I spent April fools day booth sitting at the Original Quilting and Sewing Expo held at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio. First, I gave out information about the October 22 Mutton Hill Quilt Show sponsored by the Summit County Historical Society, and finessed answers to questions about how to launder old woven coverlets. I urged caution. Then, I moved to the SAQA booth to talk up the Celebrating Silver exhibit on display and SAQA membership.
While the expo had quilt exhibits and many classes, the meat of the event was shopping. I skipped all the machinery heavy and twee applique pattern booths to concentrate on unusual fabric displays. Vogue Fabrics had bolts of garment fabrics. I admired many, but didn’t partake. Another vendor featured garment woolens, something hard to find nowadays.
I was tempted by, but didn’t succumb to, unique garment patterns. Many were designed to cover figure flaws associated with over abundance of flesh. I thought those styles might overwhelm me, plus the prices started at $20. When raw materials and my time are factored in, the cost seemed too steep. It’s back to the consignment shops for me.
I parted with money for fabric scrap bags at SewBatik and Laura Murray. The latter had bags of kimono silk scraps that had been overdyed. While pawing through my booty I realized that I love scraps because the intimidation factor is gone with them. Give me 2 yards of pristine fabric and I’ll hold onto it for years for fear of “ruining” it. Scraps are leftovers and my thrifty upbringing impels me to use them for something.
Imagine yourself in a sea of determined women bent on the best bargains and the latest specialty rulers, watching demos of various arcane products. And not just sewing products. Vendors hawked jewelry, replacement windows (really,) lotions, and back pain relief. When classes let out the sea became a tidal wave, and lines to the bathroom wound around the escalators. For reasons that may lie in the building’s original incarnation as a Ford assembly plant, the most obvious ladies room had only three stalls, though there was room for three more. Tucked away in a back corner was a much more spacious, and empty, ladies room. You found it if you took the time to seek out the quilt displays around the perimeter of the sales floor.
Except for some modern quilts from the latest QuiltCon, the quilts were displayed away from the hubbub which was nice for viewing them. I see from the program there were 12 exhibits, but I recall only Along the Spice Route, Fall Leaves Quilt Challenge, Summit County Historical Society, Modern Quilt Guild, and Celebrating Silver. These exhibits were well worth seeking out.
Since I spent three hours looking at them, I’d like to share some of my faves from Celebrating Silver. First, here’s the Jennifer Day piece that garnered the most attention.
I admire the skill that went into this piece, but find the subject cloying. Now for some palate cleansers.
These silver miners were formed with cheesecloth and many other materials.
This kimono-like piece by Elena Stokes is serene and minimalist.
Thoughts on Quilt Show Judging
Recently I spent 9 hours volunteering as a scribe for the Mutton Hill Quilt Show, and have to tell you I’m tired of hearing about bindings. I joked to one of the judges that there should be ribbons for best binding.
Let me back up a bit. At show judging scribes write down the comments the judges make about the entries. The judges may say a lot more in discussion with each other, but the scribes write down only the official comments which are directed at both the strong and weak points of each quilt. The comments give more feedback than just ribbon/no ribbon.
The comments are meant as learning tools, not as hurtful criticisms. Often the comments concern technical points about quilt construction and quilting – are points sharp, do pieces match, are borders straight, are corners 90 degrees, are appliqued curves smooth, is quilt stitch length consistent, etc. Comments may also cover color choices in fabrics and quilting threads. Occasionally there are comments about a quilt’s design. Judges admire careful attention to detail and little extras in the way of matching up fabric patterns and embellishments. The little things do indeed count.
I typed up a lot of comments about bindings. They weren’t completely filled with batting, they were uneven, they were crooked, the corners weren’t mitered well, they weren’t securely sewn down.
Now, a carefully sewn on binding is one of the easier aspects of quilt making in that it’s all technique. You can get fancy with bias binding or changes in binding color, but it’s about squaring up your quilt before binding and careful sewing. Steam pressing and school glue can help a lot. I have links on my tutorials page about such techniques.
I get it’s a pain to be fussy about binding, but if you make a quilt you intend to enter into a judged show, then please save yourself from some negative comments by doing the binding well.
Other sources of negative comments? Dark fabric shadowing through light fabric. The solution is either to line the light fabric or make sure the dark fabric in a seam is cut narrower than the light fabric. Or, even simpler, you could press toward the dark fabric if feasible.
Then, there were comments about backtracking on machine quilting and obvious starts and stops. I think this may be more an issue with long arm quilting. Again, it’s attention to detail.
The judges were also wowed by quilts and said so in their comments. They joked with each other about drooling on the quilts, and were delighted to point out wonderful features to each other like kids in a candy shop.
If you enter a quilt in a judged show please look at more than any negative comments. The judges want to encourage you to improve your quilting and are happy to note the good points, too.
Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows
Tagged as Mutton Hill Quilt Show, quilt show judging