Friday, September 25, 2009

At the Quilt Show!

QuiltFest has come and gone by the time I got to write this post, but we'll spend a few more days looking at what was going on.
There were 465 quilts in the final count for the competition...well, some were competing for ribbons and prizes, but the rest of us were just sharing our latest efforts!
Here is "Roxanne's Honeymoon":
And hanging next it it is the infamous The Black T-Shirt Quilt:
I received many nice comments on both, but The Black T-Shirt Quilt was really fun. Some people called it The Star Wars Quilt, lots of people liked the "10 Reasons to Procrastinate" block, and one lady was delighted to find out that it really was the Celtic rock band 7 Nations shirt used in there.
This "Lazy Log Cabin" by Nan Moore. What fun! Check out her new book of free motion quilting patterns, quilt appraisals, classes and long arm quilting at Moore & Moore Quilts.
Did you collect a lot of those Japanese neutral colors? So did Pat A.!

"Where Did the Yellow Go?" by Elaine S. gives us a set of vintage blocks with a striking way of using the between-block seams as a design element.

Several members of my guild made quilts from the Japanese Puzzle pattern. Margaret S. added a rice bowl, embellished with beads for rice!

"Sunflowers, Sunshine & Daisies" by Margaret H. made a fantastic show at the end on one aisle.

Pat D's "The Hundred Year Quilt" is a great example of how black makes colors sparkle.

Simple quilts are an important part of any show. This was done by John M. who is about 9 years old, and obviously a Gators fan!
Ocean life is an ever-popular theme, as beautifully shown by Arlene B. with "Living Jewels of the Deep" in the Large Art Quilts category.

"Pledge to the Earth" by Gretchen J. gives us a timely message and delightful use of lettering on a quilt.

This is entirely beaded! "The Divine Miss M" by Bonnie Ouellette is divine indeed!

"Misty Mountain Flowers" was designed Kitty Gonzalez and made by her guild...who remained nameless on the information tag! I saw this beauty at both check-in and judging and was happy to have a chance for a longer look at the show. Here's a closer look for you:
That is some fantastic machine quilting!
I'd have to say there have been incredible advances in machine quilting over the last few years. It's a noticable improvement at most quilt shows.

Many shows have a Challenge. This year's theme was "Recycling the Past". Since I'm a button lover, I really enjoyed this quilt by Dawn O. "Buttons and Beads In A Rusty Box".
Stay tuned for some more views around the show!

Quilt Show Countdown: The Preview Party

Is the Preview Party the end of the countdown or the beginning of the show?
I'm not sure, but it's a wonderful event...the best time to see the quilts and take some photos. There were two tables with hot hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, and a fabulous display of Pat Styring's quilts.
The Prime Osborne Convention Center (Jacksonville ,FL) is the remodeled central train station from years ago, so it has some interesting areas. This was the main lobby at the front of the building, and it's a lovely place with huge windows and beautiful light.

But who cares about all that when there's a quilt show to see? Right inside the door, once again, are the tables for the "seven sister guilds" that work together to put on QuiltFest. Behind each table is the guild's raffle quilt, so the show is the last opportunity to sell tickets, as all the quilt drawings are the last day of the show.
I am so pleased that I remembered to put my sticky return address labels in my strenuous work filling in those tickets for me!

Here's the Quilters Walk with about 70 baskets of goodies. They are assembled and donated by guilds, individuals and businesses. You can buy 50 tickets for $5 and put as many as you like in a drawing for whichever baskets you like. This is a huge fundraiser, with the money going to educational grants for the guilds.
A brief stop at my guild's table!

But I know what you really want to see is the Best of Show, so here it is:
"Aunt Mimi's Flower Garden" by Elsie Campbell of Dodge City, Kansas.
I was alerted by faithful Patchwork Pie reader AnotherPat that this quilt was discussed in depth on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson & Ricky Tims (visit Pat at Another Patch by AnotherPat ).
The quilting is perfection, with a variety of motifs, and the applique work is incredible. It was done by machine, even though everyone was saying it was done by hand! All the curved bias work is nice and round and the binding is set off with a tiny piping.
This IS what wins the big awards: many techniques done very well!The design is actually alternating blocks set on point, but if you didn't know that you'd never guess it. On the applique flower blocks here, the small flowers are in the corners (where the green bias touches) , and the seam goes along those feathered quilt'd never see it if you weren't looking very close!
Here's a view from the back, which is all white. The colors you see are from the fabric on the must have a very thin/light batting.

