I became interested in quilting in the 2000 timeframe. (From 2000 to 2003 I had 3 back surgeries and had a lot of time to watch TV while recuperating). During the times I was only able to lay down or walk, I watched every episode of Alex Anderson, who at that time was on PBS with a quilt show every week. I taped all of her shows so that I could take them on the road when we did our winter trip to Arizona. I learned so much from the different quilt Designers and all about fabrics. I met many quilters while we traveled and visited numerous shops. My favorite technique was needle turn applique. Piecing was not my first endeavor with quilting. In 2004 I made my first quilt from a Fons and Port Magazine. The quilt was called Cozy Christmas. At that time Robyn Pandolph had a beautiful line of Christmas fabrics available and she was one of the top Designers! I made that quilt using Robyn’s fabrics but is has never been quilted. I still laugh at myself, as I knew how to sew, BUT there is a definite difference between ‘sewing garments’ and ‘quilting a quilt’.
By 2005, I decided that I would make quilts to enter into Quilt Shows for the purpose of learning how to become a more proficient quilter. I had to have a purpose to make all of them and entering quilt shows would be it! I entered in the New Braunfels Quilt show and I won a 3rd place for 2 of the quilts I entered. In 2005 I had purchased a Handi-Quilter long arm with a stitch regulator and NO computerized quilting. Being one who hates to practice anything – my motto – just do it so I did! I had made a Mariner’s Compass to enter into the show (the first and last quilt that I have ever paperpieced) and I quilted it with a meandering stitch (free motion). I will never forget what the Judge told me after the show – “You need to rip out the meandering and have it Custom Quilted – if it had been Custom Quilted you would have had Best of Show”. I politely told her ‘no’ that I would not do that.
Longarm quilting was just coming into the quilting world and a lot of the quilters were sending there quilts out for ‘custom’ work. ME? I was going to do my own. Why would I pay someone to quilt a quilt that I had made and if I did, how could I say that I made the quilt. (My philosophy was if I was to take credit for making a quilt, then I would do it all!) I have shown in New Braunfels, San Antonio, Tucson, Sierra Vista quilt shows and have won 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places with my quilts. No bragging, just showing that my little ole’ Handi Quilter carried me through other shows and I won ribbons.
In 2013, I had 6 large quilt tops that needed quilting and I just wanted them quilted Edge to Edge (or pantograph). This would get me caught up with all of those tops hanging around. In addition, I had 3 quilts custom quilted! Now that cost me to have those tops done – 9 in all! But to me it was worth it, until I learned another hard lesson. Some professional long arm quilters are just not as proficient as others.
If you follow my Blog, you are aware that from 2014 until mid-year last year things did not go very well and I was not as productive finishing UFOs or getting quilts quilted! In 2018, I was bound and determined to finish all of my UFO projects (exception were the applique quilt UFOs) and I have accomplished that goal. I have 3 or 4 quilts ready to enter into the San Antonio Show this September. I have 2 quilt tops ready for Custom quilting, and then I had a brainy idea to have 7 additional quilt tops done Edge to Edge, to AGAIN get me caught up.
Remember, I have a long arm and am capable of quilting a few different styles of meandering (free motion because my Handi Quilter is not computerized and won’t ever be). I had found a quilter who would Custom Quilt York Lodge and Brinton Hall and I was on her list for April and May. On Tuesday a phone call came in and she advised me she had too many quilts to do and could not do mine. OK end of that story. I have another quilter lined up to do my custom work.
In looking for a long arm quilter (things have certainly changed since 2013) I have found out that prices have really gone up. After I was dropped off the first quilters list I had to really have a serious talk with myself. I feel that York Lodge and Brinton Hall will be highly competitive to place at a show. I have always wanted to make a quilt that could be competitive for the Best of Show. I have figured out (and this was confirmed by one of the quilters I spoke with) that no longer do the Judges look at the Quilter’s work for precision, color, or complexity first, NO it is the long arm quilter’s quilting!
How things have changed. The first thing I did was to measure all 7 of the Edge to Edge quilts and at $.03 a square inch that would about to close to $700.00. Then I estimated how much it would cost to quilt my to custom quilts – I figured I was looking at close to $1,000.00 for the 2 quilts maybe more. I was getting close to almost $2,000.00 to have 9 quilts quilted.
It doesn’t take a fool too long to realize that, ‘hey idiot, you can quilt the Edge to Edge yourself’ and save that money. I use to quilt all my quilts as I made them but that was before 2014! I know that I cannot do the custom quilting that would make my 2 quilts competitive for a Blue or a Best of Show award so there will be a cost incurred on those. The cost for Edge to Edge can range from $0.15 to $0.05 per square inch – even that can become expensive.
So here is how I made the decision. Horse Judging and Quilt Show Judging are the same – CRAP SHOOTS! The horse can break a leg, have a bad day, or just not be good enough. A lot of $$$ spent on raising those horses to get them to the race! I spent a lot of money on my ‘hobby’ and it took time to make the 2 quilts that I feel are going to be competitive, BUT all Judges are different and one never knows what they are really looking for. Therefore, I will not go to the most expensive quilter, but someone who is more reasonable and if the Judge thinks my quilts warrant a Ribbon so be it – if NOT – then so be it. The public loves looking at the hard work that has been put into making quilts.
I do know that critical elements are the quilt top construction, color, technique used, and now they want the back to compliment the quilt top. This equates to more dollars to finish the quilt! And if they are wanting every inch of the quilt quilted so that it can walk into the Show on its own, count me out of that group. I want my Show quilts to be quilted pretty, but not overly done.
Yesterday I fired up my Handi Quilter and did some practicing! I have 2 baby quilts to quilt and one is already loaded and ready to be quilted! Let the quilting begin tomorrow!
Thanks for listening to my experience in showing quilts in a Judged Quilt Show. Have a great day!