Thursday, 29 June 2017

How to enter a quilt show - finding the right quilt show for you

Thank you for all your lovely comments and kind thoughts on my last post. I'm still getting used to the idea of being a winner, but I picked up my new Bernina 215 yesterday and can't wait to open it at the weekend.  Bernina was so generous to provide three sewing machines as prizes at the show.

This week a quilter on Instagram asked me to write about how to enter a quilt show, so here are my thoughts.

1.  Do your research.  Be sure your quilts are good enough to hang in a quilt show. You can really only do this by attending some shows in person.  Photos do not show quilts accurately enough.  You need to look at the quilts from a colour and design aspect, and you also need to get up close and study the technical aspects - look at how the seams meet, how the binding sits, how the quilt hangs etc.  Then think about your own quilts.  How do they compare? Are you ready to enter a show yet, or do you need to keep working on your quilt making skills for another year or two?

2.  Investigate local shows.  Attend a few local shows and find out who is entitled to enter those shows.  Maybe you have to join a guild to enter.  There's a lot of work that goes into organising a show, so it's fair enough that the guild restricts entries to guild members. The good thing about guild shows is that they often guarantee that each member can enter at least one quilt into the show.  This is a good way to enter your very first quilt show. I would recommend starting small and joining a local guild if at all possible. People in guilds can be very helpful and are often willing to share their knowledge about quilting techniques and shows.

3.  Investigate shows that are further away.  You can find out about other shows and their entry requirements online.  In New Zealand we are having our Quilt Symposium soon.  It's a national event that happens every two years and you don't have to belong to guild to enter a quilt. However, you do have to pay registration fees and entry fees, and your quilt might not even be accepted! If your quilt is accepted you will have to pay courier fees to and from the location of the show. If you want to see your quilt in the show you will have travel expenses too.

4.  Read the rules of shows very carefully. Each show makes their own rules and they can vary widely.

- Is there a maximum size for quilts?

- What category would your quilt fit into?

- Does your quilt have to be an original design or can it be made from a pattern?

- Does it have to be all your own work?

- Does your long arm quilter need to belong to this guild too?

- Are you a professional or an amateur for this show? (each show defines these terms differently)

- Is there a date after which the quilt must have been finished?

- Can you sell your quilt at this show?

- Do you have to sell your quilt at this show? eg.  This extract is from a 12x12 mini quilt competition Entries must be for sale at $125. The Entrant will receive $100 and Aotearoa Quilters will retain $25 if the quilt is sold.

- Look for rules on photography and social media.  Some shows will not accept a quilt if any part of it has been shared online!  Another extract from the 12x12 mini quilt competition No photographic images of entries or part of the entry are to be made available for public viewing prior to the opening of Quilt Symposium Christchurch 2017. 

5. Be aware of all the deadlines around quilt shows.  I had to photograph my quilts and enter the QuiltNSW show online in February, even though the show wasn't until June.  The guilds receive hundreds of entries, so they need time to conduct pre-selection, and devise hanging plans for the show.  Once you receive notification that your quilt has been accepted, you might only have one week to post it.  I recommend attaching a hanging sleeve before you finish the binding.  That way your quilt will be ready to post off as soon as you receive notification of acceptance.  You can always take the hanging sleeve off at your leisure if your quilt doesn't get accepted.

6.  Be prepared to volunteer at the show if your quilt does get accepted.  Each participant in the QuiltNSW show was asked to do two duties over the four days.  I did white glove duty on Thursday for 1.5 hours, and sold raffle tickets on Friday for 1.5 hours.  I saw photos of people hanging the quilts up on Wednesday and they worked extremely hard all day.  Other committee members were at the show from 9am til 5pm for four days in a row.  Without volunteers there would be no show!

7.  Be prepared for rejection. You might think your quilt is good enough for a particular show, and other people might have told you that too, but the judges decision is final and they might not select your quilt for their show this year.  There could be too many red quilts this year, too many hexagon quilts, or maybe you just haven't reached their required standard yet. Rejection is hard, but learn from it and try again next year, or try a different show.  Don't let one rejection put you off quilting or exhibiting your work.

Disclaimer: I have no idea about how to get a quilt accepted for QuiltCon - The Modern Quilt Guild's annual show in USA.  I see lots of quilters desperate to get their quilts into QuiltCon each year, and they are devastated when their quilts aren't accepted.  I look at photos of the quilts on display each year and really can't work out why some were accepted and others weren't.  It's a mystery to me, so because I don't understand what they are looking for, I won't ever make it a goal to get a quilt accepted into QuiltCon.

I hope these pointers help you if you're thinking about entering a show.  It's a long drawn out process, so start doing your research now, and maybe make 2018 the year you enter your first show.


Rochelle aka Bella Quilts said...

The only other thing I would add, if your quilt is accepted to a show, it may not win a ribbon. If it is a juried show, the judge usually provides comments. Put on your thickest skin and read those comments...many are areas where improvement can be made. Congratulate yourself that you did make it into the show.

Tami Von Zalez said...

Thank you for this post. I hope to have some of my work accepted someday. I did just enter an online Pantone quilt challenge but totally biffed it by doing a traditional hand-quilted piece while all others went uber modern. I'm at least ready for that one next year!

Charlotte Scott said...

Yes! Yes! And yes again! Well written Wendy. I totally agree with everything you say. And definitely try matching your style to the style of the show - as you say about QuiltCon, you don't know what they are looking for so are not going to enter until you've figured it out - there is no point entering a traditional quilt to an art quilt show or a super modern quilt to a traditionally focused show.

OPQuilt said...

Just wanted to add to your fine post, that the criteria for QuiltCon is extremely elusive. And even if you do get in, what wins is nearly always a head-scratcher for me: why did this one get elevated? I've often thought that some famous quilters had quilts in there that really didn't belong, due to design issues or construction issues. So now I don't even try--I just go and enjoy the show. Often I've found that the best quilts at quilt shows (the ones I'll make) are in manufacturer's booths, so now I pay closer attention to those as well.