I am working on my technique so I can eventually compete. How close do corners need to match? Can't tell if I am being too picky.

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yes, i do think so. in your photos the front looks great. but if the back is wonky ..not show quality. when i first started making quilts in mid 80's, i recived for chistmas harriet hargraves first book "heirloom machine quilting" & taught myself use of walking foot & then fmq on my domestic machine. one of the things that i do is lots of practice before starting a project. i make a practice sandwich of material & batt the same weight as the quilt i plan to work on & get my tension & stitch set before starting the quilt. it really helps avoid the issues you describe w the red star. i don't do fmq as much as i used to, heck, i don't even sew quilts as often as i used to, too much time spent outside working at repairs & rennovations of current home. so when i do make a quilt i feel like i sm starting all over again & practice til i'm satisfied that i'll have a quilt to gift that will be loved, appreciated & will hold up well w use.

Yeah, that was a practice. I haven't actually quilted anything on my new machine yet. I have 4 of 7 rows sewn together as of last night. I have about 5 extra squares to practice on before I put that actual quilt under there. I started writing down on a little chat the tension numbers I was at with the different levels of thread and needles. That has helped in my practices to get back going, but still have a tweak it a little each time. I also had some really cheap batting, and once I switched to some good batting to practice on, it was much easier to get my tension right. Peace

oh yeah! i learned about batting qualities a loooonnnng time ago! :)) it really does make a difference doesn't it. i have small note pad & a small clipboard for notes & ideas & diminsions etc next to my machine. it does help to make notes on settings. i bought a used janome 1600PQ a few yrs ago. it was easy to use, little tricky on the stitch tension, but got two quilts done - front & back were great. the 3rd quilt i was going nuts ..asking for hints/suggestions/ideas from other janome users here on mqp. nothing worked & it kept getting worse. finslly took it in to my sewing machine guru ...he said the woman i bought from had probably bought it used also instead of new as she claimed. he said that after a few thousand hours of continuous sewing that the thread wears a miniscule groove in the tension discs. he dissassembled the whole tension unit, emoryed the disks, reassembled & service whole machine to see that all worked well. it was perfect. finished thst last quilt & she loves it :)) ...long story short ...sometimes tension issues are machine not operator in origin. a lesson learned for me.

Yikes. Glad he found it! 

I judge quilt shows.  A judge will look at the overall pattern and see how well it is constructed.  If you have an occasional seam that is 1/32nd off, not going to be seen once it is quilted.  The degree of difficulty will be a factor as well.  I enjoy entering quilts in shows to see how I am doing on my construction.  Remember, the binding will make or break a quilt.

I strongly suggest you follow Riana and Ginny's advice they sum it up pretty good. 

Thank you Beth. That is most helpful! Lots of great folks on here. Glad I joined! 

I have entered several shows, and outside of the obvious of doing your best to make your piecing as perfect as possible, the judges usually say the same things, make your corners as perfect as possible and make sure your borders lie nice and straight.  They also look for the areas where your corners come together being as flat as possible.  The best comment I ever heard was "it doesn't matter how complicated the challenge you take on, it's how well you execute the challenge".  Also, try some of the categories with the smaller entries, like table runners, crib quilts, wall hangings etc. to practice your technique. And don't be afraid to be creative and think outside the box.  Most judging is equally divided between design and technique.

Thanks Susan! Great thoughts!

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