State Fair Blue Ribbon Winners

Have you ever thought about entering your handmade garments in your local and/or state fair?  It wasn't until an IG friend attended her state fair photographing and discussing some of the exhibits that a lightbulb moment went off in my head and by the end of that day I'd registered 3 of my best works in our South Carolina State Fair.
After reviewing the Fair's "Criteria for Judging Sewing", below, it was interesting to sort through my wardrobe to choose what I thought might be 'worthy of competition'.

Overall beauty (coordination of color and accessories such as buttons, plaid matching, trims) 
Creativity (pattern changes and originality) 
Stitching (machine and hand) Seam finishes 
Construction techniques (buttonholes, zippers, fastenings, sleeve set, collar and neckline details,hem details) 
Lining and interfacings

The Pilvi Jacket, with its hong kong and enclosed seams, striking yellow gingham handmade bias tape to complement the golden dandelions, top-stitching, mitered front corners..... immediately came to mind.  There's really quite of lot going on in this simple unlined jacket.
The next garment chosen was another recent make McCall's 7509 lyocell fabric top with its lovely shawl collar, invisibly finished hand-sewn interior shoulder seam closures and those simple pearl buttons that finishes this little top perfectly.
Carolyn's Dress Newlook 6261 was my final choice as this dress was also finished with extra care.  Custom fitted to my body shape, lined with Bemberg lining from Japan, covered hem seams, blind-hem stitched on the machine and of course the beautiful fabric from Carolyn this dress is well-made.  Even though I've made quite a few garments in this past year, (the time frame for qualifying for entry), I just did not feel there was anything else at the skill level I wanted to show for competition.  So these were what I entered.
Our South Carolina State Fair is held in our state's capital city, Columbia, a 2 1/2 hour drive one-way from where I live in the mountainous northwest corner......
Photo Credit
.....so my sweet husband took the day off work to drive me down on the day the Fair required the entries.  He was also nice enough to snap this photo as we were leaving so I could show you the garment bag I made to transport my entries.  A fun project that took about an afternoon's time, I'll write a blog post soon sharing more details.
A few days after the items were received, they were judged.  Also I need to add that the items were judged on their own merits according to the standards laid out in the Criteria above.  No photographs of them being worn, no information about them in any way other than fabric content..... it was simply a number on a ticket and that was it.  Anyway, all this takes place before the Fair begins, because once the Fair begins all items are considered exhibits and are displayed as such and cannot be removed.   You sign an agreement stating that items entered will not be picked up until after the fair is over.  Thankfully the Fair posts the judging results on their website so imagine my delight to see all three items placed First!  The numbers to the far right denote the prize monies awarded too.  :)
It was important to me to see how the items were displayed at the Fair, as well as see what others had entered in the same categories, so this past weekend my sweet husband drove us back to the Fairgrounds while it was in full swing.  Oh what a fun day we had!  So many people having a good time, so many rides and games, so much yummy food, barns full of animals and a building full of textiles, woodworking, artwork and other craft items.  This is how they had the Pilvi Jacket and Carolyn's Dress displayed.

It took me a while to find the top as it was tucked away in a glass display case.  As we walked every inch of the building housing the textiles, it was clear there were not many items entered in the Garment categories.  Lots of quilts, knitted and crochet items like afghans and throws...... but all the garment categories had weak participation.  Though disappointed, I was not surprised.  In my area of the state, quilting is VERY popular.... with garment sewing almost nil.  This sentiment must run statewide.
The Palmetto Tree is our state tree and it was fun to see those trees growing in the middle of all the Fair Fun!
Though this has been an extraordinarily fun experience for me, I have to admit it's been a LOT of driving back and forth.  My sweet husband has even taken another day off this upcoming week to take me back down to pick up my garments.  There's no problem my driving myself, it's just nice to be with him.  Meanwhile I'm looking forward to getting my garments back as I've been wanting to wear them!!!

