Linda is a member of The Quilters Guild and has been actively involved in sewing, needlework and handicrafts from a very young age specialising in clothing, textiles and design.

Since I moving to England in 1984, she has published 13 books on quilt making, including The Complete Book of Patchwork, Beautiful Patchwork Gifts, and her latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Art Quilting which are sold all over the world in many different languages.

Over the years, she has been a contributing crafts designer and editor for several American and British magazines and has edited dozens of books on both sides of the Atlantic on subjects ranging from needlework, to cookery and travel. 

Linda-Seward

I have been judging at the Festival of Quilts since its inception. I became a qualified judge through the course offered by The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles, and after judging for several years, I became one of the organisers of the judges for 3 years. So I have spent a lot of time both judging and advising judges at Festival. It was inspired by researching the effects of human activity on nature. My focus is usually on endangered mammals, birds and plants. But after reading that 40% of insect species worldwide are also in danger of becoming extinct, with pollinators such as butterflies especially affected, I decided to focus instead on the often underappreciated and overlooked threat to insects.

Judges are divided into groups (usually of 3 people), depending on the size of the category. They judge independently and do not see the names of the makers. Quilt “Angels” will read out the blurb for the quilts from the catalogue if requested by a judge and run between the office and the judges to deliver the completed judging forms. Once all the judges have finished there is a bit of a lull while the organisers add up the scores and provide the judges with the quilts that have received the most points. The judges will then talk about each of the quilts as a group before coming to a decision on the winners.

I am interested in the impact the quilt has on me when I first look it it—the “wow” factor. I then look at how the quilt was made, whether it hangs straight (if it’s meant to!) and the accuracy of the piecing or appliqué work or the quilting. It’s also very important for quilt to fit the category in which it was entered—very often a piece would have been better placed in another category.

Some years, the winning quilt is so stunning and outstanding that there isn’t a moment’s hesitation about giving it a prize. Other years, judges have problems coming to a decision, probably because of differing opinions, as in the end, it all subjective. There isn’t a winning formula, and a quilt that hasn’t won a prize in one show might win a top prize in another because the judges are different. So it’s really impossible to say what categorises a winning quilt except to say that you know it when you see it.

I always enjoy judging at the Festival of Quilts because it gives me an opportunity to really study each individual quilt in the category I am judging and to give some sort of encouragement to each person who has entered their beloved work. Because at the end of the day, entrants are proud of their pieces, and rightly so! and want to share their work with others. That’s what it’s all about. I feel honoured to be a part of this whole process.