Girls and Dolls

I’ve had such a great time sewing for the little girls and their dolls this past week!!!  When I delivered the dresses and matching doll dresses, the little girls squealed with delight!  That makes it all worthwhile.  They immediately dressed their dolls and had to show me.

I let Ella and Eva choose fabric when they visited a week ago.  They aren’t necessarily what I would have chosen, but they are what the girls wanted, so that’s what I made. I have pinned the doll dress to the little girl dresses in all the pictures.  I hope that will be visible enough.

The first dress was the Children’s Corner  “Lillian” pattern.  I had a matching stripe fabric that I used to make a center panel and trimmed the panel with large rick rack.

I took a commercial doll pattern and changed it up a bit to look more like the Lillian pattern.

Extra large buttons finished off the front of the dress.

I had to take a picture of the back of the dress to show how matching the design is such a great idea – it makes the pattern on the back of the dress flow so nicely and seamlessly.  My friend, Joan Messinger would give her approval on this – she always matches everything perfectly!!!

The next dress was the Children’s Corner “Lucy” dress.  This continues to be a favorite pattern of mine for a quick dress.  Eva was adamant that she needed the flamingo fabric!  LOL!  Now, we’ll see if she will wear it.  She is very opinionated about her choice of clothing (at 4 years old!) and has nixed most of the things that I make.  I think that the doll dress may be the ticket to wearing this outfit, but we’ll see.

I used the same pattern for her doll dress as I did for Ella’s doll dress, but changed it up for shoulder snaps.  Silly me, I didn’t think about it being more tricky for a 4-year-old to pull up a dress on a doll.

The cherry outfit was my choice.  I used the Bonnie Blue “Claire” pattern for this outfit.  I had heard that these patterns run very large, so I made a size smaller than I would have normally chosen, and it is still very roomy on Ella.  I trimmed the top with spaghetti bias and then used the same for the shorts to tie it all together.

The smocking design is one that I have drafted and changed up a bit for each outfit that I make.  I still am not 100% satisfied with it, so will do a few more changes the next time I stitch it.

I tied the spaghetti bias into bows at the side seam of the shorts and then hand-stitched through the center of the bow to tack them so that they wouldn’t continually come undone.

Sorry for the slightly blurry back picture – it is the only one that I took and I didn’t realize that it’s not so sharp.  The double back buttons are cute, but I think they may be a bit tedious to do up for each wearing.  We’ll see how mom feels about this before I make another double back button top.  If it is too much trouble, I’ll draft the back to be a single button back.

I still need to make a matching doll set for the cherry outfit.  I’ve found a pattern that I think will work.

Because I’m saving the Frannie dress in my previous post for Livvy’s birthday in October, I needed to make her a dress and matching doll dress as well.  For her dress, I used one of my inserts from my stash of Beaux et Beaux inserts.  I always get questions about where to buy these inserts, so I’ll answer that right away – they are not selling the inserts any more.  Sometimes you can find an insert for sale on Ebay or Etsy.  I’m glad that I purchased so many when I did – they have come in handy when I’ve needed a quick dress and the quality of stitching is fabulous!

Livvy was thrilled with the “fairy” dress but noted right away that the dolly dress didn’t have a fairy on it!  Hahaha!!!  I should have used some machine embroidery for that, but didn’t want to spend the time hunting for the right size fairy for that.  Perhaps for Christmas…..

It continues to amaze me that these inserts are stitched with only 2 strands of floss for the picture smocking – such detail!!!

I love sewing for the little girls and happily will make matching dolly sets.  I know how quickly they grow up, so I’m enjoying this stage of their life!

I hope that you’re stitching something that you love!!!

Fabulous “Frannie” Dress

After a week of frantic sewing to meet deadlines last week, I chose to do some enjoyable sewing for the grandkids this week.  It was just what I needed!  I’ve had such fun working on this latest project.

One of my favorite dresses is the “Frannie” dress by Lyn Weeks.  The dress pattern was inspired by a vintage pattern, which I feel sure has something to do with why I love it.  I really love vintage pattern styles.  The sleeve treatment is a bit tricky to accomplish, which causes many seamstresses to give up on sewing this pattern.  I’ve been participating in a sew-along on one of the sewing forums, and it has been fun to see what everyone is working on.  I have finished my dress, along with the matching doll dress and am very pleased with the results.

The original pattern by Lyn has the doll dress pattern included in the larger sizes, which is called “Frannie’s Big Sister”.  Martha Pullen/Sew Beautiful purchased the pattern rights from Lyn several years ago and sold the pattern, but I’m not sure that you can still buy either of the patterns from them at this point.

The original patterns from Lyn came in a cream colored envelope.

