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Regarding local guild shows...

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I've been reading with interest all the posts about local guild shows...how many guild members, how many quilts entered, etc.

Some of you belong to relatively small guilds (under 50 people) but still manage to hang a show of 200+ quilts. How do you get such good participation???

My guild is huge...approximately 650 members but each year only about 190 of them enter quilts in the show. I want to pick your brains...how can we encourage more members to exhibit their quilts? Any ideas you have would be really appreciated. Thanks.

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Originally posted by Mrs.A

...how can we encourage more members to exhibit their quilts? Any ideas you have would be really appreciated. Thanks.

Hi Nancy! :)

OK well, I am going to hop up on a soap box here. I don't want to offend anyone but hey I'm just gonna say it.

I think if you boiled it all down into a teaspoon, the main plain reason why people aren't entering their quilts into shows is... because... well,,, (IMHO) because too much emphasis is on WINNING and getting a RIBBON! So, people don't enter their quilts into the shows because they are afraid they won't be a winner, or won't get a ribbon. Or they think they are not good enough to enter a quilt into the show.

Just saying. I think it all boils down to that.

Honestly? Personally for me, I could care less if I get a ribbon or not. I truly say this in all honesty. For me? It's not important to win a ribbon. Sure, it's nice but not the defining factor that I "made it" as a quilter. Sure, I will enter a quilt just to participate in the show. I don't do it for me, I do it cuz it helps make the show more interesting. Do the math. More quilts? More people come to see them. Less quilts? Who comes to a show that has 10 quilts hanging and they all have ribbons on them? 500 quilts and 10 quilts have a ribbon on them?

Yeah, it has gotten very competitive in these shows! I can't hold a candle to some of these people that have time to spend 24/7/365 dreaming up and working on their masterpieces. Sure, I think competition is good and healthy and forces us to do our best work, but I wish it was without all the big emphasis and pressure on winning ribbons....

Have you ever seen anyone here post on the chat saying "I'M NOT A WINNER! YEAH FOR ME!" :P

Honestly, I think all of the quilts entered into a show deserve a ribbon. They're all winners in my book. I wish less emphasis was on "winning a ribbon" and more emphasis was placed on just being part of the big quilty world scheme of things. Maybe, then, people would be more inspired and encouraged to show their work?

I am happy for all of the winners out there and all of the pretty ribbons, too. But even more so I am proud of those who are brave enough to show their work and be part of our quilty world just cuz it's what we do.... We make quilty stuff and we want to show it off just because! :)

I'm stepping off my soap box now. I hope you understand my point. ;)

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Is your show judged? If so, perhaps the members are too shy to compete with friends.

If your show isn't judged, maybe the membership needs to be coaxed. At each show and tell, have your president remind them that entries are needed for the quilt show and that these beautiful quilts should be there.

Or maybe a warning that if X-number of quilts are not offered for the show, perhaps the expense and time needed for a show should not be expended--just not worth it.

Another way might be to offer a quilt challenge each year. That will get the creative and competitive ones excited--make one of the rules that all entries will hang as a group at the show. Even only 20 entries hanging as a group will fill out the quilts for a bigger show. A challenge can be as simple a making a small (no bigger than 120" around) quilt using a traditional block as a base and then embellishing it, or as complicated as a miniature quilt with many blocks. Or a monochromatic quilt, a triad quilt, or some play on your guild's name. My guild has "stars" in our name, so all shows and all challenges have something to do with stars. Orginal, huh?:P:P:P But it gets people to play and have fun thinking as well.

One of our rules is that no quilt entered can have been shown at a previous show. But nothing about those UFOs from the 90's--or 80's!! Have a UFO finishing challenge and hang all those together. Or an anonymous "my first quilt" group. And believe me, anonymously would be the only way I would display MY first quilt! Ugh!

Ask the membership as well--nothing like finding out from the source why quilts aren't entered. If no one is forthcoming at a meeting, hand out an anonymous questionnaire at the door and ask them why they don't enter quilts. Give them three choices--like, I don't think my quilts are show-worthy, or they are afraid about the security of their quilt, or they just don't want to bother with taking them off the bed/wall and them retrieving them again, plus an "other" space. The "others" will tell the tale and then you can deal with the problems.

