Quilt Show Judging

Kathy Kansier became interested in textile competitions through her early involvement in 4-H programs in Wisconsin. During the early 1980s, she began entering food, clothing and quilts in adult classes of a local county fair. After moving to Missouri in 1992, she began entering her quilts into quilt competitions. Kathy became interested in the process of judging quilts and took a seminar on quilt judging in 1999. Since that time, she has worked either as a volunteer or the actual judge in overĀ 50 shows. Kathy has judged over 8,000 quilts in her career as a judge. Her experience includes quilt show judging on the local, regional and national level.

Judges for quilt shows come from all sorts of backgrounds. They should be knowledgeable in the field of quilt making and judging. Each entry is evaluated on its strengths and weaknesses. Judges are expected to provide fair and unbiased decisions regarding comments and awards.

The purpose of judging a competitive quilt show is generally three-fold:

  • To evaluate each quilt in each category, using the same criteria,
  • To choose the award winners for the competition
  • To encourage and educate the entrants by providing a written critique for each entry.

Kathy prefers the elimination process rather than a point system for competitive judging.

Kathy enjoys working with local volunteers on the judging floor. The volunteers often develop a better understanding of the process of judging. They also gain valuable information about good techniques and designs and become better quilt makers as a result of their volunteer work. The number of volunteers needed for a judging floor varies based on the size of the show. Normally six volunteers per four hour shift are sufficient. It is expected that the show coordinator or a judging coordinator will be available to help with the process.

Not all quilt shows are judged shows. These non-competitive shows are called exhibitions. They are popular with small guilds and shows. As a service to the quilt makers, the show sponsors may still high an experienced judge to provide written evaluations of the quilts. As with competitive judging, Kathy provides 5-7 written comments per entry for these exhibition shows. Her comments contain a balance of positive and constructive observations.

Most shows combine Kathy’s teaching and appraisal services with her judging services. She is experienced in judging on a team as well as judging alone in a competition. To provide adequate time for each entry, it is best for Kathy to judge no more than 125 quilts in a given day. For shows that contract her judging services, Kathy is available to provide consultation regarding rules, categories and the judging process. She also provides a customized critique sheet for the judging and written instructions for volunteers.