Wednesday, October 19, 2022

What the Judge 👩🏼‍⚖️ Said, 2022

Do you enter projects in your county fair? I grew up in the countryside and was a member of the Happy Hornets 4-H club. The finale of the 4-H year is to enter one's best projects in the county fair. As an adult, when the county fair rolls around, I still feel that urge to finish things up and enter them in the county fair!
The rule at our county fair is only one entry in each lot per exhibitor. I make 50+ quilts a year, but nearly all of them fall into the same lot: 
"Bed Quilt 60" X 80" or Larger, Pieced and Machine Quilted by Entrant"
Despite this fact, after going through my records of quilts I've made in the past year, I found 10 quilts to enter and 4 other needlework projects for this year's county fair. 
We had a chatty judge this year who left a lot of comments, so I thought it would be interesting to share the judge's comments, recorded on the back of the entry tags. By the way, the judge has a scribe, so she did not have to personally write out these comments. Also, we see the judge's comments several days after judging, so we don't talk with the judge personally.
The following are the 14 items I entered at the county fair this year. I linked the entry to the original blog post, when possible. I wrote responses to the judges comments after some of them. 

1. Large Bed Quilt, Pieced and Machine Quilted by Entrant: Red Ribbon (2nd place)--"Exemplary piecing, quilting motif supports theme, machine binding is excellent, sashing is straight, great fabric colors." 

Nancy: I'm not sure why this got a 2nd place ribbon with all the positive comments. This is the largest category so maybe it was related to there being a lot of competition in this category.

2. Large Scrap Quilt, Quilted by Entrant: Red Ribbon (2nd place)--"Variety of Fabrics are harmonious. Black fabric adds great contrast and provides unity. Blocks could be a little more square and straight. Binding stitched on front should be less visible. Quilting well done."

3. Crib Quilt, Machine Quilted by Entrant: Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Very interesting curve design. Quilt could lay flatter. Quilting lines are consistent and add interest. Binding is well done. Backing fabric choice is a great contrast." 

Nancy: I did wash this baby quilt as I was going to mail it to the recipient. I didn't have the address yet, so I entered it in the fair in the meantime, thus the "could lay flatter" comment by the judge.

4. Wall Quilt, Pieced, Machine Quilted by Entrant: Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Choice of color on front adds movement. Piecing could be more precise. Leaf quilting motif is very good, adds interest and texture. Well done binding."

5. Appliquéd Wall Quilt, Machine Quilted by Entrant: Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Appliqué is secure and even. Variety of appliqué stitching is interesting. Bead embroidery/embellishment are secure and well done. Matchstick quilting adds texture to border."

6. Wall Quilt, Mixed Techniques, Quilted by Entrant: Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Fun collection of cats! Bias tape is generally well applied but could be more secure in some areas. Quilting is well done. Quilt seems somewhat unbalanced with large panel at top. Binding stitches on front should be less visible. Silver cat adds interest." 

Nancy: I added the solid indigo panel at the top to tuck under drawers and be held in place where it is displayed in our home, thus it seemed unbalanced to the judge. See photo of quilt tucked in and on display below.

7. Wall Hanging with Special Surface Techniques (whole cloth, embroidery, painting, embellishments), Quilted by Entrant: White Ribbon (3rd place)--"Wrong category, no special surface technique. Quilting motif is effective. Change in quilting thread color is a good choice. Binding is well done. Would have fared better in a different category." 

Nancy: I was going for the "whole cloth" part of the category, but the judge didn't catch that. I understand a "panel quilt" category will be added next year which might be more appropriate. I was surprised to get a ribbon at all, as it was deemed in the wrong category.

8. Wall Hanging Using Fusible Appliqué, Quilted by Entrant: Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Wonderful collection of animals. Appliqué is even and consistent. Embellishments and fabric choice add lots of texture. Quilting is well done. Binding well done. Happy piece!"

9. Table Runner: Pink Ribbon (4th place)--"Calendar is cut off on right side. Pieced squares add interest. Quilting well done. Binding very well done. Black borders add balance."

Nancy: The judge must've been very tired by the time she judged this table runner, as she judged it according to the back of the table runner!!! She never looked at the right side!?! It was displayed on the back side also, so I asked my friend who was working behind the counters to turn it right side out. I put a tea towel calendar on the back, plus leftover blocks. See full quilt and full back below.

10. Other Quilted Articles, Not Otherwise Listed: "Ineligible--should be lot 41. Fabric choices good. Edge embroidery well done. Quilting is evenly distributed. Would benefit from blocking to be more square."

Nancy: I did add this in at the last minute, and entered the "Other Quilted Articles" category as a table center, not table runner. Okay, I get it! But the judge suggested lot 41--tote bag/purse. I think she meant lot 40--table runner or two placemats.

11. Sewing Other Than Garments, Not Otherwise Listed: Yellow Ribbon (5th place)--"Cute cubes! Top edge of lining a little bulky and seems a little big. Great quilting, quality and seams!"

Nancy: I didn't blog about these, but I linked several other Desk Cubes I've made from this pattern.

