Showing your quilts – Where to enter

Part two 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.

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and show your quilts, how do you know where to enter your work? The very first place you should start is your local quilt guild! Does your guild organize a yearly show? If it doesn’t, start one! Guild shows are a great place to get your feet wet, and show off your work in a friendly environment. Consider holding a quilt raffle in conjunction with your show, to help fund the show or provide charitable donations to your community.

Look in quilt magazines for show calendars, and get addresses to send for information and entry forms. Many quilt shows and exhibits can also be found online; do a Google search, and then visit the websites where you’ll most likely find all the information and entry forms you need in downloadable form. Some quilt shows will even let you submit your entry electronically, either online or by email. Do make effort to determine what types of quilts are usually seen at each show (more traditional quilts, more art quilts, some of each) by searching online for pictures of past winners or exhibits if they are available.

They’re looking for suitability, workmanship, the out of the ordinary and the “Wow!”

When you start entering your quilts in shows, you’ll find that there are a few different types of shows, and it’s helpful to know what the terminology means. Some quilt shows are juried, meaning that you must send pictures or slides to the show organizers ahead of time. A jury of quilt judges will look at all the submissions and choose which quilts will be accepted to the show. If your quilt is accepted into the show, you’ll be asked to ship the quilt just before the show so it can be judged for awards, if it is a judged show. Major quilt shows like the IQA World of Beauty Quilt Show in Houston, Texas and the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show in Paducah , Kentucky follow this format. Special exhibit shows are often juried but not judged for awards, like the In the American Tradition exhibit sponsored by the IQA.

The jury for a show is usually made up of three judges who are not the same judges who will judge the show. The jury looks at each quilt photo or slide for about 3-5 seconds, so your quilt has that much time to make an impact! They’re looking for suitability (did you enter your quilt in the right show and the right category?), workmanship, the out of the ordinary and the “Wow!” If your quilt stands out they may look a bit longer, but do realize that some of the larger shows have over 500 entries per year which have to be pared down to a manageable number.

Non-juried quilt shows, like the National Quilt Association Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio, accept any entries to the show up to a certain number of quilts. These types of shows are great because anyone can enter any quilt, and it will be shown in a national venue. You can submit your quilt and it will be judged by certified quilt judges, and you’ll receive feedback about what was done well, and where you can improve your work. Non-juried shows can be judged for awards as the NQA show is, or presented as exhibits only, which are not judged.

A couple of other things to note: some shows allow you to sell your quilt at the show, and may keep a portion of the selling price as a fee. This is usually presented as an option when you receive notification that your quilt has been accepted to the show, and the show will either sell the quilt to the buyer at the show, or put any interested partied in touch with you directly to complete the sale.

In part three, I’ll give you some hints for taking the best photos of your quilt so you’ll have a better chance of acceptance to the quilt show!

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