Bishop – Tips to avoid a Turtleneck and a Thanksgiving Gift

Today I thought I’d do a post with some tips specifically for the bishop dress.  The bishop dress is the easiest to construct, so it is a popular style to make for baby gifts, for all the special holidays, etc.  In a busy season, the smocking can be enjoyed and the dress made up relatively quickly.

Around holidays, I always enjoy seeing beautiful bishop dresses that are being made for the little ones.  However, as I look at the creations posted on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, I have noticed a plethora of the dreaded “turtleneck” bishop dresses.  If you aren’t familiar with the term, it is used for a bishop dress that has been smocked so tightly that the smocked area sticks up, like a turtleneck.

There are 2 basic methods of smocking a bishop.  One method is to smock the bishop with the threads tied off straight, which I will call straight smocking.  The other method is to smock the bishop with the bishop blocked, or fanned out, the way that it will be worn.  I would put ready to smock bishop dresses as a sub category of this.  There are pros and cons to both methods and both methods have avid followers that fiercely defend their method of choice.  🙃  Both methods will be discussed.

First, lets cover basic anatomy.  I’m sure that everyone already knows this, but a picture review doesn’t hurt.  Any child, doll, preemie, etc. has the same basic shape.  Notice the angle of the neck and shoulders.  A properly smocked bishop dress should sit at the neckline and fall over the shoulders.

Just as a brief reminder, the smocking should stop at the shoulder line – the same place that a set in sleeve seam would be.  If the smocking falls further past the shoulder line, the dress will tend to look frumpy (my opinion).

Unfortunately, when a bishop is smocked too tightly, thus creating the turtleneck, it doesn’t sit that way.  The bias band will be higher on the neck and will stand away from the neck.  Not wanting to steal anyone’s picture and embarrass anyone, I have done a quick sketch/mock-up.  I left the turtleneck style sketch so that the neck/shoulders underneath would be visible.

There’s a couple of problems with the turtleneck bishop.  First of all, it will always remain that shape and will not sit properly on the child.  Some will attempt to correct the shape by stretching and blocking it after smocking and before construction, which will make it look better for the short-term.  Unfortunately as soon as the garment is laundered, it will return to its original shape.

I know many ladies that use the smocking straight method and have been able to create beautiful garments that lay perfectly once the pleating threads are removed.  However, for many, this isn’t the case.  Many that favor the straight smocking method will state that without a doubt, if a bishop plate is chosen for the smocking design, when the pleating threads come out, the dress will automatically fan out as it should.  I disagree with that.  All of the smocked “turtleneck” bishops that I’ve seen have been smocked with a smocking design designated as a bishop design.  The problem lies with the tension – it is too tight.

The straight method is definitely easier to smock.  However, just like with the blocked method, the tension on the stitches needs to be looser as you stitch the lower rows.  If they are smocked equally as tight as the upper rows, the turtleneck is bound to happen.  There’s no way that smocking a dense bishop design will end up well if the tension doesn’t relax as the lower rows are smocked.  This takes practice.  If you struggle with the turtleneck effect, it may be helpful to tie the straight bishop off at a longer length and smock the lower rows first and then tighten up the pleating threads as the top of the bishop is smocked.  Regardless of how you choose to approach this, the tension has to be looser on the bottom rows to avoid the turtleneck situation.

The second method is to block the bishop, which just means that it is fanned out (sometimes over a blocking guide or smocking pillow) in the shape that it will be worn.  Some will also starch it at this point.  Blocking guides and starching seem to be quite time-consuming to me and I have never felt that this is necessary, but it certainly won’t hurt .

I find that the easiest way to block is to use a piece of paper as a guide and fan the bishop out around the paper.  This is the method that I always use.  It’s convenient, no special tools are needed, etc.   and I can do this wherever I happen to be – I can always find a piece of paper.  LOL!

If you prefer to use a guide or one of the smocking pillows that are available, that is certainly an option.  However, based on the hundreds of bishops that I’ve made over the years, I don’t really feel that it is necessary.  By the time that the band is attached to the top of the bishop dress, the pleats are so tightly packed at the neckline that it really doesn’t make a difference (again, my opinion).

Smocking while using the block method (or smocking a ready to smock garment) is a little more difficult.  The pleats at the neckline are very tight and there is more space between pleats at the lower edge, which requires thoughtful tension as you smock.  I always make my bishops as ready to smock because it gives the advantage of getting the first row of smocking to sit perfectly next to the neckband.  That said, it can be challenging smocking all of the really tight pleats.  But notice how close and even that first row of smocking can be!

It is important that if you are smocking using the blocking method that you don’t habitually squish the pleats together as you smock.  It’s easy to do this without even realizing it, but it defeats the process of learning to loosen tension as you smock the lower rows.

Whatever method you choose to use, be mindful of tension – it matters.

Now, while everyone is busy frantically finishing up the holiday outfits, I am already looking to spring.  No, I don’t have all of the Christmas dresses finished.  I just prefer sewing spring and summer things!  With that in mind, I thought I’d offer a free smocking plate to encourage you to do some relaxing smocking over the holiday season.

