Fair Wrapup: Item Scorecards

My husband picked up my quilts, ribbons, prize check, and items scorecards from the fair grounds for me after he finished working on Monday afternoon. As for the prize check, I received $30, and after subtracting out the $20 I paid to enter my quilts, I was pretty excited to actually win $10!

Items Scorecards and Ribbons

Items Scorecards and Ribbons

I am sure that every fair is different, but each quilt had the division tag pinned to it with the item scorecard stapled to the tag (not the quilt!). So after unpinning everything, I was left with a stack of items scorecards to look through.

Items Scorecard - Detail

Items Scorecard – Detail

And this is what an item scorecard looks like for the quilts and quilted items categories. This is for my 1st place ribbon winning Blue Rin Pillow. Because it is much more fun to look at the item being judged, I am going to share an image of the quilted item and then type out the item scorecard below it. In general, I am going to try to resist the urge to respond to the comments and scoring, as it is what it is!!

  • Visual/Color: 25/25
  • Difficulty: 7/10
  • Workmanship: 15/20
  • Quilting: 25/25
  • Binding or Edge: 10/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 10/10
  • Total: 92/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Well done!
  • Visual/Color: 25/25
  • Difficulty: 10/10
  • Workmanship: 5/20
  • Quilting: 25/25
  • Binding or Edge: 10/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 10/10
  • Total: 85/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Needs more quilting and there was velcro on the other one.
  • Visual/Color: 15/25
  • Difficulty: 8/10
  • Workmanship: 20/20
  • Quilting: 20/25
  • Binding or Edge: 10/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 10/10
  • Total: 83/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Nice modern quilt. The puckers in your gray fabric distract from the overall beauty.
  • Visual/Color: 20/25
  • Difficulty: 4/10
  • Workmanship: 20/20
  • Quilting: 25/25
  • Binding or Edge: 10/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 5/10
  • Total: 84/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Interesting geometrics. The quilting accents your pattern nicely.
  • Visual/Color: 25/25
  • Difficulty: 10/10
  • Workmanship: 20/20
  • Quilting: 25/25
  • Binding or Edge: 8/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 10/10
  • Total: 98/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Love the pattern & fabric. Binding is a little wavy.
  • Visual/Color: 25/25
  • Difficulty: 9/10
  • Workmanship: 20/20
  • Quilting: 24/25
  • Binding or Edge: 10/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 10/10
  • Total: 98/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Beautiful colors and design. Nice use of pattern mixing. Beautiful job!
  • Visual/Color: 25/25
  • Difficulty: 9/10
  • Workmanship: 19/20
  • Quilting: 24/25
  • Binding or Edge: 9/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 9/10
  • Total: 95/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Very nice choice of colors. Good job quilting straight lines.

Downstream (2nd)

  • Visual/Color: 25/25
  • Difficulty: 10/10
  • Workmanship: 20/20
  • Quilting: 25/25
  • Binding or Edge: 7/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 10/10
  • Total: 97/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Cute – very nice abstract. Wavy binding.
  • Visual/Color: 21/25
  • Difficulty: 10/10
  • Workmanship: 20/20
  • Quilting: 25/25
  • Binding or Edge: 10/10
  • Pattern Use & Design: 10/10
  • Total: 96/100
  • Judge’s Comments: Beautiful choice of colors & pattern. Very interesting.

I will close with saying that I think it must be incredibly hard to be a judge. I am entertained by how often either full score was given and then a comment was said against an area OR if points were deducted in a spot that it was highlighted as being well done in the comments. Again, it must be so hard. I hope that by sharing these results it does not discourage you from entering your quilts. I have heard that many local fairs do not have judging comments or forms that are sent home. Also, my harshest critique (apart from what I say to myself) has always been at my local fair. I like to view it as a learning and growth experience!

UPDATED TO ADD: I have had a few more thoughts this morning after this post was published.  Thanks to everyone who has already left such kind and thoughtful responses. First thought: it is possible to enter and choose not to look at or read the judging sheets. Perhaps dedicating a friend to look at them first and decide if it would be valuable or helpful for you to see them could be wise. Also, any time I enter work to be juried into a show (which sometimes my work will not be selected) or judged, I try to do so with the frame of mind that I am proud of my work regardless of the outcome.

