Thursday, 21 March 2013

Forewarned is forearmed

About the only benefit of living so far from QuiltCon was that if you entered a quilt in the show, you were always going to get your critique back much later than the vast majority of the entrants.

Mine arrived today.

I had already read on other blogs about the style of judging the quilts and if I'm honest, was steeling myself for what they would say about mine.

I even started to wonder if maybe knitting was going to be a less confrontational hobby.



In my case I did get an even spread of good and bad but not what I was expecting and by the end of it I was left scratching my head.

Under 'areas for improvement' it says the quilt has:


  • an ineffective use of colo(u)r - swirl takes away - whoops, misjudged the colour bit then as that was the bit I really liked and I have no chuffin idea what 'swirl takes away' means
  • an ineffective use of contrast/value - huh, come again?
  • the design detracts from the fabric choices - now you've completely lost me
  • quilting thread choice is distracting - how can monofilament thread be distracting? And on the back where I didn't use monofilament, it was just one piece of plain fabric
  • the quilt would benefit from less hand-quilting - I inner outlined the snaking shape with one row of hand-quilting, clearly that was one inner line too much then

And the comment to end all comments?
'Background is the most interesting part'

While I think the judges went about their roles with the absolute best of intentions I think they need to rethink how they do this in subsequent years.

Our quilts were not 'critiqued': the form that arrived today summed it all up with its words in the top right hand corner - 'Judging Checklist.' With this format, I think they were hidebound by the predetermined rights and wrongs they worked to. It is all too easy to stand in front of a quilt, put some ticks in some boxes, scribble a few additional comments and then move on to the next quilt.

I am incredibly honoured to have had a quilt accepted to QuiltCon.
I loved seeing all the pictures popping up everywhere.
I was thrilled to bits when it sold.

Would I enter a quilt again?
Yeah, why not, it wasn't that bad.

But next time I would like to see the following:

  • Judges with a solid quilting background and preferably with a track record of quilt show judging under their proverbial belts
  • Ideally more than two judges so that when subjectivity comes into play, personal thoughts will be more evenly spread
  • The 'judging check-list' ditched for a more expansive explanation (personal and applicable to each quilt) of the not so good bits as well as the positives. The amount of extra time that may incur wouldn't even come close to the amount of hours, thoughts and feelings I poured into making the quilt
  • One of those nice 'My quilt is in the show' rosette thingies sent to those of us that are not there in person please
  • Oh and while I'm at it, one of the goodie bags that those who attended got as it takes a lot of bottle (well it did on my part) to show a quilt, so if we do get a rather fulsome sh*t sandwich, it will soften the blow somewhat :-)
Thank you.


56 comments:

  1. To me it seems that the judges were judging another quilt then yours....I understand your disappointment about it very well. Didn't they say any positive thing at all?
    It is such a stunning quilt to me, strong colors and compostion etc......You deserved better!

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    1. Wow! I totally agree with Conny's Quilts! It seems like you must have received the judging sheet from a different quilt! I was drawn to your quilt BY the strong use of colors, and I think the background is PERFECT! The two contrast perfectly, in my opinion~ How bizarre! Gorgeous quilt!

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  2. Well stated. You don't want to hear my thoughts, but let me say I couldn't have said it better than you did. Hope those that matter are reading these posts.

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  3. Well I would probably do the two finger salute but then I never was very mature. Oh you know what, whatever!!

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  4. Yeah, those comments would confuse me as well..Did they really mean those things about your quilt, or did they confuse yours with someone else...The use of color/fabric and value seems to really throw me. Wish they gave a better explanation because I agree that the entire quilt seem to really feature the things they found troublesome...

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  5. Modern quilting deserves it's own critiquing system, with judges being modern quilters themselves. The negative comments are the very essence of modern quilt design. Your quilt is Art. Congrats on acceptance in QuiltCon and your sale.

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  6. Forgive me for laughing. The "critique" is sooo off based I've started to be amused by the varying things I've heard said about one fabulous quilt after another. Yours in particular seems like it would be much more in line with what they seemed to be looking for at the show. Utterly confusing. Completely ridiculous. You are fabulous.

