Monthly Archives: July 2014

Beach dresses and rick rack techniques.

Over the weekend I took time to make the little girls some matching dresses for our upcoming beach trip.  It’s always hard to narrow down all the ideas.  After pulling out several different fabrics from the “stash”, I settled on a fun polka dot pique that has been aging in the stash for many years – probably 20+ years!!!  I knew it would be a hit with the mom’s as it is a poly/cotton pique and would require no ironing!  Definitely a plus!!!

I decided to use the Children’s Corner “Frannie” pattern.  It’s such a cute as well as quick summer dress.  I chose the view with no collar because collars just make me hot thinking about them given our usual summer heat.  They would probably be fine with the little girls, but I didn’t ask them!  LOL!  The cute appliqué on the dress is from the Lynniepinnie site.  I loved the girly looking whales.  I used elastic under the arms rather than the ties that the pattern suggests.  There was already enough bulk in the pique that I didn’t want to add more.


Going through the stash of rick rack, I found a perfect match with some jumbo rick rack  That is such an easy way to finish the bottom of the dress.  I love rick rack on the girls play clothes and use it quite extensively.  It also seemed to compliment the waves quite nicely.  However, I discovered that there was only enough of the jumbo rick rack for 2 dresses, so it went on the dresses for the 2 sisters.

A few interesting things about rick rack.  After laundering, the cotton rick rack seems to curl up much worse than the polyester rick rack.  The jumbo rick rack is polyester, so it should be fine.  I love cotton rick rack and have a lot of it.  It does come in many more colors that I can find in the polyester.  I also love that you can buy it by the yard and are not limited to the 2.5 yd. packages.  Often I need a longer stretch than 2.5 yds.  So, there’s both advantages and disadvantages to both.  Thankfully we have many options with all the online stores.

When I made the first (biggest) dress, I decided to insert the rick rack between the fashion fabric and lining so that only the “points” of the rick rack would show.  I have always liked seeing just the points.


Seeing the finished results shows a wide gap between the points.  It’s fine, but I thought I’d try it slightly differently on the smaller sister dress.  For that dress, it is also inserted between the fashion fabric and lining, but I allowed just a bit more of the rick rack to show so that there wasn’t a complete visual break between the points.  I think I prefer this look.


For the 3rd (cousin) dress I needed to come up with something else that would be complimentary and still use rick rack (my requirement!).  I was pleased with the results of this as well and think that the 3 girls will look just adorable in their new dresses.


For the bias band hem treatment, I first basted the lining and fashion fabric together 1/4″ away from the cut hem edge.  Then a 1-3/8″ bias band was stitched with the right side of the bias against the lining of the dress and with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  After stitching, I turned the dress inside out and pressed the bias down – away from the lining.  Then the dress was turned right side out and the bias pressed up at the seam line – I kept just a scant 1/16″ of the pink bias on the lining side with nearly all of the bias on the front of the dress.  Next, I pressed under the raw edge of the bias 1/4″.  After pressing all the bias band, I slipped the rick rack between the bias band and fashion fabric, pinning through both the bias and rick rack to keep everything secure for stitching.    I top stitched right next to the folded bias edge.  I loved that there was no hand sewing to this dress other than the button and buttonhole loop.

It’s always nice to have a few quick projects between other projects that are more time consuming.  These dresses fit the bill perfectly and now the little girls can match one day while we’re enjoying our beach vacation!

Now, what will you be doing with your rick rack???



More Hemline Solutions

Often times a special occasion dress is made which involves much time as well as expense and is worn only a few times.  Little girls tend to outgrow the length of the dress before the width.  With a little planning the dress can be lengthened and another year or so of wear can be had.

When a hem is taken out, most often the crease line remains visible – not appealing on a beautiful heirloom dress.  Since most of the time only a couple inches of length need to be added, a great solution is to cut the dress off at the crease, add a row of beading or insertion, and then you can add the cut off section of hem below the insertion and finish the lower edge with a lace trim or you can add a width of eyelet that compliments the insertion/beading and the remainder of the dress.  The goal is to make it look like a plan.  You may need to cut a bit more of the skirt length off, depending on what you add to the bottom of the dress.  Of course, if you plan ahead when you first make the dress, you can set aside extra trims that you’ve already used in the dress for lengthening later on.

While these pictures are dresses that were not specifically lengthened, they are good examples of how you could lengthen a too short dress.

IMG_7061 IMG_7059


If you’ve used a floral print for the heirloom dress, the floral fabrics between the added on lace is a pretty choice as well.



Of course, a beautiful lace fancy band is always a wonderful choice!


Just a few more ideas.


IMG_6223 IMG_6224

Ribbon and lace offer a slightly more cost effective solution.



If you are reading this and thinking that this is way out of your sewing comfort zone, or if you’d love to learn how to do this type of heirloom sewing (it is MUCH easier than you think!), I would encourage you to consider giving yourself a gift of a sewing vacation and sign up for some classes.  The Smocking Arts Guild of America will be having their convention on Sept. 17-21 in Orlando, FL.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills with some of the best teachers available in the country!  There will be hand sewing, embroidery and machine sewing taught at every level from beginner to advanced, so there’s something for everyone!  Check out the brochure to see all the beautiful offerings.

SAGA convention 2014

If you have any questions about the convention, please feel free to contact me.  I’m looking forward to a wonderful time in Orlando!!!

Happy Stitching,


The Hemline Dilemma

Before addressing the hemline dilemma, I had to share the twirly dress being modeled. Clearly the dress was a HUGE hit! I could hardly get a picture without a significant twirl!

IMG_8656  IMG_8658

She was quite enthusiastic about the twirliness (is that even a word?) of the dress.

Now, on to the hemline dilemma…..


These sweet dresses were published in the Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine, Issue #95.  When I got the raspberry dress out of the closet for little Ms. Livvy to wear, I discovered that there were spots on the back of the dress that I could not get out.  They were too noticeable to ignore, so I whacked off the bottom 1/3 of the dress.  Hmmm……what now?  While I could have left it short and had it be worn as a top, that wasn’t what I wanted.

After a week or so of mulling over this situation, I took a dive into the massive fabric stash and found the same micro-check gingham in turquoise as well as lime green.  Perfect!  I added two bands of the complimentary fabric.  Viewing the newly created dress, it appeared to look very “home-made-ish”.  Not the look I was going for.  I wanted something clean looking that would compliment the smocking and not distract from it.  Though I’m not the most proficient at hand embroidery, I took a stab at doing a chain stitch over the seam lines.  It’s not perfect, but it was just the look I was going for.  Perfect enough for me!

IMG_8634 IMG_8635

This treatment would work equally well for adding length to a dress that still fits but it too short.

While I’m addressing hems, I thought that a few more options for hemline interest could be shown here.

A tuck with a contrast scalloped hem.  The stitching line of the tuck was embellished with a running stitch.


Another tuck and contrast hem with rick rack detail.  Clearly I have a thing about gingham!  LOL!



A contrast band with either rick rack or ribbon over the seam is another option.

6762898_a2sRW-XLa  6762885_XAph4-XLa

There are so many different options to choose from.  Next time you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

I can’t end this post without showing the reluctant model.  When asked to take a picture of her new dress from grandma, this was the first response.  Oh the drama of it all!!!  Hahahaha!!!!  Then the semi-reluctant pose sitting on the steps.  This is what makes sewing worthwhile!  Seeing the little girls in the clothes I’ve sewn for them is reward enough!

Livvy1_resized Livvy_resized


Have fun with your hems!