This Best Longarm Machine Quilting winning quilt came all the way from Australia to be entered in to Road to California 2019’s quilt contest.
The maker of Summer Christmas, Mariya Waters, began quilting in 1989 in New Zealand after having seen her first quilt while studying for an embroidery qualification. She moved to the United Kingdom in 1991 and won her first quilting award in 1993. From then on, every quilt Mariya has ever entered in a quilt show has won an award!!
Mariya and her family moved to Australia in 1999 where she continues to quilt and teach today. In 2008, Mariya won the title, Best of Australia.
What was the inspiration behind the Best Longarm Machine Quilting winner, Summer Christmas? In 2005, Mariya’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. During her mother’s long journey, Mariya studied design from multiple cultures, looking for common design elements. She discovered a whole world of common designs using stencil art from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was from these designs that Mariya put together Summer Christmas to give her something to sew while looking after her mother.
This Best Longarm Machine Quilting winner took 10 years to complete. It was started in May 2006 as a 24” Christmas table runner. Mariya revised the design in 2007 to be a 36” table cloth. She extended the project two more times until it finally ended up being 102”. The appliqué was finished in March 2016. Mariya noted that she took a two-year break, in 2008-2009, to complete another major quilt.
“The only way to construct this quilt with the accuracy demanded was to use preprinted fusible polyester fibre templates that remained in the quilt,” shared Mariya. She also had to develop a method of joining the various borders together using scallops. Summer Christmas has 996, quarter inch red dots which were each drawn up over a template.
Because Mariya developed some health issues during this project, she realized that she needed to form a collaborative partnership with a quilter to be able to finish the quilt. So, in 2016, she partnered with quilter and Road 2019 teacher, Gina Perkes-Tidwell.
The scariest part for both of them was washing the glues out of the quilt before it was bound. Mariya spent 4,000 hours and 20 glue sticks in turning the edges of the appliqué. Gina had invested more than 500 hours in quilting it and the washing result then was going to affect both of them.
There is a 17-hour time lag between Australia and the United States. Mariya has just come home from a day out with her friends (where she was constantly looking at the phone) when the results of Road’s judges came in. She was “absolutely delighted” to hear about the win as “both Gina and I poured our heart and soul into the quilt.”
Mariya plans to use her part of the prize money for this Best Longarm Machine Quilting winner on travel to future quilt shows. She will continue to teach and is “working very hard” on another quilt that has been under constant work since November 2016. She hopes the appliqué will be finished in late 2019.
To learn more about Mariya and see some of her other work, please visit her website.