Entering a show can be intimidating but once you get your first one under your belt it just get’s easier and easier! Here are some tips for you:
WHILE MAKING THE QUILT
Take the time to add special touches to your quilt if you think you are going to enter it. Rip out seams that will look better if you just redo it! Add an extra flair to your quilting design. Try something you have not done before. This will not only increase your ribbon chances but will also make you a better quilter. If you think of the show as a challenge your quilts will reflect your effort. Your show quilt should make people think you took your time making it.
Finish your binding by hand. It makes a difference!! This is the tutorial that taught me how to do it! At the very least make sure it is securely attached!
Make your quilt as flat and square as possible. You can even block your quilt, which I haven’t had the guts to try. I know people who swear by it though!
Make your starts and stops as invisible as possible. I can’t imagine burying my threads but that is the preferred method. I use my knot tying button and then trim extra close to the quilt.
Before you make your quilt sandwich, go back and trim your piecing threads! You will have to deal with them later and once everything is together it is much more of a pain to get them out.
If you are using light background fabric you must take steps to ensure no dark fabric is show under the light! This is called shadowing. Press towards the dark fabric. Grade the darker fabric. For my Feathers quilt, I added layered a piece of muslin into the seam to create a white barrier between the light and dark if pressing to the dark side was not an option. I swear there was a tutorial on this but I could not find it again online! Maybe I should make one because it was very helpful in obscuring the dark fabrics under all that white background!
PREPARING QUILT FOR ENTRY
Pick your best quilts! Think about who will be judging the quilt. Try to search who won the year before. Sometimes the quilt show organizers will have a dedicated site to past winners. Go with your gut if you aren’t sure which one to enter.
OMG you guys, lint roll your quilt like crazy. Seriously, I have a cat and she comes and lays on anything quilted. I get it, I do. But what if a judge is allergic to pet hair? What if a hair goes up their noses and makes them hate your quilt??? Go ahead and lint roll it one more time!
While you are lint rolling, trim any threads you see see hanging off the quilt. Look for your starts and stops!
If there are trapped threads in between the layers you can use this tiny hook to pull them out! The judges will notice dark threads under light fabrics! But you probably don’t have too many because you made sure to trim them!
Be sure to include a 4″ quilt sleeve! This can be tedious but it is so easy! You can watch a video here or look at this tutorial. The bonus part is once you have it on there you can enter it all you want because it will be ready to go!
Most shows require a label as well. I’m not a big fan of the fancy label on quilts. I feel like people do not want to use a quilt with a 6″x6″ label slapped on it. In the actual world I put my label on the binding. For shows, I stamp mine on whatever light colored fabric I have laying around, press the edges under 1/4″, machine sew a top stitch around the edge and then hand tack it on. There are lots of ways of making a label. You can write a label by hand using a Micron pen, print one out, embroider one, etc.
Take time in filling out your entry form. Make sure you list everything correctly and choose the best category for your quilt to be judged in. Read the rules carefully and also the category descriptions so you make the best choice. If you accidentally enter your quilt in applique but you want to be judged on piecing you will not fair well!
Above all, don’t take judging personally. I entered the this quilt into the Quilter’s Guild of Dallas and the State Fair of Texas. I did not win anything at the QGD show and won First Place at the fair! That is quite a swing.
You will get to learn what judges at which place like certain things. This quilt is one of my favorites but is has a wave in the center (it does not lay completely flat). The judges at the QGD show take that seriously. The fair, I think, liked the fresh new look of this quilt.
Do not be discouraged if you do not win the ribbon you wanted or anything at all. It makes winning later all the more sweeter!