Monthly Archives: February 2015

Technology (iPad) and 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!


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!!!


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.  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!


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.


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.  If you don’t have a clue about this, you can go to the website linked  here and it gives instructions that anyone can follow (picture from the website).

Ipad brightness adjust


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.


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!

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

Happy stitching……



Sewing Retreat and a Little of This and That!

Registration online has begun for the Sassy Southern Sewing Retreat – a 4 day sewing event in San Marcos, TX beginning July 29th, 2015.  I’m thrilled to be teaching there along with so many other well-respected teachers in various areas of sewing.  Of course, I’ll be teaching heirloom sewing techniques as well as a fabric manipulation smocking class.  If your sewing interests are more of quilting, machine embroidery, or sewing for women, there are other teachers with those classes.  In addition, there are classes for kids, so you can bring your kids and pass on the wonderful art of sewing to them while creating wonderful memories!  I hope that this will be a sell out event.  You won’t want to miss it!

Aside from that, I’ve been doing a little of this and that for the past week.  I’ve lengthened little dresses that still fit but were getting too short.  I’ve shortened dresses from the Grandmother’s Closet “stash” that were too long and I’ve embroidered some cute dresses purchased as gently worn garments.  I just needed to add a bit of embroidery to make them special.


This pretty coral colored eyelet dress is a Janie and Jack dress.  I added the “E” to the bodice.  The font is the Royal Monogram font from Embroitique.


The next dress is a pretty batiste dress from Strasburg.  I also embroidered the bodice of this dress with the Elegant Rose font from Enigma.  I love this font and have used it often.


This velveteen jumper is from Heartstrings.  It’s so cute, but was so plain.  I embroidered the “Be My Valentine” design – also from Embroitique.  I love having a few fun and quick things that I can embroider and the kids can wear right away!

My other fun project of the week was making a cute pillowcase.  I have heard and seen a lot of buzz about the Quick Points scalloped ruler and pusher and wanted to give it a try, but was reluctant to spend the money on it as it is rather pricey (around $40 for the 2″ ruler and pusher).


Thankfully, my friend had purchased one of these last year (still unopened!), so I borrowed hers.  The instructions were easy to follow, but in case you need visual instructions, there are a few u-tube videos.  I watched those as well.

I made the scallops per the instructions, pushed, ironed, etc.  It was relatively easy, though a bit tedious.  LOL!  I’m glad I wasn’t making huge amounts of scallops!  With the 2″ scallop size, it wasn’t too bad.  I ended up with about 15 scallops.



My funny discovery though – I thought that the pusher had a vaguely familiar look to it.  I scrounged around in my kitchen drawers and voila!!!  I found a similar shape in one of my bowl scrapers.   LOL!



Comparing the bowl scraper (free in my drawer) to the $13 pusher – you can see just how close in size/shape they are.  Honestly, they are nearly identical.  The iron did fine with my bowl scraper as well.  Placing one on top of the other there is a slight variation on one side of the scraper.  It’s hard to see since they are both white – but it is at the bottom left in the picture below.  As far as performance – I’d score them about equally.



Overall, I like the scallop pillowcase – it’s a nice detail.  However, I don’t think that I would use this ruler often enough to warrant the price for it, so I won’t be purchasing one.  It was an interesting tool/technique to use and I was glad to be able to try it out – especially without buying it!  If I need it from time to time, I’ll borrow it again from my (very generous) friend!  I prefer my scallops to not be an entire half circle but a shorter depth – maybe 1/3 of the circle.  This is just personal preference.  Perhaps I’m used to that depth because it is more of what I use for heirloom sewing – for the depth of a scalloped Madeira hem, or scalloped pintucks and such.  The deeper scallops may grow on me.  We’ll see.  I do like them as binding on quilts, as was shown in one of the videos.   But, I’m not a quilter.

In the meantime, if you’re doing scallops of any kind and think that you need help pushing them out, be sure and check out your kitchen drawers!  You may find something there that can help you do the job.  I’m not yet ready to bring my bowl scraper to reside in my sewing room, but I know where to find it should I need it.

What unusual tools have you used in your sewing room lately?  I know that there’s many more than bowl scrapers in our sewing rooms.  🙂