Quilt Show Judging Feedback

I have entered a few judged quilt shows in my time. Occasionally my work is even selected for a prize, ribbon or award. When that happens, I guess that implicitly means that my work has been assessed to address the judges’ criteria more successfully than the other quilts presented in that category on that day. However, I have never actually received any formal feedback from a judged exhibition as this has not been typical Australian Guild practice in recent history.prizeribbonsI have several quilt show judging assignments marked in my calendar and it looks like most, if not all, will involve providing some kind of official evaluation or feedback to the entrants.  Now I understand the theory of judging feedback,  and its potential for giving encouragement and highlighting areas for improvement, but how does it really work in practice?

If you have ever entered a quilt show that gives feedback, I would be interested in hearing your experience, especially if you have found it helpful.  And if, like me, you have never entered a show that provides written evaluations, would you like to see the introduction of quilt show judging feedback and what form should that feedback take?

Sydney Quilt ShowPS:  Entries for the Sydney Quilt Show close on 8 March.  You can download the 2013 Sydney Quilt Show entry form from the Guild’s website.  Please send in your Volunteer Form too.

And don’t forget that the Serendipity Facebook Modern Quilts Giveaway closes at 12 noon on Sunday, 3 March.  Don’t miss this chance to win a free copy of the Modern Quilts magazine and my new DVD Improvising Using Stacks of Solids.


  1. You might find this book helpful: “Guide to Judged Quilt Shows” (available from NQA) and “The Judge’s Task” published by AQS (out of print but maybe find on amazon.com

    I’ve always found judges’ comments very helpful, except one time I felt the judge didn’t know what she was talking about.

    • Thanks for stopping by my blog Barbara.

      I have a fair collection of quilt show judging materials from a 3 day workshop that I did with NQA certified judge Jeannie Spears a few years ago, along with other resources that I have gathered from here and there.

      I often hear stories about quilt show judging feedback that is trite, formulaic, ignorant, irrelevant etc which has caused entrants distress and confusion. Reports of meaningful and beneficial feedback seem much more rare!

  2. JudyMorningStar says:

    Dianne Jansson (originally from Australia!) and I developed and presented the Canadian Quilt Judging Certification program for Canadian Quilters Association. Dianne dealt with technical issues, I did the design portion. Together, we set up the standards that were expected in entries in judged competitions. Through exercises and advance study, candidates practiced judging skills and were trained to give constructive comments. Actually, most people entering a quilt know what is wrong and what is right with their quilt. There are so many variables- technical skill vs design- that it is extremely difficult to judge fairly. Personal taste often comes into play, although it is not supposed to. The Canadian National Juried Show has always given written feedback. Most shows that I judged in Canada did have feedback for the entrants. Is it worthwhile? Maybe. I believe what is more important is that, if a show is to be judged, the judge should be well educated, impartial, and competent. BUT why do women want to compete for a chunk of ribbon or maybe a bit of money? Isn’t the most important part getting our work out in the public so it can be seen by a lot of people? ??????

    Once the course was developed, and Dianne and I presented it once, we both moved on to different stages in our lives. The current presenters for the CQA Canadian Judge Certification Program are Kathleen Bissett and Anna Hergert.

  3. I haven’t entered a heap of shows where you get feedback from the judges, but the feedback I have received hasn’t been at all worthwhile. I don’t think it’s the judges fault – either you go into unbelievable detail on every aspect, or you pick up the one thing that seems to stand out and risk “trite or irrelevant”. I don’t think most entrants want feedback – I certainly never do. Is it possible to dodge the issue and say that detailed comments will be given on request? Then you will only have to respond to the people who really want to hear what you think.

  4. Barbara says:

    One judge noticed that an inner border was uneven on my quilt. I had not noticed that, as the quilt was perfectly square. When laid flat and viewed at eye level, indeed the inner border was not perfectly straight. That was a helpful comment. Judges have a very difficult job, especially when competition is fierce, and they are so limited by time constraints and show rule requirements. Some people only want to know “why didn’t I win the blue ribbon”? 🙂

  5. I’ve received feedback on two quilts. And our guild here carried a couple newsletter articles about what it means (that was a good idea–put it into perspective). In both cases the critiques were quite accurate–long lines in one quilt could have been straighter and there was a little shadowing of a dark red through the white fabric next to it, so I should have been more careful ironing the back of my top. The positive things noted also seemed to speak to the most relevant strengths. I came away saying, “Yep” and resolved to doing better next time–and not squished or hurt.

  6. I’ve entered shows where I’ve received feedback and entered ones where I haven’t. I value feedback because it can show me something that I don’t see because I’ve been looking at the work for so long, or point me in the direction I need to go to improve my technical skills. But what I’d really value is feedback when work is not accepted to shows! Now that would be helpful (but I know it’s not realistic considering the volume of work that doesn’t get accepted).

    It’s just like anything in life. Feedback can be useful or irrelevant depending on how it’s given. I think a standard form for all quilts in a show might be useful – with a section for technical aspects, a section for design elements, and so on.

    And, of course, you can never please everyone!