HOT! 7-27-23

It was very hot yesterday at the fair and looking at warm quilts was not inviting as you might imagine. The husband/wife judging team did a nice job explaining and critiquing each quilt as to what could be done to make it better. The husband knew me (I honestly didn’t recognize him) because he took beginning quilting at Country Threads many years ago. How’s that for a complete circle!

Here are the quilts – it was too hot to hold each one up for pictures.

A couple of these quilts were made 40 years ago which is not acceptable in my mind. I think one year is too short but 40 is way too long. Once again the judge was very fussy about the corners and the binding which is somewhat of a mystery to me. I think the piecing is the most important – borders, laying flat, general construction but the binding was what she concentrated on. Every quilt once again got a blue ribbon which should be a participation ribbon – in my opinion. These were not all blue ribbon quilts.

Please don’t think I want the job of judging at the fair – I don’t and I won’t and I didn’t add these comments during the judging but I did think you readers would be interested. What does the judge look at in a quilt at YOUR local fair? I’d be so interested in knowing.

One reader quilt-

I got several thank yous for loaning the quilts for display – it does make the building pleasant to walk through. Heading to Verizon right now and later today heading back to the fair.

What are you doing during this hot weather?

66 thoughts on “HOT! 7-27-23

  1. Chris

    I made a quilt exactly like the medallion quilt for my brother and sister-in-law’s 50th anniversary last year. It was a kind of thrill to see it! Today I have an appointment and a lunch date and then grocery shopping because tomorrow we are having guests visiting from California. Loved the quilt show, Mary. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sue in PA

    I am not sure what the criteria are for the judges in our local fair, but I was cringing looking at these pictures seeing all those hands and arms resting all over the quilts. They should have had gloves on when handling them to keep any dirt and natural body oils off them.

    1. Jane from St Marys IA

      I’m not even a quilter & thought the very same thing….keep your hands & arms off those quilts!!

    2. Charlotte S in northern California

      I agree Sue. All the fairs I’ve been to said do not touch! Only volunteers wearing gloves could touch them to show you the back. And all quilts should not be given a blue ribbon.

  3. Marie Cox

    I’m not sure what the judge looks for at our fair. She does not talk to the audience, and there is a large sign hanging off the judging table that says “, do not talk to the judge”. I did know she looks at the binding a lot. Our fair gives out 1 blue, 1red, and 1 white per class. After judging she can give out honorable mentions along with best of show. I still watch the judging because I like to see what others are doing.

  4. Diana in Des Moines

    If they all got blue ribbons, then why were they judged?
    At the Iowa State Fair, the judges are always picky about the binding. They want to see the corners sewed down, no pointy corners (just square), and full bindings. I’ve had such comments as needs more quilting, and last year a judge told me my calligraphy was smeared. It was an appliqued words quilt and the fabric was printed with smeared black words. Just shook my head.
    My friends and I always compare our judge’s cards to see what they were looking for this year. Changes every year, as I suppose the judges change.
    Very quiet night here in my neighborhood with the RAGBRAAI riders. Mostly older riders who wanted to avoid the circus of downtown Des Moines and Water Works park.
    Having a new fridge, microwave and gas range delivered today! Fun times!

  5. Jeanne Fee

    Mary, I had so wanted to meet you this week in Clear Lake. But I have been sick with bronchitis. So next year I hope we will be able to chat about quilting and life. But until then I will read your blog and smile.

  6. Fran Dixon

    Interesting. Yes, I remember early on in my quilting career, I got knocked over with lack of a stuffed binding. I am like “what is that?” I have quilters still ask me today what that is. What did she suggest about the binding? folded and pressed flat or rolled? I also got knocked down on a quilt because I chose quilting not appropriate for the quilt. I don’t enter anything for judging but I do put my quilts in shows. Quilts are very personal. I love seeing other quilts from all stages of quilting.

