Monthly Archives: August 2015

Bonnets and Buddies

I’ve been waiting for the right time to share this post.  I’m sure that you’d agree with me when I say that sewing buddies are the best!!!  This theory is proven to be true again.  My sewing buddies are the best!!!

Our local smocking guild has grown quite a bit this past year and I’ve made several new friends because of that.  One of our newer members, Janice, brought in a gorgeous Christening gown, slip and bonnet at the second meeting that she attended.  Her bonnet was displayed on a beautiful hand painted bonnet stand.  I admired it and found out that she had made the bonnet stand as well as the beautiful outfit.  Of course, I had to ask her if I could commission her to make a bonnet stand for me.  I was thrilled when she said that she would be happy to.  I was in no particular hurry.

Imagine my surprise when a couple months later Janice arrived the meeting with not one, but 2 beautiful stands!!!

I have the greatest respect for anyone that can not only sew, but also paint.  I can hardly pain my nails, much less something pretty!  Both stands are beautiful!  Her painting is as lovely as her sewing!  What a wonderful gift that she has given to me!!!

Aren’t these so pretty!!!  I couldn’t wait to display a bonnet on one of these.

I can’t wait to bring my bonnet and stand to the class that I’ll be teaching this week.  I cannot think of a prettier way to display a bonnet than on one of these stands.  It sure beats the candle sticks I’ve been using.  LOL!  Thank you Janice for making these beautiful stands for me – I am so blessed to count you as one of my friends!

Fancy Band Frustrations!

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.


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  This dress was originally made for Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine (Issue #84).

picture me

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.

Dotted Swiss Heirloom Dress


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

Livvy Easter 2013 a

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


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!

Lauren 2


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 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 of the sides (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.




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.

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Once the bands were back on both dresses, they needed to be washed to clean and remove all that starch.  The white dress had really gotten dingy looking from years of storage.  Finding that I was out of Biz, my usual go to for brightening/whitening, I remembered purchasing another whitening agent – Retro Clean.  I cannot remember where I purchased this fromThis was purchased at the Peanut Butter and Jelly Kids  booth at the SAGA 2013 convention. It was quite pricey at $15.  I do remember being assured that I would be happy with the product.  Time to put it to the test.

IMG_9588 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.  I can’t wait to try this out on a couple other things that are in need of some brightening.

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……


Vacation 2015

I haven’t been up to any kind of sewing lately, which makes me itching to get back at it!

We had our annual family beach vacation the first week of the month.  It wasn’t quite what we had expected this year.  I’m fondly referring to it as the “Beach ‘n Barf 2015”.  We hope that this type of vacation won’t be repeated – ever!  We’ve been going to the beach with the kids for 20+ years now and have never had a bad vacation, so I won’t complain too much.  However, this year, in addition to the flu, we also had 3 days of mostly cloudy and/or thunderstorms.  Not great fun.

We did enjoy some wonderful days at the beach.  However, due to the illnesses – which was on a different day for each of victims – we didn’t get our family beach picture this year.

This was also the first year that I did absolutely NO stitching or reading at the beach.  As I said, it was a very different vacation.

The little ones sure did enjoy the beach on the days we made it there!  I’ll share some pictures for you to enjoy.

This little guy was always smiling – so much that we didn’t even know he cut a tooth while we were there!


He and his uncle Steve were buds – 2 gingers hangin’ together.


Then there were the girls – they have such fun together!  Love that!

Being silly right before we ate at the restaurant…

girls silly 2015

Silly at the beach….

girls2 2015


And how sweet is this…..




Upon our return from the beach, I’ve been in the sewing room a lot, but not sewing, rather making up kits for an upcoming teaching event.  The kit making took an entire week.  I’ll share that process in another post.

Lest I forget to mention it – I also had a dress to make up prior to leaving for the beach!  I hope that all the heirloom sewing friends have heard about the new magazine that will soon be available – it is called Classic Sewing and will be published by Phyllis DePiano of Hoffman Publications.  Kathy McMakin is the talented editor of this new magazine.  The first issue is scheduled to come out in December and will be an Easter issue.  There promises to be lots of beautiful eye candy in this issue.  You’ll want to subscribe to this one!  You can read about it at the Classic Sewing magazine homepage.  I’m so excited about this new magazine and am delighted to be included as one of the contributors.  🙂  Here’s a little teaser for you.


After 2 weeks of not sewing – beach and kit making – it was time to clean around here.  Sure with that houses were self-cleaning like my oven!!!  But, since that’s not the case, I had some serious work to do.  The house needed it and the sewing room looked like a bomb went off in it!

So, that’s it for now!  I hope to get to the sewing room again this week, even if it is only for a little while.  I need to get going on some Christmas outfits with 4 little ones to dress!!!

What will you be working on?  I hope you have had some special sewing time as well…..