Thursday, 28 July 2016

An Inside Look at Judging Canada's National Juried Show

Anna Hergert is an incredible quilter, teacher, and certified judge. Winning Teacher of the Year in 2014 and a previous teacher of the Quilt Judge Certification Program for CQA/ACC has made her something of an icon in Canadian quilting. 

Anna was one of three judges in the 2016 National Juried Show this past June in Toronto ON. This is her view on judging the National Juried Show (NJS).

Behind Closed Doors…

Several months ago Jackie White contacted me to provide a glimpse into the judging chamber. Once I agreed to provide some general information I began to organize my thoughts and create a general overview of the judging process.

It is at this time that I feel the need to thank the countless volunteers who work tirelessly on behalf of quilters across Canada. We are familiar with board members’ faces and often know local guild members who contribute volunteer hours. More often than not we are remiss in remembering and honouring those helping out for a day or a few hours.  Today my gratitude goes to those volunteers who quietly drift in and out, fly across the country or drive several hours to lend a hand holding up quilts for judging, and the volunteer who sacrifices her birthday to ensure judges’ critiques are professionally typed for each entry. Thank you to all!

But I digress… Back to the topic at hand, insights into the judging process:

Quilts laid out by category, ready to be judged.

It all began with the call for entry in the 2015 Autumn issue of the Canadian Quilter Magazine. Information pertaining to categories, deadline for submission, jury and judging teams were publicized for reference. Quilt makers across Canada responded to the challenge with enthusiasm.

Images of quilts with details were electronically submitted to the jury coordinator in early 2016. Once she ensured that all information, including the statement and the images were organized the jury of three (two apprentice judges, one certified judge) were provided with the secure access to the information. During a set time frame individual jurors carefully reviewed the information supplied. Employing a scoring system aided in narrowing down the selection. Jurors then connected via Skype to compare and discuss their first results. With approximately 275 submissions, life came to a halt in three households… Primarily based on overall design and visual impact the jury proceeded to reach consensus and ultimately selected 135 quilts for the 2016 NJS.

Note: Pre-selection is an important step in the NJS planning. Jurors base their decisions solely on the images and information supplied. It is easy to understand why photographing one’s entries to their best advantage is vital.

The Canadian Quilter’s Association’s practice is unique in that the quilts not selected for the NJS receive constructive critiques from each juror. Critiques are not formulated between cooking dinner and running to the grocery store. ;-)  Countless hours and several rewrites are part of the juror’s task.

Fast-forward to the NJS Coordinator who receives the information about all quilts submitted to the NJS. Soon quilt entries arrive at the NJS coordinator’s door. She is responsible for receiving, unpacking, documenting and organizing the submissions. Meanwhile she tours the exhibition venue, recruits volunteers, communicates with the judges and CQA/ACC board when she is not working a regular job and cares for her family.

Judges were provided with the judging procedure and the necessary forms to make notes and record prize winners. Judges, volunteers and CQA/ACC board representatives gathered Sunday morning, and after introductions and a brief organizational meeting proceeded with the task at hand. We soon established common ground in examining and evaluating each entry, followed by a brief deliberation and summarization of our findings. Constructive critiques were formulated individually and dictated to our personal scribes.
Scribes typing judges comments.

How do I ensure staying within a reasonable time frame? I cannot speak for my fellow judges, but am happy to share the four-step process I have devised to help me stay focused and work in an organized manner:
1.     I view the quilt and determine its visual impact based on its composition, colour and value contrast.
2.     I evaluate construction techniques and their complexity.
3.     I examine the execution of these techniques to ensure sound workmanship, and
4.     I determine how well the quilt has been finished.

With practice these four areas are assessed within seconds. It opens up the lines of communication between judges using educated observations which ultimately lead to the formulation of constructive feedback.

