I recently sent a couple of my quilts off to Quilt Con – the first Modern Quilt Guild National Conference for the quilt show there.  I’ve never submitted a quilt for a formal juried show and I was nervous but excited.  I submitted two quilts into the show and was delighted when they were accepted to be part of the show.

The first was a small applique quilt I made as part of a swap.  It’s one of my favorites!

Secret Dreams

And the second was a Zig Zag Twin size quilt I designed and made as part of a QAL here on my blog.

I wasn’t able to be at Quilt Con myself.  The cost was prohibitive for me and I frankly needed that time to sew.  But it sounds like lots of people there had a great time.  And they helped keep Austin weird. 😉

I couldn’t see my own quilts in the show and lived vicariously through the pictures people took of the quilt show.  It was great fun to see all the quilts.

And then, the awards started coming out.  It was quickly clear that I was NOT a winner.  That’s okay.  Seriously.  I was fine.  I did have some hmm? moments about some of the winners but I chalked some of that up to not seeing the quilts in person.  I put that behind me and focused on my current work and the fun time I was having with some quilty friends in Atlanta that weekend instead.

Today I opened the box with my returned quilts from the show, excited to read the judges comments on my quilts.   Excitement quickly dwindled to confusion and then to heart ache as I read what they thought of my work.

Let me preface this by saying I do not know who the judges were and I DO NOT think that they were saying anything about me, Angela Pingel.  I feel that they were talking about my work.  And it’s awfully hard to distinguish that from myself but I’m working on it.  I feel no animosity towards the judges…I’m just sharing my experience with my first juried show.


This quilt… a little piece of me for sure, was unoffensive to them but definitely not their cup of tea.  They found nothing extraordinary about it and it was described as being “overly personal”.

Confusion.  Isn’t quilting about being personal?  Isn’t this about taking a piece of ourselves and putting it out there?  Is Modern Quilting just graphic images and straight lines at wonky angles?  I didn’t think so before this, but now I’m not sure.  There was no mention of the detail or work it took to make this.  Did I make it look too easy? lol  Because trust me.  It wasn’t.

So whatever.  Obviously not to their taste.  So I opened the letter to read about my zig zag quilt.  And my heart sank.


They pretty much hated everything about this one.  They didn’t like my fabric choices…thought they should be “more special”.  They DID NOT like the binding fabric – apparently it cut off the design of the quilt. ???  The quilting did nothing for them.  Apparently it did not accent the design of the quilt.  And the kicker.  They said it had NO VISUAL IMPACT.  They said it was not particularly modern (It was in the modern traditionalism category) nor original.


I’ve got to admit.  That was really hard for me to hear.  I cried a few tears and tried to understand what they would want.  I didn’t EVER think that my zig zag quilt had a chance in hell of winning anything.  I even joked with friends that I thought my quilt was accepted in order to make it obvious that their quilts should win (I think I was right on that).  But I didn’t realize that by entering it I was opening myself to this type of critique.  I want to have a conversation with them and explain that the fabrics were deliberately chosen to highlight the pattern and not the fabrics.  That the quilting was difficult and done by me on a conventional machine using 17 bobbins.  I thought that the juxtaposition of the large pebbles was interesting against the straight lines of the zig zag.

I wasn’t expecting puppies and rainbows but I don’t want to feel like it wasn’t worth their time.  Why did they accept it in the first place?  But most of all I struggle with the fact that they (whoever they are) have made me ASHAMED of my work.

I’ll recover.  I’ll move on, scarred but stronger.  It will certainly take a lot for me to ever enter a competition like this again.  I’d like to think I can take criticism but maybe I can’t.  I don’t have any other experience with juried shows so maybe this is what they are all like.  Regardless, they are not the place for me.  I feel less like I belong than ever before.

*shutting down the comments so we can all move on.  Please feel free to email me if you have further concerns.  I’m doing well and I will be happily sewing in the future.*

208 thoughts on “Judged”

  1. douchebags I tell you.
    maybe I shouldn't type that in the open comments, but I get defensive like that for my friends.
    It's a zig-zag quilt — it's fun and fresh! It seems like they had to work to say something bad about it!

  2. I've been sewing for only about a year. Your applique quilt was so powerful to me – it was one of the very first quilts I pinned and tipped me over the edge from appreciating quilting to wanting to learn it myself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Your work has been powerful to me.

    1. Nice! And nice of you to leave that comment, because I bet that's worth a lot to her. I'm newer too, and I find Angela inspirational too. In fact, I bugged her to help me with some pillow construction a while back, after seeing that insane swap pillow that has to be on my Top 10 list.

    2. That mini quilt is probably my favorite of all time too !

      And YES quilting is all about being personal !
      Don't be hard on yourself because you liked those quilts and we all did !

  3. I can tell you that from some of the pictures I have seen coming from Quiltcon, your quilts (yes both of them) are a lot more visually pleasing. Fabric is beautiful, and your heart and soul are in both of them. Don't be discouraged, your are a very talented young lady. As I have heard many times at beauty pagents, that is one group of judges opinions, on one day. It could be a whole different set of opinions on another day with different judges. Heads up!!!!

  4. I am so sad for you, Angela. I have been following your blog for about 2 years now and I just love your work and think you are a fantastic quilter and very creative person. My mom is an amazing quilter as well and has entered a few juried shows and lived similar experiences. She won't enter juried shows anymore. The judges just don't seem to get it. I hope you can learn something from this experience but that you will continue creating and inspiring so many of us.

  5. I know its hard to hear positive things when the criticism is ringing so loudly in your ears, but I admire both of your quilts so much, especially the mini-quilt. It really speaks to me of dreaming and imagination. I can't work out whether the figure is a girl or a woman, but I think that's a really clever part of the quilt – that we never quite forget the things we loved as children. And your zig-zag quilt is great – I don't know what those judges were looking for!

  6. Gosh, the Modern Quilt Police are not very nice. I've heard that traditional judges are encouraged to make at least one positive comment on each quilt. I love your quilts, especially the wallhanging. The zig-zag quilt is a wow. I've been quilting a long time, longarm quilting 13 years, and like all kinds of quilts. Do what you love – it shines in your quilts.

  7. I'm sorry 🙁 In my quilting group comments like that come from people we refer to as "Quilt Nazis" – they have one idea in their mind of how a quilt should look, but there is no room for exceptions. I love the zigzag quilt, but I especially love your applique piece!! Don't be disheartened – you do amazing work. Feel the love!

  8. My goodness! I'm sorry for your pain.

    If you need a lift and want to laugh, maybe this will help. Earlier today, while searching around the internet for a zig zag quilt pattern, I found yours and I fell in love with it. I REALLY loved your fabric choices because I thought they were understated and let THE PATTERN speak to me. As I started pulling from my stash, I decided that I had what I needed except for the binding. I love the striped binding and think that it pulls everything together in such a fun way. I haven't give the quilting much thought yet, but I really doubt I will do anything like yours because quite honestly, I just don't want to spend so much time on it.

    It's funny, but of all the other zig zag quilts I saw in my web search (and I saw ALOT), yours just popped off the screen and screamed at me. I guess you're wishing that I had been one of the judges, aren't you. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing so much of your talent with us every day!

  9. I am so sorry that you had such a negative experience. Your quilts – both of them – were wonderful works and have been so inspirational to many. Like another commenter said, your mini is one of the first works that caused me to look at Quilting in a different light. It IS special!!! I still don't know how you created it – amazing workmanship!

    I have been a judge for children's computer/media projects and I have been shocked at the mean things that co-judges want to write on these children's evaluation forms. I quickly devised a plan – sit down and grab that pencil so I could control the message that was being sent to the creators. I always made sure to leave constructive steps to improve the project, but also pointed out the strong points. To this day, I don't know why those women wanted to be so harsh. Perhaps by squashing things that weren't like "theirs", they thought they were elevating their own point of view. Not a satisfying answer.

    Keep creating for yourself, your family and your readers. You are so creative and inspiring. I thought Modern Quilting was a reaction against this kind of judging mindset… maybe it should be.

  10. Well, I can go on and on about how inspirational, meticulous, creative, and thoughtful you are. People that do know you in real life think you are amazing, but I know you in real life and know that you are even more amazing than that! This just reminds me of the popular kids on the playground picking on the smart kids.

  11. I was excited to see your appliqué quilt " in person" and you should be proud of it. If it isn't modern and personal, I really don't understand the modern quilt world. I saw alot of personal quilts, making statements, so I'm so sorry you were judged so harshly. Quilting should be about personal enjoyment. Keep up your work. You have admirers out in blogland.

  12. I am not ashamed to admit that a whole string of curse words come to mind about this. The whole thing takes away from what I think the whole POINT of the MQG was about. Not to mention the fact that they were clearly smoking crack. When I saw the winners of the show and some of the other 'notables' it was immediately clear to me that the MQG is not going in the same direction as I am. "Taking themselves WAYYYYYYYY too seriously" came to mind again and again. I've never had the desire to put my quilts in a show and this absolutely confirms it. I'll echo that first comment: douchebags.

    Your zigzag quilt is wonderful and that applique piece? Still one of my favorites. So wonderfully original and PERSONAL and beautiful.

    This is a terribly written comment and gets nothing out the way I want it, but my blood is boiling over this. And I don't even know you! I know if it was me, I would have cried. It would sting. I would want to throw up every time I thought about it. And that bugs the ever loving daylights out of me because it's just so wrong. Both the criticism itself and the fact that they felt they had the right to provide it. They can keep their 'Modern' with a capital 'pretentious.' Me? I just want to make pretty quilts.

  13. Good Lord…I thought that the quilt police had been fired. Forget it. Obviously they were totally full of themselves at being judges at Quiltcon. So full of their important role that they forgot how to be people. Let it go and carry on.

  14. I pretty much just want to echo what everyone else is saying. I think both of your quilts are super awesome and I think it is really cool that you were brave enough to put them out there in the world. I am frankly shocked at the totally inaccurate critiques. I will just say what my Mom used to say of some people, "All of their taste is in their mouths."

  15. Well, I was at QuiltCon–there to see my own quilt hanging and honored that one of the three I submitted was chosen. But I was also there to learn and to be inspired by the works of others. Your little quilt spoke to me and like many others who commented, I return to your blog time and again because there's just so much here to inspire me. I hope that you are able to put this behind you and move on–eventually back to juried shows. (although we would all understand if you didn't for a while)

    I haven't unpacked my quilt or read the comments, but I now know to steel myself against the pain. I wish, however, that I could have gotten something different than this pain from your post: that the judges had seen your quilts for what they are–beautiful works that obviously are part of you. It hurts to read these comments. Surely the judges could have given you some constructive criticism or something useful. Again, try to move on: your quilts are amazing and beautiful!

  16. OK, deep breath 🙂 (for me, LOL) I attend multiple quilt shows every year (Road To California on down to locals). I can honestly tell you that I have never (not one single time) thought the "winning" quilt at any show, in any category was THE one that deserved it. Not knocking the winners, AT ALL, but I do think that the judges (very, very) often allow personal taste and preferences into the judging. With that said, when I attend these shows I spend a lot of time looking at the actual quilts. At Road To CA this year I actually heard two judges discussing a quilt I was looking at. The quilts had already been judged and this quilt had no ribbon. They were talking about the flaws in the quilt (color choices, placement of items on the quilt, it was a scenic quilt depicting an underwater scene) and I must have heard each one of them start at least 3 sentences with "If I had done it, I would have…". I often feel like they have no way to remove the personal and simply judge. A little dose of 100% pure honesty here…That little mini is one of my ALL time favorite quilts. Seriously. Doesn't mean it is the best quilt out there or the worst. It means I LOVE it. This is why I could never judge any quilt. Maybe entering judged shows isn't your thing. Maybe an outdoor quilt show? I met the gal who did the art quilt I was looking at. She was quietly standing there watching people soak in her art. I knew from the look on her face who she was. We talked for a while. She came to the conclusion that she did not want her expression of her vision judged. I got an email from her a few weeks ago. She put the same quilt into a non juried show and stood and watched and listened…and did not hear a single negative thing…even though no one knew who she was. Keep your faith in yourself.They didn't like it. I do. They don't have to be accountable for their words. Easy to put your opinion out there when you don't have to answer for it or explain it. Someone (me, LOL) thinks that little quilt is one of their very favorite! Own that.

