I’m musing on something this morning…Lately I’ve heard a lot of folks talking about the criteria for judging quilts in shows. Some say that the the criteria for winning quilts are too hard to achieve, some say there are no clear criteria at all. Different shows weight different elements separately, others judge quilts with an overall approach. Is this the best way? I am really curious.

Machine quilting, phenomenally well-done longarm-quilting, has obviously become very important. Should it be judged alongside hand quilting? I’ve heard people say hand quilting doesn’t have a place anymore at all, but I disagree. There are thousands of quilters who say it’s not really a quilt without it. Likewise, many people do only machine-applique, others do it only by hand. Should they all be judged in the same category?

It is an absolute delight to see all of the techniques quilters are using, the many ways they pursue color and design, and the different ways they choose to finish their work. While I believe wholeheartedly that there is room for everyone at the quilting table, I also want to know what others think.

What about design? Is it important? Should it weigh more heavily than quilting? Or should it weigh equally? More heavily?

What are the best ways to approach the different criteria? Are the current methods fair? Does it even matter? What do you think?

I have no answers for these questions. None. I’m still puzzling my way through it.

I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a comment below, will you?

Thanks! And have a wonderful Monday!

  • Bill V.

    I have made less than ten quilts, received a few ribbons, and have entered shows mostly because it’s fun to share work every now and then. Criteria for judging only matters if I’m trying to figure out what category a quilt should be in. Ribbons are OK, but not my reason for making quilts. I am giving the ribbon my quilt recently received to the long-arm quilter who did such marvelous work.

    • Lori East

      I’m pretty much that way too. I love to enter quilts for judging when I want to understand what I can do better. Usually (!!) I get very constructive feedback. And yes, ribbons are fun, but they are the furthest thing from my mind when I’m making something.

    • Dawn Jolin

      Kudos to you Bill for “sharing” in your recognition that way!

  • Tim Latimer

    I struggle with the same questions. I have come to the conclusion that I can’t quilt for the judges. If I worry about what they are thinking, or expecting, or comparing, every last bit of creative energy evaporates.

    I quilt by hand and it is not perfect but perfection is never my goal….it is much more about the process than the product for me. I do enter quilts in AQS shows but I do it because I love to share what I do. I won’t lie …I love to get a ribbon but I wont quilt with the intention of pleasing a judge. For me design is more important then perfection in the quilting and piecing. Some quilt shows are pretty boring when so many of the quilts are all the same pattern. No matter how perfectly the are made I am always drawn to the mavericks

    • Lori East

      Yes, Tim, the mavericks are the best! I always say that I love seeing a bit of spunk, evidence of a maker in things. (I’d be pretty hard-pressed to say your hand-quilting isn’t perfect, though!)

    • Dawn Jolin

      Wonderful & like minded response. Agree Tim.