For the Record

By Mary Covey

Most quilters are drawn to the warmth and beauty of antique quilts. We like to collect and display them whenever possible. Many of these quilts have intricate hand stitching, unusual fabrics, and are made from patterns with long forgotten names. Fabric historians and journals written by the quilters have helped in documenting information about many antique quilts that are parts of museum collections. But what about quilts that you find at garage sales, flea markets, and antique stores? Do you ever wonder who the maker was, what was the name of the pattern, or how old is the quilt? I do.

3 Ways to Take Care of Antique Quilts #quilting #marycoveydesigns

Antique quilt from the 1930’s.

The block above is from a quilt made in the 1930’s. I know this because several of the blocks in the quilt have the year embroidered on them. So while we know approximately when it was made, the name of the maker, the name of the owner, the pattern name, and the occasion for which it was made are all a mystery. I have written a previous post on labeling your quilts, which should be a part of any quilt making process, but have you ever thought of making a record keeping system for your quilts?

The easiest way to keep a record of information about your quilts is to develop a basic form and fill it out each time you make a quilt. It can be something as simple as an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper or as elaborate as a binder system made specifically for a quilt maker’s record keeping.  Many of my friends use a spiral bound notebook that costs about a dollar that you can purchase just about any where. My favorite way is to create this document as part of an electronic file and save it on my computer.

The following is a list of information to include in your record:

  • Project or quilt number. Assign each project or quilt a number when you start. Then fill in the information as your work progresses.
  • Name. This is not necessary but most quilters do name their projects.
  • Pattern name and manufacturer. An example would be – “Happy Birthday Baby” pattern designed by Mary Covey from the book “Celebrations” published by Martingale & Company 2002.
  • Piecing. Was the quilt pieced by hand or machine? Was it made by one person or several? Be sure to include everyone’s name.
  • Quilting.  Record whether the quilt was hand or machine quilted and by whom.
  • Special information. Record if the quilt has appeared in any shows or publications. In each instance, record the name of the show/publication, date, awards won or page number.
  • Quilt owner. Even if you are making the quilt for yourself, make sure you record who is the owner. You may think everyone knows who you made the quilt for but unless you write it down, nobody will. If you are giving the quilt as a gift, make sure this information is on the label.
  • Maker’s notes. This is where I like to record the story behind the quilt. What was the inspiration for making the quilt – a wedding, a birthday, a new baby, a gift for a special friend?
  • Pictures. Take a photograph of your quilt or project. If you keep a paper record write the number of the project on the back of the photo in case it gets separated for the recorded sheet. Photos can be easily added to electronic files and saved.

Remember it is never too late to start keeping a record of your quilts. Chances are you know who you gave a quilt to or you might even still own them.  Start taking pictures and recording the history of as many of them as you can. You’ll be glad you did.



Fall Quilt Market 2014

By Mary Covey

Fall is full of wonderful things to look forward to and enjoy. The change of season brings beautiful color changes in foliage, cool crisp breezes and who doesn’t love a Harvest moon. Fall also brings the International Quilt Market to Houston, Texas every year. As a designer,quilter, and author, it is the place to find all the up to the minute fabrics, books, notions, patterns, etc. This year, due to a prior commitment, I was unable to attend fall market.  But that did not stop me from searching the web for information from vendors, designers, and authors. I am reposting a blog from Amy Smart that shares her impressions of what is new for the coming year. Those of you that follow me on Pinterest know how much I love red and white quilts, so take notice of the opening photograph.

Quilt Market, Houston 2014

Last week I had the chance to attend the International Quilt Market in Houston. This is a trade show for the fabric and sewing industry where companies show off their latest wares. Two books just came out that I contributed to (one being Quilting the New Classics as well as another one called Scraps, Inc. that will be out next month. More on that to come) so I got to participate in some publicity, signings, etc for those.
I’ve been to Spring Market a few times in the past, but never to Houston. It was a quick trip – I was only really there for 2 days – but it was SO nice to get away, see friends who I love and who inspire me, and to just recharge my creativity a little. Because I was only there such a short time, it was a bit of a blur. But I did take a few pictures to share of some of the upcoming releases that caught my eye. Here they are:

I have found that I am getting more and more inspired by deep, saturated color palettes, so hence, I love Alison Glass’s work. One of the few purchases I made was a bundle of her new collection of batiks, Handcrafted. I am in love with the palette. I’m also itching to do something with those gorgeous wools.

I’ve never been much of a batik user, so I’m excited to add something entirely new to my stash. Handcrafted comes out soon. If you are looking for some Alison Glass prints, check Westwood Acres. They should have Handcrafted bundles soon too.