I am adding here at the end--Shana and I posted at the same time!--that Shana is so right about the winning thing. If that is an issue, only have a Viewer's Choice award. Let the attendees decide. Or award every entry a ribbon--even if only printed on paper. A nice remembrance that they participated in the show.

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Our little group of 10 hangs over 50 quilts for exhibit only. We are not judged. One year we did have a Viewer's Choice and that was fun and the people coming in enjoyed it, too. BUT, the lady who won 1st & 3rd place was so embarrased by it that she vowed to never bring another quilt to our show if we had Viewer's Choice again. She does wonderful work and her quilts are gorgeous, so to keep her quilts coming, we discontinued the Viewer's Choice. The next year a lot of our attendees asked where the ballots were for Viewer's Choice, as they enjoyed that.

Anyway, I wonder if some people are intimidaed by the "really good" quilts and don't feel they measure up. I felt that way about entering our State Fair, but after attending the exhibit for several years now, I decided my quilts are just as good as a lot of them there. Of course, there are the "pros", but the majority are just regular people who enjoy quilting. So, I am giving it a try this summer ! Got the entrance info from the State Fair people today! :o:P

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My guild is just over 200 and we always have at least 200 quilts. We do have 5 guilds that participate in our show every other year. I have heard lots of reasons why people don't want to enter in a show. Most of the time they don't feel like they are good enough to enter. That is rediculous. I've heard others say they won't enter because of entry fees, don't trust that their quilts will be safe or they don't want to compete. Our show lets you choose if you want to be judged or not. I like to get the feedback from the judges. It is very helpful to hear their feedback. Other than that I just enjoy that others enjoy my quilts.

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Thanks so much to all of you who have responded already...some really great food for thought. I hope more forum members will add their two cents.

Shana: You made some excellent points (as usual) and you're welcome to get up on that soap box anytime! One of our members did say that she resented the same people winning ribbons every year and that more people's efforts should be rewarded. Because of her, we decided to give a ribbon to EACH participant next year. We're still not sure what it will say but something like SHOW QUILTER 2012 and they will be invited to wear the ribbons on their person at Guild meetings leading up to the quilt show and at the show as well. We won't hang those ribbons on the quilts at the show because that would be waaaay too confusing.

Linda: Yes, our show is judged. We do have a challenge every year...the guild President issues a challenge with a theme for small quilts and the Pres. awards one ribbon to her favorite. I LOVE the idea of "First Quilt" or "Finished UFO" categories. I'll bring that up to the committee.

Heidi: Our members make the choice whether their quilts are judged or not. I'm with you...I have learned SO much from the judge's feedback and our guild's mission is, in part, education. I feel badly that ribbons (or critiques from the judges) are discouraging some people from entering. I love seeing ALL the quilts!

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Thanks Nancy. I am also one of those that looks forward to the judges comments and critiques. I was a scribe at MQS several years ago and learned so much by that experience. It really made me feel better not to be afraid to enter quilts into the shows. For one thing, most all judges are quilters, too. So,,, really do you think they are looking to find mistakes so they can make you feel small and inferior? That their mission is to destroy hopes and dreams over your quilt? No!! They are quilters, too! They are trying to help and promote quilting. Their comments are to encourage you to improve and give you some guidance. It's wonderful! It's all supposed to be good. Make it fun.

I love quilting and quilters and quilters that quilt quilts, and all of that other the quilty stuff in between (and you too Nancy A) :)

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Shana, I always enjoy your honesty. I feel like as quilters and especially a guild we should encourage others in their quilting. Not everyone is going to make a perfect quilt or even want to. I for one enjoy quilting a quilt that may be a little wonky or have some fullness in it, it tends to make me look a little better when it turns out gorgeous. But then again I think all quilts are gorgeous after they are quilted no matter how they are quilted or who quilted them.

