On Quilt Judging – Capital Quilter’s Vintage View

On Quilt Judging – Capital Quilter’s Vintage View

JudgePanelTwo weeks ago, I had three quilts hanging in the Vintage View Quilt Show. This show was not juried and offered both judged and non-judged entry options. My first inclination was to put my quilts in non-judged. There’s a lot of fear with that word, “judge” and for me a second word, “competition”. In general, I’m not comfortable with art in competition. It conflicts with my analytical side. There’s just no fair and just way to objectively judge something that is purely subjective. Sure, you can look at the details like how perfectly a corner is mitered or if points match, but that is just one fraction of what makes an amazing quilt.

After some thought – I decided to try out judged. It isn’t the first time I’ve had work judged and I found myself interested in what they would say. As expected, I didn’t win any ribbons or amazing prizes, but I did get solid feedback. Here’s my three judge’s feedback forms.

The Bruiser

Bruiser won a 3rd place ribbon at the NC State Fair, but still had a few issues. There was a bit of a disaster with the label and one of the corners had a bit of fray from where the top what cut just shy of the finished size. The fair judges picked up on that and warned me to “watch my finishing”. Before I sent him into Vintage View, I made fixes to all the problem areas and gave it a good once over for unexpected issues. I felt like I was sending in a well-made, solid quilt that should fare well with the judges.

TheBruiserJudging

Bruiser left with the worst marks of the three quilts. I suppose this goes to show that the complexity of the design makes a lot of difference in overall judging. I feel like Bruiser is one of my best quilts. He’s simple straight forward patchwork, but I’m really pleased with my attention to detail. All of the points match, the fabrics are well balanced, and the quilting is nice and even. It is an interesting contrast to my scores on Dizzy Dresdens that is much less successful technical quilt.

 That’s One Hot Dog!

Here’s a quilt you haven’t seen yet (don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about very soon). Here’s what I knew before he went – the quilting was solid. All of the lines in his body were straight and well-spaced.  The FMQ work was mostly even with a few areas of minor tension problems, but nothing overly problematic. I ran out of time on this one and didn’t hand finish my binding. Machine binding is super messy for me. I expected a ding on that for sure. The design is quirky and fun, but doesn’t read like a dog when you first see it. He takes a bit to soak in which I expected a ding for too.

ThatsAHotDogJudgeThat’s one Hot Dog! did really well. The judges were complimentary and supportive. They were even kind enough not to tell me my binding could stand some hand work. I’ve also received several compliments after the show. It turns out He was really popular with kids and that just makes my day!

Dizzy Dresdens

So this quilt is full of technical issues. It is my first of so many things. Applique, FMQ, blanket stitches, dresdens, well, everything really.   I honestly expected this one to get straight up beat up. I sent it anyway because I love it. It is special to me and I just wanted to see it hang even if it isn’t the most professional looking quilt ever. Honestly, watching some people view it, I think they forgave my technical failures, it is different enough and pretty to look at none the less.

DizzyDresdensJudgingFormDizzy Dresdens did better than I expected. This quilt is so many firsts that there are tons of technical errors. I find it so interesting that other than the one Needs Improvement this quilt received better scores than The Bruiser. Of course, the comments were a little more to the point. Any thoughts on what “Binding should be filed to edge” means? I looked around the quilt and didn’t see any areas that the binding didn’t cover on the back or front edges.

 So why have them judged?

After this experience, my advice is to have your quilts judged when you have the opportunity. Not for fame, fortune, or fancy ribbons, but for honest feedback on where youre successful and where you can improve. If you’re good at critically examining your own work, you’ll know what that scorecard is going to say before you get it back. If there’s surprises – well – that’s a lesson in itself. I wouldn’t suggest for half a second that the judges are always right or their opinions should be substituted for your own, but I will suggest that it is a good tool to help form your own opinion. It is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to get honest, solid, critical feedback from well experienced and trained quilters. Having these quilts judged has made me better at what I do and trained my eye just a bit more than it was before.

So tell me about your judging/jury experience? Have you learned something from them or totally disagreed with them? If you haven’t been through the process, would you consider it?

 

There’s more! See all of my quilt show judging forms ever on the Quilt Show Judging Home Page!

48 Comments

  1. Having your quilt judged is such an interesting process. Once I took the plunge I found it very helpful…but it’s always a crapshoot! I’ve had my “masterpiece” completely overlooked while two quilts I waffled over entering for judging earned second place ribbons. So much depends on things beyond your control, like the judges and what they like, the competition in your category, etc. Ribbons are a great pat on the back but more important ( and more fun for me) is to make the best quilt I can and one I love. 🙂

    Reply
    • I think you’re very wise to acknowledge that! Subjective things are funny aren’t they? My favorites are almost always non ribbon winners. I sometimes wonder if it the natural resistance to authority in me or if my taste is just different.

      Honestly, while the judging was useful and an experience I will repeat, my favorite part about entering the show is seeing my quilts hang. I kind of love to hover around them and see people stop by and look at them. Know what is especially great? They often do stop and look! What an honor, maybe even cooler than a ribbon, right? 🙂

      Reply
  2. Interesting post. Thanks for sharing. I don’t have such experience but who knows. Maybe one day I’ll enter quilt somewhere 🙂

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    • Oh you should! Yours would do so well!! It’s really fun to hover near your quilts at the show and watch people look at them (did I just admit I do that on the internet??) I was so excited that people actually stopped and looked at them. It’s just an honor really. 🙂

      Reply
  3. OOh! Brave girl. I keep saying I’m going to send a quilt to be judged, but haven’t yet. Then there’s the whole shipping the quilts off….scary! But yes, I’d love to get real feedback from the ‘pros’ on my work.

    Reply
    • This one was local so all I had to manage to do was drive to a drop off location. Not too terrible. I’ll do it again for sure! Hopefully very soon!

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  4. I love all three quilts! I can certainly see why Hot Dog was a hit with kids (and adults). I’ve never had quilts judged, though it would be interesting to try. Thanks for sharing your results to give us an idea of what being judged entails.

    Reply
    • I sure hope it is helpful! It turns out, it isn’t as scary as it seem. 🙂

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  5. I’ve only had three quilts judged. I was very surprised at my results: first, second and third. I’m just sorry the judging didn’t include a judging page. I am so glad you had such great feedback and success!! You worked so hard on Dizzy Dresdens that you deserve all the acclamation! I love your hot dog too. I don’t think I’ve seen it before! I have a pattern similar to Bruiser. You’re absolutely right about panic right until you put it up on the design wall and see how well it came together! BTW, I made a b&w log cabin with blue centers. Yup, just like a bruise. I called mine Mouse because that is the gangsters term for a black eye!

    Reply
    • Wow! Awesome Terri! Congrats!

      Nope, That’s a Hot Dog! is new. He’ll be the topic of a few posts very soon, but I didn’t want to leave him out of the judging page. 🙂

      I totally love that you have a quilt named after a bruise. That’s just awesome!

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  6. I am with you about art and competition! While I do really well with taking criticisms from people who know me, I don’t think I could ever enter in the judged category. Great job with mustering up the courage! That alone deserves Congratulations! What An Achievement Susan, I think you did really well!! I am so proud of you 🙂

    -Soma

    Reply
    • Thanks Soma! I’m proud of you too. 🙂

      It isn’t so bad anymore. I guess with time comes a certain air of confidence. I know they aren’t perfect and I’m totally OK with that. In some ways it is almost a game… will the judges see what I see? I’m really looking forward to working on a few collaborative projects in the next few months. I always learn so much when working directly with other artists. Kind of like getting judged right?

      Reply
  7. Thanks for sharing your results. It is very vulnerable to put yourself out there for strangers to judge. Great results.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jackie! It gets easier with practice. I’m learning to define my success by my own rules that take into account other’s criticism. I’m still emotionally connected to my work though, so really mean comment sting!

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  8. I have never had a quilt judged. I think this goes back to my belief that quilts should be used, washed and loved. I don’t need that level of precision for a quilt intended for use. This doesn’t mean I don’t strive to make those perfect seams and points. Nor do I just slap a meander on the surface because that will fit the bill. I just don’t go out of my way to create a piece of work that would fare well in front of the judges. Should I? I’m not sure. I totally agree that getting feedback from a somewhat objective reviewer is important to the growing process.

    It has taken me ages to perfect my machine-finished binding and I still think it doesn’t look as nice as hand-finished. I use machine-finished for charity quilts and quilts that are meant to be used and abuse. Kid’s quilts need that extra support to survive all the love they will receive. I had to watch loads of tutorials before I found a method I really liked and that provided good results for me. The quilts I think are a little more precise and artistic get a hand-finished binding.

    Dizzy Dresdens is by far my favorite of the bunch. The quilting on this is just awesome! While I like an overall design that brings another dimension to a simple quilt, this quilt just begged to have custom quilting in all the different zones. You did a great job filling the different areas in and really adding that “wow” factor to the finished piece.

    Reply
    • Thanks Becca! I love Dizzy Dresdens too. I do wish I was a little bit of a better quilter, but hey, you gotta learn by doing right?

      I totally agree with quilts being used. I make mine to be tossed in the car, shared with the dog, and moved from bed to bed. I’m not sure I would have the patience to make a technically “perfect” bed size quilt, though I may try with a smaller art piece someday.

      Which direction do you start with your machine binding? Sew from the front or the back?

      Reply
  9. Thanks for sharing this. I have no idea how all this is all done. I think you did really well! Congrats on the Bruiser win! I think Dizzy Dresden is my favorite 🙂 Honest feedback can be scary. You’re awesome for putting yourself out there.

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    • Thanks Amanda! I like Dizzy too. I’ve been seriously considering re-making it with all my new skillz. I think it would be a totally different quilt. If only there were more time in the day!

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What say you?