It occurs to me that offering a quick definition of judging vs jurying (in the arts and crafts) might be helpful!


  • A set of rules or criteria are set out, and the works are compared to these criteria.
  • Works accepted in a judging situation meet the criteria, and those that meet it best become the winners (if hierarchy is being determined).
  • In judged quilting, criteria can have to do with technique, or size, or mastery of an aspect of craftsmanship, or a group of these criteria. For example, Large Quilt/Machine Applique/Machine Quilting.
  • The show is often divided via these criteria into categories for purposes of determining winners.
  • Prizes are usually then awarded by category. There may be a judge’s choice award (each judge picks a favorite), and there is often a people’s choice award, chosen by the viewing public.
  • Sometimes the prize is a “purchase prize.” This means if the maker accepts the prize money, they must give up the quilt for the amount of the prize money. The AQS does this sometimes with the top winners, and those purchased quilts go into the AQS museum.
  • These events are best described as competitions.


  • One or more jurors set out a theme or idea, often with a paragraph or two of information to frame the idea. For a good example of this, read some of SAQA’s many themed exhibition descriptions for topics such as “Balancing Act” or “Earth Stories.”
  • The works chosen by the jury meet the theme or idea, and while good workmanship is obviously desirable, it doesn’t trump a great response to the theme.
  • There might be some size restrictions for exhibition purposes, but usually no segregation or categorization of the group based on size or technique.
  • There may be a juror’s choice award, but usually no others.
  • Purchasing is often more like a gallery. If the quilt is for sale, it will say so, and the organizers usually broker the sale, keeping a percentage of the proceeds.
  • These events are best described as exhibitions.

In Quilt Shows:

  • A jury often takes the first pass at the entries, eliminating works that don’t fit the overall intention or theme of the show. For instance, the Modern Quilt Guild no doubt kicked out anything that looked traditional by their criteria for QuiltCon.
  • This is usually done with the submitted images, not finished works, and it is unclear as to how much of the supporting documentation is read at the time.
  • Once the show collection is chosen and the quilts arrive, the jury then become judges, and determine the winners of the categories through examination of the actual quilts.

Nancy, a commenter from yesterday, and a judge in training pointed out this: “One thing that I think is easy to forget is that if you enter a “quilt” show, then your craft better be up to spec. If you enter an “art” show, then your art better be top notch. If you enter your piece in an “art quilt” category, then you’ve got to up to the challenge in both arenas.”

And my talented friend Gail added, “It seems that quilts are ‘juried into’ a show based on art, but ‘judged’ at the show based on craft.”


I hope this helps!