The Durham Fair is the largest of its kind in all of Connecticut. It has many exhibitors and averages 200,000 people in attendance. I am sure that is nothing compared to those state fairs in Texas and other agricultural states that are so much larger than little Connecticut, but surprisingly it has a good attendance for New Englanders. When we first moved to Connecticut, I was reluctant to have the children enter any exhibits, because I was intimidated by its reputation and we only entered our projects into the local Chester Fair, but in the past few years ,I have been feeling brave and we have entered a few projects with much success. This year, our two youngest boys entered art projects and won first place and one of the three exhibits even received a “Special Youth Award.” A few years back, I entered a Martha Pullen look-a-like outfit, from one of her Sew Beautiful magazines, that I had made for one of my daughters and received a second place award. The judges commented that I should have serged my exposed seams instead of zig-zagging, which I took pretty hard knowing I did not own a serger and consequently, did not think it was a justified criticism. I give you all this background, so that you can understand why I was quite reluctant to enter anything again into the fair.
During the summer, I convinced my husband that if I purchased a machine embroidery software, that in the long run, he would save money by me making my own summer purse instead of paying full price at my favorite boutique. Well, he agreed, but the summer purse was never made and I just made do. It was just one of those summers that I practically sewed nothing. I did purchase the software Designer Handbags made by Nancy Zieman and Eileen Roche. After reading through all the instructions, I decided that I would make a trial tote bag first, so I didn’t spend too much money if I didn’t get things right the first time around. Also, I was going to try using curtain tie-backs instead of their recommended straps and I wasn’t sure that they would fit under the needle and the strap holders. I worked on the project just a step at a time – a little here and a little there, but all along, I was loving the results. Finally, time came to register for our Durham fair. Hmm, it was looking good enough, but it wasn’t quite done. With a few late nights with ice cream desserts (they always give that sugar high to keep on going through the evening), I finally preserved to the end, only to finish it the day of the drop-off.
As you guessed by the title, I won, but I was stunned when I went to pick up my project last night at the fair. My children ran ahead while I lingered at the desk to drop off my pick up form. I could hear by their squeals of “Mom!” that I had won, but never could I have guessed that not only did I win first place, but I had won a special award and my tote bag was placed on a special exhibit in honor of the award donor Mary Ann Tinker, who I later found out was a long time volunteer at the fair.
For those of you who do machine embroidery and are interested, the feet and bottom stabilizer were purchased online from Nancy Notions, the fabric was from Hobby Lobby, the curtain tie-backs were from Joann’s, the front machine embroidery design is the Parisian Bee from Urban Threads, the monogram is A Family Tree from Anna Bove Embroidery and of course, the overall bag design, bag corners and strap holders were from Designer Handbags by Nancy Zieman and Eileen Roche.