Quilt Shows-Inspiring or Intimidating?
Good Morning, Quilters!
Do YOU find quilt shows inspiring or intimidating?
I confess to feeling a little of both at most quilt shows I attend.
In the July, 2019 issue of American Quilter Magazine, there is a very interesting article by Kris Vierra, on Why Perfection is Overrated.
Of course, I was immediately interested in reading-as my motto is “perfectly, imperfect quilting” and I prefer making #quiltswithcharacter!
Ms. Vierra notes surprise that many people find quilt shows discouraging rather than inspiring. I was surprised to read that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way!
Perfection is Intimidating!
Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by the workmanship and perfection of the quilts seen at the major shows. I often feel discouraged.
Perfectionism, for better and for worse, is not a personality trait I possess. I can’t stay focused on a single project long enough to create an award-winning quilt. When I look at all those perfect ruler-made circles, I am in awe. At the same time, I think they are soul-crushing. Many of the techniques, like rows of ruler work circles, would take all the JOY out of quilting! Furthermore, I often prefer the personality of imperfect quilts!
The Internal Conflict
I admit that as I write this, I wonder…
Is this a cop-out?
Am I just being lazy?
Do I avoid entering quilt shows because I don’t want to be judged?
Who wouldn’t want to win a blue ribbon?
Answers: Maybe, Probably, Definitely, Do I care?
Why do you Quilt?
To overcome occasional discouragement, I remind myself why I quilt and who I quilt for! I quilt for the sheer JOY of it and for my family.
Maybe…someday…I will focus on making a show-stopping quilt, but for right now, I just want to make quilts that are as much fun to make as they are to use!
How to Quilt the Ridiculous Rooster HERE
Advice from Kris Vierra
Next time you attend a show, instead of being intimidated by award-winning quilts that seem perfect, challenge yourself to expand your quilting skills in just one or two areas. View these quilts as inspiration to try something out of your comfort zone. Look for specific techniques, colors or motifs that you could adapt to YOUR quilting style.
What about YOU?
When is the last time YOU attended a national or guild quilt show?
Are YOU inspired and/or intimidated by quilt shows?
Do YOU have perfectionism tendencies?
Is there one or two techniques YOU would like to master?
Are there any award-winning techniques that would take the joy out of your quilting?
We’d LOVE to hear!
YOUR Perfectly-Imperfect, but Joyful Quilter,
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thanks!
86 responses to “Quilt Shows-Inspiring or Intimidating?”
Years ago I went to a few quilt shows because it seemed like viewing artwork (some even had a story). These were shows in large cities that I lived in. I sewed apparel sometimes; but until I retired & started quilting with
a couple friends, I never considered entering my “attempts”…but, last year the quilt shop where I took a lesson
(& patronize probably way too much) had its own “show”…so I entered…my friends were stunned…they quilt so
much better than I do but would never “have the courage”…I didn’t win but all the entrants got 1/2 yd of fabric
that had to be incorporated, so hey…free fabric I liked & a free tea for all the participants…my binding corners
were perfect for a change & I incorporated some of my fav. French ribbon. They were kind enough to hang
my little piece by the winning entry…when I retrieved it later, I hung it on a wall where I can see it every day.
Also, it boosted my confidence. I still love going to quilt shows & always come away inspired!
I agree about repetition being soul crushing. I look for the quirks, that shows personality. Otherwise a robot could make it.
I will be attending the Sisters Oregon Quilt show tomorrow. I have been several times. Yes, inspiring and intimidating. About 1400 quilts displayed. Some are total works of art some are very ordinary. It makes my heart happy that so many enjoy this craft and that so many quilters and non quilters find joy in the process and the finished products.
I love attending quilt shows for inspiration. I recently attended the annual quilt show and expo in Shipshewana, Indiana, and loved every minute of it. It’s always nice to see what’s popular at the moment and see new trends and new tools to make things easier. I was so inspired and now have so many patterns that I want to make that I’ll never get them all done!
