from the contestants, ironically some of the gentlest women on the planet. As the team leaders carried their fabrics back to their work areas, the theme song of Rocky belted across the intercom system. Jokes, dancing music, and giveaways filled the two hours of mad cutting and sewing.

Here are the best photos I could get of the hustling team leaders during the competition: Charlotte Angotti (L) of Angotti Avengers and Marti Michell (R) of Marti and the Cut Ups,

Pam Holland (L) of Pam’s Possums and Catherine Redford (R) of Redford Raiders, and
Gyleen Fitzgerald (L) of Gyleen’s Take Five and Karen K Stone (R) of Stone Cold Foxes.

Once the two-hour bell rang, the teams came up front to show the crowd their quilt designs.

Then everyone voted with marbles they’d received upon entry, and the winner was determined.

You can imagine, with a popular vote, a giraffe with glasses was pretty compelling. Sure enough, Pam Holland and her Possums won the 2017 Iron Quilt Challenge at Quilt Festival.

Really all of us won. We got entertained by our favorite activity, we made new friends, and some of us received prizes—big and small.

The next day, the quilt tops from this Challenge and the Chicago Spring Quilt Festival 2017 Challenge were hanging downstairs in the exhibition hall. There they will be sold through a silent action to benefit the Texas Quilt Museum—another win!
If you want to attend next year, be sure to buy a ticket.

You don’t need to come early (like me) to secure a good seat. You will keep moving around during the event and probably sit in many chairs.

The event runs from 6pm to 8:30pm. Plan accordingly as you will be eating your dinner early or late that night.

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22 comments to “iron quilter challenge: two hours = six quilts”

  1. Susan Ritchie Voegtly says:

    Thanks for the blow by blow! Priceless! Tough call on who to cheer for!!! All of them!♥️❤️♥️

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Susan—It really was exciting to see how each team resolved their design choices. I am a Project Runway geek, so this was just up my alley. PB

  2. Katrine Eagling says:

    This sounds sooooooo fun!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Kae—It’s really fun to go with friends. Some of my students from Hawaii had just arrived and I sat with them—at first. Then I enjoyed moving all around the room to see what everyone was doing. PB

  3. Susie Q says:

    WOW – I have never heard of this fun event.
    WOW – You did a GREAT job describing it in words and clear pictures.
    WOW – You gave us the info on how to participate next year.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Susie Q—You can even emulate this event with your own quilters. This could be fun to do anywhere quilters are gathered. PB

  4. Janet Wright says:

    Boy , Patricia–you must be exhausted. You sure have had a lot of fun at the Festival. I have never heard of this event–Quilters sure know how to have a great time. I am going next year.

  5. Jennifer Grist says:

    Came to this via TQS, loved reading the blog and seeing the photos. What a fun evening.

  6. Patrice in Alaska says:

    Would love to do this at our guild retreat. Did the celebrity quilters see their fabrics in advance of the two hours? Or did they design their group’s quilt before the competition?

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Hi Patrice, I understand that the celebrity quilters saw the fabrics at noon on the day of the event. Each bundle of fabric was donated from a different manufacturer. I don’t know how the organizers assigned the fabric collections but the celebrities knew what they would be working with before they started. PB

  7. Charlotte Angotti says:

    Love your blog on Iron Quilter!
    I have been doing the Iron Quilter competition since it started and it is hard work, but so much fun to do. I hope more people come to see it and enjoy how great it is to win a prize, meet new people, hang out for a couple of hours and laugh with us while we compete.
    Each of us teachers is working in our classrooms during the day. At the lunch break, we all report to the Education room and are then taken to a room to see the fabrics for the first time. In quick order we choose the fabric we would like to work with…then go to lunch and back to classrooms to work until 5. The event starts an hour later and we are off and running.
    We will be at the Chicago Quilt Festival this fall, too! Hope to see you there!!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Charlotte—What a lot of stamina you must have to live through a teaching day and an Iron Quilter evening! Thanks for the illumination on the fabric selection. I enjoyed myself completely as did hundreds of others. PB

  8. Patsy says:

    Bet all those Ladies had a BALL!

  9. Leah Buffington says:

    Looks like fun, but nerve wracking trying to get everything together.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Leah—With the clock ticking down, you bet. In previous years there was a big stop watch that the teams could see. I heard it was broken so this year the MC just announced the time “Ten minutes left.” Yikes! PB

  10. Allison Aller says:

    A great write-up! So fun!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Allison—I have no idea if I would ever want to be a team leader with Iron Quilter. It looks like fun but also exhausting. How ’bout you? PB

  11. Lori korell says:

    Wow it would be fun to watch this all play out…great job quilters.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Lori—It’s fun to watch the quilters. And then the organizer makes it even more fun with all the door prizes! PB