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The 2010 Utah State Fair ended yesterday, but 225 seamstresses from around the state are already thinking about next year's Quilter's Challenge.

For the competition, seamstresses pay $2 and are given an identical piece of patterned fabric 18 inches by 22 inches — a "fat quarter" in quilting terms. They have one year to incorporated the fabric into a wall-size quilt that will be judged at the 2011 fair. Winners earn bragging rights and gift certificates to Utah quilting shops.

Since it began seven years ago, the challenge has become a favorite competition in the home arts division, said organizer Mary Ann Moench. "As soon as the fair opens, people come in to register for the next year," she said. "This year we sold out in three days."

Moench said she knows families who enter the challenge, sometimes with four generations of women working together on the quilt. "There are sisters, quilt groups, neighbors and friends who do it," she said, adding that because the quilts are small, (no more than a 120-inch perimeter) the challenge is a way for newcomers to get involved in the craft. Besides an adult division, there also is a junior division.

"Quilt shows can be intimidating," Moench said. "But this is a great place for beginners to display their work."

For this 2010 competition, the theme was "Out of the Blue." All the quilts featured a fabric with a sky-blue background filled with flying white seagulls, the official Utah state bird.

Lilia Webb, of Bluffdale, earned the "Best of Show" with her quilt "Miracle of the Gulls." With seagulls, crickets and chaffs of wheat, the quilt depicts the legendary story of how the gulls came to Utah, devoured hordes of Mormon crickets that were destroying wheat crops and ultimately saved settlers from famine.

The "people's choice" award was given to Carole Hymas of Salt Lake City for her "Oceans of Blue" quilt.

Carolee Rusanowski, of North Salt Lake, has entered the Quilter's Challenge six out of the last seven years. This year she earned the "Judges Choice" award with her quilt "By the Sea," which featured a lighthouse, sailboat, fish and a compass.

"Just about every square that I used had the [required] fabric in it," said the 66-year-old seamstress. "It's a fun project. Because it's so small, I usually experiment with different designs and techniques and color combinations."

Rusanowski said she is already thinking about what to do with the 2011 fabric called "Animal Party," which features cows, pigs, sheep, goats and other farm animals.

Quilt Festival 2010

Dozens of handmade quilts will be on display Oct. 5-9 at the Zermatt Resort in Midway as part of Quilt Festival 2010. The annual event, sponsored by the Utah Quilt Guild, also features classes from local and national experts and vendor displays.

You can view the quilts free on Oct. 6 and 7 from 10 a.m to 7 p.m.; Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The show includes a special quilt display celebrating 100 years of Boy Scouts of America.

To enter a quilt, register for classes or get more details, call 435-654-0656 or visit

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