Since I have been on the show committee (it’s been 12 years, I believe) it has been discussed, every show, whether to keep separating hand quilting. The discussion was brought up solely based on the number of hand-quilted quilts entered in each show. Those numbers have been declining.
In the past we used to be able to support separate hand-quilted categories in pieced, appliqué, and mixed/other. In the last show, we had seven in a pieced, one person, hand quilted category, and eight in appliqué/mixed/other, one person, hand quilted category. In 2014, there were 17 quilts pulled from those four categories to form one “hand quilted” category. Not all hand quilted quilts have been pulled and placed in the hand-quilting category. Quilts have been left in miniature, art, group, and first-time entry or a two-person category. The past entry chairs decided that leaving them in those categories was “more” appropriate.
Please let me assure everyone, no matter where your hand-quilted quilt lands, that certified judges use benchmarks/guidelines to determine the level of expertise achieved. This is true for every technique, not just hand-quilting. This allows us to compare quilts made with various techniques against each other – which happens within categories and definitely happens when determining Best of Show.
So, hand-quilted quilts are not, per-say, compared to machine-quilted quilts, but the level of expertise achieved when making each quilt is compared. Also, let me reassure everyone that all hand-quilted quilts, regardless of category, are considered for the Best Hand Quilting Ribbon.