02 August 2009

This Takes the Cake

One of the small quilt groups that I belong to (and I am not going to name names no matter how much you beg) likes to make a donation quilt every year, enter it into the county fair and then donate it after the fair. The quilt this year is a cute child's quilt.

Warning: rant ahead!

But the quilt is definitely not show/fair worthy and I am speaking from a judge's standpoint. This quilt has quality problems. I volunteered to put on the binding that was made by another member. The binding was made from torn pieces commingled with cut pieces and they all were stretched out of shape when it was ironed -- not pressed. The whole binding was one ess-curve after another before I tamed it into submission.

The highly visible portions of the quilt should get it marked down:
• the green stem is visible under the applique. Someone was lazy and did not cut the stem to fit and tuck just the edges under the flowers like one should with applique, but just ran one long length and then slapped the flowers on top.
• the buttonhole stitching is sloppy; a zig-zag stitch would have worked much better.
• the appliques had no quilting so that when the quilt is turned over there are big puffy areas surrounded by dense quilting (and this was a long armer who did this).


So back to the binding. As I was putting the final stitches into the binding I kept wondering how I could get out of having my name associated with this quilt. I was embarrassed by the quality. Monday morning the quasi-leader (and I call her that because even though she is not the leader of the group she is the power behind the throne) came by my work place to pick up the quilt. She told me that only one quilt per group could be entered into the fair and so the other quilt (that was done by three members of the group) will be the group quilt and this quilt, the one that everyone (all 12 members) worked on will be entered under her and the leader's names since they did the majority of the work. Say what? They appliqued the floral strips, period.

On the one hand I was glad that I would not be associated with the quilt. On the other hand I felt like I, and the other 9 women, had been slapped in the face by being told that the two of them were the ones that did the most work.

I have been considering leaving this group because I have been unhappy with it for quite a while. This instance just sealed the decision.

Okay, rant over.

I wrote the rant above on Tuesday this past week. Yesterday I went to the fair. The quilt pictured above received an Honorable Mention and the other quilt garnered a Second Place. I am now wondering about the judge.


  1. I am guessing someone knew "someone". I will say, however, that I have seen quilts in magazines and books that I would have hung my head in shame had I been the quilter.

  2. You have very validate feelings and maybe this is the perfect time to step away from the group. Leave on a high note, life is too short and there are other groups out there you probably will enjoy more.

  3. I remember when my daughter was in 4-H and entered crafts in the county fair. An early lesson for her was that the judges have bias. And some judges have higher standards than others. And sometimes the judges selected because they are available.

    (I really enjoy your blog! I decided to visit my sister in Ft. Collins in three weeks after I saw your post on the RM quilt show!)

  4. Yea, walk away. That's just silly behavoir and you have better thigns to do with your time.

  5. These are the things that leave a quilter just shaking her head in wonder. Time to pack up your thimble and move on to greener pastures *S*

  6. If a group is no longer enjoyable, it is time to move on...that's what it is all about, right?
    Sounds like the 'fix' was in!

  7. Sadly, this seems to be a common refrain, and it's exactly why I don't DO groups for anything, ever. Definitely sounds like it's time to go.

    Just out of curiosity, which quilt gets donated? If it's the original, at least you have the satisfaction of knowing your work went to a good cause!

  8. It is a shame that there is drama in a creating groups also. It always saddens me. Yes time to move on.
    The quilt is pretty.
    Take care

  9. A local group had a night where you could go and see what it was like. As soon as my friends & I walked in we could see that they were separted into a couple of "cliques". No one said hello except the woman who took our $5. at the door. Five bucks was the "special rate" for one time entry. I wuld have happily paid more to see a cohesive group of pleasant women who were welcoming. So we remain just us 3 sans attitude.
    Go where your talent will be appreciated.

  10. Too long but ...regarding County Fairs - Last year I was asked to be a quilt judge at the County Fair - not the 4-H part but... I said I only knew about quilts, but ended up embroidery, painting on fabric, photos, ceramics, and a bunch of other rather horrible (IMHO) items. Thank goodness no sheep or pigs were involved!

    My instructions were to give EVERYONE a ribbon - either a First or Second. Some of the items were truly wonderful, many others appear to be something "drug" from under the bed, used, stained, totally awful (IMHO). It was difficult to give a ribbon to some. I still remember some of them and wonder, "what were they thinking, entering this in the fair?". But the fair is trying HARD to encourage all people to participate so ...

