Modern Art – Modern Quilting

By Mary Covey

There is such a great movement going on in modern quilting and home décor right  now. The fabric choices have never been better. The colors are bright, bold, crisp, and clear. They make you happy! But recently I was amazed to find that these colors were the “in” thing almost 100 years ago.

Marsden Hartley Painting

Painting by Marsden Hartley was done in 1916

This painting by Marsden Hartley was done in 1916. What do you think?  Modern? The colors are so bold and bright my photo does not do it justice. Or what about this painting by Josef Albers?

Josef Albers 1964

Josef Albers Painting 1964

The painting was done in 1964. Again my photo does not capture the true crispness of the colors. These colors could be found in many of the fabrics available to quilters today.

These paintings and many more can be seen at the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Beauty for the eyes both inside the museum and outside on the walking trails. A new children’s museum is being added that will be completed next spring. You can be certain that I will be taking my granddaughters.

As a quilter, I was thrilled to see that the colors we use in modern quilts have an artful history. I guess that saying “everything old is new again” really is true.


About Being Judged

By Mary Covey

In this month’s International Association of Creative Arts Professionals (ICAP) monthly newsletter, Morna McEver Golletz included an excellent article titled “About Being Judged”.  I found it to give great insight into Quilt Shows and Festivals and how to go about entering your quilt and what judges look for in a great quilt.

I have reposted her blog below in it’s entirety.  I hope you find it as inspiring and resourceful as I did.

September 10th, 2014 by Morna

Fall is often considered the start of quilt show season, though we know you can find a show almost every weekend a year. One of the major shows is in late October/early November — the International Quilt Festival held in Houston, where upwards of 60,000 people from around the world gather to view quilts and buy quilting and art supplies. People who have entered their art are vying for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. It is a big deal to have your quilt juried into the show. And, of course to win a ribbon or prize, cash or otherwise, quite an accomplishment.

Quilt Show

About Being Judged

 In the end the quilt did not make the cut for the competition; however, I decided to take a step and enter it elsewhere. The quilt’s first stop was a Quilters’ Heritage Celebration in Lancaster, Pa. It was a thrill to see it hanging at a national show and to have people ask to take my picture with my quilt. The biggest thrill was when a highly respected quilt judge told me that my quilt had been her favorite. That quilt led to a feature in a national quilt magazine of several of my quilts. Of course, not all my show experiences were as rewarding. I remember one quilt that I showed at, a local show, and the judging sheet that came back with it. The judge had written that my choice of binding fabric was not appropriate for the quilt. I never really understood her comment — the quilt was a scrappy attic windows and the binding was a paisley print that had been in the quilt. I decided to take the comment with a grain of salt; I did not see the constructive criticism element. I went onto enter other shows and always looked at the judging comments sheets as ways I could improve.

How about your efforts to share your work? I know that you first share it with your family, then with your small quilting “bee” and finally take it to show and tell at your next guild meeting. For some quilters, this is enough. For others, it is not. Many quilters want to see how their quilts stack up against the competition, whether that is hanging the quilt in a local, non-judged show or entering it in a major juried and judged competition. In addition to gaining recognition for your quilts, you also educate other quilters and the general public about quilting and its standards. For local guild shows, this is often a primary reason for holding a show. Additionally, if your quilt is entered in a judged show, you can set goals for improvement based on feedback from the judges or your own comparison with winning quilts. And, of course, you might just win a prize, either a ribbon, cash, or merchandise.

Impartiality in judging is important and one way this is done is through use of a panel of independent judges, usually three. Judges can be trained and certified by the National Quilting Association, or they can be trained through experience. They all adhere to similar standards of judging, although final results will be varied based on the individuals.

Judging can take place either before or after the quilts are hung, and each method has advantages. Judging quilts after they are hung allows the visual impact of the quilt to be better appreciated. Judging quilts before they are hung is usually faster, but visual impact takes second place to the ability to view the workmanship.

Judges often use scorecards or evaluation forms and either a point system, an elimination system or a combination of the two to evaluate the individual entries. The point system uses a predetermined maximum number of points to judge specific areas, for example, up to 20 points for the color and design, up to 20 points for construction, up to 15 points for finishing, etc., with the total equaling 100 points. Each quilt is judged on its own merits, and the quilt with the highest total number of points is awarded the first place.

