Open Textile Show, 7-28-21

Oh my, it was hot today at the fair – the heat index was around 105 with no AC in sight. Judging the quilts began at 1:15 and I didn’t get home until 5 pm. Lots of quilts this year and I loved sitting at the table while the judge looked at the quilts. This lady judged our show 2 years ago and she was very strict about binding. I asked her before she started if she’d explain her point on one of my hanging quilts. I think I understand now but I’ll have to do it to really get it. The top of the binding on the corner should fold one direction and the binding on the underside should lay the opposite direction. Hmmmm…. She made this comment on every single quilt.

This open textile committee asked me if I’d judge this show and I said I would not and after this afternoon I know I made the right decision. On any one quilt there might be glaring inconsistencies yet only the binding seemed to matter to her. Judging is probably a very personal opinion as to what’s important. Every quilt entered received a blue ribbon which I have a different opinion about. If something was done very poorly, it should not have received a blue but a red with constructive criticism on how to improve – otherwise the quilter will do it the same way next year and she didn’t learn a thing.

I am not cut out to be a judge.

Next will be the Open Flower Show.

I wish I could take my succulent desk but it’s very heavy and I just can’t get it there. Darn.

I just can’t go look at the poultry in their small cages having to endure this heat. These kids are farm kids who can raise a pen of three broilers and not think a thing of it. I am such a wimp.

Love this reader quilt – give me a four patch any day!

This cloud came across this morning but did not produce any rain.

Wish I had this little library to sit out by my fence!

It was a great fun but very hot day at the fair!

50 thoughts on “Open Textile Show, 7-28-21

  1. Dee Winter

    Judging was always a mystery to me. Then Carla Hassel came to our EGA meeting, and talked about judging. She said that no matter how impartial some thinks they can be, their personal preferences creep into the picture. She said if the judge’s favorite color is blue, the majority of winners will be blue. If they are an expert in a certain technique, that will be the winner. And if they don’t do a certain thing, are they a quilter judging needlepoint? they will just not be able to ascertain good from bad. They will pick something they would hang in their house. Yep she was right alot. I don’t care about having my quilts judged.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Dee winter – and that’s exactly why I took mine for display only and not to be judged. A judge can’t help but portray her personal opinion, right or wrong.

    2. Kay Crandall

      Dee – you are so right about the judging and the judges’ prejudice. I was a “quilt guard” at a show a few years ago and was standing at the end of a row where I could see all the quilts in the row. Every quilt that had earth tones in it had a ribbon and some of the most colorful and beautiful quilts had been ignored. Not worth it to me to have my quilts judged.

  2. Beryl BC

    Your quilts add much to the display. It’s good so many exhibited. I’ll be interested to hear about the flower show. My mother and several of her friends looked forward to putting flowers in the flower show. I recall going with her to the exhibitor’s breakfast at the end of the fair.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Beryl BC – I mostly wanted to help create interest in the quilt show and give everybody something to look at. The quilts that were judged are all behind plastic and very hard to see. An observer told me today she was inspired by all my straight line quilting – that was a supreme compliment as far as I was concerned.

      1. Betty Klosterman

        Why were the judged quilts displayed under plastic? So people wouldn’t touch them? In the one picture you can hardly see the quilt and the plastic doesn’t look very clean – or just used a lot? Maybe the larger quilt shows pay more to hire their judges?
        Who cares what the judge thinks? It is your quilt, you had fun making it and you love it. Our quilt show has just a small section of quilts to be judged. The main section is made up of quilts people just want to share with the world. They are made by people who are very proud of their work. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t “perfect” as they are happy. That is good to see. Hopefully, if they keep working at it, they will improve. I’ve always thought we should keep the FIRST of anything we make for posterity. It’s fun to look back and see how much we have improved. Betty in Rapid City

        1. Mary Etherington Post author

          Betty K – when I was learning to quilt and teaching myself, I started with log cabin. When it was finished I took it to the local consignment store and SOLD it!!!! Oh, how I’d love to have that first quilt back.