There will be time to show more quilts later, but this one is very special. It is "Mail Call" by Julie Mainor, and owned by Cherry-Cherry:
The light colors & values invite a more careful look, and the emotion begins to pour out of this piece.

Though I'm sure those who arrived when the party started were pleased, but the food wasn't very hot or plentiful by the time we got there. Rita had a great idea! When the party was over and we'd seen all the quilts, we headed out to an upscale restaurant called b.b.'s and had some fabulous dessert!
Now that's what I call a great Girl's Night Out, complete with some fancy plate art!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quilt Show Countdown: Sell that quilt!

The "Sale Room" at QuiltFest is a great place because it has plenty of bargains, and is a great way for the QF guild members to sell some finished quilts, tops, block collections, or complete kits or UFOs with all the fabrics.
That often gets directly translated into how much money a person can spend in the merchants' mall, but isn't that good for the economy?

Today Cherry-Cherry and I went down to check in the items we're selling. If we're lucky, none of them will have to be picked up on Sunday!

Here are the things I'm selling this year:This is a cross-stitch top from my mother's stash. She did not make the 12 blocks, but did add the sashing. Whoever buys this will do whatever they want with it! The Sale Room (it's a booth, not a separate room) is a fine opportunity to sell class samples, especially ones that I will never be teaching again. This is a wall hanging sized item. If it were much smaller, it would not be allowed in the Sale Room, as small quilts are requested to be donated to the Silent Auction for charity.
They are also very hard to display in a way people can see them among all the larger quilts for sale. People working in the Sale Room (each guild has an assigned day to provide the volunteers) spend a lot of time opening and folding quilts, talking to potential buyers, and being amazed!

It's Card Tricks, QIAD style! This was the required beginners class at a Big Box store where I no longer teach. It was a nice class, but an extremely poor replacement for the beginners class I designed and taught there for several years before the Corporate Office decided they should control everything.
Another sample from the same place, it's a M'Liss Rae quilt...they do love the "celebrity tie-in". I am so glad NOT to be teaching there (ah, four years of freedom, and I'd never go back)(all I miss are the students who became friends!).
My bad...I just realized I had offered this lap quilt for sale last year, and we are not supposed to have any "repeats" in the Sale Room. If nobody likes it this year...and it's all about Mexican food, so what's not to like??? will become a Christmas present. Just as the Card Tricks will be a baby gift....this is The End for all my Big Box samples!

Here's one called "La Chocolada" from the Janet Jones Worley book Quilts for Chocolate Lovers (2001 AQS).
Very festive colors, and a great striped binding that I made extra wide.
I don't do many quilts from books or other people's patterns any more. I like to design my own and build up the line of patterns I'm publishing.
I still like this one very much. It's a block design from Quilters Newsletter many years ago, in a setting of my own design that I did for a Personalized Mystery Quilt class a few years back.

Some people make really great quilts (all sizes!) for the Sale Room, and there are a few other items, too. When the show opens on Thursday morning, there will be a dedicated group who will rush in the door and make a bee-line for the sale room to see what antique quilts & tops are being offered!
This really is a great win-win...good bargains for those who want to buy a top to finish or a completed quilt, the quilters who can make some many back from their craft, and QuiltFest, which gets a 10% commision.

It's true, I have a hard time letting go of my quilts. Sometimes that's because I might need them for another class or program, and sometimes it's just hard to decide who to give one to.
But my collection, which is stored on and threatening to collapse the stairway railing, has to be winnowed out.

Though glancing at it right now, you'd never know I had removed anything!
This is really, really going back! The angel comes from Judy Hopkin's One of a Kind Quilts (1989, That Patchwork Place). If you see this old book, get it! There are some great design concepts.
I taught this many times in quilt shops (not the Big Box!) and it was fun to get different personalities going for the angel so she wouldn't be just a holiday decor. And since I have several, this small one will be given to the Silent Auction (more about that in another's nice to have a charity event at a show).

Tonight is the Preview Party, so I'll start taking and posting pictures from the show!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quilt Show Countdown: Hang 'Em High!