  17. I've only been making quilts for a little over a year now, and I enjoy your blog tremendously. I love your quilts. I think the judges were ludicrous. Quilts are supposed to be personal. Any type of art in any form is. Anything that you put time and effort into is personal. All of my quilts are personal, so much so that sometimes I have trouble giving them away, even when they were made for other people! So just know that more people LOVE your quilts than those who don't. Those quilts are your vision, and don't let any one else's comments diminish your vision!

  18. I wondered the same thing as you when I saw some of the winning quilts. I'm not sure what exactly makes a "modern" quilt, but you have lots of fans, Angela. We love your style and your designs. You are extremely talented!

  19. I think you were very brave to put your quilts out there, and I'm sad for you that there wasn't any positive feedback at all. I loved your applique quilt from the first time I saw it. I have always thought it was a lovely, fresh, and "modern" approach to applique. If the judges didn't see the value in your quilts, I know you've got a lot of followers out here that definitely did. You belong. You're a quilt-maker amongst other quilt-makers who know the love, time, personality, and attention that go into each of our creations.

  20. I'm really sorry about that, now I know even if I'm ever more confident in my skills, I don't think I'd gamble attempting to enter. Since personal taste is so subjective it's just about a crime that positive comments aren't included for each piece too. I thought your binding was a PERFECT choice for the zig zag quilt, and I sure know that negative criticism without explanation of why they thought what they did, isn't useful or positive for the community as a whole.

    I'm glad i follow your blog and get to see your work, because I want to, it's lovely stuff!

  21. Wow, Angela, my heart hurts for you. This quilt, when you shared it in Blogger's Quilt Festival, was so stunning and received so many rave reviews, and then to hear this review is just heart wrenching. Please know that we, your friends, think it is stunning. It is for this very reason why I do not enter contests or even try to sell patterns. Quilting is personal for me and it will always be. Your work is amazing and as you well know, people are mean. You have received so many great and encouraging comments here and on IG…please continue exactly what you are doing because you continue to inspire me and many others.

  22. My personal opinion and of course I am no expert nor judge and I'm not just saying this…….
    I think the mini quilt is gorgeous! I can tell through the pics how much heart and time u put into designing and making it! It is very unique, original, and beautiful!
    The zig zag quilt is beautiful as well! I love how the colors show off the design of the zig zags! I cant really tell too much about the quilting in the pic tho.
    Don't let them get u down! Just keep doing what u do and be proud of it! If I ever make anything as beautiful as u I will consider myself a damn good quilter!!!!!

  23. I'm flabbergasted. They didn't say anything positive?? I feel very, very sad. Both of your quilts are LOVELY. The appliqued one wowed me when I first saw it last year. I loved the fact that it was so happy and so PERSONAL I love color and your zig-zag one was awesome — including your rainbow binding. Please don't get discouraged. You deserve to be proud of your work and your acceptance into QuiltCon. We love you!

  24. I'm no judge but I really like both your quilts. I think judging would be really difficult because each quilt is so different and it's just up to personal preference. I think their comments on your quilts were wrong. Even if they felt that way they were not constructive.
    I would never be as brave as you getting a quilt judged. I believe quilts are personal and as long as I love it that's all that matters.
    You should be proud of yourself taking a big step and putting yourself out there.

  25. I was at Quiltcon and saw all of the beautiful quilts. I was personally was questioning what were the perimeters/expectations that the judges used as criteria. All I can tell you is that there were 2 judges and the comments are those 2 people's opinions. Your quilts and all the others hanging in the show were seen by hundreds of people. These quilts made people think, made people have intense conversations, made people smile, and made people want to create for themselves. Be sad for just a little while, but don't let this one experience ruin your passion of creating and sharing your joy with others.

    1. So right, so right, so right. There are a lot of great comments above this one. Lots of golden nuggets of encouragement and wisdom.

      Your quilts, your designs, your voice are very inspirational to quite a lot of people — more than you will ever know. Don't let two people silence that voice. Don't let two humans, imperfect and flawed and opinionated and "educated", affect what you are doing, what you are creating, who you are inspiring.

      Like Lisa said, and others above, your quilts have made people believe in themselves as quilters. Your blog has opened up a whole new world for many. If you were to enter those same two pieces in another juried/judged show, they might both win first prize because the judges would be different.

      Try not to feel like you don't belong. We all feel that way sometimes — probably even the leadership themselves! Believe in yourself and know that your place is right where you are, touching the lives and creativity of so many.

      (PS – I got one of those hateful judging sheets, too)

  26. My best friend is an incredibly talented sketch artist. She can look at any landscape, person, still life, and render it beautifully (and perfectly) on paper. In college, however, she was constantly critiqued by the art professors because her work was a little too "inside the box." One went so far as to say that she would never be a "real" artist unless she learned to let go of her "tragic attachment to realism." Thankfully, she refused to stray from the work she loves, and her work has grown richer and more beautiful for it.

    I'd encourage you not to take the QuiltCon critiques too much to heart. We all make art for different reasons. The folks whose work was lauded at QuiltCon have likely spent many years developing an aesthetic that just happens to fit the criteria set by the judges for this show. You have spent a lifetime making beautiful things for the people you love. The fact that your work doesn't happen to fit their predetermined rubric can't take away the joy, warmth and whimsy that make your pieces so special. Nor should it diminish how you feel about your work. Keep doing what you're doing, and loving what you're doing, for yourself and the people you love. That's what really matters. There are any number of standards by which our work will be judged when we bravely share it with the world. If we're lucky, we "take home the hardware" for the ones that count.

  27. OH my!! I think quilting is sort of like figure skating in this regard. A lot of it is about being in the clique. It is too bad. A couple of years ago I entered the Brown Bag quilt challenge. The participants sent each other ugly fabrics from their stash and we had to make a quilt using 90% of the fabric. We could add from our own stash and buy one fabric as well. I received fabrics that weren't "ugly" necessarily but they were not my taste and were difficult fabrics – directional and such. I put together a fantastic quilt with them – it really is, and I was quite proud. I didn't even get many comments on it. Those who won had received current-at-the-time designer fabrics that couldn't possibly be called ugly and they had made traditional patterned quilts. I decided then that quilting competition was not for me. I hope that you can find a way not to let this hurt you so… I loved your applique quilt from the first moment I saw it. So cute, so creative, so much of you in it. And the zig-zag is fabulous too. Not so much my taste but lovely.

  28. I personally would have given you ribbons over several other quilts I have seen that won. You work is: extremely creative, expressive, and your quilts are wonderfully personal. You are talented. I would own the judges comments. Take it as a compliment that you do not meet their style. I believe quilts should have feeling or heart. As in most art, you should be able to see the quilter or artist in their work. I think the modern quilt world is trending towards the more sterile designs. They are more akin to architecture than art. Architecture can be art but is usually not as cohesive with the world surrounding it. My favorite quilts are not at odds with their surroundings. They brighten a room, warms the soul, and belong. That is just my two cents.

  29. Wow! I read all the previous comments and have to agree with them all, so I won't say it again.
    I've also read comments elsewhere from people who were almost devastated that their quilts weren't accepted! I think the fact that yours were accepted would be enough for the judges to hold back on their personal criticisms. It almost sounds like they were making excuses for their winning choices.
    As you can see, you have many fans. Don't second-guess yourself! Us smart people love your quilts and you should, too!

  30. Hi Angela
    I know from my own experience that letting this is go is harder than one would hope. I was at Quilt Con and had a wonderful time, but was totally confused regarding the judging. You are talented and do wonderful work.

  31. Oh HUGS!!!! That is just awful. For the record, I LOVE your work and enjoy seeing your beautiful quilts. What a terrible thing to receive in the mail. Of COURSE quilting is personal, so much so that I feel like I am giving away a little piece of me each time ones leaves my home. xo

  32. Yikes…I may have to leave the country then when my quilt critique from QuiltCon finally makes it here as you are waaaaay better at precision and perfect construction than me. Personally, I'd rather they ditch the critique bit and send me the rather nice goody bag ( that those who went to QuiltCon got) by way of a 'thank you' for sending a quilt as without the likes of us there would have been no quilt show in the first place! Keep your chin up 🙂

    1. For the money spent sending the quilt I expected to get one of those nice "I have a quilt at quiltcon" ribbons I kept seeing people with in pics. Instead I got a little to sweet of a critique except for where they commented I should have used more diverse fabrics instead of from one line. It was a Habitat challenge quilt! I was supposed to use the fabrics I was given?! This same quilt was judged at a traditional show and was hung so it drug 1/3 on the floor and criticized that quilt lines should be straight. I organically quilted it and get my ART off the floor. Oh well I enter just to share my work and not for the opinions of judges.

    2. you should absolutely have got a ribbon – they were giving them out at registration, and were intending to post them back with the quilts for people who didn't attend. Not sure what happened. As for the goodie bags, they were reserved for super volunteers or those who spent more than (I think) $400 on classes etc.

  33. angela, I am SO disheartened to read this — I loved your mini and have your chevron tagged in my "someday" list of want to makes! I loved following along when you were in the moda challenge and i think you are an amazingly talented woman and quilter!! I'm so sad to have read this and so sad to hear that your first experience was so negative. I sincerely hope this doesnt affect your quilting and your ideas because they are both amazing!! Ironically, when I saw "best in show" I was supposed that such a traditional design, had won it, its different, but not my cup of tea for sure. It's a shame they couldnt be more objective with the jurying process.. To be accepted to quiltcon was an amazing accomplishment, dont let this stop you!!! Keep your head up, i'm excited to see where you go from here, I support you!!!

  34. Thank you for sharing and I hope you recover soon. I love most of the projects you do and so do many others so just do what you love and don't care about those shows.

  35. Angela, you are an amazing and talented quilter. It takes a person a whole lot stronger than I am to get that kind of criticism and not shed a few tears of frustration and hurt.

    Honestly, although quilters in general are nice people, there is a certain snobbishness that I've felt. There's the "cool" crowd and then the rest of us. I'm always just a bit behind the current trend, and I don't mind. It still smarts when you're work is deemed wanting by some stranger. And there ought to be a certain level of professionalism. They could try to find something complimentary to say – that's just good manners of you ask me. I'm not saying blow sunshine. But they really couldn't find anything nice to say? Then they aren't real quilters, because REAL quilters are kind and can find something nice to say.

    As I am a REAL quilter, I will tell you that I love the thought and detail that went in to your mini quilt. It is like a little mini work of art. As for your zig zag quilt, well, it's on my someday list.

    Chin up!

  36. From what I've read from those who I know went to Quiltcon or participated in the show, it was bittersweet for many. I got the impression that it was an overwhelming experience all around (good and bad), but that it didn't always leave a sense of uplifting inspiration that I think many were hoping for. I didn't go, so I don't have my personal observations to add, but I do know that the comments you received were probably not unusual nor unique to your quilts. If I've learned anything from sitting through paneled reviews as a designer and exhibiting my art (not quilts, yet), it's that it takes a lot of bravery to subject your work to such scrutiny and lots of times people don't pull punches. It does boil down to the fact that what were discussing is essentially aesthetics and that's really a matter of opinion. Those critical comments were someone's opinion, nothing more. Your work is truly beautiful and has been inspirational to many people (me included!). Don't let it get you down too much!

    1. This has been my impression of QuiltCon, too. Well put. I ditto everything you said. I always thought Angela was one of the "darlings" of the modern quilting world, and I'm surprised to hear she wasn't treated that way. I'm not sad I missed QuiltCon.

  37. You should be proud that your quilts made it to the show in the first place, don't let the comments of those few judges make you forget that the selection committee thought you quilts were worthy enough to be displayed.