As far as the expertise is concerned, I can admire it and appreciate the hours and hours that it requires, but I know that I don’t really have that kind of time to devote to quilt making. However, I’m a perfectionist and it gives me inspiration and something to strive for in my quilting.
Amazing…. my sentiments exactly. However, I am mostly bored with traditional patterns (I admire them) and have started making my own…. enjoying my quilting more now!
I attend quilt shows occasionally. I love to see the creativity and craftsmanship displayed. It’s a reminder to me to avoid complacency, refine my own skills and try something new. At the same time, I’ am most definitely NOT a perfectionist. When I make a quilt, even from a pattern, I go “offroad” and do my own thing. If I wanted a “perfect” quilt, I’d buy a factory-made piece.
To me quilt shows are both. I do get inspiration from many of the quilts and jaw dropping expressions of those which are perfect and so intricate, or have unusual color combinations. I would never enter a quilt show that will be judged as I know there are mistakes. Making a quilt for showing would take all the fun out of quilting in my opinion.
While viewing quilt shows is inspiring and motivating, being in one is intimidating especially if they give written feedback. The last quilt show (non-guild) I was in, the written comments were devatating- like “quilting distorts the fabric and surface.” Well, that is what I was going for, but it is not apparently not accepted. I like to quilt dense because I like it, yet comments “quilted to death” overheard are crushing. I do not plan on entering juried shows any more.
I love the smaller quilt shows put on by guilds and smaller communities. They have a wide range of techniques and include many traditional quilts. I find that the national shows have all but forgotten about the traditional quilt. Most quilts are art quilts or minimalist moderns. The patrons of quilt shows are quilters. The national shows need to remember that.
You are so right! It’s hard to find traditional quilts and I love traditional quilts, and string quilts and scrap quilts. It’s hard to find any of them except at my guild’s quilt show and at the fair. I actually won a first, second and third place at the fair one year!
When I get a quilt done I sometimes will enter it in our show. I never expect to win a ribbon and I don’t care what the critique is. I like to see a variety of quilts. Last show I entered my first ever quilt that I machine quilted on my domestic machine. I like to see a lot of variety. I wish there were more non-judged shows because I think more people would enter and there would be a lot more variety.
I tend to have a rather perfectionistic personality which can get in my way of completing projects. When I go to national level shows I feel a mixture of awe and inadequacy. I quilt for a number of reasons, including wanting to have my quilts displayed for others to enjoy. over the years I have seen the standards and the density of quilting and embellishment go up and up making acceptance into a large national show less obtainable than it was 20 years ago. This is frustrating to me. No matter how hard I try, I am too scared to enter my work, and it is too small and non-traditional for many venues. I will continue to attend national level shows to learn, and get inspired. The areas I would like to improve are my free motion quilting and binding.
I don’t find the quilt shows intimidating, as I go to enjoy the colours and skills of the quilters. I love quilting, and love trying new things, but I have no interest in spending the hundreds of hours that are needed to make the “perfect” quilt. I enjoy my free motion quilting, trying new twist all the time. It doesn’t bother me if my circles aren’t quite round, or that one leaf is a bit larger than the other….. I make quilts to make people feel cozy and loved, and quilts to be washed over and over again. Many of my quilts are donated, mostly through a program at my guild. I get to play with fabric, and enjoy a large variety of quilting patterns.
Someone once said “Better finished than perfect” I just stick with that Moto, & do my best to make it nice.
When I joined my local guild 8 years ago, I was immediately told that was the motto! So I knew I was not going to be judged for my errors.. how free that set me! I have entered some local shows over time, just to share what comes out of my sewing room. I love seeing what others are making.