  7. Brenda Ks

    I remember when my granddaughter took her quilt to the fair (4-H) got reserved champion and the judge said she could have gotten champion but the champions quilting was better. I had made my granddaughter quilt hers and the other one was quilted by a longarmer. She was 10.

    1. Carolyn of Ohio

      OMG you did a good job to encourage her to quilt her own! That’s an accomplishment!

    2. Beamer's Mom

      What kind of 4-H judge could not have seen the difference between a budding 10 year old’s work and a longarm?? I’m a long time 4-H ‘er–member, leader, and helped with many fairs, but the 4-H program itself has certainly changed the last decade. Personally, I about lost it ~15 years ago when participation ribbons were given out.

      Also, why would the open class quilt show award blue ribbons to all? Are we worried about hurting people’s feelings even at this level? Award a 1st, 2nd, 3rd if warranted and the rest get nothing. I appreciate those who bring their quilts to be judged but more importantly to be shared and viewed during the week of fair.

      1. Mary Etherington Post author

        Beamer’s Mom – every year after the judging I promise myself I’m not going to listen in the next year but then I cant resist. 4-H has definitely changed and the whole world along with it because kids are praised for everything! How can they learn to do better?

        1. Beamer's Mom

          I visited the building this morning. Your quilts made the experience wonderful. I spent more time looking up at your quilts than I did the ones that came for judging. I recognized so many as samples from your blog and latest book. And, I loved seeing the smaller quilts hung on the one wall. Such a nice way to display them. Thank you again for doing this. If you need help next year, let me know. I’d be happy to provide some labor. 🙂

    3. Janet S

      What in the world is wrong with the judge? Really, a 10 year old lost because a professional longarmer did a better job? The judge needs to be replaced.

      1. Brenda Ks

        You wouldn’t believe how long this grandmother’s tongue bleed from bitting it!!

  8. Kathy in western NY

    I love the colorful quilt at the end of your post so much!! Just imaging being in the building makes me hot looking at the picture of the judges and quilts.
    Working for our county 4-H office many years ago has left me with pros and cons on the whole judging process in general at quilts shows and fairs.

    This is for Jo in Wyoming….with the Bills training camp in town, Josh Allen did the sweetest thing for a young fan yesterday. A brother passed up an autograph and asked Josh to hug his little sister instead who adores him. Last nights news captured it all. It was priceless and knowing your connection to Josh, I think you would melt too seeing it unfold. I believe it’s on Facebook under Hope Rises or NBC channel 10 Rochester segments. What a brother to do this for his sister.

    1. Jo in Wyoming

      Oh! Thanks. Josh is a very kind person.
      I can’t imagine those kind of workouts in this heat. I’m sure it’s indoors and AC’d.

      1. Kathy

        No it’s all outside at a stadium. I give them credit in this heat and humidity and then doing autographs after practice. I thought it was so darn cute that the reporter said you kinda learn where’s the best place to stand afterwards and it’s usually where the kids are. Sure proved true with Josh.

  9. Mary H

    When it’s hot, I like to get out 1st thing for a walk or bike ride-as I don’t like sweating. Then coffee and reading on the deck. Nice to be retired! I have big gardens of flowers, so there’s watering. I often make mittens for my November sale when it’s really hot. Made a cashmere pair yesterday. I really like to lap swim @ noon or 5.Yesterday afternoon was so warm, I decided to use the time for phone calls with folks I needed to catch up with. Exciting, huh?

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Mary H – yup, it’s also your “blog” about nothing! Haha! Did you receive Ada’s book yet?

  10. Debbie G

    It’s been quite a few years since I took a quilt to our County Fair for judging but I just had to comment. The rules for our fair is that the quilt must have been made within the last 3 years. The judge sits at a table along with a person who writes comments on a card that is attached with the ribbon. I did notice that the judging table had a big sheet of plastic on it. What is done with the quilt after the judging? Most fairgrounds are so dirty/dusty – hopefully they’re folded up nicely and put in a clear plastic bag for display.