Easy you say? Far from it! Each quilt submission is treated with the greatest respect. We wear white gloves, use reducing and magnifying glasses (when necessary), look the quilt over front, back, determine whether the quilting stitches are balanced and check whether the binding is full. My co-judges and I repeated this 135 times in 14 hours (not including short breaks). It works out to approximately 10 quilt entries per hour.

Each time I have the privilege to judge a quilt competitions I am humbled that with professional judges personal biases don’t enter the judging area. Quickly helpers, scribes and judges connect and engage in mutual support for a successful outcome.

This was my second time judging an NJS. In 2008 in St. John’s, NF I was relatively new to the scene when the team came together quickly in pursuit of a common goal, the fair evaluation of approximately 90 quilts. The last two days confirmed that I have deepened my knowledge in quilting over the past 9 years. I have gained a better understanding of evaluating quilts and with the common goal of honouring quilt makers across Canada we build community. An educational environment is fostered through professional conduct by CAQ/ACC Certified Judges and committed volunteers who give freely.

I would like to thank the CQA/ACC board for the opportunity to be a vital part of the judging team this year. I hope you will consider the commitment and passion invested in this showcase of Canadian Quilting.

Thank you Anna! Keep an eye on our website for the Call For Entry for the 2017 NJS and get ready to enter! To see the winners of the 2016 NJS, click here.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


Q&A With Trish Stuart

Join us as we welcome an adorable project from one of our amazing sponsors WonderFil Specialty Threads!

Texas-based Quilter, Author, & International Teacher

For the full Q&A visit the WonderFil website.

Raised in Alaska and currently residing in Texas, Trish’s art is heavily influenced by nature and color. She has a broad range of techniques and styles, ranging from traditional piecing, her own method of easy curved piecing, small and large scale appliqué, painting on fabric and mixed media. She currently can be found working in wool and embroidery. A former “Sewing Star” for both Pfaff and Viking, Trish has been a repeat guest on nationally broadcast television programs, is featured on Craft Daily as one of their online teachers, has been published in national quilting magazines, traveled and taught both nationally and internationally. She has published 12 books and over 200 patterns. Her passion is inspiring others to succeed in their own creativity, encouraging them to work out of the box by showing how to get from A to B. The point is to have fun doing it!
Trish has been with the WonderFil Teacher Program since 2009.

For the full interview / Q&A with Trish Stuart visit the WonderFil website.

For great tutorials, DIY project, and more visit the blog.

With Love and Threads,

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Hand Quilting Tips and a Modern Quilt Project

About our author:
Annette Millard is passionate about sewing and has worked in the sewing industry for many, many years and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. She currently enjoys supporting the Coats & Clark community writing blog posts about products and projects for the Coats Sewing Secrets Blog.

Quick! Fast! Easy! Instant! These seem to be the words we frequently think most important when we’re planning a task. Even our leisure lives become invaded with this mantra and too often, I find those same words crossover into my quilting and sewing life. So, let’s stop, even if just for a minute and think about why we quilt. What drew us to this magical art and what keeps it enjoyable? Was it speed? Probably not. So perhaps, slowing down and mindfully enjoying the process of what we can create with our hands could recreate the joy that first caused us to take up needle and thread.

And, so . . . Hand Quilting, a slow, mindful form of stitching that makes every project unique and distinct. Not “quilt in a day”, but a fabulous, purposeful, creatively, joyful form of quilting that connects our ancestral traditions with modern trends and recharges our passion for stitching. If you haven’t tried it, I have good tips, a marvelous thread, resources from your favorite experts and a beautiful project for you. And, if you’ve already discovered the amazing calm and fulfillment of Hand Quilting, you’ll enjoy adding even more info to your “by hand” file.

