In 2005, I entered the first of seven Hoffman Challenges. My mom, who loves my sewing, encouraged me to do this and I was eager to take on a new challenge. Here is a little history of what a Hoffman Challenge is:
Started in 1988, the Hoffman Challenge has grown to be a premiere traveling quilt, clothing, and doll collection. Currently, twelve collections travel coast-to-coast within the USA and to several Canadian locations. The Challenge started with 94 enthusiastic quilters, and in some years, the number of entries has grown to more than 700. In addition to the three quilt categories (pieced, appliqué and mixed technique), new categories include clothing (wearable art), accessories, and dolls. While the majority of the entries come from the United States, a wide variety of international entries are received. Each year, the top entries are grouped into traveling collections and visit quilt and fiber shows, seminars, quilt shops and quilt-and doll-makers guilds nationwide and in Canada.
This is a very prestigious competition and one I was honored to be associated with. The Hoffman Challenge entries must create a quilt, doll, accessory, or clothing item with a minimum of 1 to 2 yards of the challenge fabric picked for that year by Hoffman Fabrics of California. You are allowed to use any other fabric along with the challenge fabric, does not have to be Hoffman, in your item.
Each entrant has around 6 months to complete whatever they are entering once the challenge fabric hits the quilt shops. Once you fill out an entry form, pay your entry fee, and then mail your entry to the curator, you play the waiting game until they decide the winners and items that are worthy for traveling. As soon as they pick the winners, they are posted online and can be checked to see if you are one of the lucky winners. For the items that travel, you eventually get a letter telling you your item gets to travel around the country and Canada for a year! Along with the letter, you receive a Hoffman Challenge pin for that year and next year’s entry form.
You are judged first by the visual impact of what you have created. They also look for sewing and/or quilting techniques, choice of fabrics and fabric colors and how your choice of fabric and colors impacts the challenge fabric. Everything is judged, right down to your choice of embellishments.
In 2005, I entered a purse since I was just recovering from a major surgery. My entry in 2006 was a vest. The rest of my entries, from 2007 through 2011 were jackets (my last entry is in the photo).
I spent quite a bit of time coming up with what I wanted to create since that is something they are looking for–originality. Then after purchasing your challenge fabric, choosing fabrics with colors that are pleasing and eye catching with the challenge fabric. After that process is done, there is the decision of how to embellish my jacket, what type of buttons and button closures to use, and so on.
It always took me time to create in my mind what I wanted my item to look like, before cutting fabric and sewing my item together. Once I got going, the process went much faster but still took about a total of 2 months to complete my project.
I never won anything for any of my Hoffman Challenges but my items always traveled for a year before I got them back in the mail (not every item gets to travel). It was always a thrill to see one of my items at a sewing and/or quilt show!
I no longer enter the challenge because I’ve done all I ever wanted to do, except win a prize. It takes up so much of my time and money, since these beautiful jackets are not cheap to make (this jacket cost about $75.00 to make).