Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Omaha Quilters' Guild Quilt Show 2012 - "A Piece Rally"

Here is one more post from my recent prize-winning AccuQuilt trip...I know the others have been a little lengthy, so I will do my best to keep this one short and sweet and let the photographs do the talking.....but I just had to share about my visit to the Omaha Quilters' Guild Quilt Show. I was able to attend this special event after the Barn Quilt Unveiling last Friday - it was held at the LaVista Conference Center, just down the road from AccQuilt's new headquarters.The show itself was quite impressive and I enjoyed leisurely walking the aisles and aisles of breathtaking quilts. The bright colored carpet and the lighting in the building made it a bit of a challenge for photography, so the colors may be a bit off - but as we all know, photographs never do this form of art justice...and you can click on any of the photos to get a closer look at the details. Let me start by showing you the big award winners....

Best of Show
New Year's Dragon - Sandy Bernasek

Best Hand Quilting
Blue Birds and Blooms - Leslie Halbleib

Best Machine Quilting/Large
Starry Path - Carol Nish

Best Machine Quilting/Small
Victorian Floral - Karen Hradec

Visual Impact
Georgia - Merna Bowman

Judge's Choice
Let's Ride - Judy Unrein
The embellishments on this piece are amazing - check out the feathers in the witch hats...

Best Scrap
Pieces of Dear Jane - Patty Kennedy

Best First Quilt Entry
Twisted Bargello - Greta McClellan

Aren't ALL the quilts you have seen so far AMAZING?! Well, now I have to share with you some of my personal favorites...although I could see the beauty and craftsmanship in each and every quilt on display (the entire show was stellar), these next few quilts all spoke to me and had a little something special....

First Place Professionally Machine Quilted/Bed
Lollypop Trees - Lorraine Stenoish
This was incredible in person - bright and cheerful!

First Place Bed Quilt, Hand Quilted
Nebraska Winter - Susie Jorgensen
The quilt front is wool and it is backed/binded with flannel - LOVELY!

First Place Professionally Machine Quilted, Kit or BOM
From The Heart - Dorothy Lange
BEAUTIFUL center medallion applique...
and a wonderful assortment of 6 1/2" blocks....

Honorable Mention Professionally Machine Quilted/Bed
Wildflower Sampler - Barbara Wagner

....and here is my VERY FAVORITE QUILT of the show - I absolutely adored this - I love the whimsical houses and trees around the the border...and ALL the circles you see in the pieced center and on the trees are yo-yos that are hand appliqued in place. I know this photo does not do it justice...if you click on it to see the enlargement, you can see a little more detail...

Second Place Bed, Mixed Technique, Machine Quilted
Sew Many Yo-yos - Karen Hradec

There was also a lot of great shopping at this event - the merchant mall was extensive....and I think I found my new favorite quilt designer! I fell in love the second I walked into the Cozy Quarters booth (Quilt and Applique Designs by Phyllis Paul). OMG - I could have bought every single kit/pattern she had in her booth - her style is so very "me"....she does a beautiful job of embellishing each design - adding wool and beautiful details - every single quilt was a treasure....and she had the best miniature quilts. Not only was her booth warm and inviting, but her quilt kit packaging is WONDERFUL - she does the most unique packaging for each of her kits...I was blown away by her creativity! Phyllis was kind enough to let me take a few photos in her booth to share with you...she was just delightful (I wonder if she needs a new best friend?). I purchased two kits while in her booth (and let me tell you - I had a hard time narrowing down my selection...but after almost a week in quilt heaven, I had to show some restraint!). I already have two kits picked out to purchase from her online shop for gifts...and well, I could buy her whole entire collection for me...

The two kits I purchased...
The "Tiny Baskets" kit is in (what else) a tiny basket...
and the "A New Day" kit is in an a small black gift bag
embellished with a strip of the focus fabric and a wool flower.

