New Mexico
 Quilters Association



It only takes one ticket to win!

As the dawn patrol rises against the backdrop of a full moon, New Mexico Quilters Association members gather inside their chilly booth at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to set up for a day of sales during the nine day event held each October. For the quilt guild, it is a 35-year tradition, beginning in 1982.   The star of the show is the unique balloon quilt created for the year.

Each year, a one-of-a-kind hot air balloon quilt is designed and completed by the guild members, and serves as the major fundraiser for the organization.  Visitors from around the world are thrilled to see the handmade treasure that they have an opportunity to win for the price of a $2 raffle ticket.  A drawing is held the last day of each fiesta.  Winners have come from across the globe. NMQA’s booth at the Balloon Fiesta also features numerous other balloon-themed crafts made by our members for sale as well. Visitors are quick to comment, “Nice to see things not made in China.”

A year prior to each Fiesta, the guild conducts a competition requiring the submission of a drawing for the quilt design.   You do not have to be a member to submit an entry for the quilt’s design.  Once a design is chosen, the members start assembling applique parts representing the actual hot air balloons chosen to depict on that year’s quilt.  Balloon pilots provide written permission for their balloons to be displayed on the quilts.  The quilt typically requires more than 700 hours to complete, and involves as many as 30-50 quilters working as a team.  A single applique balloon may require up to 20 hours of handwork.  Each quilt is an original.  Once done, there will never be another one like it.

Proceeds from the raffle ticket sales support the quilting guild’s outreach efforts in the Albuquerque community, such as providing literally hundreds of quilts for sick and injured children and adults in hospitals and service organizations.  Balloon Fiesta proceeds help pay for local and internationally known instructors to offer state-of-the-art inspiration and education for members and friends to support their passion for quilting. The proceeds from this one major initiative help support Quilt Bank, and support funding for judges for the annual New Mexico State Fair and the biennial Fiber Arts Quilt Show.




Anyone may submit a design for a future NMQA balloon quilt.  The rules are as follows:

Entries may be submitted by mail to NMQA Balloon Quilt Design Contest, P.O. Box 37133 Albuquerque, NM 87176-7133 or hand delivered to the President, but must be received no later than September 1 for the next year’s quilt.  The name, address, telephone number and email address of the designer must be included with each design. 

Balloon Quilt Design Contest

1. Contest is open to current NMQA members, amateur or professional, as well as non-members.  Non-members must pay a $15.00 entry fee at the time the design is submitted. 

2. Design must be original or an adaptation of a traditional pattern.  It must be hot air balloon related. 

3. Design must not have been previously depicted in fabric or any other media. 

4. Entrants may enter as many designs as they wish. 

5. Design must be for a one-sided quilt that is at least 72”X72” but no larger than 72”X96” and may be either horizontal or vertical. 

6. Design must contain at least 30, but not more than 60, balloons.  Those included on the design may or may not be particular balloons, but the general size and placement of all balloons must be shown.  Balloons to be depicted on the quilt will be chosen from release forms on file with NMQA. 

7. Design must be drawn to scale and the scale size must be identified. 

8. Design must be in color (e.g., pencils, crayons, markers, paints).  Designer should submit a detailed description of the designer’s concept of the completed quilt and a name of the quilt. 

9. Winning entry becomes the property of NMQA and will not be returned.  Efforts will be made to preserve the integrity of the original design but it is subject to adaptation or simplification for construction purposes by the judges or the Construction Committee.  If significant changes are to be made, the designer will be consulted.  If the designer does not approve, the quilt will be produced as “an adaptation of a design by (name of designer).”  All other entries will be returned if a SASE is provided. 

10. NMQA has the right to reject any design. 

11. Judges for this contest will be selected by the NMQA President and will include two (2) members from the community and three (3) NMQA members, including at least one past Chair of the NMQA Balloon Construction Committee.  Judging will be done according to the following criteria: 

  • A. Innovation/originality of design. 
  • B. Visual impact/overall appearance. 
  • C. Balance of design elements. 
  • D. Use of color. 
  • E. Suitability of Balloon Fiesta theme. 
  • F. NMQA member-winner designs quilt, chairs the Construction Committee, and directs quilt through completion. 
  • G.  Winner designs quilt, does not chair the Construction Committee and participates in the construction. 
  • H.  Winner designs quilt and gives up all rights and responsibilities.  NMQA is in charge of the Construction Committee and constructs the quilt. 

12. Winner will be contacted by telephone, email and /or mail.  An announcement will be made in the issue of the Quilters’ Quill that follows notification to the winner. Others who submitted entries will be notified at the same time as the winner. 

13. Winner will be awarded $150.00 and will choose from the following construction options. 

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