Many years ago, I entered my first quilt show.
I entered the Snail’s Trail quilt shown above. I was very pleased with it for a number of reasons: I played with scale and transparency. There are two different sizes of spirally arms overlaid on each other, one dark blue and the other teal. In places, they show a third color, as though you’re looking THROUGH the arms.
After twenty years of quilting, I felt it was my best quilt to date.
Then, I entered it into a local quilt show . . .
I wondered about the judging process, since the judges didn’t know me from Adam, and had never seen any of my previous pieces. I figured they would judge it on its own merits. I felt I had a winner on my hands.
About a week later, I received a phone call informing me that I hadn’t won a thing, and I could pick up my quilt at my convenience.
WHAT?? I was SURE it would win!!
When I went to retrieve my quilt, I was given the judges sheets. There were three judges and over a dozen criteria they were looking at. Without fail, one judge would like what I did, and the other two didn’t (and never the same two).
Some of the criteria made sense, but I was at a loss on others. Two judges didn’t like my choice of color . . . Really?? What color should it have been?? Two judges didn’t like my choice of pattern . . . Oh, come on!! Two judges didn’t like my border treatment . . .
I think the judges needed to make their own damn quilt (and keep their criticisms off mine)!!
The woman next to me asked to read the judges comments, and said, “I don’t get it . . . I don’t agree with a single thing they say. You made a great quilt!!” I put on my best face and graciously thanked her.
Then, I looked around the room. All of the other quilters in the room wore the same expression as me.
It dawned on my that they ALL expected their quilt would win, too!!
You know what??
I vowed never to enter another quilt show . . . And as for judges, FLICK ‘EM!! I’m sure I can point out the flaws in my quilts more readily than THEY can!!
I enjoy quilting for its own sake. I had no idea there was an entirely separate realm of “perfect” quilts, with their own rarefied standards. What was the point?? Did the winners quilt for the money, the glory, the bragging rights?? More power to ’em . . .
Every quilter who quilts is a winner, whether another person bestows the title upon them or not. I feel you should take pride in your accomplishments; learn from your mistakes; and do what feels right to YOU, rather than give someone else power over your sense of joy.
Now, you may think “sour grapes.” But I never tasted the fruit, so I wouldn’t know if it’s sour or not . . . I moved on.
About a month later, I made another quilt with the same pattern (only larger), followed by a smaller piece made from the leftover blocks:
The clients who bought them, loved them . . . and didn’t give me a single criticism. They were my kind of people.