Quilt Show week: Tuesday
On Monday the convention center's main display room was set with "Pipe & Drapes" in preparation for the quilts' delivery.
Early this morning the quilts were set out, snug in their bags, at the place each would be hung.
This is how the room looked when I arrived:
It's a big space to fill, but like magic it gets more colorful as the quilts go up and the various areas receive their tables, chairs and other equipment.
By the time the Preview Party starts tomorrow, this area will have all the Quilters' Walk baskets (more on that later!), the show's official booth, and the member guilds' raffle quilts all on display.
The exciting news this year is a new hanging system!
Gone are the long aluminum poles that had to be selected to match the width of the quilt, and the hooks & chains that suspended the poles from the pipe.
Goodbye to the step stools and ladders, and the many trips up & down to get the quilts hanging at the proper level!
The new system uses a pole that is like a curtain rod. Sections can be put together to make the needed width. A small hook goes into the slotted back of the pole, one on each end, catching the fabric of the hanging sleeve, and a third in the center for those giant bed-size quilts. The hooks are attached to a "lanyard", an adjustable cord with a large hook at the top to go over the pipe.
A person at each side of the quilt uses a rod to lift the hook/ pole/quilt up to the pipe, and ...ta da!...the quilt is now hanging! The lanyards can be adjusted if needed to get the quilt at the right distance from the top or floor.
The pieces were all set out for each quilt, and we worked our way along each aisle, first spreading out the white sheet, then taking the quilt out of its bag.
One team would get the quilt ready. Here you can see the pole in the sleeve. Then another team came along and used their rods to lift the quilts up onto the pipes.
All the bags, with their numbered tags attached, are kept during the show, sorted by category number into laundry baskets. This makes it easy to match each quilt to its bag before the show comes down.

The large and intermediate size quilts go up fairly easily, but those small and miniature quilts take a long time to hang! There is quite a lot of fussing to get them pinned and arranged in a pleasing way. We can take a look at that during the show.
I am very grateful to the people who have who have the patience for that job!

Meanwhile, here is the row where the winning quilts are hung, separating the main show (black drapes) from the merchants' area (white drapes).
Best of Show formerly has hung on a special stand at the front of the show, but this year it will be in the center of the "winners' row". The light is actually better there, so it's a good move.
Where is it? You'll have to wait until tomorrow night after the Preview Party when I post again!

But even though I will have lots to show & tell, I promise I won't make you wait to see it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quilt Show Countdown: What judges look for

Judging a quilt show is both more and less than people think!
It's a lot of work to look at a collection of quilts, comment about each one, and then select the winners. But the judge does not pour over each inch of every quilt and spend a lot of time finding the faults!

Most quilt shows have the entries divided by categories. You could have hundreds of categories to keep all the different techniques divided, but that just won't work. Each show committee has to decide on the categories for their own show. Most quilts do fall easily into some category, and others just have to be placed as best they can.

Some shows have a point system for judging, but that can get difficult to manage.
Most shows have a check list of items for the judge to look at, followed by a comment section. As each quilt is viewed, the judge will ask for the best to be held out. From those she selects the prize winners for each category. Some quilts are also held for any special awards, such as Best Hand Quilting.

The first place winners of all the categories are reviewed for choosing Best of Show.
(NOTE: I will use the pronoun "she", but there ARE several male judges in the quilt world!)

As an example of how this works, I will use the QuiltFest form and some pictures of my own quilts. QuiltFest is judged with the quilts stacked flat on tables, other shows may have the quilts hung.
The assistants "fan" the quilts, folding them back half-way so the judge can get a quick view of what's in the category. Then each item on the form is called out, and she gives her rating (Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, Needs Improvemant, or N/A... does not apply). She makes a few comments for the scribes to write down, then holds or releases the quilt. The form is completed and given to the quilt's owner when the show is done.

Judging starts with the visual impact, then use of color and fabric, and the scale & composition.
This quilt definitely has an impact! Do you think the red and blue work well together? Does the whole thing look balanced? Was the border fabric a good choice?
(this quilt has never been judged, so have at it!)

