Submitting to Quilt Shows

Submitting to quilt shows–many of us love doing it and others hate the thought of competition.  Submitting to quilt shows can be fun or scary. In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on some of the factors to consider.

I’ve been focused on designing and writing patterns and haven’t submitted to many shows for the past few years.  I’ve had quilts accepted in many shows over the years–and even won a prize for an artquilt that was entered into an all media ART show.  I’ve also had lots of quilts rejected from national/international shows, including QuiltCon rejections.

Right now, I am celebrating two quilt show acceptances–and I admit that I am pleasantly surprised and pleased with this success!  And that prompted me to share my thoughts on submitting to shows.  I’d love to hear your perspectives in the comments.

Submitting to Quilt Shows: Factors to Think About

Submitting to shows can be expensive!  Most shows charge about $30US to enter 2 or 3 quilts.  And, if it’s accepted, there’s the cost of shipping the quilt to the show.  So, it’s important to think carefully about where to spend your money.

Getting a quilt accepted into a show depends on a combination of factors.  It’s helpful to keep your perspective and not become overly excited or overly depressed or saddened with whatever response that you get.

I love this quilt and I love teaching this as a workshop…but it’s not a quilt that I’d submit to a show.  For one thing, my quilting is not show quality.  I try to be realistic when I evaluate my quilts.

Quilt Show acceptances depend on one set of factors you can control such as:

  • Adhering to the show guidelines (size requirements, theme, etc.)
  • Understanding the show’s focus–a show that celebrates traditional quilts and elaborate hand or machine quilting is probably NOT going to be the best place to submit a minimalist modern quilt with straight-line quilting
  • Submit your quilt in the correct category:  Read the guidelines carefully.  As a modern quilter, I usually do not submit to shows that don’t have a modern category.
  • Check the show site to see what’s been accepted or awarded prizes in the past.  This might help you decide if you want to submit…AND….be brave!  Don’t let past trends intimidate you.
  • Quilt Design: Is your quilt a unique design or an interesting interpretation of a traditional design?  Or is it another version of a pattern or block that lots of people are making?  Get your friends to help you answer the question–what makes my quilt stand out? What will catch the judge’s eye? 
  • Quilt Quality:  well-executed piecing; well-executed quilting.  This does not mean you have to hire a professional long-armer to quilt for you.  Lots of quilts win prizes without that extra expense.
  • Photo Quality: submitting a good clear photo

This is a quilt I might consider entering into a show. The quilting is fabulous (by Karlee Sandell) and I think it’s an a interesting take on two traditional blocks– 9 patch and drunkard’s path.

And then there are factors that are outside of our control:

  • The Judges!  All judges have interests, preferences and even ‘quirks’.  Although judges work hard to understand the unique characteristics of every style of quilting, their expertise might be a bit limited in certain areas (especially modern quilting).  In other words, a wonderful quilt might be accepted by one judge in a show and rejected by a different juror for a different show.  Same quilt–different responses.
  • The competition! How many other people submit quilts to the show in your category?  If the quality of the submissions is high, then it’s totally a numbers game.  Your chances could be 1 in 3 OR 1 in 8.  That means a lot of really great quilts don’t make the cut–and I can tell you it’s tough on quilt judges to say ‘no’ to great quilts because the show only has so much space.  In fact, when I get rejected, I tell myself that this must have been a really good year for submission quality. That makes me feel better.
modern quilt

Sarasota Sunset #3. This quilt was accepted into an MQG show at the Texas Quilt Museum a couple of years ago. It was rejected from another show.  (By the way, I teach this improvisational process as a 2 day workshop.)

Submitting to Shows and Celebrating My Acceptances!

So, this summer, I decided to start submitting to quilt shows.  And,  here’s what I am celebrating–a modern quilt going into a modern exhibit AND a quilt going to a show that accepts all types of quilts from traditional to modern.

MidCentury Modern Curve #1 is going to Houston!  It will be in the Modern Quilt Guild Showcase at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in November 2018.

This quilt design is one of my most popular workshops.  A pattern is in the works and will be released this fall. I also have a new version being quilted–it will be in the pattern.

modern quilt


Slender Inserts Gray Ombre was accepted as a semifinalist for the 2018 American Quilter’s Society QuiltWeek in Paducah (September 2018).  I loved playing with minimalism in this piece. And, instead of white or off-white, I chose a gray ombre background fabric that shaded from very pale to nearly black.  The inserts measure 1/4 inch wide or less finished and are made with other ombre fabrics.

modern quilt

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6 Responses to Submitting to Quilt Shows

  1. Carol Byrnes July 24, 2018 at 9:16 pm #

    I’m so glad you mentioned the cost of entering and mailing, it can add up quickly.

  2. Carol Byrnes July 24, 2018 at 9:23 pm #

    What about sizes? Do you consider the quilt measurements as so many shows use size categories?

  3. Evelyn Oliver Knight July 28, 2018 at 12:02 pm #

    Congrats on your success! Thanks for sharing! Hoping to enter one later this year!

  4. Veronica Mays July 28, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

    Great advice!

  5. Ellen Campbell July 28, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

    Wow, thanks for the information. I never thought of entering a show. Now how do ones find a Quilt show/Congress? Text me more information please….1-662-303-1149 thanks.

    • Carole Lyles Shaw July 29, 2018 at 7:38 am #

      Great question Ellen. I don’t know what country you are in, so this might be different where you live.
      1. Google is the easiest way to find quilt shows. Search for ‘quilt shows in …” and fill in your state or region or country.
      2. The Modern Quilt Guild has an annual show with information at
      3. In the US, the local quilt guilds in my area have shows annually or every other year. A Google search for Quilt Guilds will show those.
      4. National organizations like The American Quilters Society and International Quilt Festival and Canadian Quilters Association all have shows. There are multicountry shows in Europe and a huge one in Japan that I know of.

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