For the past few years our guild has done a monthly block challenge. Everyone who wants to makes a block (pattern and directions are provided in advance) and at the meeting everyone who brings a block is eligible to win all the blocks that night. This past year the lady who was in charge of the block challenge criticized so much and wanted every block to be perfect that it eventually dwindled down to hardly no one was making block and this year they're not even doing it. If I had been a new quilter I would have been afraid to make a block for fear of her criticism. Even though she didn't point anyone out it was still ridiculous. Nobody is that perfect all the time.

Anyways I think we should do more encouraging and less competing. Competition is good but we should enjoy the process more.

Just my opinion for what it's worth.

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At out last show we had 150 quilts and that was 3 years ago. This year we had 251. I was asked to be resposible for the judging so at EVERY meeting I got up and told the quilters we ( the guild) was paying the JUDGE and I needed quilts for her to judge. We were so surpriseD when 251 quilts were entered. We have 78 members. I don't know if my soapbox speech made a differnce or not. But I think alot has to do with the members encourging, inspiring and supporting each other. Remember we all were beginners and sometimes still feel like one!


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Our guild has about 35 members. We usually hang about 150 - 200 quilts. Probably only 1/3 of those are from guild members. We send out mailings to other guilds and actively solicit entries from anyone who wants to enter. Because ours is strictly a viewers choice show, I think we get more entries than another local guild who has a judged show. Seriously, some very poorly constructed quilts have won 1st place because the viewers liked the colors or the theme of the quilt and that's okay. Our guild wants to promote quiltmaking and if people feel like they need to be expert piecers or are intimidated to enter a quilt, we wouldn't ever get any new entries.

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Originally posted by LinneaMarie

My bunch-of-crabby-old-lady-guild members won't even consider putting on a show! We have 56 members! Old crows!! :mad::mad:

Roflol, yep, that's why I don't join our guild here. The ole crows look down their noses at me cuz I'm a "machine quilter" not a "hand quilter" the ole bags. lol

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Originally posted by mrmquilt

UMM Shana, I think I did post a quilt under Biggest Loser. LOL Does that qualify for

"I'm not a winner, yeah for me. " ROFLMAO


No, you are not a loser...! :( You are a winner in my book! If you enter a quilt in a show, you are automatically a winner . :)

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Thanks folks, this is a great topic for me, because I am just getting started at organizing out=r group's show, which will be held in February 2012. This will be our third show. We have about 30 active quilters, and in the past have had about 50 quilts in the show.

We've had First Quilt & UFO challenges, and those have worked out well. We've always had local artists and sewing people judge the show, not quilters because we need all quilters to enter. However, based upon what I am seeing here, I think maybe this year we will try not judging at all, and just having a Viewers' Choice. I solicit the local quilt shops and fabric stores for tons of small prizes to give out, but we could do that by random drawing just as well.

I think the main secret to good participation is constant nagging. I AM THE QUILT POLICE, and I have a posse. I tell everyone that either you enter your quilts voluntarily, or I will go to your house & take them off your beds. It's not that big an island, I know where everyone lives, & I think by now they believe me.

Linnea, you can enter your quilts in our show anytime. That goes for all of you, we'd LOVE to have some guest artists entered! If any of you are willing to entrust me with your quilts for a while, let me know, I promise to take good care of them. Thanks all for the great tips.

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Hey Catherine:

I wish I'd known you when I lived on the Big Island. I was part of the Waikoloa group (Sew & Sews) which met every Thursday (hopefully they still do). I haven't been back in years but I'll send you a quilt for the show if you'd like...I have the perfect one. I made it when I lived there and it's called Big Island Anthurium. Just email me...I'd be happy to participate in your show. Nancy in Tucson

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My Guild is full of old Crows too :(- though some of them are quite cheery! They definitely tend to consider themselves, and their quilts, as superior just because they do it all by hand! Some of their stuff is beautiful - but it would be just as beautiful, may be even MORE beautiful if it was done by machine - and it would be ready so much sooner!:)

Also - I would never have considered entering a Quilt in to a BIG Quilt show, until I went to Birmingham last year. I am going to say it is the biggest Quilt Show in UK - but somebody may tell me different! I loved looking at the quilts - all of them!! But I was amazed by the standard of sewing on some of them! Not that I objected to it - I didn't and I wouldn't! Only that I personally wouldn't have considered entering something with some of the issues that I could see! So - now that I have seen that I am definitely thinking about entering something.....maybe next year!!:)

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Each guild has "different vibrations." I belonged to one guild (for a while) whose vibrations were that only applique counted. If you were a piecer, your work was automatically inferior.

