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photo of Dorothy Martin

About County Fair Spotlight on Home Arts

Dorothy R. Martin is an author, designer and educator who routinely shows her work at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. Every year you can find her amazing work at the Home Arts Building. Dorothy will guide you through the fun and inspiration in the Home Arts Division. Entries will delight... Read more

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Spotlight on Home Arts: Clothing (Videos)

The promised virtual visit to the Home Arts  continues with the Clothing Department,  Blog #5. It might be more meaningful if we overview the awards now.

1)      Each category is judged within itself, and the awards are made within that group. They are: first is blue, second is red, and white is third.  Some categories go on to fourth and honorable mention.

2)      The first place in each category then competes with the other firsts in the same division.

3)      The winner of the division is awarded a Champion Ribbon and moves on to compete with the winners of the other divisions.

4)      The winner of that competition is usually the Champion, Best of Show, or similar, and is the best of that Department.

5)      Sometimes there are additional awards made within the department, a number of these coming from merchants.  They will be marked as such.

6)      Check out the precise rules and other information concerning the above  in the catalog at

The Clothing Department includes entries for all ages, preemie to adult.


This preemie outfit fits a 3 to 5 pound infant and after the fair is donated to an area hospital for use in their NIC unit.  It includes a ‘blanket’, gown, cap, and diaper cover.








This Christening dress, bonnet, and slip are constructed of Swiss cotton batiste, and hemmed with pin stitches and French cotton lace.








A close-up picture of the Christening gown shows the Heirloom work on the bodice.  There are panels of 5 rows of pin tucks made with double needle straight stitch, and insertions stitched with the pin stitch and a large machine needle called a wing needle.  The sword-like blade of the needle pierces the fabric with a larger hole than usual, helping to make the pin stich look like handwork.  The pin stitch is a built in stitch on the machine which resembles a blanket stitch.





The close-up of the hem area show the machine embroidery executed with a home computer sewing machine and purchased program for the motif.  It is always recommended that machine embroidery motifs be stitched out on a ‘practice’ piece of the actual fabric to verify that it will work well.  This particular combination of motifs required about 2 hours to stitch out.  The entire dress probably took 30 hours.  I don’t count my hours; I enjoy them.




ASG Simplicity 1921 004This stripped cotton dress is embellished with coordinated rick rack in variegated identical colors.  The flower on the bodice is made of gathered tatted lace, also made of variegated thread.  The yoke is outlined with a design built in to the sewing machine (doesn’t require a purchased program and is on a regular menu) again in variegated colors.  A cap and a diaper cover complete the outfit.  It took several seasons for me to find the correct thread for the machine stitching and hand tatting embellishments to coordinate with the fabric.  When  I did, it was a” Yeah” moment!




The pansy floral dress  has a lemon yoke and lemon self-bias completing the puffed sleeves.  The yoke is lined and an invisible zipper fastens the dress.










This pink dress is a classic design with the skirt shirred to simulate smocking, and hand tatting is stitched over the shirring rows.  The result is an interesting look with the variegated pink needle art.






IMG_1522A close up photo of this shows one row of the tatting at the edge of the collar and the double row over the gathering.  The motif on the collar is a purchased embroidery design, and the colors coordinate with the garment.  The dress is washable cotton batiste.




This washable young girl’s cowgirl shirt is done in a solid IMG_0057cotton and star metallic printed cotton, golden fringe, a white star pearl buttons.  The shirt was a big hit with our cowgirl!







Now it may seem that I haven’t sewed for boys.  Actually I have, but the shirts seem to fly onto their backs without a photo opportunity.

Viking Class 008The green velvet dress, embellished with rayon and metallic threads by Sulky, is washable.  It has a rayon lining.  The jewel neckline emphasizes the diagonal line of the machine embroidery, which is a combination of portions of two motifs. Careful planning of motif placement is important.  On most projects, I mark out where the pattern piece will be cut, and do the embroidery prior to cutting the piece.  This accomplishes two things:  1) I am sure of embroidery success before cutting the garment piece, and don’t waste fabric, and, 2) because stitching eases up (sort of shrinks) fabric, I don’t end with a smaller garment section.






