Sunday, 5 October 2014

Radiance challenge 2014

Radiance challenge
I have been asked by so many people what this challenge is about, that I decided to explain here, then I can refer everyone to my blogpost in stead of explaining, yet again LOL.

Lisa Calle, owner of Stonehousequilting and Bernina ambassador, has set herself a challenge in May to relearn how to quilt on her new Bernina sewing machine. Not that Lisa has not quilted for a while, or need any practise to quilt or indeed learn anything at all, she is an award winning quilter that many of us follow avidly. It is just quite hard to go back to quilting on a domestic sewing machine when you have been used to quilting on a long arm machine for a while. I guess Lisa wanted to explore and use her new machine to it's full potential. The challenge was set with Teri Lucas, award winning quilter, teacher and also Bernina ambassador. An open invitation was extended to anyone to join in this challenge.

I am in a closed Facebook group of Handiquilter owners in Europe. The group was set up about two years ago and started with a handful of people and we now have over 80 members. We are all new to long arm quilting and the longest anyone has had their machine is about 3 years now. For most of us, the challenge would not be to quilt on a domestic machine, as until very recently, that was the way we did our quilting. In stead, the challenge would be to quilt on the long arm. I contacted Lisa and explained that we would like to join the challenge, but that we would like to do it on our Handiquilters. Lisa was very supportive and delighted to have us join the challenge.

So, I set the challenge to our group. Some needed a LOT of persuasion to take up the challenge, others needed very little convincing. Eventually we had 26 members join in the challenge.

The challenge was to produce a wholecloth mini quilt, approximately 18" square, using Robert Kaufman's Radiance fabrics. Any design in any style was permitted, no limitation on threads, but no painting or altering the fabric was allowed. What I did not realise at this point, was that the Radiance fabrics are not readily available in the UK, in fact, we could only find 1 shop that sold a very limited number of colours, we wanted every member to have a different colour of fabric, so I ordered all the fabrics from the USA. Then came the allocation of colours and to be fair, I offered choice in the order that members signed up to the challenge.

Some of the colours of Radiance fabric that we used

Great excitement when all the fabrics finally arrived, but also lots of awesomeness with several members stating that they could not possibly cut or sew these lovely fabrics. First hurdle…convincing some that it was okay to sew on the silk/cotton mix, much easier than stitching on pure silk!

It took ages before anyone was willing to start the stitching and with several members indicating that they have never before done a wholecloth and had no idea where to start, I started mine and posted constant updates and pictures. Very slowly the quilts started coming in, when some had issues, or second thoughts, the group was there to offer advise and encouragement and without this encouragement, some may never have finished their quilts, but if you see what has been produced, you would never guess that.

I have had an offer of prizes for winners, but have declined this. The challenge has been set up for our group, to encourage everyone to do something "out of their comfort zone", to learn a new technique, with the help and support of the group. We are all working together and helping each other out and learning together. For some designing and drawing out the design is the biggest challenge, for others it is using rulers and for some it is stitching out a design when they have never done anything other than use groovy boards before. Some have no idea which type or colour thread to use, but there is always someone that will give advise.  We want everyone to feel that they can post photos of their progress on the group page and ask for help and for those that know how, to share their knowledge. This will not happen if there is an element of competition. The group was set up to educate and support all the members and if after the challenge, some want to enter into competitions, they will have the support and encouragement of the group.

The amazing thing is that this group has brought so many of us together, we are all in different parts of the UK and Europe and some of us have never met, yet we are all in touch with each other on the internet if not daily, at least weekly and have built up a huge support network. We even have a few members from the USA! Some of us recently met at a workshop and we all felt as if we had known each other for years!

I have now spoken to Grosvenor shows, the organisers of some of the quilt shows in the UK and the quilts in our challenge will be on display at the following shows:
   Malvern Autumn show 2015
  Ardingley, Edinburgh, Exeter and Duxford in Spring 2016

For most, this will be the first time that  they will have a quilt in a show, for most, there have been some challenges in producing their quilt, but looking at the end results, you would never guess that. Every quilt has got a story to tell and is a huge achievement for the maker. Some members have used their 'spare' piece of fabric and produced a wonderful second piece to enter! I would say that this first challenge has been a tremendous success and I have set a new challenge for next year, which a lot of members have signed up for already. We are hoping to have a new challenge every year, joining in on this challenge is not compulsory, but it is such a wonderful opportunity to learn in the group and be active in a very supportive and friendly group, that we hope that most members in the group will take part.

All the quilts are not yet finished, we have extended the deadline to the beginning of December, I am posting the ones here that have been finished (in no particular order) so far and will do an update post later in the year with photos of the remaining quilts.

"A Persian Tale" by Annelize Littlefair, UK

"Hearts a Fire"by Lynda Jackson, UK

by Vee Jenkins, UK

"Ginko" by Adrienne Quinlan, UK

"Le Brave" by Anne Garner, UK

by Mindy Powell, Utah, USA

by Jill Lindstromm, Sweden

by Jacqueline Bertho, France

"Face" by Adrienne Quinlan, UK

By jacqueline Bertho, France

"Arachne's day off" by Nel Eyre, UK

"Mufasa" by Marjorie Cook, UK

by Tatyana Duffy, UK

by Joe Bennison, UK

"Go with the flow" by Annelize Littlefair, UK

"With a little help from my friends" by Jayne Spark, UK

I am so excited to see all these quilts displayed together and because they will be on show at several different shows, everyone taking part in the challenge should have a chance to see their quilt displayed with all the others!  


  1. These are really wonderful what a creative and artisitic group you all are. You have inspired me to try something more than stitch in the ditch on my grace frame . Woe

    1. Hi Deborah, doing a challenge like this is wonderful to build up your library of skills as well as confidence. Set yourself a small achievable target, it only needs to be a small piece, do one often and very soon, you will have a whole load of mini quilts and when you look back at them, you will be amazed to see the progress you have made. Thank you for your lovely comments, I hope you come back in a couple of months, as there will be loads more mini quilts to look at on here then when the challenge comes to an end, hopefully it will give you lots of inspiration :-)