Tag Archives: quilt shows

I May Beg To Disagree

Recently I made a list of all the quilt shows and exhibits I’ve entered. It turns out I’ve been in more than I thought. To make my list I had to go through my files, which led me to the judges’ comments sheets I had kept from various shows.

Judges’ comments on Phosphenes, above:

First, the sheets offered insight as to what my work was being judged on. Second, they offered clues as to what weight the various criteria were given – design, workmanship, etc.  Here’s a sample of judging criteria used in the shows I’ve entered:

General appearance (10 points); design – top and borders, quilting, use of color; (45 points), workmanship – construction, techniques, finishing of edges (45 points)

Design and use of color, top construction, sashing & borders, quilting, edge treatment, embellishments, backside (no information on whether all are counted equally)

Best features, areas that most need improvement

Design – artistic impression/graphic impact, use of design/pattern in quilt top, use of color & fabric, degree of difficulty, quilting design, innovation/creativity; workmanship – piecing/applique, quilting technique

Appearance & design, construction, quilting, finishing, neatness, special techniques

Design – color, design, border/edge treatment, quilting design, degree of difficulty (50 points); workmanship – clean/straight, piecing and applique, quilting, finishing, backing (50 points)

The weight given to the various criteria is sometimes specified, as with the points systems above. More often, the entrant can only assume each criterion counts the same. Some shows use a scale from excellent to needs improvement. Others simply record comments with no criteria or “grade” given.

Another nuance of quilt show judging is the entry categories offered. The idea behind judging by category is to compare like to like. The categories can be by size (bed, lap, wall), by technique (pieced, appliqued, mixed), or a mixture. Some shows have started to offer an art or innovative quilt category.  A recent regional show ended up with subcategories under art quilts – images, color, abstract, etc.

I appreciate the efforts of quilt show organizers to be inclusive. I’ve been there. However, I still can’t wrap my head around the use of criteria such as backside (backing fabric complements front, seam lines run vertical) for art quilts. Conversely, I find it strange to judge the design of a quilt pattern or kit as that’s predetermined. If a Judy Niemeyer paper pieced pattern gets high marks for design, that is due to the pattern, not the quilt maker. The quilt maker should certainly get credit for color use if she chose the colors, but from there on it’s about workmanship.

Back to those judges’ comments on my work. The critique rated Phosphenes excellent for all aspects of design. Then for workmanship, the quilting technique was marked satisfactory, but the piecing was marked needs improvement because “points in straight blocks should match.” What?  I assume the comment refers to the diagonal pieced lines as I know the corners of the dark blue rectangles meet. I didn’t want or mean for the diagonal lines to meet. I wanted them jagged to convey a disjointed effect. Lesson learned: my meaning didn’t come across to the judges. A puzzling comment on another quilt concerned the back finish on the facing – “keep corners mitred on back binding.” While mitering is one way to join facing edges, many quilters (including big names) use squared off joins.

Overall, I get higher marks for design than technique, but I have to brag on the “very good applique technique” comment on Winter Fields.   Of course, they also wanted more quilting.

Finally, I’ve found that my work I think is great doesn’t win ribbons, while work I think is OK does.

The upshot for me is to stop entering most all-inclusive quilt shows and concentrate on art-focused exhibits and shows. If I want my quilts to be judged as art, then workmanship assessments are beside the point. Certainly any work of art should display good technique, but I don’t think painting awards are based on brush strokes. The art shows often are juried, so inclusion in the show is praise enough.


Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

It’s Show Time

I love viewing quilt exhibits on line, especially those held at locations I have no chance of traveling to. Here are links to some recent shows I’ve viewed.

The Open European Quilt Championship in Maastricht, Netherlands

Dineke Ugen

The Sisters (Oregon) Outdoor Quilt Show teachers tent

Shirley's Stars Sisters Quilt Show

All the quilts in the modern quilt showcase at the 2015 Houston International Quilt Festival

Deise and GoodwinI have mixed feelings about the quilts shown in the above photo. The one on the right seems very modern, yet the one on the left seems traditional. In fact, the only modern aspects of that one are the color changes in the half square triangles and flying geese.  I hope it’s the photo that makes the diagonal lines that go from corner to corner look curved. And you can see a piecing error in the upper right corner. Or maybe that was intentional.  My point is, I’ve seen very similar quilts in books of historic quilts where the maker ran out of a fabric and had to substitute others.


Filed under Inspiration, Quilt Shows

A Quilt Show Quandary

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.

Spring Bouquet Quilt Kit Featuring Over the Rainbow Batiks by Laundry Basket QuiltsPoppy Bella's Bird Quilt Kit Featuring Bella by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics

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.


Filed under Commentary, Snark