I had a wonderful time with the Honeybee Quilters Guild last night. My talk was "I Ain't Afraid of No Judge", which attempts to get quilters comfortable with entering a show. For truth in advertising, I bring quite a few of my quilts with the judge's critique/ comment sheet pinned right to each one for anybody to see.
That's "Perky Old Men" on top at the left, then "The Spicy Quilt" in the center, and my latest, "Shining Sea" on the right.
That black and red checkered border belongs to "The Black T-Shirt Quilt", the black & pink peeking out at the bottom is "Roxanne's Honeymoon" and the corner at the bottom right is "Autumn Glory".
Many quilters are afraid to enter their quilts in a show because they will be "judged". Well, all that means is some body with a lot of experience is going to spend maybe 2-3 minutes looking over your quilt, and give you some helpful comments. That judge will never see all the things you know you might have done better.
A trained judge (NQA certified, for example) will be mostly looking at what's right about your quilt, and maybe give a comment that nudges you to do better. (yes, I did have a tension problem on my machine! yes, I should be more precise in my piecing! Did I already know that? YES!)
Many local quilt shows are open entry, either to the sponsoring guild or the public. That means if you get your entry in on time (and pay attention to the other rules) your quilt will be shown.
Most of the larger national shows are juried first. That means you send in pictures and a panel of judges decides which entries will be in the show. That's necessary for one like Quilt National where there are over 1, 000 entries and only room to hang about 80. So you can feel proud just to get into one of those!
Many times there is not much difference between the winners in any category, and the judge is placing them in some order because people want awards! So don't be too concerned over why something got one ribbon and not another.
OK, we'd all like to get that first place blue ribbon...and the people who do have usually spent their time paying attention to details (like going back to make sure those points match). The rest of us have moved on to the next project!
It's fun to see your quilt hanging in a show, and it's a great motivator to do even better work. So whether you are a real competitor (a true sport in itself!) or just someone who likes what you made, and wants to share it, don't be afraid to enter a show!