Friday, August 18, 2017

At the State Fair 2

Today was opening day at the Kentucky State Fair and I was in attendance, which I haven't done in several years.  Yes, I would go out three days in advance to judge the textiles, but not show up for the actual festivities.  This year reminded me of what I have been missing, and I loved my favorite pastimes of watching the border collies herd ducks, observing the animal judging and eating a pork chop sandwich.

Towards the end of a long day, I didn't have the stamina to look at every quilt on display, but I was surprised to see that they've added a new category since I used to enter.  This one is called "Quilt Top" and is described: "The quilt top may be hand and/or machine pieced, no serger.  This class is for a quilt top only -- the back will be displayed.  This class is to show the skill of the quilter in constructing a quilt top."

I guess this is the natural culmination of the quilt police mentality that has always reigned at state fairs and similar venues -- not only will the QP judge you on the number of quilt stitches per inch and whether you sewed your mitered corners shut, but now they want to see inside!  I think it's sadly appropriate that in this class you get to see more of the back than you do of the front.  After all, who cares about design, composition, color or artistic vision as long as those seams are beautifully pressed in the right direction?

Here's the first place quilt, of which I would have liked to see a lot more of the front and a lot less of the back:

And a couple of more in the same category, all beautifully pressed.

And here's one that you can probably deduce wasn't going to get a ribbon:

If you want my opinion, the skill of the quilter in constructing a quilt top is pretty damn evident from looking at the finished quilt.  When that one just above is quilted, for instance, you're going to detect lumps where the seam allowance flipped from one direction to another.  You don't need a separate category in which people are going to be obsessing over trimming the fraying edges off the back of the quilt (the big difference I could see between the blue ribbon winner and the also-rans).

Because what good is it to trim the fraying edges out of the inside of your quilt?  Other than winning a ribbon, that is?  I'd much rather the state fair encouraged people to obsess over important things like how the quilt looks when it's made up and hanging on the wall or lying on the bed.


  1. One thing, though. . .so many people today are NOT quilters, but piecers. They use a professional quilter. So at least this class is judging the work of the creator only, not the hired quilter. OK, I know, Michael James would be rolling his eyes at me now.

  2. So will these quilters be eligible to enter the completed quilt next year? Hope this idea doesn't spread. I want to view a beautifully finished quilt, not the inards.

  3. So we don't have State Fairs in New Zealand, but we do have A and P (agricultural and pastoral) shows, which I think might be similar.
    The A and P show is all about showing off and celebrating those crafts and skills that our country was traditionally built on. Animal husbandry, preserving harvests etc. In more recent years there has been a branching out to include slightly more artistic categories, such as a photography display, but in general you are being judged on the moistness of your fruitcake, the perfectness of your dahlia flower and the grooming and confirmation of your prize bull.
    So why would you not have a category where the construction of your quilt top is judged?
    Personally I prefer to look at a quilt top and enjoy the design and colour play, but I do have an appreciation for well constructed pieced quilts.
    I'm not saying it's wrong or right, but from my understanding of these types of shows, a category like that fits right in with the culture of the show.
    PS - I'd never enter. As you say, I prefer to spend my time obsessing over how the front of the quilt looks.

  4. I don't trust the fair people to take care of my stuff, so I would never enter anyway, but I totally agree on the pieced top. Are we also going to obsess over the batter consistency of half baked cakes or have people bring in a pot of half made jam for review? Seems weird. I think we missed all the fairs this year.