FF

This is a PDF download.  Hope it works!  I’ve used this to make a sweet bishop dress in the past.

The graph doesn’t show the detail of the smocking design, but after the smocking was complete, the flower and flower center were outlined with the outline stitch and 2 strands of floss and a French knot was stitched with 4 strands in each flower petal.

I hope that this has been helpful and will allow for everyone to be successful with their bishop smocking designs!  I welcome any comments.  Perhaps others will chime in with comments that help them achieve successful bishops!

I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving!!!

Kathy

Sewing For Older Girls – New Pattern

Fall has finally arrived in the south.  We went from record high temperatures in October (mostly 80’s and even 90’s) to an arctic blast in November.  Baby, it’s cold outside!

Just in time for the cold weather, I finished up a couple smocked shirt dresses for the girls.  I am quite happy with how the pattern and the dresses turned out and the girls are as well!  Eva especially likes the pockets!

The girls stayed with us for a weekend, so I had some willing models available!!!  Aren’t they adorable!  When did they get so big?

The dresses are just as cute from the back view as they are from the front.

In order to keep smocking for older girls (they are 9 and almost 7 now), it takes a bit of creative thinking.  I had seen a picture of a similar dress on Etsy, but was unable to find a similar pattern, so I went to work creating my own.

This pattern is my slightly contemporary version of the shirt dress with a more open neckline, which is also more comfortable, and a touch of smocking on the front and back of the dress at the yoke.  It smocks up very quickly and the dress is easy to sew as well!

The dress features a casing in the back and self belt to pull in the fullness, though a purchased belt or ribbon would be equally cute.

I designed the dress to be made from slightly heavier fabrics because I know that the girls aren’t fans of wearing slips.  However, if someone wanted to make the dress up of lighter fabrics, there are instructions for that as well.  My first test dress, a wearable sample, was made of Imperial broadcloth.

In this fabric, I chose to smoosh all the pleats to the center of the dress – I like how that looks as well.

To make the dress a pattern for all seasons, instructions for making the dress sleeveless are also included.  The sleeveless version is made of piqué fabric.

The last dress that I made is probably my favorite – I’m not sure if it is the color combination, the fabric or what, but I do love this one!  Sadly, I don’t think this will fit anyone except my mannequins.  That’s probably OK because the girls love the wild prints!

I’ve offered 3 slightly different smocking designs in the pattern as well.  All are very simple and smock up quickly.

Of course, you could always leave off the pockets & belt and shorten the top and it would make an equally adorable top to wear over dress pants or jeans!!!  After sewing up 6 different dresses, I didn’t have it in me to make up a blouse length version as well, though I definitely will do that for the girls for when the weather warms up.  Wouldn’t it be cute in flannel for the cold weather though!!!

It goes without saying that the pattern could be made without smocking for an even quicker project.  The dress could have gathers where the smocking is.

As always, there are lots of instructions with plenty of pictures and extra tips and techniques included in the pattern.  You can pop over to my Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/kathysheirloomshop) and buy the pattern – it’s the perfect dress for an older girl.  😊  It is available in sizes 5 – 10.

I’m ready to smock something different now.  What will you be smocking?

 

Fall Smocking

The fall weather in NC has been so hot for so long that it was hard to get into the mood to do any type of fall sewing/smocking.  However, I had this beautiful cotton lawn print that I knew would be beautiful with smocking on it.  A few different trips, with hours in the car, gave me the opportunity to get the smocking finished on this dress.

The pattern is Children’s Corner “Amy” – which has been out of print for several years.  I love it because it is smocked both front and back.  The blouse is Children’s Corner Blouse pattern – again, an out of print pattern, but there are so many blouse patterns that you could use.  The Mary De comes with a blouse included in the jumper pattern.  😊  I did switch the sleeve and used the Ruthie sleeve – sorry, another OOP pattern.  However, I recently learned that the Eleanor sleeve is nearly identical to the Ruthie sleeve, so, problem solved!

You will have to excuse the poor “fit” on the mannequin – she is a size 5 and the outfit is a size 7 – it’s the best I can do.  🤣

On the back, I chose to not do the embroidered flowers.  However, smocking on front and back means that one will look fabulous both coming and going!!!  LOL!

I didn’t want to have to refer to a smocking plate while in the car, so I did my own thing and am quite happy with the outcome.  Initially I had embroidered smaller flowers, but they didn’t show up well on the print, so I went to larger flowers.  Much better!

Although I’m not particularly a fan of adding pockets to a smocked dress, I had to do it!  Livvy loved her welt pocket dress because the pockets gave her somewhere to put her change/tithe for the collection at church!  💕  How could I not add a pocket to this dress?

I’ve had other projects in the works as well, but nothing to show yet.  The weather has finally cooled some (if you consider 70º cool!) and I will start on another project soon!

What are you smocking for the fall?

Sewing Wee Care Sets

‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matt. 25:40)

October is National Infant Loss Awareness Month, so in honor of our 5 grand babies in heaven and their strong mammas, I’ve chosen to work on sets for these little ones that will be donated to both our local Smocking Arts Guild (the guild donates to local hospitals) as well as to Caleb Ministry (they provide memory boxes as well as counseling for women that have suffered infant loss).