I love going to quilt shows to admire all the work of the entrants. I recently went to the NSW Quilt Show in Sydney and many times just stopped in awe at a quilt. They were so out of my capability, but sometimes I pick up something small that I think I can use. It might be a quilting motif, or a colour combination, or a quilt design, so I take lots of pictures that I can refer back to later for inspiration. This year’s winning quilt was amazing – you could stand and look at it for so long and find new things to see – it was called Star Crazy by Catherine Butterworth. Photos don’t do it justice, so if it happens to come to America (which I suspect it will after it finishes here), then do have a look at it, you’ll be pleasantly suprised.
In my opinion, the history of quilts tell me that they were made to be used for warmth and comfort. So, when I attend shows, that is how I judge the quilts. And lately, I just cannot see most of the quilts on beds, being used daily, and laundered often.
That’s true. I do love to see the amazing quilts, but anything I made for myself or as a gift is to be used, no matter how pretty it is.
I went to the Vermont Quilt Festival June 27th. I was inspired. The VQF is not juried. The entries were gorgeous. Children as young as five entered quilts in the kids category. They were my favorites. I have a long arm and I love to piece and quiIt. I doubt I would ever submit my work to be judged by others. I am hard enough on myself. What a way to take the joy out of it.
Actually, I’ve never been to a quilt show because prior to retiring I had to travel A LOT for business and I despise it now. I would only attend if it were within a reasonable driving distance of where I live. However, there are hundreds of show quilts to be seen online and I love viewing them. Yes, some of them are intimidating, some give me wonderful inspiration and others make me say to myself, “I think I could do that if I practiced more.”
My biggest downfall is that once in a while, I DO try too hard for perfection and it can take away from the fun. I’m learning how not to do that.
I have a set of those special quilting rulers to use for stitching bishop’s fan, feathers and other neat patterns; I just need to make myself practice with them more so that I can count using them as a skill set.
The only thing that could take away the joy of quilting for me IS me. Quilting satisfies my artistic bent, my creative side and the pleasure of working with my hands.
With inspiration and encouragement like yours Lori, I’ll be happy with whatever I achieve.
I am a perfectionist…a very annoying trait to have and one that I have worked for years on to control. It can be self -defeating and destroy some of the fun in quilting. Over the years I have been able to let things go which is a huge improvement. I do enter quilt shows and have won a few ribbons. Remember the first time i entered…it’s like standing naked in a public space! But with time, it gets easier and less anxiety producing. I do my own thing and people either like it or not. I am hoping to inspire people but am well aware that this can be extraordinary intimidating to people. However, i am also hoping that it will inspire some quilters…this happened to me a number of years ago. I was looking at a FMQ quilt that would have taken years to complete. While looking at that, i thought…i could do that, but just need more practice. I developed a plan following this on how to FMQ with more confidence, taught myself different designs, tackled feathers etc…it took a little time, but it got me where I am today…all from this one quilt. I am hoping always that one of my quilts maybe could do this for someone else. The ribbons are nice but for me it is very much…you can do this too! I also take a lot of photos in quilt shows of clever design ideas, particularly nice motifs being used and well designed quilts. There is always something new to learn, or different ideas that one could incorporate in one’s own quilts.
Years ago I attended university and earned an art degree. I was 30 years older than my fellow students. There were critiques of our work in many of the classes. Some of the students were crushed if their work was criticized. I laughed at mine because my life was not tied to whether my professors “liked” my work or not. I learned from what was said about all of our work. A critique is only the opinion of that person. Ask someone else and a different opinion will ensue and more learning can take place. It was a joy to encourage fellow students to look up and keep trying ! Their whole lives were ahead of them.
Give me a imperfect quilt made with love over a perfect one every time,, I still go to quilt show,s but most of them have imperfect quilts on show anyway!!!!!!!!!
I find quilt shows to be a pleasure. I enjoy other quilter’s skills, but I quilt to enjoy myself. I may never make a show winning quilt, but I will have some my family and pets enjoy that are all “me.”
When I attend a quilt show and look at the quilts I look very closely and often see ‘mistakes’, which heartens me. I have yet to put a quilt into a nationals or regional show though, but I do put all the quilts I’ve made over the past year into our quilt group’s annual show (I have to as I’m the one organising the hanging). There are still people in our group who do not think their quilts ‘are good enough’ – we try saying we don’t want perfection but we do want your endeavours – if it inspires another person to give the craft a go then all the better.
