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Thread: Judging for Quilt Shows

  1. #1
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    I went last weekend to a local quilt show and I have a question for those of you experienced with quilt competitions. The show is one of the best in this area, I believe they accept up to 400 quilts ranging from contemporary art quilts to very traditional hand pieced and hand quilted pieces.

    There was an amazing quilt that had been entered in the show, it was under "Pictorial Quilts". The quilt was of a lighthouse with a shining light that lead to a mariners compass. The lighthouse sat on a break wall and below was water. There was a lot of white background, but it was intricately quilted, and I should add the quilting was PHENOMINAL. Quilted into the white background were anchors, boats, shells, and various other nautical elements intertwined with feathers, vining, intricate diamond cross hatched shapes...there were even tiny quilted swirls and shapes in the blue part of the quilt to look like waves and fish under the water. The top was likely paper pieced and probably not terribly hard to replicate, but the quilting was truly beyond the majority of what was displayed at the show.

    To my shock, the quilt didn't win even an honorable mention.

    I would really like to enter this show next year, it would be my first ever competition, but after this years show I am baffled as to what they must be judging on. Did this quilt possibly not win anything because it should have been entered into the competition under the quilting category rather than the pictorial category? From what I could tell it was very well made from top to bottom. But again I'm new to shows and there has to be something I'm missing. If it was entered as a pictorial quilt then it had to have been judged, and not just a show quilt.

    So to make a long question longer, what should I focus on when creating a quilt that I'd like to enter into a show? LOL* Have you seen quilts in shows that you were surprised to see didn't get any recognition?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    My first question would be, what did the other quilts in the pictorial category look like? The quilt wasn't being judged against all the quilts in the show, just the quilts in that category.

    Not every quilt can win. There are usually some fantastic quilts that don't do well in one show, but win in others. The best example I can think of is Sandra Leichner's "Tea with Miss D." It won absolutely nothing at Paducah last year, but went on to win a major prize at Houston, and prizes at every other show it's entered.

    As for what you should focus on, just make the best quilt that you can, that makes you happy. If the judges happen to like, so much the better. When you get it back from the show, look at the comments - hopefully they'll show you some way to make your next quilt better, and tell you what you've done right.

    Janet

  3. #3
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Many times, show organizers will give you the judging criteria if you ask them for it. Just tell them you are thinking of entering next year and you would like some idea of what your work will be judged on. Find out if you choose the category or if the committee does, whether the judges are local or certified, that kind of thing.

  4. #4
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    thats very frustrating...sometimes it really makes you wonder if its just a judge's personal taste...

  5. #5
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    if you want to enter a show and get a ribbon its best to study the winning quilts of that show.

    ribbons are based on what judges like - these are subjective for each show and area of the country.

    where i live modern quilts done by machine with lots of quilting win. if you drive 3-4 hours to the rural area of my state traditional hand pieced and hand quilted wins.

    then on top of the judges and whats popular in your area you have to know your competition.

    i live in an artistic community and some of the best quilt artists in the country live here so the competition is extremely tough to beat.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaR
    thats very frustrating...sometimes it really makes you wonder if its just a judge's personal taste...
    I've entered a lot of quilt shows. I've never felt that it was the judge's personal taste, but that the other quilts were simply better.

    Janet

  7. #7
    Super Member AlwaysQuilting's Avatar
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    When Simply Quilts was still on the air I heard Alex Anderson mention that she'd entered one of her quilts in a show and it didn't win anything.
    Then she entered the same quilt in a different quilt show and it won.
    So it's very subjective.

  8. #8
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland
    I've entered a lot of quilt shows. I've never felt that it was the judge's personal taste, but that the other quilts were simply better.

    Janet

  9. #9
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland
    As for what you should focus on, just make the best quilt that you can, that makes you happy. If the judges happen to like, so much the better. When you get it back from the show, look at the comments - hopefully they'll show you some way to make your next quilt better, and tell you what you've done right. Janet
    Really, you can't do more than that.

    Sharon Schamber, she of a gazillion Best of Show ribbons, made a really interesting comment on one of her videos (binding?).
    She said that at the big shows - like Houston/Paducah/Japan - the top quilts are all pretty much equal - especially from an artistic/visual perspective, and that the winner is sometimes then decided on something like the binding or the back.

    I don't know what show you're talking about, or what the competition was, but it's really possible that as fantastic as that quilt was, maybe the binding sucked...or the back wasn't as clean as the judges thought it should be, even though you thought it was the best quilt there.

    If your local guild has an annual show, you should volunteer to help with the judging. It was one of my most interesting quilt experiences when I did it for my guild years ago. All I was doing was holding the quilts for the judges to inspect, standing with my mouth zipped shut, but ears wide open. And it was fascinating to hear the comments they made.

    And the same thing happened - fabulous looking quilt, but the binding wasn't great, nor was the quilt perfectly square.

    So even though most don't make quilts for a show, myself included, I have to say that was an influence on really learning to do a great binding, making sure my quilts were square and making sure the back is pristine.