I have had several gown sets in the works and living on my dining room table while waiting for the finishing touches – this month was the perfect time to start finishing them.  All of the gowns are made from the SAGA Wee Care #1 pattern, available to all SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) members.

I have taken this opportunity to work on the pleated sleeve option for the gowns as well so that they are a better fit for these tiny babies, so I cut out boy gowns in all the sizes from under 1 lb. – preemie.  The cute frog embroidery was from the A to Z bullion book, but revised to be slightly smaller.  The diaper set is from Teeny Tears.

This set is a preemie size.  The cute sailboat embroidery is from appliqueforkids.com.

This sweet set is also a preemie size.  The smocked bonnet pattern is the tapered smocked bonnet  pattern by Laurie Anderson.  The hem & blanket embroidery design is from Fromtheneedleofanne.com, though I cannot remember the name of the set.  I use it all the time because it takes only about 8 minutes to stitch out and it is beautiful.

This next set is a 1 – 2 lb. size.  The smocked bonnet pattern is by Judith Marquis called The Preemie Baby Boy’s Bonnet.  It compliments the rest of the set perfectly.

This sweet gown set features embroidery by appliqueforkids.com called Nap Time.  The bonnet pattern is now available in my Etsy shop.  I had previously had only the preemie (4-5 lb.) size available but now offer the micro-preemie sizes (1 – 4 lb.) as well.

The embroidery design from Appliqué for Kids was so cute that I had to use it twice.  The smocking design on this gown was the giraffe from the Little Memories S. S. Noah plate – just revised a bit to use for the tiny gown and stitched with 3 strands of floss rather than the usual 4.

I have a few more gowns in the works and will complete them as time allows.  However, I wanted to share these sets and hopefully raise awareness for all of those families touched by infant loss.  If you are a seamstress and looking for a worthy cause, there are so many organizations that would love to have you sew these tiny gowns for them.  There are plenty of non-smocked options such as this one for tiny gowns.  This kimono pattern comes from 7pinedesigns.com and the bonnet pattern is my micro-preemie pattern.  Other organizations accept hand knit blankets.  If sewing or knitting isn’t your thing but you still want to participate, Caleb Ministry accepts donations so that they can buy the supplies needed to create the special boxes that they provide (for free!) to all of the area hospitals in Charlotte.

I pray for the families that will receive these sets in the future.  I am happy that I can do something that might help them during this difficult time.   I hope that this post will inspire others to use their talents to bring a measure of healing to families that have lost their precious little ones.

Annalise Pattern Now Available!!!

Annalise has been one of my most requested patterns for the last 10+ years.  I started making it in the early 2000’s and sold many of these tops on Ebay.  I made more of these than I can count!  So many options – some with shorts, many with capris and some with skirts – all looked so cute!

After many years of selling, I submitted the pattern to AS&E magazine.  They chose to publish only the 3/4 length sleeve.  They called the top “Temily”.  It was published in sizes 2, 4 & 6 and was in Issue #80.  The picture below was that sample that was sent to them.

After our first granddaughter was born, I sized the top down to infant sizes so that it would work for crawling little ones.

I loved this cute and practical top for the little girls.  Made from Imperial broadcloth, they could be washed and worn regularly!  Of course, as our girls have grown, I’ve added larger sizes as well.  The pattern is available in sizes 6 – 12 mo. to a size 8.

Because of the continued requests for this pattern, I’ve now published it in my Etsy shop.    Click the link and you’ll be taken there.  Not only can it be printed on a home printer (8-1/2″ x 11″ paper), but I’ve included an A0 file for those that prefer to have a full size copy printed at a print shop.  Honestly, it doesn’t take long to trim (with paper-cutter) and tape the 12 pages together, but I do understand that there are many that would prefer not to do that.  Now both options are available.

More eye candy for you to enjoy!!!  I hope this inspires you to whip up one of these adorable tops for your special little girl or young lady.

I’ve saved my favorite one for last!!!

I hope that this will get your creative juices flowing!!!  The pattern has lots of tips for working with rickrack, making pretty gathers, etc.  You’ll be able to create a stunning top in no time at all!

Keep on stitching……

Summer Sewing Wrapping Up

Since our beach trip, I’ve done plenty of sewing, but haven’t done any blog posts about it.  I guess that makes me a blogging failure.  LOL!  Part of my problem is that I’m having issues with photography in the studio.  I will have my technical support guy (hubby!) look at that this weekend.  So, you’ll get my iPhone pictures instead.  Not great, but the best I’ve got!

First of all, I made a casual version of the Spanish Lace dress that I photographed at the beach.  I like the casual version as well and see potential for it as a top!  I think older girls would love this.  I need to draft this in the smaller sizes.

Upon returning home, I had a package delivered to me from a SAGA group in MI that needed bias bands placed on the little gowns to finish them up.  Some needed hems.  All needed ribbons and snaps.  It was so nice to finish up these little gowns and have them ready to deliver to a hospital.

