Saturday, March 12, 2011


My blog has never really addressed soul searching, political statements, or frankly, any deep subjects at all. There is a time and place for those discussions, but not here.

However, I thought this subject might be worth blogging about: Competitive Quilting....

I came across a post on Tall Grass Prairie Studio's blog; "Is Quilting A Competitive Sport?"

The spirit in which this question was presented was so thoughtful and frankly, freshing. Likewise the 55 comments provided a worthwhile conversation.

My take on the subject (if you aren't's okay to say goodbye for today).....has changed over the years. That change is directly related to just HOW competitive quilting has become.

I've judged nearly all of the largest shows in this country as well as countless medium to small guild events. It's always an honor which also comes with great responsibility. Certainly one can agree that these judged shows have contributed to raising the bar as far as quality in both construction and design in our industry. New techniques have spawned new and faster methods to achieve better results for all quilters.

Winning a top prize at a big show not only can come with respectable prize money but recognition as well. I'm not unaware nor unappreciative of the benefits I gained by my Best of Show ribbon at the AQS/Hobbs Fashion show. I truly believe it opened the door (wide) for my first quilt related book.

The trouble is..... when someone wins a big award, does that mean they are immediately prepared to be an author, lecturer, workshop leader? NO, of course not.....heck, some quilters don't even want to pursue that path, rather they like having the competition incentive to energize themselves.

As a judge, the aspect of the judging process that bothers me the most is the lack of time allowed for the judges to formulate thoughtful, appropriate comments that can perhaps enlightened the maker with where (the judge thinks) her/his strengths are and what areas they might considering concentrating further in order to maintain the competitive edge.

Bottom line.....if winning awards isn't important......and you wish to share your work through exhibits....that's WONDERFUL and so much appreciated by audiences everywhere. If it's the competition that drives you...then try to remember, most often, judges have less than a minute to judge your quilt, make comments and move on. So, after you spent a year making your you really think a judge can tell you much more than what you probably already know??

I've been saying this to my audiences/students for the last 24+ years: Quilting is a hobby for 90% of quilters (even if their goal is to make it a fulltime business)....chances are, financially it may still rank as a hobby. If that's the case.....then just go have fun doing what you like to do....don't let the pursuit of winning ribbons ruined that fun!

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Thank you Mary for this advice. I've been toying with the idea lately of perhaps trying to enter a show or two... But from your above comments, i think it's most likely best FOR ME if i just continue to do what i do, and enjoy the compliments i get from family & friends, rather than let some unknown (to me) judge unwittingly "bash" my feelings by "rejecting" my hard work.

Besides, i'd feel foolish, standing around near my quilt all day during the show, just waiting to hear what random passersby have to say about it!