Quilt Shows and Longarm Quilters

I've had almost 48 hours and my emotions are beginning to return to a normal range, but it has been one heck of a day and a half.  My concern really isn't Road to California, it's about all shows, it's about publications, it's about anyone that has been denied recognition of their contribution to whatever it is.   This particular event brings to the forefront every insult from lack of acknowledgement from several shows even in my own neighborhood, my guilds.

Quilts I have quilted for two different clients  belonging to two different local guilds (that I am also a member of), have won Best of Show.   Did I get a ribbon for either one?   No. Even worse, one of these shows did not even list me as the quilter!   **Edited -   The SHOW did not list me as quilter on the id card.   The maker did.   Another quilt I quilted in that show omitted my name as well on the card**   Another quilt I quilted at my main guild won a Judges Award for Best Machine Quilting.  Did I get a ribbon?   No.    I quilted it!   I am the quilter. My gosh, how weird is that?  I don't have a lot of show experience but in the past few years that I have been quilting for others and people have been showing quilts that I have quilted  A few ribbons have been earned, even some awarded at the regional and national level.  Some shows give the quilter a ribbon, most don't.   One guild in particular in my area gives the very same beautiful ribbon to the quilter and I so appreciate that.   Then you have of course clients that you may not know well, you may not be aware a quilt has been shown or if it won a ribbon.

A client recently entered a quilt I quilted and it was accepted into Road to California.   I was very thrilled to be hanging there.   With all the amazing talent in the world, I certainly did not expect to win a ribbon but to be interesting enough to be selected to actually hang in one of the USA's larger shows is a pretty big deal.  I thought it odd all that first day that no one tagged me in a photo of the quilt hanging there.   I knew of someone there and specifically asked her to take a photo.   She took some beautiful photos including the ID information.    To my complete surprise, I was not listed as the quilter.    No wonder no one had sent me photos!

I'm not going to rehash all the details, but the client did not list me as the quilter on the registration.   He has never gotten back to me to explain and I think it is pretty obvious.   The 1st line on the form asks for the name of the "Maker", the 2nd line of the form as for the name of the  "Quilter".   How could you make a mistake?

Initially, I did not contact Rd - but at the urging of several people I did Friday afternoon.  Friends felt like it was an error on Road to California's end but  actually they did provide proof to me that they did not make the error, the client had listed himself as maker and quilter.   They  took immediate steps to resolve the issue.   Within a few hours, a friend at the show sent me a photo of the corrected ID showing me as the quilter!     I am grateful.

Where am I going with all this?   I do not know.  I am saddened that it seems no one wants to recognize our contribution to the finished quilt.  I'm angry at the blatant disregard for giving credit to so many quilters.   Just today on a social media longarm group, a longarmer proudly displayed a quilt that he had quilted and the client won a ribbon on.   A huge name card hung from the quilt.   The makers name.  No quilter's name.  Why do we let them do this?   Some people feel that what we do is no different than the fabric they purchased or a stencil used.   I don't know the answer, but I am very saddened by all this.  Why does this continue?

I can't walk away and leave this world.   This has been my passion.   It now is  my family's sole income.   I'm not going to let organizations and dishonest people take away my joy.  I'm going to rise above these hurtful actions and keep on doing what I love.   Quilting!  If it takes rattling cages at a few shows... maybe I'll do that too.

   Gravity, pieced and quilted by me.

Quilted version
Unquilted.  Which would you rather see in a show?


Vicki said…
I'm so glad you're voicing this. If professional quilters remain silent, nothing will change. I do my own quilting on a DSM and I know how much time and creativity goes into the process. Often just as much or more time goes into the quilting as the piecing. I'm going to raise this issue at my local guild and I urge others to do so too.
happygram said…
You are absolutely correct - the quilter deserves recognition! I think because she/he paid you for your work the client feels the finished product (and the credit) goes to them.

Do you have your customers sign a contract or work order of some kind? They should for your protection as well as their's. Perhaps you could include a paragraph stating that your name must be given as the quilter in any public shows or competitions. That way you would have some recourse if they fail to comply.
Texastwirl said…
You do beautiful work and yes the quilter does need the recognition because it's the quilting that makes the pieces top sing 🎶. I do my own quilting on a domestic machine and it's the quilting that is the most difficult as well as artistic part of making quilts when the top is made from a pattern. I find it much easier to piece but far more rewarding to quilt designs that will enhance the pieced top. I think our guild's next show need to rethink the process of giving out awards. Diane Hill
Valerie said…
Thank you all for taking the time to post!
Robin Bunch said…
I agree completely with you Valerie. Your work is beautiful and adds so much to the quilt. In many cases, it makes the quilt stand out. The quilter (whether longarm or hand) should be acknowledged. At our local show we do list the quilter's name on the id card as well as the makers, of course that only works if the maker is honest. It would be good to have a ribbon for the quilter as well as the maker, at the very least the maker should send a photo to the quilter for her records.
Hilary said…
That is awful that someone would purposefully leave you off of the form. A quilt isn't a quilt without the quilting!
Laura said…
I agree! Quilting of the quilt top is what makes it a quilt. It needs just as much recognition!
Laura Links said…
I find it unbelievable that any 'quilter' would not acknowledge the person who did the actual quilting on the finished quilt top. I do my own quilting on a domestic machine and find it the most time consuming part of the entire process. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I find it so challenging. But, as we all know, a quilt isn't a quilt until it's quilted. So why anyone who pays someone to do that most important step wouldn't honor their contribution to the final quilt is beyond me.
saroy said…
Found your blog via Abby Glassenberg's newsletter. I've been quilting for almost 6 years but only starting going to shows in the last couple years. I have always wondered why the piecer seems to get so much of the credit! I get that piecing is a lot of work, and often the piecer has also created the design itself. But quilting is such a huge undertaking and when a work is viewed at a show, the quilting is just as vital as the overall piecing and design.