Another package arrived from Claire Meldrum (fellow SAGA teacher) who sent things to use for Wee Care as well.  One of the items was a lovely piece of handkerchief linen with the most beautiful hand embroidery on it!!!  Initially I thought I’d make it into a blanket, but then decided to take it as a challenge and make it into a little gown – placement was challenging due to the location on the piece of fabric.  I found the perfect pattern in a past SAGA News issue and made the dress showcasing her embroidery.  I was very pleased with how it turned out.

For inquiring minds, this pattern will be reprinted (I’ve been told) in the Wee Care issue of SAGA in 2020.

I’ve done a few pretty sets (blanket, bonnet & gown) for Caleb Ministry as well.  I forgot to include the blankets in the picture – whoops!

I then completed a few ready to smock gowns and bonnets that I can take with me when I travel.  They make perfect airport/airplane projects since they are so small.  I’ll share pictures of those when the smocking is complete.

These last few weeks I decided that it was time to complete some of my ancient UFO’s (Unfinished Objects).  The first one that I pulled out I had started for our youngest daughter, but obviously didn’t get it done in time!  It’s a size 4.  She celebrated her 27th birthday in July!  😯  It was time to finish this sweet dress.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out.  Although my sewing has changed and improved significantly over the last 25+ years, I didn’t want that to stand in the way of finishing this dress.  I am choosing to see the less than perfect sewing as a testament to how I’ve improved over the years and celebrating that!  The smocking design is something new that I designed.  If this is a style that you like, the Fall issue of Classic Sewing Magazine includes a pattern by Gail Doane that has the same pleated area in the front.  I would highly recommend getting a subscription so that you don’t miss a single issue!!!  I have a couple of dresses included in this issue as well.

Included in this issue is a download for a machine embroidered welt pocket that Joy Welsh of appliqueforkids.com created.  It is an AMAZING technique.  Who knew that a welt pocket could be done completely (and perfectly!!!) on an embroidery machine!!!  The gray dresses were done with Joy’s embroidery files.  The orange dress was done using the traditional welt pocket technique using a regular sewing machine.  Both methods are discussed in the magazine.  This dress pattern is included in sizes 2 – 7.

The next UFO was even older – can you believe that!!!  I started it when I was pregnant with our youngest.  😳  Well, now she will have it one day if she has a little girl!  Hahaha!!! I had obviously been inspired by a pleated front bishop – there had been an article in an old CN magazine with the directions.  So, yet another pleated front dress.  This dress is a size 6 mo. bishop day gown.  Again, I’m celebrating how far my sewing has come over the years.  I just love how this turned out.

So, what’s next on the list of projects – well, one more pretty day gown that has been started and is incomplete.  It has been all sewn, but needs a hem treatment.  The shadow work embroidery is completed down one side of the front, but not the other side.  It was also started for our youngest.  After sitting all these years, the blue wash out marker had faded away.  So, I’ve marked the embroidery on the side and am ready to start on that gown.  It is too pretty to not finish.  You can look for that in a future post.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed some fun sewing this summer as well.  What’s on your list of projects?

 

Vintage Bonnet Pattern

I’ve had such fun drafting and sewing up this new vintage bonnet!!!  It was the perfect bonnet for beach portrait pictures!!!

During the week at the beach, we had only ONE morning when the wind wasn’t blowing wildly.  Unfortunately, that was the day that the guys went golfing, so I was only able to get some cell phone pictures rather than some beautiful pictures that my hubby can take.  However, they did turn out quite nice.

This is the cutest bonnet!!!  It is a reproduction of a 1920’s style doll bonnet pattern that I have a copy of.  I just had to make it big enough for little girls!!!  This would be a perfect bonnet for Easter, weddings or portraits.  The bonnet crown frames the face beautifully!!!  Sadly, I didn’t get a good full-on face shot of the bonnet.

Not only is it a beautiful bonnet for special occasions, but it is a very practical bonnet for protection from the sun.  The bonnet brim goes fully around the head and is wide enough to offer plenty of protection.

The possibilities for this bonnet are numerous!  I made one with some hand embroidery and finished the edges with bias band trim.  I loved how it turned out!

The bonnet brim or crown would also look fabulous with a monogram!!!

I drafted the bonnet in sizes for both dolls and girls and with both the scalloped crown as well as the round crown.  My favorite is definitely the scalloped style.  The doll sizes start at 15″ and go to 20″, which is also a newborn size, though I doubt many newborns will need this sort of bonnet.  LOL!  That size will work for larger dolls though!

I have listed the bonnet pattern in my Etsy shop in case this is something that you’re looking for.  The sewing only takes a little over an hour, so it makes a quick gift.  I can’t wait to see what others will do with this bonnet pattern!!!

Now, on to more sewing, drafting fun!!!

Little Sister’s Dress

I was quite surprised when I brought Ella her dress that Eva said she liked it as well!  Of course, that means that she needed a white dress as well.

For this dress I used the Children’s Corner “Lillian” pattern.  The simple shift style is a perfect pallet for some creative stitching.  I chose to use spaghetti bias to create a grid that would allow me to do some simple embroidery inside the grid.   The green spaghetti bias was purchased at Farmhouse Fabrics.  I wanted the turquoise spaghetti bias to be slightly wider, so I made that by cutting 1-1/4″ strips and sewing them into tubes.

