Now, there are a lot of different ways to judge a quilt, fairly complex judging rubrics are used in juried shows. There are different categories for kids, new quilters, teachers or professionals. Then of course there are sub-categories of theme and technique. Once within a particular category, there are a number of qualities a quilt can be judged on, overall appearance, piecing, stitching, borders, etc. etc. I have no desire to get that involved in evaluating quilts... but I did want to share with you examples of what I consider really great quilts... and not so great quilts.
Next up is the D quality quilt. At this level, the basics of quilting are understood if not especially well executed. Here is my very first quilt, for example, one that I am extremely proud of, and quite happy to grade as a D for... "Doin' ok"
But the actual sewing & quilting is fairly weak. You can't spot it from a prancing pony (another method of judging a quilt), but the corners don't match up, the lines are uneven and the binding is machine sewn. So let's call it a C for "Charming", it's got some pros, it's got some cons. One of my better quilts so far.
Here are a couple of quilts I saw in shows... I'd give them all B for "Beautiful"
The designs and fabrics work well together. The technical aspects are well executed. The quilting is generally more involved than 'stitch in the ditch' . And although there's a standard quilt pattern used - there's a lot of individual expression.
This is the level to which I aspire... and feel like I could acheive if I didn't try to rush through my quilt projects.
Now these are the grade A "Absolutely Amazing" quilts. When I see a quilt of this level, I usually stop and stare for quite a while.
In addition to the above qualities of good fabric & design & quilting, there's an added level of technical difficulty and artistic expression. (wait... that's ice skating isn't it. ;) )
Above and beyond the Grade A quilts there are quilts that are just breathtaking. Quilts that I can't believe a real person actually made. If I were to create a grade for them it would be O, for "OMG!" although "Off the charts." or "Outstanding" would be appropriate too.
Take, for example, this open-work masterpiece:
I litterally gasped when I saw this one, and spent several minutes examining each block, and standing back to get the overall picture. Open-work, as it was explained to me, means the red fabric is under the white, the white gets snipped away, and sewn down to create the patterns. I'm pretty sure this was all hand quilted. Each of these blocks was probably about 5 inches square (I'm totally guessing) so that gives an idea of the intricacy involved.
I was in awe.And then there's this quilt... I never had the pleasure of seeing it in person, but admired it on a couple different websites.
It's called "Little Cities", created by Kathy York, and won an International Quilt Show award. This is among the best of the best quilts around.
Which brings me back around to evaluating my own humble attempts at quilting. I know that I will never put in the time & effort required to acheive an Off the charts, Outstanding quilt like one of these. And I will probably need several years more experience, and perhaps the benefit of a class or two, before I create an Amazing quilt. But if I put a little more care & attention into my quilts I could realistically make some Beautiful quilts that I would be proud to display in a show. For now though, dividing my time, effort, and attention between several activities... I'm quite happy to be producing Charming quilts that will keep me (or a few lucky children) warm & cozy.