  38. Hi Angela! I know it's not easy but try to forget this bad experience. They were just few persons and we can't know how they make their critics.
    Your quilts and other works are fantastic! I love both of these quilts! On the zig zag quilt fabrics are great and the binding is perfect!
    Think that even we are not 'professionals' – we are so many, who love your work! The most important is that we have to make what we like and enjoy!
    Sunny wishes! x Teje

  39. unbelievable! the judges should be ashamed of themselves, seriously! I've been a huge fan of yours, mostly quietly over here in my little part of the blogosphere. You are a great inspiration to me, and I LOVE both of those quilts, and probably ALL of your quilts! some people should not be judging ANYTHING!

  40. This is why I don't like entering judged competitions like that. Who are they to say what is best? I love both your quilts, especially the 'personal' one. Being more personal is what makes a work of craft extraordinary, who wants to make something the same as everyone else?!

  41. sadly this is why so many do not enter quilt shows . It seems that some people are blind to what is going on and will wonder in a while why NO quilts are being entered and shows are dying xx chin up and take encouragement from the no-judges who DO like your work x

  42. Stepping out of the lurking corner to hug you! I hear you on trying not to take it personal, that is tough. The first one I love! The quilting, the personality it shows. The chevrons are fresh and happy. And yes who are they to lay the rules? (duh that's what a jury is for but still…). It looks like it's judged the same way as figure skating; no one knows how or why but the judges. Carry on dear!

  43. Those judges should be ashamed of themselves! Why do judges feel they have the right to humiliate and degrade people? This type of criticism makes me so angry. If they want people to enter their shows they should be supportive and encouraging. People enter these shows knowing that not everyone can be a winner, but they certainly don't expect such negative comments as those.

    I,too, was surprised at the some of the winners. From the pictures I've seen posted on various blogs my favourites were all overlooked. I really like your style and get so much inspiration from it.

  44. You should be very proud of your quilts. I think we see things in our work others never will. But I all think that the comments hound have been more balanced. They accepted them for some reasons and should have explained that. I attended theDallas quilt show this weekend and was a axed at the beautiful quils, but I did not like the best in show nearly as much as others I saw. And I saw many without ribbons that I thought were superior to ones with ribbons. You need to focus on that you love the quilts and so do lots of us and ignore the mean comments.

  45. Harsh, I don't know that I would ever put a quilt up for judgement- it is so subjective and for me quilting is to please myself, please the quilt receiver etc- I like to see displays of quilting but I find seeing what other people think is 'best' a pretty pointless exercise, they should be displayed with some contextual info and that would be sufficient- each viewer can decide for themselves

  46. Oh wow, that was quite explicit about their tastes, wasn't it?! I suppose part of it is that it's usually a different group of people that accept entries into these things in the first place than the onse that are actually judging it, and in an area like modern quilting where opinions on what constitutes 'modern' are very varied, I suppose the accepters may have loved some entries where the judges apparently didn't (incidentally I wonder about what the feedback might have been on the f*ck quilt, the cancer quilt and the gun one!)

    Having seen all the quilts on a per section basis on Hollie's Undercover Crafter blog (she's not done them all yet), I've had a few head scratching moments over the winners versus the also-rans, and I was surprised that your wee girl hadn't got a mention anywhere, I think your art quilt minis are exquisite. The judges do seem to have gone for the graphic look over anything else in the categories I've seen so far right enough, and a lot of solids seem to feature too.

    My only experience in entering competitions so far are bear ones – one I sent to Australia that was juried, and I got very detailed feedback which I was grateful for, but that was more around the technical construction, so I could see what I needed to improve on (right enough, he was a rather odd looking bear, but it was from a category where we all made the same pattern up, and they did hold off on mentioning his aesthetics!). The other comp was the British Bear Artists Awards, where I entered an enormous bear with blue fur and red backing – loads of people were telling me during the event that they thought I'd win, but I suspected I wouldn't given the judges – both their ages and then with the 2 bear makers what their own style was, which was very traditional (and I was soooo right lol) The funny thing was, mine was sold before the competition judging happened, no-one else in my category's was, so it really is all down to varied tastes!

  47. I love both of those quilts – or, I should say, all of your quilts! You are amazing and talented and I am glad you share your work with the world through this blog. Thank you for inspiring me!

  48. And this is exactly the reason I NEVER HAVE and probably NEVER WILL enter any of my quilts in a show. I enjoy making the quilts I make. The people I make them for love them. My online quilting friends appreciate my work, and their comments mean a whole lot more to me than some snooty judgy quilt police.

    I can feel your pain, and send lots of hugs!

  49. that is just poop. I think you (everyone) should be given a right of reply on these things or the chance to ask for further explanation. I would feedback to the organisers, suggesting that they are more transparent in their judging criteria. And I agree with Kristy that good quality feedback should take account of the feelings of the person receiving it – it is best practice in education and should be here too. The MQG board need to be made aware of the upset insensitive and badly constructed feedback causes.

  50. Since I started quilting seriously about 4years ago your creations have been a constant source of inspiration. Your mini quilt is truly one of the most amazing minis I have ever seen. Totally original and meticulous in its detail.
    Your zigzag quilt likewise is great. Your use of colour always makes me smile.
    I have only entered one quilt competition and the feedback was fair if not exactly wanted I wanted to hear. There really is no place for poorly constructed criticism in competition! I don't think I'd want to belong in a scene that is so negative. Please dust yourself off and move on. your work is awesome and totally inspirational xx

  51. Both quilts are beautiful – especially that mini. "Too personal"? That's 100% RIDICULOUS. I'd think that'd be a REQUIREMENT. Unreal. Keep sewing. You're one of the reasons I've finished six quilts. 🙂

  52. Seems to me that your true jury is right here – supporting, encouraging and loving all that you do and being inspired by your creativity. This may not lessen the sharpness of the words you have read, but those letters should be burned, you should print out all the comments from your blog posts and flickr pics of these two items and keep them instead – they are the story of theses quilts, they are the jury's verdict.

    I read your blog all the time but often don't have time to comment. Today I could not let this post pass without saying that the greatest shame of all would be if you allowed those comments to change what you love about your work, to destroy your creative spirit and to stop you entering other shows in future (though maybe research those that provide more constructive criticisms)! Never say never, please!

    You have nothing to be ashamed of in your work, absolutely nothing!

  53. oh, Angela, I'm so sorry you had such a bad experience. I love, love "my" girl quilt, and I love the fact that it is so personal – made just for me with such thought and insight and care. I have seen all the detailed work that went into that quilt, and all the multiple thread changes and the careful sewing around all those little aplique pieces and it is a very finely crafted piece of work.
    I frequently get comments on that quilt as it hangs in my little kitchen quilt show.

    Clearly the judges had a very specific style in mind, and I would keep in mind that style is just a mix of trends and personal taste. Pick a different group of judges with a different context and taste and you could have got a whole different result – just look how often they appear in swap mosaics. Your work quality is meticulous and your minis are little gems.

  54. They sound like movie critics. I usually don't like movies they like and love the ones they don't. I make quilts for me and my family and friends. I have no desire to let people I don't know decide if I have talent or not. Your quilts are beautiful to me and my hubby thinks they are gorgeous.

  55. Oh, Angela, I want to hug you right now! With all three of the quilts that I sent to QuiltCon, I saw lots of similar feedback, and I feel very much like you do about the whole thing. I honestly think that your quilts are both gorgeous, and I guess the judges just had something very specific in mind and we just weren't it. I'm so sorry that this experience hurt you, I sure hope that with some time and some chocolate that you'll feel much better, but please know most of all that you're not alone, and you do belong! Very much!

  56. I don't know what I can say that hasn't been said by others. Your body of work (and particularly these two pieces) is amazing and inspirational to so many. Your blog was one of the first I bookmarked when I started this quilting adventure a year ago; yours is a skill I aspire to.

    I am sorry you (and apparently many others) were treated this way but hopefully the comments here make a difference. Remember, the only judge of your work that matters is how you feel about a project. Smile and sew on!

  57. Angela, I am not one for using curse words but I do believe they exist for a reason: them! Your work is far superior to many of the quilts i saw hanging up at QuiltCon. My roommate and I were dumbfounded by the inclusion of more than a few of them. Please do not let a few people who do not share your asthetic and your talent, like your blog followers do, bring you down or second guess yourself!

  58. This breaks my heart! Having majored in an art subject, I know what it's like to put it all out there only to have someone else tell you that it's all wrong. You just have to give it a couple days and think "who are they to judge me? what makes their opinion more important than mine? what makes their opinion correct?". Story time: An architecture student at GaTech submitted a design as part of a competition through the school to design the top of a building in Atlanta. Their teacher said the design was crap and failed the student. The building owners loved the design and chose it to win. They say that the arch. teacher's office now faces that building to rub in how wrong he was. Is this story true? I don't know, but every single student knows it. Art is subjective. Hold your head high and you'll get your "screw you."

  59. Angela, My heart is hurting for you as I read this. This is why I would personally never have the guts to enter anything in a juried show. I would be so devastated to read soemthing like that it would send me into clinical depression. I think that whomever wrote all of that should be ashamed of themselves. How dare they make you question or stifel your creativity. Art depends on the individual eye of the beholder. What is unpleasant to one is beautiful and pleasing to many other eyes. And as far as types of fabrics used that is such a personal choice it has no validity whatsoever. You keep creating what you want to create and ignore that malarky they wrote you. I think both of those quilts are gorgeous and filled with so many hours of long work. Now Iwonder what the quilts look like that those people that critiqued actually made. Or did they even make any quilts. Keep your head up high and keep on a creating and if some one doesn't like what you create that is their little problem…

  60. I'm so sorry to read this and totally understand how down it made you feel, it upset ME and it's not about my work! I like both your quilts and really LOVE your applique mini, particularly the quilting and thread painting on it.

    Try not to let them keep you down for long though. Their opinion only mattered during the show and guess what!? The show is over!

    Your hundreds (thousands? I have no idea!) of readers are still here and we're not going anywhere. We want to see more of your beautiful work!

  61. Angela,
    What I can say is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is subjective. I love your quilting style and your bog is very inspiring.
    Keep the judges comments in perspective with life. They could have given positive feedback but instead focused on the negative.

  62. hello Angela, I love your little scrap quilt and the zigzag, don't bother what the judges say. You have allot of followers who love your quilts, read your blog and get inspired by you.

  63. I'm so sorry Angela. Remeber that this sort of thing is so subjective. I've never put my quilts in a judged show before and I am not sure if I ever will or not. I did, however, major in studio art and it quickly makes you acquire a tough skin and an understanding that what we all like visually is as unique as our work. Try not to take it personally–I know it's not hard not to.

  64. I think they are both great quilts and I would be proud if both of them!!y personal favorite is the girl just because it is so creative!! I love your zig zag quilt too with the great use if color!! I think you are an amazing quilter and you give inspiration to many people!!

  65. I know exactly how you feel. I entered my first quilt show 10 years ago and the feedback was hard to take. I've started to realize that people start to make decisions about their quilts based on how they will be judged. They know that judges like this or that, or take the time to hand knot all their threads on a machine quilt, etc. What I decided was that I don't make quilts for shows, I make them for me and if that's the case, that is the only feedback I need. If I need other feedback, I'll ask for it. I haven't put a quilt in a show since, but I know now that if I did, what I would be opening myself up for.

    1. I agree! Stay true to yourself, keep making your beautiful quilts, sharing your personal expressions through your sewing inspires a lot of people.

      I feel like some of the quilts that got ribbons looked kind of conformist, and lacked much creativity.

      I'm a newish quilter, still trying to find my quilting "voice", and I have always admired your personal style. That snowball pillow you made was absolutely amazing and you even though FMF fabrics are everywhere (beacause we all love them so much!) you truly made those fabrics sing!

  66. I hope all of the wonderful comments here help brighten your day! You do beautiful work as a quilter, and every time I see you've updated your blog my day gets a little brighter knowing that I get to see a wonderful new masterpiece! Just because your quilts may not be in one judges taste does not mean they aren't beautiful! And as far as the first one being "too personal," I don't know a single quilter who doesn't pour their heart and soul into EVERY quilt they make! And if you're making something for a specific person, why the heck shouldn't it be "overly personal?" Keep your head up and in the words of Dory "Just keep [quilting]!" (Sorry, my daughter is in the Finding Nemo stage!)