12. Wool Applique, Wall Hanging: Award of Excellence & Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Outstanding! So much detail, all well done, miters, stitching excellent"

13. Wearable Art, Hat: Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Nice sewing and colors! Even stitching on brim!"

14. Rug, Crocheted: Award of Excellence & Blue Ribbon (1st place)--"Attractive colors. Corners curl a bit--do they need another chain stitch to get around corner?"

Nancy: I think the judge meant another "single crochet to get around the corner", not chain stitch. I've made a rug like this every year and entered it in the county fair, always getting a lesser ribbon. So I was happy to see my selvage rug finally got noticed this year! My rug is doubled over on display, so it's twice the size you see. The link I provided has a tutorial from 3 years ago on how to make a crocheted selvage rug.

All in all, I did pretty well this year: 2 Awards of Excellence, 8 Blue Ribbons, 2 Red Ribbons, 1 White Ribbon, 1 Pink Ribbon, 1 Yellow Ribbon. My DH always say: cast your nets wide and you'll catch something, meaning enter as many things as you can and maybe you'll get a nice ribbon! 

Below are the Grand & Reserve Champions of the needlecraft categories this year. I work with three of the champions at our LQS and they are amazing quilters!!!
Thanks for reviewing our county fair with me! It is definitely a highlight of the year to attend the county fair, see the quilts and all the different displays, as well as try some fair food! Do you attend your local county fair?

Grace and peace!!! ~Nancy


  1. Wow you cleaned house with all those ribbons!! Nice job Nancy! It was fun to see what the judges had to say with each entry, thank you for taking the time to share that:)

  2. Congratulations on all of your ribbons! It was great fun to see your entries and read all of the judge's comments.

  3. you had some amazing entries - I laughed that she judged the wrong side of the table runner - the ig was really cute tho!!!! Thanks for sharing!@

  4. I hope you are starting a wall of ribbons in your house, you certainly need one! Nice work, Nancy. I've never entered a quilt in our county fair; I'm still working up the nerve.

  5. Barb N Mountain QuiltworksOctober 19, 2022 at 10:01 AM

    Oh, fun, fun! It was great to read all the comments, and then your explanations, i.e., too much space at top of quilt. Also funny that the judge judged the wrong side! Great work, Nancy!

  6. All of your items are beautiful and the ribbons well-deserved!
    I've entered a number of fairs, and am also a qualified judge. Having a good committee is a big help to the judge - they are often there when articles are brought in, so they can help the judge in cases like your table runner. A situation that happened to me was for a knitted baby outfit - sweater and bonnet. I was told that I got 2nd because the judge awarded 1st prize to a set that included booties. The next year I included booties and was disqualified because the booties weren't in the "request"! A good committee member should have caught that. Oh well, live and learn!

  7. Thanks! It was such a pleasure to see the Fair! I haven't been to one in years! So very interesting to see it from your point of view and the judges comments. I loved them all!!!!!

  8. This was so fun. Congrats on all the ribbons. I enjoyed reading the judge's comments as well.

  9. You're so brave to be open to the judge's comments! I'm not sure I could do that. I think you make the most amazing quilty things, and would take issue with the one judge who said your piecing wasn't very precise! So great that you were awarded so many ribbons!

  10. So many beautiful entries and interesting comments by the judge. Congratulations on a job well done!

  11. I have entered items in fairs before...always interesting and sometimes fun (ha, ha) to read the judges comments! Congrats on bringing home so many ribbons! :)

  12. WOW! Well done Nancy!!!! Beautiful!

  13. A wonderful collection of beautiful quilts! You did very well ribbon wise. So enjoyed reading the judges comments with you. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  14. I just love JUDGES!!! BAH BOO HUMBUG! You had some great entries and boy did you do well! Congrats on everything. Love it that the Judge did not even as about the back of the table runner. You do know that some of the Scribes may not have gotten things correct either. Those Judges talk fast. I hope that your County Fair changes judges each year. The guild I used to be involved in used the same judges year after year and of course the become extremely familiar with the quilters and then they just continue to award to the same people. This judge seemed fairly good but missed the boat on a couple. Anyway, you should feel very proud of all of your work! Hugs!

  15. You did very well at the country fair! Thanks for sharing the judges' comments. I always think some are helpful and some are so unhelpful! I can't imagine how hard it must be and to have a comment on every piece...yikes. I don't really like entering contests as I don't like the comments...kind of a sensitive gal here...unable to take my own advice!

  16. First up, congratulations on all the awards. That is great.
    And thanks for sharing the comments. It is very interesting to see what the judge thought.

  17. Congratulations on all those ribbons! They're well deserved, for sure. I thought it was hilarious that the judge used the back of the table runner for her judgement :)

  18. Nancy such a great display of quilts! So many ribbons, all well deserved. Too funny on the back being judged!!

  19. Your fair gets some wonderful quilts to display. Your 4-H experience paid off- you swept some ribbons. Congrats. As a one-time 4-H agent I recall what a big deal county fair exhibit hall is! Well done. The judge really gave good feedback overall and she clearly had a long day. We'll give her a pass on judging the quilt back I guess.


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