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!  :)


  1. Congratulations Lisa. You deserve it, I know you pour so much emotion into your garment sewing, especially the Caroline dress. I think that quilting is more popular than garment sewing here too - I think it is a global trend.

  2. Congratulations, Lisa! All your garments are so lovely, well thought out and neatly made, so it is no surprise to me you won the contest. We have had a really warm October so hopefully you can wear your pretty garments for some time before the cold season!

  3. Awesome! Thank you for your informative post. That's an interesting article:)
    I really love the jacket and blouse - they look like RTW.

  4. You chose the perfect garments for the fair! I really enjoyed your post and congratulations Lisa!

  5. Congratulations Lisa! So lovely to see you receive well deserved recognition for your beautiful sewing.

  6. Congratulations Lisa! Your garments totally deserved to win! :) How kind if your husband to support you all the way :)


Thank you for taking the time to leave a note.~Lisa