Quilting on the Next Level: What are the Judges Looking For?

Klaudeen Hansen, May 2014, National Quilt Association Show, Columbus OH Quilt in background Saffron Splendor by Pat Holly

Klaudeen Hansen, May 2014,
National Quilt Association Show, Columbus OH
Quilt in background Saffron Splendor by Pat Holly

So, what are the judges looking for? To figure that out, we turned to Klaudeen Hansen, who has judged over 38,000 quilts. Nancy Zieman credited Klaudeen with the standardization of quilt judging, and called her the “mother of modern quilt shows.” Klaudeen is in the Who’s Who of American Quilting, and her quilts have been in invitational shows in the US and Europe.

Klaudeen says, “I grew up with 4-H, and was used to having my work judged. I was the helper person at the county fair, pinning on the ribbons, etc. I often thought the judging was completely arbitrary. There really was no rhyme or reason to how they picked the winning quilt. Even as a kid, it seemed to me there should be criteria.”

In the 1980’s, Klaudeen was teaching quilt making and encouraging her students to enter quilt shows. The AQS began to offer some very big prize money. Klaudeen was making quilts and entering them into contests. The National Quilting Association wanted to develop a pilot program to certify judges, and Klaudeen submitted a syllabus. She spent the next twelve years teaching people all over the United States how to judge quilts.

In an interview with Nancy Zieman (https://wpt.org/SewingWithNancy/Video/nancys-corner-klaudeen-hansen), Klaudeen discussed the judging process for quilts and the five basic things judges seek:

  1. Cleanliness
  2. A balanced composition with a sense of proportion and scale
  3. Quiltmaker’s expertise
  4. Alignment – straight
  5. Finishing features

So, are you ready to take your quilting to the next level? You may be surprised to find out what’s in it for you.

 

Quilting on the Next Level: Enter a Quilt Show

Quilting on the Next Level: How Do You Start?

Quilting on the Next Level: What are the Judges Looking For?

Quilting on the Next Level: Example Quilt Exhibits, OSQE

Quilting on the Next Level: How Do You Start?

Bodacious by Claudia Clark Myers Best of Show, 2017 Wisconsin Quilt Expo

Bodacious by Claudia Clark Myers
Best of Show, 2017 Wisconsin Quilt Expo

So, YOU LOVE MAKING QUILTS. After you made quilts for every bed in your house, you made quilts to hang on your walls. Then you made quilts for everybody in your family … and you made quilts to give as gifts to your friends. If you’ve started to run out of hairdressers and distant cousins to gift quilts, maybe it’s time for you to MOVE TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

Why not make a quilt for an exhibit or a contest? There is a great big, wonderful world out there of competitive quilting, and the prize money can be quite amazing, like $30,000 for a First-Place winner!

So, where do you start?
In the past, quilters would begin their competitive journey on the local level, exhibiting in local quilt guild shows or competing at the county fair. In today’s world, thanks to the internet and FedEx, there are no geographic limits. Google “quilt call for entry” or “quilt contest” and you will be stunned by the opportunities. Chances are, you will be surfing the internet for hours.

Retreat in Chinook Country by Cecile Lafleur Third Place, Quilt from Book, Pattern, Workshop, 2018 Quilt Canada

Retreat in Chinook Country by Cecile Lafleur
Third Place, Quilt from Book, Pattern, Workshop, 2018 Quilt Canada

If you want to compete for some of that big prize money, check out the major quilt show websites: Quilts Inc., AQS Quilt Week, Wisconsin Quilt Expo, etc. Look for the contest tab on their menu with all the pertinent information: categories, deadlines, prizes, themes.