  10. #10
    Super Member kathdavis's Avatar
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    In our quilt shows around here, the visitors usually vote on the quilts. I entered five and one placed. Many of the other ones I entered were a lot more work and more inventive, but they did not place. You just never know what people are going to like. Below is the one that placed. I was thrilled because it was my first time to enter a quilt.
    Attached Images Attached Images


  11. #11
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    Make a quilt that will be a treasure for you, that way there is no
    dissappointment when others judge it. I have entered a few and whenits all said and done. Some have won , and others not. But I will have the piece for alot longer , so do not invest the time or $$ just on the idea/hope of a ribbon... because you can never really gauge the "direction of the wind" that day for the people judging.

  12. #12
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    Is the quilt square, Mitered corners on the binding, is the batting to the very edge of the binding, thus making it full. No thread showing through the top of the quilt.
    No starts and stops on the machine quilting showing.

  13. #13
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    I agree on the binding thing...judges are fussy about the corners being stitched down up the fold in the miter. that was one of the comments I got when my quilt was critigued by a judge. other comments were all good. I agree, do the best you can and go from there and learn from the comments.

  14. #14
    Senior Member quiltgran2's Avatar
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    Very nice quilt. It's just a great christmas quilt! Do you have the name of the pattern you could share with us?

  15. #15
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltgran2
    Do you have the name of the pattern you could share with us?
    She has to get permission from the quilt designer first. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    Just kidding.

  16. #16
    Super Member Jan in VA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTS
    Quote Originally Posted by quiltgran2
    Do you have the name of the pattern you could share with us?
    She has to get permission from the quilt designer first. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    Just kidding.
    LOL! Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, LOL!
    .
    But, that said, is it possible the pictural quilt was from a published pattern by someone other than this quiltmaker? Savvy judges will usually not award to those who've followed a pattern or jumped off on someone else's recognizable pattern.

    Jan in VA

  17. #17
    Super Member LindaM's Avatar
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    It also makes a difference in what the show organizers have asked the judges to do ... the Canadian Quilters' Association (governs the show judges for Canadian Guild shows) has very specific guidelines - for example, if the judges are to award first, second and third prizes, they cannot make any comments on any of the quilts; if the organizers are really looking for the judges to review everyone's quilt and comment, that is a different type of judging altogether. Different rules again if monetary prizes are awarded. I don't know all the rules, but I was very surprised by all the limitations placed upon the judging!

  18. #18
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    You also have to understand that just because the quilt is in the show, it may not have been judged. People have the option of displaying the quilt in the show, but not having it competitively judged for various reasons.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathdavis
    In our quilt shows around here, the visitors usually vote on the quilts. I entered five and one placed. Many of the other ones I entered were a lot more work and more inventive, but they did not place. You just never know what people are going to like. Below is the one that placed. I was thrilled because it was my first time to enter a quilt.
    I love your quilt! Can you tell me the name of the pattern?

    Thanks!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrider
    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland
    I've entered a lot of quilt shows. I've never felt that it was the judge's personal taste, but that the other quilts were simply better.

    Janet
    YES! i often wonder why people enter a COMPETITION then get all offended if they aren't the ones that win. there usually are only so many places awarded and not everyone wins. It can be a learning exp. if the judges do comment on your work. It doesn't mean what you did isn't good, just someone else's might have been better in some way. After all, by entering you are asking for the judges opinion.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bakermom
    It can be a learning exp. if the judges do comment on your work. It doesn't mean what you did isn't good, just someone else's might have been better in some way. After all, by entering you are asking for the judges opinion.
    One of my favorite comments from a judge is "it stood up well to tough competition."

    Janet

  22. #22
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaM
    It also makes a difference in what the show organizers have asked the judges to do ... the Canadian Quilters' Association (governs the show judges for Canadian Guild shows) has very specific guidelines - for example, if the judges are to award first, second and third prizes, they cannot make any comments on any of the quilts; if the organizers are really looking for the judges to review everyone's quilt and comment, that is a different type of judging altogether. Different rules again if monetary prizes are awarded. I don't know all the rules, but I was very surprised by all the limitations placed upon the judging!
    Wait, let me understand this.
    The judges are supposed to pick the top three, but not make comments on ANY of they submissions? Even for small guild shows?

    I would think, especially at the guild level, that would be reason why a lot of quilters enter a show in the first place - to receive the judges comments on the quilts. Constructive criticism. Need more work on the binding, not enough quilting, harmonious color, good border treatment. Pros and cons.

    As I wrote above, that's certainly what I took away from listening in on a judging session. Not that I was ever going to enter the quilt in a show, but that it could be better. And over the years, as time has allowed, I've redone the bindings on all my early quilts because they were, in fact, horrible.

    How strange not to allow comments.

  23. #23
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    Judging is definitely regional,, as well as what the judges are looking for.
    another point is if the quilter placed the quilt in the correct catagory, was she a professional,, and yes, judges are looking for originality.

    It is very important to read the entry rules before making a quilt, and entering it correctly.

  24. #24
    Senior Member quilter1943's Avatar
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    I remember her (Alex) saying that and have had that experience. One judge might look at the corners, another at the stitching if it's hand quilted. Color plays an important part also. Just do what you like and do your best. It's a learning process.
    Quote Originally Posted by AlwaysQuilting
    When Simply Quilts was still on the air I heard Alex Anderson mention that she'd entered one of her quilts in a show and it didn't win anything.
    Then she entered the same quilt in a different quilt show and it won.
    So it's very subjective.

  25. #25
    Super Member JUNEC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaR
    thats very frustrating...sometimes it really makes you wonder if its just a judge's personal taste...
    That would be my thought

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