Happy Sewing All!  :)


Yellow Brick Road to Oklahoma Baby Quilt

Ye olde' blog may have been a bit quiet, but there's been a whole lot of sewing going on!

A recent addition of a sweet baby girl to the family prompted the making of a couple of things so we'll begin with the quilt.

The family lives in Oklahoma, so the historic Road to Oklahoma quilt block seemed perfect.   I've made this block before and it's a fun block to not only make, but see the visuals as it begins to come together.
As the quilt began to take shape..... as the quilt's story began to unfold..... it became clear this was no ordinary Road to Oklahoma.... it would be the Yellow Brick Road to Oklahoma.  Do you see 'Oz' there in the middle?  I used different fabrics in those half square triangles with white in the center for embroidering birth info.  This is a photo below of the quilt top.... before sandwiching and quilting.  I decided to embroider the baby's name, birthdate and that I loved her in that center area using the fonts on my Bernina.  It's not the prettiest embroidery, but I'm glad to have that capability.  I did the embroidery before sandwiching everything together as I did not want the backside of the embroidery to show through on the quilt's finished back.
You can see a little of the embroidery here, below, though for privacy purposes I've pretty much blocked it out!  Sorry!  Anyway, this is how I set the quilt up for quilting after all was sandwiched together.  This time I wanted my quilting lines to go diagonally.
Love, love, love the gently curving elongated stitch I used on this quilt.  Easy to line up with each square's corners and I didn't stress about exactness as the curves are very forgiving.
Took a quick photo of the settings of my machine to show you how I set this stitch up and Oops!  forgot to show the actual stitch.....
 .....but found an old photograph for the Settings for the Baby Boy 'Bugs' Quilt that are quite similar.  Looks like I just shortened the zigzag width for this quilt.
Finished quilt measured a little less than 36" x 36" as it shrunk considerably after washing and drying.  I always wash and dry my quilts before gifting because not only does it bring out all the quilting goodness, but I want to catch any problems before giving away.
Wanting soft pink, whites and golden yellow, my stash did not produce enough scraps so all the golden yellow, whites and most of the pinks are the Waverly fabric brand from Wal-Mart.  This was my first time using this brand of 100% cotton and have to say it turned out quite nice.
The back was a bit of Classic Pooh I picked up at a local textile outlet store and I loved it! 
The baby's sweet mother had picked out Classic Pooh for the nursery, and even though this is not what she had chosen, thought it might go well with the whole Pooh theme.
And tried a new-technique-to-me by self-binding this quilt.  Completely by accident, as I was beginning to trim the backing back to bias tape bind the quilt, I realized I had prepped enough of a hang-over to self-bound.  A quick Google search of 'how-to' and within minutes it was done.
Love it!  So, so easy and you don't have to worry about catching the back of the bias-tape binding on the back with your stitching or taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r to set all that up.
Item #2 was a Baby Blanket.  I'd picked up this fun flannel print of ice-skating polar bears because the baby's father is a big hockey player.  My sweet cousin led me in the direction of Missouri Star Quilting Company's video of self-bound baby blanket using minky fabric..... though mine is a pure white fuzzy furry-ish fleece again from WalMart.  Living in a small, rural town I very much appreciate that my local Wal-Mart has a fabric department!!  And yes, I am on first-name basis with the lady who runs the fabric department.  She is oh-so-nice and we always visit a little while having fabric cut.  Back to the blanket construction..... let me warn you this is a pain to get everything all lined up nice and neat.  My furry fleece wanted to move and slink all over the place.  The instructions were easy to follow..... it was more my slinky fabric that was the problem.  There is where the perfectionist me had to step back and say it was 'good enough'.
Thought it'd be easier to embed the video I used here because Jenny with Missouri Star Quilt Co. has actually done 2 different versions of a self-binding baby blanket and the one I used was her second, updated one.  I love her videos!!!

So the baby now has ice-skating polar bears along with the Yellow Brick Road to Oklahoma.  Hope they might keep her warm and know that her family members in South Carolina love her.
Happy Sewing All!  :)