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The Wow Factor: Entering Your Quilt in a Competition

Do you think your quilt has that special wow factor? If so, consider entering it in a quilt contest! There are so many ways for quilters to gain the experience of having their quilts juried, judged, and (hopefully) awarded with that coveted ribbon. Here are a few tips for quilters who’ve been bitten by the competitive bug.


If your new to quit competitions, consider starting local. State and county fair contests aren’t just for pickle makers – they’re for quilters too! Quilt guilds and local quilt shops often have friendly competitions where the winning quilt is determined by votes.

One of my favorite types of quilt competitions are fabric challenges. Here, the quilt fabric is decided upon by a sponsoring fabric company. Contestants design, make, and submit their quilts. It’s always fun to see the variety of interpretations made with the same fabrics! Here’s an example of three quilt made with the same fabric line – Jen Kingwell’s Looking Forward – which was the selected for the Moda Fabric Challenge at the 2019 Utah Quilt Show and Marketplace:

A dazzling quilt that demanded to be noticed! | Fabric photos by Annette Falvo
A very elegant interpretation made with the same fabrics | Fabric photos by Annette Falvo
My own interpretation of Jen Kingwell’s fabric line | Fabric photos by Annette Falvo

If the more rigorous process of entering your work in a quilt show sounds appealing, there are countless local, national, and international quilt shows available. You’ll need to choose the best category for your quilt, such as art, pictorial, modern, hand quilted, whole cloth, mixed technique, etc. There is likely an entry fee, some paperwork, plus strict rules and deadlines to adhere to when entering a quilt show. Judging is done by certified quilt judges, but don’t forget about the People’s Choice Award! Whether or not you win a ribbon, there’s plenty to learn from the judge’s evaluation sheet that you receive. Generally, judges assess visual impact, design and color, precision of work, quilting quality, and finishing.

If you’re ready to take the plunge into quilt contests here are a few tips I learned from Gina Perkes to help your quilt succeed:

  • Determine your style;
  • Strive for originality;
  • Pay attention to colors and what mood they invoke;
  • Solids (or fabrics that behave like solids) tend to be more successful over novelty prints;
  • Unless the competition has rules on batting, consider using 2 layers of batting to enhance the quilting;
  • Successful quilting either captures interest or calms things down;
  • A finer weight thread will bury into the fabric, which is what you want for a show quilt;
  • While quilting, keep testing the tension – judges look for “eyelashes” at directional shifts;
  • Once your quilt is quilted, strive to get all sides even and square by blocking the quilt;
  • When binding your quilt, be sure to have a “plump” binding; QuiltingDaily.com has some great instructions on making a perfect binding!
  • You’ll need to add a hanging sleeve and quilt label; If you’re new to making hanging sleeves here’s a great tutorial.
  • When you mail your quilt, roll it around a foam “pool noodle” rather than folding it;
  • Finally, follow all the rules (you don’t want to be disqualified on a technicality) and don’t hurry on show quilts!

Speaking of competitions, here at Quilting Daily we’re drumming up our first ever Quilting Daily juried quilt contest and we want you to be part of it! Lots of cash and a chance to appear on Quilting Arts TV are up for grabs! Additional details about the contest can be found here.

The deadline for early bird entries is June 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020 is the final deadline. Don’t delay because the staff at Quilting Daily can’t wait to be wowed by your quilt!

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