The dress is a size 6.  I marked the dress front with vertical lines 6″ apart (turquoise gingham) and then drew in the diagonal marks 4″ apart.  This gave me 3 large areas to embroider inside.

I kept the embroidery simple.  The outside circle is 2″ and the inside flower 1-1/4″.  The flower alone seemed too small to fill the space, so the outside 2″ circle was added.  I think it softens the geometric design.  All of the floss are the same as on Ella’s dress, so they will co-ordinate nicely.

I’ve been trying to use up this poly/cotton fabric so that I don’t have to put any back on the shelves.  There’s still more of it!!!  I guess that means that Livvy will also be getting a white dress.  LOL!  That’s on the cutting table for the next project.

I hope you’re enjoying some summer sewing as well!!!

Summer Sewing Continues!

With my set of 3 dresses completed, I was ready to move on and create something different. I have a plethora of pretty patterns, but seem to always go back to the same ones.  This time, I chose something different!  Of course, it goes so well with my current fixation with scallops!!!

After reorganizing all of my fabrics and putting them on shelves rather than in totes (which were very heavy to pull out of the closet), I found many fabrics that I’d forgotten about.  This was one of them – a poly/cotton basket weave piqué.  Perfect for summer.  Moms will appreciate the fact that it requires no ironing!!!

I decided to use Wendy Schoen‘s “Hannah” pattern.  This is such a timeless, classic design!  I believe that the pattern is out of print, but perhaps she could be convinced to bring it back as a digital pattern!  If you aren’t familiar with Wendy, you are probably new to heirloom sewing.  Wendy’s designs and talent was a regular feature of Sew Beautiful magazine for all of the years that it was in production.  Now her designs can be seen in some of the Classic Sewing magazines!  She is a prolific designer and extremely talented!!!  She is someone who I have always admired and hope to be half as talented as she is!

Because I didn’t plan to make the jacket that goes with the dress, I felt that the bodice needed some detail on it.  I added pin tucks and embroidery to the bodice and then also piped around the neckline and sleeves, which required a different sewing order than what was suggested in the pattern.

Wendy’s patterns have wonderful instructions and lots of detail – it was delightful to work with her pattern and I believe that the fit will also be just right!

The back is as cute as the front with the cutout design!!!  I love this!  I can’t wait to see this on Ella!

I also strayed from the pattern a bit and chose to line the skirt so that a slip wouldn’t be necessary.  I think that was a good choice given the back cut out and the lack of slips available these days.

Wendy does gorgeous hand embroidery, including pin stitching!  I chose to machine pin stitch the hem and didn’t do any of the other embroidery at the hem.  I’ve included a picture of the stitching at the hem, only to show that it IS possible to pin stitch on poly/cotton.  Obviously, natural fibers are much prettier for this type of work, but I’m pleased with the results and feel that this is just enough for the dress I’ve made.

This is the perfect dress for Ella, who is now 9 years old.  The pattern starts at a size 7.  This is definitely something to add to your pattern collection if you can!  The older girls will love it!

Now, what to make next……..

 

Let’s Start Summer Sewing!!!

Memorial day always marks the beginning of summer for me.  As a kid, that’s when school got out and summer holidays began.  I feel much the same about it today.  So, this past weekend I had cleaned up in my sewing room and was ready to start.

I began by finishing up a skirt that I’d started quite some time ago.  When I brought it over to try on the girls, Eva asked if I would make her a dress.  😊  She told me her favorite color was turquoise.  As it happens, I had turquoise fabric on the cutting table and a plan for it already!!!  So, I started on the turquoise dress when I got home.

My inspiration for the dress was this little Lilly Pulitzer dress that Ella wore when she was 2 years old.  I adore the style!

I had to do some figuring out on this!  Thankfully, all the girls wear a size 6 – Ella’s just needs extra length since she’s 9 years old.  Whew!  Only one draft needed. I wanted to copy all of the elements of the dress, down to the scalloped pockets and the zipper in the back.  The zipper was installed like they do in mass produced garments – it is encased in the neckline as well as both the lining and the dress seams of the zipper are sewn by machine.  It’s a nice, clean finish.

 I’ve managed to make it work – x3.  That said, I have to do some more thinking on the steps in construction.  I still don’t have it working as easily as I’d like.  There has to be a better way.

By the end of the day yesterday, I had 3 of these finished!!!  I have loved this print and been saving it for the right dress.  I loved this fabric so much, that I purchased in in all 3 color ways – turquoise, pink & lime green.  I’ve already made dresses in the other colors.

The fabric is wonderful – it’s a lightweight denim that it poly/cotton – so, no wrinkles and no ironing needed!!!  I know that will be appreciated!  What doesn’t show up in the pictures is that the center of the palm trees has silver sparkles.  The girls will love the sparkles!!!

I did managed to put the zipper in production style and am quite pleased with the way that it turned out.

I’ll be doing a little more math to get the lap slightly narrower.  Overall, I’m very happy with it.

My favorite part of this dress is the pockets.  I chose to pipe them rather than have a band of fabric like the Lilly dress features.

