The Free Motion Quilting Project: Packing for Show

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Packing for Show

Whew! It's not even lunchtime, but I'm worn out after packing up 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs for the MQX Midwest Quilt Show this month.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Packing for show is a bit stressful because there's a lot of little details to get just right and loads of things you don't want to forget. I find it a bit stressful, particularly when there are lots of forms to fill out and details to remember. I'm really bad about leaving everything to the last minute too, which makes it doubly stressful to get the quilt where it's going on time.

So here's a few tips for packing your quilts for show:

1. The second you have the packing / show info after you find out you're a finalist - pack your quilt. Don't pass go. Don't collect $200. Just get started packing immediately so you're not in a rush at the last minute.

free motion quilting | Leah Day2. Before folding up your quilt, take a close look at it. Is it looking square and straight? Is it laying flat and smooth? Does the surface look dusty or have some stray cat hairs floating around?

If you see any sign of dust or dirt, lint roll the snot out of it! I used up an entire half lint roller working on 365 because most of the fabric is dark or black, which really shows dust.

 If the quilt is looking wrinkly especially on the edges, a good steam and block will sort out those issues. I'm bad about skipping this step, but it really does make a big difference. Judges look at how the quilt hangs, and what the edges look like. A wavy edge is a sign of poor craftsmanship so try to control it or hide it the best way you can.

3. Hide your tag - Different shows have different rules about hiding your quilt tag so make sure to check your paperwork. This show was okay with the name tag covered with blue painters tape like this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

4. Fold from the hanging sleeve. When you go to fold up your quilt, make sure the deepest fold lines are running horizontal, or parallel with the hanging sleeve. The reason is when the quilt is hanging, the weight will pull the fold wrinkles downward and minimize their appearance.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

5. Double bag - Once the quilt is folded, I bag it once in a plastic garbage bag, then bag it again in a second garbage bag with the end facing the opposite way.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This is so if the box gets wet, the quilt is protected by two layers of plastic bag. With the ends opposite each other, water is less likely to reach the quilt if the openings are cinched tight.

 6. Last but not least - make sure your paper work is all filled out! Read everything carefully and make note of any extra charges for shipping, the rules on insuring your quilt, and any extra details like appraisals.

Yes, there are a lot of steps to packing and shipping a quilt to show, so take a few hours, clear off a table and take the time to do this with a clear head.

So whatcha think? Would you like to hear more about quilting for show? What other questions do you have about show quilting?

Share your questions in the comments below and I may write more about this if you're interested!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Hi Leah. I was wondering how many quilts you made before entering one in a show? What are the things they look for in a show quilt? Are some shows easier to get into than others?

    1. Great questions Gemma - I quilted for 3 years before starting my first show quilt, and creating that quilt felt like I was learning how to make quilts all over again! Judges look at a lot of things - if pieced seams are matched, how plump your binding is, is the border or edge wavy...those are just a few off the top of my head.

      Yes, local guild shows in your area will likely not be juried, so anyone can get in and compete. The bigger the show, and particularly if there's limited space, the more likely it will be juried to limit the number of quilts to fit the space. I'll think on this more and write an article with more on show quilting this weekend.

  2. Yes! I would Love more tips on quilting for show!!

  3. I'm quite curious about quilting for shows too. I know I'm not good enough yet, but someday...

  4. Leah, I would caution against using garbage bags to package your quilt. I've heard that sometimes its mistaken for garbage and is thrown out with the quilt still inside the bag.

    1. Hi Barb - that's a great point. Another alternative would be a clear plastic turkey roasting bag or one of those super large ziplock bags. I'll definitely plan ahead next time and pack my quilt in those instead.


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