Catching Up with Peter Byrne, QuiltCon 2020 Best in Show Winner

Starring You by Peter Byrne

We caught up with Peter Byrne, the QuiltCon 2020 Best in Show winner with his quilt, Starring You.

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

Peter: In 2017, I really didn’t know very much about quilt making, so I joined The Toronto Modern Quilt Guild and became a full-time student of the craft. 

As I was getting to know some of the members, I kept hearing about how amazing QuiltCon was; everyone had a common goal of having a quilt juried into the show.

When I joined The Toronto Modern Quilt Guild, at the beginning of 2017, I had never quilted a quilt and two and a half years later I made Starring You. 

For months, I had practised every aspect of making Starring You, so when I set forth to make it, I was confident with my quilting skills.

In total, it took four months to make Starring You from start to finish. It was the first quilt I intentionally made to go into a juried show. When it was juried into QuiltCon 2020, I was very proud. When it won Best in Show, my world changed.

MQG: Why did you select this color palette?

Peter: I had been working with black, grey, and white and really loved the simplicity. 

Making a black and white quilt really spoke to me. A simple design with strong contrast. Using only black and white, my goal was to make a quilt that looked like a drawing or sketch. Finishing Starring You with the heavy black lines achieved the look I set out to make.

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

Peter: I was very new to quilting when I designed and made Starring You. I practiced for months and used the quilting skills I had just learned and developed. Before starting, I had a clear vision of the design and motifs I would be using and practised every step before working on Starring You.

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

Peter: The most challenging part of making Starring You was doing the heavy black lines that highlighted and divided the various quilting motifs.

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

Peter: This was a fantasy coming true. Starring You was the first quilt I had intentionally made to go into juried shows and QuiltCon was the first show I had entered. Think about that for a moment. The first time I entered a quilt into a show, I won Best in Show. By the way, I also won Best Machine Quilting Frameless for my quilt titled Cityscape at the same show in 2020! I was at home, the phone rang and I answered. On the line was the program coordinator from QuiltCon, asking me if I would be available to come to the award ceremony. I already knew I was winning two awards. It was at this time, I suspected I was winning Best in Show. I was at the award ceremony, sitting in the front row. I had just won Best Machine Quilting Frameless for my quilt titled Cityscape. We were down to the last award and the MC started to describe the winning quilt, I knew right away I had just won Best in Show. I can honestly say, quilting dreams do come true!

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

Peter: When I joined The Toronto Modern Quilt Guild, I quickly developed two goals. One was to make show quilts and the other was to teach quilting. I was told I had a different perspective to offer. Since winning Best in Show at QuiltCon 2020, I have had well over a hundred Trunk Shows and Workshops in my schedule. I had retired a few years earlier and was looking for something new and exciting to do. I had no idea it would be quilting. I went all in, in 2020 and sold all of my power tools and purchased new sewing machines and have never looked back.

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

Peter: Starring You is presently in a show called “The Best of Quilting in Canada” being held at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA. The show is running from January 17-May 9, 2023.