Sew and Tell – Upcoming Quilt Show Entries for 2014

More and more large quilt shows are adding modern quilting categories to their lineup which I think is simply fabulous! I love to support the art of modern quilting, and I encourage others to enter their work into shows so we can all be a part of shaping this movement.

Two of my recent quilts will be in a couple of upcoming shows this year, so if you are in the area – please stop by and say hello to them for me. 🙂

String of Pearls

String of Pearls, 64″ x 64″ Pieced and Quilted by Christa

String of Pearls (above) will be part of the Modern Quilt – Negative Space category at the Road to California showcase in Ontario, California January 23 – 26th, 2014. I will be attending this show, so it will be fun to see in hang in person. (I missed attending MQX last year in which String of Pearls received an honorable mention.)

Charming Chevrons (below) was accepted into AQS QuiltWeek in Phoenix, Arizona February 5-8, 2014. It will be displayed for competition in their Modern Quilt – Wall Size category. I haven’t made up my mind if I’ll attend (it’s a long drive for me), but I’m hoping someone who is there will recognize the quilt and snap a picture of it hanging for me.

Charming Chevrons is such a special quilt to me because it was my first modern quilt. It’s been shown at QuiltCon and has won two awards – both locally and online.

Charming Chevrons

Charming Chevrons 45″ x 53, Pieced and Quilted by Christa

Sometimes I worry that I’m being a little silly entering the same quilts into lots of different shows, but I learned recently that each quilt has an average “show-span” of 2 years in which it can be entered. That means I can make quilts and send them around the country for a couple of years for others to enjoy viewing. Then they can retire and come home to live with me where I can use them and love them!

The reason I never entered large shows before was because I always thought the quilts that were accepted had to be “perfect” or that I had to make a new quilt for each contest. Fortunately, I have now learned that is not the case.

I never expect to win when I enter (though it’s kind of fun when I do), and I don’t quilt for the judges. I just enjoying sharing my quilts in public and getting feedback on how to improve my skills. 🙂

A Few Words About Judged Quilts Part 3 – Don’t Hold Me Back!

This is my 3rd and final post about having my quilts judged. You can read part 1 and part 2 here.

Once I realized I love showing and sharing my quilts, it was time to find my “voice” or quilting style that most appealed to me. Enter… modern quilting! Finally I found a way to merge what I loved – bold fabric colors and graphic designs with intense machine quilting. Although rooted in tradition, the modern quilting movement and the judging that went along with it have finally freed me to go my own way.

So here are a few more quilts I finished within the last year that I entered into competition. I’ve included the judges’ comments once again and my thoughts.

Girl Baby Bricks

Baby Bricks in Pink and Green by Christa Watson, Desert Quilters of Nevada Show 2013 – Baby Quilt Category

I originally made Baby Bricks as part of my quilt along series, completing it in time to enter it into my local guild’s show. Though it didn’t win a  ribbon, it was still gratifying to watch people ooh and ah over it at the show.

From the judge, “Good variety of pink and green fabrics. White sashing allows them to shine. Piecing techniques are good but there is some distortion of the top caused by machine quilting. Changes in quilting thread is effective.”

Hugs 'n Kisses

Jenna’s Hugs ‘n Kisses by Christa Watson, Desert Quilters of Nevada Show 2013 – Holiday Category

From the judge, “Gradation of fabric works well. Dense quilting in negative space seems to give fullness to the pieced blocks. Quilting should be evenly distributed throughout the quilt.”

The judge was right about the Double Flowersquilting for Hugs ‘n Kisses. I spent so much time machine quilting the flowers that I did not allow enough time to fully quilt the X blocks.

Instead of rushing to finish this quilt in order get it in the show, I should have taken more time to finish and then saved it for next year’s show.

But my daughter was still pleased with it and she was ready to have it NOW, so that’s ok, too. 🙂

One quilt that I did take my time with was Roses for Katelyn, based on the fabulous French Rose Buds pattern. My time well spent was rewarded with a second place ribbon.

Roses for Katelyn

Roses for Katelyn by Christa Watson, Desert Quilters of Nevada Show 2013 – 3rd Place, Applique

From the judge, “Soft color palette makes for a restful quilt. Raw edge applique is well handled. Straight lines and border are straight. Quilting stitch is good and quilting design adds texture.”

And then finally, my favorite quilt of the year and the one you guys are probably tired of me blogging about – Charming Chevrons. I included it because it was my first “real” modern quilt and it was the first time I took a leap of faith and sent a quilt out of state for judging.