47 thoughts on “Fair Wrapup: Item Scorecards

  1. kaholly says:

    You are very brave to enter your work for judging. It gives you a platform for ‘improvement’ of little things to watch for in future pieces. Since my opinion is really the only opinion that counts, ;), I think each quilt is magnificent!

  2. Izzy says:

    Very interesting… I agree – judging must be extremely difficult! I agree with the commenter above, you are very brave, but then again, feedback is how we grow and improve so good for you! I love all the quilts you submitted – they all deserved very high marks as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

  3. Cindy says:

    I don’t think I would like to be a judge. As a judge one would have to look beyond the beauty of the piece..not an easy task.

  4. Cocoa Quilts says:

    Congratulations on your ribbons and $10!! I found the comments interesting as well, would not want to be a judge. On the green pillow they reference the other pillow having velcro on the other side. Not sure why that would have matter on the green pillows judging.

  5. That was nice of you to openly share the critiques. I guess you will have to work on the wavy binding! LOL Just kidding and joking about the comments. Not only is it tough to judge at a show, the judges are still humans and sometimes they have overwhelming preferences for what they like and don’t like and they have to try to set that aside to judge. If a certain color makes them nauseous and the best quilt in the show is that color, they have a real challenge to try to be impartial. Just thought I would throw that in. Even though they are professionals, they still have personal opinions about what makes a show quilt.

    You did a great job on all of them. Congratulations on your ribbons.

  6. Liz says:

    This is why I am waiting on pins and needles for the 15th!!! I dropped my Snowflake Shimmer off on Thursday, I will see it when I go walk the fair for as many nights as I can… (I do this every year as hubby works one of the gates) but this is the first time I have ever put a quilt into the fair. I won’t get it back until October 2.

  7. It must be difficult to be a judge, especially with a lot of well done quilts! When I was first starting out, the judging sheets were a source of ideas to improve. But now, I realize the minutia they must consider to decide on places can sometimes be insulting to the quilter. So, now I don’t read the judging sheets. I either get a ribbon or I don’t, and beyond that is just not relevant anymore.

  8. Laura Links says:

    Thank you for sharing the judge’s comments along with the pictures of your projects. I was shocked at some of the points taken off, especially around ‘difficulty’ or ‘color’ …but I also understand that it must be very hard to judge quilts and I can see that it could be a growing experience to put quits in a show and get feedback. Congratulations on all of your ribbons!

  9. Dawn Hendrix says:

    O my goodness your quilts are just GORGEOUS…. that critique sheet is what keeps me from entering anything… I know myself and I would not handle the criticism well … I am content with friends comments! KEEP UP THE FABULOUS WORK! HEY $10 wwoohhooo

  10. Libby in TN says:

    I have scribed for judges and know it is hard. The best judges try to have something positive to say, regardless of the score.

  11. Sherry VF says:

    Well done! It’s difficult to ‘put your work out there’ for one person’s opinion to determine winners. At our state fair, I don’t think the judges really understand modern quilts. Overall, your scores were very high and there were some consistent comments throughout the judging that could be used for insight. I’m sure the fair goers appreciate seeing such special work.

  12. Wanda Bamberg says:

    I carefully read all the scoring and comments. Amazing. It has to be hard to judge. I agree with your comments at the bottom. It is all very interesting. Your work is such great fun to see. And it is fun to remember each piece as you worked on and finished it. Your desire is mine….Learning and Growing Experience. Thank you for sharing and teaching over the miles. ❤️

  13. Kathleen McCormick says:

    I appreciate your sharing the comments from the judges. I once watched a show as they uncovered quilts and judged them. It isn’t easy. I was intrigued by the Velcro comment..s/he wanted Velcro on the pillow? Binding is always a ridiculous comment and often the one used to say everything else is good but I don’t like it….let’s assault the binding. I don’t enter quilts now. I entered one in a juried show and frankly the judges were fairly harsh.

