In answer to your question, Chrissie, no my projects don't have to be on 25 count over 1. I tend to only stitch things for the Fair that I plan on hanging in my home. As I'm running out of wall space and the cost of framing, the last few years my choices for fabric are not only based on what will look good with the threads and for that particular design but also on keeping the overall design a bit smaller so I will be able to display on a table top easel rather than hanging on the wall. It also helps keep my framing costs down. I could do 40 count over 2 but my stitching is at its' absolute best on 25 count over 1 so I tend to go there.
There are 19 "Classes" in which you can enter and you can enter only one time in each Class.
Our Classes are:
Wall Hanging or Bell Pull (unframed)
Picture (under 15 inches)
Picture (15-30 inches)
Picture (over 30 inches)
Verse or Motto (under 15 inches)
Verse or Motto (over 15 inches)
Picture (under 15 inches, worked on linen or linen technique)
Picture (15-30 inches, worked on linen or linen technique)
Picture (over 30 inches, worked on linen or linen technique)
Verse or Motto (worked on linen or linen technique)
Ornaments (collection of three)
Guest Towels (two)
Perforated Paper Item
Three-dimensional Item (stitchery is free standing or dimensional - item is not flat)
You can stitch your item on the fabric of your choice (even weave, aida, linen) and whatever count you desire. You can also chose what threads you want to use DMC, overdyes, silks. Whatever materials you think will show the design at its' best.
Framing is your choice as well as the extras (matting, padding, glass). Up until about 3 years ago glass was not allowed but the rules have since changed and you can have glass on your piece.
If there are more than 30 items in any one class, they then divide them out by stitch count and judge each count separately. I always try to use a count of fabric so if they do have to divide mine won't be judged against so many. That being said as it is based on a point system if you don't earn enough points - YOU DON'T GET A RIBBON. People think that if there is only 3 in a class everyone gets a ribbon but this is not true. I've seen it time and again where only a third place ribbon was awarded as no one earned enough points to be awarded the first and second places.
The criteria for judging is in 3 categories:
General Appearance - which relates to cleanliness, colors, design, blocking/pressing, choice of fibers/threads, choice of pattern.
Workmanship - which relates to neatness, tension, pattern execution, absence of knots. I will also add as they don't list they do notice if they can see your tails through the fabric or if your doing letters and see the thread going from one letter to the next. I always end my thread for each letter and move on to the next one. (They always comment that my threads don't show.)
Finishing - which relates to framing (which includes if it has even borders and is mounted straight) and on dimension pieces seams, rusching, fringe, cording, etc.
When it comes to actually picking my projects, it has to be something I really want to stitch for myself. Once I decide on my projects I kind of think about which Class they could be entered in and pick fabrics so they will end up being appropriate for a different class rather than all the same one. One year I had 3 things that ended up all fitting into the Picture 15-30 inches - could only enter one - sigh!
My big dream is to some day win Best of Show but I've noticed every year lately it goes to a piece that has beads and metallic threads in it. Just haven't been in the mood to do that kind of stitching lately so I'm instead very content with the ribbons I've won. There are so many beautiful pieces without ribbons and know what an honor it is to have been awarded that ribbon.
I hope you enjoyed me little walk through State Fair competition.