Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quilt Show Contemplations

It is an age-old issue with quilters and quilt shows whether or not "the quilter" should get appropriate credit. It's not really an issue of whether the quilter should receive appropriate credit, but rather on of IF the quilter is given appropriate credit.  Nowadays, most entry applications for shows request that the entrant provide the name of who quilted the quilt.  There are few checks, however, that truly ensure that this is done.  As a longarm quilter, I know in my mind and heart that many quilts are really not a "quilt" until they are quilted. Quilting brings so many dimensions and textures and patterns to a pieced or appliqued top.  The quilting becomes the top and makes it a better version of itself.  I guarantee that if there were Quilt Top Shows, they wouldn't attract too many viewers.  It is the finished package that gets the "oohhs" and "aahhss".  So quilters (you notice I didn't call them "quilt top makers"), please appropriately credit your quilter, AND notify them when you show a quilt that they quilted...AND when it wins something.  Even though you own the quilt, I assure you they are interested in this news.

As you now know, I have an article in a current magazine and HandiQuilter ads presently running -- both of which give my website and blog added visibility.  Many people will find me, so I am conscious of what I write on account of that.  My business is only as good as the image I portray.  This blog is much more visible and public than ever before.  As a result, I generally try to keep my griping to a minimum when I know that the general quilting public and potential clients are reading it, but this is an area that it is just too hard to leave my high-horse behind.  It is an area that all quilters should have a vested interest in.  Afterall, if the shoe were on the other foot, and I had a piecer that made all of my show quilts for me, and all I did was quilt them, enter them in shows and reap the many ribbons -- dontcha think that the piecer would feel jilted?  I do.

That is perhaps a slight exaggeration in my case, but not so for many quilters.  Over the past week, I have received some wonderful news about a couple of my clients.  Do you remember this quilt from last November?  Last night I was panning through photos on my computer, and came across pictures of this quilt.  When I sent the quilt back to the owner, I never once heard from her about receiving it, or what her thoughts were.  It was a seriously gorgeous quilt when I finished with it, really.  At the time, I just let it go. While the vast majority of clients are delighted when their quilts return home, there is always that rogue client that says nothing.  For months following sending it home, I'd check her blog, but she stopped updating it. Eventually I lost interest and quit checking.  Last night, I discovered a new blog she's started.  Two weeks ago, her quilt "Aunt Millie's Garden - Brown is the New Black" won Best of Show at the Garden State Quilter's Guild show in NJ!  Talk about me being shocked! And a little disappointed that she hadn't told me. It is hard to completely relinquish part-ownership in the quilts that I help to create.  I have a vested interest interest in their ultimate successes, and a great desire to hear the news when they do well.  
As the longarm quilter, I know that the quilts belong to the owner, and what they do with them is their business.  I don't have a partnership with the piecers for whom I quilt like some longarm quilters do.  These partnerships are relatively rare, but not non-existent.  The two people share the ribbons and split whatever earnings the quilt makes equally.  I love to share in and revel in their successes, but ultimately, their quilts are theirs once I send them home.  All I have ever asked is that the piecer send information about how the quilts do at shows, as it is available.  Seems simple enough, right?!  Wouldn't you want to know?

Last weekend, Jeanette contacted me to tell me that her quilt "Autumn at Lost Mountain" won ribbons at the East Cobb Quilt Guild Show (outside Atlanta, GA).  She won 1st place in her category as well as Best Machine Quilting!  This is another large guild - probably over 200 members, and a quilt show that hosts many well known names in this business.  Needless to say, I was delighted to hear from Jeanette, even more so to hear about the machine quilting award.  This one I can claim as mine :-)  She has already said that she's sending the dual ribbons and the money from the machine quilting award to me.  I am honored and humbled and shocked beyond what words can express about her gesture.  She's truly a lady of integrity, and I am proud to quilt for her.  FYI - her quilt is going to be at the NQA show in Columbus, OH this coming weekend too.  It has donned on me that I never blog posted the quilting of this quilt, so you can see the details of it here on my website.  It's lovely!
In conclusion, I want to thank these ladies for having the courage to show their quilts.  They are both lovely and unique in their own ways.  The deserve each of the wins that they achieved.  I am delighted to have had a part in creating the piece that they became.  I know in my head and heart that after quilting, they are so much more than when they arrived to me as a flimsy.  I appreciate knowing where they are now and how they are doing on the show circuit.  I encourage each and every one of you that make tops for professional quilters to kindly followup with your quilter when you receive your finished quilt, as well as along it's journey. I assure you he/she really does want to know what ribbons it earns!


