Special Award from Durham Fair

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.

award ribbon bag bottom bag close up bag inside bag with ribbons

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Marathon Quilt

Marathon runners train for years to compete in a race over 26 miles long.  In my mind, it is just unbelievable that anyone can run that far!  I see people in the ancient of days having to run because they have no other mode of transportation, but seriously to do it willing.  Obviously, I did not inherit my mother’s genes on that one.  She began running in her forties. Ugh, I was still having my eighth and ninth child.  It was the farthest thing from my mind.  I was just getting through the day, but she began winning prizes for her competitions in the master division.  She would later move on to competing in Taekwondo and become a four-time world champion in the master’s division.  Isn’t she wonderful!  She has a whole room of trophies, pictures, medals, t-shirts and paraphernalia that she has won.  What to do with it all?  Well, she bequeathed her running t-shirts to me. knowing I could make a t-shirt quilt out of them.

It was my first t-shirt quilt and I did not stablize the knit fabric because I wanted it to be soft and supple for her to cuddle up with and fondly remember her days of being a winner, but in hindsight, I would have as it caused me a few problems that would not have occurred if I had used it.  She is happy with it and that is all that matters.  You may not be able to see the detail of the t-shirts, but they are arranged in chronological order starting in 1977 and includes several European races.  She asked that I include the Michigan t-shirt that she wore training to represent where she was born and raised.  Congratulations Mom! I am honored that you trusted me with your legacy. YOU are a winner extraordinare!

moms quilt

Stitching Sisters Sewing Event

Back in May of 2012, Becky (my daughter) and I attended a sewing event that was hosted by Schiller’s Sewing Circle (where Mike purchased my Babylock embroidery machine).  It was a wonderful two day event that allowed us to make twelve different projects ranging from monogrammed napkins to t-shirts.  Becky was the youngest in attendance and as you can imagine all those older women just thought she was wonderful (of course, so do I). During the show-and-tell part of the second day, she displayed her beautiful free-standing lace bowl that she made from a Suebox design that was absolutely free.  It is a gorgeous lace bowl that won the hearts of everyone, including the two women (the Stitching Sisters) who led the event.  They commented that she was the next up and coming Stitching Sister.  What a compliment!

Here are two excerpts from our family blog that were contemporaneous.

Continue reading

Copycat Pillow

One of my daughters fell in love with this pillow, but it was out of her price range.

pillow inspiration

It was so simple looking that I just knew I could do something to replicate it.  Embroidery Library is one of my favorite places to purchase embroidery designs.  Sure enough they had a bird design to please even the most exacting daughter.

bird pillow

Roadkill and Sewing?

Roadkill and and sewing do not seem like they belong in the same category, but when mothers that love to machine embroider have boys that grow up to be men, they must find some way to bring their two worlds together.  So here is my attempt … a BBQ grilling apron about roadkill.  I cannot take the credit for this saying as I googled it on the internet and loved it.  It seemed perfect.  Ok, so I tried.  I know he will never wear it, but I thought it would at least look cool hanging in his kitchen.  I even bought him a hook.  No, it is stuffed in a box somewhere.  I guess I will have to try something else or as he says, “Not try at all!” No, that won’t happen.  I love both too much,  but I guess I can hope that there is a future wife with grandchildren that love gifts from my machine.

sewing roadkill apron

Jeans and Machine Embroidery Testing

Testing machine embroidery designs on old jeans is great.  There is no need for stabilizer because it is so thick and there is no cost for the material, which reduces the cost of machine embroidery substantially.machine embroiderymachine embroidery

However, if I was embroidering on a non-test garment, I would still use stabilizer as the jeans do stretch, but as you can see from the pictures, there was no distortion at all from the stretch. The down-side is that these gorgeous designs really do not look very pretty when stitched out, but I can clearly see how beautiful they will be on just the right garment. They are Mary’s Graduation Dress designs from Martha Pullen.  The dress is just amazing.  Who would think that my blue jeans designs would make a dress as glamorous as that one.  That’s for another project and post when I actually turn these designs into something fabulous to wear.

But look at these poor old jeans. Not much left of them.  Now I only have an entire box 3′ x 2′ x 2′ left to use up.  I guess that’s the benefits of having nine children – so many used jeans.

jeans cut