  14. Congratulations on the ribbons and the $10. Interesting comments, and I agree that some of them are a bit contradictory to the points. Do you know how many judges look at each quilt? You have a great attitude about the comments and points, letting it help you learn and grow.

  15. Kathy E. says:

    I found myself frowning and gritting my teeth when I read those scorecards! Yikes! It makes me want to see the competition. A learning experience for sure, but please know that your work is always excellent to this judge!

  16. meh4092 says:

    Having your work judged is or should be a learning experience. Remember, it is just one person’s opinion although it is an experienced opinion. In the end, the maker’s opinion is what counts.

  17. This seems like typical scoring for a fair show. In Iowa, one judge has to do it all, so with several hundred entries, it’s a monumental task! I always get a kick out of the “prize money.” Every fair’s “Fabric and Threads” or whatever category with the quilts, has the lowest prize awards of any category at the fair. Gosh, the first place winner for cinnamon rolls – 163 entries – won $200 and a mixer! Well, like you, I’m glad you came out on the plus side. Gee, $10! How are you going to spend it?! 🙂

  18. Congratulations! I love judges comments so thank you for sharing. $10 is amazing! I think the total of all my fair winnings is less than $1.50. I drop a couple quilts off Tuesday for our fair, fingers crossed.

  19. This was very interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience. I was reminded of what you said in an earlier post about there not being many modern quilts in the fair. You may have done more good for the viewers than you will ever know. Your beautiful quilts inspire many other quilters or those wanting to learn.

  20. Lorna Jones says:

    I would echo everything Jasmine said. Putting modern quilts out there helps the public become aware of new trends. Most quilt shops around me are very very traditional, so quilters might not be aware of new ideas and styles. Keep on keepin’ on, as the saying goes. Your works speak for themselves!

  21. yanicka says:

    I am in the category of person that would never enter a quilt. My quilt are visually very interesting (well it is my opinion lol ) but I am more of a `”close enough is good enough ” quilt maker. I am a designer first and a quuilt maker second so my pleasure is more about making in fabrics what I have in my head.

  22. Lynda H says:

    I paid to enter paintings and photos to our county fair and was really looking forward to the judges critiques, to have something as reinforcement if I was on the right track or not – entered three paintings and three photos (the photos had to be mounted in a certain way – that cost money as well. When I picked up my items, found that everyone received a ribbon (for participating), received a check for $12. ($2. per item?) and no comments or critiques!! Was so disappointed and have never entered anything since.

  23. Joanne H says:

    Thank you for sharing your scorecards! I have judged a number of fairs over the years and it really is NOT an easy task. Just this past month, I judged two fairs with a total of over 250 quilts between them. One of the most challenging parts of judging is when a quilt has been entered into the wrong category and has to be disqualified because the rules do not allow for us to simply switch it to the correct one. (That happened to three quilts this years and I personally feel that I should be allowed to switch them to the correct category; but since I don’t make the rules, I have no say.) All quilts, whether they are disqualified or not, received comments from me – both positive and negative. If negative comments are needed, there is a way to give them without being mean-sounding or harsh.

    I have often heard the comment about bindings being the way to penalize a quilt simply because the judge does not like the overall look and he/she could find nothing else wrong about it. I feel that in most cases that simply is not the situation. But, binding IS often the deciding factor between ribbons. Not-filled and wavy bindings are regularly seen on fair quilt entries, as are bindings with large and easily seen hand-stitches. When I comment on bindings (or anything else for that matter), I do not simply say that the binding was bad; but rather suggest ways to correct the issue. I know that not all judges have the option to do this, but especially at the local level, I find that so very important. (Yes, it takes me a long time to judge because I comment a lot! I don’t mind though. It simply means that I get to be around quilts and quilted projects for a longer period of time.)

    I am sad when I hear that people do not enter quilts because they have had bad experiences. I’m sure it is quite disheartening and disappointing when comments are either not made at all, or somewhat harsh. Perhaps it would be helpful to the fair committee to let them know what has happened and suggest ways to resolve the problems. I am aware that many fair committees have a difficult time finding qualified judges because they do not the have resources or money to pay for trained and certified judges. I also know that sometimes judges are chosen simply because they own a shop or teach a few classes, which does not make them qualified. This isn’t fair, but sadly, often the case.