In the pattern is a black and white photo of a suggested smocking design, but no graph for it. I have followed the picture in the past and smocked that design, which is quite pretty.  However, for this dress, I chose to use the design that I did for Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine for my “Paisley Park” outfit (Issue #84).

After getting the geometric smocking finished, I decided to not make the flower petals, but to leave the flower centers as polka dots and then did an outline stitch around the dots and a French knot in the center.  I think it goes well with the fabric.

For the matching doll dress, I attempted to mimic the design on a smaller scale.  I’m happy with they way that it turned out, though it has less detail.

The pattern looks big for the little girls, so I think I’ll save it for a birthday gift in October.  I think it’s going to be a hit!  After all, what little girl doesn’t love matching her dolly!!!

If you manage to find this pattern on the second hand market, you may want to pick it up since they are getting difficult to find.  I hope to start stitching a more traditional dress from this pattern next!

What fun projects are you stitching this summer???

 

 

Sweet Baby Bishop

I have finally had some time to do some relaxing sewing/smocking!  While we were away at the beach, I smocked such a sweet bishop dress that I wanted to make for a baby gift.  Another couple in our Bible study group just had their first granddaughter a few weeks ago.  So, this was the perfect opportunity to stitch a little dress for the baby.

It was so relaxing to sit and stitch without the pressure of deadlines.  I knew once we got home that I would be stitching with a deadline again, so I enjoyed every minute of this relaxing, no-pressure stitching.  Of course, being at the beach certainly helped!

After stitching the dress, I decided to keep my illustrator skills sharp and graph the design.  For my dress, I loved the pink/yellow combination, but any combination of pastels would be lovely.  I used DMC#963 & 3078.  I thought I’d share the smocking plate with my readers.  😊   I gave this smocking design the same name as the baby it was gifted to!

The hem treatment was so easy – I folded up the hem depth twice and then stitched the tuck, encasing the hem at the same time.  I added ribbon and a bow above the hem just for interest.  I think it’s a nice option to add just a bit of color.

I also stitched a couple of bonnets while I was at the beach, but I’ll save those for another post.

Upon my return home, I got right down to sewing the next dress for the Classic Sewing magazine.  If you enjoy smocking and heirloom sewing, you should consider a subscription to the magazine – it provides so many patterns and free downloads with each issue.

I just received my fall issue of the magazine last week and was thrilled to see how beautifully they photographed the dresses that I’d submitted for this issue!  Could the models be any cuter!!!

I guess that means that it’s time to think about some fall sewing!!!  What will you be stitching?

 

 

R & R

My super busy spring schedule has finally wound down and I’m now in R&R mode.  While I had planned to get some rest after this busy season, I am forced to rest now due to recovering from being ill.  Not my favorite rest, but rest nonetheless.

I enjoyed a lovely time with the Seaside Smockers guild in Virginia Beach.  What a wonderful group of ladies!!!  We had such fun stitching and sewing the Annalise top and then practicing picture smocking.  I’ve already seen some pictures of finished garments!

This group of ladies were ready to go!

I kept them working hard!

After returning from this workshop, I headed to Michigan for a visit with my folks and my sister.  I’m so blessed to have both of my parents still living on their own and I treasure the time that I get to spend with them.  Mom isn’t doing well and doesn’t get out much, but the promise of a visit to the ice cream store seemed to be just the right motivation for her to “feel better” one evening.

We visited “Norm’s Ice Cream” shop and they served the biggest small cone I’ve ever seen!!!

I love this picture of my mom and sister!  It was a moment in time where mom could forget her pain and enjoy her favorite treat.

Another afternoon we were able to get mom out of the house and we visited the temporary shops along the Lake Michigan shore.  These are the cutest little shops with unique gift items.  We walked along the row and checked out each shop during this non-busy time, which is very rare.

During this visit with mom, my sister and I took out mom’s entire collection of vintage, hand painted Bavarian cups & saucers and luncheon/dessert plates.  What a gorgeous collection!!! We put together 8 groups of these beautiful dishes – one group for each of her 8 granddaughters – and then my sister and I wrapped them up and boxed them for shipping.  Mom wanted each of the girls to have some special pieces that will remind them of her whenever they use these.  I wish we had thought to take a picture of all the pretty sets lined up – there were so many of them and each as beautiful as the next!

Our girls opened their gifts when we got together for our Father’s Day celebration.  They loved the beautiful dishes!!!

Check out all the beautiful cups and saucers on the counter!!!


So, after a lovely visit in MI, I returned home rather sick and have been faithfully taking my meds and resting since then.  We’ll be heading for the beach for some more R&R next week and I’m looking forward to it!  I hope to gather some stitching to take along with me so that I can get in some relaxing stitching time while I’m away.  I know I’ll enjoy that!

What beautiful things are you stitching during your summer vacation???

 

Busy! Sewing, Teaching and Drawing!!!

