Tips and Tricks for Better Machine Quilting

Cindy Seitz-Krug shares her knowledge gained from over two and a half decades of machine quilting award-winning quilts on a home sewing (domestic) machine.

Quilt Judging Part 2 (a Post Script)


After writing the last blog post about how judges choose the winning quilts, it occurred to me that there was something else I could have shared about judges that might be of interest to quilters. So, I’m going to do that now in a VERY brief post.

There is strange phenomenon out there amongst quilters who enter their quilts in competitions, ESPECIALLY when they are new to the competition world. What I’m referring to, and I have personally felt this way myself, is that when quilters enter a quilt in a competition, and they get comments back from a judge, they tend to take those comments too personally. This can lead to many strange emotions such as anger, incredulity, bitterness, embarrassment, etc.


If you don’t know what I mean, I’m going to try to explain by sharing my own personal story of a comment sheet I got on one of my earliest quilts entered. On that particular quilt, I used invisible nylon thread in the bobbin for the stippling I did throughout the quilt. The judge made a comment that went something like this:

“I question the long term durability of nylon thread and its use as your bobbin thread.”

No big deal, right? She has a right to her own opinion, but I sure didn’t see things that way when I got that critique sheet. I had the intense desire to track down that judge and argue the point! Is that INSANE or what? I didn’t think so at the time, but I see now that my feelings were very irrational. But they were very real for me at the time.

I know many other quilters who’ve scoffed at judge’s comments, or griped about them. I think that’s natural. But it seems to really hit a deep chord with newer quilters.

That’s why I want to explain a few things to new quilters, so you won’t take things so personally and get upset by the comments on your critique sheets.

First of all, judges aren’t perfect, and even though they know a lot about many quilting techniques, they don’t know everything about every technique. So if they make a mistake on something on your quilt, have a heart and forgive them! They’re human too! And with quilting techniques evolving at a very fast pace, it can be hard for judges to keep up with all the newest techniques. Just put yourself in a judge’s shoes; would you want to have to continually learn every new technique out there? Judges work hard to stay current, but it’s a tough and thankless job.

And secondly, judges almost never remember individual quilts. So you may meet a judge some day and say, “Hey, you judged my quilt a few months ago at such and such show. Do you remember it? It was the one with the red and green applique.” Well, that judge most certainly will not remember your quilt. Judges see so many quilts that they really all just blend together. Even a Best of Show quilt will probably not be remembered. So never expect a judge to remember your quilt. It may be very memorable to you and a few people, but to a judge who looks at hundreds of quilts, it’s just another quilt. Don’t be offended by that; it’s just the way it is.

Really, the main thing I want to impart with you all today is to take a judge’s comments with a grain of salt. They’re not meant to insult you or depress you. They are meant to point out the areas that you can improve on. It’s constructive criticism.

So buck up, grow a thicker skin, and work on improving your skills instead of whining about the comment sheet☺

(Tough love from me!!!)

My next blog will discuss all the things quilters need to be aware of when they decide to enter a quilt in a national or international quilt show (such as entry forms, categories, fees, quilt age limits, shipping, insurance, etc.)

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