A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
I may have the answer about how a judge picks a quilt show winner. I tossed and turned all night…. dreaming I was in a tv guessing game. I was loosing because I kept giving the wrong answers. I just know I’m missing some important key issue about how to actually win a ribbon at one of the ‘big show’ competitions. It can’t possibly be recognition by the judges of the work of a big name quilter so their quilts get higher scores!
I finally got up about 3:00 am to go look for one of my critique sheets. I just felt the answer was there in that sheet somewhere. This post is my attempt to put into words what I believe MIGHT be the way a judge chooses…. or doesn’t choose… a quilt for a ribbon.
I used the MQX critique sheet since it was the most current one I have. It was also the quickest one to find in my stacks and stacks of papers. The MQX critique sheet gives us 12 chances to get 100 points. 12 questions with points from 1 to 10. Sort of like in school where the teacher gives a test for a possible 100 points but adds in a few bonus questions for extra credits just in case the student misses a question or two. The judge must assign a number of points instead of a verbal answer to each of the questions.
The first question on the MQX critique sheet is called Construction: Overall Impression. Imagine…. if you will…. the judge standing or sitting while quilts are paraded in front of them by the helpers. A secretary is taking notes as the judge voices their reaction in numbers. Secretaries are used so the judge doesn’t have to take their eyes off the quilts. On a scale of 1 to 10 here are some possible reactions to their overall impression.
So…. now the first round of judging is done. Each of the quilts have gone through and gotten a score on the first question. The quilts are paraded in front of the judges for 3 more rounds of competition. They are: design and color; top design and piecing; finished edge technique. Each time points are given based on the reaction as the quilt is viewed by the judge. It’s sort of like when the girls parade in front of judges in a Miss America competition. All of the girls are very pretty and all have unique talents. It up to the judges to give points based on their reactions each time the girls parade through. (side note: I wonder why there isn’t a Mr America contest?)
I’ll skip going through an explanation of all the construction questions on the critique sheet. Instead let me try explaining my vision of what it must be like in the first round of the machine quilting competition questions. The sheet says Machine Quilting; Overall Impression. This could be what the judges are thinking as they answer for each quilt and say a number.
0. Oops! Wrong category.
1. Why did they leave so many places without quilting?
2. Oh no…. not more meandering!
3. I can see tension issues from way over here.
4. Just look at all those tiny thread tails at the stops and those large stitches at the starts.
5. Hmm… Interesting design. Why did they put fishes on a quilt made of flower fabrics?
6. This is better but the quilter should practice more for smooth curves and backtracking.
7. Good design choice. The quilting is balanced; it adds to the fabrics; its executed well.
8. Ooooo… now this is really nice. It’s speaking to me to take a closer look.
9. Wow, this is very different. I can see it took a lot of effort to accomplish this design.
10. Wait! Don’t take it away! I want to stay here and look for awhile. Does anyone know how this person accomplished this quilting technique? Make a note to find out who this person is…. after the judging…. and sign them as a teacher next year!
I’m only guessing here in my post. Surely the quilts don’t parade through but rather the judge stands or sits in front of each quilt answering all the questions on the critique sheet before going to the next quilt. She or he probably voices the impression in a number while keeping the comments secretly held in their head. Unless it’s a positive comment. You think maybe quilt judges are taught numbers to represent thoughts as a second language?
I don’t believe the judges tally up the scores on the critique sheets either. I think it’s left up to the secretary to do that. It keeps the judges from saying they want to change a quilt’s score. Maybe that’s why the scores are written in ink too. No erasers. But…. who is checking the addition done by the secretary? Does the secretary have a secretary?
At the end of all the viewing and scoring; the quilts with the most points are the ones who get the ribbons. I still have a mental picture of judges saying inny, menny, minny, mo as a tie breaker if there is more than one quilt with 120 points. Surely that can’t be true though. There must be a tie breaker set of questions for the judges to use. There probably is also another round of competition to choose the best of show quilt. Using only the winners of all the categories.
Well anyway, this is how I view, with a little humor thrown in, the possible way quilts earn ribbons in a quilting show competition. Now that I have a better understanding about how judging might take place maybe I will have a better chance at getting a “big show” ribbon next year. It certainly won’t hurt me to try…. again.