Some guilds' vibrations are that quilt shows are only for "Sunday Best" work.

I know of one guild that for more than 20 years held non-judged, non-juried Quilt Shows. They had so many entries the first year I entered (my 11 quilts!) that they ended up limiting the number of quilts each quilter could enter the next show. Then they went to a juried show (although, as it turned out, every quilt entered got displayed) and some members were so unhappy that they boycotted the entire show.

When I entered my 11 quilts, I was a new quilter, about two years in, and I was not the least bit interested in being judged; I was only interested in showing off my quilts. Although it is impossible to say now, had it been a judged show, at that time, I might have felt so intimated that I wouldn't have entered any quilts, let alone 11.

A guild could always make it part of their by-laws that members must display a quilt in their quilt shows. Quilt shows are fundraisers, and every member benefits from the funds raised, and I don't think it would be out of line for a guild to require that.

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Originally posted by seakitten

I think the main secret to good participation is constant nagging. I AM THE QUILT POLICE, and I have a posse. I tell everyone that either you enter your quilts voluntarily, or I will go to your house & take them off your beds. It's not that big an island, I know where everyone lives.

You ladies are GREAT!!! Love this forum!

We do not charge members to hang a quilt in our Bi-annual show, which is next weekend. Our membership count is a little over 100. Our membership year runs from Sept. to Sept.

Anyone can join our guild in April for the 1/2 price of $9.00

Or a non-members can hang a quilt in our show for the price of $10.00


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Originally posted by seakitten

We have about 30 active quilters, and in the past have had about 50 quilts in the show.

seakitten: As long as your guild is so small, have you thought about the idea of asking the community if they have family quilts they would share at your next show? There may be some masterpieces in non-quilter's homes.

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Our guild last year had about 180 members, this year it is down to about 160. We have a show every two years and it will be this year in October. In 2009 there were approximately 400 entries in the show and the expectation is for the same number this year. In 2009 the guild hired an NQA certified judge and has done so again for this year. At our meetings every month we have show and tell and I've seen some drop dead gorgeous quilts at show and tell, but not many of them were entered in the show in 2009, and I don't know why.

We have a Country Store and approximately 16 vendors, and it is held in a building at the county fairgrounds. Here's a bit of info about awards and categories for this year's show:


Best of Show – $250

Viewers’ Choice – $100

Best Use of Color – $100

Best Machine Quilting – Amateur – $100

Best Machine Quilting – Professional – $100

Judge’s Choice – $100

Best Technique – $100

Best Original Design – $100

Best Hand Quilting – $100

Best Representation of Show Theme – $100

In addition to these monetary awards, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place and honorable mention ribbons will be awarded as deemed appropriate by the judge.


Bed Quilts (perimeter 300" or more)

1.Art & Innovative Pieced

2.Art & Innovative Appliqué

3.Art & Innovative Mixed Technique

4.Traditional Pieced

5.Traditional Appliqué

6.Traditional Mixed Technique

7.Art & Innovative Pieced

8.Art & Innovative Appliqué

9.Art & Innovative Mixed Technique

Small Quilts (perimeter less than 300)

10. Traditional Pieced

11. Traditional Appliqué

12. Traditional Mixed Technique

Hand Quilted (any size)