    Bottom line is that it is not easy to be a judge or be involved in setting up the judging. And, perhaps more importantly, it is not easy to enter projects and put yourself out there for public scrutiny. I applaud every quilter who enters projects! Please continue to do so because YOU are the true ambassadors of this wonderful activity we all so dearly love. (Sorry for the LONG comment!)

    1. Joanne, thank you for sharing from a judge’s prespective. I definitely feel like my technical skills (including the binding) outweigh my design skills and maybe have contributed to winning a show ribbon in the past.

    2. What an interesting perspective. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts up.
      I am curious how the judges keep their objectivity. Each of us have our preferences and judges often comment about use of color and design. But how is this done objectively rather than subjectively? I am just curious. I think judging a large number of quilts must be a challenging task!

  24. Kristin says:

    I once entered a very detailed cross-stitch project with a lot of french knots, lazy daisies, etc, but a sampler with no detail, not even backstitch, won over mine. The next year, I judged domestic arts (with 3 other women) even though I had moved out of state (my sister wad on the fair board). It was the hardest evening of my life. The other judges went off of visual appeal alone, not considering difficulty or workmanship. They all knew each other from previous years, and I was the newbie, and therefore ignored. Probably didn’t help that I was 40-60 years younger…
    The point being, yep, it’s super hard to judge, and the only way to see change is persistant participation and time.

    I love your pieces and competition mist have been steep!

    1. Joanne H says:

      Kristin, I have judged a number of fairs and would like to interject something here. I think it is extremely important to switch out judges every couple of years and I’ve encouraged fair boards to do that. I feel stronger that if I do make decisions based on personal opinion (I really do try not to!), I don’t want that to last for more than a couple of years, thus discouraging continued participation. Interestingly, one of the blue ribbon winners in one of the fairs I recently judged used a few fabrics that I really did not care for. Her execution in using those fabrics was superb – everything from value placement to worksmanship. So, it really wasn’t a difficult choice to give her the ribbon. I even wrote on my comments that her use of those fabrics was well-executed and fit well into the overall appearance of the quilt; and that I am positive that I would not have been able to do that as well as she did. 🙂

  25. Congratulations Yvonne! I think your entries are wonderful. Thanks for sharing the score card, I am going to share it with our local fair committee. There are no guidelines at our fair and it is all based on the judges personal preferences. At least some justification for placing might improve the judging process. Unfortunately, because of the judging in the past, our fair only had 8 quilts entered this year. But I must preface that with we live in a very small population county and all the fair exhibits are declining. In addition, it is almost impossible to find a warm body to judge, much less someone with knowledge and experience.

  26. Cate says:

    I would hate to be a judge, I think. I know my guild has some phenomenal quilters in it who do local and regional judging, and those women scare me a little. I feel like they know I’m wobbly with my borders just by seeing me at the door. They’re actually very nice people, mind you. They just really know their shit and grade on a nearly impossible scale, much like judges when I completed in flute or piano when I was young. ( In high school, I had a state judge tell me I was an excellent musician “for a girl,” and I was ejected for telling him I hadn’t realized I penis was a requirement for the competition.).

  27. Thanks for sharing all those comments. I think a judge has a difficult time, and often, like in the “Chef” competitions, it is something so small that makes the places so hard to separate. I think all your entries are wonderful, and the ribbons and cards are to be treasured. Wavy binding? They must be so close up and measure a lot. Well done to your man for being there to collect for you. And, again, congrats for each place.

  28. Woot! Seriously, though, 10 dollars is great!! It’s nice to you to be so open about your scores and comments. I agree with some of the other commenters about the scores and comments being contradictory, which is very puzzling. Good on you for entering so much and sharing your art with the community!

  29. Yvonne, congrats! Your really racked up! Those stickers on the cards are even cute I love reading the judges comments! I think it is helpful to actually see the competion in the category as you got to see to possibly further understand the comments. Well done!

