Thursday, August 21, 2014

Following the Kentucky State Fair Quilt Judge

Volunteers gather around as judges critique "Best of Show" quilt.

Last week I had the opportunity to volunteer during the quilt contest judging for the Kentucky State Fair. I spent the day doing various tasks including writing judges comments, folding quilts, attaching ribbons and spreading quilts out for the judge to view. But more importantly I spent the day learning. My guess is there were nearly 500 quilts entered and each quilt was given proper attention for the contest.

I appreciated the certified judge taking time to point out to the volunteers great work along with common mistakes in quilting. The judge realized the volunteers  came to help, but also came to learn. With each quilt she started with praising what was good about the quilt then added suggestions for improvement. Hopefully each contestant can learn from the judges comments.

I want to share some of the things the judge I assisted found important in creating an award-winning quilt.

*Binding - Each quilt she commented on the binding. Some of her binding tips:  Be sure your thread matches the binding. Make sure the binding is full. Sew strips of binding together on the diagonal so not to create lumps in the binding. She is also a fan of binding cut on the bias because she says it will wear better. An accomplished quilter as well as a judge, she shared a trick in keeping the binding full. The trick she uses in keeping binding full is to cut extra batting in one quarter inch strips and insert it as the binding is sewn down.  Be sure the corners are properly mitered and the miters are sewn closed.

*Piecing: Make sure points are not cut off. When a pattern has sashing she suggested adding cornerstones to the sashing even if it is the same color. The reason is because it will help keep the sashing straight. Quilts with crooked sashing or borders were "dismissed." I loved they used the word "dismissed" rather than "rejected." It's so much kinder.

*Quilting: She inspected the quilting carefully for stitch length, thread color choice and workmanship. If the stops and starts and the quilting were obvious that was noted. Many of the quilts were noted as "Needs more quilting."

*Color and design: Each quilt was judged for color and design and she often commented if the colors had value.

*Applique or embroidery: When the quilts were appliqued or embroidered the stitches were inspected for tension.

*Piecing the back. Quilts that were pieced with two equal pieces on the back were noted. She suggested when piecing the back to always piece the seams vertically and never down the middle of the back. The reason is the middle is where the quilt will be folded and this will add stress the the seam. She suggested piecing the back somewhere other than the middle. The reason to piece the backing vertically is because if the quilt is ever hung the vertical seam will not stress the quilt as much as a horizontal seam. (I must admit I am guilty of piecing the back horizontally  because this method saves fabric.)

*Folding. While this was not a category that counted she did give the volunteers this tip: Her suggestion in folding a quilt was to fold from top to bottom twice and then fold from the middle. The reason is when the quilt is hung the weight of the quilt will pull out the horizontal folds in the quilt.

I know this is a lot but if you have entered a quilt in a show the minute details matters. Make sure your great works get the ribbon it deserves. Watch for the detail. I challenge you to enter a quilt in a show and Good Luck!!!

Sneak peek of the quilt currently on the design wall.

I am working on a really fun quilt and will give you a sneak peek. I will post more when it is closer to being finished.