Buttons, Buttons, Buttons…..

Let’s talk about buttons today. Buttons can make or break a garment! There are beautiful buttons available and while they can enhance your garment, if executed incorrectly, they can wreak havoc on an otherwise wonderful garment – both on a front buttoning or back buttoning garment. Today we’ll talk about the blouse, but the same rules hold true for a dress that would button in the back.

A pattern will always include the size of the button required for the garment. But what happens when the button of choice is a different size than what the pattern calls for? Often times the button is chosen after the garment has been sewn and you wish to use what is on hand or you’re shopping for the perfect button and it is a different size? It’s not OK to use a different size button or the finished garment will not look balanced. It is ALWAYS best to choose your button prior to starting on your garment!

The button size is ALWAYS the same as the lap on the blouse.

When the blouse is buttoned, the center fronts should sit exactly on top of each other. For illustration purposes, the underneath part of the blouse is shown raised, but on the finished blouse, the neckline will be aligned.

The button is sewn to the center front of the blouse. In general, the buttonhole size is the size of the button (in this case, 1/2″) + 1/8″ (the depth of the button). For this example, that would require a 5/8″ buttonhole. If a particularly thick button will be used, then the buttonhole would need to be longer.

Going forward, the diagrams show the finished blouse edges, not the cutting lines. Make adjustments to the finished edges and then add the seam allowance.

The buttonhole placement is important as well. The buttonhole ends 1/8″ away from the center front. It is also positioned 1/2″ below the finished neckline (width of the button, shown in the first diagram). When executed properly, the amount of the blouse showing both above the button as well as from the edge of the button to the edge/fold of the blouse will be the radius (half the width/diameter) of the button. With this example, that would be 1/4″.

If a different size button will be used, then the lap needs to be adjusted BEFORE you begin cutting out and sewing the garment. So, if a 5/8″ button will be used, then then lap will need to be 5/8″ from center front to the edge (whether foldline or seamline) of the blouse. Do this by drawing a line in 1/8″ away from the center front (shown in red). Adjust the neckline as well. This will be the new pattern piece for the blouse. A 3/4″ buttonhole (5/8″ + 1/8″ – buttonhole depth) would be needed. It will still end 1/8″ away from the center front.

The button and buttonhole placement will need to be adjusted from placement on the original pattern in order to accomodate the 5/8″ size button.

Using a different size button than the size that was intended will result in poor results and will not look balanced on the finished blouse, as shown below. The button ends too close to the edge of the blouse front.

Don’t be afraid to use a different size button than what the pattern calls for, just remember to adjust the pattern prior to cutting and sewing and you’ll be much happier with the results! Have fun with some designer buttons!!!

Happy stitching!

A Few More January 2024 “Makes”

As I attempt to do a better job at sharing my sewing journey with everyone, I realized that I haven’t shown all of my January “makes”. In our frigid weather, I managed to get one outfit completed each week!!! I’m sure that pace won’t hold up for all of 2024. LOL!

The second make of the year was another dress that I was working on to go along with our SAGA Dogwood “Slow-Along”. It was another one that didn’t get saved for demo purposes – I just couldn’t save it that long. I ended up finishing it and loved how it turned out!

For this dress, I used my Betsy pattern. It is a vintage reproduction and a style that I love. I had some mother of pearl blue buttons that I used on the front of the dress – so sweet!!! I love this style with the pleats in the front and smocking in the front & back. I made up an original smocking design for this dress.

My 3rd make of the year was the dress version of my newest pattern – Vintage T-Romper and Dress. This turned out as sweet as I thought it would!

I think that this would be the sweetest dress for beach pictures!!! Of course, it is just as sweet when it is made from casual fabrics. I’ve made the romper version of the pattern in both heirloom styles as well as casual. Of course, I love the heirloom versions!!!

I love that the romper is a unisex one and equally cute either way!

My 4th make of the year was a dress that I’ll be sending off to the Appalachian kids ministry (Putting Prayers To Action). I love being able to sew and support this ministry!!! After completing the dress, I add undies, socks, PJ’s and a blouse to go with the dress. This ministry supports the most vulnerable families with clothing, toiletries, food and more. If you don’t sew but would like to participate, go to the webpage – they have a link with all of the current needs as well as a way to donate funds.