31 comments:

Helen Rosenberger said...

Very nice blog! Cudos to the woman who called you and shared! Very sad on the other quilt, the quilting was beautiful on both! But it sure does look like she took the credit for the quilting and enjoyed the profit!

dagmar.eu said...

Two comments to your post:
1 I personally think a lot of people would be interested in a category at shows for quilt tops. So mny people only enjoy making tops and have no interest in quilting
2 Checks should be made to find out if the quilting is really done by the person who enters the quilt if the show does not provide 2 categories; one for people who make their quilts from start to finish and one for quilts that are pieced/appliqued by one and quilted by somebody else
Add to this that I find it extremely rude by the person who has not given you any credit for her winning quilt nor telling you if she liked the quilting or not - that is simply petty
Please put this down to experience and don't let it get you down. Some people just don't have any manners!

byDongo said...

Margaret, This is my first year of long arm quilting and this is my first year of ever quilting other quilter's quilts. I guess I assumed the quilter would notify the LA quilter and am shocked that they don't. This is also the first year I got involved with the local guild's quilt show. I was lucky enough to be a helper working with the judge. I heard many comments that the scribes didn't... mostly good comments, and I learned a lot listening to her. My friend had entered 4 quilts in the show, two of which I did the custom quilting on, and 2 that were done E-to-E by someone else. The judges comments about the two I did were "the quilting enhances this quilt"! Those were the first words she spoke after looking at the quilt! A good custom quilter will enhance what the quilt maker does, and in many cases will be able to cover flaws.... They deserve to hear that "Thank you!"

Joyce said...

Very well stated!! It takes both the piecing and the quilting to make a quilt!

Anya said...

I completely agree that too often the quilter is not recognized enough in awards, especially in smaller shows. The larger shows have group categories, but most small guild shows don't, and too often the ribbon and praise go only to the piecer and not to the quilter. Some argue that since the piecer has paid for the quilting, she then "owns" it and the praise, but I think that's a copout. Unfortunately, it does happen at larger shows as well -- see this photo -- http://bumblebeansinc.blogspot.com/2013/02/wowzer.html. A Best of Show winner and no mention of the quilter, just the piecer. The piecer does give credit to her quilter on her blog, but the show organizers don't mention the name of the quilter. Shame, shame. JMHO

Sewing Junkie said...

I hear your pain. I made wedding dresses on occassion and asked for a picture for making the dresses. I have done the whole wedding party and never recieved a mention. Heard lots of second hand compliments, but the bride never sent a thank you or a picture. I guess they figured they paid for the work that I wasn't deserving of a picture. So it goes across the board that skills are left unnoticed and unappreciated. Chris

bidtl said...

This is one of my pet peeves too. As a viewer at a show I naturally assume that the quilt piecer is also the quilter, unless otherwise stated. I don't quilt or piece for others, but can imagine the slight you feel when you put in your time effort and talent to finish the quilt. I have gone as far as writing this information on my labels for gift quilts. My other peeve is when someone uses a kit or pattern and doesn't give credit to the pattern designer. How many Aunt Millies Gardens have been shown without credit to Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins?

bidtl said...

This is one of my pet peeves too. As a viewer at a show I naturally assume that the quilt piecer is also the quilter, unless otherwise stated. I don't quilt or piece for others, but can imagine the slight you feel when you put in your time effort and talent to finish the quilt. I have gone as far as writing this information on my labels for gift quilts. My other peeve is when someone uses a kit or pattern and doesn't give credit to the pattern designer. How many Aunt Millies Gardens have been shown without credit to Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins?

Janet McNamara Houck said...

I agree with all of the comments. I ALways give credit to the person who did the quilting. It is a skill I don't currently have and that skill completes the quilt. I believe the picture that won and you got credit for is a Judy Niemeyer pattern, Feathered Star. I also give credit to the pattern designer.

Leeanne said...

Great post well written. I know a few of my customers have entered their quilts in shows & giving credit to me their quilter, which I always appreciate. After six years of professionally quilting I still hold my breath when I first hand over a quilt. It is such a huge responsibility.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Totally understand and agree that both parties (maker and quilter) deserve recognition -- I'm thrilled to know there are shows where DUAL ribbons are awarded. That should be standard practice!

Borderline Quilter said...

