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Posts Tagged ‘Quilt Judging’

Judging Garments

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

In the Summer issue of The Professional Quilter, NQA certified judge Scott Murkin shared his thoughts on judging garments. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

Many quilters either started out as garment sewers who later developed an interest in quiltmaking or conversely, after mastering many quilting techniques, decided to apply them to garment making. Whichever came first, a significant number of quilters participate in garment making to various degrees.

In response to this trend and to showcase the creativity and talent of these skilled sewists, a significant majority of quilt shows have either an associated garment show or categories for garments within the judged show. This means that the active quilt show judge is going to be called upon at some point to judge garments. For the judge who has experience in garment making, this may pose no great challenge, but the judge who does not have this experience will need to seek out continuing education experiences to prepare for this eventuality.

A good starting place for assessing the completed garment is to consider the quiltmaking techniques that were used in the construction. Techniques such as piecing, appliqué and quilting are judged by the same criteria of design and workmanship as they are in quilts. Surface design techniques are also held to the same standards as they are in quilting. Embellishments are seen quite commonly in garment making, and they should be well secured and integrated into the overall design and construction of the garment.

In addition to the traditional quiltmaking skills, a number of specialized skills are required to turn this constructed fabric into a three-dimensional object that can be worn on the body. The garment field has its own specialized terminology, such as French seams, a Hong Kong finish and frog closures. Specific resources will allow the judge to become fluent in the language of garment making. Being able to use these terms properly when providing feedback to entrants will enhance the judge’s credibility inestimably.

The final, and arguably most important, element of judging garments is the aspect that makes them most unique from quilts. Because garments are designed and constructed to be worn, the drape, wearability and appearance on the human form become paramount in the evaluation. The fact that quilted clothing is meant to be presented in three dimensions affects both construction and design decisions.

The amazing inventiveness and creativity in today’s quilted clothing world, along with expert sewing skills and cross-fertilization between garment and quiltmaking, provide an exciting opportunity for quilt show judges to be involved in assessing this art form. If this is not your area of expertise, find a mentor from the garment field (in addition to one or more of the listed resources) so that you can carry out your responsibilities with aplomb. A working knowledge of the language and skills of garment making will serve you well throughout your career.

Please share your thoughts on judging garments as a judge or garment maker in the comments below.

If you would like to read more of Scott’s article, including details on the terminology of garment making and resources to build your knowledge, it’s included in our Summer 2011 issue of The Professional Quilter and available to IAPQ members. The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.


What Do Judges Look For?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

You’ve just finished your latest quilt, are proud of your accomplishment and want to show it off. You first share it with your family, then with your small quilting “bee” and finally take it to show and tell at your next guild meeting. For some quilters, this is enough. For others, it is not. Many quilters want to see how their quilts stack local, non-judged show or entering it in a major juried and judged competition. In addition to gaining recognition for your quilts, you also educate other quilters and the general public about quilting and its standards. For local guild shows, this is often a primary reason for holding a show. Additionally, if your quilt is entered in a judged show, you can set goals for improvement based on feedback from the judges or your own comparison with winning quilts. And, of course, you might just win a prize, either a ribbon, cash, or merchandise.

Impartiality in judging is important and one way this is done is through use of a panel of independent judges, usually three. Judges can be trained and certified by the National Quilting Association, or they can be trained through experience. They all adhere to similar standards of judging, although final results will be varied based on the individuals.

Judging can take place either before or after the quilts are hung, and each method has advantages. Judging quilts after they are hung allows the visual impact of the quilt to be better appreciated. Judging quilts before they are hung is usually faster, but visual impact takes second place to the ability to view the workmanship.

Judges often use scorecards or evaluation forms and either a point system, an elimination system or a combination of the two to evaluate the individual entries. The point system uses a predetermined maximum number of! points to judge specific areas, for example, up to 20 points for the color and design, up to 20 points for construction, up to 15 points for finishing, etc., with the total equaling 100 points. Each quilt is judged on its own merits, and the quilt with the highest total number of points is awarded the first place.

The elimination system, on the other hand, allows each judge to evaluate a quilt, make comments on its technique and offer feedback for improvement. If the judge feels the quilt should be held for ribbon/award consideration, it is put aside. If not, it is released from the competition portion. After the quilts are judged in this preliminary fashion, the held quilts are compared to others in its category and the winners are determined.

Neither system is perfect. Regardless, judges evaluate quilts against the same standards. Here are just a few of the commonly held standards that judges use:

General Appearance

· The quilt makes an overall positive statement upon viewing
· The quilt is clean and “ready to show,” i.e., no visible marks, no loose threads, no pet hair, no bearding, no offensive odors.
· The quilt’s edges are not distorted. This is easier to gauge when the quilt is hung.

Design and Composition
· All the individual design elements of the quilt – top, quilting, choice of fabric, sashes, borders, embellishments, finishing – are unified.
· The design is in proportion and balanced.
· Borders or other edge treatments enhance the quilt appearance.

