I go back and forth on whether or not I want to enter shows. I entered Start Struck in the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in 2012 and was totally surprised with an Honorable Mention ribbon. I’ve decided that if I really want to improve my skills that I need to enter quilts just to get some feedback.
I could ask for feedback on the blog but I know you readers are too nice! I’ve read blogs where people asked for honest feedback but even I avoid doing it because you really don’t know if the person is really ready to hear it or if you are commenting on the part they want feedback on. Besides, it’s hard to give feedback from photos. No matter how many detail photos there are, it’s hard to really judge a quilt from photographs.
So at the last minute in March I entered Fractured Fragments in Machine Quilter’s Showcase. I didn’t expect to win a ribbon; I wanted feedback. I didn’t win a ribbon and, based on the winners in the category, that was absolutely right. But I did get some good feedback so it was a small price to pay for some professional feedback.
Different shows have different review processes and I was overall happy with the detail in the MQS review.
Here’s the review sheet for Fractured Fragments. The grades are like what I received in elementary school (excellent, satisfactory and needs improvement). I guess “N” has taken the place of the “U”. I received a “U” is citizenship once. Apparently I couldn’t keep my yap shut during class.
For developing skills I consider all of the “S” scores as areas where I need to improve. I don’t know how to interpret improving “precision of piecing” on a quilt like this so I’ll ignore that one.
On the edge finishing there are 2 areas noted: edges are straight and corners are 90 degrees. I am not surprised by the straight comment. The center is so densely quilted and the border isn’t quite as dense as it should be. I knew that the binding edge was a bit wavy even though I blocked it. I should have added more quilting on the purple border. The corners comment refers to one corner that is a little off. Now I know that perfection is a must!
On the quilting I had 2 areas for improvement: accurate placement of motifs and SID is in the ditch. On the motifs I think it probably refers to the quilting that I did in the purple areas and probably specifically to the arrow points. I bet if I go back and look closely I will see that some of the quilting lines might not be perfectly straight or might not end exactly where they should. I do know that some of the ditch quilting is a tad out of the ditch and there’s a little bobble here and there. I improved a lot on those skills just by doing this quilt and I know to keep working on that.
I was lazy on the starts and stops on this one. I didn’t tie off, I stitched in place and it really shows on the back. Apparently I missed clipping a thread two or to also. I’m looking for them. But this feedback was perfectly honest.
This comment thrilled me along with a comment about the effectiveness of the arrows and spiked border.
So, what am I going to do with this?
Hopefully learn and improve!
I’m working on Lura’s Choice and I can already tell you that it’s not show worthy although I may enter it somewhere just for more feedback. Here’s what I know is “wrong” with it.
- The blocks are sampler blocks and the piecing is NOT perfect. There are a few blunt points.
- The SID is not PERFECT. It’s good, but not great.
- I made a really bad thread choice for the blocks. I’ll show you when it’s done but I realized too late what I had done. I’ll be happy to have this quilt on the wall but I don’t think the back is going to be anything proud of.
But there are some things that are working out on it:
- I am finally developing the habit of tying off instead of stitching in place for my starts and stops.
- Stitching around the shibori fabrics is giving me a lot of practice with appliqué SID and I’m getting better each time.
- I’m developing some solutions for “SID” when a seam is pressed open.
- I will be able to practice quilting consistent motifs when I start doing the background blocks.
I know it’s expensive to send a quilt off to a show and it can hurt to receive criticism but I know I only have a couple of friends who I can trust to give me really honest feedback (Becky and Estelle, I’m talking to you). I consider the entry and shipping fees the equivalent of a private lesson and, when the feedback is thorough enough, it’s worth it.