  67. GOOD judges will make a positive comment to offset any reasons they gave why your particular entry did not meet their standards for an award. GOOD judges will give you direction as to how your future entries can be improved to be more in line with "what they are looking for". GOOD judges are like good teachers – they build you up, they don't tear you down.

    Too bad that show didn't have any GOOD judges, or at least any judges with GOOD communication skills.

  68. I was at QuiltCon. In viewing the quilts it was obvious the judges were looking for something very specific. I agree with the reader above who said it wasn't uplifting. When I go to a quilt show I want to be amazed and inspired, and while a few of the quilts did that, most did not. In particular, I questioned the display of two quilts which prominently used a four letter word I (and many other people who I talked to) find offensive. The whole experience left me cold. I'm sorry that the judges could not find it in themselves to give a positive critique of your work, but know that QuiltCon, for all it was hyped to be, is not the be all end all of quilt shows. The fact that those two (remember, it's just two) people didn't like your work is not indicitive of its value or meaning to others.

  69. I LOVE the small quilt with the girl and her heart. Any chance you can tell us how you made her(or have I missed it)? As for the chevron quilt, although they are not my favorite, you did a good job on it. I think of Charlie Brown every time I see them. LOL So what DID win? You do a great job, thats why I read your blog, to learn more.

  70. Hi Angela… I just want to remind you that the Modern Quilting movement came about largely through online presence… and you my friend have succeeded in that area time and time again… people LOVE your work and dream of being your partner in a swap… people wait excitedly for your next blog post knowing that it will bring new ideas and perspectives… you absolutely are a successful and vibrant modern quilter and anyone who feels that they can belittle you is not worthy of your thoughts… I didn't see all the quilts as I wasn't there… but I do know, that no matter what, yours are great quilts. Whether they were winners is one thing, but the judges should not have taken that to mean that they should demean everything about them when they weren't winners… big hugs and know that I continue to look up to you as a mentor and inspiration on my own quilting journey!

  71. I have minimal experience with local quilt shows, but have seen similar things happen on a very small scale, where outstanding work goes unnoticed, at the same time that quilts with little appeal are the winners. I think modern quilts are subject to harsher criticism for some reason. You will probably come to realize that these are opinions of just a couple of people, and not of the non-professional quilt judges, who are the "regular" people of the quilting world. When you do that, you'll understand that your work is actually very very important and inspires hundreds in one way or another. Look at all you've accomplished already, and you will know that more success is ahead of you. Whatever you do, keep your style, no matter what the judges said. You are not sewing for their approval.

  72. I love your quilts and always look forward to seeing what you are doing. Don't let this get you down. Everyone has different tastes. I really was not impressed with most of the pictures of Quilt Con on line. I like modern, but did not understand why the winners were chosen.

  73. It's difficult to put your work on display and out for judging by people who have different ideals and aesthetics. That said, don't stop putting your work out there. Many criticize the judges and while their comments were perhaps less than constructive, they were doing a job and looking for specific criteria. Did you make the quilts for the judges? The reason you made the quilts has not changed and someone else's opinion of how these quilts fit or don't fit into a larger exhibit shouldn't change how you feel about your quilts or yourself. If YOU love your quilts, isn't that enough?

  74. Angela – I'm sorry your experience has hurt you and left you feeling like you describe. I hope that these feelings pass sooner than later.

    I don't envy the judges or selection committee their job – I am assuming they were judging to criteria – something that can't be easy with any subjective art (or craft) form, but I do feel that the way this was obviously carried out could have been done with a deal more sensitivity towards many of the exhibitors judging by of the early comments and your experience. It is just good manners.

    I can't help but feel that knowledge of the judging criteria both in advance for those entering and for the viewers could have shed light on some of the decisions being questioned and prevented some of the shock and hurt. That, with constructive and sensitively delivered feedback seems just good management.

  75. Wow those are harsh comments on the zig-zag quilt, and I have to say, I don't "get" them either. I have only seen pictures but your zig zag quilt fit in very well with many others that hung. If it was neither modern nor original, does that mean none of the others were? If it wasn't modern, why was it juried in?

    I'm submitting a quilt to a show soon, and it is juried, but no comments are given. I am a little frustrated by that, because how do you know what judges are looking for? But after reading your comments, it sounds like the comments aren't very constructive- I mean, where do you go from there? There isn't an action you can take, because it sounds like it is all personal preference anyhow. So however my quilt does, I'll know it just didn't fit in with the preferences of the judges.

  76. Angela, I don't comment here often but I've been reading your blog for quite some time because I admire your sense of style and your skillful quilting. It makes me sad to read their criticisms of your quilts, not just because I think your quilts are beautiful but also because it seems so unnecessarily harsh. There's a difference between "constructive criticism" and being overly critical. Your mini is definitely my favorite of the two, and frankly I'm surprised that it didn't win. Many hugs to you. Now get back to that sewing machine and keep creating! You inspire many quilters and we can't wait to see what you come up with next! xoxo

  77. 🙁 Besides the fact that your mini is one of the most wonderful little quilts out there, I am really surprised by the judges' comments. I think I had much higher hopes for the group that has emerged as 'The Modern Quilt' people. How many times has the blog world erupted and then settled itself when somebody has tried to point a finger and say – you did it wrong. The end always seemed to come back to the fact that there is no 'wrong'. I find it particularly unsettling that their comments said exactly – and only – just that!

  78. Obviously, you're getting a lot of deserved support in the comments. I'm so sorry that the judges were so rude. It's very hard to not take their comments personally. But, please don't. They acted unprofessionally, so you may totally discount their comments.

  79. Oh, Angela! I loved seeing your quilts IN PERSON at Quilt Con, after having admired them on-line from your blog postings. Your quilts made me smile – and they still do! Just keep on doing what you do so well – sewing/quilting and creating – and sharing! You are an inspiration to many, many people. Don't let those comments get you down.

  80. Ok, my heart kind of hurts for you, I would have been really hurt by their comments.
    1. I LOVE the small quilt with the little girl and her thoughts. I think it is very original and well, just lovely. It shows creativeness in design and tons of skill used in making the quilt. It tells a short little story and the colors are great! I wish I were talented enough not only to make something like this but to come up with the idea.
    And yes, I agree with you, all quilts are personal, if they are not, then why bother to make them?
    2. I really like your Zig Zag quilt, and before I read what you wrote, I thought to myself, boy, that quilt would be perfect for my granddaughter who is not a flowery kind of girl, but a wonderful Tom Boy kind of girl. I was hoping that you would share that quilt in a free pattern, or even a pattern I could buy. I just love it. I really like your choice of fabrics as well, though I was thinking of my granddaughter and thinking of shades of reds too!

    I'm amazed that the quilt judges were so "mean" in their comments. I guess, if it were me, that I would have to give them a pass because they must of judged a lot of quilts and their minds must of been terribly jumbled by the time they got to yours. Just because a quilt is not "my cup of tea" doesn't mean that it's not a wonderful quilt… it means that perhaps I don't care for the colors or something else, but it can still be a fabulous quilt. Silly people!
    We, your blog readers, are much better judges, and we give both your quilts HUGE Blue Ribbons. 🙂

  81. Dear, dear Angela, Wish we could fix this and I absolutely love the design, the sentiment, and the skill/technique in these two quilts. I was at QuiltCon and was among the many attendees who were so delighted to see the little quilt. It is a forever favorite. And, the zig-zag's fabric was not "special enough"? Is there a meter to measure this? Sounds like judges who are very incompetent and I am ashamed for this. As a "senior" modern quilter, I have found the modern movement more accepting and encouraging than the rest of the quilting world. I suppose this shows the modern movement has its problems as well. I am so sorry this happened but happy that you shared this small minded behavior. Please do not give up. You are encouraging and educating so many grateful quilters. Hugs.

  82. Angela, I do not think I have ever commented on your wonderful blog but I could not let this pass. Yes, I am going to tell you all the wonderful things about your quilts. I adore the zig zag. The way you placed your fabrics, perfection.
    It is fine for someone to give you consecutive criticism but that was on the cruel side. I have been quilting for 25+ years and I could never make something as beautiful as yours. Let it go. You work is amazing.

  83. Dear, dear Angela, Wish we could fix this and I absolutely love the design, the sentiment, and the skill/technique in these two quilts. I was at QuiltCon and was among the many attendees who were so delighted to see the little quilt. It is a forever favorite. And, the zig-zag's fabric was not "special enough"? Is there a meter to measure this? Sounds like judges who are very incompetent and I am ashamed for this. As a "senior" modern quilter, I have found the modern movement more accepting and encouraging than the rest of the quilting world. I suppose this shows the modern movement has its problems as well. I am so sorry this happened but happy that you shared this small minded behavior. Please do not give up. You are encouraging and educating so many grateful quilters. Hugs.

  84. Hi Angela, you don't know me but I stop by your blog from time to time and love to read about your new creations. I'm so sorry to read about the heart wrenching feedback you have received. I have been greatly inspired by your work, in particular the 'daydreaming girl' quilt. I used this beautiful concept as the inspiration for an appliqued frame I made for my sister. Please be encouraged that despite the harsh standards expected of quilt show judges, you are inspiring people to create and quilt – and that is priceless! Please keep creating! Jxo

  85. Angela, what can I add, that hasn't already been shared? There is certainly a lot of love for you and the wonderful work that you do. Juried shows, no matter what they are for, are often times slanted and political. And opinions are like belly buttons… everyone has one. The fact that your quilts ARE personal and filled with your heart, as well as talent, is what has inspired many of us. And when all is said and done, isn't that, what each of us strive for? (((HUGS)) Please shake off the negative comments that are not truly useful and keep following your heart. You certainly have plenty of fans here, I being one of them.

  86. Angela,
    I'm sorry you feel that way ;( Please don't let that discourage you from entering your beautiful work. This was one person's opinion and that's it. I loved your quilts and found your appliqué quilt to be a fav. When I got my quilt back and read my critique it said that my color palette was a bit predictable. I wasn't sure how it was predictable, but oh well I love it and that's what matters 🙂 Quilting is a part of yourself and if it makes you happy do it and share it with others. I'm glad I got to see it in person!!

  87. I really love the two quilts your entered. I disagree with the judges completely. I think they have a biased and arrogant attitude. Your work is beautiful and I think judges need to learn how to give constructive feedback not critical feedback.

  88. Angela, Like many others, I am always inspired by your work! Your zig zag quilt is on my "to do" list. I have it "designed" it in EQ7 so that I can play with fabric choices. I have yet to arrive at a set of fabrics that I like as much the ones you used. While your mini is not my style, I still admire it for it's creativity. Your creativity always amazes me.
    Makes me so sad that your sense of pride, excitement, & accomplishment over having 2 quilts accepted into the show was almost totally destroyed by the unnecessarily harsh critique. Hopefully, you will soon be able to put their personal opinions into their proper perspective. They are only 2 people & they were, supposedly, comparing what you submitted ONLY to the very SMALL universe of others accepted in the same category. I was & still am surprised that there were only 2 judges for Quiltcon. In the larger universe of quilts, yours shine! They were deemed special enough to be included in the show – hold on to that! Know that you inspire many of your readers on a daily basis & that is way more important than those harsh comments from 2 people at one small moment in time!

  89. Oh geez! If they said this about your lovelies, I can only imagine what is on some other comment sheets. I can understand constructive critique all day long, but how constructive is "too personal"? How is it that the show had multiple old quilts hanging that we're made from the family's clothes, clothing from everyday lives, but yours is too personal? Quilts are personal! We make them to celebrate new marriages, new babies and even to help our friends through rough times. It is labor intensive and time consuming but we do it because we want them to see them and feel loved.

    No one belongs because we all see the world different and express ourselves different. You are bold and creative and inspiring. I hope some of these comments will help take the sting off a little.

  90. Do not be ashamed of your work! Someone liked them enough to choose them for the show. I think it would be hard to be a judge, but it sounds like they were looking for specific things (which is not always what modern quilting is). Both of your quilts are beautiful. I know the applique quilt took a LONG time to finish and I love it!