  30. Than you for sharing all of this, so interesting to rsee d the comments….. I love the Downstream quilt, it is one of my favorites… but I don’t think ‘Cute’ is a word I would use to describe it?

    We don’t pay entry fees at our fair — interesting to hear how various groups do things. We are always allowed to watch judging but I haven’t done that. It would be interesting tho.

  31. quilting1954 says:

    Thanks for sharing. I always feel it is good to enter loca before state and star before national for constructive critism along the way that we just don’t see (bindings). You did a great job to have so many entries! Keep entering with your beautiful designs you will win 1st. (

  32. Sandra Woods says:

    I find it interesting that a 98 gets second! That is a very high score. It would be interesting to see which quilts beat you out. From a learning perspective the bindings seem to be tagged as needing improvement. I’m not sure why a binding gets wavy or how to correct it. I’d be interested in your comments on bindings.
    How wonderful to see your own quilts on display, though. Congratulations for putting them in the show and sharing your comments–very brave.

  33. Eeep! You entered Freefall!! And they loved the pattern! I need to get it published with the Windfall and cushion instructions and sell that puppy lol. I love your petals one. Is Downstream the precursor to Beacon or the one that came after? I don’t recall seeing it before, so very cool. I’m with you on the judging being so hard; I marked (graded) English essays for many years, even did it provincially one year and it IS exceedingly difficult. What one person thinks is fabulous another hates. That came up as many times in the provincial grading.

  34. gsyanne63 says:

    Your quilts and cushions are gorgeous, your so brace to share your scores with us and I find it very interesting to see the comments. How to stop an edge waving after the quilt has been washed is a tricky one and I would have no idea how to stop that from happening.
    Congratulations on coming out in credit with your prizes that is super cool
    Love and quilty hugs Anne

  35. aquilterstable says:

    Very interesting and I appreciate your sharing! Obviously overall your projects were of high quality and very well regarded!

  36. sue7oaks says:

    Great results Yvonne! It’s always interesting to see the outcome from judging having never entered a show. Maybe one day…

  37. Paula S. Pike says:

    Yvonne, first of all Happy, Happy Birthday. May your birthyear be filled with love, good food, family and friends and of course, unlimited sewing and quilting.

    Congratulations on winning so many ribbons, they should have all been blue in my opinion.

  38. Elizabeth E. says:

    Happy Birthday to you!! (imagine dancing treble clefs and notes in a gif with this comment)
    I think it’s really valuable to put scorecards and judging notes out there for our community to see. Thanks to you for doing this, and another hearty congratulations for your ribbons! All your creations are beautiful.

  39. I was wondering how that was done! Thank you for sharing! I even enjoyed reading everybody’s comments about this especially those who have been involved in judging before. Great post! I would be curious to see who got first above you as your quilts are pretty darn good!

  40. Thanks for sharing your quilts and the judges comments. I agree that it would be so difficult to judge quilts.

  41. Tish says:

    I’m actually glad you shared your comments with us. I’ve only entered quilts into our local fair and I have found with the judging and comments, the same sort of critics, and it does sort of make you scratch your head a bit. I suspect if we rounded up say, five different quilt judges and had them each score the same five quilts, we would find varying results between all the judges and their comments. I find it hard to believe that all would rank the quilts the same…I could be wrong. I agree with you, if you are going to enter a judged show, make peace with yourself and your work. We are where we are in our quilting journey, you can’t fast forward it. Weather you started quilting a month ago or have been for 20 years, be proud of your work…you made a quilt!!!

  42. Danette says:

    I just read through all of these. Your quilts are amazing to me, but as you said, judging would be difficult. I doubt that I would have even looked at some of the things that they mention. I can only imagine how they would judge my quilts. Congratulations on the ribbons!

  43. Kate says:

    Congrats on the great showing at the fair. If being a quilt judge is anything like being a science fair judge, I can completely understand the scoring discrepancies.

  44. Kaja says:

    Just catching up with my blog reading – I found this post and the comments on it really interesting, so am grateful that you have been willing to share your feedback.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)