  11. Lisa

    Frankly I am shocked that the judges were touching the quilts with bare hands and arms. They should have worn gloves. I find that judges always get hung up on the corners, I’ve even seen them lay a cardboard square to check for “squareness”. Is that even a word? LOL. Mowing, weeding, harvesting is what were doing here in Eastern Washington state. It’s been hot, but we’ve had a very brief cool down the last 2 days before it once again heads towards triple digits. I usually head to my sewing room in the afternoons to cool off!

  12. Debbie G in SE WI

    I agree on all your points regarding judging the quilts, Mary! I enter open class every year at the country fair here. I don’t really care about winning, but if no one enters, there would be nothing to see! And it’s a fun day with friends to sit and watch the judging! Ours is done before the fair starts. It’s hot here in SE Wisconsin too! Just walked the dog and now going out to mow before it gets really hot. Then will stay inside and work on a couple projects!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Debbie – judging before the show opens is another interesting idea!

  13. Kim from Wi

    Our guild in TN hosts a quilt show every other year and we use AQS certified judges, who are paid. Anyone can look up what is required and how the judging is done. I know they try to give some positive feedback, such as nice use of color but judging is also to help us learn to be better. Binding is a fickle thing, some like it to be actually stuffed (use of leftover batting pushed into the binding) and some are looking for flat corners. I appreciate that our guild also has a viewers choice for 1, 2nd and 3rd place, which is also fun. It fairly nice here in Wisconsin and we plan to take a nice long walk around the preserve.

  14. Jo in Wyoming

    Judging is a very personal opinion. Most have criteria sheets to go by, but that is a personal opinion as well.
    I lost it once when ask about everyone getting a ribbon… in my opinion, that lowers the bar so improvement isn’t a goal.
    Great picture of quilts today. I love seeing all the color combinations.
    Today, I have hospital duty again. All my plans have been changed.

  15. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    At our annual show, quilts must have been made within the last two years. You can enter for display or for display and judging. There are various different categories. In my experience some (luckily not all) judges are indeed almost totally obsessed with binding, to the point of ignoring practically everything else! I even know one whose obsession is how neatly the binding has been sewn down on the back! It doesn’t matter if the front is covered in the most beautiful applique and quilting, if she doesn’t approve of the stitching on the back of the binding you’re toast! What is important though is that all the judges wear white cotton gloves and don’t lean on the quilts, or let others handle or even touch them. If that happened at our fair there would be a riot in the quilt shed!

  16. Carol In WA

    Our county fair just started yesterday and I was busy all weekend helping to set up. More than 100 quilts were entered! I was also able to help with judging… they also focus a lot on the binding. It has to full all the way to the edge and the corners have to be sewn which I don’t get. If they are pressed well and sewn right they aren’t open or tear. Lots of comments about how perfect the piecing was. We use the Danish system. They look at all the quilts and decide which ones are exceptional, which one are well made and meet basic standards, and which ones are less than “standard”. The lesser ones get a 2nd place sticker. The ones that are standard get a first place sticker. Then they sort through all the exceptional ones and choose Grand Champion-the best , each of the judges choose their favorite and that gets a ribbon. Then the Home Arts superintendent picks her favorite with a ribbon. All the rest of the exceptional quilts gets an honorable ribbon. I was lucky that 2 of the 5 quilts I entered were exceptional and got the honorable ribbon.

  17. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    Oh, and only the winner and the runner-up in each categorie get a ribbon! One of the winners also gets a ribbon for best in show, and there is also a people’s choice przie, but that isn’t a ribben, usually a box of sewing goodies.

    1. Vicki Ibarra

      Not fun to do in hot weather. The last time I canned, the AC couldn’t keep me comfortable so my husband brought a tower fan to the kitchen and put it about 3 feet from me. Blissfully cooler.