This is my busy month of travel.  Two weeks ago I was in Houston teaching for the Midnight Oil smocker’s guild and had a wonderful time with that group of ladies!  They did a fabulous job working on their techniques and dresses and I’ve seen a couple of pictures of the finished dress already.  No grass is growing under their feet!   This is the dress that they were making:

I’m heading out today to teach in Virginia for the Seaside Smockers guild.  I’m looking forward to a good workshop with them.  We will be doing the Annalise top and some picture smocking.

With my busy schedule, I haven’t had a lot of sewing time.  So, between classes I decided to do a bit of my charity sewing for the tiniest of babies.  I made several sets of the Teeny Tears diapers to go with the Wee Care gowns that our SAGA guild makes.  These were already cut out, so it was just a matter of sewing them.

Next up was a sweet little gown made for an under 1 lb. baby.  A set of diapers was made to match this gown as well.

The last project was for the Caleb Ministry and features some pretty, pin-stitched lace details.

In addition to sewing, I have been hard at work learning how to draw on the computer.  Several years ago I learned (with the help of Claire Meldrum) how to graph smocking designs on the computer.  It took several years along with many tears and frustration, but I finally “got” it.  I’m definitely NOT a computer person.

My goal at the beginning of last year was to become more proficient in Adobe Illustrator so that I could diagram stitches and techniques in my class notes.  I worked hard at it and have been able to do many of the stitches and diagrams, though not all.  So, these last couple weeks I’ve been working at learning some of the different “tools” available in the software.  I have really enjoyed the process and have learned more in the last couple weeks that I believe will make my drawings even better.

My first drawings were for a new correspondence class that I have been working on.  It is a French machine sewn bonnet, so involved drawing many illustrations of lace joining, which I’ve done before.  I expanded the illustrations and when the bonnet was finished, I drew a picture on the computer as well as took a photograph.  I’m quite pleased with the results.

The computer drawing of the bonnet:

I still can’t draw gathered lace very well, but that will improve with practice.  LOL!

Taking the drawing even further, and with the new brush tools I’ve learned, I have drawn a bishop dress.  I’m really happy with the results and think that they look very much like a charcoal sketch.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to!  Hopefully when I return I will be able to sew a bit more!  I hope that sewing is on your summer schedule!

Keep on stitching…..

Kathy

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

What a wonderful thing to have a day when we can celebrate the mother’s that helped form us into who we are today.  I have been blessed to have a godly, loving mom who has always been a great example to me.  She taught me what it was to be a child of God, has loved me unconditionally and encouraged me to do my best.

My aunt (mom’s sister) was also very influential in my life, as were both of my grandmother’s.  All godly women.  I took this picture of myself, mom and her sister last year shortly before my aunt passed away.  It’s not the best picture, but I’m glad that I have it.

Be sure and take time to celebrate you mom today!  If you mom is no longer with you, enjoy and celebrate the memories!

This past week I had plenty of time to play around in my sewing room, cleaning, organizing, etc. while hubby was away.  I did manage to finish up a couple of projects that were nearly finished.

The first project finished was a dress from SATB in January.  The dress is “Vintage Visions” by Trisha Smith.  It is the sweetest dress.  I had set it aside due to my questions about the embroidery design and pocket placement – thinking I had lost the embroidery template.  Once I realized that it was a freehand drawing I went ahead and drew in my design.  Fingers crossed that the pockets are in the right place!  I can’t wait to see this sweet dress on Livvy.

The next project was finishing up a top that I used for demonstration purposes at SATB.  The top is the Jane pattern from Classic Sewing magazine.  I finished up the top and made some shorts to go with it.

Ellas was excited about this outfit and I’m sure it will look so cute on her!  The whale design is from Junebug Designs, “Whale of A Tale” – if you can find it at and heirloom shop, snatch it up as it is out of print.

I hope to finish a few more UFO’s that I found this week!  Until then……

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Vintage Cobbler Apron

I have finally finished all the work required for a new class.  Yippee!!!  I’m thrilled with the finished apron!

This adorable apron pattern is inspired by a vintage pattern that was called a Cobbler Apron.  No idea why they would call a child’s apron a cobbler apron – children certainly aren’t cobblers.  LOL!  I adore this style!  It is just so cute and I couldn’t resist recreating a version of this apron that would be suitable for today.  I chose to maintain the vintage inspiration and call it a cobbler apron.

This is a new class that I’ve submitted to SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) for approval and the pattern will accompany the class.  If you have an interest in needle arts, I would encourage you to consider joining SAGA!  You can learn so much and enjoy stitching time with fellow enthusiasts!  There are always plenty of stitching options available around the country each year – both at local guilds as well as retreats and conventions.