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  7. Wow. I'm glad you posted their comments because when I read what other people said about being confused, I didn't really understand. Those comments are incredibly confusing. I don't understand how any of them are true about your quilt. I do think that the background of the quilt is awesome, but no more awesome than the rest of the quilt. Congrats on your quilt selling, that says more about your quilt than what little the judges had to offer.

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  8. Your comments make me laugh. (it takes a bottle to show...) Fully agree with what everyone is saying. There is a lot of confusion as to how the critiques were formed/generated, and even moreso reading the feedback you received. Scratching my head at some of them. I would hate to be a judge, not an easy task....I think there are some wrinkles to iron out for the next QuiltCon. And I'm with ya - you got nothing? Not even a ribbon or certificate for participation?

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  9. You are very resilient. If I had received such a confused and iIrrelevant critique I would never enter a quilt show again. I don't believe they do any favours to their own credibility!!

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  10. My friend Ang directed me over here, and not to sound like I'm laughing at your pain, but it's been a rough work day and I totally needed this chuckle!!! Your review of their review was hilarious....everything they checked is so contradictory and absurd that it's comical (and really can't be taken seriously at all). Totally reminds me of those Chinglish (Chinese + English) nonsense signs you see from SignFail on Etsy like "Stop, I Do Not Eat Junk Mail" or "Slip Carefully" that leave you scratching your head. This quilt is completely fabulous, and hopefully they'll get their act together and give you a well-deserved Peanut Butter & Jelly rather than a Sh*t Sandwiches next time ;)

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  11. I think the critique style was learnt at the same online university attended by most spammers!!
    I would ask for a revote/explanation, there is no point offering feedback if it makes no bloody sense.
    Hope your buyer is not too over-awed by the hand quilting xxx

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    1. LOL Hadley!! Spot on!!

      So essentially... They just wanted the background and nothing else?! Oh no, wait, the quilting thread... Nope, doesn't make sense! And of what I've read, your's is the most "modern" according to their standards that I've read about post-judging. Maybe we should all submit white quilts with white quilting next year... That seems to be what they want!

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    2. But not TOO much or TOO little white quilting....

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  12. I've seen this quilt on your blog a number of times now and have never commented. I figure that now is as good a time as any to tell you that I think it's beautiful. I love the design, the low-value prints as background, and the use of color!

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  13. okay - first I seriously wonder if these comments were are seperate sheets and then somehow combined onto your critique as they really pretty incongruous. I have friends who are certified quilt judges and it requires a lot of training that most people are unaware of. Also I have been present several times as quilts were being judged by certified judges and I have never heard such appalling comments as were on your critique. While judges may point out shortcomings they always found something positive to comment on. The judgings I have witnessed have had a scribe to write down the critiques as they are done. Every judge hears what every other judge has to say and the critique has continuity. Email me and I can tell you a bit more. That said, keep your chin up. Your quilt is fabulous. An orginal design and with a wonderful use of color!

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  14. Thanks for the chuckle today. Maybe you received someone else's critique.

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  15. LOL! Well said. That is quite the odd assortment of "critiques". Not sure anyone could pass THAT test!

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  16. Love your quilt. You aren’t alone in having second thoughts about the judging, I’ve readm more blogposts about this subject, so why not all send an e-mail to ask for more explanation and ventilate your thoughts. And ask for a ribbon! And a goodie bag!

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  17. Hmm, wonder what qualifications these judges had. I have entered quilt shows that are not "Modern" and the critiques were much more accurate and helpful.

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  18. So weird. I thought your use of colour was spot on. Then again, given the complete focus on low volume right now, perhaps your quilt would've been better received if you'd just entered the background and skipped the interesting bit which really does distract from that lovely low volume background...

    The more comments I see from the quilt judging, the more confused I am.