  18. Gretchen Weaver

    I recently helped inspect quilts that were going to be auctioned in a charity auction. I was appalled by many of the bindings! There are classes on piecing quilts and quilting quilts., there need to be classes on binding quilts too! Some the stitches were too loose and you could pull the binding down. Many didn’t even cover the seam line where the binding was stitched to the front of the quilt. People are paying money for these quilts, they should receive a quality product.

    If a binding was poorly attached, we made a note of it so it could be announced at the auction. I’m sure there are going to be some embarrassed people but I would be upset to buy a quilt and have binding so poorly finished.

    1. Mary Says Sew!

      Bless you, Gretchen, for your comments on what you saw on binding problems. And those were just basic problems of poor construction that will affect the use and usefulness of the quilts – not points to be judged!

      There are classes on binding available, both in person and online. Pat Sloan’s and Karen Brown’s ‘Just Get it Done Quilts’ videos on YouTube are good places to start.

  19. Mary Says Sew!

    I’ve done some judging and taken many judging classes.

    First, let me say it’s a lot harder than you might imagine. It’s physically and mentally demanding – standing long hours on concrete floors in heat and humidity, like at Mary’s fair; handling quilt after quilt – unwrapping or unbagging them, removing and replacing labels and judging cards, moving them, unfolding them for a good view, folding, restacking; writing comments if there’s no scribe to do it or if the volunteer isn’t up to it (happens more often than you might think!), all the while being mindful of the time and how you can give the quilter a balanced critique and constructive comments, on a tiny card, in two or three minutes.

    I was happy to see there was a large flat surface of several tables for judging at Mary’s fair, with a white cover, maybe even padded, topped by clean, clear heavy plastic or vinyl. l was not happy to see how many hands and arms were on the quilts, someone holding a pen over a quilt (could have been a mechanical pencil) and drinks around the quilts. Recently, it’s been held that either gloves or clean hands are acceptable. I’ve seen too many sets of dirty gloves used over and over and people wearing gloves rubbing their faces with make-up or running them through their hair, etc. to believe gloves are always the only way to go. And wearing gloves in this heat and humidity? Nope, not me.

    There are two systems of judging, already described here. I describe the Danish system as like school grading: multiple students can earn A’s, B’s, C’s, etc. The Danish system is prevalent in the Midwest and Great Plains fairs. Most fairs then award a Champion, Reserve Champion, Best of Show, Second Best of Show, etc., depending on the fair. Some fairs also award premium money, either a few dollars per ribbon/placing or money for the Champions or Best of Show placings.

    Many quilters and less experienced or volunteer judges value and emphasize technical points over aesthetics and artistic choices in judging, especially in the smaller shows and in the Midwest and Great Plains. It almost seems like the quilt with the most pieces, the most stitches and the most hours to make are rewarded. That said, it’s the technical aspects of construction that are easiest to comment on for the judging card. And that’s often in the cases in the preponderance of comments about binding. In my experience judging, that’s the one area I could offer constructive criticism over and over and over. In the press of energy and time, it’s very hard to stop and give each quilt one last, big-picture look over each quilt as a whole.

    If you’re curious about how judging goes, volunteer to work at a local fair or show. Even better, work at a few to see how they’re run similarly and how they’re different. You might be surprised how much you can learn and how you might change your thinking about the realities of judging.

    My favorite thing to do at a show is to scribe for the judge(s). You get an up-close and personal look at the quilts and how the judges and the judging process works and what the challenges and realities of judging are. And a good scribe really improves the ‘conversation’ between the judge and the quiltmaker via the recorded comments, the judging process (yes, placings, comments, comment cards/labels can get mixed up and switched!) and make the judge’s day go a lot smoother.

    Keep in mind that judges can only judge the quilt in front of them. They cannot know why you made the quilt, the choices and challenges the quilter made and faced, what the quilter was aiming for and did they meet or get close to their own goals. Quiltmakers, volunteers helping at shows or fairs and the public often have a hard time “seeing” just the physical object in front of us, especially when they know the quilt’s maker and/or story, especially for memorial quilts, and doubly so, when there’s a tragic story behind the quilt.