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I don’t offer patterns for sale.  Just thought I’d put that out there since I always get questions regarding the patterns.

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Please disregard the “stuffing” on my form.  LOL!  I don’t have a form for a size 1, so a padded wire form is the current display.  I need to find another option for displaying smaller sizes!

I’ve embroidered a fun flower garden around the hem of the dress and surrounded the flowers with spaghetti bias for some extra interest and pop.  I just love this little apron!  Of course, I also can envision this as a cute skirt for older girls!  I will be working on something like that next!

The back is as cute as the front!  No two flowers are alike – that would be too boring!!!  Hahaha!!!

While I love the idea of this being worn alone as our children did and as was done for many years, it would also look so sweet over a yoke dress!  Pretty much any print, solid or gingham would work!

Pictured above and below is the first version of the dress. This version was stitched in pearl cotton.  The new version uses stranded floss, which is much easier to obtain and has many more colors available.  I do love the first version as well though!

I hope everyone else will be as excited about this new class/pattern as I am!!!

Now, off to begin a skirt…..

Kath

A Quick Bishop

This past week was one of R&R for me.  I stitched things that I love and enjoyed it!  Sometimes a week of R&R is just what is needed to rejuvenate.  One of my stitching projects was a bishop dress.  This was a quick bishop because I happened to find this ready-to-smock dress in the closet.  It’s practically vintage as it is at least 10 years old, and the fabric even older!  😛  There’s only a couple ready-to-smocks left in there.  I had sewn many RTS outfits several years ago – before grandchildren!  So, now it’s a real bonus to find one the right size and to be able to complete the smocking.

I had our wild little Eva in mind with this dress.  It’s a pretty wild print!  LOL!  Also, this is a poly/cotton piqué, so very easy care.  That’s a real bonus for busy moms!!!

I used my favorite bishop “dip” design method in order to smock just one figure on the front.   I do modify the “dip” design to accommodate different pictures, but the free design is a good starting place.  Then I chose a lady bug from Frances Messina Jone’s “Make A Ladybug Wish” plate.  This is available at many fine heirloom shops.  I love the way that it looks on this bright print!

It’s still not a sure thing that this will get worn.  When I brought it to Eva, she told me that she didn’t like it.  😂  She does have her opinions!  However, when I told her that I’d give it to Livvy, she changed her mind and said that she would keep it.  We’ll see – it may still go to Livvy!  LOL!

I also finished stitching and sewing my sample garment for a new class and loved the way that it turned out.  I’ll share that in the next post.  Until then, keep on stitching!!!

Wedding, Chicago and Workshop!!!

So, it’s been a little while since my last post.  Well, we’ve been busy!!!  Our youngest daughter got married on 4/8 and it was a perfect day for it.  The weather was outstanding and she was a beautiful bride!  Of course, I’m prejudice.

The little ones looked adorable in their outfits and did their jobs well.  LOL!

After the wedding weekend we celebrated our Savior’s resurrection on Easter Sunday and had the kids/grandkids over for a meal and some fun activities.  The kids looked adorable in their Easter outfits!

Easter Monday we flew up to Chicago to be with our son and daughter-in-law for his heart procedure.  Monday evening we were able to go out to eat with them and enjoy a delicious meal!!!

Tuesday morning we headed to the hospital early in the morning.  We were so thankful that many prayers were answered and they were able to repair the heart with no damage!  It was a rather stressful LONG day waiting, but the hospital had lovely waiting rooms and the staff were so very helpful.  The dr. was one of the best in his field.  We praise God for his wonderful provision and for the outcome of this.

I love this picture of Steve with Lauren at the wedding!

After the quick trip to Chicago, I headed up to Maryland to do a workshop with the Chesapeake Treasurer’s guild.  What a fun group of ladies to teach!!!  They were enthusiastic about the classes and techniques they learned and I had a great time with them.  It was so fun to see the different choices that the ladies made for both the dress class as well as the embroidered jacket class!  I’m looking forward to seeing some pictures of the finished outfits on FB soon!!!

Now that I’m home again I’ll be working on my next new project as well as managing the home front and preparing for the next workshop.  I am loving the next project and hope to share it soon!  Until then, keep on stitching!!!

 

Just breathe!

So, the wedding is less than 2 weeks away and we’re in the last days of all the little details to attend to.  Although we’re so excited about the upcoming wedding, there’s always stress involved.  My plan is to add nothing to my calendar for this week and next week and to enjoy some relaxing sewing time as time permits.  This is relaxing and enjoyable to me when it doesn’t involve drafting/sewing for new classes or magazine articles.  LOL!  I started this process on Saturday and had a delightful weekend!

