Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Make an Award-Winning Quilt

This is a recap of a lecture I gave April 18, 2013,  for the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville.  They have a show in October 2013, the 13th biannual judged quilt show, and so this is a timely topic for discussion.

Whether it's international or local competition, there are some elements of award-winning quilts that are the same. 

1.  Design:  Is the quilt interesting to look at?  Does it capture your attention and make you want to look closer? 

Harmony Within
Sue McCarty

2.  Color:  Are the colors appealing, appropriate, eye-catching, exciting?  Do they create a mood?  Sometimes,  the choice of color that is unexpected is what adds that "wow" factor:

Lynn Jones Droege pieced and appliqued
Quilted by Lisa Sipes
Sue Garman pattern Ruffled Roses
3.  Workmanship:  Is it well-done, with precise piecing, beautiful quilting, excellent finishing?

Scarlett Serenade
Sharon Schamber

4.  Quilting:  Does it grab you?  Does it make you look closer, does it enhance the overall effect of the quilt?

Sarah's Revival
Sue Garman
Hand Quilting

Georgann Wrinkle's Quilt
Sue Garman Longarm Quilting

5.  That Extra Special "Something":  Maybe it's a piped or curved binding.  Or embellishments that add the perfect sparkle.  Perhaps it's the statement the quilt makes, the emotion it evokes.  Maybe it's just such a spectacular quilt you have to give it all the glory it is due.  I feel that way about this quilt:
America, Let It Shine
Sherry Reynolds

The next time you go to a quilt show, think about these five things as you admire the quilts.  Whether you agree with the judges or not, perhaps you will understand their decisions more as you compare the quilts based on these elements.
Not every quilt has to be an award-winning quilt but that's a topic for another day.
Let's Quilt!


  1. Great job, Barbara! I'm so sorry to have missed your program last night. I've heard from several that it was incredibly well done! :)

    1. Thanks for the recap. I hated to miss but am on vacation in Hawaii. I'm sure you did a wonderful lecture.

    2. Thanks for the recap. I hated to miss but am on vacation in Hawaii. I'm sure you did a wonderful lecture.

  2. I couldn't wait to see if you would post your presentation. Thanks - I am so sorry I missed it!

  3. One question: Is it possible to make an award-winning quilt without dedicating years of your life to one quilt? There are so many quilts inside me waiting to get out. They could at least line up:)

    1. Fern, great question! My point the other night was not every quilt we make has to be an award-winner. Do the best you can with the skills you have today and make quilts for those you love. If you want to have a chance at an award, you have to do everything the VERY BEST you can. I'm a 90% quilter--most of the time, that's good enough. On my most special quilts, I try harder to get things as perfect as possible. I don't make very many of those!

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