  3. Betty Klosterman

    I’m not so sure of the judge’s idea of a perfect corner on the binding. Seems to me that the front and back miter is in the same place, both back and front, and going the same direction. Who knows? Yes, many times their preferences are very noticable, too.
    We had a needlework show many years ago. One of the docents was telling us about a cross stitch picture and the judge’s comments. She said the judge didn’t like anything about it. No leaves are on trees in winter was the only thing I can remember! Then the docent said that she, herself, thought it was one of the best ones. Well, that was my picture and I told her they was a place on my wall for that picture. I later found out that it got the people’s choice! And every day when I left the bank, across the street was a tree with all it’s leaves all winter.
    It would be very difficult for a judge to put the things she likes away and judge soley on the quality of workmanship, color use, etc. There must be many judges that do it right.
    A cold front comes thru at midnight and tomorrow will be in the 80’s. Life will return.
    Betty in Rapid City

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Betty Klosterman – I’d love to see your cross stitch picture! We have leaves on some of our maple trees all winter! Oh, the challenges of being a judge – obviously personal opinion plays into it all.

  4. Jo in Wyoming

    I agree with you on ribbons…if the quilt isn’t deserving, it should not get a ribbon. I think it lowers the bar for everyone. I was asked to be a judge and when I gave my views about ribbons, they found somebody else. Ok!!
    I, too, have watched judges…it’s a hard job. If there is more than one judge, boy, that adds pecking order to the panel. The issues can go on and on. At the big shows, it comes down to which quilt has the most mistakes. They look for mistakes on the finalists.
    Mary, I hope you are putting some of your flowers in the fair. They are so very pretty and I don’t see bug holes on any of them. Maybe a collection of sugar bowl succulents. If not this year, next year.
    Over in Laramie, one store turned a red English phone booth into a little lending library. It’s a show stopper. Of course it’s in front of an antique store.

    1. Jo in Wyoming

      PS, I looked at the post pictures again….everyone of those quilts hangs straight across at the bottom. That is extremely hard to accomplish in mid air. They are great.

    2. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jo in Wyoming – you and I agree about those ribbons! The flowers are prettier than I’ve ever had but all are in huge heavy pots and wash tubs – can’t transport them.

  5. Jill

    Seems to me if every quilt is getting a blue ribbon there is no reason to judge them.

  6. J

    How right you are Jill..!! I was taught by all of my quilt instructor to make a 90 degree angle and lay the corners the same direction. Never have heard of doing it her way. I think color choices and matching seams and hanging straight with no ripples is more important. I’d never be a judge nor want my quilts judged. Ha ha! Our arts building on the fair grounds is rickety and not so sure about the security there…. Hope it cools off for you and the animals. We’re begging for rain in SD!

  7. Beryl in Owatonna

    Mary, we had a thunder storm go through here this morning…lots of noise an good rain! So HOT this afternoon but it is to get cooler!! We could get another storm tonight. Thank goodness we don’t have the fires the west is having. A rein in Montana said she couldn’t see the mountains today because of the smoke, she is about 5 or 6 miles from them.
    I think you would make a good judge. If the binding were the only part of the quilt maybe that would be the only thing to judge. What about how the pieces are put together, possibly color coordination. print size to pattern chosen…so many things to think about that make a beautiful quilt a beautiful quilt.
    Your succulents should be there!!
    Your display is of quilts is awesome!! Thanks for all you do for us quilters beginners to the top!!

  8. Kim J LeMere

    I love the little reading library that you showed us, so cute. Being able to read is such a joy for me and love encouraging others to learn to read for the pure joy of it.
    I don’t really enjoy having my quilts judged, and I can imagine that it is difficult to do and do fairly. I prefer to machine sew my bindings on, I feel it makes them stronger for all the pulling and tugging that happens with quilts that are well loved and used. Judges never like bindings that are sewn on, oh well.
    County fairs are one of my best memories and I miss all those yummy foods to enjoy.

  9. Diane Bauer

    Every quilt getting a ribbon is like every kid getting a trophy for participation–meaningless. I’m sure that’s not a popular opinion in every sector, but it’s how I feel!