13. Hand Quilted Pieced Quilts

14. Hand Quilted Appliqué Quilts

15. Hand Quilted Mixed Technique Quilts


16. 1st Quilt

17. Junior Quilter

18. Group Quilts

Other Quilted Items

19. Whole Cloth Quilts – any size or style

20. Miniature Quilts – up to 24” X 24”

21. Machine Embroidered Quilts, any size

22. Hand Embroidered Quilts, any size

23. 2010 & 2011 Challenge Quilts

24. Kits or Block-of-the-Month or Preprinted Panel

25. Wearable Art, including Jazzed-Up Sweats

26. Accessories/Home Décor/Purses & Totes/3-D Objects

27. Non-judged Item (no bed-sized quilts, please)

Hey, Catherine, I've been after my DH for several years to go to the Big Island with me so maybe I can get him and a quilt over there when you have your show in 2012. Are you coming to MQS this year?

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Our guild allows members to have quilts in the show that are not judged. If you want your quilt judged, for the critique and the possibility of winning a cash prize and/or ribbon then you pay $5 per quilt. The guild uses the money to pay the judge.

I would stress to members that it is fun to see all the quilts at show and tell and fun to see quilts in a show.

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Thanks again for all the great tips. ann, we did have a few antique/family heirloom quilts in the last show, and they were very well-received, so I think we will do it on a larger scale this time. People love seeing them. In fact I have just been given four old quilt tops to quilt/restore, so I will encourage the owner to enter them.

Our group has no budget for the show, we have to charge the entrants in order to fund it. We don't pay the judges either, but we do give them a nice gift basket with locally-grown coffee, macadamia nuts & fruit jams. Anyone want to come be a judge?

Nancy (and others) we would LOVE to have your quilts in the show. It is almost a year away, but I will be posting updates, and will not forget to nag you. I may not go to Tucson to get your quilt (although don't bet against it), but our group would be honored to have this group represented. The show is put on by SKEA (the Society for Kona's Education & Art) in Honaunau, with the help of Aloha Quilters of Kona, Quilt Passions & Discount Fabric Warehouse. Yes Nancy, the Sew & Sews are still around, but so far we haven't been able to convince them to participate actively; I'm still trying.

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The local guild here has a qult show every year in the spring. They do have local judges that was suppose to help those displaying quilts improve their abilities. But, it has become rather competitive and the local judges are just the same as any other quilter...not certified...so some of their comments are more of a personal preference than anything.

I use to enter several of my quilts in this show every year. However, after getting a couple of my prized quilts back with rips in the bindings and some stains, I decided that I wouldn't do it anymore. I found out that the way they put up the quilts was not very good but the take down was awful as some of the ladies, not wanting to wait for a ladder, would just pull on the quilt till it released and then drug it off to the gals folding quilts for pick up. I watched this with my own eyes while waiting for one of my quilts:o I also had a wonderful quilt I put in the show and the ladies hanging quilts decided to take it and wrap it around a corner of the racks to try and save space...I threw a fit over that and they took it down and re-hung the quilt properly.:mad:

So many ladies just don't want to put quilts in shows for the above reason and because the public seem to handle quilts and that makes them dirty or stained. If there were more willing to supervise the public (kids) and make sure that each and every quilt was handle with the utmost care, then there may be more interest in people displaying quilts.

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Oh Laura, your story about how the show volunteers handled your quilts is very distressing to me! I would go ballistic if I saw one of my quilts (or anyone's quilt) being handled in the ways you describe. At the Tucson Quilters Guild annual show, there are usually over 300 quilts and we are VERY respectful when handling them. Entries are submitted in pillowcases to keep them clean during handling & transport. During judging, all the volunteers wear white gloves. White gloved hostesses patrol the aisles at the show to keep spectators from touching the quilts on display and there are DO NOT TOUCH signs about every 10 feet! Set up and take down are more challenging as the volunteers are trying to get it done pronto, but we do not drop the quilts on the floor and they are returned to their pillowcases ASAP after the show. Sounds like your volunteers (and visitors) could benefit from more instruction on how quilts are to handled (or NOT handled). I'm really sorry that you've had such a bad experience and hope it hasn't permanently discouraged you from displaying your handiwork.

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