History of the Challenge

Started in 1988, the Hoffman Challenge has grown to be a premiere traveling quilt, clothing, and doll collection. The quality of entries and a growing number of exhibit requests have led us to establish additional traveling collections. Currently, twelve collections travel coast-to-coast within the USA.

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), other 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, as well as, quilt and doll-makers guilds nationwide. For more information about the schedule of these events please visit our Exhibit Schedule.

In 2014, Melissa Ratzlaff took over as the curator of the Hoffman Challenge. She is preceded by Julie Breidt's 4 years as the curator. The prior 8 years was curated by Kelly Gallagher-Abbott. Margrit Hall managed the challenge between 1998 and 2001. Prior to Margrit, the curators and founders of the Challenge were Betty Boyink and Holice Turnbow. Visit the Curator Page to learn more about Melissa.

Previous Hoffman Challenges

Many talented fiber artists have taken part in the Hoffman Challenge. Click on one of the fabrics below to see more about that year’s challenge, or click on Past Challenges to see all of the fabrics selected in our 26 years of presenting these collections.


M7405 381G Pomegranate

L7292 68 Indigo

2009 Challenge Fabric
J8670 Lavender #70
2009 Challenge Fabric
H8709 Moss
Gold #98G
2009 Challenge Fabric
G9031 61G
2009 Challenge Fabric
F9006 Earth

E906 #211
G-Green Tea Gold

D610 #145

C516 #97

B720 #130
Multi Ribbon

Multi Gold

4381 #196
Black Cherry

9175 #130

6091 - Antique

How the Challenge Fabric is Selected

Selecting the fabrics for the annual Hoffman Challenge is a challenge in itself! Although all of the Hoffman Fabrics are famously inspirational, we must narrow the selection.

Some of the criteria used are:

A. None of the famous Hoffman batiks can be chosen for the primary challenge fabric, as these fabrics are handmade by individual artists, and no two yards are exactly the same. Since these fabrics are manufactured in other countries, weather and shipping issues can make availability somewhat unpredictable, so even though we love 'em, at this point we can't use them as our primary challenge fabric. We do, however, encourage you to use them in your entry!
B. The fabric has to be newly designed, never seen, and specifically released for the challenge.
C. We review the fabrics used in past challenges, and attempt to choose a totally new style and look.  Because Hoffman is famous for its very high quality multiple colored fabrics, chances are the challenge fabric will have numerous rich colors and shades, providing endless opportunities for all involved to choose coordinates and companion fabrics. To see all of the past challenge fabrics, Click Here.
D. Potential uses of the fabric are discussed.  This is a challenge, remember?  We consider how the fabric will look when it's cut and incorporated with other fabrics in clothing, quilts, dolls and accessories.  We think about use of both little bitty pieces, and large sections of the fabric.  When the entries begin to arrive, we never cease to be amazed how the challenge items use the fabrics in wonderful ways we could never have imagined!
E. A highly sophisticated selection process takes place over sandwiches and chocolate, and when the preliminary designs look just right on paper, sample "strike offs" are made to see how the design looks on actual fabric.  If these are as beautiful as we expect, the fabric is announced to all.  
F. The selected fabric is then released with applications to shops around the world.  Even though the process of selection was highly scientific, everyone feels obligated to put in their two cents!  The opinions and advice are carefully weighed, but like we said, this is a challenge!  It’s impossible to please everyone, but since the challenge uses Hoffman fabrics, you know that no matter what fabric is selected, it’s one of the best!

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