  91. You are an artist, not just trying to fit a mold and win a prize. Don't let them get you down and please don't let them change you or your vision… I love what you do and most importantly, so do you! Remember that is what counts, ALWAYS.

  92. My first thoughts were: Ouch how harsh! I mean you don't get feed back like that from a county fair judging. Its either they like it or they don't and you get a ribbon or not. No feels are hurt. Then my next thought was; If they [the Modern Quilt Guild] keep boasting about how free form and open minded modern quilting is as far as designs go and then turn around be so harsh on the folks who enter, isn't about time someone sat down and put guide lines on what modern quilting is considered to be?

    I will be honest I adore your mini! It really does tickle my heart! I see the work that was put into it and if I had to choose a category for it, I would put it under art quilting because that is exactly what it is…a piece of art.

    Now that I think about it, now I see why the ladies in my non-modern quilt guild give me such discrimination when I say that I love modern quilting. Here I just thought that they did not get me. Now I see the underlining of it all and my next thought is: What hypocrites to put on a show as if they were judging traditional quilts!

    I guess you can chalk it up as an experience but I would not give up on entering your quilts in any more shows. If anything try entering into a traditional show to see what they have to say and I will guarantee that there will be some critique but nothing as harsh as what you received from the modern quilt guild. Oh, also keep this in mind when you do enter a show; is that it is not anything personal about you as a quilter but you are just at the mercy of the judge that day. That is something that I learned while being in 4-H as a kid. I know its a hard pill to swallow but once you get your mind set to it, you will be like: Whatever, I still love it no matter what you have to say!

  93. Dear Angela: I am feeling your pain on this issue. Long ago, I had some similar experiences with woven items I entered into juried shows. One piece had already been in a fairly prestigious art garment show in San Diego, and yet the judges in the small show in NM just tore it up. That is when I decided to leave judging my work to myself, and perhaps my peers, if I chose to ask for their opinions. I hope you can do the same. Those people are, after all, just other people who have opinions, and placed in a position as judges so they may feel compelled to say more than is necessary to make their points. Your work is just fine. Please don't be discouraged. Stay the course!

  94. This is ridiculous…it simply wasn't appropriate to write comments in that manner. I've only gotten a quilt into one juried show, and it was a traditional show. For all the complaining the "modern fok" do about the quilt policing the "traditional folk" do, I was pleasantly surprised by how nicely written it was – both comments that complemented (I mean, there was SOME reason why the quilt got in, this is why I don't understand the way they seemingly tore apart your quilts…) and offered constructive criticism. For example, instead of saying "you did your borders wrong", they said "don't miter your borders". Eh, I'll still miter if I want. But it was CONSTRUCTIVE…and I think that's why the comments you got were so inappropriate. They weren't constructive. They were just, I don't like this or this or this. That's not constructive and doesn't help anyone improve as a quilter. Saying what worked well about a quilt is even more important to help someone improve as a quilter, rather than only saying what is "wrong" about it. I disagree with their assessment ENTIRELY…but they should have at least been professional about the way they wrote it. That way you could disagree. They way the wrote it WAS attacking-seeming, and completely unnecessary. I'm sorry you had to experience this…bah. Can't believe this.

  95. Oh my, I am going to write this comment before I read all the others. I was at QuiltCon and I so loved seeing both these quilts in person. I remember watching the progress on your mini in the swap. It is a quilt filled with happiness and the wonder of the imagination. I love every thing about it. The zig zag quilt is another of my favourites. I remember your QAL and how I never managed to get moving. I love how you designed this particular zig zag and how you chose the fabrics. I love zig zags, they are timeless in my mind and some of my favourite quilts, modern and not. This one has a nice interesting design twist.

    I am more than surprised at your comments. The comments my quilts got, and now reading yours, makes me think that they are not experienced judges and were not sure what to say or do. They certainly seemed to forget that critiques should include positive thoughts too.

    I think that they were wrong on both your quilts. Completely wrong. File them away and carry on being the amazing quilter and designer that you are.

  96. I'm also going to comment before reading all the others. I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now and love seeing all the amazing things you make. I was awestruck with your small applique and could only dream of having the vision to make something so beautiful. Totally inspiring.
    Your Zig-zag quilt is fresh and vibrant and one I would be very proud to own or be able to create.
    Remember, everyone is entitled to their opinion. On this occasion, the judges just clearly don't know a good thing when they see it!
    Keep inspiring others.

  97. I had to watch my kids go through things like this in 4-H. Some judges aren't experienced enough to judge without mean criticism. Quiltcon is not the place for such behavior. You are amazing to be able to even blog about this. I appreciate your honesty and feel so bad you had this experience.

    I always told my kids this is just one person's opinion at one particular time. Tomorrow they will have a different opinion. Opinions are like … ….., everybody has one. lol

    I love both quilts.

    Chin up!!

  98. I can't believe they wrote that!!!! I LOVED seeing your quilts at QuiltCon, thought they were both gorgeous, and fit right in with all the other amazing quilts that were there. I even voted for your mini quilt for crowd favorite (shhh 🙂 )
    That is so not what I thought QuiltCon was about, and now I am debating my decision to submit a quilt for the next one…If your beautiful, well constructed quilts weren't "good enough" for them, then nothing is!!
    Keep creating exactly what makes YOU happy, and forget the dumb judges!!!!

  99. You should definitely take the comments with a grain of salt. Judging is always subjective, and I think there were some growing pains associated with this first "modern" show. I do know that traditional, trained judges were asked to judge the quilts based on technique alone, without taking design into account, as the modern vs traditional aesthetic obviously has some major differences. The organizers could not find any judges willing to do this.

    So, yes, the judges were inexperienced in the world of judging, to be sure. They also had to write commentary for over 700 quilts in two very long days. After reading your comments, my first thought was that they were writing the commentary as they went along, giving themselves the reasons why a quilt may or not move on. While I can understand the need for that for their own use, it seems incredibly harsh not o find the good in the quilts as well.

  100. DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! Remember you make you quilts to please you or whoever you may choose to give a quilt to – judging is so arbitrary and I don't see how they can compare quilts – or judge our fabric choices. It IS intensely personal! I love your work – it is fresh and pleasing to the eye – and full of YOU (or at least what i know of you from your blog). (And you didn't even need to pay an entry fee to hear me say that!) 🙂

  101. I was at Quiltcon, and I think the judges were stuck in an oldish Modern movement…like 1970s era. Improv, dull fabrics, asymmetrical. Where were the bright colors, the kitschy, the fun embroideries, the cool hexes? The online New modern sewing community is way more open-minded and accepting. I was thrilled to see your beautiful quilts in person!

  102. I made a decision long ago to never submit my work to a judged competition. Mostly that's because I'm an academic, and the majority of my work is subject to peer review. Reviewing is done by people working in the field or a closely related one, not by expert reviewers, and I suspect that the same is true of quilt judges. The best (maybe 10%) identify the strengths of the piece and make suggestions for improving the areas they see as being weaker, i.e. they provide constructive criticism. As a reviewer myself, I know that such professional courtesy takes more time than many are prepared to give. And some individuals, when asked to review, seem to forget that the process is one of "peer" review, and mentally elevate themselves while simultaneously relegating the author to an inferior position (never mind that professionally the opposite might be true). They then proceed as if this superior position gives them licence to be dismissive and often rude. Sometimes I think that the reviewers have watched too many episodes of American Idol and model their comments on Simon Cowell.

    Notice that all of these comments are about the reviewers, not the work (and definitely not about you). The work is exactly the same as it was before you submitted it. It has all the same fine qualities. It is still beautiful. It still brought you pleasure to make it. It still challenged you and helped you to develop your skills. Don't let the uninformed comments of the anonymous reviewers lower the value of the work in your own eyes. (As an aside, I suspect that the anonymity contributes to the problem.)

    Weighed against your many successes (publications, winning the Moda design challenge, etc.) it's relatively minor. Fortunately, you have those successes under your belt. (I pity those who received this type of feedback the first time they submitted their work for evaluation.) And those harsh words from one or two judges are nothing compared with the mass of people who love your work and are happy to enjoy it on a regular basis. So I'd say that the important thing here is that you don't let this experience assume a disproportionate importance and let it inhibit you in any way. It's just not worth it.

  103. Your mini quilt is how I found and then subscribed to your blog. It is absolutely the most dear quilt ever. I don't think I have ever commented before, but I just want you to know that there are probably hundreds of other silent quilters who love what you do and find it so inspirational as opposed to what is now becoming a very humdrum repetitive look in the "modern" quilting world.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is a good reminder of why I choose not to even try to enter these types of competitions. I hope the outpouring of support for you helps to take the sting away.

  104. I wasn't there so maybe some of the winners were better in person but I have to say that I love your quilts so much more than the actual winners. I think the personal of them is what makes them good. I'm particularly fond of the zig zag quilt. I think it is both modern and an innovative way to do zig zags.

  105. your quilts are lovely. your blog is real. you do a wonderful job. it's too bad you had some terrible judges who weren't able to encourage you in your work/art and instead had a negative impact. i hope you don't let them get the best of you!

  106. You and I have already discussed this via email, but I think it's worth leaving a comment here for the record. I think your quilts are wonderful—these are two of my absolute favorites—and I completely understand your confusion. I'm not so full of myself to think I'm a perfect quilter, but I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my strengths and weaknesses were. The judges had a completely different idea of what my strengths and weaknesses are, and a completely different assessment of what my best work was. That's confusing, makes me question myself, and makes me question whether I should continue to enter quilt shows. And this is from someone who had one quilt that placed! That should tell you something.

    1. Thanks, Lee. I needed to read this. I didn't feel like my quilt was the ugliest one at QuiltCon, but when I got my judging sheet, I thought THEY thought it was! I understand so much about their perspective, but to see that your quilts were judged harshly, and their comments made you question yourself?? Sigh.

      I don't think anyone — MQG Board or MQG members — expected this kind of criticism and backlash about the judging of the quilts.

      Thanks. 🙂

  107. Repost due to a typo –
    Your post just broke my heart for you – Your quilts – ALL of them and especially those you entered – are fabulous. Those comments weren't the types made in a true critique, and aren't worth the paper they were written on. You are an incredibly talented quilter and designer. Thank you for sharing your work so selflessly on your blog. Your many admirers and followers know and appreciate the beauty in your work, and you do too. Don't let the turkeys get you down.

  108. You have a lot of other comments telling you how amazing your work is (it is!!!) but I'm kind of sad by all the comments dissing the winning quilts. Someone's heart went into those as much as your heart went into yours.

    What I wanted to say though, is that art critique can be really valuable. It's hard at first (and WOW they delivered it in a really harsh way!!) but I hope it doesn't really keep you from entering your quilts into future shows. That would be a disservice for all the other people (other than possibly a few judges) who take away something personal and meaningful from being able to see your quilts in person.

    Also, it may be tough, but I hope you're able to process the critique (and realize that even though they're not worded that way, they're just suggestions) and perhaps reflect on your work and how YOU would change it, and grow from it. That's what the critiques are really for. I'm very sad that the judges didn't take the time (obviously they had hundreds of quilts to review and they sound rushed) to give the feedback in a more constructive manner, though.

  109. Oh Angela, I'm so sorry to hear that the critiques were confusing and hurtful. I did not enter any quilts in the show myself, but your work is some of my absolute favorite in the blogosphere! And you appear to be a genuine and loving person, which is bonus. 🙂 I can tell from the comments here that your blog post has not gone unnoticed, and will hopefully make people (whether they are judges or blog readers) stop and think before critiquing another person's work… if the impact of their comments are really worth it. Lots of quilty love!

  110. I personally have loved your Thinking Girl small quilt since day one. I believe that judges opinions are like noses, we all have them! Take it with a grain of salt and move on to the next lovely self expression of fabric ART!

