Quilt Judging Tidbits

I had a most interesting time recently. I got to sit in on the judging of the 104 quilts at the Georgia Quilt Show which was presented by Original Sewing and Quilting Expo. The judges were Holice Turnbow and Beverly Fine who are both certified by The National Quilting Association. Holice was certified in 1978 and is the longest serving certified judge. Beverly was certified in 2003. It was good to get to listen and watch as they evaluated the quilts.

Georgia Quilt Show 001 300x224 Quilt Judging TidbitsThis was a juried show. There were three categories: Bed Quilts, Large Wall Quilts and Small Wall Quilts. The judging started with all of the quilts in a category lying on tables in one large pile. The judges flipped through them quickly to get a sense of what kinds of quilts were in the category. Then the real judging began. The quilt holders would hold up the quilt so the judges could see it better. Then they would talk about three specific areas; overall appearance, workmanship and design and color. Scribes would write down the judge’s comments. I think as a quilt maker I would love having the judge’s comments. What a good way to learn.

Let me tell you some of the comments I heard. If you are thinking of entering your quilts in shows, maybe this will be helpful. The judges commented on precise piecing, corners matching, points not being cut off, thread not showing and the shadowing of dark fabric showing through light fabric. They talked about quilting and how it should fill the space evenly and appropriately, match the style of the quilt and enhance the overall look.

Here are some specifics. Quilts should be squared with square blocks of the same size. Long, straight lines in a quilt should indeed be straight. Quilting should go to within ¼” to ½” of the edge of the block. Stabilizer should be removed in applique and paper piecing. Quilt marking lines should not be visible. And here’s a biggie that was frequently mentioned: the batting should fill the binding to the edge and the corners of the binding should be neatly mitered with the edges of the miters stitched shut. In art quilts, perspective was noted both in size of objects and the intensity of the colors used.

After the judges were done examining a quilt, the quilt was either held for further evaluation or released to be hung in the display area. When all of the quilts in a category had gone through the first step of the process, the judges went back to the quilts they had held earlier. They went through them and selected the top four quilts in each category. The quilts were then very carefully examined to determine which was first, second, third and honorable mention. There were also quilts that were judged for beautiful hand quilting, beautiful machine quilting and for the judge’s choice awards.

If you’d like to see photos of the prizewinning quilts, you can see them on Facebook.

About Lori Baker

Lori is the creative editor at Quilters Newsletter.
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5 Responses to Quilt Judging Tidbits

  1. Michele says:

    I’m sorry I missed the show but I totally agree with everything you wrote – it’s a really good recap of what judges are focusing on.
    Thanks for posting it.

    I also volunteered to help during the judging of my guild’s quilt show around 10 years ago when I was relatively new quilter. The judges were well-know “names” in the biz.

    I helped with the holding of the quilts for inspection, and a friend was recording their comments on the scoring sheets.

    It was an amazing learning experience.

    I had/have no intention of ever entering entering a show but I did become obsessed with my bindings and making sure my quilts were perfectly square.

    Off to look at the pictures.

  2. Janine Huisjen says:

    This is so interesting–especially about the bindings. I do wonder, though, what they do with modern quilting, where piecing might be intentionally wonky and corners cut.

  3. Duane Wiley says:

    Does anyone know of a book with all this judging detail that perhaps many have contributed to?

  4. Mah quilter says:

    I would like permission to re-print Quilt Judging Tibets by Lori Baker in our local web page for Thumb Butte Quilt Guild ( http://www.tbqguild.com ). This information would be so important to our members who enter quilts in local county fairs and quilt shows.

    Thanking you in advance for your time,
    Mahquilter

  5. Lori says:

    Hi Mahquilter,
    It is perfectly fine with me if you re-print Quilt Judging Tidbits, as long as you give proper credit (that I wrote it and it’s on my Quilters Newsletter blog from October 24, 2012).
    Thanks so much!
    Lori

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