    While it is possible that every quilt or other exhibit in a fair can be worthy of a first place or blue ribbon (in the Danish system of judging), I find it hard to believe that every quilt in every show or fair is exceptional. No judge wants to make any exhibitor unhappy or single them out. We value the efforts of all exhibitors and never want to discourage anyone. We keep in mind our own experiences, and never want to disappoint or discourage any exhibitor, especially the beginner, the youngest exhibitor or an exhibitor facing personal difficulties or physical disability.

    Take a look at all the diversity in the photos Mary showed from her fair. Just looking at her photos, what would you prioritize? Overall visual impact? Difficulty? Color use? Technical perfection? Loud and bright or soft and subtle? Servicability? Risk-taking?

    And please, please, please understand what you see from quilts on exhibit or in photos is vastly different from what a judge sees up close and between entries. And that judges really do use their hands to “see” about entries in front of them. That’s the same aspect of quilting that makes it so hard for us to keep our hands off the quilts!

    1. Beryl BC

      Mary Says Sew!, Your comments are very good, and thought provoking. Thank you.

  20. Lynn in Scottsdale, AZ

    It finally rained in Scottsdale last night. Received a dust storm warning on my phone after 9:00 pm. I went to bed and didn’t hear the storm.

    I am doing some cleaning and organizing, a load of laundry, paperwork, reading, texting, cooking, and hope to fit in some creative time. I currently have a black/gray rug going, and I embroidered on a onesie for my friend’s upcoming grandchild which I finished, and it needs to be washed.

    Happy day everyone!

  21. Carolyn from Ohio

    Love the reader quilt at the end. Especially like the churn dash blocks in the corners. One of my favorite blocks. All so beautiful. Thanks for sharing the quilts at the fair.

  22. MN/Jo

    Thank you for sharing Mary. I consider each quilt as being a work of art. My daughter used to show horses, and we learned over the years, it’s just one person’s opinion when you are being judged. Hubby and I are on our way to Verizon too. His phone just died. I dread these visits about as much as going to the dentist which I did yesterday.

  23. Jane dumler

    The quilts are wonderful but I would suggest finishing in the last 4 years would be better.

  24. Pamela Dempsey

    Oh, my. I’ve not watched judging quilts before but I too thought they were supposed to have gloves on. Handlers at the Texas shows do. I’ve already been working outside this morning and trying to cool down. Pulled cherry tomatoes plants up, just too hot anymore for them. Supposed to be a string of 100 and up days 🥵. Come on Fall! 🥰

  25. Sharon G.

    Thanks for the photos of the fair quilts. Interesting that every quilt receives a blue ribbon which means all the quilts are equal in color, design, quilting, binding, etc. etc.
    Surprised and appalled the judges touched the quilts without gloves. Wow!
    I love the reader quilt at the end – so colorful.
    What am I doing? Taking the today off! Sewing and enjoying a day without a doctor or dentist appointment!
    Take care everyone and stay cool!

  26. Christina dickerhoof

    I do the binding for my husbands quilts and of course my binding corners didn’t please the judges. A few hours of work vs many many hours in the cornersquilt. Finally someone told him to round off the corners and that solved that problem
    So yes I agree with you on what should be judged in the quilt.

  27. Janet S

    Several years ago someone in our county entered a beautiful quilt that would be honored to compete in the state (Minnesota). When the owner went to pick it up at the end of the fair, she was told they had already given it to her. No one knows if it was given out or stolen but for a long time, no one entered a really great quilt. Can you believe they didn’t ask for a picture id before releasing a quilt(if that’s what really happened)?

