Entering quilt shows

Winning ribbons is fun…but is that all that it’s really about?


If you’ve been thinking about entering a quilt show, here’s a few reasons to go for it.

The first is obvious: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  That might not ease your nerves so here’s the real reasons.

The stories behind the quilt are more important than the quilt itself and that’s what people love to learn about.  Those quilts got their makers through the tough times, the happy times and were their sanity in a busy world.  It doesn’t matter if the points don’t meet perfectly, or the colour scheme doesn’t quite work (the quilt might have been made from the clothes of a loved one who passed away).  Quilting has always been so much more than cutting up fabric and sewing it back together again.

There are many types of competitions and exhibitions around but if none of these work for you, display your work online or start up your own exhibition.  The point is to get your work out there because you may inspire someone else.  Many famous quilters were introduced to quilting when they were dragged along to the local quilt show and fell in love with what they saw. They in turn inspire and teach others the joy that you gave them.

Yes, the big quilt competitions may be a different arena to exhibit in.  Many like a certain level of workmanship but look out for beginner/amateur/first time entrant category.  The shows love new quilters to join the fold.  It doesn’t matter if you win a prize or not, but it is a fantastic ego boost and cherry on top when you do!  It’s wonderful when someone else sees a wow factor in your work.  Just getting accepted into these big shows is a win in itself. The first time one of my quilts was chosen to be exhibited in the national show, I didn’t know how big a deal that was.  The second time I did and was fortunate enough to see it hanging with the other award winners.

Without the exhibitors willing to put their work out there, there would be no quilt shows.  If you’ve ever enjoyed a quilt show on any level, then I would encourage you to share your love of quilting with others.  Trust me, no matter what your style or level of quilting, people will enjoy seeing your work. What matters is that your work gives you joy/sanity no matter what circumstances it was made under, and that is something worth sharing.

Talking to others at the shows is just as rewarding as seeing the quilts.  When I’ve done quilt angel duty at our state show, I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I met a lady who, like me, had tennis elbow in both arms and we not only understood how hard it is but were able to share how we had been overcoming not only the physical, but the emotional toll it takes on the mind.  Many husbands come along for the day and I always ask them if they have been coerced into being there, just to give me a quick nod. Many of them actually like supporting their wives.  Others say there is a boat show on in town next week… One lovely man said that his wife had passed away a few years before and he comes to honour her memory.  A met a lady on the way out from the show who was able to have a day off from looking after her terminally ill husband.  It meant so much for her to be there.  We had a good chat on the way to the train station and I wished her well in the coming times ahead.

It takes courage to share your work but your bravery will not go unnoticed.  You can do it.  You don’t have to get a critique from the judges and or even have work judged, just exhibited.  My advice is to put it in the show to be judged if you don’t have any major objections to  it.  It’s a lot of fun and you may even get some fans!  Seeing your work side by side other quilts can be a revelation in itself.  It will look like it belongs there and deserves it’s time in the spotlight.

Enjoy entering your work, I think you’ll find it worthwhile.

Happy quilting,


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