Growing up, Judy Butler would often admire the quilts her grandmother made. That early appreciation inspired Judy to learn the craft, and her hard work has taken her to the pinnacle of accolades, winning the top award at the Saskatoon Quilters Guild Show.
Shortly after getting married, Judy decided she wanted to learn to quilt. Though she didn’t get a chance to learn from her grandmother, it was her mom that assisted her in creating her first quilt. That, along with a class she took in Saskatoon, sowed the seeds of what is more than a hobby. “It becomes a passion,” Judy remarked.
The Saskatoon Quilt Show featured almost 500 quilts, displaying the craftsmanship and talent of quilters from all over the province. The show has been described by judges, vendors and visitors as one of the biggest and best in Western Canada.
Judy entered two quilts in different categories that were evaluated by a judging panel from Manitoba. Judy was awarded first place in the Large Quilt, machine quilted division for her creation called “Roses of Sharon.” The stunning piece was then judged amongst the winners of other divisions and her quilt was named Best in Show.
She hand appliqued every square on the quilt in a process she enjoys, even on a project of this size. “It’s relaxing,” she said. “I can do it while I’m watching TV.” She also quilted it herself. “It’s custom quilting,” she explained. “Mine is quilted in each square, not random pantograph.”
For at least a decade Judy has had a dedicated sewing room and she’s produced countless items, often for other people. “People are always phoning for baby quilts,” she said. Those quilts, as well as table runners keep her busy, but she also tries to do at least one big quilt a year. It’s truly a labor of love, given the hours it takes to do the kind of work she does. That, and the cost of materials, is something she considers before starting a new project. “The price of fabric is going up so I’m careful in what I choose. It’s got to be something I really like and want to put time into,” she said.
Judy has mentored other quilters and is part of a local group that meets once a month at the United Church. “We encourage one another,” she said, and the group is certainly open to newcomers who want to learn the craft. “It’s not cheap to get into,” she said, “but once you have your tools to get started it’s just a matter of what you want to spend on fabric.”
Winning Best in Show is a remarkable accomplishment, but Judy’s humbleness is what stands out. “I’m not that comfortable with getting attention, it’s just something I love to do. I have so much fun.”