· Piecing is precise, corners match and points are sharp.
· Seams, including those of sashing and borders, are secure, straight and flat.
· Quilting stitches are straight where intended and curved where intended.

As noted, judges consider certain “standards” when evaluating quilts – and the list is really quite extensive – but how do they decide which quilts are the prizewinners? And what is more important, design or workmanship? In the end I think it comes down to design, the quilt with the greater visual impact. But even the quilt with the greatest visual impact cannot rescue poor workmanship.

The Professional Quilter has an ongoing column geared just for judges, but it’s useful for those who are entering shows. Scott Murkin, NQA Certified Judge, writes those columns. We also offer three resources recommended for those in judging programs. You can learn more about The Challenge of Judging by Jeannie Spears, Judging Quilts by Katy Christopherson, and a audio recording of a conversation on “The Judge’s Perspective” between Morna McEver Golletz and judges Jane Hall and Scott Murkin on our resources page.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Book Review: Adventures in Circles

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Adventures in Circles

By Leigh E. McDonald
That Patchwork Place; $26.95

I’ve always liked circles. A favorite family story is the time I attacked my father’s business papers with the hole punch. And, of course, polka dots make me smile. So did the circle quilts in Leigh McDonald’s book. Leigh’s success with circles comes from cutting them with the Olfa circle cutter and using either a fusible-web or freezer-paper qppliqué technique. Her designs could be adapted to other construction methods; she just prefers those. In addition to basic technique instructions, the book includes eight different circle quilt projects and several pages of fanciful quilting designs to complete the quilt. I found her designs a lot of fun.

Here’s a link, if you’d like to add it to your library.

Your Judging Contract

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Scott Murkin says that a good contract lets you focus on the job at hand, and that’s true whether you are judging or teaching. Here’s an excerpt from Scott’s On Judging column in the Winter issue of The Professional Quilter.

The quilting world is by and large a friendly place, where most of us know each other, at least by reputation. Traditionally, much business was conducted with a simple handshake agreement, and that still sometimes works to this day, even if the handshake is done over the Internet (an e-shake?).

As the quilting world has grown exponentially the last few years, a contract or letter of agreement laying out the terms that were discussed in that handshake agreement becomes more and more important to protect both parties. A contract can range from a formal document to a simple letter of agreement that lays out the terms that were discussed. At the very least, the contract should be reviewed, signed and dated by both parties. It is a good idea to have a boilerplate template ready on your computer to fill in the blanks and send out. [See Scott’s sample judging contract in PQ and feel free to adapt to your specific needs.]

The basic components of the contract are: the details of what, where and when; the responsibilities of the hiring organization; the responsibilities of the judge; contact information for all parties; and terms of cancellation. The contract begins with the defining of the parties and the basics of what is being agreed to between them. This should include the date, time and location of the judging, the judging system being used (for example elimination vs. point system), any other judges with whom you will be working, the approximate number of entries to be judged and any expectations for feedback or evaluation to the entrants. It also covers handling of fees and expenses. Once the terms are acceptable to all, identical copies of the contract should be signed and dated and kept on file by both parties. With the peace of mind provided by a written agreement, you will be better able to focus on the task at hand – judging the quilts.

You can read all of Scott’s column including his discussion of judging fees in the Winter issue of The Professional Quilter. This is a benefit of membership in the International Association of Professional Quilter. Read about all our benefits here and join today.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

Book Review: 100 Tips From Award Winning Quilters

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

100 Tips from Award Winning Quilters









Ann Hazelwood
American Quilters Society; $12.95

This terrific little collection of tips is broken into sections for the quilter as a student, tools, designing and working styles, stash savvy, techniques, quilting, finishing touches and show etiquette. You’ll find something to use or pass along. But the best advice, as Zena Thorp says, is “remember that it is YOUR quilt.”  Here’s a link if you’d like to add it to your library.

The Quilt Judge’s Perspective Recordings Now Available

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The MP3 download and CD recording of The Quilt Judges’ Perspective teleclass hosted by Morna McEver Golletz and featuring NQA Certified Judges Jane Hall and Scott Murkin is now available to purchase. Learn what criteria judges use when judging a quilt show, the relationship between design and workmanship from the judge’s standpoint, how you can improve your chances at winning a prize or ribbon, how you can become a judge and more. This teleclass is geared to quilters interested in learning more about the judging process, either as a quilter or as a judge. Additional details are here.

Summer Issue is in the Mail

Monday, July 14th, 2008

The Summer issue is out and in the mail. I’ve heard from subscribers that it’s showing up in mailboxes. Here’s a peek at the cover:

Articles include a profile by Eileen Doughty with Alaska quit artist Linda Beach, tips for developing a blog as a marketing tool by Maria Peagler, a studio tour with longarm quilter Paula Rostkowski, guidelines for business recordkeeping by David Nagle, help with phrasing judging comments by Scott Murkin and a primer on understanding DPI for good digital printing by Gloria Hansen. We will have some excerpts in our ezine later this month.

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