My first nearly finished project only needed a couple of rows of smocking and some buttonholes and buttons to be sewn on.  I enjoyed finishing the little dress and look forward to trying a different method of using a contrast fabric at the top of the bishop.  I believe that each method will have benefits as well as challenges.  I am OK with this method, but think the there may be a better option.  After I try a couple of others, I’ll be back to report and share my findings.

I used the apple design that I did for the Classic Sewing magazine‘s fall 2016 issue and eliminated the color changes and added a chain stitch around the outside to mimic the apples in the fabric.  I graphed the bird to match the fabric.  What a funny little bird!  I also backstitched the smocking area with a 4 step trellis stitch and like the wavy effect that it gives.

As always, I used my practical 2 button back closure.  I find that this method actually stays closed while the dress is being worn.  😜  That’s always a plus with active toddlers!

With the bishop dress completed, I moved on to the next nearly finished project.  As I have moved clothing around in the bedroom closets and rearranged space after our daughter moved out, I found several projects that needed only a little attention to be finished.  One project was a sample “Suzette” dresses that was made when I designed the dress.  I made 5 samples – the blue dress was one of them.  I recently taught this dress and it’s one of my favorites with the simple lines and smocked sleeves.  This dress only needed a hem and a button and button loop on the back.

I machine stitched the hem in the dress and then added the featherstitching.  I can say that I’m not totally thrilled with my featherstitching at the hem!  On the bodice I use a grid to get the stitch uniform.  For the hem, I decided to try it without a grid.  Oh my!!!  Wrong choice.  However, I’m giving myself some grace and recognize that nobody will be down at hem level inspecting this dress, so as Elsa says “let it go”.  That’s exactly what I’m doing!

I do love this dress and will love seeing both this one and the bird/apple dress on the little girls.

Today I’ll dive back into the closets and see what else can be finished easily and hopefully enjoy some fun stitching time between the wedding errands and such.

I hope you’re enjoying some spring sewing!  Our weather has warmed up and I think spring is here to stay!  Soon it will be time to start the summer sewing!!!

Keep on stitching……

Kathy

Teaching, Sewing, Cleaning and Wedding Stuff! Yikes!

You might wonder where I’ve been for the last month or so since my last blog post.  Well, it’s been rather busy!  I spent 2 weekends in a row teaching, which is something that I really enjoy!

My first weekend was in Savannah with the Waving Girls SAGA guild teaching my “Suzette” dress.

The ladies in the class were delightful and I enjoyed meeting many of them for the first time and seeing others that I’ve met before as well.  They did a great job with their handwork and sewing!  Aren’t they a great looking bunch of ladies!

An additional benefit was being able to stay with my aunt Lil and seeing my cousin Martha and her husband and one of their boys!  It was so wonderful to catch up with them and share a meal and fellowship around the table!  She and my late uncle Jim have always been such a blessing to me!  I definitely stole this picture from her FB page – this is my aunt Lil and my cousin Martha.

The following weekend I spent with the Palmetto Pleaters in Greenville, SC.   This was another great bunch of ladies!  I have yet to meet a group of sewing ladies that I didn’t like!  We spent the first day working on the “Annalise” blouse.

The second day was spent constructing my Prince/Princess diaper set.  There were many cute versions that were worked on in this class since the students brought their own choice of fabric for the set.  A couple of the ladies even finished theirs!

I enjoyed my time with them, met some great ladies and had a wonderful hostess there as well!

After 2 weekends away, I returned home and helped with moving our daughter into her new place.  She and my husband had done the heavy stuff while I was gone, but there was still plenty of work to do and boxes to move and unpack.  That also involved some heavy duty cleaning, furniture moving, etc. on the home front.  I spent an entire week cleaning and putting furniture back in place!!!  Not my idea of fun, but it was work that needed to be done.  I’m enjoying a VERY clean house at the moment.

Then it was time to get serious about wedding stuff – the wedding is right around the corner!  I started with the ring bearer’s outfit.  I just knew that this would be quick and easy.  Well, it was quick and easy, but it didn’t fit my big guy!  😲  He is tall enough that the shorts looked like “hip huggers” on him!  LOL!!!  Not the look we were going for.  So, I’ve completed the second version of the outfit and I’m confident that this one will fit just right.   I used the Children’s Corner “David” pattern for the shorts and the sleeves and the “Michael” pattern for the shirt, though I changed up the shirt front a bit.  I fear that both of these patterns are now out of print, but they are still available on the second hand market.  I highly recommend them.  Of course, I’m sure that there are other similar patterns currently available at your favorite heirloom shop.

The color of the shorts is really more of an oatmeal/khaki color – but I edited it so that they show up darker – that was the only way that the embroidery on the shirt would show up!  I’m no photoshop expert, for sure!!!

The shorts are linen and the shirt is a cotton broadcloth.