Here, Here Margaret, we are 'Surogate Mothers' and these are our Children....gone off into the world!

kcro62 said...

Very well said and lots of people do not appreciate the long armer enough. really cudos to the one that gave the deserved credit/awards and for shame for the one who did not. gorgeous work!

Sharon Pernes said...

You make a good point and shame on those quilters who do not at least give feed back. I'm not sure what is the norm by you, but the few little quilt sows I have been to list a quilted by XYZ right on its label in front of the quilt with the quilt name and the 'pieces'.
Now onto why people use long armers. I usually quilt my own that will be used in my house and smaller quilts. Then there's the large quilts and gift quilts, which I use a longarmer for. I don't think my quilting is up to snuff and like how it looks. I also am friends with my longarmer which makes it a win-win for both of use. But I still consider myself a quilter and don't like the 'piecer' tag. Sewing a quilt top is so much more than just sewing some pieces together. There's deciding on the pattern and altering it if needed, picking out the fabric, cutting the fabric, sewing the quilt, adding borders (especially pieced borders), not to mention binding the quilt after its long armed. So as far as I am concerned, the long armer does have a part in the finished product, but saying that the rest of us are just piecers is not fair.

Ebony Love said...

Anya... the show did say that Lisa Sipes quilted that quilt. It's on the wall placard displayed next to the quilt. The award was for "Best in Show", so the credit goes to the person responsible for the overall submission. If this were a different category, they may have mentioned the quilter in the slide show.

It's similar to when an author wins a book award; it doesn't mean that the author did it by themselves, but that they are responsible for the overall work.

Ebony Love said...

Anya... the show did say that Lisa Sipes quilted that quilt. It's on the wall placard displayed next to the quilt. The award was for "Best in Show", so the credit goes to the person responsible for the overall submission. If this were a different category, they may have mentioned the quilter in the slide show.

It's similar to when an author wins a book award; it doesn't mean that the author did it by themselves, but that they are responsible for the overall work.

Lisa Sipes said...

Thank you Anya. The show itself did not give me credit for either the Best of Show quilt or the Viewers Choice quilt. Neither did any of the chapters of the MQG that posted about the quilts (a lot of them).
That said, both Victoria and Alison did their very best to shout from the roof tops that I was their quilter.
I suppose being "just" the quilter, that's the best we can expect and hope that people will take the time to understand what a collaboration means. It is really unfortunate that while my friends did the right thing in crediting their quilters, the shows themselves (which you'd think would be the people with the most vested interest in doing things right), did not.
This is a never ending conversation with the simplest of solutions, if people could just "get it".
In Margaret's case of not even being informed of a BOS (and other) win(s), yeah I think a lot of us have been there as well. It just leaves a yucky feeling as if our clients don't appreciate how much we actually do for them. Hopefully if we all band together and keep posting well-thought-out things such as Margaret has done here, the topic will gain more understanding. One can hope, right?

Back Porch Extras said...

I know of another LA Quilter who does fabulous work and has an agreement with the person who pieced the quilt that if it wins in a show they split the money. To me this sounds only fair as anyone can piece a quilt but its the Long Arm Quilter who brings the quilt to life!
These winning quilts hang in shows but can't remember if the only the quilters name is listed on tag or if the LA is too.
Good Luck on future quilts being recognized.

Eileen said...

Margaret, you are absolutely right; we should be credited. I've also had a client not mention me when the quilt was in a show. I was excited when I saw the quilt from a distance; I was with a friend and told her I'd quilted it. We got close enough to read the card, and my name wasn't on it. This was several years ago, and it still stings.
That's why I have a statement on my worksheet that states the quilter is to give me credit if/when the quilt is shown. I figure that it at least puts the info into their heads.

Lisa Sipes said...

Ebony, that is not really true. My name being listed on the card isn't the show giving me credit as the quilter. That's Victoria giving me credit as the quilter on her entry form. There is a difference. I'm not really one to make a big fuss about these things, but that is just what it is.
Any other show that announces a Best of Show award, mentions both the maker and the quilter if both were not done by the same person.

Lisa Sipes said...

Ebony, that is not entirely true. My name being listed as the quilter on the card is not the show giving me credit as the quilter, it's Victoria giving me credit as the quilter on her entry form.
I'm not one to make a big fuss of these things, but that is what it was. Any other show that's announcing a Best of Show award, mentions both the maker and the quilter if both were not done by the same person.