    I learned later that some of the embroidery was made by ladies in the Sr. Citizen Care center. Fabric and threads were donated. Then I was embarassed with my opinionated comments to friends.

    I was feeling very 'snooty' for having the standards I have, with my many books, classes, Internet connections, I have a car to drive to shops, etc, whereas there were others less fortunate, without these advantages.

    They did NOT ask me to judge this year -- maybe my comments were not appreciated!

    Regarding the comment from JAN - Yes, it's not easy to find judges - probably because many of the submittals are not of quality so they won't return.

    This answers part of your post. As to the group? I would gently no longer participate - there may be others who have the same thoughts. I also did some rather mediocre work on a quilt that I thought was going to be thrown over a couch in a boys group home, but was raffled off for all the world to see!!! Had I known that, I'd done a better job. 8-(

    One more thing, I am surprised that really good sewists and quilters occasionally have huge gaps in their expertise - for whatever reason, they just don't know some things! It comes as such a surprise to the other more knowledgeable quilts, that 'correcting' them (teaching) is kinda shocking and embarrassing.

  11. I gave up on Fairs years ago when I entered a knitted jacket. Irish knit top with a intarsai pattern on the bottom band. Complete with knitted belt.

    When I took it in the person accepting the items looked at me and said "are you sure you made this?"

    "Well, of course I did." was my reply. Since I was going anyway I took to hastily done crewel pictures.

    My sweater got no ribbon. The only other item in the knit division was a knit cap. Not even knit in the round but on the flat and sewn together quite sloppily. The top had something that looked like a pom pom that was developing into a tassel........ That won a blue ribbon. As did my poor little crewel pieces........ I knew then that the judges were either on medication. Never entered anything again.

  12. Paula,
    Quilting should be fun and part of the fun comes when you are with a group who you enjoy their company. It doesn't sound like much fun to me - mostly frustrating so, if it were me, then I would choose to no longer belong to that group- its not worth the headaches. I am sure you will find a group that fits with you. Sorry to hear that you've had to deal with such unpleasantness. As for judging, there is often an element of bias - it doesn't make sense and is very unfortunate.
    You are a lovely quilter and knitter- quality and doing it right are important to you. You will find others with the same viewpoint. Hang in there.

  13. Controlling people like the quasi0leader suck the life out of you. Run far, far away. And yes, the judges must be on drugs. Or, I may just be out of touch with "modern" quilting techniques. I know that the first time I saw raw-edge machine applique (the kind where you applique with a decorative stitch, not even covering the cut edge) I winced. So, to some people, this might be prize-worthy.

  14. Eliane Adair gave you very good advice. I would take it if I were you.
    Thanks for putting your time in, but wave goodbye.

  15. And that is the reason I don't "do" groups anymore. Not that I am any better than anyone else or that my work is but if I am going to take the time to work on something, I am going to do the best that I can do. If they don't want to, so be it. If that is the best they can do, then so be it. Life is too short to be working on projects that I neither enjoy or even like. Run away with sneakers on.....they probably won't notice as much.

  16. well ranting is good for a person sometimes, so I'm glad you let it out! now, life is too short to be in a group that makes you feel like that. come on over to Wisconsin and you can play in the worlds smallest quilt guild, we'll open up for you!

  17. People don't change much and will do this same "mess" again -- I for one don't see a reason to get flustered or aggrivated by this group and would disassociate myself from it as soon as possible... Make your own donation quilt and take the blue ribbon next year!

  18. This is the downside with groups. And I must confess I've run into it, batted heads with it, left and come back again, with it. It's the whole human nature and interaction part of groups of any kind. Even the ones that I belong to now...this stuff happens. And the judging part...well, you know my opinion on that one ;) You survived the experience and you saw a lot of points of view. And you were super brave to post about it. (may I assume those involved don't read your blog?;)

    But, yes it's amazing when it not only 'takes the cake' but that cake still wins a prize!

  19. All quilters work differently and have different levels of work standards. When working on a team quilt, always expect the unexpected. That happened to me also when I worked on a raffle quilt. If you are not happy with this group now, you will not be in the future. Perhaps it is time to move on and revisit the group a few years down the road to see if you or they have changed.