 More saturated color from Anna Maria Horner and her collection, Honor Roll.
I didn’t get a good close-up look at the new Cotton + Steel collections coming out this winter, but they will continue to coordinate with their current collections and basics. Love these palettes too.

I think saturated color with more of a sour, burnt feel are definitely the new trend. These prints are from Birch Fabrics. Their booth always has great details.

Walking through the Cloud 9 booth these awesome retro-mod prints totally caught my eye. This collection by Jessica Jones called Time Warp is all printed on organic cotton barkcloth – it’s more of a home-dec weight fabric with texture. So cool – and check out that coat! So cute.
One more collection along this same color trend and one that I’m really looking forward to is Maureen Cracknell’s debut collection Wild and Free for Art Gallery Fabrics. I am so excited for Maureen – she is such a gifted artist. This collection releases next month.
Also with a first-time collection for Art Gallery Fabrics is the always quiet and reserved (don’t let this picture fool you), Katy Jones (aka I’m a Ginger Monkey) with Priory Square. Who is also my new BFF for bringing me my favorite British treat, Jelly Babies.
Carolyn Friedlander is a quilting genius, I think. She has her own personal style that is so uniquely hers. (Check out that Kona solids quilt on the far left. There’s a free quilt pattern here. Totally on my list now.)

She has a new fabric collection coming out called Doe that is sure to be very popular with modern quilters. Also check out this couch. Seriously.

Kona Solids are celebrating their 30th anniversary. To celebrate there were 30 quilts made from Kona solids. You can find the pattern links here (some of which are free like the Carolyn Friedlander one).

Here is Darlene Zimmerman with her Kona Solid’s pattern, Joseph’s Coat (free pattern is here.) Darlene also has EZ Quilting templates for this project. She was demo-ing her curved piecing technique and I even had the courage to try. I think I want to make this one too.

The Dear Stella booth had some beautiful samples and I love their new France-inspired collection. It even had a mini macaroon print!
Some new collections from Riley Blake include Lori Holt’s Flower Patch and Derby Days by Melissa Mortenson. I have been so excited by this one! Melissa has been a real-life friend for a while now and I am so excited for her to launch her first fabric collection! And it’s so ‘her’ too. Both the colors and theme, seeing as she lives in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby.
 Some of the upcoming Moda collections: Daysail by Bonnie and Camille
Paradiso by Kate Spain. This was the first time I ever met Kate in person. She was SO lovely and friendly. (Of course, so many people in this industry are.)
 Aloha Girl by Fig Tree quilts.
Vanessa Christenson and her new collection Color Theory. Another great group of good color basics prints.

It was especially fun to see Jen Kingwell since having taught with her this summer at the Fat Quarterly retreat. Jen is a true gem. So gracious and fun.

Just seeing all of her projects inspires me. I love this hexagon quilt. It’s her use of colors that I really love (and envy.) She has the gift to pull together such an eclectic range of colors and fabrics and create magic.

Which is why I think it is so exciting that she has a new collection of fabrics herself coming out this spring with Moda called Gardenvale. I feel extremely lucky to have got my hands on a bundle at Sample Spree. Usually I have a hard time breaking into bundles, but this one I wanted to tear into right away and get a look at her prints. I also love that these prints will add some depth to my stash – especially in the purples department to help me make it more interesting.

A few more people who inspire me: Cristy Fincher. Check out her amazing work. Cristy is the one who shared all of the mind-blowing Glue-basting tricks and tips this summer.

Another one of my favorites Lee Chappell and her pattern co. named after her great grandmother, May Chappell. Does the bag on the bottom right look familiar? That’s the one that inspired my own version a couple of weeks ago.
Here are Lee and I visiting our blocks in the official Olfa 35 commemorative quilt.

And then we threw down in the Kona IQ challenge where we had to match the name with the right shade. You’d think my hard core game face would have totally helped me out here. But you might be wrong.

And so (if you’re still reading by this point) that’s a wrap of Quilt Market 2014.


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


Quilts of Valor

By Mary Covey


Quilts of Valor

Quilts of Valor –

While I was at the Green Country Quilt Guild show, I had a chance to stop by and visit the ladies in the Quilts of Valor booth. These talented ladies are part of a group that volunteers their time and talent making quilts for the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. If you would like to know more about Quilts of Valor and how you can help, visit the Quilts of Valor  Tulsa  web site. You can also get information at any of the local quilt shops.

#QuiltShow #GreenCountryQuiltGuild #QuiltsofValor