The Wisconsin Quilt Expo has a contest every year. Show Manager, Deanna Springer, says, “Our committee brainstorms quilt challenge theme ideas. We’re all quilters so there are many great themes, it’s hard to choose just one. For example: Fall Leaves; Black & White, Plus One (one other color); Winter Games; Modern Mini. Quilt Expo’s current theme is Bake Off. The 2019 quilt challenge theme is Log Cabin (premiered at Quilt Expo September 6-8, 2018).” http://www.quiltexpo.com/quiltcontest

Some groups provide or sell a specific challenge fabric or fat quarter and the fabric must be integrated within the quilt. Additional pictorial themes have been Barns of Wisconsin, Nursery Rhymes, Name That Tune, Guess the Letter.

Each show has unique requirements. Check show rules.

Each show has unique requirements. Check show rules.

Choose the contest or exhibition that fits you best. Of course, making the perfect quilt is what you’re going for, right? At this point it becomes all about the PHOTOGRAPHY of your quilt. The internet has changed this process. Most shows want you to upload the quilt photo onto their on-line entry form. Do not underestimate the value of top quality photos — they will make or break your quilt entry. You may be able to send in a manual entry form, but there could be an extra charge.

Be thoughtful about your quilt write-up. The quilt description, process and photos will determine whether or not your quilt is accepted into the show. Your write-up will be copied and pasted onto the informational tag hanging on your quilt, hopefully to be read by thousands of avid quilt fans. There will be an entry fee (typically paid by credit card).

Then you wait. If it’s a juried show, you may or may not get accepted. If it’s a non-juried show, your quilt will be accepted if it was entered before the total number of quilts allowed has been reached.

Don’t be discouraged if your quilt is not accepted the first time. You may never know the reason. The important thing is to learn from every attempt and move on. Shows get thousands of entries and, remember, the rejection was based on the pictures you submitted. You may want to attend shows to see which quilts they DID accept. Study the write-ups and try to understand what the jury sought. Then, TRY AGAIN. And Again ….

 

Quilting on the Next Level: Enter a Quilt Show

Quilting on the Next Level: How Do You Start?

Quilting on the Next Level: What are the Judges Looking For?

Quilting on the Next Level: Example Quilt Exhibits, OSQE

Quilting on the Next Level: Enter a Quilt Show

Rhonda Pierce with the first quilt she entered into a local quilt show.

Rhonda Pierce with the first quilt she entered into a local quilt show.

Have you thought about entering a quilt show? Our own Rhonda Pierce made the quilt above as a mystery challenge through her local quilt shop. It is the first quilt she ever entered into a show. She is not a competitive quilter, yet after all the work, she decided to celebrate its completion and entered a local show. It was accepted. Imagine her delight when walking onto the show floor. She was greeted by the first quilt, her quilt, on display.

There are reasons to enter quilt shows including the competitive spirit, cash prizes, award ribbons and winning quilting supplies and gift certificates. Surprisingly, for Rhonda, the sense of joy and validation were unexpected benefits.

The blogs for the next few weeks will discuss how to go about entering your quilt into a regional quilt show. Stick around . . . by the end of this series you too may overcome your fears and decide to enter your quilt into a juried show.

 

Quilting on the Next Level: Enter a Quilt Show

Quilting on the Next Level: How Do You Start?

Quilting on the Next Level: What are the Judges Looking For?

Quilting on the Next Level: Example Quilt Exhibits, OSQE

Quilt Shows

Quilt Festival Logo Shipshewana Quilt Festival Logo Quilt Expo Logo
Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Logo Road to California Quilt Show Logo Original Sewing & Quilt Expo Logo
Click on logo to visit quilt show web site.

 

Forty years ago, before the resurgence of quilting ignited the birth of guilds across the country, if a quilter wanted her work to be seen, the only avenue was the once-a-year county fair. The prize given was a colored ribbon. Today, on any given month of the year, regional quilt shows are organizing exhibits featuring hundreds of talented quilters and offering thousands of dollars in prize money.

So, what is a quilt show? Many local quilt guilds put on an annual “quilt show.” These local shows are run by volunteers, who are also the quilters. They rent the space, hang the show, and maybe give away some door prizes. They probably have a small admission fee to cover expenses, but they are run as a non-profit enterprise. When a quilt guild puts on a show, it exhibits guild member work.

