Quilter channels muse while watching TV

Visitors to the 2013 Mesa County Fair admire the Best of Show winner, “Mad Red,” by Sonia Sanderson of Grand Junction. She used a needle-turn technique to hand applique the floral blocks. The quilt also won a People’s Choice award.

Wanda McBride’s quilt, “Lemoyne Star Sampler,” also won a People’s Choice award at the recent Mesa County Fair. This block pattern, a traditional eight-pointed star of 45-degree diamonds, first was published in 1911. The origin of the Lemoyne star block, however, has been traced to two LeMoyne brothers who settled Louisiana in 1699..

Sonia Sanderson of Grand Junction received the first-place award in the small mixed-technique category with her quilt “Wildflowers” at the Black Canyon Quilt Show earlier this month in Montrose.

Sonia Sanderson honed her needle skills to the point that she can stitch prize-winning quilts while lounging in front of her television set.

“I can finish one block in two to three nights of stitching,” says the Grand Junction resident who started quilting in the late 1990s. “I find it relaxing while I watch TV.”

The precision of her tiny, needle-turned stitches impressed this year’s judges at the Mesa County Fair so much so they awarded Sanderson’s “Mad Red” quilt with the top honor, Best of Show. It also won a People’s Choice award.

A cheerful floral theme of a dozen 14-inch blocks was made from a pattern called “Aunt Millie’s Garden” by Piece O’Cake Designs.

Sanderson set the flowers against a light-
colored background and bordered the quilt with bright red and more appliqués.

She did the quilting in stipples and shapes of leaves and more flowers on her domestic Bernina 404 machine with a stitch regulator. The quilting “is the hard part for me,” Sanderson says.

Although she owns a Handi Quilter, a sit-down version of a larger longarm machine, Sanderson says she’ll need more practice on it before feeling at ease with the process.

For straight stitching, she prefers her older Pfaff sewing machine. Then there’s her Baby Lock machine that stitches embroidery designs in a hoop.

Working on six to seven quilt projects at a time, Sanderson makes various sizes in mostly traditional styles, sewing primarily with 60-weight Mettler cotton thread and Jeana Kimball straw needles.

This avid quilter also participates in several quilt organizations: Sunset Slope Quilters of Grand Junction, Columbine Quilters of Montrose, the Black Canyon Quilt Show Inc. of Montrose and the Block Busters quilt group of Fruita.

Sanderson stays active in the Montrose groups because she lived in that community for 23 years, and she still helps out with the annual Black Canyon show.

At that show earlier this month, she received a first-place ribbon for her quilt titled “Wildflowers,” which was entered in the small mixed-technique category.

For Sunset Slope, she volunteered both her appliqué and piecing talents to contribute to the group’s raffle quilt.

The quilt titled “Rocky Mountain Fiesta” measures 74 inches square and will be given away in September.

Proceeds from ticket sales ($1 each) help fund the organization’s charitable, educational and recreational endeavors.

Besides her winning “Mad Red” quilt, Sanderson entered several others in the Mesa County Fair. Two of those also won People’s Choice awards in different divisions: “My Southwest” and “Old-Fashioned Christmas.”

Other winners in the open class exhibit of quilts were:

■ Youth best of show: Irene Parks.

■ Best first-time entry: “My Flower Garden” by Sharon Weingardt.

■ Judges’ choice: “Goose Tracks” in red, white and blue by Angela Jones and “Forget Me Nots,” a stained glass design by Marion Fenner.

Other People’s Choice awards went to: “Lone Star” by Carolyn Hendrickson; “Lemoyne Star Sampler” by Wanda McBride; “Magic Night,” a bargello design by JoAn Brown; and “Sunflower Panel” by Kathy Lisco.

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