I find it appalling that someone would enter a quilt in a show without crediting you as the quilter. I also agree that crediting the quilter (when different from the piecer) is something shows should be working hard to improve.
Kathy said…
If someone gave you a solid piece of fabric and you to design and quilt a whole cloth quilt. Who would get the credit for the work. Nuff said. We need to make sure quilt shows ask who did the quilt work, give them credit, and punish people caught lying.
SaraB said…
I've quilted professionally for nine years. I've had quite a few customers win ribbons at quilt shows but I have never received a ribbon. All my customers have recognized me on their entry cards but no shows in my area award ribbons to quilters.
I don't know much about long arm quilting, or quilting someone else's quilts. I am still new to quilting and have only quilted my own. I read your post and I understand your frustration. Since this is your business and because you did the quilting, I think you have every right to be recognized for your work. Can you speak to a lawyer and have them come up with some sort of document for your clients to sign stating that you need to be recognized as the quilter on any quilts put into a show? I think the only way quilters will get the recognition they deserve is by standing up for it. Good luck!
Cindi Jo said…
Oh, my goodness!~ I'm sorry to see that I'm not the only one going through this. I also had to take a couple of days to calm down. I agree with all of your comments, and share much of the same feelings. I'm trying to find out where the reasoning is to leave off this information, and I've yet to hear anything besides they believe the purchase of the quilting is the same as the purchase of the fabric. Which is hogwash. Our quilting is NOT mass produced and sold in hundreds of places. UGH!
Okay, so my invoices do have a paragraph that states I can use images of their quilts for promotional purposes only, and that if the quilt is displayed, credit is to be given to me as the quilter, so I have that going for me. I am prepared to pin a small sign to each quilt at our local show with that information, if needed.
Also, I have never received a ribbon for my work on other people's quilts from the quilt show. But, I do get phone calls, thank yous and return business from the makers, and I take pictures of the ones I see.
One maker gave me the certificate and blue ribbon of a quilt I did for her, but I insisted she keep the $100 prize money!
I have to give kudos to Road to California for responding and correcting the maker's omission.
Thank you for writing this post, it's perfect timing for my own situation.
Shorebird said…
I concur totally! If the piecer quilts the top, GREAT - recognize only the piecer. ( It is actually only a top, or flimsy until the quilting is done! )
Jan Smith said…
My heart aches for you. I've been thru similar situations with no resolve. I have considered a "contact" with the owner of the quilt saying that any time it is shown that my name is required on the "card" or if that is not honored, I will sue them. Love to you and your beautiful quilting.
Attention seekers whose glory will have to be shared if they acknowledge the quilter. Maybe those of us who see this at shows should (and know the piecer did not quilt it) ask lots of questions about the quilter! Sad situation it is.
Darci Bodin said…
I am a long time attendee of Road. This past Saturday, I was a white glove lady for the big winner (Twisted Siater). The quilting was gorgeous. I noticed that the 2nd highest $ winner had the maker and the quilter in her area and they both answered questions. The quilts were beautiful but a lot of them listed the maker as the quilter. We, as quilters all need to step up and acknowledge those that quilt the tops for us. And maybe Road, or the maker, could do a little something for the quilter. A picture of the quilt and ribbon in a shadow box or something. But that's my opinion. I never enter a quilt - too scared.
Carol said…
Definitely take and post a picture of each and every quilt you work on. It's your work and you should 'publish' it. Shame on the judges who gave an award for Best Machine Quilted and then didn't follow through to award it to you.
Michele Hester said…
I think that quilt shows need to step into the here and now. If a quilt is pieced by one person and quilted by another, or pieced by multiple people, etc. it should be entered into the group quilt category......it was not made by an individual and shouldn't be treated as such.

If something is quilted using a computerized program, it should be in a different category as well. Now way should something that is done robotically be in the same category as free hand.

