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Thread: What are judges looking for in quilting contests/competitions? A newbie to this

  1. #1
    arpdesigns28's Avatar
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    I have been looking at entering into a couple of quilting competitions, and wondered what I need to know before starting a contest/competition quilt. I have some ideas, but want some advice from more of the veterans of quilting competitions. Would love some advice from you!! Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I'm going to find out! My sister almost begged me to enter a 50 x 50 quilt in to their local fair. I'll find out on Wednesday when I go to the Fair and see what they look for and their comments. Almost afraid to look. It's not a color combo most would look for - purples and greens, HST, machine pieced and hand quilted. The person who it is intended to be a Christmas gift for likes purple but it was hard to find THE right shade of purple so there are many. And the greens come from when I was shopping with her and she was looking for a plate for her kitchen but it wasn't the right shade of green. Again, many shades of green.

  3. #3
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
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    It depends on the show.
    Some are looking for perfection---even to the point of checking the blind stitches where you've hand sewn the last side of the binding on and will make sure that they can't slide a pinkie fingernail underneath the fabric between stitches.
    Some just look for fairly well done, nice use of colors, or something unique and or outstanding.
    Some it's just people choice so it just needs to be something with a WOW factor or humorous.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    My advice is to make a quilt you love, and make it the best way you can. If you worry about what judges will say, you'll break your heart if it doesn't win.

  5. #5
    Senior Member LaurieE's Avatar
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    I will never enter a quilt in a local show again. A lot of quilters don't even have a chance.

    The judges are usually local, within the state, not the same town. To make a long story short, the reason my daughter won a blue ribbon for her wholecloth quilt was because she overheard the judge say she couldn't tell if the wholecloth was made by another local quilter (the judge mentioned that quilter by name) or someone else so on the off chance that it was made by that other quilter, my daughter's wholecloth got a blue ribbon.

    That comment by the judge said it all.

    I do have to brag that my daughter's hand quilting is excellent. I am even in awe at how many stitches per inch she gets and they're even too.

    Bottom line, the local judges know the work of the local quilters and give ribbons accordingly.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland
    My advice is to make a quilt you love, and make it the best way you can. If you worry about what judges will say, you'll break your heart if it doesn't win.


    :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

    Janet, this is exactly the way I do it before entering a quilt show. I just try to do my very best. That's all I can do.

  7. #7
    Super Member Lynnejean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieE
    I will never enter a quilt in a local show again. A lot of quilters don't even have a chance.

    The judges are usually local, within the state, not the same town. To make a long story short, the reason my daughter won a blue ribbon for her wholecloth quilt was because she overheard the judge say she couldn't tell if the wholecloth was made by another local quilter (the judge mentioned that quilter by name) or someone else so on the off chance that it was made by that other quilter, my daughter's wholecloth got a blue ribbon.

    That comment by the judge said it all.

    I do have to brag that my daughter's hand quilting is excellent. I am even in awe at how many stitches per inch she gets and they're even too.

    Bottom line, the local judges know the work of the local quilters and give ribbons accordingly.
    The last quilt show I went to there were so many quilts that were excellant and didn't get ribbons and so many that were just okay and got ribbons that it was clear to me that the judges were biased toward quilters they knew. I will never enter a competition for this reason.

  8. #8
    Super Member ckcowl's Avatar
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    different shows/contests have different guidelines/rules, and judging criteria. check the fine print on the ones you would be interested in submitting to. but basically; workmanship; visual appeal; balance; color;subject matter and finishing techniques are most often common basics.
    some shows/contests have size requirements which must to adhered to or technique requirements...like hand quilted or machine appliqued...you need to read the rules for the contest/show you wish to enter then just do your best work.

  9. #9
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    When you enter be sure you read the criteria carefully and enter it into the proper division or group.
    It is unfortunate that judges let their personal opinions overshadow their unbiased judging but that is the chance one takes. Try to find out what the judging criteria is and how it is judged - elimination system or point system. If more weight is given to the quilting then that is what will get the most attention.
    Overall you should: good piecing that is accurate. Long seams should be straight and not wiggly. Binding should be full and straight with small stitches on the back and consistently well mitred corners. Watch to make sure the quilt is square and not wider at the bottom than the top. You can check this by laying out the quilt and bring bottom edge to center and see if it is the same.
    For me color is a personal choice by the quilter even tho I might not like the color choises. However, the placement of the color is important to emphasise the patchwork or applique pattern and bring some unity to the overall appearance.
    Quilting: Machine should be even and consistent with no knocks or eyelashes on the back. Hand quilting should be even and not necessarily fine fine stitches. They should be even and penetrate evenly on the back. I don't believe they should be the same length on the back as the front. However, some judges want to see that.
    So bottom line is to read rules carefully. Try to find out who the judges are. If you don't understand something or disagree with the comments then contact the show chair and ask for clarification.
    Some groups want few comments while others want if possible to have very clear and detailed comments. It depends on the number of quilts entered if this can be accomplished.
    If the show is being judged by a National Quilting Assn Certified Judge you should be assured they he or she will judge fairly and without prejudice.

  10. #10
    Junior Member jackkip's Avatar
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    the one thing you need to remember is, it is always up to the judges opinion. Each judge is different and one may like one thing and another judge may like something else. I have a quilt that has been in 5 shows and won 3 ribbons. One was for 1st place in category, best machine quilting, and honorable mention. the last 2 shows it was in, nothing. but the really amazing part was one show the judge commented on how my quilting needed much improvement. Then the very next show, I won best machine quilting. :shock:

    So at the end of the day, it all comes down to someone's opinion. so keep that in mind and enjoy the quilt shows. It can be very fun, but very frustating if you have high hopes. You never know when yours will be the "one"!

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