It’s no secret that one of our very favorite magazines is Uppercase, which is edited and largely written by Janine Vangool. We’ve reviewed many of the past issues here, but none of them are as great as #24–the quilting and weaving issue. (The back cover says, “In this issue: scavenger, scraps, friedlander, feedsacks, tattoo, tapestry, shuttle, skin, basketry, abandon, warp, weft.” Perfectly perfect.) QuiltCon attendees received a copy of the magazine in their goody bags, but if you weren’t there you can buy a single issue or a subscription on the Uppercase site. Here is the preview on ISSUU.

Janine was one of three people who judged the quilts at QuiltCon. Along with Carolyn Friedlander and Stevii Graves, she spent three days examining each quilt, making notes, and choosing the prize winners in each category. A few days ago she sent out her weekly newsletter, which included some of her thoughts about that experience, and some tips for quilt-makers.  I found her observations interesting–especially since she is coming at it from a designer’s, but not a quilt-maker’s, perspective. I asked her if I could reprint them here, and she kindly agreed.

Three Days, 300 Quilts

by Janine Vangool

  • Dark fabrics show through light colours. Press your seams towards the dark and use white batting under white fabric to get a clean look.
  • Binding matters! A poorly applied quilt edge can really make a difference in the perception of the overall quilt. There were some impressive examples of binding where the maker had matched the binding colours to the design. Unfortunately, there were also submissions where the binding was literally falling off. Facing the quilt was also an effective design choice.
  • Machine quilting motifs should work to enhance the piecing and be harmonious… or completely contrasting with purpose and intent.
  • Pet hair is never a good idea. A few entries caused fits of sneezes! A few entries were quite full of hair or threads and hadn’t been properly cleaned before submission. It’s hard to judge an entry when no obvious care was put into the submission.
  • Creating a dynamic and unique composition is harder than it looks. The modern aesthetic pushes the use of negative space in interesting ways.
  • Though pre-bundled fabrics have lovely colour and pattern combinations, unless it’s a fabric challenge to specifically use a particular collection, try to mix up the fabric selections from beyond a single source.
  • An extremely high level of craftsmanship and technique is possible—and breathtaking to see—but perhaps was more rare than I was anticipating considering we were viewing quilts to be judged.
  • Be inspired by a variety of sources — quoting “Pinterest” as a design source is not very impressive. My favourite entries had interesting and personal descriptions of how the quilt’s inspiration came into play.
  • There was a deep appreciation and respect for all the quilts that were submitted, by the judges and from the entire team at QuiltCon (who where impeccably organized and efficient).
  • Quilts in which the personality of the maker shone through were the most pleasurable to look at—and the most memorable weeks later.

You can read more of Janine’s impressions on the Uppercase blog.