I used a monogram in the same hot pink color.  I like this monogram font so much, I’ve bought the identical font from 2 different sources.  It is either Fancy Monogram 1Font from Embroitique or it is Elegant Font from Applique Corner.  I’m not exactly sure which this one is, but I’ve used both and they both stitch out beautifully!

I decided to scallop the hem of the dress to match the scalloped pockets – that is where I made the dress a bit differently than the sample dress from Lilly.  I used the method that I described in an earlier post.

I’ll definitely be making more of these dresses for the girls.  Summer is here!  School is out at the end of next week, so I’d better hurry!

What does your summer sewing look like?

Pretty Pillow!!!

I continue to have fun with embroidery!!!  It’s something that I can work on for a bit, put down and then pick up again and work some more.  I’ve really enjoyed stitching so many different stitches.  Figuring out which stitches to place where was quite the challenge!  I don’t consider myself an embroidery expert, but I continue to learn and improve with every project!!!

My latest project has been a pillow.  This pillow has colors that will work in my living room, bedroom or outside porch (it’s covered and protected).  I don’t think it will end up on the porch because it’s too special for that casual atmosphere.

When I talked to our youngest daughter about making an embroidered pillow, she quickly pointed me to Anthropology, Pier 1 Imports and World Market – all of which have cute embroidered pillows that are just a little more trendy and stylish.  I loved the idea!  So, that’s what I went with.

Choosing a word to stitch proved to be a little more of a challenge – I wanted it to say something that resonated with me and not phrases that would go out of vogue in a few years (you know, “Farmhouse”, etc. – I don’t live in a farmhouse!).

I ended up with BLESSED – because I am reminded each and every day how blessed I am!!!

I was able to find the perfect trim at Hobby Lobby.  Thank goodness!!!  We’re living in a fabric store desert here with only HL and JoAnn’s.  I chose a simple rope design with all the right colors.  I felt that tassels, hanging bobbles and such would take away from the embroidery.

I used some beautiful Ulster linen but machine washed and dried it first to give it a lived-in look.  This was a plus for many reasons.  Now the pillow cover can be washed if needed.  It also allowed me to use wash away markers on the fabric – a definitely bonus.  And it softened up the fabric, making it easier to embroider.

I have to thank my sewing friends – Angela and Margaret – both of whom helped me when I ran into construction problems with the cording.  The cording was so stiff that I had real problems getting it attached properly.  Angela had great advice, pointed me to a great tutorial on finishing the ends of the cording and let me know what type of foot and machine would work best for the sewing.  Margaret  had the right equipment and was local and willing to help me out.  I’m blessed to have such wonderful sewing friends both far and near!!!  Aren’t sewing friends the best!!!

I’m busy writing up the instructions for all of the embroidery and sewing of this pillow and hope that it will be a class that students will enjoy taking!

I’m not sure what I’ll be stitching next.  I’ll ponder that over the weekend.  I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!!!

May Musings….

May is Mother’s day month and I am keenly aware of how blessed I am to have such a wonderful mother!  She has always been there for me, always loves me and has always been the best example of a godly Christian woman.  Her love for God, family and others has been constant and she lives out this love daily.   She has been a constant encourager to all of us, expecting us all to be the best that we can be and pointed us to Christ at an early age.  For that and so many other things, I’m so blessed!   I hope that I can be the same example for everyone that I am in contact with as she has been for me!

This picture is 2 years old, but I love it – this is my sister and mom – 2 lovely ladies in my life.

This is a more recent picture of mom, dad & their 4 kids at their 65th wedding anniversary party last summer.

I’ve also been blessed to be the mother to 4 wonderful children, the mother-in-law to 4 terrific spouses and the grandmother to 4 beautiful grandchildren here on earth and 5 more that I will meet one day in heaven.  I’m thankful that God has entrusted me with the role of mom & grandma and love all of those that he has placed in my life, including my loving husband of 42 years (we just celebrated our anniversary yesterday!).  I hope that I will have the positive and godly influence in their lives that my mom has had in mine!!!  This is a picture of our gang at the beach last summer.  As always, spending time with all of them is so much fun!!!  We’re looking forward to another beach trip this summer.

I have spent the last few weeks sewing tiny gowns and bonnets in memory of our precious grandchildren in heaven, in honor of their moms and in the hope of bringing a small measure of comfort to the moms that will receive these gowns for their little ones.  This is something that I try to do each year as I celebrate Mother’s day and recognize that for some it is a hard day due to losses.  I donate gowns to both our SAGA guild, which passes them on to area hospitals as well as to the Caleb ministry – a local ministry that provides wonderful support and has many resources for those that have suffered loss.

I have recently been blessed to receive fabric & laces from others that are no longer able to make these little gowns.  I have used all of the gifted fabrics and laces for these recent projects.  Thank you to all of those that have participated with me in this endeavor by sending me the fabric and lace.  ❤️

I have been trying to make more “sets” as opposed to just gowns.  The first set is a blanket, bonnet & gown in pale yellow.  the accent flowers were done in lavender.  The smocking design on the gown is one that our local SAGA guild donated to convention as table favors one year.  This gown is the SAGA Wee Care gown pattern and the bonnet is a free download from Laurie Anderson – unfortunately, I cannot get the link to work.  The pretty cross design was purchased at From The Needle of Anne.  Her designs always stitch out beautifully.