I try to attend at least two quilt shows per year, and not just for the vendor area. 🙂 Some shows I find very stodgy. All the quilts seem to be made by people who are afraid of going outside the box. I went to a new to me show this year and the two women at the entry table set the tone very well. They were friendly and joyful. The entire show felt that way. I found some quilts that are the finished product of those for which I have patterns and it inspired me.
I am a perfectionist when it comes to paperwork and have tried with a couple quilts but have not achieved it and have decided I will do the absolute best I can but not worry about it. As long as I don’t sew the backing into a fold I won’t worry too much if I make a mistake.
I am not a member of a guild so am very limited in the shows I can enter. There is one I enjoy and I try to enter quilts I have not entered before and that are fun and will make people smile. The event combines a car show with quilts in store windows and it is so much fun to search for my work. More than once a store owner has come running out while I am admiring my quilt and said ‘isn’t it fabulous? I specifically requested that quilt for my window.’ That is a fabulous feeling.
I am inspired by seeing the quilts at the quilt show. I get to see trends, different fabric and color combinations, techniques, etc. all made up, so I can see what I like and don’t like, and what I want to copy. Seeing the award winners and knowing that I don’t have the skill or patience to make them are intimidating, but since I don’t enter my quilts to shows, all that shows me is room to grow.
I Love looking at all the wonderful works of art at quilt shows. I may never enter one, but seeing the trends, the colors, the piecing and of course the quilting are pure joy!
Am I a perfectionist? No and Yes. If you take a close look at my quilts you will find many unmatched seams and let’s not talk about the points on those flying geese. But when it comes to the actual stitching, then I become a grueling task master demanding the best. I guess my reasoning is the stitching is part of the construction that holds it all together and the rest is pretty much the aesthetics of the design. Which is where I tend to be a bit more forgiving.
I am a longarm quilter and I have figured out what I can and can’t get away with on the construction end of quilt making. The washer and dryer can be your best friend. But also as a longarm quilter, anything that messes with the stitching I can be a beast. I demand good stitch quality from myself. What most quilters don’t realize that is where a “square” backing becomes essential.
I recently attended VQF and it took me less than 2 hours from start to finish, including the vendor area. Focusing on the quilts that I really liked and passing on the ones that just weren’t my style and never will be.
I don’t need the industry to tell me what to buy, what to make and how to quilt it. I enjoy making quilts for me and as long as my efforts (construction) will last to be hugged, loved and used, I’m good with that!
I recently finished my temperature calendar quilt that I started in 2017. For the quilting, I did all FMQ using mostly your motifs, primarily one motif per day in the calendar. It took forever, and I confess to losing the will to live sometimes, but I’m SO happy with the imperfect result. It’s on my living room couch, now, as a nap quilt, and I delight in looking at the individual motifs.
I don’t have any desire to enter my quilts for competition, although I do some auction quilts, and give away lots of quilts as gifts. I do love to go to quilt shows, and I have definitely gotten inspiration at those shows.
What a fabulous idea for a quilt !! I’d love to nap on your couch with it ! So take one for me, too!
I would love to see this quilt. It sounds wonderful.
The first quilt show I ever attended was in Paducah, and I was in tears at the end of the second row. I knew I would never be as good as these quilters were, and I was almost ready to give up. But somewhere deep inside I heard the reminder that my quilts were made to be snuggled, loved, washed, played with, and just plain USED. Very few of the quilts in the show would ever see the top of a bed, much less provide loving support on a picnic. Now, many years later, my skills have greatly improved and I look for ideas for color combinations, quilting designs, border ideas, and just generally enjoy what I’m seeing. I doubt my quilts will ever be hung at such a prestigious show, but I know they are keeping women warm in shelters, they are cherished by my grandchildren, and they make me smile.