So there you have it - some of my favorite things from the 2012 Omaha Quilters' Guild Show...I must remember to put a visit on my list for 2013...I'm sure it will be worth the 2-hour drive. For more information, visit the Omaha Quilters' Guild website at

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Grand Unveiling

(L-R) Me, Merry, and Monica with our GO! Mini Totes adorned
with special wool flowers the AccuQuilt team made for us....
Are you enjoying your peek inside my prize-winning trip to Nebraska? - well, today I thought I would share with you the actual Barn Quilt Unveiling. For those of you who are new to my blog, AccuQuilt holds a Barn Quilt Design Contest each year (2012 marks the third year for this creative competition)...the basic premise - design a barn quilt block for display at AccuQuilt's Headquarters. Being born and raised in Iowa, I definitely have rural ties and a fondness for barn quilt fact, I have entered blocks in the contest all three years (to learn a little bit more about the barn quilt movement visit:  Over 100 prizes were awarded this year - including $25 in AccuQuilt Rewards Points to each entry that made it to the Top 100 Blocks. The Top 100 Blocks were narrowed down to 10 by the voting public (a special thank to those who voted!)...and believe it or not, there were more than 25,000 votes....then the winner was chosen from the Top 10 by a panel of celebrity quilting judges. Well, imagine my shock and delight when I won the grand prize this year!! My prize included a $1,000 AccuQuilt Shopping Spree (yeah, I will definitely be putting it to good use - I just have to narrow down my wishlist of more than 50 dies!) and a trip for myself and a friend to the Barn Quilt Unveiling  Event and the 2nd Annual Let’s GO! Quilt Retreat in Fremont, NE....yes, you all know I was in "heaven". The last couple days I shared all about the retreat and the VIP tour of AccuQuilt's new headquarters...and today, I am sharing with you the Barn Quilt Unveiling Ceremony.

Lining up inside AccuQuilt Headquarters
 to meet Alex Anderson...
Two large buses full of exuberant quilters loaded up on Main Street in Freeport, IL on Friday morning to travel in style to the Barn Quilt Unveiling. Country Traditions got everyone excited during the ride by handing out a pair of quilting sunglasses to each attendee - seriously - the lenses had quilt blocks printed on them...and the frames have a quilt block on each side. As we arrived at AccuQuilt, we could see a large tent for the outdoor events and of course my winning quilt block (17' x 17'), which was completely covered by a blue tarp until the unveiling. Excitement was brewing, as we were all going to be meeting celebrity quilter Alex Anderson (you know, from the long-running HGTV television show Simply Quilts)!! Upon departing the buses, we were each given one of Alex's books, so we could get an autograph...then we all set out to enter the building and line up to meet one of the biggest stars in the quilting world. What a treat it was to watch Alex in action - she was so generous with her time, posed for photographs with each attendee, signed everyone's memorabilia...and the smile never left her face, which is a true testament to her gracious and kind personality! I watched Alex on Simply Quilts for years and she has always been a "friend in my head", so to meet her was a true honor.

After the meet-and-greet we headed through the warehouse to the big tent outside...and who did we run into immediately?? - Steve Nabity, CEO of AccuQuilt...who took the time to pose for photographs - and even had the idea to climb up onto the combine on display (for those of you without a farming background - a combine is a 
machine that harvests grain crops) for a fun photo op with me and a couple of my friends (special thanks to Lee Nakamoto at AccuQuilt for taking this photo with my camera to commemorate the moment)!

(Top to Bottom) Steve Nabity, me, Monica, Merry

...and here is a photo of (L-R) Steve Nabity, me, my friend Merry, and Greg Gaggini (president of AccuCut - sister company of AccuQuilt - a whole new branch of addiction)...don't they look great in their cowboy hats and boots?! (Thanks to Monica for taking the photo with my camera!)

Then it was time to have a seat in the tent for the start of the unveiling event (and you guessed it - I was in the center of the front row!) - first Steve spoke to the crowd...then he introduced Alex Anderson for her presentation. Steve addressed the audience wearing a pair of the "quilt sunglasses" we received on the bus...and I managed to get a great candid shot of Alex sitting off to the side (with her signature smile), next to all the great door prizes. Alex's presentation was delightful - she spoke about her history in quilting (right from the beginning), with an amazing slideshow of personal photographs...she talked about her family...and she encouraged each and every quilter in the audience to continue their creative path, grow, and even step "outside their box"....her passion and enthusiasm for quilting was evident...and her warm, inviting personality captivated the entire audience...the entire presentation touched me.

