Judges Report – Island Quilts 2016


It was a pleasure to be able to accept the invitation of the Tasmanian Quilting Guild Inc to be the interstate judge at Island Quilts 2016, and working with the Exhibition Committee, the volunteers, and the other 2 judges Virginia Koster and Cindy Watkins was very easy and enjoyable.

Every one who enters a quilt in a show is a winner; they help us share our love of quilting with the public. The young woman who visits the show with an aunt, her mother or grandmother will probably not look at the Best of Show and think she will make one just like it tonight, more likely there will be one that inspires her that has bright colours, simple shapes and achievable quilting. She may go on to become another convert! However we need the prizewinners too as they are the quilts that show the highest levels of design and technique we can aspire to.

On judging day the judges can only compare the quilts in any category with each other, each show has different categories and different combinations of quilts. A quilt that wins a prize at one show may not win at the next, this is a normal consequence of the way quilt shows are organised, you will be in a different pool of entrants.

For those of you who aspire to winning prizes there are some areas we noticed this year that need to be considered. Prizewinners will demonstrate their mastery of both design and technique, and others may miss out only because on the day someone else managed one or anther aspect better. We can all improve; and those of us who make quilts for display practice all aspects to produce the best we can. We saw many quilts with great design, piecing, applique and use of colour; it was wonderful to see so many original interpretations and designs.

Some areas we noted that could be improved included:

  • Bindings. These need to be full, sewn down securely and corners crisply square. It is possible to produce good corners through a number of methods but generally mitered corners will be neater and should be sewn shut on both front and back. This prevents them catching on anything, and is considered the best functional outcome.
  • All quilting marks should have been removed, if using blue pen this usually means the quilt will need to be washed thoroughly in cold water and no detergent.
  • Long straight seams attaching borders need to be straight.
  • Quilting density should be even across the whole quilt, regardless of the method used to quilt. Uneven density is a common cause of ballooning of the centre, or waves around the edge.
  • Applique was generally very well done whether by machine or hand but there were a few instances of shadowing where the seam allowances can be seen against the background. These pieces need lining.
  • Quilts should be square, that is opposite sides should be exactly the same length. This needs to be adjusted if necessary before binding is attached.
  • If quilts are to hang looking their best they should have been blocked. This involves wetting the quilt, by either washing or spraying thoroughly with clean, cold water; then pin out to the desired measurements and allow thorough drying over the next few days.

It is not the judge’s role to teach anyone how to fix their quilt; we can only point out areas for improvement. Others earn their living teaching technique and design, and I would recommend everyone take a class with an expert on finishing techniques so that after working so hard on the top and the quilting you can produce a quilt with the very best outcome.
Congratulations to everyone involved, Tasmanian quilters certainly produced a beautiful show!

Jenny Bacon
Accredited Quilt Judge, Quilters Guild of the British Isles
18 September 2016