Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

What happens at Quilt Judging…..

Last week I linked to an article about the jury process for a big show like QuiltCon…..

In comments on this post, several people mentioned that they were intrigued by the actual judging process so I thought that I would walk you thru this process for a smaller (guild) show.

I have been fortunate to be involved in judging for our guild show for a number of years. Please note that these photos range from way back in 2011 so if we start looking older really fast, you will understand why! Also, you will see several different judges during this walk-thru!!

There are a few rules for everyone who helps with judging…..

FIRST is confidentiality!!! The things that are said in the judging room must NEVER leave there!!

Secondly, is QUIET. Everybody must do their jobs as quietly as possible to not bother the actual judging process. Honestly, it is the ONLY time that I have been around quiet quilters!!!

So let’s get started…..

When the judge arrives. quilts are laid out on tables by category and, after giving instructions…..

….she dives into the first category.

The quilts are initially folded in half so that the backs are showing.

Once the judge has read the description for the category, the quilts are “fanned” by unfolding each one quickly back onto the table……

This gives the judge a quick view of all of the pieces that she will be judging in that category.

Then the hard work begins…..

She looks at each quilt individually, starting by looking at the quilt as a whole…..

……commenting on the design, including fabric selection, color coordination, etc.

Then, she studies the quilt up close and comments on the technical aspects of each quilt, including the quality of piecing, applique, quilting, etc.

As she studies the quilt……

….she is verbally giving comments that are written down by one of the scribes…..

These critique sheets are given to the quilter at the end of the show.

Sometimes she asks for the quilt to be held up so that she can better see the design…..

After she finishes with a quilt, she will do one of three things…..

  • Release the quilt which means that it is not in the running for a ribbon
  • HOLD the quilt for the category which means that it “might” get a ribbon
  • HOLD the quilt for one of the special awards (Best Quilting, Judge’s Choice etc).

When all of the quilts in the category have been judged the FUN part starts…..

All of the quilts that were held for the category are returned to the table, and as you can see, EVERYBODY in the room gathers around to hear the results…..

At this point, she may re-examine the “held” quilts……

….and she will release additional quilts until she has narrowed it down to the number of ribbons for the category.

Sometimes she asks that all of the possible winners be held side-by-side so that she can see all of them at once…..

It is always an exciting time as she names the ribbon winners.

At this point, there is a lot of scurrying around to make sure that everything has been recorded correctly……

And the quilts are returned to storage….except for the ones that have been held for a special ribbon. Those are kept separate for now……

And, all of the 1st place quilts are kept in a special area until it is time to pick the “BEST OF SHOW”!!

After all of the categories have been judged, the quilts that were held for the various special ribbons are brought out and the judge makes her choice from those.

NOW it is time for the coveted “Best of Show”!!

All of the 1st place ribbon winners are placed on the tables and the judge names one of them her “BEST OF SHOW”!!!

So that’s it…..the process from beginning to end!!

Our show normally has around 225 quilts and it takes the better part of two days to complete the judging.

It is always a fun two days, with food…..

….and fellowship…..

….and viewing LOTS of amazing quilts!!

So, if you are ever given the opportunity to be part of a show judging….say YES immediately and be ready for a wonderful experience.

In this blog, I post DAILY stories about creativity, techniques, tools of the trade, and lots more about the wonderful art of quilting. If you are enjoying these posts, please subscribe to be notified of each new blog as it becomes available.

3 thoughts on “What happens at Quilt Judging…..

  1. Today as I was looking at Andrea Huelsenbeck’s posts about the Arizona quilt show, I was thinking I could never be a judge! Because I don’t think I would be fair to quilts that were technically perfect but that were not in a color palette I like. 🙂
    And now, reading this post, I don’t think I could even be a scribe or a helper because I would probably give away my own opinions and the judge would have to speak to me sternly. 🙂

    1. Believe me, there are plenty of sidewise looks as the judges make their comments. I am sure that they have learned to ignore everyone else in the room!! I actually took some training to become a certified judge but decided that I would rather teach than judge!!! I have judged for the Georgia National Fair and that is a lot of fun!!

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