Sunday, June 22, 2014

Consider entering a quilt show

Cycles 2 won first place

I have become a quilt show enterer. I don't consider myself a show quilter, not by a long shot. But I have been entering shows anyway, and I have been winning ribbons too. The quilts in this post have all won something in a quilt show - one of them online, that counts too.

Now, I have to confess, I have only been to one quilt show in person. I went to the QuiltCon 2013 show, and it was wonderful (but I am planning to go to the AQS show in Grand Rapids, Michigan this August). Many folks suggested that it was not a usual show and needed for improvement in several ways, but since it was the only show I had seen I thought it was mostly wonderful. My point, however, is that maybe it is easier to enter when you have no idea of how these shows "work" or what other quilts might be entered. Although for many others, maybe they are intimidated because they think the shows have entries that are so much better than they actually are. I think that the right approach is to let go of all of that and just enter them.


Quilting has been a popular craft for centuries and is done all around the globe. Styles of fabric and composition change, techniques are discovered, and re-discovered, technology evolves, thread options develop and creativity abounds. But they are just blankets after all. Once one becomes reasonably competent at sewing the straight or curved seams together, the rest of how a quilt looks is mainly creativity. There is no reason to think that those "others" entering a quilt show are more creative than you are. None at all.

One does need to have a thick skin in terms of the judging aspect. Most shows are judged at two points. First you need to pass the jury's screen when you enter, and then there are the prizes. My view is that if you don't pass the first jury, it is because your fantastic quilt is not quite what they imagine for the category. They are working from a photo - it's not because your points are not perfect or your binding was a bit wobbly. And this part is private, if you don't mention that you entered, no one but you will know if you are not allowed to participate. So, no big deal, enter your quilt.

In my view, if you get to send your quilt to the show, you have won the real prize. The show will be seen by many, often thousands of people - quilters and others. You will be inspiring for them all.

Shattered - Honourable Mention

Many of you are part of the "modern quilting" movement, as I am. Many quilt shows are only recently including a modern quilt category in their shows. I hope you, like me, want to see modern quilting become a totally accepted part of the quilting community. If you do, it is really important for modern quilters to enter these shows or these categories will be dropped.

For example, the American Quilter's Society had a modern quilt category in every 2014 show they held. But next year they don't have one for every show, just some of them. If we want to continue the trend of bringing all quilters together in this community, we need to participate in the shows as modern quilters. And I think enter modern quilts in other categories when there is no specific modern category - modern quilts need to be part of the community and showing them is how that happens.

There are local shows, shows your guild runs, and then there are bigger shows. I encourage you to enter them all. Be a part of encouraging the creativity of others and of fostering the love of quilting at every opportunity.

Some shows give you "comments" and many don't. If you view the comments as an evaluation by one judge - with who knows how much or little actual quilting knowledge - who you will probably never meet, already they are less important. I assume that they start with the view that all good quilts will score at the midpoint, and then they look for things that they, personally, find exceptional or not quite up to their view of good. So, a good score, the one I expect for my good quilt, it 50% or good or whatever they call the middle. If there are some things better than that, it makes my day. If they notice something less than that, I take that as a learning opportunity - or a chance for me to say that judge is not knowledgeable in what I consider good.

In the end, these comments are not important - as my kids say - I do as I like. I know what I want to do with my quilt and that is all that really matters. Don't avoid a show just because you don't want to be evaluated. You can always toss the comments out unread if you are going to be bothered by them.


All of the shows I have entered are easy to enter. There is an online process, and you send photos. There is often an entry fee, and you might have to join the guild hosting the show but there are other benefits of joining those too. You do have to send your quilt to the actual show, and this can be a bit pricy (especially if you leave it to the last minute) but it is not prohibitive.

Many of the shows have cash prizes which are not small. I won $1,500.00 US at the AQS Show in Phoenix when Cycles 2 won first place in the Modern Wall Quilt Category and there are cash prizes for second and third too. It's real money people, well worth the entry.

Below are some shows I know are coming up, listed by last date to submit entries, and you can click the link to get more information. If you have more shows to suggest, leave a comments or send me an email. I am interested in shows all over the world that are open to anyone, so please share the shows in your City or Country. I will add a quilt show page to the blog and we can all keep an eye on the deadlines in the future.

I hope you will be entering them. I know you cannot enter them all and neither can I, but consider entering at least one. My quilts are lonely without more of my friend's quilts hanging along side. It is more fun to anticipate the possibility of winning with a friend too.
There are also Mancuso shows, I have emailed them for entry dates but you can read about them here (maybe you will be able to find their entry dates on their webpage, and if you do let me know where they are). The International Quilt Association hosts the show at International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. The entry dates for this year have passed, but we can watch for next year.

I need information for the UK, other European, Australian and other shows all over the world that we can enter, please send me details if you have them.

Today is the day I finish my May (oops) and June bee blocks!