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Thread: What are quilting judges looking for when they judge a quilt?

  1. #1
    Super Member sandyl's Avatar
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    What are quilting judges looking for when they judge a quilt?

    I've been wondering what the judges look for when they are judging a quilt in competition. I have no desire to enter a quilt but would like to know what they look at so that one or some of my quilt may someday be worthy.
    Sandy

  2. #2
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    first & foremost--workmanship-
    then balance, visual appeal, the quilting being (an asset) to the quilt-
    the binding being well stitched, even, full.
    and workmanship!
    also- anything show or catagory dependant.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

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    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    The Earth without art is just "Eh".

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    Senior Member lfletcher's Avatar
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    Everything has to be well done from the blocks to the quilting to the binding. A simple quilt that is very well done will rate better than an elaborate quilt poorly done. I was actually told that by a certified quilt judge. I would also like to encourage you to enter shows. I took all the judge's comments to heart and improved much more rapidly than if I had not had that experience.

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    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I was told that if two quilts are neck and neck in the judging, the binding will be the tie breaker. Binding must be even, fully packed with batting, and hand sewn on the back. Corners are especially scrutinized. They should lay flat and the miter should be stitched closed.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
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    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I helped the judge at the fair by laying out the quilts for judging. One of the things she checked was whether opposite sides measured the same. It was surprising that some of them were far off.

  7. #7
    Super Member sandyl's Avatar
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    And binding was one of my questions.....is there a preferred size? I cut mine at 2 1/2" and did wonder about how or if they cared if it was full. I always hand sew to the back of the quilt. My goal is to try to make a quilt that would qualify. My tendency is "close is good".....riding fast on a horse it could/couldn't be obvious. But I'm ready now to greatly improve. And more often than not my pressing leaves a bit to be desired. Thank you to those that answered.
    Sandy

  8. #8
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandyl View Post
    And binding was one of my questions.....is there a preferred size? I cut mine at 2 1/2" and did wonder about how or if they cared if it was full. I always hand sew to the back of the quilt. My goal is to try to make a quilt that would qualify. My tendency is "close is good".....riding fast on a horse it could/couldn't be obvious. But I'm ready now to greatly improve. And more often than not my pressing leaves a bit to be desired. Thank you to those that answered.
    Sandy
    the reason why I mentioned the binding is a judge in the local fair saw one of my quilts and urged me to enter it, but she said I would need to re-do the binding. I had sewn it by machine, as I do all my quilts, so I guess shows are out for me.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  9. #9
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I don't think the width of the binding matters much (although you might want to make the binding on a small wall hanging narrower than that on a kingsize quilt). The important things are that it is even and full, corners mitered and hand stitched down. I don't know whether there's a firm bias against machine binding for all quilts. It seems to me that if it's well done, it should be considered for prizes.

  10. #10
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    I entered 3 quilts in our fair this year and received two 2nd place ribbons and one 1st place ribbon. All of my bindings were machine sewn. I did get a comment on one of the 2nd place quilts that my binding needed improving.The other 2 comment sections didn't even mention the binding. Part of my reason for entering was the judge's comments, especially regarding my machine sewn binding.
    I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business. - Michael J. Fox

  11. #11
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    I have a friend that makes beautiful quilts and has won soooo many ribbons. Her bindings are perfect. She shared her secret with me a few weeks ago. She cuts her binding 2 1/2 inches, but when she sews it to the quilt on the front with machine, she uses a 3/8 inch seam allowance. They are always full and firm. I just tried this on a baby quilt for my first great granddaughter and it works. Nicest binding I have ever done.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    the reason why I mentioned the binding is a judge in the local fair saw one of my quilts and urged me to enter it, but she said I would need to re-do the binding. I had sewn it by machine, as I do all my quilts, so I guess shows are out for me.
    Please don't let that stop you. I think we get too wrapped up in this "binding must be perfect" idea.

    The Vermont Quilt Festival uses a point system in their judging. Out of 100 points, binding accounts for 5 of them. If you make a really lousy binding, you will lose 5 points, which may be the difference between Exceptional Merit and First Place, but it certainly doesn't lock you out of a ribbon.

    While other shows don't use the same system, I am sure that the binding is not the be all and end all of judging. How do I know? I've entered quilts with some pretty sad binding, and won ribbons with them.

    Make the best quilt you can, the best way you know how. Make it a design you love and don't obsess over what a judge will think. If you love the quilt, then anything they say won't matter - in most cases, their comments are helpful. You might surprise yourself with a ribbon....but you won't if you don't enter.

    Janet

  13. #13
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    I had a quilt entered into a show. I had given it as a gift , and the new owner thought it worthy of showing. To my shock it took a top prize.... and it had a machine stitched binding. I was stunned first that it took a prize, second that with a machine stitched binding it was even considered.
    I still think it strange she entered it in a show, not being the creator.

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