I feel a little more confident laying claim to this title, now that I have actually publicly exhibited and have some ribbons to show for it. Yes, I took the grand prize in the first season of Project Quilting, but while I had a tremendous haul and many accolades, I didn’t get any ribbons. On a whim a couple of weeks ago, I decided to enter 8 of my quilts in the local County Fair. You see, my friend Robbi has been gently pushing me to exhibit at a national quilt show. Well, after my recent experience with the magazine submission, and just not feeling really positive about the whole experience, I didn’t think I would be up to competing in a national show.
Part of the reason for this is that I don’t really make “show” quilts. I don’t know that I want to be one of “those” quilters – obsessing over the binding, and the perfect stitches, and matched corners. Oh, yes – in real life, I do obsess about these things, but only against MY standards, which are flexible based on my willingness to wield a seam ripper. I consider myself to be someone who leans more toward “traditional” quilting, but I also like to FINISH projects. I don’t like working on complex projects just for the heck of it, and the only time I’ll spend years working on the same project is when I’ve lost the drive & passion to complete it in a timely manner. I enjoy piecing more than applique, although I will employ either method in a quilt whenever it suits me to do so. I’ve been known to zigzag a binding if I just want it done, and these days, there is precious little time to hand stitch anything.
And yet – I also consider myself to be a “modern” quilter. My definition of modern quilting really extends only to the aesthetic qualities of a quilt, and not necessarily to the methods used to construct it. Modern quilting for me is a return to quilting for the love of it, and expressing my passion for quilting through my use of color, and pattern, and texture. I think you can recognize a modern quilt when you see one – just like you’d recognize a Civil War style quilt, or something from the 60′s, or something of an Amish flavor – regardless of when it was made.
In any event, this post is supposed to be a chronicle of my County Fair adventure! So back to Robbi; she had encouraged me to apply to a national show, and while I was sitting on the fence thinking about it, I wondered if it was too late to enter the fair. Turns out, the deadline had passed, but then they decided to extend it for a few more days, which was just enough for me to pull together my entries.
The GREAT thing about entering quilts in the County Fair is that they don’t want photos or names of quilts up front; they just want you to decide what category you want the quilt to be judged in, and you pay $0.25 per quilt. Yup, a quarter. So I just went through my stacks of quilts, trying to pick out the “best” ones and choosing the categories. I ended up choosing 8 quilts (2 of which were NOT finished) and started getting ready.
Well the first thing I noticed (besides needing to finish two quilts) is that NOT ONE of them had a hanging sleeve. Don’t all show quilts need sleeves? So I spent a weekend stitching on sleeves. I had to forgo finishing one quilt in favor of the sleeves. And the sleeves are UGLY, but functional. You see, I didn’t want to do a bang-up job attaching sleeves when I will take them all off in a week’s time.
After dropping off my (now) seven quilts at the fairground on Sunday, I started to stress a little bit. I mean, it would be really, really awful if I didn’t get any ribbons at all. I mean that would be like the world telling me I suck, and making sure that all my extended neighbors knew it too.
So on Wednesday evening, I took courage and dragged myself back to the fairground to survey the tattered remains of my self esteem.
Seeing this one was not exactly a great start. No ribbon on this one. Of course, very few people can appreciate that particular color combo.
Next I got to see the quilt I made from my debutante ball gown:
Ok, doing a little better. A third place finish. At least I can say I got a ribbon now.
And a second place finish! I’m moving on up, and of course I am now super-curious to see what could have possible edged out this quilt in the applique department. I thought this was one of my best quilts!
And then… the wall of winners… and as I scan across the quilts, I can see 1… 2… 3… FOUR of my quilts with first place ribbons:
The one that tickled me perhaps the most was getting a ribbon on Darcy’s first quilt too. It’s a simple nine patch, but to me, the quilting stitches just make the whole quilt, and I was happy to see it hanging there with a first place ribbon on it.
With this one, the mystery was solved! Apparently, I edged out my own quilt in the applique department. And I’m OK with that, considering it’s THIS quilt. I happen to think this is my finest work to-date that I could even fathom putting in a national show. And terribly disappointed that it couldn’t hang on point as it is meant to.
And just because I know you’ll be curious, while my quilts did very well, I didn’t manage to secure Best of Show. That award went to this quilt:
When I go back on Sunday, I’m planning to take several more photos of it, to study the details and try to understand what made this one best. Not to imitate, but to improve. Because next year, that silver platter is MINE.
- I entered quilts into 5 categories, and I have at least one winner in each.
- I took 1st and 2nd place in one category.
- I entered 7 quilts and earned 6 ribbons, four of which are for 1st place.
- I think I am now addicted to entering quilts in the county fair & wondering what it would take to enter something in every category.
To endless possibilities,