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  19. sounds like your sheet of paper is for another quilt.
    I've had some odd feedback too but NOT this odd. most of it was good feedback.
    One odd thing I got back was on some trapunto trees I had left blank to show the "puffyness" of the trees, the feedback was that it needed quilting.... well then it won't show the trapunto much?? well maybe it would.... I love your quilt, keep at it!
    Have you tried any APQS shows? I'm going to try to submit again, got rejected a few times a few years ago, now I'm willing to face the rejection again! :-)

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    1. do you mean AQS shows? they have a modern quilt challenge coming up--enter!!!!!
      August 2 deadline--there are very few entries so get going! here's a link to the page with rules:
      http://aqsshows.com/AQSDesMoines/contests/des-moines-modern-quilt-challenge-rules-coming-soon/

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  20. Very interesting to hear the judges list the areas of improvement as all the things that make the quilt original, gorgeous and what I love about it. Very strange way to 'judge' a quilt I think, and I have thought from the start that two judges is a very limited number for such high standards of unique quilts.

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  21. At first I thought it was nice that they give you the judging reports - I didn't know they would do that. Reading so much about it, makes a difference though. Don't know how to read mine any more! Good to share anyway, thank you, I maybe should share mine as well. Bit late though....
    And many congrats about selling your quilt! Such a thrill! I'm sure such beauty will find a really good home !

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  22. I agree with the commenters who thought these comments might be about another quilt! Well done on entering a fantastic quilt, having it accepted, and selling it too.

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  23. You are braver than I. I won't enter a judged show because I don't want to here the criticism. I think your quilt is fabulous!

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  24. I am speechless, which doesn't happen often! It makes you wonder if the judges even looked at your quilt for all the use the feedback has given.

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  25. A number of my comments were eaten today by trying to comment on my phone... The swag/goodie bags went to people who spent more than $399 in workshops and lectures. Definitely not worth the $399. I'm surprised that the little participation ribbons did not go out with the quilts.

    I've already posted my thoughts of the show. I loved your quilt. I showed all my favorites to Sasquatch and he had good words to speak of your quilt. And of course, you quilt was finished beautifully, hung flat, and was of good size.

    I don't know anything of the judging, was it a large committee? Were the judges familiar with quilts? Had they ever judged quilts before? Of those that ribboned, they were not what I would expect. Not that they weren't good quilts just not my favorite and sometimes plain and boring. My biggest concern with the backlash of bad comments was all the negatives. It sounds like the judges felt like they had to create reasons to why they didn't like a quilt. Definitely what is going on here. Then again, every quilt was all about negative space. Negative space is the answer to what modern quilting is. If you just did negative space, I'd be bored, but the judges would be happy.

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  26. My 1st reaction was "huh?" (as in..were they looking at YOUR quilt?) My 2nd reaction was that maybe they thought it was opposite day?! lol Someone told me that sometimes quilt shows are judged by NON-quilters. this seems to be the case with your quilt..either that or they were smoking something. (sorry, that was snarky!) I often take the position about quilt judging as I do with movie critics: I believe my friends 1st, and I will listen to the 'expert", then I will make up my OWN MIND. Love your quilt...LOVE IT. I'm just sayin'

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  27. They told me that they would send you one of those ribbons, I specifically went and asked, although I did not say your name. I will send you one of mine. The judging is very odd, and you know that your quilt is wonderful, regardless of the comments.

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    1. You are sweet! I thought they should give them to all quilt participants too. I have recieved ones in from large shows before for participation, Its like the penalized those who showed quilts but could not come.

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    2. I did specifically ask, because I offered to take it and send it myself, but they said not to worry. Grrrrrr!

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  28. Yay! for being bold enough to post the judging critique! Your quilt is amazing and clearly fit into their criteria for being good enough to hang (and obviously good enough to go to a new home), so why nothing positive on the comments? Hopefully the next show will be more quilter friendly.:)

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  29. I have to agree that these comments are pretty confusing! I'm glad you have a positive attitude and are willing to enter shows still. After all, it is only the opinion of two people. It would have been nice if the remarks were more helpful, but, to me, entering a show is really about sharing your quilts with the people who attend the show. I'm sure I'm just one person of many who were thrilled to get to see your quilt in person :)

    That said, the remarks I got made me crazy for a day or two also :) Congrats on selling your quilt too!

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  30. Oh my goodness. I laughed at this ; ) less hand quilting? Invisible thread is distracting? Good for you for entering in the first place. ,ook forward to your next masterpiece.

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  31. They are so full of crap. I copied your photo the first time I saw it because I want to make one just like it. I love it.

