Hoffman’s First Stitch

Rube Hoffman may not have known the enormity of what he set into motion back in 1924 when he started selling woolens to local department stores. That was the year that Hoffman California Fabrics was born. Rube eventually passed the business to his sons, Walter and Philip.

Walter, Rube and Philip Hoffman 1940 – via @hoffmanfabrics

The Hoffman brothers brought new life and fame to the company with their genuine love for the product, for a laid back Southern Californian lifestyle, and, of course, for surfing.

Now in their 95th year, the company still sees three generations of Hoffmans working together to further the brand on a daily basis. We love their story and have so much respect for what they’ve built. (pssst. Don’t miss a wonderful article about Hoffman in the Southern California issue of Quiltfolk!)

From cross-promotional business partnerships (Vans, Vissla, Rainbow Fins, Martin Shaprs and Herschel Supply Co) to influential product placements (Magnum P.I.!!)…

…cutting edge technology (Digital Fabric Printing) to age old printing practices in Bali, Hoffman truly knows how to make a strong mark in this creative industry of ours.

One of their long-standing initiatives, now in its 31st year, is the Hoffman Challenge. The well-respected annual event invites quilters, sewists, and crafters from all over the world to create something new and unique from a specific grouping of fabrics.

Aurifil has been a proud partner in the Challenge for years, curating coordinating thread collections and sponsoring the Best Use of Aurifil Thread category. We love the unveiling of the challenge fabrics each year and always get excited to see what you talented makers create with it all! (Click here to see all 2018 winners)

This year, the challenge pays tribute to Hoffman’s beginnings with Hoffman’s First Stitch. We love the vintage vibe and can’t wait to see what new works of art are inspired by these prints.

THE INTERVIEW (with Hailey Hoffman)
We absolutely love that Hoffman is a family company, much like Aurifil! Can you tell us your story?

My great grandfather, Rube Hoffman started Hoffman Woolens in 1924 selling wool to department stores. From there, my grandpa, Walter and brother, Philip paved their way in the business. My grandpa led the manufacturing side with the creation of the Aloha shirt and classic tropical prints while Philip grew the retail side of the business. Today, Grandpa Walter still comes to work and has a huge say when it comes to art and design, but my uncle, Tony is the CEO while my mom, Robin is the CFO. Aaron and I are the 4th generation of the company and we work together managing the retail side ranging from design, to the sales team, to marketing and all of that. We love that it’s our family’s business and we are excited to keep it going!

How long has the Hoffman Challenge been running and what inspired its creation?
The Hoffman Challenge is in its 31st year which makes it the longest running quilt challenge. It was started when two local guild members got their hands on a peculiar piece of Hoffman fabrics and challenged each other and their guild to a contest to see who could make something amazing with it! Since this guild was local to Hoffman, we caught wind of the idea and it has grown each year!

Has there been a favorite theme thus far?
I don’t think there has been a favorite theme, but one year a quilt was made that was a bunch of different Hoffman prints that were made into mini aloha shirts. My grandpa saw the quilt and LOVED it so he asked the artist if he could buy it. It hangs in his living room today 😊 I guess we all love the quilts and projects that really share our love for the Aloha spirit, the ocean, and our family culture.

Inspiration and Art from Walter’s Office

This year is Hoffman’s First Stitch – how did that all come about?
I’ve always loved the old advertisements and sales tools that great grandpa Rube produced for Hoffman Woolens and since it was our 95th anniversary I thought the old ads and logos would make for a great mini collection that pays homage to our start in wool. It kind of crosses the quilt + fashion pieces of our business!

The threads for the challenge this year are a bit different than normal – we have a compact box of 6. What do you love about this new package and the colors found within?
I love how bright and eclectic the mix of threads are. They bring out the fun and funky colors in the fabric line. I can’t wait to see what participants come up with!

What is your favorite part about running the challenge?
I LOVE seeing the finalists’ entries come in. They all get mailed to our office, and my favorite part is opening each box….it always a surprise!

What’s coming up for Hoffman this year – what can fans look forward to seeing?
Goodness, as always lots of new, amazing fabric. Our art department has some incredible designs coming down the pike. I also have a couple new programs to introduce to shops that will also give consumers some fun seasonal projects from Hoffman. So far, 2019 has been great and we’re excited to close out the year with a couple of bangs!

Hoffman’s First Stitch
100% Aurifil Cotton, 6 Large Spools 50wt (1422 yds each)
1104, 6736, 2105, 2783, 2520, 1147

To view this info on our website, click here. For purchasing, please contact your local Aurifil Dealer.

The Hoffman’s First Stitch digital print collection along with three Me+You Indah Batiks make up the 2019-2020 Hoffman Challenge Collection. For the first time ever, Hoffman Challenge participants are required to use all 6 fabrics in their artwork entry! Each of these challenge fabrics must be used in the body of the quilt top or garment in recognizable, but not necessarily equal amounts.

Hoffman’s First Stitch
– R4614 119-Vintage
– R4615 164-Antique
– R4616 351-Sunny

Me + You Indah Batiks
– 106 499-Chartreuse
– 123 76-Pewter
– 154 65-Denim

Quilts – Appliqued, Pieced, Mixed Techniques (pieced and applique), & Modern
Clothing – Any type of wearable garment
Accessories – Handbags, hats, jewelry , shoes, etc.
Best Use of Aurifil Thread – Thread painting, embellishments, beading, etc…


  • Deadline for entries: April 1, 2020
  • Notifications sent from Hoffman Fabrics: April 30, 2020
  • Once notified, accepted artwork needs to arrive at the Hoffman Fabrics headquarters by: June 25, 2020
  • 2019-2020 Challenge artwork will be returned to its owner: roughly April 2021

For more details, please visit the Challenge Brochure HERE.

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  1. Wow! Great write up about the Hoffman family and the Hoffman challenge! You even sort of mentioned me twice 🙂 First the picture of the quilt ‘Lucy in the Sky with 30 Years of Diamonds’ (first place in the Aurifil challenge) is mine, and interestingly enough the mini Hawaiian shirt quilt you spoke about Walter liking so much that he bought it was mine too! I love entering the quilt challenge every year and I love using Aurifil threads to help me achieve the look and feel I am striving for. Thank you for making great thread!

  2. Love the Hoffman Fabrics. I have done several challenges and 2 of my quilts did travel.
    My husband use to laugh at me. We would do a quilt shop hop to several shops and it seems the only fabrics I would be drawn to were the Hoffman fabrics. I would pull the bolts, didn’t look at make and most were Hoffman.
    I am looking forward to joining the challenge this year. Just need to find the fabrics.
    Thanks for the beautiful fabrics.

  3. Hoffman fabrics have always been my go to fabric, wether it is just sewing an outfit or quilting. The fabric has the best quality and freshness. Thank you to the Hoffman family for always doing and giving their best.

  4. I am so up set with the poor quality of the Hoffman fabric today. I bought “Poised Poinsettia” S#R7667 and it is so THIN. I will never use Hoffman again and will not recommend it to my students.

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