  28. Jane

    I have only entered one quilt in a fair. It was several years ago and I never received comments on the quilt.
    I now just quilt for my own enjoyment and with no thoughts of entering a competition. I love the piecing and working with color. I do my own basic staple or wave pattern for squinting. I’m sure I would new stack up well against most good quilts- but my corners are almost always square 😉

  29. Kathy in western NY

    4-H and county fairs have different critieria for judging versus our local quilt shows as well as monetary awarded. Does your fair, Mary, give participants money for entering? I I now prefer to view quilts at quilt guild shows as most here accept quilts from non members to show and have judged if you want. But I just remembered a guild I use to belong to had half page sheets at the entrance table and you were free to pick up as many as you wanted to and fill out the number of the quilt that was attached to the quilt and write your own comments to the quilter. It was wonderful to say you liked their color or theme. I still have my 3 papers that I received on a scrap red and white quilt I had hung as the comments were positive and encouraging to me, no putting down the machine quilting I had another friend do for me. Our papers were all handed out to us at the next meeting. I was so glad our guild did that as well as attendees selected their favorite quilt so only one winner. No money, no ribbons, no hurt feelings, oniy quilters wishing to give praise to another quilter for their work. I never entered again as I heard so much grumbling from friends on other shows they entered that I decided after my good experience and my difficulties when I dealt with 4-H judging as a leader, then paid staff member, that I quilt for charity and my own collection.

  30. Connie R.

    Thanks for sharing the quilt pictures. It’s been years since our nearest fair had quilt displays, which I really miss. I always loved to be inspired by everyone’s handiwork. Doesn’t matter who won the ribbons.So many times I’d see a quilt there in person recognized the pattern, and thought I should make that quilt because it looks so different from the pattern picture. That’s why I love when a quilt shop has a lot of examples already made.

  31. Sharon

    Hi Mary,
    I agree with you about the comments you mentioned. The binding? Hmmmm….?? Piecing, laying flat and artistic interpretation is what interests me the most.
    Somewhat surprised a quilt stitched 40 years ago was a permitted entry.
    Pretty toasty here in North Carolina.

  32. Sandy

    Hi Mary, sweaty arms and hands on quilts! Interesting that there were people watching the judging, l thought it was done privately. I only quilt for family,friends and charity , too pressured otherwise. On a brighter note, l found my singlet tops in a bag on bedroom door handle! Why did l put them there? Now time to clean shower, take care everyone, best wishes from Sandy

  33. Joy in NW Iowa

    The quilts are all beautiful! I worried about you yesterday while you were gathering up your quilts at the fair! It was just too hot!
    When it’s terrible cold and terrible hot, I do the same thing…..try not to go out! I have been working on cleaning up my hobby cave! Too many things have been taken Out of the closet and not returned by me! Ugh! Boy do I need to purge! Oh well! It’s my stuff, right?
    We do have two sets of new baby kitties that come up to the water and cat food with their mamas. They are so fun to watch!

  34. Rita in Iowa

    The first thing that caught my eye was no gloves for judging the quilts and arms on the quilts. But on a brighter note the quilts were there and having them judge. Hope the participants take the judging with a grain of salt and Pat themselves on the back for making and entering their quilts.
    I now make my quilts for my enjoyment and hope those who receive them enjoy and use them. My mom had a cousin who made quilts out of our clothes and she gave each of us one. It stays in the car and is used a lot. Both of my girls are required to have quilts in their car. You don’t know when you will need them. A few months ago my daughter used her to wrap a $1500 stuff sheep that was used in a show house in a bedroom their company designed. You know counting sheep!!
    My day was partially spent in town, getting a good report on my knee replacement. Next appt in 6 months. Only 5 degrees off from having a nice straight knee. Much better than where I started. Will need to keep at that exercise. Can do!
    At home I got binding made for a quilt top that is all pieced and ready to quilt. Then laid out 25 blocks to sew into a top. Making sure the layout was good.
    Tomorrow I will celebrate my 70th birthday. I’m good with that as I have my health.
    Everyone stay cool for those who are experiencing the heat and pray for rain for those who need it.