In addition to getting these dresses sewn, I also finished up a handbook for sewing a smocked yoke dress. This handbook is to be used in conjunction with any yoke dress, shirt or romper. It covers every aspect of constructing the garment – planning, pleating, smocking as well as avoiding all the pitfalls of collar construction, modifying vintage pattern styles, showing lots of sleeve & hem options.

If you’ve struggled with constructing a yoke dress, this may be a great option for you!

Needless to say, January was a very productive month! I do hope to enjoy creating many more patterns in the coming months. Sometimes this process goes quickly, but most of the time it takes LOTS of time. I hope you’ve enjoyed some stitching time already this year!!!

PDF Pattern Tutorial

As a seller of PDF patterns, I constantly get messages from buyers that have “problems”, most frequently with their downloads. Fortunately, the problems aren’t problems with the pattern or download, but rather problems that the buyer is experiencing due to being new to PDF patterns and not fully understanding how to use them. Because of this, I’ve created a PDF pattern tutorial/guide that I hope will be helpful to those that are newer to PDF patterns.

In this tutorial (you can download by clicking on the “download” box), I cover the process of buying on Etsy, downloading the pattern, printing the pattern & assembly of the pattern. It is complete with pictures for those that, like me, are visual learners. It is my hope that those new to PDF patterns will use this reference as a guide to make their PDF pattern experience a good one so that they can use them with confidence.

I’ve also included a short description of how the Etsy platform regards the reviews that buyers leave. It’s not quite as favorable as you might think.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions to improve my tutorial! Happy stitching!!!

First Dress Of 2024

Our SAGA guild is doing a yoke dress “Slow-along”. Each month a different aspect of the yoke dress will be covered, samples shown and demonstrations. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!!!

As one of the presenters at the meetings, I made a plan to have several dresses at different stages of construction so that they could be used as examples of how to do the various parts of construction. It was a great plan! I started on a few dresses. However, I’ve discovered that “Slow-along” is not my forté. LOL! Once I get going on a dress, I get so excited to see the finished garment that it’s really hard for me to put it aside for a few months.

Well, that’s exactly what happened with this dress! I did work slow – it took me 4 days to complete it, which is MUCH longer than normal. But, in the end, I just had to finish it. I guess I’ll be working on other dresses as it gets closer to each meeting so that I don’t run into this same issue. Hahaha!!!

This is the finished dress and I’m so thrilled with how it turned out! The dress is made from Imperial Batiste. That makes it very practical as it is easy wash and wear with minimal, if any, ironing needed. The smocking was done with 2 strands of DMC floche and the embroidery on the collar, sleeves and hem was done with 1 strand of DMC floche. Of course, if floche isn’t readily available, the smocking could be done with 3 strands of DMC floss and the embroidery with 2 strands and it would look very similar.

The sleeves have just a touch of embroidery added. I think it’s a sweet addition!

The bodice features 3 tucks on each side of the center with 2 flowers embroidered in the center panel. The collar has groups of embroidery all around.

The back features baby blue mother of pearl shank buttons and the collar has a bit of embroidery in the back as well (due to a mistake! – but I like the end result!!!).

The hem has been pinstitched with #80 weight thread and a size 110 Schmetz Jeans needle.

2024 is off to a great start! I’ve enjoyed every stitch of this pretty dress and can’t wait to work on the next one. Stay tuned…..

Keep on stitching!

Kathy

Happy New Year!

Today marks the beginning of another new year – new adventures to take, new skills to learn, new friends to make, etc. I hope and pray that the new year will bring health, contentment & joy to each of you!

I am not one to make new year resolutions. That said, I will keep my thoughts for the new year to be sewing related. I like to look back at the previous year to see what I accomplished and then look forward to this new year and see what I want to accomplish. My goals for that tend to be very similar from year to year. I want to keep learning new techniques, new stitches and try new patterns. I also plan to continue to put new patterns in my Etsy shop as I can get them finished. I enjoy designing the patterns and I continue to learn and improve my illustration skills so that the patterns as well as the illustrations are the best that I can do.

Our SAGA guild is doing a “Yoke Dress Slow-Along”. In February I will be doing a segment on collars, so I’ve been working on a few samples that I can use as demonstration examples. Wouldn’t you know that I ended up with a problem!!! I made a mistake. Rather than fretting about the mistake, I considered it a design opportunity.

