Entering Quilt Shows

I recently entered two quilts in the local quilt show in Henderson, Nevada.  I wasn’t sure how I would do because it was a big show with lots of amazing entries.  Why did I torture myself and enter a show to be judged by others?  I want to share my quilts and inspire others.  I also want to learn how I can improve.  Ribbons are the icing on the cake and I don’t enter a show just to get a ribbon.  But, I’m going to be completely honest with you all…I like to win.  Deep down inside, I want to win.  I can’t help it, I’m super competitive.  I blame my husband, his competitiveness has rubbed off on me.

I entered my Big Star and Me and My Shadow.  I was completely shocked that Big Star won a first place ribbon in the modern category and Me and My Shadow won Judge’s Choice.  Seriously.  I was really shocked.  People don’t believe me when I say that but it’s true.  The competition here is fierce.

Although I won ribbons, I also learned I have room for improvement (duh, I’m human and not perfect so this wasn’t a big surprise)  The judge commented that I need to be better at back tracking my feathers on my Big Star.  This wasn’t a shock.  I knew I had missed in several places.  I was hoping she wouldn’t notice.  She also commented on my binding which I know needs improvement.

Big Star Quilt
Big Star


The comments on Me and My Shadow were mostly positive.  She did tell me I could have possibly done better had I entered the quilt in a different category.  Hmmm…who knew.  Entering the wrong category can really impact whether you win a ribbon.  I did struggle with the category for Me and My Shadow and I ended up making the wrong choice.  My advice for others would be to ask for advice from the show chair if you are in doubt.

Me and My Shadow Quilt
Me and My Shadow


The most important thing to remember about entering shows is, it’s all relative.  For real.  Your quilt’s ability to win is based on all the other quilts entered.  If they aren’t so good, you have a better chance.  But if they are all exquisite, then the competition is much higher.  You just really never know.  My advice is to take a chance on yourself, put your work out there.  You may win, you may not.  But you’ll never know unless you try.

I’m going to practice what I’m preaching and I’m entering several national shows this year.  I did enter MQX last year and I didn’t win.  I was pretty sure that show was above my skill level but I entered anyway. I will continue to push myself to be the best I can be.

Happy Quilting!

13 thoughts on “Entering Quilt Shows”

  1. Congrats! both quilts are amazing and I’m sure the competition was stiff! Big Star winning first place had to be so exciting! I’m curious about the binding, what was the issue? It looks great, but what are judges looking for?

  2. Congratulations on TWO ribbons!!! Your quilts are fabulous and I’m so glad you won 🙂 I just had a class with Kimmy Brunner and she said she was happy to hit 70% of her backtracks on feathers!!! I bet you did at least that well!!!

  3. I just…this weekend…entered a quilt in my very first show. I have absolutely no idea what to expect but I figure I need to open myself up to “opportunities for improvement”…that’s the phrasing I learned in a class I took through my employer many years ago and I love it. Somehow it doesn’t sting so much when I frame the feedback in my head that way 🙂

  4. I’ve been entering quilt shows after a shocking and entirely unexpected “Best of Show” win in 2012 that earned me a Bernina Aurora 440 sewing machine! After that proverbial carrot was dangled in front of me, and I got it, I’ve been unsuccessfully attempting to catch it again. I’m finding it can be expensive to enter quilts in national shows. With $20-$30 entry fees per quilt, to-the-show shipping that ranges from $25-$30, and return shipping fees of $20-$30, it all adds up. On top of that, it’s a risk to send a quilt ensured for only $100 to $200 when I can’t purchase insurance to cover my time spent making the quilt. So then, I pay $50-$55 to have my quilt appraised so I can justify spending more money on insurance! Yep, entering shows costs a lot of money! And disappointingly, the return is simply that you’ve let the public see your quilt. While I’m entering a quilt in several shows this year, the quilt is one made with a friend, so we’re splitting the costs… and hoping to catch that carrot.

  5. I’ve seen Me and My Shadow mentioned in a couple of places in the last couple weeks and am so glad I found your blog. Just wanted to say it’s spectacular! Congratulations on judges choice! 🙂

  6. I love your star quilt!!!!. Do you sell the pattern? Have already picked fabric I think would love to use!

  7. I’m so glad to see the person who created these two quilts. They were my favorites in the show (even better than the ones I entered). “Me and My Shadow” was my pick for Viewer’s Choice. Keep up the beautiful work, I love seeing it, especially up close and personal.

  8. I’m just learning fmq but I found a feathers style called cats claw where you don’t backtrack, so I use that one and it looks nice. I may enter the local fall fair sometime just to get out and meet some of the local quilting community, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have a modern category.

  9. So, are you still entering quilt shows? I’ve been looking online for some general information about entering quilt shows, and can’t find anything. You know, like “How to Know If You’re Ready to Enter a Major Quilt Show,” or “What to Know Before Entering Your First Quilt Show,” “Checklist for Creating a Show Quilt,” or even a guide to what the major shows are and which ones would be a good place to start for someone who has never entered a show before. I was not aware about the entrance fees, appraisal and insurance costs before reading some of the comments on this post, for example. Is there a book, magazine article or online resource out there that would help me get started? Thanks!

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