    I LOVE Little Libraries!!! I wish I could have one in my front yard. We do have several in town. I’m not sure what the qualifications are to get one in your yard. I could fill it many times over.

    Beautiful quilt finish! Oh, so many little pieces!!

  10. Teresa

    Such a great conversation today! I love hearing all of your experiences and thoughts on entering your art for competition. I agree about the blue ribbons, what’s the point of entering if you’re all going to get the same result. I’d prefer to get feedback on my item, again, it’s one person’s opinion of what I could do differently but all information is useful.

    Mary, the quilt display is wonderful, it was a fantastic idea, so for that you get a blue ribbon!!

  11. Rosie Westerhold

    Seriously?!? Every quilt entered received a BLUE RIBBON?!? Absolutely no point in the quilts being judged, then. So, no 1st, 2nd, 3rd? Not how it’s done in Nebraska, that’s for sure.

    About the comment on binding: I always put the outside corner one direction and the back side corner the opposite direction. It just seems to lay flatter that way. And it’s not the same on all corners. It just depends on which way those corners want to go!! Another comment that judges around here have made is that the miters on the corners need to be stitched down. When I used to enter things in the NE State Fair, that was always noted. And I ALWAYS did that because of a comment from a judge in a national show. If I remember correctly there were about 5 things that were looked at: binding, piecing, quilting (whether by hand or machine), and, at least 1 or 2 more things. And scoring was Excellent, Needs Improvement, Poor, and something else. Sometimes it was just a check mark in those areas. Other times there was a comment. Like my piecing went right out to the edge with a pieced border, and I DID have a 1/4” seam allowance included in that border. I started that quilt in 1989, I think. And I cut the binding as directed in the pattern. I didn’t actually FINISH the quilt until 2009. And I dutifully sewed that binding with a 1/4” seam allowance. When I flipped it to the back to hand stitch it down, there was WAY more binding on the back than on the front. Didn’t bother me in the least. That quilt was entered in the amateur division of the Machine Quilter’s Showcase in Overland Park, KS in 2009. I finished it about a week before it was due at the show. Wool batting, first time I ever did feathers on a REAL quilt. I knew ALL of its flaws. Oh, and I WASHED the quilt so I could block it square. The maroon/purple bled EVERYWHERE when I washed it😱😱!! I had luckily put lots of Color Catchers in the wash, and didn’t dry it because there was bleeding everywhere. Tried several different things, and eventually it ALL came out. Judges didn’t comment that the muslin label was PINK🤗🤗. BUT, one of the comments was that the binding should be the same width on the front as on the back. Didn’t mention that I had NOT cut off any points of the pieced border with my PERFECT 1/4” seam on the binding. And, yes, they commented that I had stitched the miters of the binding closed on both the front and the back👍👍. Did I win a ribbon? Nope. Did I care? Maybe a little bit, but I was not devastated that they commented about the difference in binding width visible on the back. We’re they right? Yes, because it is visibly more pleasing to have the same width on both sides. Did it make the quilt any less functional? Absolutely NOT. And, it was just one judge’s opinion. Life goes on in spite of being constructively criticized. And I have remembered those comments ever since then, and now my bindings are even on both sides of the quilt! Of course, now almost all of the quilts I make are donation quilts, and no one judges them except the happy recipients. And I never know what is said about them. I just hope they bring warmth and comfort to those in need.

    Your succulent garden is SO lovely this year, Mary. Really a shame those at the fair can’t see it.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Rosie – I loved your comments and I learned a lot from them – if I started a quilt intended to go to the fair, I’m betting I would be sick of it by the time I got to the binding – haha! I can’t wait to try the binding – yes, I recently started stitching the binding corners closed. We’re never too old to learn something new.

  12. Pat Smith

    Really interesting post and comments today. Loved seeing the variety of the hanging quilts. I don’t ever enter anything for judging.Years ago I was so frustrated with what I saw as inaccuracies in my quilting that I almost gave the whole thing up. Then one of my friends, a really good quilter said to me, “Pat! It’s fabric! Move on.” I did move on and I’ve never looked back.My quilts grace walls and beds, but never quilt fairs. It has always been a mystery to me how young farmers to be can raise a cow, sleep in the stall with it at the fair, brush its fur etc. Then the fair’s over and the cow goes off to be come meat on someone’s table. I can’t imagine this as hard as I try. I am not able to keep the distance necessary.

  13. Rosie Westerhold

    And love me some 4-patches or double 4-patches or 9-patches. Sometimes the simplest patterns are just perfect for soothing my soul during a day or sewing. And just hearing the hum of the sewing machine.

  14. Dorothy Sheldrake

    Mary, I totally agree with you about the quilts. A Blue ribbon should be only for the best of the best.
    A comment should be made on every quilt. Unfortunately many of our society think they deserve something no matter what kind of job they do. This is what I think is be taught in our schools, they get a ribbon for just showing up. What about doing your best and working hard.
    Well I am getting political. This may not be the place for it.
    I THINK YOU WOULD BE A GREAT JUDGE. If there were judges like you then a Blue Ribbon would mean something.
    Dorothy Sheldrake Winchester, CA

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Dorothy Sheldrake – I don’t want to get into politics either but Rick and I were raised to strive for the best – not just showing up. So many people say to me, “why don’t you get some kids to help you with the big farm/acreage jobs?” There are no kids who want to work this hard – when my church youth group volunteered to help the elderly, I asked for them to move tables from the haymow to Connie’s house. ONE KID showed up.

      1. Dorothy Sheldrake

        Praises to the one kid that showed up and to his parents. I wonder how many of the other parents would have showed up if asked.
        I do a lot of volunteer work. It continues to shock me how many that make a commitment don’t follow through. And how few “leaders” we have. I do thank God for those that are willing and feel very sad for those that I have started thinking of as “flakes”.
        I know that here in CA charities are having a hard time getting volunteers. Even businesses are struggling because people don’t want to work. They would rather take the money from the government. Wonder if they have thought about when that stops. Practically every business has a “Help Wanted” sign out.
        Well, I need to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and thank Him for the many that do care and help each other. I sure am thankful for those that I know I can always count on. I know you are that kind also.

        1. Mary Etherington Post author

          Dorothy Sheldrake – I’m not sure how our society will ever get back to what I consider normal – nobody wants to commit their time and energy to work –

        2. Carolyn S Knott

          I found your statement about working so true. I talked to a business owner this week and he had a boy working for him that he paid $17 an hour, He quit this job because he said he could get that same amount from the government and stay at home, I say shame on the government for promoting this and shame on him for being so lazy,

          1. Jeanne H

            One of these days that gov’t money is going to run out, then that kid will need to look for a job. Wonder if he’ll be able to find one that suits him. That business owner may have already filled that job the boy had when he wants it back. But some people can only learn the hard way.

          2. Dorothy Sheldrake

            I think we need to pray more for our kids and country. AND be a good example.

  15. patti leal

    loved seeing all your quilts hanging. also the pictures of others you’ve sent over the last couple of days. i’m enjoying the conversation about judging. i loved being the scribe when the judges were judging quilts. our guild generally had three judges and we provided them with a format for judging. i liked that the first comment was regarding the visual aspect of the quilt, colors, construction, etc. another comment was for how well the quilting complimented the quilt. oh yes, the binding was in there. the miters should go one way on the top and the opposite way on the back and they should be sewn shut (i was taught by an amish lady and that was the way i learned). also the binding needed to be full and equal all around. another biggie was whether the quilt hung straight. judges would fold the bottom of the quilt about 1/3 to 1/2 up to see if the edges met. i would always put in a couple quilts to be judged. to me it was a way to encourage others to submit quilts. not that all of mine were ribbon winnenrs, but i alway get inspired looking at the quilts and figure other people will be also. if quilts aren’t entered, there is no reason for a show. we did have a category at one show. there were 3 items there. there was no blue ribbon awarded, just a 2nd, 3rd and runner up. judge’s said none of them were of the caliber to get a blue ribbon. great conversation ladies. lots of things to think about. hey, if you don’t want to know what a judge says about your quilt, have a friend take the judging sheet and not let you see it. it is only one person’s opinion and you can learn alot. patti in florida

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Patti – I so enjoyed your comments about judging – guidelines! I have never done binding this way but I’m going to try it. Folding up the quilt to see if it’s the same width is a great idea!

  16. Margie in Ohio

    Amazing pics again today. Mary, in your pot of succulents there are 2 plants, one might be a cactus, not sure, but I was wondering if you knew the name of the one in front of it? I think I have one like it. It gets tiny starts on the leaves, not sure what else to call them.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Margie in Ohio – oh, Margie, I am so sorry but I don’t know the names of any of them – cacti and succulents need common names and not just proper Latin names – haha!

  17. Jeanne H

    It seems like there should be a course for people who want to be judges at county and state fairs and quilt shows, and that the judges should be certified. Not that they just took a course, but could prove themselves not to be biased about a particular technique or element such as bindings. A friend who was getting into art quilts, entered a show and got negative comments about raw edges not wearing well. It was a wall-hanging! Well, really that was not the right show for an art quilt, and she only entered art quilt shows after that.
    Although a different craft, I’ve seen entries at fiber festivals of handknit items that were frankly pretty awful, but because there was only one entry in a category, it got a blue ribbon!

  18. Janet S

    Great comments today. Apparently judges have their prejudices just like we all do but I thought the idea is to receive constructive comments to help you learn. It just goes to show that if I like my quilt nothing else matters.

  19. Launa

    Love your flower pictures and your many quilts up hanging high, Mary!
    Firemen were here yesterday installing protection around the house. Have a pump to use our pond spring fed water to long hose with sprinklers and more. Hope no little harmless water snake or tiny frogs are sucked up! So much fire protection in many areas all around Idaho forest fires! Thank you to so many quilters who are keeping us in their prayers.

  20. Anonymous

    Hi Mary, my mom had a similar plant and she called it bed bug plant! She didn’t have a lot of houseplants, but I remember this one vividly and exactly where she had it in front of a window. Mine doesn’t seem to be as plentiful with the babies like hers. I just now set it outside. I was at a garden walk thru and I spotted this plant many years ago. I asked the lady if I might have a couple “babies”. I was so thrilled when she said sure. I usually am pretty shy, but I so wanted this plant in remembrance of my mom. Thank you for sharing your plants and quilts and everything else. You are a friend even if it is through the internet. 😊

  21. Michele

    I wish I would have heard the comments about the binding. And, if you learned something, imagine how much the rest of us could have learned.

  22. Linda Baker

    Gotta put my two cents worth in here. A few years ago a woman in my quilt guild decided she wanted to be a quilt judge. She went to classes for a long time to learn the proess and finally reached her goal. My personal feeling on this is why would anyone want to criticize someone elses’ work??
    Your picture of the cloud is interesting. I think this might be what is known as a shelf cloud. We see a few of them near Lake Michigan. One summer I was in my car and a cloud like that was so low it felt like I could reach out the window and touch it.
    The four patch quilt has a calming effect, doesn’t it?

  23. Betty Klosterman

    Me, again. Many years ago I was learning to knit from a 10 cents Coats & Clark Learn How book, which I still have. Got a sweater kit from Yonkers Fifth floor where the fabric was, and got to work being ever so careful making it. Then I took it back and asked the sales lady to critique it. I worked so hard on it, but the lady about tore it apart with comments. One I remember was I was twisting a stitch. Went home, got the book out, figured what I did wrong and am eternally grateful to her. And now, when knitting Barbie clothes, a twisted stitch is a cable stitch!! In the past years I’ve learned a whole lot more and love it.
    If you turned the binding corners, the bulk would be easier to work.
    Again, why are we making quilts? Me for Project Warmth charity quilts. A pucker or other problem is not going to matter. It will keep somebody warm. We make quilts because we like to, and the little goofs don’t make any difference.
    And I really love reading the ladies comments about everything. Keep it coming.