Yesterday I worked on embroidering collars for this project. In spite of the fact that I had clearly marked the center front, I somehow ended up marking the placement dots for the flowers on the collar backs. Ugh! It wasn’t until I had the 4th of 6 flowers completed that I discovered my mistake. My first thought was that I would complete the group of 3 flowers on the back and then do them on the collar fronts (where they should have been in the first place!) and that the dress would look pretty both coming and going. However, I still felt that this might look like a corrected mistake – which it was. Then I had the brilliant idea to add a group of 3 flowers to the center of the collar and voila – now it is a design element and not a mistake! Excuse the unpressed collar – it is still drying from when I soaked out the blue wash-out marker.

I’m going to count this as my first new year success – I didn’t have to un-stitch anything and I like the new design even more than just having 3 flowers at the collar front! I often find that a mistake can result in some creative thinking and then end up being something that I wouldn’t have considered but end up liking a lot! I am going to have to hold myself back from finishing up this dress – I need to save it for February!

Easter comes early this year, so if you will be making pretty Easter dresses, it’s time to start on those!!! I hope you might consider some of my favorite patterns from my Etsy shop. Here’s a few of them that are favorites:

First up is an all time favorite of mine – Ella’s Easter dress. I designed and made this for our first granddaughter and this is her wearing it 13 years ago. I still love it!

Next up is Juliette – a lovely dress with lace bodice & sleeves – so perfect for Easter, portraits, weddings, etc. I made this version with ecru val laces for Livvy (above) and with pink embroidered Swiss trims for Eva (below).

Suzette is another favorite of mine that I made for all 3 girls one easter – this is one of my favorite Easter pictures!

The last inspiration I’ll leave you with today is Gwenyth. I loved making this dress. Ella wore this for her baptism, which makes it extra special to me!

I hope that this new year will be a time for you to learn some new things – sewing, embroidering, smocking, etc. As always, keep on stitching!!!

Kathy

Fancy Band Frustrations!

This post from 2015 definitely needs to be shared again as we get ready for those holiday dresses!

You know what I’m talking about – those beautiful fancy bands that grace the special heirloom dresses. True labors of love!  I love working with lace.

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It is such a delight to see these beautiful creations being worn by the special little ones in our lives! They look so angelic and sweet. Then that moment comes, that horrifying moment when those sweet little feet step on the band and the damage is done – the beautiful band is torn. Well, I have 2 of those mishaps that needed repair work. Ugh!  A truly dreaded task!!!

As I cleaned up in the sewing room last week, I came across the more recent disaster.  I’m sure that you’ll recognize this dress. This dress was originally made for Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine (Issue #84).

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Then a few short years after publication, I was thrilled to see Ella wearing it for Easter and her little sister Eva wearing a blue dotted Swiss day gown to co-ordinate. They were adorable.

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Isn’t that the sweetest picture ever!!!  Cousin Livvy also wore a dotted Swiss dress and was equally cute.

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This dress was featured in SB #146 and was appropriately called Olivia’s Easter dress.

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However, before we could get pictures of all 3 little girls together in their dresses, the dastardly deed happened and the fancy band was torn.  🙁  Thank goodness for a pretty slip underneath!

The time had come to fix this dress while I still have enough eyesight left to pick out those stitches. Imagine my delight when I discovered that I had already picked out the torn lace on the blue dress!!! Oh the joy! The job of repair just got infinitely easier.

While I was at it, I knew that I should also fix the torn fancy band that has been waiting for 19+ years for repair. This was worn by our youngest daughter, Lauren, for Christmas when she was 4 or 5 years old. She wore that dress several times before the band was torn. I pulled that one out as well – might as well get both of them done.

Here’s the only picture I could find of her in the dress. I kindly cropped out the rest of the kids in their very 90’s outfits! LOL! They will be happy for the cropping!

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I wish I could say that I had already picked out this torn lace, but alas, that wasn’t the case. Not only had I not picked out the lace, but I apparently had the not so bright idea to cut away the torn lace close to the header. Bad idea!!! I also managed to make a bad mistake even worse. Before realizing that I had not properly removed the damaged lace, I starched (aka: glued) the lace heavily in preparation for sewing. Oy! Now the nearly invisible stitches were glued to the fancy band! What a horrible job that ended up being!!!  I think I spent 6+ hours un-sewing.

