Catching Up with Steph Skardal, QuiltCon 2018 Best in Show Winner

Going Up by Steph Skardal

We caught up with Steph Skardal, the QuiltCon 2018 Best in Show winner with her quilt, Going Up.

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

Steph: I was inspired to blend the familiar piecing method of log cabin construction with an overall negative space design featuring another familiar quilting motif of flying geese. My piece was a play on scale as well, blending a small piecing scale (finishing at 1/2″) with a large overall design.

MQG: Why did you select this color palette?

Steph: At the time, I was sewing many two and three-color quilts. I really love quilting lines on white fabric, so I mixed a white with a high contrast, calming dark blue.

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

Steph: I quilted “Going Up” via a walking foot with straight lines on a domestic machine with 50 weight thread. In the white pieced section, I quilted in the direction of the flying geese. In the blue and white areas, I quilted straight lines just off the seam.

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

Steph: The most challenging part of making this quilt was keeping it square as it got larger. I had precut all the strips, so I had to do a little bit of finagling to make sure the larger blocks stayed accurate. Once I pieced 6 larger blocks together, I also had to ensure that the quilt stayed square as I quilted it on my domestic machine.

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

Steph: I was very shocked that I won Best in Show! I brought my then 10-month-old daughter to the show at the time and I was bouncing her on my knee while I learned who won each award. By the time the Best in Show was about to be announced and I still hadn’t received an award, the knee bouncing had gotten much more nervous and fast. Immediately after I heard the news, I called my quilting mentor and we acknowledged the pleasant surprise.

Having seen the previous Best in Show quilts, I didn’t think my quilt was large enough or impactful enough to be recognized as Best in Show. I felt very honored, but at the same time I realize how subjective quilt awards can be – I’m sure judges regularly have a very hard time evaluating these awards when comparing the unique aesthetic voices represented in the QuiltCon submissions.

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

Steph: The award gave me a little more confidence to continue on my quilting journey and to follow my own design aesthetic and voice.

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

Steph: My quilt was acquired by the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska!