Two 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.
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.
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.
That’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!
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.
Dizzy 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!