As to your specific Road incident....quilt shows should have a rule - if you make an "error," you lose your award....just like if a submission is late, it can't be entered....rules are rules.
condomimi said…
I am a quilter and I try to do my own quilting on my regular sewing machine - very difficult. I get frustrated when other peoples quilts get a lot of attention because of the beautiful long arm quilting done on it. These quilters take the credit for someone else's work. Without the beauty added to their work by the long arm quilter, their quilts would not be as beautiful. I am going to suggest to my guild to provide a ribbon to the long arm quilter when a quilt wins an award. Thanks for the article - it opened my eyes.
Valerie said…
I want to step back in here and say again, it is NOT the piecers that are not acknowledging the longarm quilters in general. It's our local guild, county, area shows that are not awarding ribbons or sometimes not even displaying the quilters names on quilts. These shows DO ask for the info to the best of my knowledge.

Judges have nothing to do with how a show chooses to award ribbons.

I get it, ribbons can be costly. Some local shows have intake, judging and hanging all in one day. I've worked many guild shows, I know first hand. They have to guess how many ribbons to make in advance. Secondly, if quilter's ribbons are awarded, they still go to the person that entered the quilt and you must get the ribbon from that person, if it ribboned.

No clear answers, I really appreciate those shows that DO go the extra step and award ribbons for piecer and quilter.

Thanks for all your responses!!!!

I 100% agree with everything you wrote. I have been voicing this same opinion in our local guilds. And there are a few people who still feel that "the ribbon goes with the quilt". Some have even justified that in the past, the guild member could buy a quilt and enter and win the ribbon - not having done any of the work themselves. I've heard the excuses about the cost of the ribbons - really - how expense are those ribbons? One customer who used to order ribbons for dog shows she was involved in quoted less than a dollar - up to $2-$3 depending on the size, etc. - so for the sake of a few hundred dollars, ribbons could be provided to both the piecer and the quilter when they are not the same person. Not much money if you ask me when the guild is bringing in $5,000 - $6,000 or so per show. And the line about the quilter being paid - and therefore they shouldn't get a ribbon. What does being have to do with it? If money is an issue, then make the piecer do their own quilting. They fear "ribbon by check" - so they allow paid work - but just ignore the quilter. To compare hands on work by a person to a piece of mass produced fabric is crazy. I spend easily 30 hours to over 100 hours on a specific show quilt - and yet that isn't acknowledged with a duplicate ribbon. To allow the piecer to take credit for my work feels like copyright infringement. If you study a quilter's work, you will recognize their work, just like you would recognize artwork by a specific artist. Sorry, but it feels like people are stealing my work when they are given credit for work I performed. Why is it so difficult to give credit where credit is due? Maybe quilting guilds should be "piecing" guilds since they seem to want to ignore the quilter! I think the only way this will change is for quilters to bring this topic up as often as possible and with every one they can. When I have discussed this issue with people, they all have agreed that it only makes sense that both people get ribbons. Now to get those in power at the guilds to see this simple logic. Gone are the days when people would photocopy a pattern and hand it out to all of their friends - that kind of copyright infringement used to be generally accepted. It is time for quilters to be acknowledged and awarded ribbons for their part in creating an award winning quilt. Quilt making has gone from a solitary sport to a team sport - so acknowledge both members of the team!
Most of my customers have been very good about listing me as the quilter when entering a quilt I've quilted for them in a show. Sometimes I get a surprise walking through a show as I come across one hanging that I didn't know was going to be entered! I've never received a ribbon or a share of the prize money. I do agree the shows need to be in control of this. I know I was paid for the work, and not really concerned with a check, but the ribbon would be nice. Some of us are too busy to piece to enter ourselves.

Sometimes the quilting hours, especially with adding the hours of design work ahead of the quilting, marking, etc., amount to more hours than the piecer put in even if you include the shopping for fabric! So far, I have not been asked to "collaborate" and quilt for free on a show quilt at which I should also be awarded a duplicate ribbon and half of the prize money. Fair is fair. Would it have won without the over and above quilting? There are many very good Quilter's in this industry and they deserve recognition for their work. Machine quilting, both hand guided and computer assisted have come a long way in the last 15 years. The quilt shows need to catch up!
Mary Alsop said…
I am a longarm quilter in Minnesota. It is my business. Last year a large group quilt was entered into non-judged at our MN Quilt Show. I was the sole quilter, and it was totally custom. Over 80hours into the quilting. My name was not included as the quilter by the show on the info card. ( I know the maker included my name as quilter). It won Viewer's Choice and President's Choice Ribbons. The maker felt so bad that she stood by the quilt for several days and told anyone who walked by that I was the quilter. She should not have had to do that. Then she gave me the Viewer's Choice Ribbon. The only ribbons I have received for my quilting was for quilts entered into the 2-person category. All the others were for my own quilts that I also quilted. I have made noise about this. I guess we'll see if anyone was listening at this year's show.