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?

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