How To Be A Quilt Judge


Think the judge of the quilt show has an easy job?  Not necessarily!  You may disagree with the judge -- in fact that is a common experience.

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How To Be A Quilt Judge

Think the judge of the quilt show has an easy job? Not necessarily! You may disagree with the judge -- in fact that is a common experience. Though I have judged countless quilt shows, sometimes after I leave the show I don't even agree with myself. It's just not as easy as it looks. But some points may be helpful, whether you are a first timer or have many years of experience.

How To Be A Quilt Judge


You must be an experienced quilter yourself

Let's say, for example, that you do the most wonderful applique in the whole area. That would make you a fine judge of applique, but unless the quilt show is a large one and you are assigned to just applique quilts, you will most likely encounter pieced, paper pieced, art quilts, embroidery, English piecing, and much more. A wide range of quilting is important for most quilt shows.



Consider the nature of your comments

Though some shows only ask for placings, many of them want comments from the judge. Comments need to be helpful, not critical. Consider the difference between "Borders should not be wavy," and "To avoid wavy borders, it will help to hold border fabric slightly taut when sewing it onto the quilt." Not only is the second comment more educational, it also sounds friendlier. Also, judging is no place for humor, as it can easily be misinterpreted. Be nice! One judge simply commented "Just not as good as the others." There is no point in a comment like that. Better to leave it blank than to make a snide comment.



Be honest with yourself about any prejudices you may have

Do you have a strong preference for blue, for example? Make sure that you don't select a quilt for a special prize based on your preference for blue. Suppose you really don't like brown. What if the very finest quilt in the show is brown? I know of a show in which one of the judges has a strong preference for humorous quilts and ones with faces. I can always tell which classes she has judged, for sure enough, there are the funny little sayings and the cute faces on those with the premium ribbons. A person who does marvelous machine quilting may judge that particular skill rather harshly. One who works in a quilt shop may know that certain fabrics are part of a series, and thus be rather hard on the person who selects them, believing that they should make other choices than those that were "made" to go together. These personal preferences can be very unfair in the whole judging picture.



Judging the work of children and teens takes a special kind of judge

One who likes kids, certainly. And one who is familiar with skill levels of various ages. Educational comments, as mentioned above, are particularly important in a show that involves the work of youth. You may find that young people have some very different preferences in subject matter, color schemes, sizes, and much more, than those of adults. And once more, your own preferences can really be frustrating for a young person especially. A mother said that her child's work was downgraded a ribbon placing one year because she had hand sewed her binding rather than machine sewing it. The next year, different judge, she was given a special award because she had hand sewed it. Adults can usually deal with these discrepancies, but youth find them very confusing.



Have a set of standards in mind, even written down, before you start judging

Some shows will give you a set of their preferred standards, but many don't. Consider such things as "Quilt lays flat, without warping or puckering", "Quilt is squared up, with corners matching up when quilt is folded", "Blocks within the quilt match well at corners and where piecing comes together", "Pressing is neatly done and results in tidy, flat seams", and "Colors are well chosen and interesting," and many more that you may think of ahead of time. This will help you to avoid inconsistencies as you work through the process.


Consider sitting with a friend while they judge, before your first judging experience

This can really help you to focus on good approaches to judging and get your thoughts moving in a good direction.

In summary, experience, consistency, kindness and fairness, avoiding personal preferences, using standards, and you can both be a helpful judge, and can have fun in the process.


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Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
Binding is used as both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is the fabric that's used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich after it's quilted. This edging fabric is referred to as the Binding (noun). As a verb it is the process of putting on this fabric, and it referred to as Binding a Quilt.
A strip of fabric or pieced strip of fabric joined to the edges of the inner quilt and used to frame it.
Machine Quilting
Creating quilting stitches on a quilt using a sewing machine instead of sewing them by hand.
The process of assembling quilt blocks from pieces of fabric sewn along their edges to form a whole.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing
Picking a hot iron up off your fabric or quilt top and then putting it down in another place to remove the wrinkles. When you press your fabric, you do not slide the hot iron.

See Also: Ironing
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