Catching Up with Leanne Chahley, QuiltCon 2019 Best in Show Winner

Smile by Leanne Chahley Lethbridge with Stephanie Ruyle, Felicity Ronaghan, Kari Vojtechovsky, Melissa Ritchie, Diane Stanley, Marci Debetaz, Debbie Jeske, Karen Foster, Hillary Goodwin

We caught up with Leanne Chahley, the QuiltCon 2019 Best in Show winner with her quilt, Smile.

MQG: Can you tell us about the inspiration for your Best in Show quilt?

Leanne: Smile was made as part of my Bee Sewcial international improv bee. I asked my bee mates to make maximalist improv blocks with all the colours and no neutrals. I added some of my own blocks too. It took me a long time to puzzle the blocks together into the quilt. Every time I worked on this quilt it made me smile, so she named herself.

MQG: Why did you select this color palette?

Leanne: I wanted the quilt to be bright and happy and to be maximalist so I chose all the colours and no neutrals.

MQG: Can you share more about the quilting on this piece?

Leanne: The quilting is very dense hand-drawn differently spaced and wobbly lines – which is often referred to as matchstick quilting. I planned the quilting to add a significant amount of texture to the quilt without the quilting motif being in competition with the piecing on the quilt. I finish the quilt with a machine wash and dry to really bring out the texture that the matchstick quilting adds to the quilt.

MQG: What was the most challenging part of making the quilt?

Leanne: The most difficult part was to take the blocks contributed by my bee mates and myself and bring them together to make the quilt top.

MQG: Thinking back, tell us about your initial reaction finding out that your quilt won Best in Show at QuiltCon.

Leanne: I was thrilled and so honoured to receive this award. It was also so special to receive this award for a quilt that included collaboration with my bee mates in Bee Sewcial.

MQG: Did winning this award change your quilting path at all?

Leanne: I think winning pushed me a bit over the hump of seeing my work as art in addition to as craft. It has made me a lot more curious and playful in my work. There is a level of confidence that winning gave me too.

MQG: Where in the world is your Best in Show quilt today?

Leanne: Right now my quilt is in Houston with the Quilts Inc. folks who are holding it for their next show. It was part of the Quilts of Bee Sewcial Special Exhibit at Houston Quilt Festival and they asked our group to leave them a selection of quilts from the exhibit to allow the Special Exhibit to travel to two other shows.