Elvis Wins the School Block Challenge!

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Taking a walk through the large School Block Challenge exhibit at The National Quilt Museum on January 23, 2016, I saw imagination at its best!

Sponsored by Moda Fabrics, the competition included students in Grades K-12 who were encouraged to submit a 16″ square quilt block incorporating three fabrics provided Moda.

IMG_0128It’s the 23rd year for the School Block Challenge at the museum. This year, 329 students from 17 different states participated, from Washington state to Key West, Florida, entering 222 blocks in all. Many students were on hand this snowy Saturday to receive their ribbons, certificates, and awards.

IMG_0136The many walls of the exhibit held vivid examples of every kind of quilting technique I could think of, from piecing to foundation paper to applique and embroidery–and throughout, plenty of embellishment. Creativity wasn’t limited to visual effects; tags alongside each quilt listed block names like Randomness of a Six Year Old Boy, Star Parties of the Night, and Swimming Giraffe.

Thoughtfulness was evident in many of the choices–I saw blocks with titles like Fighting for Cancer and Fallen Police Officers, Salute USA, and Fighting Breast Cancer. Clearly, the challenge provided an excellent format for teachers and mentors across the country to encourage math, art, and creative skills.

IMG_0129The Grand Prize (a $300 award) went to Ally Curry, Noah Newton, and Jacob Whitworth of Immaculate Conception School in Columbia, Illinois. Their block: Patriotic Elvis.

“I was shocked! I wasn’t prepared for it to happen!” said Noah about their award.

Ally said she knew it looked good, but thought that others at their school looked really good, too. “I didn’t understand how big this really was,” she said about the challenge.

I asked how they came up with the theme. The idea started with superheroes, then super-Elvis. Then, when their art teacher, Carol Fetcho, happened to mention that patriotic themes might do well, ta-dah! Patriotic Elvis was born.

Mrs. Fetcho was at the museum to cheer on her students, who included Kyra Newton, winner of the 3rd Place award in the K-4th category. She had a winner among her students last year, too!

“I was blown away by the imagination of the kids,” she said, reflecting that they get inspired and then just go with it! She provided 12 sessions for the students to complete the project, although some were completed more quickly. In class, they talked a lot about inspiration and creativity, and the patterns were all hand drawn. Students had to figure out which fabrics (along with the three Moda fabrics) to use from what was available in big tubs in the classroom. Her students were all required to do some sewing and some quilting. Many learned about fusing fabrics. And they learned about sewing machines, taking turns on the one machine available in the classroom.

Mrs. Fetcho was proud of all her students.  Some were inspired by traditional quilts, and others gave the blocks an imaginative twist. “I helped them come up with the ideas, but I didn’t give them any,” she said. She was thankful for the help of fellow teacher Carol Weiler, who found out about the competition during a visit to The National Quilt Museum, assisted the class, and provided the lone sewing machine.

Other School Block Challenge winners for 2016 are:

K-4th Grade

1st   Art Dog   Maggie Rowton, Clark Elementary, Paducah, Kentucky

2nd   3D Question   Blaise Gill, Clark Elementary, Paducah, Kentucky

3rd   Wonderland   Kyra Newton, Immaculate Conception, Columbia, Illinois

Honorable Mention   PacMan Maze, Alyson Paschall, R.F. Memoral Christian Academy, Murray, Kentucky

Honorable Mention   Flying Home, Wyatt Beasley, Boyd-Buchanan Homeschool, Chattanooga, Tennessee

5th-8th Grade

1st   Tall and Tweet, Callie Messick, Messick Homeschool, Sherwood, Arkansas

2nd   My Gingerbread House, Katherine Anthony, American Heritage Girls PA 0304, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania

3rd   Through My Window, Laurel Evans, Grandma’s Sewing School, Marion, Illinois

Honorable Mention   Fall in Love with Sue, Brooke Lanning, Oakwood Jr. High, Oakwood, Ohio

Honorable Mention   Farm Girl Vintage Barnyard, Cameron Tiefenthaler, Mechanicsburg Leaders & Feeders 4-H, Mechanicsburg, Ohio

Honorable Mention   Center into Squares, Beth Wegener, Cascade Homeschool, Cascade, Idaho

9th-12th Grade

1st   Life is a Circus, Dori Kralj, Scrubgrass Stitcher’s Quilt Guild, Emlenton, Pennsylvania

2nd   Evening Skyline, Sidney Wormley, Garrard County High, Lancaster, Kentucky

3rd   My Life, Elizabeth Warg, Christopher Cioto, Rondout Valley High, Accord, New York

Honorable Mention   The Easter Basket, Amanda Frownfelter, Frownfelter High, Paris, Tennessee

Over 300 students this year alone have a greater awareness of quilting, sewing, and the creative process involved in making fiber art. Congratulations to all!

Ann Hammel

>>>ann.hammel@americanquilter.com

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