Criteria Used in Judging Quilt Contests

Sep 3rd, 2010
If you plan to enter one of your quilts in a contest, it is important to know what the judges look for before you start.

So you have mastered the art of making quilts and you want to enter one of your masterpieces in a quilt contest? It is essential that you know the criteria that judges use in such events so that you can take a look at your quilt to try to see it as the judges will. This article will provide a brief outline of the top ten criteria used in judging quilts to announce an overall winner.

  1. Design. The design you choose for your quilt does not have to be original, but it is best if it is one of your own creations. The judges look for quilt designs that are interesting and eye-catching. They also consider the colors used to make sure that they complement one another and do not clash.
  2. Unity. How well do the colors and blocks line up in your quilt? If you use both appliqué techniques and hand quilting techniques, you must ensure that they work well together and that parts of the quilt do not stand out more than others. There must be harmony in the placement of the pieces and in the color scheme throughout.
  3. Balance and Layout. All the blocks, borders, sashes and bindings on the quilt must look as if they belong together. The border you choose must enhance the overall design of the quilt. Sometimes a colorful border will make the quilt look off-balance, while at other times it looks just right. You do have to carefully consider your border when you plan the design of the project.
  4. Neatness. Neatness counts in quilting, just as it does in all craft projects. The quilt should be clean, wrinkle-free and not have any loose threads of fuzz. If this is an older quilt that you are entering in the contest, make sure that it does not smell as if it has been packed away in an attic trunk for decades. It is also important to make sure that there are no vestiges of quilting lines or marks and that your sewing is straight.
  5. Construction. Judges spend a great deal of time sizing up the construction of the quilts they look at. The seams must all line up perfectly and the points must all be sharp.
  6. Craftsmanship. This is where the judges will really scrutinize the quilt and look at the stitching. The stitches should be placed consistently and the places where you stopped and started should not be noticeable. The knots must be hidden if you quilted by hand and the quilt must be perfectly square.
  7. Quality of the quilting. In this criteria, the judges look at the stitching and the design. They determine whether or not your stitches are even. If the quilt has been stitched by machine, they will look at the straightness of the seams and whether the template you used complements the overall style of the quilt.
  8. Finishing techniques. The binding must be smooth on all four edges of the quilt. It if is too tight, the edges of the quilt will curl inwards and this will cost you points. The corners must also be turned and mitered, so a plain quilt border will not suffice for a contest.
  9. Extras. Extra features in the quilt that help it stand out from the rest will go a long way towards assuring you of a win. This includes special details, such as embroidery, that embellish the quilt.
  10. Overall appearance. Finally the judges will consider the overall appearance of the quilt in which the design, the color scheme, the fabrics and the sewing all come together in a project that will give them an “Ah-ha” moment.
Frances Stanford is a retired teacher and and writer of many teacher resource books, especially novel study guides. After spending 31 years in the classroom, she now devotes her time to freelance writing. She lives in the small scenic community of Grates…
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