    1. Judi Leventhal

      Apparently we had the same observation (even though I read your comment after I posted mine. I assisted with the unpacking and scribing for judges at Quilt Festival in Houston for many years. Now, they really have rules!

  35. Judi Leventhal

    I definitely agree that 40 years is a heck of a long time. The one thing that stuck out with me was there were no “white gloves” and several people were even leaning elbows (arms ) on the quilts. I understand these quilts were more than likely meant to be “used” but I still feel one should be mindful of the work and time involved in making them. Not to sound snippy or high and mighty, I also agree the ribbons at the Fair should be for participation, not necessarily for workmanship. I would think the maker should be proud ihis/her quilt was accepted to show. Just my two cents worth.

  36. Judy Jaques

    Mary, I picked up Abby’s ashes today. We got a shower around 1:30 this afternoon, enough to water the flowers. Thank goodness I don’t have to do that today.
    This feels like late august weather. State fair weather.
    I would never enter a quilt or anything at a fair. When I make something I do my very best but I do NOT want some one to judge what I do. I am my worst critic .
    I have seen some judges — judge and wonder why they were chosen as a judge. I feel each person looks at the fabric art –differently from others. I personally like straight line quilting and do not like the tight stippling. So I would be a bad judge.LOL

    This year I thought about showing ,—at the county fair, —-the bear I made from my husbands FFA jacket but I didn’t ,—-because I would not want some one to judge it.

    Back in the day I was a florist and thought about entering flower arrangements in the fair but never did. I was self taught as with most things I create.

  37. Betty Klosterman

    No Gloves!!! Shame on them. Our quilt show has several rules. We have special displays for different things. One year we had old fabrics and quilts. They were just display, not judged, etc. I showed a quilt made for my mother that was signed “Grandmother Seiser, Age 70, December 25, 1929. My great grandmother. She came over from Germany in 1881.
    We have discussed judges and their quirks. Take them with a grain of salt? Their personal preferences should not be involved, but that doesn’t always work that way. In our quilt show, we can have our quilts judged, but most of us just love showing our quilts as we’ve loved making them. Some may have wavy edges, or points don’t match. Doesn’t matter as that person was so proud of her quilt and that is the way it should be. It was mentioned this year that bindings were a main complaint…..The ladies thought that was over looking the whole quilt. Personally, I just love to make quilts that will be used. Nothing heirloom. My bindings are sewed on the machine as hopefully they will be washed many times.
    We do have “People’s Choice” which is a visitor’s choice, just what they liked and nothing for workmanship, etc. It is always so much fun to see what was picked.
    Thank you, Mary Says Sew! for your information. Very interesting.
    In the meantime, everybody stay safe in this awful heat and enjoy your quilting. Betty in Rapid City

  38. Mary Says Sew!

    Me, again.

    The colorful, bright sampler is mine. It’s a Twins or Sisters Sampler quilt. There are twelve pairs of blocks, with each one of the pair made from the same geometric design and construction, but changing the color and contrast placement so the blocks appear different. This was kind of a thing in the mid-1990s and I’ve always loved the idea. And, bonus, it’s going to my county fair in a few weeks.

    Funny we’re talking about quilts made 40 years ago. I just handed off a quilt top I made in the late 1980s to my long-armer for quilting, after all these years. It’s a king-sized log cabin, made (started!) in a class using Eleanor Burns’ log cabin book, in very muted and matchy-matchy pastels. Very different look from the Twins sampler! I figure if I want my projects to be adopted by others after I’m gone, they’d better get done sooner rather than later. Not sure who might adopt the UFOs we leave behind!

    1. Vicki Ibarra

      I love the colors in your sampler…so bright and cheery. Reading about the quilt that just went to a long armer for quilting reminded me that I have two old quilt tops I bought in the 1980’s for $25 each. The quilter made them of scraps just so she could keep busy and didn’t want to charge much for her “project therapy”. Even then, I couldn’t pass up a quilt top though they were in colors that I didn’t lean toward. I need to add them to my UFO list so that they get quilted and DONE! Thanks for the reminder.