After Alex inspired everyone in attendance, it was time for Linda at AccuQuilt to talk about the Barn Quilt Contest and announce the winners - first she brought up Carol, the 2nd runner-up winner to the stage...and then she announced me. Both Carol and I had been warned we would be given the microphone for a few words - 30 seconds to be precise - and I was actually fact, I knew exactly what I wanted to say...but when the time came, she only asked me about my block and I didn't have a chance to say what I had planned. So, for those of you reading, here goes - I really wanted to thank everyone at AccuQuilt - everyone at Country Traditions - my fun fellow retreat attendees - and all the voters who so kindly voted for my block for making this trip a dream come true...then I wanted to take the last of my 30 seconds to take a photo of the crowd so I could remember the moment - I wanted to have everyone wave at me/my all actuality, I didn't get to say any of that or ask the crowd to wave, but I did get a good photo of the crowd before they dispersed to help celebrate the moment.

I enjoyed seeing everyone scurry out to see the unveiling of my quilt block - the crowd formed all around the display and we waited anxiously for the tarp to be removed....

And when the tarp got caught in the upper corners, we continued to wait...until the hero (Greg Gaggini from AccuCut) made his way to the roof of the building with a long piece of wood to free the tarp from the corners...and the suspense continued to build...

Finally, the tarp fell free and my winning quilt block was unveiled! For me, it was kind of a surreal moment...the 17' x 17' block seemed HUGE...and even more exciting, it will be on display for all to see for an entire year....

The tarp breaks free....

Alex Anderson poses with me under my quilt block...

Another shot with Alex Anderson...

Posing for a photo - (L-R) Carol Johnson (runner-up), Steve Nabity, and me...
After the unveiling - (L-R) Carol, Steve, Me

It was a "postcard day" with clear blue skies and a nice breeze...a little warm, but perfect for the unveiling. After my block was revealed, we headed back to the tent for lunch (a delicious plate of barbecue), while door prizes were handed out to very lucky recipients throughout the crowd. It was a lovely way to spend the day...and before I knew it, the event was ending. I guess I better start early on my contest submissions for next year, because I definitely want to do this all over again....and next year the celebrity quilting guest will be Ricky Tims (how awesome is that?!)!

A HUGE thank you: to everyone who voted for my winning quilt block, to everyone at AccuQuilt who made this such an AMAZING experience, to Alex Anderson for making the trip and being so gracious and kind, to everyone at Country Traditions for throwing the BEST retreat EVER, and to all the retreat attendees and  barn quilt unveiling guests - you made me smile...and thank YOU for following my journey - it truly was a FABULOUS adventure. 

Tomorrow I will share photos with you from the Omaha Quilters' Guild Show we visited on Friday will not want to miss this portion of my journey - so many breathtaking quilts were on display....

Monday, June 25, 2012

AccuQuilt Headquarters VIP Tour

If you read my blog regularly, then you know how passionate I am about my AccuQuilt Fabric Cutters...and you know I (usually) use at least one of them every single day....and more than likely your are sick of seeing all my project posts that brag about the quality and convenience of the AccuQuilt products...AND you most definitely know that winning the 2012 Barn Quilt Contest was a dream come true for me!

Over the last few years, I have added all three AccuQuilt Fabric Cutters to my sewing studio...along with pretty much every single die for the GO! Fabric Cutter - yep, I am addicted...a support group should be formed for those of us who can never have enough fabric cutting dies. I have also emailed and called AccuQuilt multiple times over the last couple years and have been blown away by their friendly, top notch customer it was definitely no surprise when I made the trip to Omaha, NE to tour the brand new AccuQuilt Headquarters and attend the Barn Quilt Unveiling Event that I was BEYOND impressed! Enthusiasm, professionalism, and excitement fill the air - and if you are a quilter, you can't help but be happy in the presence of the AccuQuilt staff. It is extremely evident that they care about quilters and they appreciate our business...and they want to inspire our work and streamline the cutting process - just listen to Chief "Energizing" Officer Steve Nabity speak and you will want to be a part of the AccuQuilt team!