Finally, I was ready to begin the actual repair work. As I mentioned – I heavily starched all the lace areas – the laces attached to the dress as well as the lace to be re-inserted. I soaked the laces with starch and let them dry over night. Once dry, I pressed everything and began.  (excuse the wrinkles – I wasn’t pressing the entire dress when I knew they would need pressing once finished!)

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The new lace was attached to one side of the lace (doesn’t matter which side you chose to start with). I started and stopped the lace about 1-1/2″ away from the side seam so that I could accurately sew the lace seam and have it fit properly. I marked the lace with a blue wash out marker exactly where the side seam should be, then french seamed the lace. At that point I was able to stitch the final section of lace on.

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As you can see in the top picture, the original lace band top edges don’t meet exactly.  As I stitched the new lace to the original band, I carefully stitched over that section making sure that I caught the header threads of both laces. It ended up smooth when I was finished.  Disguised very well.

Next in order was re-attaching the band to the dress lace section. Before doing this, use a blue wash out marker and mark the dress/lace as well as the band/lace in sections.  Side seams and center front and center back should be marked first. Then mark half way between these marks as well (see red arrows). This gives you guide lines as you stitch the lace band back to the dress. Without marking, it is likely that either the upper lace or the lower lace will feed through the machine unevenly and the result will be that there will be extra lace on either the upper or lower band that will be too much to ease back in. Marking the sections allows you to ensure that everything fits back in place. UPDATE – you can also use a water soluble stabilizer underneath everything to help stabilize while you are stitching.

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Once the bands were back on both dresses, they needed to first have the blue marks rinsed out. Do this with cold water ONLY – no detergent!!! Then the dresses needed to be washed.  

The white dress had really gotten dingy looking from years of storage.  I went for the Retro Clean to brighten up the dress. This stuff works wonders!!!

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A couple of hours of soaking the white dress and it looked new again. I’ll let the “before” and “after pictures speak for themselves. I didn’t Photoshop the colors on either of them.

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As you can well imagine – I highly recommend this product!  It worked wonders in just a couple of hours.  In case you need more convincing, here’s a picture of another dress that was whitened more recently. I discovered that the ingredient in Retro Clean is sodium peborate, which can be purchased without being repackaged as Retro Clean or Restoration. These are all the same, so any one of them can be used for whitening. the picture below shows the whitened dress on a yellow background vs. the yellowed dress on a white background – such a difference!!!

So, a day of work is done.  Both dresses are fixed and ready for the next wearing! Hopefully the next wearing won’t involve torn fancy bands. However, if they do, well, I’d rather have the dresses be worn rather than just decorating the closets. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Lauren’s Christmas dress will fit Ella this year. That way I’m ahead of the game for Christmas dresses!

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I hope that you don’t have to repair fancy bands. The job isn’t fun, but in the end, it was well worth it!

Keep on stitching……

Kathy

Perfectly Pretty Smocked Peasant Top & Dress

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This was first posted in 2014. I’m updating the post today. 😊

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This is my “Perfectly Pretty” top on my sweet granddaughter when she was 2 years old.  It was featured in Sew Beautiful magazine in 2013 and I was thrilled to see that it made the cover photo of Issue #149.

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Since then, I’ve added sizes as well as improved the directions and now offer this top/dress in my Etsy shop in sizes 12 mo. – 10. I’ve made this top so many times and it’s always been a hit. While I realize that we are currently heading into cooler weather, it’s a great pattern to whip up for those holiday vacations to warm destinations as well as for future warm weather!

As you can see, it makes a great summer dress as well! Nice and cool for those warm days! It’s cute on both big girls as well as little ones! Excuse the bad picture!!!

It also makes a wonderful top to accompany shorts or bloomers as well.

As you can see, the Perfectly Pretty pattern has lots of possibilities!

Leaving you with a picture that will make you smile! Happy stitching!

Kathy

Technology (I-Pad) And Smocking

I thought that this post was definitely worth reviving since I still am a fan of using my iPad for smocking!

