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QUILTsocial blogger wins Best of Show at International Quilt Festival Spring 2018


All of us at QUILTsocial wish to congratulate one of our very own bloggers Claire Haillot for winning Best of Show at the Chicago International Quilt Festival in April 2018 for her Remembering Sochi Quilt. We are very proud of her for her achievement.

We invited Claire to share her experience and talk about the story that inspired her masterpiece.

Congratulations Claire!

Carla A. Canonico

Editor-in-Chief of QUILTsocial magazine

A Celebration of Color

If you couldn’t make it to the Spring International Quilt Festival in Chicago last April, let me tell you about it. The show is organized by Quilts Inc. and is the premise to the Fall show which takes place in Houston, Texas. The Spring Festival is a great show but is considered smaller than the Fall Festival which regularly attracts 55,000 people from over 35 countries around the world.

There’s shopping at more than 1,000 booths for quilts, fabric, supplies, and crafts, along with 550 classes and lectures for all experience levels. The festival features more than 1,600 quilts and unique works of textile art on display.

The Spring Festival is the debut of their special exhibit ”A Celebration of Color”. I had submitted one of my quilts to be featured in the show last January and was accepted. That was a good reason for me to book a trip to be a part of this great event.

What I truly never expected was to be the Best of Show winner!


Remembering Sochi quilt won Best of Show in 2018 Chicago International Quilt Festival
Remembering Sochi quilt won Best of Show in 2018 Chicago International Quilt Festival


Behind the scene of Best of Show

The big surprise happened at the end of March: I received a call at 9 pm saying that I had won the Best of Show ribbon. What was my first reaction? I asked them to double check their notes just to make sure there was no mistake. When they reassured me saying that I had won… well, I cried like a baby and said:

“I am sorry, don’t want to be rude… but I am going to hang up now”

I literally couldn’t speak!


View from the entrance of the International Quilt Festival in Chicago
View from the entrance of the International Quilt Festival in Chicago


When I got to the Spring International Quilt Festival, I noticed that my quilt was located at the very front of the show, with the three 1st place winners. It was very impressive to see all the people going down the stairs and then stopping to look at the four quilts.

Some moved on quickly, but most stayed to see my quilt up close. That’s when they would see the small details and we would start talking about how it was designed. It was a great moment as I got to share my passion/obsession with other quilters who understood what I was saying! Such a relief and a great sense of satisfaction!

The story of my quilt

It all began in February 2014 when the Winter Olympics began in Sochi. While my husband was watching the hockey games, I was obsessed with the intricate designs around the rink. I realized that there were many uses of the design, in various colors.

I remember seeing multi-colored flags and banners floating around as decorations in the Olympic village and that’s when I started to think that it would make a great quilt!

My five panels represent variations on the banners and are basically a succession of diamond shaped blocks, but it still took me two years of drawing and testing to finally understand how to construct my quilt. Why so long? Cause I’m a teacher at heart!

I wanted to design a quilt pattern while piecing Remembering Sochi to help others create their very own, no matter their skill level.

There are more than 200 different fabrics in this quilt. I knew the quilt needed lots of colors, so I started collecting fat quarters with big prints and lots of colors as of March 2014. The yellows and purples were the most difficult to find as they didn’t have much contrast. And this design needs lots of it to work.


I needed lots of fabrics to achieve the look I wanted.
I needed lots of fabrics to achieve the look I wanted.


Choosing the color for the border was probably the most difficult part of the whole quilt. I had envisioned it black, but once the panels were finished, it just wasn’t working. I auditioned whites, grays, chocolate, skin tone, even teal but it was the navy that made it all work.

I finally figured out all the details to make the quilt and began piecing it in November 2015. By Christmas, the quilt was off to be quilted by my very talented friend Colleen Paul. I knew exactly how I wanted the panels to be quilted but had no idea on the borders and sashing. Colleen once again worked her magic and quilted beautiful designs that complemented the panels.


Detail of the quilting of Remembering Sochi
Detail of the quilting of Remembering Sochi


While working on the quilt, I would send up-dates to my friend Deborah, founder of PlumEasy pattern. In spring of 2016, PlumEasy Patterns published my pattern calling it “Dancing Diamonds Art Quilt.”


Dancing Diamonds quilt pattern by Claire Haillot
Dancing Diamonds quilt pattern by Claire Haillot


If reading this blog made you wish you had attended the Spring International Quilt Festival: It’s not too late to see my quilt in the special Exhibit ”A Celebration of Color”! You can attend the Fall International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas taking place from November 8th to the 11th.

And if you’re thinking about entering one of your quilts, remember this: Great things can happen when we take a chance, pursue our passion and then exhibit our creativity. You might even win Best of Show!


Best of show ribbon is the most beautiful ribbon I've ever seen!
Best of show ribbon is the most beautiful ribbon I’ve ever seen!


Married with three young boys, Claire Haillot shares her passion for quilting among her neighbors in the United States and Canada as well as her cousins in France. Claire has been active in the quilting industry since 2004. At first, she opened a quilt shop and started to teach, write how-to guides and translate patterns and product information into French for American companies. In 2006, she started her own line of patterns and later began publishing patterns and articles in Canadian, European and American magazines. You might have seen some of her work in Quilter’s World, Pratique du Patchwork or Canadian Quilter. She decided to close her brick & mortar quilt shop in 2016 to be able to concentrate more on teaching, writing and creating. She collaborated with PlumEasy patterns to launch the Dancing Diamonds and Gem bag patterns. Claire has also won a few awards for her work: • Juror’s choice at the Salon 2012 for her quilt Thomas goes fishing • Second Place in Vermont Quilt Festival of 2014 for her quilt Bienvenue • Second Place in Salon 2016 for her Lone Star quilt, and • Second Place in Vermont Quilt Festival 2016 for her quilt Remembering Sotchi. Her quilt Remembering Sotchi will be part of the Special Exhibit "A Celebration of Color" at the Quilt Festival in Chicago and Houston in 2018.


  1. Sandy Allen

    Congratulations! Your quilt is stunning!

    I would have reacted the same way, I think. Wish I had been able to make it to Chicago this year. I would love to see this in person.

    • Thank you Sandy,
      It will be at International Quilt Festival in November in Houston! Perhaps we can meet there?

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