Showing your quilts – Why do it?

Part one of a four part series about entering quilt shows, the jurying and judging process. This series is based on my experiences at quilt shows and classes I’ve taken about the quilt judging process.

I like the challenge of doing my best work on my show quilts

I recently gave a lecture at a guild meeting about showing quilts and the quilt judging process, and I’d like to share it here as well. I’m sure many of my readers have been to some sort of quilt show, but how many of you have entered your own quilt in a show? I love to enter quilt shows for a number of reasons. If I know I want to enter one of my quilts in a show, it makes it easy to set deadlines and goals for myself based on the entry date for that show, and this tends to keep me moving along on a project because I know it needs to get done at a certain time. I like the challenge of designing something new and different, and doing my best work on my show quilts.

Feedback from the judges when my quilt is returned is always educational, because it tells me what the most notably well done parts of the quilt are, and also shows me where I need to improve my skills. The feedback from some shows is more clear than others, and we’ll go into that more later. Another big reason I like to enter shows is the excitement of winning! Of course, nobody wins all the time, but the excitement and anticipation of the whole quilt show process is great fun for me. Sometimes, it’s like the Academy Awards for quilting!

There are some things you should ask yourself and think about before you decide to show your quilts. The first question is, do you want to show your quilts? Out of the 27 million quilters in America, I’m sure that at least 26.5 million don’t! However, if you’re on the fence about it, ask yourself if you can take constructive criticism about your work and use it as a roadmap to improvement and success. Are you ready for your skills to be measured against some of the best in the business in a public forum?

What about your quilt? Is it ready for the quilt show? Take a good look at your quilt and critique your own work, honestly and objectively. When you see work by other quilters, whether it’s at a show, guild meeting, workshop or quilting bee type get-together, compare your work to theirs. Look at what others have done well or differently that what you do. And finally, ask yourself if your quilt is the best it can be. Did you do your best work and are you proud? If you can say “yes” to these questions, maybe it’s time to share your work in a quilt show.

In part two, I’ll talk about where to enter your quilt and the different types of quilt shows. Stay tuned!