Friday, March 21, 2014

The Magpie Judges Quilts

Whenever we go to quilt shows, (or whenever she asks my advice on fabric), my wife calls me a magpie.  I always choose the bright colours.  And since I'm just the chauffeur, I'm free to judge quilts entirely according to my own preferences - not to say a few serious criteria haven't rubbed off on me over the years.

I judge quilts simply by what 'grabs me', or what has some 'pizzazz'.  As you can imagine, this one grabbed me.  Because of my preferences I often end up wondering why the prize-winning quilts were chosen, as I did at this quilt show - but then I'm not a quilt judge!
There are several other factors besides the 'grab factor' that I think are important.  Design is one, and a meaningful title is another.  This striking dark quilt of the sun against a background of stars, with the title 'Solar Wind', won on both counts.

There were a number of 'modern' quilts entered (that was a show category), and overall I was disappointed in them - little pizzazz.  But this one was bright, unusual, and striking.  

And then there are the more serious and conventional criteria, such as the quality of the quilting.  I've darkened this photo again to help it show up, and you can see how the quilter chose different quilting patterns for different areas of this quilt, and it's all beautifully done.

There's also the precision of the workmanship.  This quilt illustrates what I mean - look at how precisely those triangles meet at the centre points.  I'm afraid I'm now in the habit of wandering quilt shows peering closely to judge the quality of the workmanship.

This last quilt meets all my criteria, and is my overall favourite, along with the frog I posted yesterday.  It's a 'Dear Jane' quilt, entitled 'Jane as a Teenager'.  It's bold, bright, precise and beautifully quilted, though the 'quilting' is subdued to let the pattern stand out.  And yet it's a very old and traditional pattern.

Here's a close-up.  The original 'Dear Jane' quilt was apparently quilted by Jane Stickle, in the 1860's, and consisted of 169 square blocks, with 56 border triangles, every one of which is different.  Each tiny bit of different colour or shape is a separate piece of fabric, so there were over 5000 pieces in the original.  This new one sticks to those rules, but uses bright vibrant colours.  (I didn't count the pieces).  Since I have a niece named Jane, the title 'Jane as a Teenager' just seemed so appropriate - bright, colourful and bursting out all over.

So that's how the magpie judges quilts.


  1. I would be so happy to have the "magpie" judge any of my wall hangings or stitching. An eye for colour. design, technique, yes, those triangle points need careful and precise joins, you have given us some treats again. Cheers, Jean.

  2. I think you are a good judge. I too enjoy the bright colors:)

  3. I like the brighter colors too. Very beautiful.

  4. My MIL & SIL, and my sister quilted. I have a quilt from each of them. The 2nd one pictured would be my choice.

  5. I don't know anything about quilt but the first one would get my vote hand down (although it might look better on a wall than on a bed).

  6. I like your taste. That last one is WoW! and the first one too.

  7. Muy colorido... Muy bonitas... Un abrazo desde Murcia.

  8. The Stargoose finds himself in complete agreement with the Magpie.

  9. Oh- that 'dear jane' quilt should have won first place- so colourful and well done!