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How To Plan For A Quilt Show

Updated on August 12, 2014
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A lover of arts and crafts, Shasta Matova enjoys making artistic, applique, pieced, traditional, miniature, modern, and crazy quilts.

This little quilt won a ribbon at the 2011 National Quilting Association Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio.
This little quilt won a ribbon at the 2011 National Quilting Association Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio. | Source

Submit Your Quilt to a Quilt Show

After you have made your precious work of art, wouldn't you like to share your quilt with the world instead of tucking it in the back of a closet?

Well, you can. There are many people who would love to see your quilt at a quilt show. There are many reasons to enter your quilt in a quilt show, and entering your quilt to a quilt show may not be as difficult as you might think. You might even win a ribbon or a prize. Although quilt shows are not for the purpose of buying and selling quilts, you may even get an offer from someone who wants to buy your quilt.

Benefits of Entering Your Quilt in a Quilt Show

There are many advantages of entering your quilt in a quilt show. You get an opportunity to show off your quilt to the public, and the fame and notoriety of having a quilt exhibited in a quilt show. It is an incredible experience to walk around a corner and see your quilts on display among all the other beautiful quilts. It also gets your name recognized as a quilter, giving you a chance to build your reputation should you decide to open up a quilt shop or start designing patterns.

You also get a chance to win a ribbon or some prizes, sometimes the cash prizes can be pretty big. In addition, the judges may give you some feedback on your quilt-making ability, including opportunities for improvement, so you can learn how to become a better quilter.

Entering a quilt in a show also gives you a chance to support your fellow members of a quilt guild or quilting community. If you are submitting a charity quilt, you provide an opportunity for the charity to receive some attention. You also show support to the quilting industry in general, and keep it thriving by maybe letting someone else catch the quilt addiction bug.

Quinobequin Quilt Show

Types of Quilt Shows

There are many different types of quilt shows. A quilt guild may have a show to feature the quilts made by the guild members. A charity may exhibit, and maybe auction, quilts donated to the organization. There are local shows, regional shows, and even national shows.


In terms of submitting a quilt, you want to find out whether the show is juried or non-juried. Your local quilt guild will likely be a non-juried show, meaning that any quilts that are submitted will be shown. A beginning quilter will choose a non-juried show to develop some experience and comfort in submitting a quilt. These shows tend to be more casual and relaxed.

A national quilt show may need to be more particular, and will examine the quilt submissions to determine whether to display them in the show. An experienced quilter may become ready to show off their quilt on a bigger scale, and get a chance to win some prizes and recognition. These shows tend to be more fastidious and require attention to detail in craftsmanship and design.


It is also important to consider the style of quilts that are being submitted. While most shows will provide a venue for a variety of different styles, some shows clearly show that the judges' preferences lean towards a particular style of quilt. An art quilt or a liberated quilt is unlikely to do well in a traditional quilt show, but could win the grand prize at an art quilt show. Take a look at the winners of the past shows, and read the submission guidelines to see whether your quilt will fit well in that venue.

AQS Quilt Show

How to Find Quilt Shows to Enter Your Quilt

There are several ways to find the shows in which to submit your quilt.

Previous shows. Think about the quilt shows you have gone to, and find out whether they happen on a regular basis. Since you have been to the show, you have a general feeling about the types of quilts there, and an idea about how it will be presented there. If it is local, you may even be able to bring your quilt in person instead of paying for shipping. You can even get the guidelines while you are at a show, and have a year or two to prepare your quilt for the next year.

Quilt Guild. Your local quilt guild may be the best place to find out about local shows, particularly those hosted by the guild. They will also receive information about the bigger (regional or national) shows as well.

State and County Fairs. Most state and county fairs hold a quilt show as part of the fair.

Magazines. Quilting magazines will often list upcoming quilt shows.

Internet. The internet is now a great place to find a listing of quilt shows.

Consider shows in your local area, of course, but don't be afraid to check the guidelines for shows that are in another area, or even another country. Quilters from Australia and Japan often send their quilts to the United States for a chance to win the big prizes.

When you find a show that interests you, you can check with the show coordinator to find out about their criteria for quilt submission.