First, let me preface that I am a far cry from being a technological wizard. LOL!  This statement alone will send my husband into hysterical laughter!  So for those that are technologically advanced or under the age of 40, this post isn’t for you unless you just want a good laugh, which I’m happy to provide. However, for the old mature ladies that may also suffer from technological challenges as well as poor vision, you’ll want to keep reading!  I am sure that I have at least one mature smocker on the edge of her seat at this moment!!!  (well, in my imagination I do anyway!)

My eyesight has never been good, and as I’ve become a woman of a certain age, my eyesight has diminished as well. This isn’t a good thing when it comes to smocking and embroidery. You do actually need to “see” what you’re doing to be successful at it.  I do use magnification when stitching, and that is so helpful, but I needed even more help than that! This is where my iPad comes in.

My husband is always helping me and looking for ways to make it easier for me to do the things that I enjoy – particularly smocking. I was thrilled to learn that I could enlarge (to ginormous proportions!) my smocking designs.  He has the iPad set up so that I can access all my documents – therefore, all the smocking designs that I’ve designed. (I know many of you are so smart and already know this stuff, but I needed his help!)  Not only do I have access to my smocking designs, but I also have access to all the free designs that can be downloaded from the internet as well as the PDF smocking designs available for purchase.

Prior to Christmas, I purchased Janet Gilbert’s Elf design and smocked it on a dress for my granddaughter. My husband observed me trying to do the balancing act with my iPad perilously perched on the arm of my easy chair while smocking the insert for the dress. No easy task!  He immediately researched and purchased an iPad stand.  He gave it to me for Christmas!  Oh – how sweet it is!!!  I’ve used this several times already!

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My armchair isn’t pictured – I had to resort to a chair that I could carry into the photography room as I’m not a photographer either! Observe how fabulous this device is – I can adjust it to any level and get it as close to my eyes as needed! As easily portable as it is, I can pack it up and take it on vacation with me as well. This was a win!!!

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This stand is stable, can be adjusted and/or rotated. The upper portion of the stand is flexible, so can be bent to just the right place. You could also use this standing up if you wanted to use it as a music stand. While there are lighter weight and cheaper versions available, I like the sturdiness of this stand. What a fabulous addition to my smocking “tools”.  The iPad stays securely attached.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have that smocking design zoomed in to gigantic so that every stitch is easily seen!!!  You can do this!

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In case you’re interested, the smocking design is one of mine that was featured in Sew Beautiful magazine (July 2011) and is a free download on their website. Perfect for your summer smocking!

My latest smocking project using my iPad and stand has been a baptism outfit for our new grandson. I downloaded the free cross design from Michié.  She has generously shared so many free designs on her blog – you definitely want to check it out. I zoomed in on that one and finished up his outfit. It is so sweet and he’ll be wearing it in a few weeks when he is baptized.

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Even more recently, I have discovered that I can use my iPad as a light-box of sorts to trace embroidery designs. In order to do this, I first had to adjust the brightness on my iPad. Go to the iPad settings, find the brightness and adjust it there.

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After adjusting the brightness as bright as it will go, I pulled up the embroidery design that I wanted to trace.  It is just a bit tricky as  you must have one hand on the screen to hold it in place (keep it from moving around) while you’re tracing. But, with sheer fabrics and a size embroidery design that fits the screen of the iPad, this works pretty well.

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I hope that this has helped at least one of my sewing friends – after all, we all want to be able to enjoy the fine art of embroidery and smocking as long as we have eyes to see and hands that can still stitch!

This post was written in 2015. Since that time, I have found other uses for the IPad. Post surgery, it was wonderful to be able to enjoy watching movies while laying in bed. It is also a great way to read a book using the kindle feature if your hands tire while holding the IPad. I prefer reading all my kindle books on the IPad due to the larger font. Isn’t technology great!

So, with that, this technological non-wizard will sign off and get back to some sewing and smocking!

Happy stitching……

Kathy

Annalise Top

This is a repost from 2014! My, the time has flown by!!! My little princess has her 11th birthday today!!!

I did have the opportunity to stitch out an adorable Snow Princess on one of my Annalise tops.  I am thrilled with it and the little princess that will wear it immediately recognized it.

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Update – Janet’s website is no longer available.