  111. I think it's horrible that the judges were so harsh. I hope that the organizers of Quilt Con are following your blog. If many others received such harsh critiques they may start have trouble getting people to enter. Many years ago I was involved with a small quilt show that hired judges that made horrible comments on what "they" considered lesser quilts. After that year and the complaints we received, the judges were reminded to consider the feelings of the quilters and find some good in every quilt. I really feel that we would have lost our participants(and they would have been justified)if we hadn't made the changes. Let's face it…without quilts, quilts shows don't happen.
    The comments about your quilt being too personal are just plain ridiculous. Every quilt I make contains something of my personality and tastes. I am not a "modern" quilter and I don't want that label. I find labels too limiting. That said I have made some "modern" quilts and have still found a way to personalize them. I hope that being a modern quilter doesn't mean having to remove all emotion and personalty. I would hate to see quilting, which I consider a very personal art become that sterile. Both of your quilts are lovely. Shame on Quilt Con for hiring such unbending judges.

  112. Piffle upon the judges! They clearly don't know lovely when they see it. The little girl and heart quilt is so charming; dopey judges. And the zigzag is bright and contemporary.

    Your work is wonderful, and if the quilt police don't like it, well they clearly don't know quality.

  113. Angela, I absolutely LOVE your quilts entered into the ring of unknown judges!!
    I think you said it yourself, don't take it personal (too much) and above all be PROUD of YOUR work!! In my book, you are talented and your blog is an inspiration to me all the time. I wish I had half your quilting talents!! Keep making quilts that make your heart sing and I'll do the same!!

  114. Oh Angela, I'm so sorry. I hope some of these comments have cheered your heart. The mini is one of my all time favourite makes – it is so inspiring and creative! I wish I had made it! The binding on the zigs zags is totally perfect in my opinion!! And it is a beautiful, modern design. Do the things you love Angela, you do it so very well 🙂 xxx

  115. My quilts have been judged in shows, and even when I've won something, like a blue ribbon, there's still something I've done incorrectly. "Points don't meet" or somesuch as that. And when I received a "Best of Show" award, there were STILL criticisms with the unevenness of the quilting designs I chose, or the not appearance of perfectly round quilted circles. I'd bet you money that Victoria Finley Wolfe, the best of show winner, was also critiqued and found wanting in some aspect of her work. Honestly, it's to be expected when you're judged. We all just hope the judges comment in a positive manner that points us to room for improvement. I still like both of your quilts!

  116. The very first quilt I made I entered in the county fair. It was torn to pieces in the judges comments too. I decided that I would just not enter competitions any more. I think quilting is personal. Maybe some people aren
    t bothered by the comments they receive. Obviously that is not you or me. Your quilts are beautiful and lots of people looked at them and enjoyed them.

  117. I want to add encouraging words as well. I was at QuiltCon and was really excited to see your quilts in person. For one, because they are both great quilts and secondly because they were made by someone I "know". I have followed your blog for a while and we're Flickr contacts and I'm always excited to see the next thing you make. I definitely felt that there was something very particular the judges were looking for and after a particular lecture, I felt out of place and confused, but after much thought I remembered that I make what I find beautiful/useful and that hopefully blesses others. I'm pretty sure that you have blessed anyone who has received something you have made and that is of more value than the opinion of just a couple people.

  118. You should continue to quilt for YOU not others or judges. Our craft is about what makes us smile inside and out as we create. If you quilt to make the judges happy in one show you will miss the mark on the judges in the next show. Remember they judged many, many quilts and with each one probably looked at each one with a more critical eye. I have judged a show and it was a very hard job. The forms that have to be completed for each quilt are over the top ridiculous. It's a wonder any quilt gets good reviews. Quilt for you not anyone else!

  119. This post gives a whole 'nother meaning to the name of your blog. I'm sorry that happened to you. I'm not part of the "modern" quilting thing but I've been involved in quilting in one way or another for over 40 years. I looked up the judges, and, frankly, I've never heard of either one of them. From the bios on the QuiltCon website, it looks like they aren't primarily quilters. I can't imagine that they've ever judged a quilt show before.

    It's not like your work was judged by Olympians in the quilting world. The critiques are just 2 people's opinions. I wouldn't put much stock in anything they said. They only have as much meaning and power over you as you give them. The most important thing is whether YOU are happy with your work.

  120. The too personal comment really makes no sense to me. the most wonderful thing about that quilt is the personal and universal nature of it. Those are the dreams of that girl who may or may not be you. I think we've all been that girl with the dreams. Very confusing. I don't think that's an appropriate comment for a judge to make, design and construction are what should be judged. As for the fabric choice on the zigzag quilt, well that is what fabric is usually supposed to do, serve the design. Weirdness all around.

  121. I am really not surprised there are aleady 143 comments on this posting. I was absolutely horrified when I read what these so called 'judges' had to say! Look I am not a long time quilter, I am sort of old though, and came into quilting quite late in my life but I know what I like and funnily enough I have this knack of choosing things that other people like too. I didn't just like your quilts I absolutely LOVED them. Your mini quilt is absolutely exquisite and I'm not just saying this to make you feel better because if i didn't really love it I would just say nothing which is what I think those two dames should have said NOTHING!!! And your big quilt the color variations from start to finish are exquisite! I haven't read the other comments yet apart from the two that are above mine but I can't imagine anybody had anything but praise. Please don't be upset because they were both true works of art that you should be proud of.

  122. All contest should have standards that are judged. Each piece should start off as a perfect piece. Judges should begin deducting for each element that doesn't meet the standards. Standards help everyone get better, even if they are not currently entering the contest. Surely there is room for aesthetics, and personal preference but it should not dominate the judging. We are all humans and most of us have varied preferences, we pick different life partners, different homes, different cars, etc… When we look back at the "traditional" quilts we should also remember that they didn't strive to follow they used what they had to CREATE!

    Today's quilt, "The" Modern Quilt is personal. You select each piece of fabric and color, you cut each shape, you select the type of batting that best suits your design or your needs, you select the type and color of the thread, and finally you select the type of quilting. It's personal.

    I'm new to the quilting world, and I've have been scouring the internet, classes, and books to find "MY" interpretation of a modern quilt. Is it in the color choices, the quilting, the fabrics, the techniques, the patterns, or the quilting? Is it the minimalist look that is coherent with modern design in fashion and architecture? It's not clearly spelled out anywhere. One must make this interpretation for themselves…… or chuck caution to the wind and simply create things they love.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and reminding me/us to create from within. <3

    Side Note: Knowing that Quilt Con's judging is purely subjective and based solely on the opinions of two judges, lowers the value of the contest/conference all together.

  123. I don't consider myself a modern quilter. In truth, I'm not much of a quilter at all. Most of my quilts are made for donations and I make what I like and what I think will appeal to children or adults in need.

    What startles me about the criticism you received was not that they did not like your quilts. Even though I personally love them, the judges have a right to their opinion. Experienced judges should be encouraging quilters to further their art. If they felt there was something lacking in your technique or creative vision they should have framed it in a way that would be based on fact and explained in a manner that was not a personal attack.

    I am really troubled that this came from judges at a Modern quilt show. Modern quilters have claimed they needed their own guilds and shows because of the pettiness and narrow minded criticism of traditional quilters. Power intoxicates. These judges need a reality check. They are not supposed to be discouraging quilters from participating. A pox on their houses. Bravo to you for having the guts to put your quilts in that show. Thank you for all you do on your blog to encourage and inspire other quilters. I wish those narrow minded judges could have extended the same courtesy to you.

  124. A truly creative experience is a wonderful thing and results in an artwork that is inseparable from its creator. The artist opens themselves up in an extremely vunerable way because when you create something you are exposing your soul. The creator knows in their heart if it is one of your best works to date. However it is also pleasing and encouraging when others can connect to what you have created and love it too. Truly creative people thrive on that feedback from others that shows that they love your work too and appreciate that you have bared your soul.

    Because you have exposed so much of yourself in the process of the 'dream' quilt negative feedback hurts so much. You would think that if the judges truly understood the creative process they would get it that balanced feedback was important as it becomes impossible for the artist to not take the comments personally. By the time the world/judges etc get to see an artwork it is very intertwined with the person that created it.

    BE PROUD. This piece is gorgeous, brimming with originality, uniqueness and heart. It has substance and depth and it is obvious that it wasn't just a quick 1 hour job to sew together. The girl looks amazing and I know how hard it is to achieve that. The quilt demands the observer to look deep, study all the details and look for the message, the central idea that inspired it.

    On creativity alone this piece is STUNNING. (Perhaps when a quilt is displayed the creative process needs to be explained as well to allow the judge to appreciate how your idea gave birth to the final result). The technique is harder to see in a photo but it is obvious that this was no simple quilt to assemble and the result is FANTASTIC.


    Keep quilting. I can't wait to see more of your creativeness, heart and soul revealed.

  125. First, I want to join in the loud chorus and say that your girl quilt is one of my all time favorites. I love everything about it and wish I had the talent to make one. Second, I have a cousin who says that the purpose of art is to "shock" us. It seems like the judges thought that, too. I do not feel accepted by the "modern" quilters, and I am definitely not a "traditional" quilter. Thank goodness for blogs in finding a place where I belong!

  126. Oh that is so harsh. I would be devastated too. It seems the definition of modern quilting is even narrower than I thought and my quilts don't fit either. It seems most of us are in no-mans land. I love your quilts, especially the thinking girl.

  127. I think that Quiltcon did themselves, modern quilting and talented modern quilters like you a disservice by not hiring professional, trained judges. It makes me worried that the modern quilting movement (and the MQG) is starting to become more of a cool kids club than anything else. The quilts that won and the names behind them make me worry even more.

    Professional judges would never have made comments like these, I'm sure. The feedback is supposed to be positive and constructive. I'm curious as to what the judges thought they would achieve by being mean.

    Your work is wonderful and inspirational and a couple of mean judges can never change that. I hope that you never stop creating your wonderful quilts.

  128. Thank you for sharing this! I am sorry that they hurt your feelings. Seems to be a lot of that going on in quilt land these days. I was wondering about some of the winners too and honestly I had some huh moments about a few of them. While I appreciate that the judges were honest-I don't think they should have been mean. Maybe they didn't think it would hurt your feelings but I think that feedback in cases like this should be constructive. Maybe we don't all have an "in" with a great long arm quilter. Hell maybe we can't all afford it. I know I couldn't and have been blessed that my parents have paid to have some of my quilts quilted for me. But shouldn't there be some level of understanding to that. I happen to love your mini quilt. I'm not a fan of Heather Ross's fabrics but the way you used them in that piece was amazing to me and it's a piece I think is super personal. But I tend to agree with you there-isn't that what it's suppose to be about. I could go on but I'll just say-learn from it and come out better on the other side. And THANK YOU for sharing your experience so others can learn from it as well.

  129. Love your blog and your quilts. I have never entered a juried quilt show and after your experience I probably never will. I appreciate that you had the courage to share this with us as I know it wasn't easy. Know that it was very helpful. Keep creating!

  130. Please don't feel ashamed of your work. I'm nobody in the quilt world, but I find your zig-zag quilt to have visual impact and to be quite appealing. It screams modern to me. On the other quilt, I like your quilting and your use of color. It makes no sense to me to comment that a quilt is too personal. A quilt should be exactly as personal as the maker intends.
    I suppose the judges are entitled to their opinion, but I don't ever think it's OK to be cruel in a critique. I also believe that any critique should include positives as well as (perceived) negatives.
    I believe that you have a lot to be proud of in your work.

  131. Oh, Angela, I hate to hear this!! I truly think you are an exceptional quilter – many of your designs have stuck in my brain and inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things! I hate to hear that you've had a run in with the quilt nazis (police seems like too kind a word!) and please please please don't let it affect the way you continue on in the future!!! You have a fabulous gift and are so generous to share it with the world!!

    I'm off to the quiltcon website to see if there's anywhere to complain about the lousy treatment you received!

    1. OK, I came to my senses before I left a scathing note for the judges or a post on the facebook page, but I will not be visiting Purl Soho the next time I go to NYC!

      You belong to us, Angela – and we'll never be mean to you!!