My cell phone pictures are so much better color than the ones taken in the studio.  Definitely need my technical support guy to check out the “problem”.  LOL!

The next set is done in pale pink, though for some reason I couldn’t get the colors just right when I took the pictures.  The same gown and bonnet pattern were used and the cashmere flannel blanket is so soft and sweet.  The smocking design was one that our local SAGA guild donated one year for convention table favors.  I don’t remember what embroidery design I used for this, but I suspect that it was from Martha Pullen.

The last 2 gowns don’t have matching bonnets as there was only enough fabric for the gowns.  You know how whites don’t all match!  I didn’t want a mismatched set to go to a family.  The white cross design is another From The Needle of Anne and the smocking design was my beaded design that was featured in a SAGA news magazine.

The aqua and white smocking design is an out of print design from Kathy Crisp called Tiny Baby Bishops – it is a favorite of mine to smock on these little gowns.  The cross on that dress is a Martha Pullen design from many years ago.

I have 4 more bonnets and gowns made up and ready to smock.  These are easy to pick up and work on when I’m traveling.  I like to have several on hand since they smock up so quickly.  I smocked all of these little sets while we traveled and enjoyed a weekend in the mountain with our friends.  I’ll leave you with these beautiful pictures from that trip.  Nothing can trump God’s beautiful handiwork!!!

The first waterfall we visited was spectacular!!!  We were able to walk behind it as well.

The second waterfall we visited was also pretty, but not nearly as impressive as the first.

We also did a small (2 mile) hike up the mountain.  We were up 4,000 ft.  The views were breathtaking from all angles!

I look forward to more stitching this week!  I’m working on a pretty embroidered pillow that I hope to share soon!!!  I pray that you will be able to count your many blessings as you stitch something beautiful!

 

 

 

My Kaleidoscope Tote

I’ve been on a hand-stitching binge lately and have had the best time embroidering a tote bag.  I wanted to make something that was fun to stitch, useful and something that a stitcher could enjoy.  I think I hit the mark on all levels and am very pleased with the end result.

I love the way that the flowers pop on the black denim!!!  It’s a festival of bright and colorful flowers.  Many have been created with simple stitches while others are more difficult.  I enjoyed every stitch!!!   I have submitted this as a potential class to teach – I think many would enjoy it and would especially enjoy making something for themselves!

I have used this tote pattern for many years – it’s a favorite of mine – my own pattern.  In the past, I’ve only done machine embroidery on the front.  This has a totally different look.  I add pockets as I envision they will be used.  For this tote, I wanted a pocket large enough to carry my iPad.  I have that on the back of the tote and it carries on the bright and fun theme.

Of course, there’s a pocket for a water bottle on the side.  I always have water with me, so that was a given.

Inside features many more pockets for holding all of those necessities that I carry when I pack up for a class or a trip and will have my stitching projects with me.

I have a much harder time getting a good picture of the inside that also has good lighting.  You’ll have to use your imagination!  There are pockets with elastic on both sides, a long pocket with elastic on the side that isn’t visible and then a smaller pocket with exposed zipper teeth to hold those smaller things that you don’t want to lose.

I reinforce the bottom of the bag so that it is sturdy.  I cannot stand soft and floppy bags.  This will hold up to lots of wear and tear.  I now wish I’d added some sort of loop with a snap that I could attach my scissors to.  Those always seem to get lost in the bag somewhere!!!  Oh well…..it’s always something.  Perhaps I’ll have to make another one and will include that.

I had to tweak my pattern a bit so accommodate all of the embroidery.  Here’s what the bag looks like with monograms.  With this fabric, it’s easier to see the pockets as well as the inside.

I did not include the side pockets inside on this version of the tote and the pocket on the outside isn’t large enough for a water bottle, nor is the back pocket large enough for an iPad.

I’ve made this tote so many times that I’ve lost count!!!

 

I’m not sure what’s on the agenda next, but I know I’ll be stitching something!!!

How To Make A Scalloped Hem Tutorial

Scalloped hemlines are all the rage and it’s no surprise – they are so cute!!!  This tutorial will focus on how to adapt a regular shorts pattern for a scalloped hemline.   It is best to use a pattern with no side seam if possible.  This eliminates bulk and creates a seamless line for the scalloped hem.  However, shorts (or dresses) with a seam can be used, the directions will be similar.  The side seam will need to be stitched first and then follow the directions for creating the scallops.

If the pattern chosen has a side seam, eliminate the side seam by placing the front pattern piece and the back pattern piece together at the side seam and pin or tape together. If there is a curve to the side seams, match up the seams at the widest part of the shorts, as shown (not drawn to scale).

It is important to keep the grainlines accurate on both the front and back of the shorts.   Draw a line (shown in red) across the upper edge as well as the lower edge creating a single pattern piece.  Note that the shorts front and/or back could have a curve, which will be eliminated when the line is drawn.  Cut shorts from fashion fabric and mark front and back.