After completing the shirt, I felt that the center of the shirt needed something else – a touch of embroidery.  So, I used a vintage embroidery design for inspiration and came up with this simple design.  I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, even though my hand stitching isn’t as perfect as I’d like it to be!  I used size 30 pearl cotton for the embroidery, which I think is normally used for crochet.  It worked quite well and I like the simplicity of the running stitch!

Next up is making the ring bearer’s pillow.  Surely I won’t need to make 2 of those to get one successful pillow, right???   Needless to say, I’m busy!   You may not hear from me again for another month!!!  We’re keeping fingers crossed that the weather will warm up in the next 3 weeks.  We went from warm, spring temperatures (with everything blooming!!!) to frigid cold this past week.  With an outdoor wedding, warmer would definitely be better!

Hope you’re enjoying some fun spring and Easter stitching!

Kathy

 

Just Some Fun Stitching!

Sometimes I have to take a break from designing, making kits, teaching, etc. and just want to slow down and stitch something fun.  I started one of these fun projects Wednesday evening and hope to have it finished in the next few days.  😃

My new and fun project is a bishop dress with a solid smocking band at the top.  I see these all the time on all the different websites that sell smocked children’s clothing and it’s been a long time since I’ve made one of these, so this was the time.

I chose this fun print for the project and am in the process of smocking an apple on the center front.  We’ll see how it goes!

In case you’re interested in how I do my smocking these days, I’ll show you my setup.  I am using the apple design that I created for the Fall issue of Classic Sewing magazine.  I’ll modify the file to fit the fabric design – hopefully!  LOL!  I pull up the file on my iPad, and then can enlarge it so that I can see it better with these “mature” eyes.  I also have my Dazor magnifying lamp to look through so that I can ensure that all the stitches are perfectly smooth.  Amazing all the technology that I need these days to continue to enjoy my smocking!

Once I finish up this dress, I plan to start another one with a slightly different method of color blocking the neckline.  Then I’ll decide which method I prefer.  I’m sure both will be acceptable, but I know that I will prefer one over the other!

So, that’s what I’m up to this morning – sitting in my living room enjoying the morning sun and smocking a spring dress.  I hope you’re enjoying some stitching time as well!

Some Tiny Gowns

This past Saturday our SAGA Dogwood guild had a Wee Care workshop.  As the chair of this committee, I typically don’t sew at the workshops, but make myself available for any help that is needed.  We had a fabulous turnout and I also had some beautiful gowns turned in!  What a lovely, caring group of ladies that give of their time and talent making these sweet gowns.  As always, I come away from the workshops inspired to work on some gowns as well.  It probably comes as no surprise that I always have several in different stages of completion.

Because I had several gowns that were nearly completed, I decided that this morning was the time to get those finished up.  I’m so pleased with how they turned out and now I have 3 more that are done and 1 more that only needs to be smocked.  I’ll do that one quiet evening.  They don’t take any time at all to smock!

I love this teeny, tiny size – it is for under 1 lb. babies and measures a mere 8-3/4″ long (including the lace).

Because our guild sends gowns to Camp LeJeune, I wanted to try one gown with a nautical design.  I would think it could be used for a boy or girl.  I liked the tiny sailboats (my own design).

There’s always a call for gender neutral gowns, so a white on white with no flowers, lace, etc. works well and is quite elegant looking – or so I think!

I smocked a simple design and used “dots” instead of flowers to keep this gown neutral.

So, that has been what I’ve been sewing lately.  Well, that as well as some things that I’ll have to show you later.  😛  I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

Enjoy some lovely stitching time – it’s such a great way to relax and ready yourself for a busy day/week ahead!

Kathy

Busy January! SATB, Flower Girl Dresses….

January is flying by – does anyone else feel like this?  I no sooner got the Christmas decorations down and it was time to start packing up for Sewing At The Beach.

If you aren’t familiar with Sewing At the Beach, you’re missing out on a wonderful sewing retreat at Myrtle Beach, SC.  This event has grown so much over the last 25+ years.  It was started by SAGA‘s Grand Strand Smocking Guild and has grown each year – without any outside advertising!  Teachers are brought in from all over and although it is strongly focused on smocking and heirloom sewing, there is also quilting, machine embroidery and even tuffet making classes.  There’s something for everyone!  You can take classes for a couple of days, or for the full 6 days.

Because of an ominous weather forecast, I chose to head to the beach 2 days early to avoid the “snow” and stayed at our daughter’s beautiful beach house just north of Myrtle Beach.  I enjoyed my personal “retreat” for a couple of days!  Who wouldn’t enjoy a few days of R&R here? I read and smocked during the day and enjoyed a glass of wine and a “girly” movie at night!  It was quiet and very restful.  Oh, and we got no snow at home!