A close-up of the motif shows the Irish Harp and ribbon stitched with Sulk rayon, and the golden shamrocks stitched with Sulky Sliver threads.  Prior to stitching, a washable clear cover was placed on TOP of the section so that the stitches didn’t disappear into the velvet.






IMG_9566 - CopyThis First Communion Dress is silk batiste lined in Swiss satin weave cotton. (The silk batiste was not embroidered when purchased.)  Both fabrics were washed prior to constructing the dress so that it would be washable after construction.  The garment  pieces, cut larger than desired at completion, was then carefully embroidered with a special program which embroidered the silk with shiny rayon threads shaping the hem, the bodice center, sleeves, and jacket. The silk was then carefully trimmed at the edge of the embroidery.  The procedure was repeated for the doll outfit.  The dress is sleeveless, and the jacket has one pearl closure with a hand stitched loop.  The garments, child and doll, took upwards of 80 hours.




IMG_9881We can talk about costumes in this department.  The entries are usually amazing.  The first I will show is a dress designed and constructed by one twin for the other.  The fabrics are velvet and rayon satin.



The result took away my breath.  This will give you an idea of entries – this particular one was not entered in the fair as the girls live out of state.



IMG_0008It is time for a sewing tale. When the girls were about eleven years old, they sent me this picture of the Infanta princesses of Spain, Isabelle and Elizabeth.  The girls liked the dresses and asked me to see what I could with the idea.  Well, being a grandma, I could only be excited about this adventure!




Diving into my fabric and trim collection, I found some workable materials.  The resulting dresses are of cotton appliqued with wide stripes of additional cotton floral designs, frequently used for quilting.  I was able to cut the borders and add them vertically to resemble brocade.  (Well, sort of.)  Then some of my trims worked perfectly for the belts.  The puff necklines are of a nylon pre-gathered fabric purchased on a lark.  The sleeves are cotton batiste with rows of lace about every four inches, placed horizontally. The puffing at the shoulder is stuffed with polyester fiberfill.  The underskirt has a wide hem of crinoline. The girls were very pleased and added the faux pearls and their puppy.








035 - CopyA simple skirt in a lovely print plus an embroidered cotton, along with some imagination resulted in this Filipina outfit that follows.  The sleeves for the top were redrawn regular set in sleeves, with fullness and depth added to the head of the sleeve and numerous tucks drawn in.  This resulted in the beautiful lift that the sleeves traditionally have. The embroidered fabric edge was used for the hems of the bodice and the sleeves.  A light cotton fabric lines the bodice for modesty.





We leave the fantasy land of costumes for now, and will continue with adult clothing in Blog #6.

Meanwhile, I hope ­you are completing some items to enter, as I am now.

Reminder: website is




Dorothy Martin

About Dorothy Martin

Dorothy Martin is a master seamstress who routinely shows her work at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. Dorothy will guide you through the fun and inspiration in the Home Arts Division. Entries will delight your eye. Highlights include arts quilting and baking to knitting and sewing and lots more. Everyone leaves this building with a smile, a gleam in their eye, and the memory of a favorite entry.


2 Responses to “Spotlight on Home Arts: Clothing (Videos)”

  1. On July 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm responded with... #

    7.22.2014 1:15pm…..posted by Janet K
    yes, I am brave and yes, you are very talented…..
    …your work is beautiful…this is a nice format to showcase it…
    …I’m wondering why you did not pursue a fabric/sewing career right out of high school….why not a home ec major in college…why instead carrying bedpans?

    • Dorothy Martin
      On July 22, 2014 at 2:36 pm responded with... #

      Nursing was my first love. Needle arts came in second. Started very young with both, Janet. I loved nursing. And I love to put needle to fabric! Keep spinning, young lady.

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