The new AccuQuilt Headquarters is located right off Interstate 80 in Omaha, is only about a 2 hour drive from my home, so I definitely want to make a return trip(s) (only with my husband with me next time). The entire staff just moved into this new location last week - in fact, they were in the process of moving only a couple days before hosting the huge Barn Quilt Unveiling Event...but truly, you never would have known what was going on behind the scenes - everything was ready to view when we stepped inside the front doors. Attending the first GO! Quilting Retreat at Country Traditions meant that I was in the first group to tour the new cool is that?! The new building not only has the staff offices and a HUGE warehouse, it also houses a "Quilt Gallery" (where quilts from both the AccuQuilt private collection and special curated quilt exhibits will be showcased) and a Quilters Dream Studio (where employees are expected to quilt at least 2 hours per that's my kind of work environment!). 

As our bus approached the AccuQuilt Offices, I got a great view of my prize-winning quilt block before the unveiling...hidden by a big blue tarp (photo upper right)....and the excitement started building immediately

Throughout the lobby and offices, AccuQuilt collection quilts are hanging high on display - along with the 2nd place barn quilt entry by Carol Johnson (for some reason my photo was a little blurry, so I added a graphic design of her block in the upper right-hand corner). I had the chance to spend some time with Carol and she was absolutely delightful....she even created/quilted her winning block for showing/sharing at the show-and-tell event the night before - her work is AMAZING!

We started out the VIP tour by enjoying food and beverages, while smaller groups were taken on a tour through the Quilt Gallery, Quilter's Dream Studio, and the warehouse. The first exhibit in the Quilt Gallery features 'Alex Anderson - Through the Years'...and WOW was it impressive - I did my best to get photographs off all of the quilts (only some are shown below)...and it was quite interesting to hear details about each and every one. The "gallery" is museum quality and completely exceeded my expectations. Here is an array of photos from Alex Anderson's incredible exhibit:

Cherry Baskets

Made In America

Kaffe's Kaleidoscopes

Grape Escape


Daisy Chain

Sticks and Stones

After the Quilt Gallery, we headed into the Quilters Dream Studio...and well, I pretty much "died and went to heaven"....I was seriously in complete awe as we entered the room - sewing, quilting, and long arm machines...cutting tables with (of course) AccuQuilt Fabric entire wall of AccuQuilt GO! dies (be still my heart) entire cabinet/collection of beautiful
Aurifil threads (OMG - could it get any better?? - I would do pretty much anything to have all those gorgeous threads in my studio)...bolts of ironing name it!...each staff member even has their own bin for their project(s)....AND all of that was put together less than 48 hours before our arrival (I can't even imagine it getting any better, but I'm sure it will as they get settled). I think I have found my favorite place on earth!! you think AccuQuilt would let me vacation there??

When I was finally dragged away (kicking and screaming) from the Dream Studio, we entered the warehouse...and all I could think of  as I saw the aisles of Studio dies was "I'll take one of each please"...oh my gosh it was surreal. They were also in the process of setting up a "shop" for the Barn Quilt Unveiling Event.

As each of the tours ended, we finished up back by the main entrance...we snacked on the delicious dinner spread provided for us and were able to visit with each of the (oh-so-friendly) AccuQuilt staff members....and of course, CEO Steve Nabity spoke to the entire group and gave us a captivating history of AccuQuilt. Finally, before heading out, each attendee was given a gift bag filled with goodies - mine included scissors (large and small), a sewing tool set, a magazine, a spool of Aurifil thread (woo hoo!), and a bag of AccuQuilt pre-cut shapes (shapes cut when testing the dies) that we were encouraged to use in a project this year (mine are CRAZY and will put my creativity to the test). Then, as we loaded the bus, we were given the cutest wool flowers - each (front and back) cut with the GO! Fabric Cutter, sewn together, stuffed, and embellished with a button - they are adorable - my new quilting friend Monica had the brilliant idea to pin this fun flower to our new GO! Mini Totes (which I will show you a photo of tomorrow)...

Let me finish this post by saying - if you are a passionate quilter or seamstress, put a visit to the AccuQuilt Headquarters on your bucket list...the experience will be memorable!

Tomorrow my post will feature the Barn Quilt Unveiling Ceremony...