Monday, 27 February 2017

On quilt shows and ribbons...

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!

xx Jess

15 comments:

Charlotte said...

congratulations on your QuiltCon success! That really is the most beautiful quilt :-D

Cheryl said...

Congrats on your win, I loved being able to see the quilt in person!

elizabethdee said...

yay! So happy for your win!

Valerie said...

I too loved seeing your quilt at QuiltCon and was excited to see your Instagram name as I know you by nothing else! Judging sheets can be baffling! Just remember it is an opinion. This was my 1st QuiltCon and come from many years traditional. I was surprised to see so many quilts had binding machine sewn to the front and corners were open, not blind stitched. I think we take what we feel could be improved on but don't dwell too much on negative. It's an opinion. Do what you love!

Patchwork and Play said...

Congratulations on your recent achievement Jess! I am SO pleased for you!!! You are an awesome quilter with a fantastic career ahead of you! What doe sit mean that the corners need to be stitched down? Am I missing something here. The one (and only) quilt show I entered I was so let down by the judging process! I made a huge quilt that they insisted was wavy on the edges....and it wasn't!! They didn't say anything nice about my effort so I am not going to let myself go through that again! Beside I know what I like and that is often not what the judges do! As Valerie (above commenter) said- I'll do what I love!

barbaradougherty126 said...

congratulations! It is beautiful and one of my favorites!!! I am a new follower of yours too. I would be petrified to enter a quilt, lol.

Karen said...

Such a well deserved award--congrats! And to think it started its life as a teaching tool. Gotta love where improv can lead :)

Louise said...

I'm so glad your quilt won! It's a beauty and you deserved the ribbon.

Thank you for sharing this perspective on entering shows. It's really interesting and useful. I'm always surprised, even with my little charity quilts, how different people react to different pieces. While things like consistency of stitches can be measured, so many aspects of art are subjective and being "graded on a curve" against other quilts in a show can highlight that.

My favorite part of your post is this line: "...it is a lot of fun to see your quilt hanging in a show and being seen by lots of people who appreciate quilts." We quilters do love 'em, and I love seeing yours!

Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts said...

Stitching corners down? Didn't know we were supposed to do that, LOL! I'm just so insanely happy for you and proud of you for this win! Every image I see of your work pushes me that little bit closer to contemplating trying improv :P

leanne said...

huge congratulations for your Quiltcon ribbon Jess !! I think its fabulous that you are entering shows and doing so well :)

Jessica Wanda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cut&Alter said...

First up congratulations Jess!!! As you say just to have a quilt hanging in QuiltCon is very cool but a ribbon aswell ........ I knew nothing about Quilt Shows when I entered my first 18months ago now) and people kept saying that I was really brave. I didn't see it like that for me it was making something I loved and for that one it was a reason to use my new longarm machine. The thrill of seeing it hanging in a show was amazing (and the Judge's Merit ribbon was also pretty cool!!) I have entered 7 quilts in 3 shows since and have learnt so much from each one - whether it's a technique, an organisational aspect, even that finished is good enough sometimes. I would highly recommend that if people are sitting on the fence about entering a show that they do - it's not for everyone but it really is good fun!!

Helen said...

A huge congrats Jess! What an awesome achievement! The quilt is stunning.

EYSchmitt said...

What does "corners should be stitched down" mean?

FlourishingPalms said...

Jess, I was so very impressed with this quilt when I saw it at QuiltCon. You have "wowsa" design skills! Add uber-fantastic quilting skills, and there you have the recipe for a winner. Congratulations! For years I've told beginner quilting students about sewing closed the corners of their bindings. And now I teach the "No Tails Binding" method where the four corners are machine-sewn closed. Knowing this binding method is really beneficial when entering a quilt into shows. Judges never comment about that anymore, but find other wrongs to point out! :-) After entering quilts in shows for several years now, I don't do it often anymore. I find it can be expensive, and I'd rather spend $60-$70 on fabric than entering a show and paying for shipping... especially when there's no monetary compensation for "winning." And I won't ever be good enough to win a prize in a big show like QuiltCon. But you keep up the good work! You're young, skilled, and talented, so you have everything going for you.