“Go for it!” “Do it!” “You need to do this.” “Go!” “Seriously, go on up there!” The crowd of people around her was more like a college fraternity urging her to take a drink instead of her fellow members of the quilt guild. They were persistent that she go sign up for the upcoming quilt show and enter her most recent quilt. But Carol was hesitant. Her quilt wasn’t good enough. It had mistakes. Some of the sashing was a bit crooked. What if the judge didn’t like it? What if the judge laughed when she saw it? Her friends weren’t taking no for an answer. (What is with them, anyway? Why were they masters of peer pressure? Had they been hanging out with grandsons who were in college fraternities?)
“Oh, fine! I’ll sign up! But that doesn’t mean I’ll actually show up at the show with my quilt!” Carol called out to the guild. She signed the form and officially entered that far-from-perfect quilt into the upcoming quilt show. Her friends all clapped for her and patted her on the back. They assured her that it was a great decision. She was trusting their expertise in this whole quilt show matter, the same way she trusted them when it came to teaching her how to sew a binding and how to sew a straight seam. Surely, they must know what they were doing.
Carol got the surprise of her lifetime at that quilt show. She did enter that quilt and received a blue ribbon for it. You could’ve knocked that gal down with a feather! She even received a very kind note from the professional quilt judge. It read: “Excellent color choices. Binding well done. Tension is good. Great visual appeal.” Another section, titled “Areas to Improve,” read: “Strive for straighter sashing.” That was it! The judge didn’t hate it at all. In fact, she liked it! She didn’t berate Carol for that crooked sashing. She only said to strive to do better. Carol didn’t expect such gentle constructive criticism, but she was sure relieved. Carol beamed with pride at the final note from the judge. “Consider pursuing intermediate-level patterns, instead of beginner.” Wow! Who knew that entering a quilt show could be so good for your self-esteem? Apparently, those peer-pressuring quilt guild ladies knew exactly what they were doing. Again.
Have you ever felt like Carol? Afraid to enter a quilt show? Have you told yourself that your quilt isn’t good enough? Well then, be encouraged by Carol! There are three things you need to remember about entering a quilt show.
Three Things to Remember
- It is a fantastic learning experience! There is no better way to learn than by a professional judge giving you a few gentle pointers on what you could work on. Constructive criticism is good for you. Put on your big girl panties or your big boy boxers and don’t get your feelings hurt. They aren’t pointing out your mistakes to knock you down or make you feel badly. They are doing it to help you improve – to help you become the quilter that they know you have the potential to be! Side note: Even professional quilters, with loads of blue ribbons from national shows, receive constructive criticism and feedback on what they can improve. Just to say that louder for the ones in the back, everyone receives constructive criticism and pointers, not just you! And this is how you learn!
- Do not point out your mistakes. When you receive a compliment on your quilt, do not respond with, “Thanks, but…” and then list off everything that is wrong with it. Do not point out your mistakes to your friends. Do not point out your mistakes to your family. Do not point out your mistakes to a judge. Do not point out your mistakes to the dog. For the love of all things pink, just keep your lips locked about the imperfections of your quilt. No one is going to notice, unless they are a trained judge (refer back to #1 if this bothers you). Your friends and family are definitely not going to notice. They are going to be impressed by whatever you make and will be convinced you are an exceptional quilter. Fellow quilters may notice some mistakes but still, do not point out the mistakes. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
- It’s about self-improvement, not competition. Look at the whole process as a stepping stone toward skill improvement and as a confidence-builder. Don’t go into it and only see it as a competition. It’s more than that. One day, you can look back on your first quilt show and see how far you have come. Your quilts will be better executed, but really that isn’t the main takeaway from the whole experience. The thing that matters, that really makes you shine, is that you did something that intimidated you and your confidence and self-esteem skyrocketed. You, my friend, can do hard things.
If you want more information on quilt shows, join your local quilt guild. Almost every area has at least one. There are also regional, national, and international quilt shows. A quick google search will bring up many options for you!
If you’ve decided that entering a quilt show is in your future, but you need to find the right pattern. No worries! Be inspired by a new quilt book. Click here to peruse a huge selection of quilt books and click here to look at patterns. You’ll be on your way to entering that show in no time! Have fun!