  132. Angela, I'm glad you decided to air this hear so that the realities have a place to surface. I know that confrontation is not your thing. I was also confused by the judging at QuiltCon, but figured I was biased since my quilts were in the show. Now I am not at all looking forward to reading my critique letters, although I do typically crave criticism. Any judge that remarks a quilt is "overly critical" has lost my attention.

  133. I've always thought that even the harshest thing can beside to sound encouraging if put the right way (I'm hoping I worded that so it makes sense to someone other than me). Obviously the judges need a lesson on how it works.

    I will say in all honestly that although the zig zag quilt doesn't blow me away, I can tell a lot of hard work went into it. The only reason I say that is so that you'll know how much I truly LOVE your appliqué quilt!!! As soon as I get to a real computer it is going on my blog inspiration board on Pinterest 🙂

  134. Oh Angela, love 'n' hugs honey.

    I think Quilt Con should take note, their judges need to execute their critiquing more professionally. Critiquing should be inspiring, it should be helpful, not soul destroying. It should always include positive comments as well as any negative ones.

    Quilting is personal, how on earth can it be anything else, ridiculous comment.

    I love your take on the zig-zag, and your daydreaming girl is such a positive image, delightful and totally inspiring.

    Keep doing your stuff Angela, we the people, love it!

  135. I LOVE both quilts! They are fantastic. Perhaps the judges need to refresh themselves on what quilting is all about? Or perhaps new judges?

  136. Funny, you are about the 3rd blog I have seen with similar experiences. One was from a blogger who submitted a quilt that was not excepted. In my opinion, her quilt was about as modern as it could get! She actually went to the show and was perplexed why her quilt did not get accepted. I agree with you whole heartedly! WHAT THE HELL IS A MODERN QUILTER???? It seems to me the modern quilt movement was created because they were not being accepted by traditional quilters, only to now be rejected as a modern quilters by….MODERN QUILTLERS? It's very confusing. I thought there were no rules. I watched the Craftsy videos lectures. I liked ALL of the lectures. Very informative. If you haven't checked them out, look at Mary Fons definition of a modern quilter. Her lecture was great! She says ANYONE who is quilting now, is a modern quilter:) I would hope that modern quilting is not reduced to only abstract art.That is way to narrow. Don't let them get you down! You are a great quilter full of original ideas!

  137. Angela, I have long followed your blog and long admired your quilts and love the inspiration you give me, particularly with your "personal" quilts, which, I can tell you, speak volumes to others. I love the whimsy and playfulness you incorporate into the spirit of your quilts, and I say spirit because I believe that each piece we create is a part of us and should be. You do wonderful work and your wonderful spirit shines through it 🙂

  138. I entered a modern quilt in the local county fair and got far nicer and more constructive feedback. My quilt was absolutely not what they were used to, but they accepted it for what it was and were both appreciative and helpful. In this case it seems like the judges' feedback all about aesthetic and personal taste with no objectivity at all.

    From everything that I have heard and read, I am starting to form a picture that the MQG is really close-minded in the end. "Modern is what we say, and if you aren't modern we aren't interested." It makes my heart hurt because I love how people are excited by seeing quilts like the ones you entered and they decide to start quilting because of it.

  139. Aw. 🙁 I love your quilts and your blog, and I'm really glad you were open and honest about this, as you are about many things! But I'm sorry they made you feel bad, because you seem very cool and I don't like people making other people feel sad or ashamed! Also, I loved your quilts–actually, I pinned your zig zag the minute I saw it on this post, before reading anything more! So I guess Judgy McJudgerson would get his/her panties in a twist over my Pinterest board. Whatever.

    In my line of work, I get a lot of criticism, and I have to give a lot of criticism too. It sucks, both ends of it. I hate being criticized. I'm the first to admit that "judging" others' work can be really difficult, and giving constructive criticism is definitely a skill, one that it sounds like your judge might not have had. Even if I agreed with their comments on your quilts (I don't happen to), I can think of much better ways to broach those issues. Very few people are driven to succeed by someone being purely mean to them.

    I wonder if this particular quilt show needs to spend the next year or so really thinking about what they hope to achieve with the judging portion of the show. Modern quilting is pretty open to interpretation, which I think is what draws a lot of us to it. But that also makes it hard to judge. Perhaps they need to decide what they will be evaluating, and then at least entrants know what the standards are. Or, if they'd like to keep the open interpretations of modern quilting, they might need to have judges who are on board with a different aim for the comments–a commitment to improving one's craft, but who also have an open mind about how "modern quilting" is interpreted.

    I hope this won't dim your love of your happy and beautiful quilts. I agree with you that our craft is wonderfully personal, at least as most of us practice it. If you love it, or your recipient loves it, then you have achieved an amazing thing. In time, you might enter another show. But if you don't, don't feel bad about it. You're not a lesser quilter if your quilts aren't hanging in the "big" shows. It's a hobby and a labor of love, so do what is fun and fulfilling for you, whatever that may be.

  140. Angela, I wish I still lived in IN so I could come over and we could have a little ice cream and chocolate party!! Maybe we could get everyone together and have a little bon fire with all of those judges comment sheets 🙂 I just want to say thank you for writing this post. I too shed a few tears over my quilts judges comments and being able to read all these comments, while directed at you, have helped me too and I so appreciate that. I love your work, I have been privileged to get to work with you in a book and a bee, and am grateful for your friendship through this amazing virtual community!

  141. Angela,
    I've been a quilter for over 40 years. I've been to many big and small quilt shows. I've seen the judged quilts at the International Quilt Festival in Houston and many state and local shows. I have taken classes from individuals who have submitted countless numbers of quilts to juried shows and heard their stories about the disparity of "rules" when it comes to judging quilts.

    What I have learned is that the judging is all about personal taste and much less about a measurable set of criteria. What gets the top honors at one show wouldn't make honorable mention at another. Your experience has an unfortunate ring of similarity to other stories I have heard.

    What is also unfortunate is that you will likely remember more about the rude and unnecessarily critical review of your work from the judges than you will about the supportive and enthusiastic comments from your followers. My advice is to listen to the supportive people in your life and turn a deaf ear to the "haters" as they are so rightly referred in current lingo.

    Quilters express our personalities through our quilts. Yours is obviously happy, cheerful, optimistic and joyful. Thumb your nose at those haters and sew!

  142. I too am just shocked. People who are so harsh should not be allowed to judge shows. While constructive criticism is helpful, this kind of bashing does nothing good for anyone. I hope that you can take all of these ^^ opinions of your work more personally (in a good way, of course!) than the horrible words that these women said.

  143. I live in a tiny tiny town in rural Australia. When I started out quilting I was at least 20 years younger than the youngest quilter in the local quilting group. I didn't have kids yet and so the older members decided to help train me up to learn how to judge in the local shows so that one day I might be prepared to do it. I was completely amazed at the process. It was not what I thought it was going to be like at all. The judges looked at things that I didn't think mattered and picked each piece apart. I have been allowed to follow judges about 4-5 times now and each time it was a different judge. It was so different each time and what they looked at was so different. What I want to say with this is that entering a show for judging is allowing yourself to be judged against their parameters. It doesn't mean that your work isn't awesome! I personally have been inspired by your work for years and many prize winning quilts do not inspire me. Keep up with what you do and know and trust that your work is great! Be your own best judge–you know your work best!

  144. Angela,
    I attended art school many years ago. One of the things they try to prepare students for is criticism. They tell a lot of stories about artists who are now famous but during their time totally unappreciated. Many of them lived in horrid destitution and not their works sell for more than some small countries annual income.
    It does not hurt any less. One of my art instructors actually jumped up and down on one of my pieces. Ironically the same "professor" said that for a piece of art to be considered successful it should elicit an emotional response. My thought to the jumping was 'if that was not an emotional response, I don't know what one is…'
    Anyways, the moral of the story is that not everyone is going to love our work. You are an artist. I have followed your blog for a year or more and have found many of your works to be spectacular. Some of them I go back to again and again. I think you are very talented.
    As for what makes a quilt modern, well I have not been able to determine that myself…so you are not alone on that front. I think you should not let this experience take away the joy you get from creating. It is clear to me that you really enjoy it and it is reflected in your work. I am sorry the experience was so poor. Hang in there and keep sewing!

  145. Angela, I love both of your quilts. I have seen a lot of the quilts entered (pictures only) and have to say that yours are every bit as good as any entered. The judging seems to have been done by people who had no experience with judging at all, and that is too bad as it reflects badly on the MQG. I have entered shows (not quilting-needlework) before and always had wonderful constructive comments on my sheets. I even won ribbons-and those also had some constructive comments on them. As for their comments on your fabric choices-that seems to be completely off base as everyone's choices are different and based on their personal preferences, something that is really outside of their realm to dictate. If it was a challenge, that would be different. I think the MQG owes everyone an apology for the poor choices in judgement made by their so called "judges". Maybe by 2015 they will find some judges that have some actual experience and can do their job without tearing everyone else down. I know it will be hard to get past this, but please try as you have a very special gift and I would hate to see you disparage your own worth because of these very ill chosen words on a critique sheet.

  146. A judge's comments can certainly take the wind out of your sails! I entered two quilts in a state quilt show and I received very disheartening comments. I think it took me 3 or 4 months to even attempt to free-motion quilt after that. My pieces were interesting and well done but they were not traditional quilts at all. Both of your pieces were beautiful, heck, they were juried into the Quilt Con show – and that's saying something!!! Tuck those judge's sheets away and move forward!

  147. oh Angela, I've never commented on your blog before but I had to now. I live in Australia – so going to QuiltCon was never going to happen from here! I loved seeing all the pics on instagram. I have never entered a quilt into a juried show, and have never had anyone pass formal judgement on anything I've made. So I have no idea exactly what you are feeling.

    But I wanted to say I have long loved your gorgeous heart mini – I pinned it the minute I saw it, as it makes me think of my daughters and their constant reading and imagining. I think it captures that beautifully, for so many of us. I love the tiny details inside the imagination bubble too, especially the Heather Ross mermaid and van.

    The zig zag quilt is fabulous, I love the colours and that the bands of zig zags are separated by the white.

    I'm so sorry you have been upset by the comments you received in having them formally judged. I know I would shed a tear too, as it's so hard to separate yourself from your quilts and again from them being a piece of 'judged work'. They are both beautiful. I hope that you are able to look at them again and see that they are beautiful, and to remember how much you loved them before they were formally judged. take care, Catherine

  148. oh Angela, I've never commented on your blog before but I had to now. I live in Australia – so going to QuiltCon was never going to happen from here! I loved seeing all the pics on instagram. I have never entered a quilt into a juried show, and have never had anyone pass formal judgement on anything I've made. So I have no idea exactly what you are feeling.

    But I wanted to say I have long loved your gorgeous heart mini – I pinned it the minute I saw it, as it makes me think of my daughters and their constant reading and imagining. I think it captures that beautifully, for so many of us. I love the tiny details inside the imagination bubble too, especially the Heather Ross mermaid and van.

    The zig zag quilt is fabulous, I love the colours and that the bands of zig zags are separated by the white.

    I'm so sorry you have been upset by the comments you received in having them formally judged. I know I would shed a tear too, as it's so hard to separate yourself from your quilts and again from them being a piece of 'judged work'. They are both beautiful. I hope that you are able to look at them again and see that they are beautiful, and to remember how much you loved them before they were formally judged. take care, Catherine

  149. I really feel for you, any nasty comment about anything you have created and obviously pored a lot of love in will be hurtful. I wish people would remember the quilts may not have feelings but the quilters do!!!
    Both of those quilts are so wonderful in different way, your mini is just perfect to me and I would adore anything like that hanging in my home, it's so original and different.
    The zig zag quilt is so fresh and modern to me and to me the binding pulls all of the colours together!!

  150. Angela, I am sorry for your experience. This is the reason I do not enter shows of any kind. We all have our own doubts about our work and judges are extremely critical. Part of it is that they are supposed to criticize. I think there should be a class for anyone who wants to judge shows. They need to learn how to critique without damaging a fragile ego. To say it is not my cup of tea is fine, not every quilt appeals to every quilter. To rip one apart, verbally, is completely unnecessary. For the record, I think both of your quilts are lovely. And yes, I do think they accept some of the quilts just so the winning quilts have something to stand up against. I do not believe for one second that this is an unbiased judging. I often feel that some, and I stress some, of the MQG members are elitist. It's why I don't join. That way I only have to please myself. Please keep your heart and your quilting as it is, continue to grow and share your lovely works with us here. I truly appreciate it.