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  32. they're full of 'sandwich filler'! Your quilt rocks the house! It's the color against the neutral that makes it such a draw-dropper!

    It rocks this house, at least. I'm okay with the hand quilting, even though I would have preferred more of it. ♥♥

    Knitting is less confrontational but only because the needles hurt more when you're jabbed with them. You took quite a jabbing anyway!

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  33. I was so waiting for you to get yours back! You commented on my blog post where I posted my comments and Im glad you posted yours. I AGREE whole heartedly with everthing you said! Yeah your attitude! I saw lots of pictures of your quilt on instagram and blogs with lots of great comments! I love the low volume background. Hand quilting rocks! Thanks for sharing!

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  34. Like everyone else I love your quilt in it's entirety. It seems that the Judge is the odd one out and therefore it also makes me wonder if the critique was done with a blindfold. Hats off to you for having the gumption to stand up and voice your 'confusion' and discontent. If it weren't for quilters and bloggers like yourself others would not be aware of what happens in judging. Maybe all judges should do an add-on course on how to deal with and critque modern quilts so that modern quilters are not seen to be 'breaking the rules' of conventional quilting.

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  35. bloody hell! That's bonkers!!!!

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  36. What are these comments? They just don't make sense whatsoever... It is probably hard to judge a quilting competition, but at least try to make sense if you are going to bother sending feedback!

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  37. well done for being brave enough to enter a quilt at all xx the comments are typical of what others have received and posted ... this is unfortunatly the reason so many dont dredge up the courage to enter ... and why some shows are dying due to lack of enteries For what it is worth I think it is wonderful.. and so ,I presume, does the person who bought it xx

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  38. Personally, I love the quilt. I don't find the background distracting and I think the contrast is just fine. I love the center piece!

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  39. Are they talking about the right quilt. The comments make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Bonkers conkers!!!

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  40. Well, I have to wonder, looking at those comments whether they mixed up quilts? They really seem to be talking about another quilt! I still like it. Art is subjective I suppose and that's probably the best you can take away from the comments.

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  41. The 'areas for improvement' comments just make no sense at all - no cohesion, no 'constructive' in the constructive criticism, they're verging on rude and have crossed the line into nonsensical. I think that this type of feedback is why many people are reluctant to enter their quilts in judged shows and I don't think the show/judges (of which there should have been more - two does not a judging panel make) have done themselves any favours...
    P.S. It's definitely your quilt name/number at the top of the sheet?!

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  42. Ditto Helen! It is laughable and I hope you find it so one day! Or just keep it in a drawer and take it out when you feel like getting a bit mad!

    I entered a knitted Big Ears (Noddy's brownie friend) into our local show - it was up against stiff opposition from a knitted fairy toilet roll cover(1st place) - but only got commended and I was told it was a nice Noddy! I still fizz and laugh about it now!

    Whatever don't let it put you off competing! You may actually get a human being judge next time!

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  43. What an adventure that quilt has had! It's a good thing there is always another quilt to made, another pattern to try, another idea in your head. I sometimes work with a group of people who are very aware of themselves. All I want to do is laugh at them or with them, if they could bend that far. Your post is a chuckle, glad you could see the humor of it all. Thanks.

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  44. The should have a number of judges and be more constructive in their comments! They make no sense!

    I love the quilt and think you did an amazing job!

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  45. I've never had to judge anything like this, and I know it must be a difficult task; but I thing these judges did a total FAIL. Total.

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  46. What very odd comments (from the judges I mean not from the good people above me). All their negatives are positives in my eyes. And well done for selling it. Someone else obviously loves it too!

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  47. Wow! I know it would take a LOT of courage for me to submit a quilt. I LOVE your quilt and if I made something that wonderful, I would definitely have submitted it. I am now imagining what they would have said about one of mine. Eeeks! You did make me laugh out loud though with your responses to the critiques, especially about the distracting monofilament quilt thread. The judges were clearly off the mark and not thinking. Shame on them!

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  48. Thanks for the laugh! Your quilt is fabulous, and the judges comments are SO off-base. I've seen so many posts about incongrous comments from QuiltCon judges that I'm wondering if there were any that made sense.

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