  39. Donna A

    I used to know what the judge looked for in a quilt. We had a judge that told us what we could do to make the quilt better. My sister and I learned a lot listening to that judge. The superintendents have changed at the fair now and no one is allowed to watch the judging. As far as I’m concerned, that’s very sad because I think you can learn a lot from the judges comments. They have a person that writes comments on a very small piece of paper and attaches it to the quilt. I have never read a comment sheet that told me much of anything helpful. When I was a youngster in 4-H, we had to listen to the judge while she critiqued our project. That was a learning experience and I think we could all learn from listening to a judge talk about our projects now. It’s the same at the state fair. I realize that there are so many quilts that it would be hard to talk about each one, but it sure is nice to learn something to make your next quilt better. Well, I guess I’ve had my rant for the day. I have this same rant every year.

  40. Cindy Kuipers

    I enjoyed your photos and comments about how your fair judges quilts. I am an assistant in the Fine Arts building at my local county fair. The bad part about that is it is always hot and humid during the fair. The good part about that is that since I help during the quilt judging I get to see all the quilts in their full glory and hear the comments from the judges. The building is closed to everyone during judging except the building superintendents, assistants, and judges. All entries in this building, which include, placemats, pillowcases, tea towels, wreaths, Christmas, and a multitude of other crafts must have been made in the last 2 years, except quilts. We have several quilt categories including hand applique, hand quilting, child size, cheater/panel, miniature, wall-hanging, pieced and machine quilted by owner, pieced by owner but machine quilted by someone else. There are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons with monetary premiums. There are Champion ribbons and premiums for the hand-quilted and machine-quilted quilts that are chosen from the 1st place entries in those categories. For a while, we had a judge that always said she thought every quilt deserved a 1st place ribbon. I disagreed with that. Since then we have had a couple of different judges who carefully examine each quilt looking for precise piecing, good use of color combinations, nice quilting, and good binding. One judge did measure the width of the binding in several places on each quilt and measured the block sizes within the quilts to see if they were all the same size. That same judge awarded 1st place to a child-size quilt that clearly had been in use, but she felt the embroidered details showed more work and thought than the other quilts, making it more appealing to a child. The judge this year wrote ‘gentle comments’ (her words) and praise on many of the tags. I like that as I feel that helps the maker know where they can improve and I personally feel it is so nice to get positive comments on the work that goes into making a quilt. We also have an Heirloom Quilt category. The quilts in this category do not need to be made by the owner. A note giving information about the quilt such as maker, age, etc. if known is also encouraged. Last year there was a beautiful quilt entered by a young woman, made by her grandmother for her, but the quilt clearly was not an older quilt. The judge encouraged her to enter it again – in about 25 years. The description of that category now says that the quilt must be at least 25 years old. That same young lady entered a different quilt this year, made by the grandmother, but her information about the quilt stated that the quilt was completed in 2002. After judging the quilts are displayed in glass cases that are locked so there is no touching, less exposure to dust, and no chance of them being stolen. A claim ticket or photo ID must be presented to an assistant or superintendent in order for any item to be released.

  41. Carmen Ostrander

    I am really surprised by everyone talking about being there during the judging process. In Nebraska, the judging is done privately, with no onlookers. Same at the state fair.

  42. JustGail

    I’ve never been to the quilt judging a a fair. Nor have I ever entered a quilt. I’d probably be a lousy judge according to some. A quilt that makes my eyes and brain vibrate with delight looking at the whole (even if it were not quite square, had mis-matched points, or had minor binding issues) would be a hands-down win over a technically superior but boring(?) one.
    The no gloves thing…unless the quilt handlers change gloves frequently, gloves aren’t a guarantee of being clean. People touch their faces (sweat? makeup?) more than they know. I think I’d be happier if there were cans of hand wipes readily available and used often than people wearing the same gloves the entire time.

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