Following the Quilt Show Rules

Each quilt show will have its own rules about what quilts they want to show that year. Be sure to follow the directions, paying special attention to these issues:

Age of Quilt. Some shows want to show the newest quilts, while others are more flexible.

Quality. The juried shows often have strict requirements about quality workmanship of the quilts. They will scrutinize whether you have sharp points, mitered corners, matching color of thread for the binding, and other details like that. Other shows will be more lenient and relaxed. Choose the best venue for your quilt.

Display. All shows will provide guidelines on what they need to display their quilts. They will probably require a hanging sleeve, and will tell you with the size they need for their equipment.

Label. All quilt shows will require a quilt label, and even if they don't, you will want to provide one so your quilt can be returned to you. Some shows may ask you to cover up the label to avoid any bias from the judges.

Photographs. The juried shows will require photographs prior to submitting a quilt. Be sure to take the time to provide quality photographs that are well displayed and represent the best features of the quilt. Lighting conditions are very important. Since these photographs will determine whether your quilt will be exhibited in the show, you might even consider hiring a professional photographer for the competitive shows.

Special Exhibits. Some shows feature particular types of quilts for an exhibition. These quilts may different rules than the rest of the submissions, and may be treated separately from the other quilts. For example, one year, they may have an exhibit of red and white quilts. They may accept antique quilts or new quilts, but they might not award any prizes for these exhibit quilts.

Deadline. All shows will have a deadline by which you are required to provide your submission. Some of them will list the date they want the quilt in their hands, while others will list the postmarked date. Pay attention to this date, and allow plenty of time for shipping the quilt to the show. If your quilt is late, it will not be displayed at the show.

Sisters Quilt Show (Oregon)

Bonus Tips on Entering a Quilt in a Quilt Show

  • When you are making a quilt, pay attention to standards of quilting excellence so that you can develop your skills, and you will be proud to enter your quilt in the show.
  • You can make a new quilt specifically made to follow the show's guidelines, but don't forget that some of the quilts you have already made might also qualify.
  • Consider participating in a charity project in order to get your quilt in a show, maybe even a traveling show, without the stress (and submission fee) of entering a show.
  • Consider participating in a group project with other members of your guild. This will give you a chance to show your quilt as a part of a whole, without the pressure of everyone looking at just one quilt.
  • Choose your category wisely. If you enter the wrong category, your quilt has no chance of winning. Sometimes your quilt may appropriately fall into more than one category, and if you choose the category that fewer people will enter, you may have a better chance of getting a ribbon. If you know someone who tends to win all the prizes, maybe choose a category that she is not likely to enter.
  • Take photographs of your quilt and buy the insurance at the post office, to help you in case your quilt gets lost or stolen.
  • Pay attention to the detail. Write neatly (or type) on the application form, answer the questions, provide quality photographs that really show off your quilt, and submit the actual quilt neatly, and follow all the directions. Make sure you remove all the lint from the quilt, and any loose threads. Putting together a show is difficult, and if you make things difficult for the coordinators, it may affect how they feel about the quilt and you overall.
  • Be sure to provide credit to anyone who helped you with your quilt, including the pattern designer and quilter.
  • If your quilt doesn't get accepted into a show, don't take it as a rejection of your quilt. There may have been many applicants. It may just not have been the right style of quilt for that show. Submit your quilt to other shows.
  • If you overhear a comment from a grumpy viewer about your choice of color or anything else, remember that it is just one personal opinion, and everyone will have different ideas about what is attractive and what is not.
  • If you get negative feedback from a judge about your quilt, don't take it personally. Sometimes some things are just a judge's personal preference, and other times the criticism may be valid, but was not provided very tactfully because the judge was having a bad day or was very busy.
  • Have fun. Quilting is supposed to be enjoyable, and you want make sure that you keep everything in proper perspective.

Show Your Quilt

Every year, many people come to see all of the beautiful quilts on display at the different quilts throughout the world and throughout the year. They would love to see your quilts among all the others.

A show gives you an incredible opportunity to show off your quilt, get some recognition, and maybe even win a prize. Just seeing your quilt among all the other beautiful quilts is a joy in itself. Don't just hide your beautiful work of art in the back of the closet. Take it to a show!


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