Charming Chevrons

Charming Chevrons by Christa Watson
Blogger’s Quilt Fest 2013, Machine Quilted Category, Viewer’s Choice
Desert Quilters of Nevada Show 2013, 2nd Place Modern Category
QuiltCon 2013, Modern Traditionalism Category

Charming Chevrons Back

Charming Chevrons Backing

Here are the judges’ comments from QuiltCon:

“Quilting and quilt is beautifully made. Overall workmanship is excellent. Piecing is accurate. Quilt is straight and lies flat. Binding is well executed.

Areas for improvement – thread choice is distracting on the back, pebble quilting pattern feels unrelated. Would love to see this quilt with a more narrowly focused palette.”

Since I also entered this in my local guild’s show it was interesting to compare the judges’ comments.

From an NQA certified judge, “The soft grey is a good background for the bright solids. Quilt has great texture, quilting design choices are very good. Multi-colored pebbles are well done.”

The best thing I learned from entering this quilt in 2 different judged shows was that opinions vary widely and that’s perfectly ok!

In both cases they applauded my workmanship. However, I’ve learned that I need to go perhaps a little more bold and a touch more artistic with my designs. So look for more of that from me in the future!

A Few Words About Judged Quilts Part 1 – The Beginning of a Journey

I’ve had a few people ask me to go into detail about some of the comments I’ve received for quilts I’ve entered into quilt shows.  I thought that would make a pretty good blog topic! It will take more than one post to explore this idea, so be sure to follow my blog for updates.

First, here’s a little  background – I’ve been quilting off and on over the last 18 years, but up until this year have previously entered my quilts only in local shows. I have received my share of ribbons in this time and have earned a variety of critiques, most of which I never thought about keeping for “quilt posterity”.


Christa’s Quilt Ribbons – and one for Jenna!

I’m getting smarter now about keeping all the documentation relating to my work. I’ve also realized that if I want to enter my quilts in shows I’ve got to be able to take the heat, even if I don’t agree with a judge’s comments (but for the most part, good or bad, I do see their point!)

So here goes, I’ll start with some of my earliest competitive quilts and work my way forward. I don’t have the judge’s comments but I’ll share what I remember.

This mini quilt was the very first thing I ever entered, way back in 1997 – can you believe it? It was for a guild challenge and all that I remember was that we were supposed to use a a basket, a heart, and a flower.

Mini Quilt FrontIt’s one of the very few hand quilted pieces I’ve done and my first attempt at mitering corners. Now I only use straight borders and I machine quilt all of my quilts. ‘Nuff said! But I did earn a second place from a vote of the members so that was my first taste of “competition”. I just ate it up!

Mini Quilt BackOver the years I started getting better at my machine quilting and was pleased when my pieced heart quilt won a second place at my traditional guild’s annual show in 2002. I enjoyed adding lots of detailed quilting which has kind of set the stage for my style of quilting – more is more!

Pieced HeartsThe big mistake that I made on this quilt was using too many busy prints, so that all my fabulous quilting was hard to notice! You just can’t see the gorgeous cabled border I quilted in metallic threads (really!) Hmm, maybe that’s why I’m so fond of solids now?

Original Hugs N KissesThe 2002 quilt show was a banner year for me – nearly every thing I entered won a ribbon. I finally landed a first place with my original Hugs and Kisses. (I did a remake of this quilt recently for one of my quilt alongs). I remember only one written comment from the judge – “I love this quilt!” That made my day until I realized this quilt was the only one in it’s category.

This was the first year our guild started separating out professionally machine quilted quilts into their own category. Since I was definitely NOT a professional and I quilted this one myself, there was no competition in the home-machine quilted category, LOL!! But we’ve come a long way and more members are machine quilting their own quilts, for which I’m very proud! (And the organizers told me a judge won’t give it a blue ribbon unless the quilt deserves it – regardless of the number of entries).

Rose of Sharon AppliqueNext, I got into my applique phase and won a couple of 1st place ribbons for these appliqued beauties. They were fun to make but since I followed a pattern, they weren’t exactly originals.

Mini BaltimoreYou can see I was definitely a traditionalist here but these quilts are where I realized my techniques – small machine button hole stitches with matching thread and lots of quilting. Now to translate these techniques into more modern quilt designs!

After this I kind of took a break for about 8 years where I didn’t enter hardly anything. Sure, I taught a lot of quilting classes, made tons of samples and got into stipple-overload. I also started my fabric business, but the competition side of me really waned. I also sold quilts at a local craft mall for several years. This threw me into mass-production mode which really stifled my artistic spirit!

Tune in next Monday for part 2 of this (breathtaking) saga!