It’s been awhile since I’ve written a series of “soap box” articles. These aren’t meant to be controversial, but rather a chance for me to gather my thoughts on certain topics and share them with you. It’s great to have a conversation about quilting that goes a little deeper than the usual quilt tutorial or eye candy inspiration. I’ve been so crazy busy over last year that I’ve barely had time to think big thoughts, let alone share them with you, LOL!!
My first national quilt entry was QuiltCon 2013. At the time they gave hand made ribbons to ALL entrants. It’s the only QuiltCon ribbon I’ve ever received and I love it to death!!
Quilt show season is upon us so I thought I’d write a little about why I like to enter my work into shows. I do it for three basic reasons:
- To give myself a deadline to shoot for. I’ve realized that if I don’t give myself a deadline to do something, then it just doesn’t happen!!
- To share my work with a wider audience. Because quilting is my job (and IMHO the best one in the world!), it behooves me to come up with creative ways to get my name out there.
- Because it’s fun to see my quilt hanging in a big show and sometimes, on a lucky day, I just may snag a ribbon.Some shows give monetary awards while others don’t. It depends on the show.
Now, I have to say, entering a show isn’t for the faint of heart. Most large shows are juried, which means that if there are more entries than spots in the show, a small panel of jurors will look through all of the entries and select what they feel will be the best representation for a show. Getting into a juried show can be thrilling; getting rejected can feel like a punch to the gut, especially if you made a quilt specifically for that show.
Facets got a ribbon at AQS Paducah, but was a “quiltconreject” for 2017, along with 4 other entries. That’s ok because I know it’s a very subjective process – you win some, you lose some!!
Plus, it’s expensive to enter shows. The average price of entering a quilt in a large show can range anywhere from $10 to $25 per quilt, or more, and there’s no refund if you quilt doesn’t get accepted. Then you have to pay for the shipping, depending on the show it can either be one way, or both!! I look at these costs as business expenses (again, because it’s part of my job), but they can definitely add up!
For the record, here are the other 4 quilts I entered that didn’t make it into QuiltCon: Candy Pop, Feathered Chevrons, Lightning, Square in a Square. I had my 5 second pity party and then I moved on. Each of them has already been in another show, or will be shown in one soon.
With many of us sharing our work online and in social media, getting likes and positive comments all the time, it can feel a bit jarring when the quilt show circuit isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. But in the end, whether a quilt gets into a show or not, or whether it wins recognition or not, I think it’s still tons of fun to try.
Many people enter larger shows forgetting that there are a ton of local opportunities, too. I entered my local guild’s show for many years (and still do), until I finally got up the guts to enter my first national show (QuiltCon in 2013). I knew the competition would be fierce even the first time around, so I did a lot of research into what makes a “show quality” quilt and did my best to adhere to those standards (a clean and appropriately quilted quilt with square corners, flat edges and evenly applied binding). Luckily, one of them got in back then, and each year I’ve submitted, I’ve gotten both rejections and acceptances.
The back of my QuiltCon 2017 accepted entry. It’s all I can show for now since it’s for publication. It’s quilted as heavily as those that were rejected, so it’s all just a big crap-shoot anyhoo!! 🙂
I also enter lots of other shows on a regular basis, too, so I know the drill. However, with each entry, it’s still nerve-wracking, knowing I could be kissing my hard earned money goodbye. Quilting is definitely an emotional outlet and there’s always raw feelings – elation when one gets accepted and dejection when one doesn’t. But I can say the more shows I enter, the easier it gets. They are all run with similar rules and deadlines so once you know the system, it’s easier to get into a routine. Plus, the rejections get easier to handle, too. And here’s the biggest tip I’ve learned with quilt shows – enter ALL of them! What gets rejected from one show has many times gotten a ribbon at another show. So you never really know until you try.
My entry into the MQG challenge that didn’t make in into QuiltCon 2016 but went on to win an award at MQX later in the year. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again – until you are tired of trying and then it’s totally fine to move onto something else!!
So if you are thinking about entering a show, or nursing your wounds from not getting into one that you really liked, just remember your work is amazing because you did it. I bet you had a great time, making it, too. And if quilt show entering is not your thing, that’s totally okay! It definitely takes a thick skin to get over feeling rejected and it’s hard not to take it personally. But here’s one thing I can guarantee: if you share your quilts with me and my facebook friends, we would absolutely love to see them and will give you a virtual high-five!!
Here’s a roundup of posts I’ve written on similar topics – there’s a lot of info here:
- Machine Quilting Tips for Entering Quilt Shows
- Entering Quilt Shows for Profit
- QuiltCon is Not Your Traditional Quilt Show
List of shows to enter with modern categories:
- Road to California
- MQX (Machine Quilters Exposition)
- HMQS (Home Machine Quilting and Sewing)
- AQS (American Quilter’s Society – only some of their shows have modern categories)
- Mancuso Show Management (PIQF only so far)
- Vermont Quilt Festival
**Disclaimer*** I welcome your considerate and thoughtful comments on this post. This article came about as my response to all of the chatter about QuiltCon on instagram over the last few days, both positive and negative. If you want to see an amazing virtual quilt show, check out the hashtags #quiltcon2017 and #quiltconreject. There’s some amazing work that just blows me away!!