Decide on the number of scallops desired for the shorts.  Measure across the hem of the shorts, from seam line to seam line and divide that measurement by the number of scallops desired (ie. 22.5” across hem divided by 15 scallops = 1.5” wide scallops).  The shorts pictured in aqua have a scallop that is approximately 2″ across.

Scallop depth is mostly personal preference.  However, using approximately the bottom 1/2 of a circle creates a pretty scallop (my opinion!) that is much like what is seen on most Lilly Pulitzer style hems.  Using more of the circle shape is less appealing (my opinion).

To create the scallop (sample shows a 1-1/2” scallop, individual scallop widths will vary), find a small circle object (small can, glass, etc.) or use a circle template and draw a scallop using only approximately the bottom 1/3 of the circle.  Create a template of the scallop shape from cardboard or plastic.

On the wrong side of the shorts, draw the scallops across the bottom of the shorts, starting at one seam allowance and stopping at the opposite seam allowance.  Do not cut the scallop shapes.  This will be done after sewing.

Always mark Front and Back.

To make unlined shorts, use the shorts pattern and make a facing by drawing a line up from the hem, 2-1/2” above the bottom line of the pattern (a different depth can be used if desired).

Cut out 2 facings and mark the front and back on the facings.  Sew the inseam.  Press seam allowance open.

Sew the shorts inseam and finish seam allowance.  Press.

Pin facings to the shorts, right sides together and stitch along the drawn line for the scallops, pivoting at the peaks.  Stitch carefully as this will be the finished shape of the scallops.

Trim the seam allowance to ¼”, trimming slightly smaller in the peak area.  Clip into the points.  There is no need to clip the curves.  The scallops will look smoother without clipping the curves.  Turn right sides out and press.

Press under ¼” at the top edge of the facings.  Stitch the hem with a straight stitch.  This is more durable for play clothes.  A ribbon trim can be added over the straight stitching if desired.

Finish crotch seam and upper edge of shorts following the directions in the shorts pattern that is being used.

The same technique can be used for creating scallops at the hemline of dresses – shift style or full dresses.

 

I hope that this tutorial will help you as you move forward and create your own beautiful scalloped hemlines!

Kathy

 

Sewing, Stitching and Spring

Spring has arrived in the south and I am enjoying every bit of the beauty of it!!!  Everything is in bloom.  The new season has me ready to create new things!!!

I have done some machine embroidery – beautiful towel sets for newlyweds.  I always enjoy giving monogrammed towel sets and the bride is usually thrilled to have something with her new initial/name on it.  The pretty background of the design is an embossed design from Embroidery Library and the initial is from Embroitique.  Both stitched out nicely.

Spring is a time of numerous birthdays and anniversaries in our family, so there’s always a get together.  This year the weather was spectacular for our celebration – sunny and warm.  I had 2 dresses ready for the little girls to enjoy wearing and they happily put them on and twirled away!  I neglected to take a picture of the 2 girls wearing the dresses as they twirled away.  There is a video, but I don’t think I can post videos.  Just imagine the twirly fun!!!

Here’s a picture of the white dress being twirled in – so, so twirly!!!  This picture is several years old – back when I made the dress the first time.

As I’ve enjoyed the beautiful blooming flowers this spring, it has invited me back to some hand embroidery, which I’ve enjoyed doing.

A few months ago I started looking at pictures of  traditional Scandinavian embroidered clothing.  I wanted to try some of the beautiful stitching, but chose to do something small so that it would likely get finished.  I chose a traditional style Scandinavian bonnet.  Because I was making a bonnet for a little one, I didn’t want to go with the usual black or red background and brightly colored stitching, rather I chose softer spring colors.

After seeing the beautiful Wisteria in bloom, the green and lavender colors won the day!

I really enjoyed building and combining the stitches to create the look that I was going for.  A traditional bonnet would have been stitched in wool threads and a different sort of design, but this is my interpretation of the style.  I felted a wool sweater and embroidered both sides of the bonnet.  There’s plenty of blank canvas to embroider the back/top as well, but I chose to only stitch over the back seam and leave the rest of it plain.

I stitched the Hungarian Braided Chain stitch over the side seams and then embroidered the back seam of the bonnet with the Palestrina Stitch.  Both were fun to do and I continue to sharpen my embroidery skills while working on these.

The inside of the bonnet is lined with a knit fabric with a sweet rosebud print – it is what I had on hand and the colors were right.  Unfortunately I neglected to take a picture of that.

I’m not sure what I’ll be stitching next, but I think it will be finishing up an embroidered project from a recent class that I took.  Here’s a sneak peek – a quick shot with my phone.  I was practicing my granito stitches – still room for improvement, but I enjoyed stitching them!

I’ll leave you a picture from our trip last weekend to Savannah for the wedding of a young couple that we know.  The bride has been part of our family for the last several years and we were so thrilled to be part of the wedding!  We enjoyed some beautiful weather in Savannah and I loved watching the cargo boats coming in to unload – I’ve never seen such huge ships!!!

I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful spring weather as well as some spring/summer stitching!!!