After my  2-day personal retreat, I headed for Myrtle Beach.  I enjoyed a wonderful time teaching again this year.  I had some of the most delightful students in my classes and I think they enjoyed taking the classes as well.  I love teaching and hope that this love of sewing, smocking and heirloom is evident to everyone.  The best part is when I hear a student have an “aha” moment when they learn something new or different.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take any pictures during my classes the entire week I was gone, thought I did get a beautiful picture of a morning sunrise – what a beautiful picture of God’s creation!

My last day at SATB I was able to take a class from Trisha Smith – a popular teacher with a very sweet disposition and great teaching style.  Though I had to leave early from my class, I enjoyed meeting her and being in her class.  Hopefully the dress will get finished up soon and fit one of the girls this summer!  As always, it was nice to be home again.

Since returning home, I’ve been busy working on flower girl dresses for the April 8th wedding of our youngest daughter.  Once the little ones were asked to be in the wedding, I immediately had thoughts of smocking, heirloom, lace, etc. and was dreaming up the most beautiful confections to create.  However, that dream was quickly changed as our daughter showed me what she envisioned for the little girls to wear.  She loved the fabric on the bodice from this dress ( from WedLuxe):

But she wanted the tutu type full skirt as in this dress (from Jen Jar Photography):

Of course, I could make that happen, right?  😝  So, fabric was ordered and was stashed for a few months until I was ready to start.  I need to get these done and out-of-the-way.  Once finished, it will be on to the ring bearer’s outfit, which will be a more traditional button on suit.

I’ve been working on the 3 dresses and have a couple of them to the point where I’m ready to do buttons and buttonholes and then decide on sashes for the back and any kind of flower or such for the front.  I did add pink piping to the neckline and armholes for a touch of color.  Can I just say that working with layers of netting and tulle is like wrestling an octopus as you try to attach all these layers to the dress bodice!!!

Here’s what I’ve got so far!  The worst is over for 2 dresses – well, actually 3 dresses!  LOL!  Unfortunately, the first dress that I made I somehow managed to cut the lining too short.  Clearly, math and I don’t get along well.  I obviously didn’t think through my solution either!  I figured I’d add a ruffle to the lower edge of the lining and all would be well.  Wrong!  While that added length, I neglected to take into account the fact that you can see through the tulle and netting layers.  🙄  While it looks fine, and the little girls were delighted to try them on, I am not happy with a ruffle at the hem of the lining, so I’ll be making another one.   Ugh!

All I can see with this dress is the ruffle!  I know, we seamstresses are our own worst critics!!!  At least I know that they fit well.  LOL!  Hopefully this dress will be remade today and then I can decide on the finishing touches for these dresses.  There will be an update when I am finished!

The highlight of this past week was to receive my issue of Classic Sewing Magazine and see my dress on the cover!!!  How exciting is that!!!  Needless to say, I was thrilled.  I had just finished teaching this dress at Sewing At the Beach.  😃  This issue is packed with the most delightful sewing projects for spring.  You definitely will want to get this issue!  I would say that even if my dress wasn’t on the cover.

So, if you’ve wondered what I’ve been up to this month, you now know!  I hope you’re enjoying some peaceful stitching time to start out your year!

Keep on stitching……

Preemie Cloth Doll Sewing

It’s boxing day (what we called it in Canada) and I certainly won’t be shopping anywhere today!  So, for anyone else staying inside, I thought I’d provide some reading material.  😛

img_0061This was one project that I wanted to complete before the year end.  While at the SAGA Convention, I spotted a tiny, preemie doll.  The doll belonged to Wanda, the SAGA Wee Care co-ordinator.  I already owned the pattern, but had not taken the time to sew it.  Seeing the tiny doll was incentive for me to find time to make one.  I believe that it is always helpful for other to “see” just how tiny some of these preemies are and perhaps give them the extra push to get a few Wee Care gowns sewn.

Having a few spare minutes, I decided to head out and find supplies – 2 days before Christmas!!!  What was I thinking??? That was no small task! Traffic was horrible and the crowds in the store – oy!!!  Somehow, I foolishly thought that I could get everything at one store.  Wrong!!!  After visiting 4 stores, I had everything needed for the doll – knit fabric, fleece, plastic pellets, etc..  Just FYI – the plastic pellets used for stuffing the doll were found at Hobby Lobby.  Other craft stores didn’t carry them or they only carried them online.  On to the pattern.

The preemie pattern is from The Cloth Doll Market.  I was unable to find any reviews of the doll.  The pattern makes up so nicely and quite accurately on sizing/shape of preemie babies.  Included is a master pattern which you have to copy and shrink it by percentages to get the smaller sizes.  I did this.

You should be aware that this method of adjusting sizes does cause some problems. When you shrink a pattern that has a 1/4″ seam allowance, your seam allowance also shrinks, so I ended up with a generous 1/8″ seam allowances to make the 2 lb. size doll.

