Thursday 13 December 2012

The evolution of the monthly challenge

(Post written by one of the DQ admins, Tina)

Hello peeps

DQ has reached a membership of 214 happy (or so I think) members in 5 short months and I thought it was time for a bit of a history lesson on the evolution of the oh-so-keenly-fought monthly challenges. At the outset let me put it on record that it has been an absolute pleasure for me to be conducting these challenges and seeing the amazing skill, creativity and variety in the entries that they throw up. It has been an extremely rewarding experience to see sewists take small baby steps and mature into confident and skillful quilters..a challenge at a time.

This is my 12th month conducting these monthly challenges. Eh? 12 monthly challenges in a 5 month old group?? Oh well, long story. I was doing this job earlier on another India based quilting forum, so I shall start the story of the evolution of the challenge from there.

Avatar 1 - In the beginning, the winner was decided only by votes. Rest of the participants would send a Fat Quarter to the winner. I won the first challenge btw :-)

Avatar 2 - By the second month, members voiced their reluctance and inhibitions at entering a challenge where there was such a wide spectrum of skill levels. So, in order to encourage newbies to participate too, the format was changed to the winner being chosen purely by a draw. In fact, that month's winner was a member based in Australia and I offered to collect everybody's Fat Quarter and send them to her. And did :-)

Avatar 3 - In a couple of months it was noticed that since voting was not required, non participating members didn't bother with taking the time to visit the challenge album and leave a word or two for the entries. So I introduced the concept of a 'buddy winner'. The winner was chosen by lots as before and she, in turn, had to choose a 'buddy winner' from among the comments left for her entry and send the buddy winner a Fat Quarter. This pepped up things and there was much more interaction among the members.

Avatar 4 - That, resulted in the birth of Desi Quilters, where the challenges were carried on as before with the buddy winner concept.

Avatar 5 -  BERNINA entered the scene and very kindly offered to sponsor the prizes for these challenges. With a lot more at stake, obviously the winner-by-lots format was no more viable. Also, the challenges were beginning to attract a higher level of skill and expertise and the quality of the entries was getting better by the month. But since there was neither a criteria based judging system in place, nor an external panel of judges, the judging/voting had to be done by fellow DQs based on a single (and often not very flattering) pic, including by people who have limited knowledge of the actual process involved and the skill it takes. So, in order to encourage participation and yet recognize the exceptional entries, an amalgam of the former formats was introduced. Members would vote for their 3 favourite entries and based on the number of votes, 3 finalists would be picked and then a draw of lots would decide the lucky winner. This has worked quite well the last 5 months, I dare say.

Avatar 6 - A few members suggested entries be put up anonymously so that voting could be unbiased and people would vote for the quilt rather than the quilter if they didn't know who the maker was. This suggestion has been vigorously supported by a majority of active members and will therefore, be put in place from January 2013. The voting methodology still needs to be worked out and suggestions from members are invited.

So, that, my dear DQs (I sometimes wonder if it stands for Drama Queens :-)!) is the history of the monthly challenges. May we see many many more entries in 2013. The good news is, the prizes get even more attractive !

Watch this space for more details.

(On an aside, I have participated in every single challenge and have been blessed enough to always find my entry among the finalists. Thank you peeps :-) 


  1. A wonderfully written history of our challenges. Reading it brought the whole year in front of my eyes. Sad to say I was unable to participated only a few times.
    All the best for the coming new year DQ.

  2. That was a brilliant post Tina...and everything is well said..sorry that i didn't take part in any challenge...hope to be a part of it one nice to see so much of happening sin Desi Quilters...Keep going.

  3. I had been wondering why things are the way they are ... and now it all makes sense. It takes a lot of time and effort to run a forum. I completely appreciate Tina's leadership. As with any other system, you can never have things which please everyone,and yet people's voice must be heard, which I think DQ admins are indeed doing. Keep up the faith and the good work. And as always keep listening to us all. :)

  4. It is indeed!!! And what a year its been for all of us DQs! Its time to say a BIG thanks to Tina who has kept us on our toes and cheered us on to keep DQ thriving!!!!

  5. Vanita Roychoudhry16 December 2012 at 17:57

    Thank you for the background to the DQ challenges. I haven't been with the forum for long and really appreciate the effort that everyone makes to participate. I haven't participated in the challenges because I thought it would be fairer to the Desi ladies who struggle with obtaining decent quilting tools etc and yet manage to produce such fabulous works. I will definitely consider entering - starting with December's challenge as suggested by Tina.