What Do the Comments Say? See the Judging Results from AQS Paducah

May 10, 2024

One of the best parts of entering a judged quilt contest is receiving written feedback from the judges. As quilters, we work in a vacuum with little input from outside sources. It is sometimes hard to stretch yourself when you don’t have a way of getting an outside critique of your work.

Detail of Where We Connect

Personal Thoughts on Quilt Judging

Judges’ comments can be beneficial, and a large part of why I share my remarks publicly is to decrease the mystery behind entering a judged show. Feedback can range from helpful to outright damaging, and I have been horrified by some comments I have read over the years. If you enter a show that provides judges’ comments, please remember to take them with a grain of salt.

If you want to read more of my thoughts on the judging process, please check out this post I wrote last year.

AQS Paducah 2024 Judges’ Feedback

This year, I entered one quilt into the AQS Paducah contest, which was accepted. 

Where We Connect is an unusual quilt because I did all of the needle turn appliqué and quilting before cutting a circle from the quilt, binding the edges of both the circle and the surround, rotating the circle, and re-inserting it into the main body of the quilt. Since I chose to use a facing on the quilt’s outer edges, the only binding is found in the center of the quilt rather than the edges. This technique is a contemporary reflection of the traditional potholder quilting technique.

Because of its unusual design, I entered it into the Small Wall Quilts—Quilter’s Choice category described as:

Width 30″ to 72″; Length 30″ to 72″. Quilts made for display on a wall, using any technique of your choice.

This category frequently becomes a catch-all for contestants who have entered quilts of similar techniques or styles in other categories. Still, my favorite entries in the category focus on an innovative technique or style. (Next year, I am excited that the Paducah contest will include a Fiber Art/Mixed media category that explicitly encourages the innovative use of fabric as the primary medium. You can see the rules for next year’s contests here.)

The full view of Where We Connect

Where We Connect

Quilt Information


44″ wide by 35″ long


Hand Appliqué, Walking Foot Quilting


Two solid fabrics merge through semi-improvisational reverse appliqué to create the top for this quilt. Following the quilting process, a circular segment is removed, bound, rotated, and replaced to develop new connections.

The comment sheet from the judges at AQS Paducah 2024

AQS Judges’ Comments:

Best Feature(s):

Clever inset technique

Stitching is nicely done

Area(s) to Improve:

Would benefit from more quilting

More Judging Comments From Previous Shows

This is the second show Where We Connect has received comments from the judges. You can see the comments it received at QuiltCon 2023 here.

My Thoughts on the Judges’ Comments

The “Best Features” section is similar to the remarks I received at QuiltCon last year. Most of us recognize our strengths as quilters, and I know my needle turn appliqué technique is good, although it is always good to have it confirmed!

I don’t know if more quilting is needed. As a concept, the quilting was never intended to become the star of this piece. It was an intentional choice to keep the amount of quilting consistent on every appliquéd line regardless of its width. Was it the right choice? I don’t know. At the widest spacing, there is about 1-1/2″ unquilted. That is generally considered acceptable in most modern quilts, but that spacing isn’t always okay with more traditional quilt show judges.

It is easier to see the spacing of the quilting stitches from the back of the quilt.

Receiving feedback is always good because there is no other way to improve as a quilter. Feedback can come from judges’ comments, comments on social media posts, or input from quilting friends. Do I listen to that feedback? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Ultimately, the trickiest part of receiving feedback is determining what to do with it.

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  • Reply
    May 10, 2024 at 5:20 pm

    Myself, I can’t see how more quilting would enhance this quilt, in fact I think it would detract from the design. I saw this quilt at QuiltCon last year and liked the concept.

  • Reply
    May 10, 2024 at 8:50 pm

    I agree with you. The quilting is NOT the star, so adding more would be a distraction. Interpreting art is subjective. Knowing your audience is helpful when receiving feedback. Again, thanks for sharing your experiences

  • Reply
    Diane R
    May 11, 2024 at 7:43 am

    As someone who has entered drawings, paintings, and other handwork for competition, I understand the positive & negative of judging feedback. I’ve had my work compared against things that I didn’t think even fit the category. Sometimes I won the blue ribbon, sometimes I didn’t even place. Art is so subjective and personal preference or knowing the artist, can influence decisions. Social media certainly can be a boost or complete devastation. I’ve grown used to this but still dislike it enough that I rarely enter anything any more. Glad to hear you’re entering and having success. Best to you, and I don’t think more quilting is needed. It’s lovely

  • Reply
    May 20, 2024 at 9:45 pm

    Will you make an inset circle tutorial? Your quilts are beautiful and so unique. You are so talented. I have learned so much from you. You can explain things so well. I’ve used your silvers in several quilts. Thanks

    • Reply
      May 25, 2024 at 12:38 am

      It’s already in the works and will be coming out soon!

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