Here's another quilt (made from the "La Chocolada" pattern by Janet Jones Worley).
How would you rate the color & design?
Next comes how well the top is is the piecing? OK? What if you look really close?
Well this pinwheel does not match up perfectly. If they are all off, the judge will see it. But if it's the only place, she might miss it entirely. The main place a quilt gets viewed is the bottom end, unless the judge makes an effort to walk all the way around...that's a lot of miles when the show is all added up! In a show that is hung, I think the top and middle might get closer scrutiny.
Then the sashing & borders are checked...are they straight?
The quilting part has to do with even stitches, top & bottom. This may be the first time the judge sees the back of the quilt. Some like to look at the entire back...and some don't look at the back much at all!
Choose your backing carefully, and you can hide a lot of problems...something I did not do for one of my entries this year! The quilting design should add something to the quilt...generally that all-over wide meandering stitch holds a quilt togther, but does nothing to enhance the patterns or designs.
What's going on here? No quilting? It's all done "in the ditch", which stabilizes the quilt but does little else. In fact, it can be a drawback, as it is very hard to remain IN the ditch (seam)!
Actually, on this one I used fancy stitches and quilted on top of the seam, so it's a nice little effect. But those un-quited areas would be much nicer if they were filled with some designs.
This is the back, and there are no knots to speak of. Marks should be removed before you enter the quilt, or you'll hear about that.
The last issue is if the quilt is flat and has no know, like when you have tightly stipple quilted around some flower pattern, and it will never lay flat & smooth waves or puckers up. You have to keep an even or balanced amount of quilting over the whole top.
Last is the finishing. Edges straight? You need to measure through the middle and make all the borders the same cannot just take a strip of fabric, sew it on, and cut off whatever is left!
Is the binding filled and well stitched?
Bindings do not have to be a problem. Just make sure the edge of the quilt is at the fold, and sew the back down with small close stitches.
This quilt has a binding 1/2" wide because I wanted to see more of the stripe.
Since these were never judged, there are no comments. But probably the judge would say "nice & bright" or "cheerful feeling", then mention "additional quilting would add better visual texture to this festive quilt". Sometimes a judge will remind you to "true up the edges before adding the binding" or some other tip.
Most judges are positive and helpful. They are not trying to hurt your feelings, or point out every little fact, they usually don't look at the quilts for more than 2-3 minutes each, and most of that time is spent phrasing the comment.
The pickier the comments, the more likely your quilt is a fine one, and if you would just pay a bit more attention, it would be wonderful!
Judges are first and foremost quilt lovers...they love to see your work, and hope you will continue to make better and better quilts.
The quilt makers are not allowed to be in the room when the judge comes to their quilts, and since I played fair and left for awhile, I don't know what was said about mine. But when the show is done, I'll share pictures and everything the judge marked....
...because I want you to know it doesn't matter. Nobody will see those marks and comments except you, and you already know what's a problem with your quilt.
Chances are the judge has said something about your quilt that will make you smile, and then vow to improve next time!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quilt Show Countdown: Judging the Quilts

It takes three days to judge the almost 500 quilts entered in QuiltFest, and that means a lot of people to help out.
When the day starts at 7:30 am, it's a good idea to get there early and have some coffee! (or tea...they do have hot water as well!)
It's great to get together with all the quilters you only see once a year.....when you're working at the show!
At one end of the large room (across the hall from that food or drink allowed in here!) the quilts are sorted and piled according to their category. Paperwork is kept carefully along the way so each quilt is always accounted for.
As each category is prepared for judging, the quilts are taken from their bags, and stacked on a table. The bags are collected in a laundry basket and taken to the infamous Back Room, the last stop of the judging process.
The long table in the front of this picture acts as a divider between the judging area and the seats for those who are waiting their turn to work (and getting a few peeks at the quilts!). After each quilt is judged, it is either "released" and taken to be re-bagged, or it is "held" on the tables here to be considered for an award. It can get First, Second or Third place...or perhaps an Honoroable Mention or Judge's Recognition. Or it may just be released, having "done well in its category".
Look close and you can see the Larged Pieced category is laid out on two tables, waiting for the wokers and judge to arrive.
With three tables in the judging area, one category can be examined by the judge while the next one is being set out.
Each table has three assisiatnts on duty: one at each side to help show the quilts to the judge, and a runner, who removes each quilt after the judge has made her comments.
The table in the front of this picture is where the scribes sit. They take turns writing down what the judge says about each quilt. The judging papers are put in envelopes and returned to the quilt's owner at the end of the show...more on that in a future post!
Behind the scribes' table is the Back Room. Nobody is allowed there except the special workers!When a quilt is released, the runner brings it to the end of the scribes' table and waits for one of the Back Room Workers to take the quilt.
It is then carefully folded and placed back into its own bag, and carries a note if it has won an award.
So as each quilt moves through the whole judging process, from one end of the room to the other, it is constantly accounted for.
I wish I could show you more pictures of all this in action. The quilts are handled with so much care and consideration at every step! Many have embellishments and special touches, and all the workers do their best to care for each quilt as though it were their own.
Today was the second day of judging, so the pile of quilts at one end of the room has dwindled down, and the pile at the other has grown!
The quilts will be guarded over the next week (the quilts are in secure location) until the day arrives to move them to the Prime Osborn Convention Center and hang the show.
If you ever have an opportunity to assist with judging, you will receive the best free education possible! Listening to an NQA certified judge give positive and helpful comments on so many different quilts can help you understand how to improve your own work...and provide the inspiration to do so