Why should you visit a quilt show? Well, it’s like having a quilt museum come to your area with a staff of quilt professors and temporary retail space that would rival Macy’s department store . . . except that ALL THE MERCHANDISE IS QUILT RELATED!

The growth of quilt shows in America is phenomenal. Every quilt show features multiple quilt exhibits and so much more. A quilt show has a staff of professionals working year round to produce the show. They line up exhibits, manage the call for entries for quilt contests, hire professional quilters to teach or entertain with special events, organize an extensive class schedule, then rent out a large vendor floor. Really, a regional quilt show is to a quilter what the Super Bowl® is to a football fan.

The quilt shows shown above are by no means a comprehensive quilt show list, but a great place to begin planning your own road trip. Click on the logos above to go to the respective web site for that particular quilt show. So grab a friend, book a quilt show tour bus ticket or travel solo. You will find classes, shopping, friends and delightful encounters at quilt shows. And maybe as you explore, you will even discover a few unexpected surprises.

Splendid Sampler II

Rhonda Pierce Holding SCHMETZ Super Demo NeedleHello dear Splendid Sampler II fans! My name is Rhonda Pierce and I love to sew & quilt. I am spokesperson for SCHMETZ home sewing needles North America. Yes, in this pic, I’m holding a giant needle, the SCHMETZ “Super” demo needle. We travel together when I give SCHMETZ classes. In The Splendid Sampler 2, you will find my block Get To The Point on page 111.

To complete Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson’s sentence, I’m living my best quilting life when… I’m sharing needle facts, and at the same time learning from my awesome creative sewing public. That little 2” piece of steel, the SCHMETZ needle, has provided me with an awesome career and friendships around the world. I am forever grateful. Because of listening to YOU, I pushed SCHMETZ to color code needles by needle type and size. Color bands make needle identification so much easier. No longer do you need to squint to read the size imprinted on the needle shank. Check out the chart below. The upper color band identifies the needle type (left column) and the lower band identifies the SCHMETZ Needles Color Code Chartneedle size (right column). Universal needles have only one band of color to identify size. Feel free to download this handy chart: https://www.schmetzneedles.com/schmetz-color-code-chart/

SCHMETZ Microtex NeedlesMy favorite needle is SCHMETZ Chrome Professional Grade Microtex size 80/12. Using the chart to the right, the top color band is purple for Microtex and the bottom color band is orange. On this project, I first used SCHMETZ Chrome Microtex 80/12, but found the needle a bit heavy, so switched to a smaller needle, size 70/10, lower green. SCHMETZ Chrome Microtex 70/10 and Aurifil are perfect partners with Moda Fabrics.

On this project, what needle type are you using? What size? Popular needle types are Microtex, Quilting and Universal. Popular sizes are 70/10 – 80/12. With SCHMETZ you have options! Post pics of your Get To The Point block on the Splendid Sampler website to be in the running for a SCHMETZ giveaway. Sew SCHMETZ!

Get To The Point Block, SCHMETZ Chrome Microtex 70/10, Aurifil, Moda Fabrics
Congratulations to Pat and Jane for another awesome Splendid Sampler! Thank you everyone for making SCHMETZ needles a sewing room essential.

PS: Two more things –

  • Enjoy my free monthly SCHMETZ newsletters. Each issue includes new products in the marketplace and a needle fact that you can copy & paste into your own newsletters and websites. Sign up here: info@schmetzneedles.com.
  • Check out my new personal blog: www.sewmorestitches.com/blog. Get a glimpse into my world with creative & awesome friends… sew like you! 😊

Here is a link to their website. Enter the giveaway and learn more about their project:

The Splendid Sampler ™ 2 sew-along and giveaway Feb 21

Sew SCHMETZ & Grabbit® Too!