Monthly Archives: October 2014

Christmas Inspiration

Today is the last day of October.  A chill is in the air as so many little ones don their costumes for an afternoon or evening of Trick or Treating. Tomorrow the realization that Christmas is just a few weeks away hits and  panic will set in for so many of us that want to have special hand-made Christmas outfits.  With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some sewing inspiration from my past creations.

For many years I did custom sewing for clients, and for several of those years I had clients with twins, which doubled the pleasure!  During this season of sewing, I determined that I should be taking pictures to save for my own personal reference – so, the photography was rather, well, tragic, to say the least.  You will need to enjoy the inspiration without critiquing the photography.  While my photography has improved over the years, I’m still a seamstress and not a photographer!

As many of you already may know, my favorite sewing is the fancy heirloom outfits, but they are also the least practical and least worn.  So, I’m showing a range of clothing from casual play clothes to exquisite heirloom to funky boutique and I hope there’s something that will inspire everyone.

Featherwale corduroy smocked with Little Memories “Ski Follies”.

Featherwale corduroy smocked with Little Memories “Duck the Halls”.

Striped cotton smocked with Little Memories “Ho Ho Ho”.

Heirloom satin batiste smocked with Little Memories “Santa’s Surprise” and added trees.

Featherwale corduroy smocked with Little Memories “Holiday Handymen”.

Hunter green velveteen smocked with “Nutcracker” from Creative Needle and “Joy” by Cherished Stitches”, using just the ornament design.

Black featherwale corduroy smocked with “Chimney Sweeps” – I cannot seem to locate my smocking design plate to share the designer.

The color on this dress is just tragic, so an explanation is needed.  The dress was a beautiful ecru colored cotton sateen with an organza collar and smocked with Little Memories “Bearly the Nutcracker”.

Stain batiste with shadow work embroidery.

Little brother’s satin batiste bubble with shadow work embroidery.

Bigger brother’s outfit.  Satin batiste shirt with cotton sateen shorts.  Honestly, the collars are even!

Satin batiste bishop smocked with “Holiday Bells” from Sew Beautiful magazine – holiday, 1992.

One of my personal favorites – the boy’s outfit made with satin batiste for the shirt and cotton sateen for the shorts and the girl’s dress is silk organza layer over satin batiste.  The smocking design is Stocking Stuffers” by Little Memories.

Silk organza makes the most beautiful bows!

Beautiful shadow work collars for twin boys – I don’t seem to have pictures of the complete outfits and don’t remember if these were button-on suits or if these were worn with velvet jon-jons.

Another bad picture with pretty outfits – satin batiste for the dress and shirt and cotton sateen for the shorts.  The monograms are from the Ellen McCarn monogram booklet.

Slightly more casual Christmas outfits – the shirt is broadcloth and the shorts and dress are micro check gingham smocked with Little Memories “Candy Cane Countdown”.

Broadcloth tops and featherwale corduroy smocked with Little Memories “All is Calm, All is Bright”.

Micro check gingham smocked with Little Memories “Northern Lights”.

Smocked top with original design.  Top is broadcloth and the pants are featherwale corduroy.

So much cuter “on”.

A modified version of “Sandpiper” from Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine #88.

Boutique ruffled set made of white broadcloth and a touch of smocking at the neck and sleeves and a smocked red velveteen pinafore.  The pattern and smocking are an original design of mine.

Pattern is by Farbenmix called “Vida”.  This is such a fun dress for combining fabrics and trims and then adding machine embroidery!  Definitely a favorite fun dress of mine.

Even cuter “on”.  :)

Several a-line dresses.

This doesn’t exhaust my supply of Christmas outfits from the past, but more than enough for one post.  And now, I need to get on to smocking Christmas outfits for the 3 little girls since I only have Liam’s outfit finished.  So many ideas, so little time!

Happy Stitching…..


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A Non-Sewing Week

What have I been up to lately???  Well, obviously I’ve still been helping with the new baby.  Nothing like having that sweetness to rock for a while!  They don’t stay little for very long.   Here’s our little man in his smocked outfit – I think it will fit for maybe another week!

Hubby was gone for a little over a week, so I decided that this was a good time for a couple projects.  Some of these are easier when you don’t have to clean up the mess at the end of the day!  My pantry was in desperate need of organization.  How on earth do pantries get to be such a mess???  So, a thorough cleaning out and throwing out of some outdated items.  Because we’ve gone to wheat free eating, so many other types of flours are necessary, and they all come in 1 lb. bags which are hard to control.  They were falling all over the place.  I need to say – I have the tiniest pantry you can imagine – it’s a closet door width and the shelves are 12″ deep, so some creative organization was needed.  Not much room in there – and it was definitely NOT enough when we had all the kids living at home.