Be aware that the pattern is hand drawn and has very little in the way of markings/guides (aka: no notches) on the pattern pieces to aid the seamstress in matching up pieces before stitching.  I followed the directions, but because there are no illustrations, some directions were challenging.  I had to read through some of the instructions multiple times to “get” what the instruction was.  I am more of a visual learner, so no pictures is challenging.  Because of this, I would sat that this probably isn’t a pattern for a beginner.

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The instructions say to use a knit fabric that doesn’t have too much stretch.  That is rather vague.  I think that giving some fabric types to look for may have been more helpful.  The only fabric that I could find with our lack of fabric stores was a knit jersey.  While it worked, I wasn’t a fan and won’t use it again.

Each piece of the doll is cut out of both the skin colored knit fabric as well as another piece cut in white fleece.  The fleece is then inserted into the skin fabric.  This is a good plan because it helps with the plastic beads that are used for the filling – it keeps the “skin” softer and works out much nicer than stuffing the doll with stuffing.  It does take a bit of forceful pushing to get the fleece pieces inside the knit pieces and I found that the jersey began to run in a few places (like pantyhose type of runs).  I put fray check on the runs and hopefully that will keep the runs in check.

After some research, I found that many cloth doll makers use a knit doeskin, which is a suede type of knit fabric.  I’ll have to order some of that if I decide to make another doll, though I’m seriously thinking about making the doll from Kona cotton if I try it again.  I have seen a picture of the doll made by another FB friend and it was in a woven fabric.

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The facial features were supposed to be painted on with acrylic paint.  I don’t paint!  🙁  So, a Sharpie had to do.  The knit wanted to stretch as I “drew” the features.  Ugh!  I was pleased to find that when the doll was finished, the 1 – 2 lb. Wee Care gown fit very well.  It’s nice to see how well these are proportioned.

Once the doll was finished, I had to get rid of the blue wash-out maker that I used to mark the darts and to draw in the fingers, etc.  Obviously, you don’t want to soak the doll after it’s finished.  That was a lengthy process.  It took many, many spritzing to get all the marks out.  I would think that they were gone, and when the spritzed area dried, they were back again.  Ugh!  Next time I’ll use one of the air-erasable markers and be sure to stitch the same day!  I did find that dotting along the stitching line worked better on the knit fabric.   Trying to draw in the lines caused the knit to stretch.

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Because of the way that the arms and legs are attached, they are somewhat posable, which is  a nice feature.

The little diapers pictured on the doll are from the Teeny Tears group.  They make diapers and donate them to hospitals for tiny babies that don’t make it.  The larger size diaper fits the 2 lb. sized doll.  I made the stockinette cap from a toddler size 5-6 sock.  I cut the cuff off the sock right above the heel and tied a ribbon in it.  It’s a snug fit, but it works.

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I did learn a few things making this little doll.  I definitely need to work on my hand sewing technique.  😂  The doll head is hand stitched to the doll body – not an easy feat between the stretchy knit and the head flopping around.  Maybe I’ll be better at this the next time.   LOL!  Pulling out the fingers after stitching was a super challenging task on the 2 lb. size doll.  I immediately decided that I’d never make the smaller sizes with fingers.  Others have told me that they make the hand with only a thumb and then a mitten style for the other fingers.  This would be much easier and is a technique I’ve used on other cloth dolls!  She does suggest this method for the tiniest sizes.

I’m pleased with how the doll turned out.  It is only going to be used as a visual aide at workshops where the smocked Wee Care gowns are being made.  Our guild is doing the next workshop in the community room at a retirement village.  I’ll have the doll out for the residents to view along with some of the finished gowns.  I suspect that we’ll have different ladies drop in to check out what we’re doing.  The doll will be a nice addition and maybe even promote some interest for some new seamstresses to join us!

My overall review of the pattern makes up really well and is an accurate representation of the size/shape of a preemie baby, but the instructions are lacking in the way of diagrams/pictures of any of the sewing techniques.  There are only 2 diagrams total and there is an assumption of sewing knowledge, so some techniques aren’t described (ie.  “sculpt the toes”).

The designer of the pattern does seem to have some first hand knowledge of preemie sizes and proportions.  That is what makes the pattern of value.  Instructions are also given if you want to make the doll a weighted doll (accurate weight for the age/size), which some do want.  This doll looks very much like the preemies that I saw in the NICU when our granddaughter was there.  There’s not another proportionally correct preemie doll pattern that I’m aware of.  So, for this reason it is a great pattern if you want proportionally correct preemie dolls.

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Perhaps today I’ll stitch the 1 lb. size (with no fingers!) out of Kona cotton and see how that works.  I’ll keep you posted!

I hope you enjoy some stitching today!