If you follow me on social media, you are probably aware that one of my quilts - Scattered - won a ribbon at QuiltCon over the weekend. I can't express how amazing, exciting and mind blowing this is for me. Just getting a quilt juried into the show is quite an achievement in my mind, so to win third place in the Improvisation category kinda blows my mind. I've recieved SO many lovely messages and comments about my quilt, and loads of people have been sharing it on Instagram which is such a massive compliment, thank you. I think I'll be on cloud 9 for quite some time! Image credit goes to my gorgeous friend Lorena.
This quilt also won a couple of ribbons at other quilt shows last year - it came second in the Modern category at the Australian Machine Quilting Festival (AMQF) in August 2016, and it came second in the Improvisation category at the Australian Modern Quilt Show in November. I also entered it into our local quilt show - Island Quilts - in September, where it wasn't awarded anything. Which brings me to the point of this post. Please keep in mind this is all my opinion - I'm not an expert on this stuff, and I'd love some input from those of you who are!
I'm not an experienced quilt show enterer by any means, and there are still lots of aspects of the jurying and judging process that are a bit mysterious to me, but I do have a few things I have learnt about entering shows that I wanted to share. There are a few aspects of quilts that seem to be important across the board, especially for more traditional quilt shows - having a perfectly square and flat quilt, making sure all your threads are buried into the quilt top, having full binding and having perfectly mitred corners - but not all of these seem to be as important in all categories, or indeed in all shows.
If you are serious about entering quilt shows, and you have the opportunity to get feedback from the judges, I think this is a really valuable thing to do. When I entered my quilts into AMQF last year, I chose to pay a small additional entry fee in order to get a feedback sheet from the judges. I am SO glad I did this - it was well worth the cost. The judging panel for that show was fantastic (Sue Patten, Claudia Pfiel and Michelle Bouchier), and they gave such valuable comments on each of my quilts, especially areas that needed improvement. Two of my quilts (Aviatrix and Galaxy) were entered into the one of the traditional categories, and Scattered was entered in the Modern category - and although each of the categories had the same judging criteria, certain aspects weren't as important in the Modern category, compared to the more traditional category. I'm unsure if this is the case across the board, but it was refreshing to see these judges appreciated Modern quilts as being a little different from traditional quilts. As you can see from the feedback sheets below, quilting execution (ie stitching in the ditch etc) wasn't considered as important in the Modern category.
So although I'm still learning about the whole quilt-show-entering thing, I learned a lot from getting proper feedback from these judges. One thing I have started doing since getting this feedback is stitching down my corners! It's a whole new world once you start entering shows (and as I said before, I'm seriously a newbie without a whole lot of knowledge about it all), but it's something I really enjoy. This comment by Jenny Bacon (taken from the Judges Report after Island Quilts 2016) really stuck with me:
'On judging day the judges can only compare the quilts in any category with each other, each show has different categories and different combinations of quilts. A quilt that wins a prize at one show may not win at the next, this is a normal consequence of the way quilt shows are organised, you will be in a different pool of entrants.
For those of you who aspire to winning prizes there are some areas we noticed this year that need to be considered. Prizewinners will demonstrate their mastery of both design and technique, and others may miss out only because on the day someone else managed one or anther aspect better. We can all improve; and those of us who make quilts for display practice all aspects to produce the best we can.'
This comment has so many important take-home messages in it. And when it comes down to it, as much as quilts are judged on their technical details, design and originality is always an important consideration. To me, judging a quilt show is like judging any form of art, and I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be bombarded with quilt after quilt and have to decide which is the best in each category.
I fully realise that entering shows isn't every quilters cup of tea, but for me it is a lot of fun to see your quilt hanging in a show and being seen by lots of people who appreciate quilts. I don't think I'll ever be a really serious show quilter (I think striving for that level of perfection would kill the joy for me), but I do think I'll continue entering shows and pushing myself to improve my technical skills. I'm really interested to hear other people's thoughts on all of this, so if you have anything to add I'd love to chat with you about it!
I'll be back to share another recent finish once I get around to getting some good photos - hopefully later this week!