QuiltCon Winners: Top prize winners and more!

First, let’s just state the obvious: this has been a long year.

Although modern quilters might be disappointed we’re not together with our quilting friends and celebrating a shared love of the craft, we do have the next best thing… an awesome online experience.

Every year at QuiltCon since 2013, I’ve hugged my friend Ellie and caught up over a cup of coffee. Next year it will be in person – I promise!

Thanks to the forward-thinking actions of The Modern Quilt Guild and their early decision to produce QuiltCon 2021 as a fully virtual experience, a whole lot of sharing, celebrating, and virtual “high-fiving” has been going on. I will be right in the thick of it from the first evening to the last! Along with taking a class, I’m watching every lecture I can and participating in a few chats. Such fun!

The show is proving to be an enormous success, and I love the ability to look very closely at the quilts: QuiltCon Together has set the bar very high for future online shows.

“How high?” you might ask…

-More than 5,700 attendees from 30 countries – wow!

-Over 180 hours of pre-recorded workshop instruction

-39 lectures on a wide range of topics

PLUS Loads of quilts, opportunities to shop, and chances to meet up with friends and attendees online.

Here’s a quick overview of a few of the award-winning quilts from QuiltCon 2021, along with tidbits from makers, my fellow viewers (there were more than 700 watching the awards ceremony from the comfort of their own homes) and supplemental information from QuiltCon Magazine.

QuiltCon Together 2021 Best in Show winner, Emille Trahan, hears the news of her big win from the MQG staff… on a Zoom call. The MQG was able to tell all of the first place winners about their success and record their reactions to play during the ceremony. It was truly a highlight to see those happy faces.

Congratulations to the Winners!

Best in Show Award

52” x 63”
Emilie Trahan

I started this quilt in January 2019; piecing with a giant belly, then went into labor right after basting it, and managed to quilt part of it with a newborn sleeping on me in a baby carrier! This quilt is a great representation of motherhood for me so far. It is wildly improvised and I tend to focus more than I should on the imperfections, but I am very proud of it and it is overflowed with love.

Best Machine Quilting, Framed

“Mosh Pit at the Golden”
50″ x 50″
Maria Shell

We own a small 1920s gold miner’s cabin in the heart of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. Our cabin is off-the-grid. We heat our home with wood, haul water, and use the sun for our energy. Despite the absolute remoteness of our wilderness home, there is bar down the street where truly amazing bands from all over the USA come to play. Occasionally, this results in a Mosh Pit. The first time I witnessed this, I kind of couldn’t believe my eyes. It is truly surreal to surrounded by the beauty of the Wrangell Mountains while at the same time seeing dozens of your neighbors hurl themselves at each other while the Grannies screech the lyrics to their music. There is no better place on earth to be.

Quilting Excellence Award

“Still Not”
72” x 72″
Chawne Kimber

This quilt is a quiet scream. See how ‘I’ recede into the background even as ‘I’ declare an intent to march on? This quilt is a poetic lamentation on life as a black woman in America today. From full-frontal assaults on voting rights, to health disparities, to inter-generational trauma and so much more, it is evident that we are not afforded even an equitable existence yet. And many are still fighting in the 21st Century to deny us basic rights.

Best Machine Quilting Frameless


Judge’s Choice (Jen Carlton Bailly)

“Corona Wedding Dish”
60″ x 70″
Ben Darby

This quilt was inspired by an upholstery fabric design of overlapping, distorted circles. I used computer graphics software to design the shapes and had acrylic templates laser cut for the centers. The melons were paper-pieced, with improv zigzags drawn separately for each piece. The secondary spike shapes were serendipitous and led to the name.

Check out these quilts that also won prizes and appeared in QuiltCon Magazine!

Amy Friend’s quilt “Crimped” won first place in the APQ Wedge Quilting Challenge category.
Ellyn Zinmeister and her group created “Urban Emergence,” the first place winner in the Group/Bee Quilt Category.
Tighe Flanagan created the quilt “My Alhambra” and won the second place award in the Piecing category.
We’re so proud of Caroline Hadley’s quilt. “Fanfold” took earned second place in the Use of Negative Space category.

We’re so proud of all of these winners and are looking forward to more opportunities to share our love for modern quilting with them!


Vivika Hansen DeNegre

*The image at the top of the page is a detail of Maria Shell’s quilt, Everything All At Once which took First Place in the Piecing category. For more information about the winning quilts, visit Quiltcon.com/quiltcon2021-winners.

Images of the quilts, unless otherwise noted, were used with permission from the Modern Quilt Guild.

For more art quilts, modern quilts, and more, visit QuiltingDaily.com and go down the rabbit hole of contemporary quilting. We love to quilt, and we hope you do too!

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