So let’s talk thread - one of the most important “tools” for hand stitching success! Coats and Clark makes a wonderful Hand Quilting Thread that is designed specifically for your hand stitching needs. You’ll find it in over 25 beautiful colors, so you’ll easily be able to match your fabrics. Many quilters find it’s best to choose threads that match each of the fabrics you are using as Hand Quilting stitches are larger than machine stitching and will be more distinctly visible. Other quilters suggest matching the thread color to the backing as those stitches tend to be longer than the top stitches so they will “hide” best in a matching color. You may find that you want to choose a busy print for your backing so that the threads that match your top fabrics will blend in well on the back, also. Whatever you choose, just be sure those swatches are tucked into your pocket when you go out to choose your thread!

Coats Hand Quilting thread has a glace finish and is made from a cotton wrapped polyester core that makes it strong as well as flexible. The polyester core is a uniform size, so it creates a smooth thread that holds up well to any stress we may put on it as we’re stitching. Click here for more information about this fabulous thread. You’ll find a download link for a PDF of those gorgeous colors, too!

Before you begin your Hand Quilting adventure, you’ll want to thread several needles with 45 to 60 cm lengths of thread, so you can efficiently keep stitching. Choose your needles carefully. Hand Quilting needles are betweens and a size 10 is a good choice. You’ll want an eye that isn’t too small to easily thread on a needle that is strong enough to slide through your layers of top, batting and backing. Click here  for a short, fun YouTube video on threading multiple needles onto one spool of thread.  Such a great idea!

Using a fairly short length of thread (none of those meter long lengths, please), will help prevent tangling and keep your working thread manageable. Lack of knottiness, is another one of the reasons I love the glace finish on Coats Hand Quilting Thread. Although many quilters use a waxing product to prevent knotting, the gorgeous finish on the Coats thread inhibits and resists knotting all on its own. The very last thing you want when Hand Quilting is to find unwanted knots in your working thread!

Now, what about those little stitches and how do you get them even? Well, here’s the wonderful thing about handmade - practice makes perfect and . . . it doesn’t have to be perfect! Seasoned hand quilters will tell you that the more you stitch, the more even it will become and if you examine those stitches up close, there are always variations and it’s okay.  To quote Marianne Fons, “Hand quilting is like going for a walk for pleasure rather than getting in your car to go somewhere quickly. “ Slow down, enjoy what you’re doing and the patience you’ll develop from the process will enrich your life in so many ways!

Sometimes, you just need a buddy to hold one hand while you Hand Quilt with the other, so here’s some help from our friends in the big, wide quilting world.
Click here for the Quilty Hand Quilting video, mentioned above, featuring Mary and Marianne Fons.
Now, click here  to learn Alex Anderson’s Top Three Hand Quilting Cheats. Thank you, Alex!
And, finally, click here for a marvelous Craftsy post on the Hand Quilting Stitches you’ll need to know, like you see in the photo above. Quilter’s Knot, Running Stitch, Tunneling and Rocking will soon become a natural part of your quilting vocabulary!

Are you ready? Feeling better now? Good! We have a beautiful Modern Traditional Quilt for you that features both machine and hand quilting. It’s the perfect combination of tradition and modern style and you’ll love making it. You’ll machine quilt some areas of your quilt then finish with beautiful hand echo stitching around the white sections. Coats chose lovely Free Spirit solids, but you may want to use prints or dynamic florals. Put your “hand” to it and make it your own!

Click here  for the quilt project that includes a link to the PDF tutorial. Full color to make it clear for you!
In Summer, my very favorite thing about Hand Quilting is it’s portability. Take your charming, calming stitches along on your next road or day trip and carry it along to the kids’ sports practice. And, for even greater joy, get your friends involved, plan a gathering and invite those kids, too. Stitching is always better in community and a Play/Hand Quilting group will make your Summer the best ever!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

An Email that shows the Kindness of Quilters

This email was received by a Board member. Quilters truly are remarkable people with very big hearts! Read on:

Our local quilting group The Huron Shores Quilters have devoted the month of May to making quilts for Fort McMurray.  We had the local paper The North Shore Sentinel do an article on our efforts.