Fortunately I had some sparkly rick rack in my stash in both pink as well as white.  I couldn’t decide on which one to use, so I used them both!  Because the points were the same distance apart and only the height of the peaks were different, I was able to use them together and the end result was not only interesting, but I think that it goes well with the snow theme.

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This went along so well with the snowflakes in the smocking – which I added one strand of silver metallic thread for sparkle effect. As you can see, the little princess O is adorable in her top!!!

The Annalise top is one of my newest SAGA approved classes.  The top for the class is done in vibrant colors and has a cap sleeve. The pattern is also available in my Etsy shop with 3 different sleeve variations – angel sleeve, short sleeve & 3/4 length sleeves! It comes in sizes 6 mo. – 8.

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The original pattern was called Temily and was in Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine #80 several years ago. The original pattern had a 3/4 length sleeve which is perfect for our mild winters in the south. The Etsy pattern has all the sleeve variations!

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I have smocked this top with the different sleeve options so many times and in so many sizes now that I have lost count.  Each one seems to be my new favorite!  It is quick to smock, easy to wear and a little more trendy.  Both kids and moms seem to love it.  I am thrilled to be able to offer the wider range of sizes in the pattern teaching kits.

I’ll share some of the cute versions that I’ve created over the past several years.  I cannot chose a favorite – they are all favorites!

In the 2 samples below I added some width to the sleeves which made them fuller but allowed for a smocked ruffle at the hem. This isn’t included in the pattern, but it easy to adapt.

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OK – I have to stop!  As you can see, this is really one of my favorite tops and with the sleeve variations can be worn all year long.  Different trims, smocking designs and themes allow this top to have unlimited creativity but still be a quick project.  I hope that this will encourage some young moms to learn this fine art of smocking!

Happy Stitching!

Kathy

Changing A Bishop Sleeve

This is re-post of a past blog post, with a few additional comments.

Because styles vary from year to year, I wanted to change up the sleeve of the bishop dress so that it was a bit more contemporary. I redrafted the sleeve to the bishop dress pattern from the bishop pattern that I normally use and put the dress together so that I could smock it while on vacation.  I always make my bishop dresses as ready-to-smock. Instructions on how to do that are available in my Etsy shop (kathysheirloomshop). I love having a completed dress when the smocking is finished.  I was very happy with the end results!

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Smocking on prints is always challenging for me, and this was no exception.  I took along several different colors of floss as well as several different smocking plates.  In the end, I decided to use Creative Keepsake’s “Mackenzie” design.  It is similar to the Children’s Corner “Firelight”, which I’ve always loved on prints and plaid fabrics.  I think that the use of the 2 colors is very subtle and compliments the print nicely.

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The micro check gingham for the bias at the neck and sleeves adds a little brightness to the fall-ish print.  The micro check was also used for covered buttons in the back.

Now, for a few details on how  the sleeves were redrafted.  You’ll notice that they are not smocked.  I wanted less full sleeves, so smocking them wasn’t practical as that would require more fullness than I wanted.  To reduce the fullness in the sleeves, I creased the sleeve in several places and put some 1/4″ tucks at the creases and pinned them down as  seen on the furthest tuck on the right.  After I felt that enough fullness was removed, the new sleeve was redrawn with the top edge drawn as a smooth line from one side to the other.

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The next thing to do was to reduce the depth under the arm.  The finished sleeve depth under the arm is about 1/2″.  Then, the final step was to raise the lower edge of the sleeve by drawing a curve (an upside down “U” shape) from one side seam to the other.  I didn’t have a particular formula for this, just an educated guess.  This is the new sleeve.

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After the new sleeve was created, the dress front, sleeves and back were sewn and the bishop dress pleated as normal.  However, when the bias band was attached to the dress, the pleats in the front and back of the dress were kept tightly together while the sleeve pleats were spread out. At this point, the pleating threads could be removed from the sleeves and the dress front and back tied off as needed.  The short sleeves were gathered at the bottom and bias band was attached.  The bias band for the sleeves was adjusted and made slightly longer (measure your child for accurate measurement) since the different shaped opening requires a little more room than the normal smocked sleeve.  The remainder of the dress was constructed.

This was a fun dress to make and turned out so cute and was a big hit!!!

If this is something that you want to try, don’t be afraid to experiment!

Happy stitching!

Kathy