A trip to the closest big box store (Walmart) and I came home with a few Rubbermaid  containers – just to see how they would work out.  They fit perfectly!!!  I was doing the happy dance.  So, back to the store for more – I cleaned them out since they didn’t have that many.  I didn’t have nearly enough.  Who knew it would be impossible to find these containers anywhere else? After 2 hrs. on the road and in 5 different stores, I came home empty-handed and did an internet search, only to find out that they were only available locally at Walmart – but I would need to go across town for more of them.  Ugh!  Clearly I was on a mission, so I made the drive across town that evening and purchases all that I needed to finish up the pantry, returned home and got it done.  Doesn’t it look lovely?

The following day I went to the Container store and purchased the 2 organizers for all the bags and wrap boxes and found the cutest labels for my new containers.  Score!!!

That and a command hook on the door for the aprons and I’m calling this project finished!  Now I can find everything and it looks pretty as well.

Many more projects followed, including cleaning out the 2 linen closets, cleaning and organizing the drawers & cabinets in the master bath, dropping off a car load to Goodwill and painting a headboard.  It was a productive week, just not a sewing week.  I’d rather be sewing, which is exactly what I’m doing today!

Until next time, keep on stitching….


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A Few Little Gowns and a New Baby!

I’ve been absent for a few weeks for a very good reason – our new little man arrived on Oct. 2nd and I’ve been doing what every grandma wants to do – rocking the baby!!!  Did I mention that he’s a ginger (aka: red-head)?  We prayed that he’d be a red-head.  His big sister Livvy is a strawberry blonde.

Isn’t he the cutest little thing!!!  Two weeks old now and a healthy 10 lbs.  Both he and mama are doing well.  The family is adjusting to new schedules and interruptions and less sleep and I think that Livvy has decided that he’s OK.  LOL!  We are so blessed to have yet another healthy grandchild to shower with love.

So, what have I been sewing since my last post?  Not much!  I didn’t want to start a big project just prior to his arrival since I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to it right away.  Instead, I chose to make some of the tiny gowns used by a couple different ministries that I sew for.  The gowns go together rather quickly and are both needed and much appreciated.   I thought I’d share pictures of the recently completed gowns.

These gowns and bonnets were completed for Caleb Ministries.  The ministry headquarters are located here in town, and I am so thankful to be involved with them and to be able to share my love for sewing with such a worthy cause.  They not only give the gowns to the grieving families, but the gowns and bonnets are paired with a blanket and booties as well as literature on grieving and contact information.  That way they can get in touch with the ministry and participate in one of the Bible study groups with other moms that have lost their babies if they want to.  They do a wonderful job reaching these women and have the boxes in all but one of the local hospitals as well as in many surrounding cities.

Sometimes they have special requests.  Usually we do only white gowns and blankets, but one of the ladies had donated this blanket with a lavender edge on it along with lavender booties, so a gown with some lavender was requested.

This next gown was completed for another ministry that is located here – it is called Be Not Afraid.  Our smocking guild (Smocking Arts Guild of America) does gowns for this ministry when we are contacted and asked for a gown.  Frequently they know if the baby will be for a boy or girl and have an approximate size, so one of our members will take on the project.  This is one that I did.  As time permits, I like to add special touches to the gowns.

This gown was smocked in white and just a few bullion roses were added to the smocking at the neck and one on each sleeve.  I added scalloped pintucks around the hem and used pink cording to fill the pintuck.  With a stronger shade of pink cording, it shadows through as a pastel.  the peak of each pintuck has another bullion rose.

These gowns shown above were completed in the week prior to Liam’s arrival.  However, I have made many of these special gowns and thought I would share a few more pictures for inspiration/ideas.  There are so many organizations that make these infant demise gowns and it can be challenging to come up with designs for boys.  That is where I really like to use corded pintucks.  I have done them with a dark ecru/gold color as well as with a stronger shade of blue and both work nicely with the batiste and shadow through as a soft ecru or a baby blue.  For the groups that will accept gowns that open in the back, such as our Wee Care gowns that the SAGA organization makes, I like to add machine embroidery.  I think they look a bit more masculine and they are definitely quicker to complete than the smocked gowns.

As you can see, I love to use my embroidery machine as well!  Because there was not much room for embroidery on the front button gowns, I embroidered the blankets instead.  Someone had knit the tiny ecru booties to match the blankets, so the ecru pintucks were a great choice to go in these special boxes.

To answer any questions regarding the cording that I use for the pintucks, I have tried 2 different sizes, and both work well.  I have used the DMC pearl cotton for the cording in both size #8 as well as #5.  The #5 is thicker and comes packaged much like embroidery floss while the #8 is on a spool.  Both have limited selections, but I’ve been able to find colors that work.

My sewing machine has a tiny hole in the throat plate of the machine, positioned right in front of the pressure foot.  I thread the cording through the hole and pull it behind the foot prior to starting my stitching.  Use a 5 groove pintuck foot and a twin needle with lightweight thread (#60 weight heirloom thread) and shorten the stitch length to a 2.0 – the cording stays centered nicely due to being fed through that hole and it fills the pintuck and creates just a hint of color.  Experiment with it and you’ll find all kinds of places that you may want to use this treatment.

That’s it for now.  Maybe I’ll sew something this coming week that I can share in the next post.

Happy stitching!


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