We have just sent the first 14 quilts to Erie Quilt Art in Calgary and have about a dozen more in the process of being finished.  We hope to have the rest off by the end of June.

I have, "courtesy of the North Shore Sentinel", attached a photo of our group with many of the quilts, 

Each of our quilts has a label indicating it has come from the Huron Shores Quilters of Blind River, Iron Bridge, Thessalon and Bruce Mines in Northern Ontario, along with an email address.    

It was the CQA who first let us know about sending quilts through Erie Quilt Art - so thank you.

Linda Stemp
Fort McMurray Quilt Project Co-ordinator

Huron Shores Quilters

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Cross Stitching DIY Project

Cross Stitching DIY Project

Join us as we welcome an adorable project from one of our amazing sponsors WonderFil Specialty Threads!

This hand-made project makes a great personal gift for any special family or friend, and is simple enough to complete even for beginners.

Here are all the materials you will be needing for this project:

  • 1 piece of 11 count aida cloth 7”x8” (will vary based on size of design)
  • Size 22 tapestry or darning needle
  • 12wt Fruitti, a 100% Egyptian cotton thread <link to:> (Colors used in our project: FT20-Storm, FT10-Roses, FT15-Carnation)
  • Pattern: <link to site> (pictured: “Thank You for Being My Friend”)
  • Embroidery scissors
  • 6” Cross-stitch hoop
The first step is to choose the pattern you would like to cross stitch with your personalized message. We used a free pattern from this great website where you can find a variety of different designs for your cross-stitch.

For the full tutorial on this DIY project visit the blog.

With Love and Threads,

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Q&A With Ana Buzzalino!

Q&A With Ana Buzzalino!

Join us as we welcome an adorable project from one of our amazing sponsors WonderFil Specialty Threads!

Calgarian Fibre Artist and Quilt Instructor

For the full Q&A visit the WonderFil website.

Ana has been a teacher on a variety of quilting techniques for the past 20+ years. Some of the recent workshops have focused on free-motion quilting and surface design. She is currently working on a new series of work that includes mixed media and is a frequent contributor to quilting arts magazine and quilting arts tv.

Many of ana’s quilts have won several awards at local and national shows, and have been juried into major international shows.

Wonderfil is proud to have counted ana buzzalino as part of our teacher program since 2009.

For the full interview / Q&A with Ana Buzzalino visit the WonderFil website.

For great tutorials, DIY project, and more visit the blog.
With Love and Threads,

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Chevron Embroidered: Pillbox Pincushion

Join us as we welcome an adorable project from one of our amazing sponsors WonderFil Specialty Threads!

 The WonderFil team would love to share with you a wonderfil little project that would not only be fun, simple and easy to make, but also useful. For this project we decided to use the WonderFil’s Razzle and Dazzle threads.

The Razzle and Dazzle threads are perfect for hand embroidery, the silky soft 6 ply rayon thread adds a beautiful shine and sparkle to any project. Simple stitching and the usefulness of the pillbox make it the perfect project to try your hand at embroidering. This is a great project that can simply be modified and customize. Have fun with the pattern and design, these pillbox pincushions make the perfect little gift.

With a few simple seams and a little stuffing, you will be moving your pins into their new home before you know it.


  • Wonderfil dazzle - 6180, 3130
  • Wonderfil razzle – rzm03, rzm15
  • Wonderfil designer -  white - ds426
  • Linen fabric, 1/4 yd.
  • Fusible fleece, 1/4 yd
  • Fiberfill stuffing
  • Button


  • Rotary cutter
  • Ruler with 60 degree angle markings
  • Fabric marking tool
  • Soft sculpting doll needle

Basic supplies

  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Hand sewing needle,
  • Iron
  •  Pressing surface

For the full tutorial on this DIY project visit the blog.

Make sure to visit our booth at the Quilt Canada 2016 in Toronto from June15–18.

With Love and Threads,