So I’m a bit of a competitive person. I like entering competitions, going head to head with other people, challenging myself… and I don’t mind losing when it’s a fair fight. But I should know by now that competitions are not always fair… MUN in high school proved that time and time again I entered into the Montgomery County Fair thinking it would be a serious, structured competition… and I left a bit disheartened.
First, lets talk quilts. I entered my first adult sized quilt I have ever done. It was sewn completely on a home sewing machine… and fitting a 6’+ quilt through that thing is no small task. I knew my stitches were a bit uneven and not all of the 1000+ corners matched up perfectly… but hey, this was an armature competition. Sadly, the competition was not divided into sensible categories… hand quilting, home machine quilting, and professional machine quilting were all lumped into one. For those who don’t know, there are such things as “long arm” quilting machines. Technically, you don’t have to be a professional to use one. BUT they cost on average about $5000-$8,000 and are about the size of a twin bed…quite and investment for someone who doesn’t quilt professionally. They can be programmed to quilt perfect stitches in beautiful designs. You can tell by looking at a quilt that it has been made with a long arm because they look, well, flawless. How could my modest home-sewn quilt possibly compete. Needless to say, this wasnt a Remember the Titans/Blind Side/Rudy/underdog triumphs over all situation. I got a Red Ribbon-”Good” rating.
I knew as soon as I turned in my quilt not to get my hopes up. But the part that stung the most was reading my comment card after the judging was through… I got knocked down on the “properly finished” section, and there was only a single comment: binding. Binding?! Seriously? My quilt was bound, in bias tape I made myself out of the penguin fabric. I didn’t use the store-bought pre-made kind that perhaps they were looking for. I can take constructive criticism, when it makes sense. Ugh
Even before I got to the Fair, I realized this was my 1st major quilt, and that with a few more years of practice and maybe some classes under my belt, I could something better. BUT I also thought I’d be blown away the work of my competitors. I thought I’d see more than just a nicely pieced top quilted by a long-arm machine. I definitely thought there would be more entries too. And they were all random sizes… baby quilts to wall hangings to queen sized bed covers. So everything was just lumped into one category. Maybe next-time I’ll make a place mat sized piece and hand quilt the snot of it. Oh wait, there wont be a next time. At least not at this Fair, I need a competition that is taken more seriously with rules and structure and more recognition to the victorious (yes, the awards ceremony was a bit hard to watch, maybe those judges had never made a presentation in front of a group of people before).
Ironically, I was just talking to a friend the other day about machines used as tools vs machines dominating a craft. Technology is blurring the lines between hand-made and manufactured… handmade items should have imperfections, it gives them character and shows they were made with love by a human being. And that is what makes a quilt more than just a blanket with seams. You can buy those kind of things at Pottery Barn.
The best thing I got out of this quilt competition was the deadline. I finished my quilt (says the girl who is notorious for starting big projects and leaving them 3/4 done…). I love it, it’s exactly what I wanted, and now I can start using it
Oh… there’s MORE unexplainable nonsensical-ness to the Adult Show… coming soon in Part 2…