  151. I happen to LOVE the zig zag quilt. and the quilt with the girl dreaming is very nice. I understand why people have quilts judged.. but that's it JUDGED.. I am the creator of my quilts. I have control of every step of the way. I have noticed some of the attendees are very CLICKY.. there are a few that were in attendance to the show that I follow on blogs, who are designers for certain fabric manufacturers and,I hate to inform them. they have no people skills. and sadly because of that I will not purchase their fabric.. sad I know, and I did not comment to bring anyone down, but we buy and love fabric and we enjoy creating things for friends and family. I think when things are being judged it is their judgement not someone who would cherish the quilt. keep your head up and do not let the judges break your creating spirit.

  152. I'm still waiting for feedback on my quilt that was in the show, and after reading your feedback, I'm not exactly looking forward to it. I was at the show, and the biggest thing I found was that there were quilts that ribboned with very little technical merit to them. I questioned how a quilt that didn't lay flat won a ribbon while other quilts that were technically excellent didn't ribbon. Seeing the winning quilts made me realize that the judges seemed to pick quilts they liked and totally dismissed the technical nature of quilting. We have fought to have outsiders of the modern quilt movement view our quilts as more than just improve pieced quilts with no regard for complex piecing and technical merit, but I felt the judging here took us a step back by totally dismissing the technical element. I wish they disclosed the judging criteria because I'm left wondering why certain quilts ribboned while others didn't. Your quilts are beautiful and you should be proud of them. I think a lot of the issue comes from who the judges were – a fabric designer and a fabric/yarn store owner. Please be proud of your quilts. Your work is beautiful.

  153. Both quilts are AMAZING! I absolutely love the one of the girl with her dreams and life in thoughts. So personal….I think I can see parts of your life in that and I don't even know you. I just made a Chevron quilt and it was lots of work. I love your interpretation of it with the narrow strips of fabric.

    Years ago I entered a small wall hanging in a show and after I got the "critique" back I decided I would never enter another. After all, most of us quilt for ourselves and the enjoyment and the relaxation and the creativeness…and we hope others enjoy, not pick apart, what we have created.

  154. I'm a lurker/reader, so you don't know me and I hope I'm not stepping on toes by commenting. But I wanted to say that both these quilts (along with the rest of your work) are imaginative and beautiful and creative, and that I can't imagine how anyone could judge them so harshly. "Overly personal" seems like a particularly bizarre criticism – I know that for me, crafting and quilting are intensely personal. I really hope you don't feel too discouraged.

    – Martha

  155. oh, that's really not easy. There are many thoughts going through my head. Too much to type down here. Keep on sewing and having fun in doing so. That's what matters.

  156. I find your work beautiful. Please don't let this stop you from quilting. Your work is way more meticulous than mine has ever been, but I just remind myself that the reason I quilt is to make something pretty and warm for someone I love. As long as I love it and they love it and it will bring a smile to their heart than my time was well spent. Anytime you put yourself out there it's difficult to hear the 'rejection'. But who cares? Who are they anyway? Stay true to what you love and quilt on!

  157. Oh my…I've never entered a judged show, but quilts are so very personal and take so much of our time, energy and heart. Getting judgment like that must feel like getting told that your child isn't good enough! But please, please focus on all the love and support that you are getting through these comments. I've loved your blog for ages – it might be one of the first ones I added to my Reader – and your quilts big and small are such a source of inspiration to me! Keep up the gorgeous work 🙂

  158. It takes A LOT to put your work out there and have it judged. I am so sorry they chose to find the negative in your work and not the positives. All judges are NOT like that – they can critique without being cruel.

    You've hit exactly on my struggles with the modern movement versus the more traditional methods of quilting. I think a lot of us wonder where we really belong – I think the bottom line answer is… we quilt because it makes us happy to make something for someone else (or ourselves) with our own two hands. Nothing else should matter. Keep up the great work!

  159. Those judges are completely ridiculous and that kind of criticism is uncalled for, even if your work wasn't spectacular, which I actually think your quilts are!! I know it must have been very upsetting but hope that all these comments will give you some comfort. I know that you will continue to inspire so many people with your wonderful works of quilt art!

  160. Well, you have a LOT of support here, but I'm still going to write my 2 cents! First of all, quilting IS personal. All my quilts have "stories" and that is what makes them special. Your quilts are gorgeous, Angela. I have no idea who the judges were, but I think they missed the mark. That said, critiques of our work are very hard to hear (I am a writer and belonged to an online critique group for years – my first critique devastated me and I cried for three days before I could begin writing again). BUT, a critique should not just be what the critiquer thought needed improvement (or what they did not think worked), it should also point out the strengths of the work. No one, on one, can "hear" a critique which is all negative. And in my opinion, that kind of critique is just mean.

    I also want to say, I think you showed tremendous courage to submit anything to QuiltCon…and you deserve a BIG congratulations on having your two quilts accepted to the show. Don't let the judges' totally subjective, limited view of your work discourage you. Quilting, as everything in the "art" world, is subjective. Those particular judges were critical, but the very next show you could have judges who see the special qualities and beauty of what you have done. <3

  161. I have always loved your blog and I am always inspired by your talent. Apparently the judges at QuiltCon have never heard "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" or The Golden Rule. I bet they would be crushed to hear those words directed at them!!!!

  162. Goodness! It's awful that you had such a bad experience in your first show. Now, this is the first post of yours I have read. Because I heard about this from Traceyjay. And I'm nosy!

    Now my questions for you. Do you belong to a guild? If you do, find out who does quilt judging for your state guild or something and, perhaps, make an appointment to have your work looked at by someone who judges quilting while you are there to discuss their findings. If nothing else, you will learn what judges look for.

    I think you were very brave to enter your quilts in the show. I don't do criticism of myself very well, so I will never send one of my quilts off to be judged.

  163. Oh, Angela. I hate that they made you question yourself for even a millisecond. Personal taste is one thing, certainly…I follow your blog because I personally like what you make. However, I also recognize your skills as a quilter—your work is not just creative and lovely, but well executed! It does not sound like the judges even noticed that aspect. Plus judging shouldn't be mean.

    Your Daydreamer piece is one of my favorites (!!!) of all time, anywhere. Your ZigZag entry is great as well, fresh and pretty and technically sharp. And I admire your bravery in submitting your quilts at all–I can't even work up the confidence to give one of my quilts to anyone outside our home! =P (of course my quilts don't look like yours!) I hope you can brush this off and continue to focus on your art, which is personal, beautiful, and so inspirational to so many people.

  164. I'm just catching up on my blog reading from the weekend, and I was so sorry to read about your experience this morning, Angela. Quilting is art. It's intensely personal, and everyone has their own taste when it comes to what they like. I've found myself so many times in the past year struggling to understand what people want to see and why things that I'm so proud of are sometimes met with a yawn. I guess I'm learning that I need to be sewing what I love because I love it. Sometimes it's better to tune everything else out.

  165. Angela, Your quilts are so SO inspiring to me personally. I'm glad you've received so much support from talking about this! I understand that part of judging is picking a favorite, so obviously not everyone can win. I just don't see the value in sending out critiques that aren't constructive. Do you think the judges knew these would be sent back to the quilters??

    Anyway, your mini is one of the most incredible quilts I've ever seen, and your zigzag quilt is so bright, fun, and innovative. (And I've used that rainbow binding on at least three quilts, so that one stings to me too!) Hope you know how well respected you are in the modern quilting community!!

  166. I attended QuiltCon and just wanted to add that I actively sought out the smaller quilt because of all the pictures I saw on instagram. Both are beautiful pieces of art. I'm so sorry you received negative feedback, but I hope that won't hold you back from creating!
    Oh- I'm a new to this whole quilting business and I just found your blog through the fat quarterly flickr site. Can't wait to read/see more 🙂

  167. Judging at quilt shows has always been a mystery to me. The ones I think are amazing almost never win. I would not expect this meanness from the quilting community, hopefully the judges were just poorly chosen.

    I really like you zig zag quilt, for what that's worth. Creativity is in the heart of each individual.

  168. I received similar notes on my quilt, and I had a similar reaction. I have lots of experience with design critiques both in my education and professional practice as a landscape architect, and I welcome constructive criticism. It can be hard to take, but good criticism is a gift. The problem with the Quiltcon critique is that there is not a single crumb of useful information – just trivial opinions. And that I did not expect.

  169. 1. I'm a fan.
    2. Keep being you.

    I think the judging was "overly personal" and they will learn from the experience. It's not normally an episode of Dance Moms.

    Years ago, a friend complained about receiving a juried comment which read only "Uneven stitches." You see, after paying to receive the comments, she wanted something meatier. I should send her this link.

  170. Adding to the love – I do wonder why they accepted it in the first place. Your work is beautiful and moving – what more could you hope to achieve?

    I struggle with following blogs because I'm disheartened by how little time I have to sew and hate that I'll never achieve what so many of you achieve. Then I get over it and follow just for the fun of seeing so many beautiful quilts (and other items) – please know that you're inspiring others in addition to the joy you get from quilting.

  171. I love your quilts Angela, they're so very inspirational! I loved your girl dreaming from the moment I saw her, she is just beautiful. You make the most amazing swap gifts! I'm so sorry that you have had a bad experience. I hope you take heart from all the love here in these comments and carry on creating, you truly have a gift!

  172. I've never been to your blog before, I come via Tracey. But, I love your quilts! Brush off those comments and keep doing what you do best 🙂

  173. Angela,
    Your girl quilt is absolutely darling! I have to make a self portrait for a small group that I'm in and I found it very inspiring. I pinned the zig zag quilt before reading this post. It's an inventive take on the "regular" zig zag quilts. These judges obviously weren't QUALIFIED and CERTIFIED quilt judges. Suzanne Marshall, an internationally recognized and award winning quilter, once did a program for our guild where she read judges comments for the same quilt. One set of judges loved it and it won a prize and another set at a different show didn't care for it at all.
    You are a very talented artist. Don't doubt yourself.

  174. I love what MuleHill wrote. I think art is subjective. To me, your quilts are amazing. I recently discovered the blog of another quilter who entered a quilt as well, and it didn't place. Looking at the quilts that did win, well, some of them I thought were nice, one I loved, and the others I thought, again–art is subjective. It didn't trip my twanger but maybe it does for somebody else. But, that's okay… it's all about what makes you happy when you're making it. I love your zig zag quilt–it's all kinds of happy–and your mini is particularly amazing. I think of what you will think of it 20+ years down the line, as each image sparks a memory of the time you were making the quilt. That, to me, is amazing.

  175. I don't know who the judges are but they do follow a list of critiques questions. I also, for the first time, just put 6 quilts in a local quilt show and I thought mine were cool to me, but really didn't care what they thought except for the stuff that I didn't know, for example, about having the binding "FULL" – stuff like that. Each quilt that I made came from something personal about my life, just as yours came from inside YOU!
    AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR QUILTS! The first one is a FAVORITE. I love whimsy and happy, colorful quilts. You would have had great comments from me. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  176. you know what? The judges were wrong. One of the winning quilts is, in my opinion, absloutely vile, so clearly the judges know nothing! Your pieces are fab – the mini is great because it IS personal, as well as being technically brilliant. The zigzag quilt is a gorgeous pattern, great fabrics and an AMAZING binding. So there.

  177. I think that the comments the judges made are not very helpful in defining their ideas of what they were looking for in a show. I think that they were in fact, unprofessional and quite honestly rude.

    Never let a judge box you in Angela. I know I won't. I have not tried a juried show but I am going to try this summer and if I cry because of it, I will cry and move forward as you are. I want to hear what others have to offer in hopes of improving my skills.

    Art is a personal expression of self and anyone who tries to box others in their definition of that should be reminded of the old "quilt police" and that there are those in the Modern movement too.

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