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Thread: Please, I need advice ASAP from someone familiar with judging.

  1. #1
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    Hi All,
    I haven't posted in quite awhile, staying busy and trying to keep out of trouble! Now I would appreciate some advice as soon as I can get it. It will take a few sentences to lead up to my question, so please bear with me.... Here we go: I originally had visions of myself making very elaborate quilts with extensive intricate quilting, but guess what?? You got it! I don't have time!!! I started longarm (Gammill) quilting for others about 4 years ago and just continue to get busier and busier. Usually I just do what the customer wants, but if I feel something won't work out well, I'll offer suggestions. The local fair is coming up in less than 2 weeks and a customer dropped off a top,etc. at one of the local quilt shops for me to complete for her for the fair. My husband usually picks them up at the shop for me, so I just this morning looked at it, altho I've had it since last week. I don't know whether to question her choice of backing or not. When she had originally talked to me she said this was her "Masterpiece" and she has done a very nice job. Many flying geese blocks of a wide variety of white and black prints with 3 large panels of hand embroidered black on white wintry scenes. I know she is already concerned about me being able to get it quilted and get it to her in time for her to finish it, so I hesitate to suggest that for backing I would have chosen a more central theme oriented design. She has a butterfly/floral white on black print which to me seems too much like summertime. BUT...I have not entered in competitions due to my reasons above and truly have no idea whether the choice of backing is judged in how well it relates to the quilt top. I know she is already a bit "antsy" and I just don't want to upset her further unless it is worthwhile, that is, for her to have to go at this late date to shop for a different backing. I would sincerely appreciate advice! Thanks so much in advance!

  2. #2
    Super Member sahm4605's Avatar
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    I am new to quilting and I think that she might have wanted it reversible for maybe summer and winter. one side being more winter and one more summer. but that is just my take. I would call and ask her if that is what she had intended. but that is just me. you can put it to her that you just wanted to make sure that she was still happy with the backing fabric and the way she wanted it quilted.

  3. #3
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    Hmmmmmmm.....if she has already stated it's "her masterpiece" it kinda leads me to believe that it is currently at what she would consider the pinnacle of perfection. I would say in your position, you are able to speak to her choice of quilting and gently steer her toward a motif that compliments the patterns of the quilt, but the backing? That is part of her quilt. She must have chose it for a reason. The only way I'd say you can mention it is if it contradicts what she wants you to quilt. Like,

    "Janie, hey, it's Crazyquilter. I'm getting ready to begin quilting Your Masterpiece. I love it so much...you did a great job! I have a question though....I know you said you wanted (feathers) for the quilting, but I'm not sure it goes with the backing. Do you have another back that was in the running for this one? Or, would you like me to quilt it like (that other one I did for you)? I know this quilt is really important to you, so I wanted to just touch base with you before I began..."

    or something like that. Even so, this sounds like you're saying something about her choices for her quilt. So, I dunno if I'd still say anything.

    Got pics?

  4. #4
    Super Member ckcowl's Avatar
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    the only thing about the back the judges are going to (judge) is whether or not it is square, with filled binding ect. the backing does not have to 'match' the front...lots of people make what they consider reversable quilts with one side being 'wintery' and the other 'summer-y' or pieced with what ever scraps they have, or just muslin...it is all ok...the workmanship is what matters not the subject. so, get it quilted for her, she is running out of time. as a long arm quilter i have seen lots of different backings come through the door...it is the choice of the quilter to use what ever she/he likes.

  5. #5
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    I think Fair judges are a breed unto themselves, but you never know. Appropriateness of fabric choices is a valid criteria for judging and backings are part of the quilt so they DO count. It's up to the individual judge and the show committee how much weight they carry.

    If I were in your place, I would give the quilter a quick call just to make sure she's positive about the backing. I work very closely with my longarmer and we compete together, so I know she'd be calling me and I know I'd be grateful for that call even if I was certain about my choice of fabric. We work on the "better to be safe than sorry" model.

    Think about how you would feel if there's an adverse comment on her judging sheet about the choice of backing fabric and you didn't say something when there was still time to change it. I guess I'm saying it depends on your relationship with the quilter.

  6. #6
    montanablu's Avatar
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    You might consider asking her if she knows about the judges criteria. Something like - 'LOVE your quilt, you've done an excellent job on it. I've not been around the judging aspect of quilting before, so I don't know how they go about it. It seems fascinating, & there's so much to look for. Had a question tho - I noticed that your back has a summery theme & the front has the winter scenes. Do the judges care about the back working with the front? ' Tell her again what a wonderful job she has done, & that you are going to do your ultimate best on the quilting for her. It doesn't sound critical this way, just curiosity on your part. And the extra praise would soften any alarming feelings she may initially have.

  7. #7
    montanablu's Avatar
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    Also wanted to point out that judges are indeed a breed of our own. (Yes, I have judged several times before in different states) Some DO care if the back & front work well together & would deduct points if they don't. Others don't care about that so much, more about the workmanship. From what I'm seeing lately, judges who personally like the newer trends are the ones who are most likely going to deduct for mismatched backing choices. More traditional-preferring judges, not so much. Sadly, a truth about judges is that many of them judge from their personal preferences way too much, failing to adequately reward the quilter for HER vision/artistry in addition to her workmanship. (I'll get off my soapbox now...)

  8. #8
    Super Member sahm4605's Avatar
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    I do agree montanablu, when you are a judge you should be fair about the judging and not going by your own tastes. I have seen a couple of quilts that I didn't like the fabric choices but loved the patterns and the quilting on it. so we must all be aware of those tendencies when we are judging others work. that being said all art is subjective, look at the modern art section in the art museums.

  9. #9
    montanablu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sahm4605
    I do agree montanablu, when you are a judge you should be fair about the judging and not going by your own tastes. I have seen a couple of quilts that I didn't like the fabric choices but loved the patterns and the quilting on it. so we must all be aware of those tendencies when we are judging others work. that being said all art is subjective, look at the modern art section in the art museums.
    Re: modern art section, no kidding!! While I like some of it, some others...makes me wonder what were they thinking??! (& some, what were they ON??!!) I no longer go w/DH - he speaks his mind a little too loudly. I'm afraid I'll either die of embarassment or the artist will overhear & hurt him! lol
    Ah, gotta love diversity as a true art form:)

  10. #10
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    as a judge i don't look at choice of backing and those with whom I have judged do not either. The backing is looked at if smooth etc. I think you are trying to second guess the judging process. The comment above is correct about judges at county fairs. A certified judge will not give weight to backing fabric. Others may which enters the idea of personal preference which should not be part of the process.
    Even those quilts that are heavily embelleshed on the back are not (in my experience) given consideration even tho it upsets the quiltmaker.
    Your customer has chosen the backing. Use it. I don't believe it is your responsibility to question it. What if it is a case where the judge did make a negative comment, then it might be considered your fault that it was changed.

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