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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