Anya said...

Ebony -- When I see the very first photo on the link I posted, there is nothing on it to indicate who did the quilting (I'm assuming that it's a slide from a slideshow, but I can't tell for sure). Yes, a few of the winners themselves have been very gracious and have loudly thanked their quilter and I salute them wholeheartedly. But on the MQG's blog post listing the QuiltCon winners, however, there is no mention of the quilter. IMHO, quilts like this should be in a group category. And Lisa, I've noticed that more and more shows (even some of the smaller ones), now require quilts like this to be in a group category, thereby making sure that both the piecer and the quilter get awarded. Hopefully, a growing trend.

Lynda said...

Our regional quilt show does display the quilter's name along with the piecer. The quilter gets much deserved credit for their work and it's a great way to find a longarmer for your next quilt!

I would never dream of not letting a quilter know about show results!

kringie said...

Speaking as someone who works on the Guild end of things:
I am currently president of the Quilter's Guild of Dallas, and our annual show is large (350-400 quilts in judged show).
While our signage clearly states the name of the entrant, the maker (of the top) and the quilter, we do NOT give multiple ribbons because (a) we believe the ribbon belongs to the QUILT, not to the people involved, and (b) those suckers are $$$. And quite frankly, my suspicion is that the people who don't give credit where credit is due don't share duplicate ribbons with the quilter anyway. They just keep it like they won two ribbons.

~Michelle~ said...

I solemnly promise that if I ever feel my piecing w/your quilting is ever up to snuff enough to enter in a show, I'll do my very best to ensure you receive credit for your part in the process. One of these years, I'll join the old ladies guild as a young lady, just to shake things up for them.

Ever thought about adding a statement to your quilting agreement that says something about notifying you of show entries & wins? Hard to legally enforce, but perhaps it would clue some people in!

Leah Day said...

This was a very enlightening article and I enjoyed hearing your perspective as a longarmer. I have one suggestion: if you want credit for every quilt you quilt, put it in your contract.

In your article you seemed to prevaricate between the attitude that the quilt was not yours and you didn't have rights to credit, and the alternative that it was rude to not be granted it without asking.

So I'd suggest taking the emotion out of this situation. If you want credit, ask for it from every customer, every time.

Good luck!

Leah Day

Lizards arent cuddly said...

If you look here, I have inserted the quote below, she does mention you, thought you'd like to know :)

http://sewingincircles.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/aunt-millie-or-the-longest-quilt-ive-ever-made/

"So I finished mine and for a whole host of reasons, it took 2-1/2 years to get it machine quilted. But finally in December, the most talented and wonderful, Margaret Gunn quilted it for me and oh my goodness, what a beautiful job she did on it."

Eileen said...

Asked the quilter a question on her blog about the machine quilting and was directed here ...
http://sewingincircles.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/aunt-millie-or-the-longest-quilt-ive-ever-made/

Eileen said...

I asked a question about the machine quilting and was directed to this post:

http://sewingincircles.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/aunt-millie-or-the-longest-quilt-ive-ever-made/

Vivian said...

I thought I recognized the brown "Aunt Millie's" quilt---it was also shown in the Mancuso's NJ Quilt Fest Show back in March. Although it didn't ribbon there, you were credited as the quilter on the card next to the quilt (I'll send you my pics by email).

I don't get to go to many shows but at all the ones I have attended, usually if the person who quilted it is different from the one who constructed it, both names have appeared so I always thought that was standard practice.

I think all quilt shows should ask on the entry form who designed, pieced (and/or appliqued) and quilted the piece so that providing the information is not "voluntary" and it can all be reflected on the display card.

As far as ribbons go, I think for the first place prizes in a show or category it's not unreasonable to expect that the quilter should also receive a ribbon or a portion of the prize---as long as the show stipulates that will be the case in the entry information so the person entering the quilt understands that in advance (and can choose not to enter the quilt if they don't want to share credit or the prize).

J-Quilts said...

I agree with your comments, and the quilter paid or unpaid should rightly be credited as the quilter and receive ribbons and awards.

For a show organiser to say that a ribbon belongs with the quilt is a weird concept to understand. There are often two participants in a show quilt. Piecer and quilter, mostly the piecing is not enough on its own to win any awards... I would not want to see a quilt top show either...

I recently found out my name was attached to a show quilt, but I have no clue as to which quilt or which customer it belongs to... they did not mention it to me, but at least I got mentioned..