The elimination system, on the other hand, allows each judge to evaluate a quilt, make comments on its technique and offer feedback for improvement. If the judge feels the quilt should be held for ribbon/award consideration, it is put aside. If not, it is released from the competition portion. After the quilts are judged in this preliminary fashion, the held quilts are compared to others in its category and the winners are determined.

Neither system is perfect. Regardless, judges evaluate quilts against the same standards. Here are just a few of the commonly held standards that judges use:

General Appearance

  • The quilt makes an overall positive statement upon viewing
  • The quilt is clean and “ready to show,” i.e., no visible marks, no loose threads, no pet hair, no bearding, no offensive odors.
  • The quilt’s edges are not distorted. This is easier to gauge when the quilt is hung.

Design and Composition

  • All the individual design elements of the quilt – top, quilting, choice of fabric, sashes, borders, embellishments, finishing – are unified.
  • The design is in proportion and balanced.
  • Borders or other edge treatments enhance the quilt appearance.


  • Piecing is precise, corners match and points are sharp.
  • Seams, including those of sashing and borders, are secure, straight and flat.
  • Quilting stitches are straight where intended and curved where intended.

As noted, judges consider certain “standards” when evaluating quilts – and the list is really quite extensive – but how do they decide which quilts are the prizewinners? And what is more important, design or workmanship? In the end I think it comes down to design, the quilt with the greater visual impact. But even the quilt with the greatest visual impact cannot rescue poor workmanship.

If you want to learn more about judging, ICAP offers three resources recommended for those in judging programs. You can learn more about The Challenge of Judging by Jeannie Spears, Judging Quilts by Katy Christopherson, and a audio recording of a conversation on “The Judge’s Perspective” between Morna McEver Golletz and judges Jane Hall and Scott Murkin on our resources page. We also offer a package with all three of the resources. See the Resources for Judges page on our website. Use code the Judge when you check out to save 15% on any of these resources through September 30, 2014.

Morna McEver Golletz is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at

#QuiltFestival #QuiltShow #Judging


Grey+Lime Green = Modern Cool

By Mary Covey

Most every quilter, seamstress, and crafter that has been in a fabric  store lately has seen it. Seen what ? you ask – well the “MODERN Quilt/SEWING MOVEMENT” of course.  This movement started small but has slowly and steadily found itself  in full view of quilters, sewing enthusiast, and  crafters every where.


Modern Quilt –

In my last post I showed the picture of Jennifer Alpe’s beautiful yellow, grey, and white modern quilt. It will be a really great addition to any modern home. Are you asking yourself “what makes a quilt a modern quilt”? Well I was wondering the same thing, so I used this marvelous computer to look it up! Modern quilts are basically a functional quilt that is inspired by modern designs. Some of the things that help me define a modern quilt are: *use of bold colors. *high contrast. *large areas of solid color like white, grey, red, etc. *minimalism in piecing.


Modern Quilt Use of Bold Colors

In this quilt, Jackie used a light grey for the large blank area on the top of the quilt. By using the black and green pieced blocks in the lower one third of the quilt, she added interest to the layout and a cool vibrancy to the dark grey bottom.


Modern Quilt Grey + Lime Green

There are two books that came out around 2005 that  every modern quilter should have in her library. They are “Denyse Schmidt Quilts” and “Modern Workshop”. During this same time, the very first on line quilt-a-longs were established and many blogs on the world of “modern quilting” popped up everywhere. As quilters, sewing enthusiasts, or crafters we all have our favorite colors and color combinations. Next time your a pulling fabric for a project throw in some modern grey and a little lime green. It will make your project – cool! #modernquilt #moderncool #boldcolors


Modern Home

By Mary Covey

I always enjoy opening the blinds and doors to let the sunshine and fresh air come into the house.  The sunshine lifts your spirit and brightens any home. So it was no surprise to me that I enjoyed longarm machine quilting Jennifer’s quilt. This modern quilt would be a great addition to any home.


  When I first thought of the grey/yellow combination, I wondered if the grey would make the yellow appear dull. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the grey was just the right shade to make the yellow come to life.


  The blocks were set together in rows using pure white for the sashing and borders. A yellow and grey stripe was used for the backing (as seen in the first picture). Most of the blocks were a standard house block but some had a pinwheel in the center just to add variety.


  No matter what time of year, next time you want to bring the sunshine inside and brighten your day, try working with this great color combination. You  may be just like me – pleasantly surprised!   #ModernQuilt #ColorCombination #LongArmMachineQuilting