Each time I go to a local quilt show I see some quilts that I recognize from quilt store catalogs as kits or blocks of the month. Both types of quilts have the pattern and fabric already matched up and the purchaser simply has to cut the fabric, sew the pieces together, and quilt the top after layering with batting and backing. They are great boons for busy quilters who want to jump start their quilting or who are hesitant about fabric selection. Sometimes the kits or blocks of the month are so appealing the quilter has to make one just like the sample. And after all, that’s the goal of the kit designers.
What’s wrong with this you ask? Absolutely nothing – until those quilts are entered in a judged quilt show and critiqued for their color and design as well as their workmanship. The judges have no way to tell whether the color and design of a quilt are planned by the entrant, or by a designer or quilt store. Mixing kit/block of the month entries with from scratch ones in awarding ribbons is like comparing apples to oranges. This may be more of a problem in shows that use the elimination system of judging, but it can also be a problem in shows that use the point system. The quilt critique form of one show in my area allots 45 out of 100 points to color and design.
Am I suggesting that kit or block of the month quilts be excluded from quilt shows? Absolutely not, though some guilds say no kit quilts in their entry rules. However, I do think that kit/block of the month quilts should be evaluated differently from the way home grown ones are assessed. At the least, the judges should be made aware the quilts are made from kits. Possibly the judges should consider only workmanship for such quilts. I’ve found some guilds specify this in their show entry rules.
And even such an approach may be a slippery slope. The Spring Bouquet quilt kit pictured above comes with the applique pieces cut out and already attached to fusible material. I’ve seen longarm quilters advertising add-on services such as sewn on and stitched down binding. The “quilter” simply supplies the top and the fabric. It’s conceivable that everything about a quilt’s creation except sewing the top together could be outsourced, so to speak.
If the quilter is happy with the end product, that’s great. It certainly avoids that “dorky homemade look.” Just don’t judge the product the same way made from scratch quilts are.