Trial by Combat – Quilt Competitions

Entering quilting competitions can be scary.

I’m guessing people who aren’t quilters might find that funny. Quilts are quilts – how can they be scary? I bet you’d agree though, if you quilt for family and friends or for your personal enjoyment, putting your heart and soul on display for a judge, strangers, and peers to see, pick apart, and make written comments on,  just might take the fun right out of those stitches and turn them into perfectionism and a bit of anxiety!

Mostly, I enter my local guild’s show which is held every other year. Easy enough. It’s a great show to be in because it’s fun to see what your quilting friends are up to and it’s always interesting to see how each show’s judging preferences change from year to year. I’m especially looking forward to our next show’s new category: Modern. Look here to see my study on defining modern quilting.

I did enter a quilt in a big show (AQS Chattanooga) a couple of years ago and the stress of entering that first time was high! I was terrified I’d do something wrong and miss getting in on a technicality of the process. I had chosen Chattanooga because it was a new location and I thought that would give me the best chances of getting in (I call that my Super Strategy). I guess it worked! I was super excited when I got the email that Bella Vista was accepted. My quilt was gonna be in a book (I thought)! When we got to Chattanooga, I found out they only make the pictorial books for Paducah shows (argh). I knew the quilt wasn’t “going anywhere” at that show because, well…I’ve been to these shows! The work is indescribable and well beyond my skills, knowledge, patience, and determination! But that was fine with me! Getting in was an honor and I had a great time wearing my contestant ribbon! If you’ve never been to a large regional show, GO! Every year I look at many of the quilts at AQS Paducah — no,  make that MOST of the quilts at AQS Paducah and just stand there and say, “How.” They are THAT good.

Image of Italian Landscape Quilt

Bella Vista was a semi-finalist in the AQS Chattanooga Quilt Show

So skip ahead to May of year 2017 and some emails I got saying, “Last chance to enter the NEW Fall Paducah quilt show… and, well, you know my Super Strategy is to enter into a new show, so I’m all in! Apparently, the strategy worked ’cause, GUESS WHAT?

Yep, guess who’s wearin’ a contestant ribbon at the Fall Paducah Quilt Show?   Moi! And here she is:Image of Quilt Depicting HeavenSee Sometimes You  Gotta Look Up.

Again, I say, if you haven’t been to a big quilt show, you should go because you will see amazing works of art which will make you stand there with your mouth wide open while you think, “HOW”.

If you haven’t entered quilts in a show, give it a shot! You just never know!

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Tell me what quilt shows you like and what your favorite thing is to see!

Please share, pin, and tweet away! Thanks, Karla


  1. Merle

    Congratulations. I’ll be proud to see your quilt hanging in Paducah

  2. Nancy Wilson

    Beautiful work! They are both #1 with me!

  3. Dee

    Congratulations,this was definitely inspired from on high!! Great work,Karla!

  4. Kathryn

    Good for you! Exciting!

  5. The Bee

    Thanks, Kathy!

  6. The Bee

    Thanks so much for saying so! I think because heaven is a very personal image for people, it’s hard to decide what to include, so I thought the three Biggies were best (Father, Son, Holy Spirit – depicted by the colors)!

  7. The Bee

    Thanks, Nancy!

  8. The Bee

    Thanks, Merle!

  9. pat Smith

    What an honor! Congratulations!!

  10. Madeline Gieselman

    Karla-That is wonderful. I love that quilt.

  11. Cookie Little

    Love your quilt. It is an honor to be excepted in a major quilt. I was excepted in the Paducah AQS show in 2007 and was proud to wear my contestant ribbon.

  12. Sandra s Wilhelm

    All of your hard work is paying off. I am so excited that your quilt will be in the show. Of course I love it .

  13. The Bee

    Thanks so much, Sandy!

  14. The Bee

    How fun! Which quilt was it? I’d love to see it.

  15. The Bee

    Thanks, Madeline!