Are any of you planning on entering Joann's quilting contest?
I made it a rule a while ago that I wasn't going to waste any more of my time entering contests that did not give prizes. If I'm going to take the time and spend the money to create an entry, I'd like to have the chance to bring home some cash, or at least some decent prizes.
Now, I have made an exception now and then, most recently with the Quilter's Home Mojo Doll Challenge. But, because it started out as a challenge and ended up a contest I ended up doing OK after all. I've also been known to show my quilts at various guild and other shows, just for the exposure. So, $ isn't the only reason to enter a competition, but heck, it doesn't hurt!
So, in case you were wondering, yes, I do intend to enter the Joann contest. The prizes are just too good to not give it a shot, and besides, think of the exposure a winning quilt would get? It would be ginormus!
Of course, a contest like this will bring out a lot of experienced and talented quilters. Because of the prizes and the possible exposure, it will be competitive. It will be interesting for me because so many quilters I know don't buy fabric at Joann's, but prefer their LQS. Some of those may still have their noses up in the air but I suspect you'll see quite a few LQS shoppers skulking around Joann's at odd hours so they won't be spotted buying the evil goods.
This is actually a brilliant marketing ploy by Joann's. For a few thousand dollars worth of cash and prizes they'll get LQS shoppers into their stores to check out their upgraded premium quilter's fabrics. I've actually posted before about how impressed I've been with some of their new fabric lines. They still don't have the selection of high quality goods of a LQS but there are enough that it's worth bringing out a 40% off coupon to snatch up a piece.
I hit the jackpot this week with their 50% off clearance. I bought about 10 pieces of the Legacy Studios premium cotton that regularly retailed for $8.99 for $1.50 a yard. Now, that's a deal! I think I got lucky as I met a woman in line at another Joann's yesterday and she checked out the sale a day later than me and came home with very little. Probably my fault, I think I pretty much wiped them out of anything I didn't have already....sorry.....
Since I am going to be entering and I'm sure that some of you will be too I decided to honor my pledge to myself that I would share my experience and expertise with my readers, even if one of them might beat me out of a big prize. So, here go my tips on being successful entering quilting contests.
1) Follow the directions! Make sure that you read everything that applies to the contest. Here's the link to the Joann info: http://joannfabricandcraftstores.blogspot.com/
This contest is like a fabric manufacturer's contest, (like the old Kaufman Quilt Quest), in that they have specific requirements about what you can and can't use. Read the rules and regulations carefully and make sure that you will be able to meet their requirements. There's no point in making a beautiful quilt and disqualifying yourself by not following directions.
Also, make sure that the deadlines work for you. In this contest there's a 5 day window where you have to get back in touch with Joann's about receiving your prizes. If you're going to be on a cruise that week, or somewhere in the wild where you can't be reached you may want to pass on this contest. Wouldn't it be horrible to be a winner and then be disqualified because they don't hear from you?
2) Keep track of your documents! Whenever I'm entering a contest I start a binder with all of the contest info. This means copies of all the rules and regulations, as well as a calendar to track my progress.
In this contest it's particularly important that you include an envelope so you can keep track of your receipts. One of the requirements is that all fabrics used in the construction came from Joann's and you have to document it by receipts. How this is going to work with fat quarters I don't know, but I'm assuming they'll have that figured out. So, make sure you have a way to keep all of your receipts in one place. I'm in the habit of doing this for business purposes, so I was able to find receipts for a lot of fabric I want to use in my quilt that I already had on hand. I have a box on my desk that I throw my receipts into so it was easy for me to find them. If you haven't kept yours you'll have to make fresh purchases, which could get pricy.
Oh, and don't think that since you did buy that fabric at Joann's they'll let it pass without a receipt. I would bet you that they won't, it's an easy way for them to narrow their choices if they have a reason to disqualify someone. Besides, it wouldn't be fair to all of those who did follow the rules if you think you can "squeak something by."
3) Swatch your fabrics! In this case I made a few swatch sheets for my binder and as I've acquired fabrics I've glued 1.5" squares onto the sheets. I make sure that every swatch is accounted for by a receipt so I won't be tempted or make the mistake of using a fabric that might get me disqualified. Before I cut any fabric I can cross reference and make sure it's on one of my swatch sheets. This also helps design wise because since I have a limited palette I can spread out my swatch sheets and make selections for various parts of my design.
4) Read between the lines and take everything seriously! I made a big mistake the first year I entered the Kaufman Quilt Quest. I saw that they were promoting a particular line but the rules didn't say that I had to use "that" fabric, only fabric by Robert Kaufman. So, I made a beautiful handbag with a bevy of lovely Robert Kaufman fabrics.....and came in second. The winner? Someone who used the fabrics from the line they were promoting. I learned my lesson and the next year not only used the featured fabric, but emphasized it. What happened? I won first place.
In this case they're promoting their "Premium" lines of quilting fabric. So, I'm going to use mostly those fabrics. They've also made a big point about "workmanship," "originality," and "attention to detail." All things that make me think that shortcuts are probably not a good idea, those kinds of things will be noticed. If any of you have ever gotten judging notes you know what I mean. Everything gets noticed, even things that aren't there.....
5) Have fun! OK, that sounds kind of Pollyanish after all my warnings above, but it's very true. If you aren't having fun making your piece the odds are that it won't be your best work. So, if you find yourself trying to force square "you" into round hole "wonderful quilt idea that's going to win me the big prize", then you might as well forget it because you won't be successful. I've started a few contest quilts before realizing that it wasn't going to work for me. I was trying to give them what I thought they wanted, instead of what I was good at. The trick is to use what you're good at to give them what they want. No point in wasting your time trying to become someone you aren't.
If there's no flow, there's no go!
I hope these tips help.