    Luana, how do you sleep at night? Glad you have a pond to use if necessary. Last year the “East Fire” crossed the divide in Colorado, where no trees grew. You have to be ready to go in a minute. Be careful. We are all thinking about you.
    Betty in Rapid City

    1. Beryl BC

      Your comment about learning to knit was interesting. I, too, taught myself to knit from a “Learn How” book. I knit a sweater, afghan, scarf and mittens. Then with another project, I went to the local yarn shop for some help. It turns out I was twisting the stitch as well. Perhaps that’s something common with teaching oneself.

  24. Nancy S.

    One of the best binding tips I came across in my quilting journey was to take the time to make 3 or 4 stitches at an angle at the 1/4″ ending point when attaching the binding. Before making the corner turn. It makes a vast difference in getting a neat mitered binding corner. My miters do turn in opposite directions front to back…the way I was taught to do them. So enjoyed these posts on the binding and judging topics.

  25. Kate

    I stopped showing my quilts at the fair after I found out it was who you know, not how well you quilted that mattered. I even knew one woman who helped the judges and she always got a grand champion. As for everyone getting a blue. Why even enter then? I don’t like mitered corners on quilts so I know I would not make the grade with that particular judge. I would love to be a quilt judge because I wouldn’t look for perfection, I’d look for how much love and time was put in the quilt.

  26. Janice Brown

    Mary, I was never happy with the corners my quilt bindings so about 4 years ago I decided to do something about it. I didn’t find much in my quilt books to improve my technique so I ended up researching it on the internet. One site I came across provided information if you where going to submit your quilt for a juried show. It mentioned that the mitered corners of the back side of the binding needs to lie opposite of the front, and the mitered corner folds need to be hand-stitched closed so as not to create a toe catch. Both items were new to me. I also came across Dawn Cavanaugh’s trick to remove bulk in the binding corners by trimming out the triangle fold of fabric in the seam allowance (on site). This trick made it easier for me to have my front and back mitered corners lie flat in opposite directions. Nancy S., I did come across the tip to sew at an angle but I couldn’t get it to work for me . . . I’ll have to revisit it again.

  27. Tammy Guerrero

    I also believe as you do about judging. It is their personal opinion on that particular day. Being a 4H leader for 15 years, I’ve seen alot of judging I did not agree with. I also agree if you do not make constructive criticism to help the quilter she will continue to make the same mistakes year after year when she quilts to compete. Our fair in Indiana was also very hot this week. Humid and hot, not good for the 4H animals. Way to hot for chickens in a small pen. Almost seems cruel. Let’s hope we both cool down soon. Live to hear from you!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Tammy – I just couldn’t look at those poor chickens, rabbits, ducks and geese in those tiny cages – for days in the heat! They’re getting a nice break today but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s cruel.

  28. Lisa B

    I skimmed over most of the comments and if this was already a comment I apologize. One of two types of judging systems are usually used at local/county fairs. One is judging everything on a scale against other items that are there. This results in 1 ribbon of each color in that class.

    The other system is called the
    Danish System of Judging:

    Each exhibit is judged according to how well it meets a set, written standard, rather than how it compares with other exhibits. The Danish system of judging results in each exhibit receiving a ribbon, blue or red or white.

    Usually the fair entrance book describes the method used. And I’ve sometimes noticed the method used described on a display as I enter the exhibit building when I go to other fairs.

    And back in the day when I was a volunteer observer in the animal barns we had lots of fans to circulate the air and it was a cooler place to be than outside or other jobs you could have.

  29. Sue in Oregon

    I can’t wait to sew a binding so I can try sewing the corners in opposite directions. Never, ever heard of this. I used to always sew the corners shut, now I don’t. I only make small quilts now for tables, walls, doors, etc. so no toe will ever be caught. lol
    My thought on Everyone Gets A Blue, is that it is much easier on the judges. That just doesn’t seem right to me.
    I used to take flowers and flower arrangements to the fair, but never my quilts. I just felt squirmy about having them judged. They are like a work of art that you alone make and criticism is just too hard to take. I could have felt that way about floral arrangements, too, but I didn’t.
    Loving this conversation and this post.

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