Monthly Archives: January 2018

Wee Care Week

Last week I celebrated my birthday – another year of life that the Lord has blessed me with.  I chose to celebrate my birthday by sewing tiny gowns for babies that would never celebrate a birthday here on earth.  I prayed for the families of that would receive these.  I have been blessed already by doing “for the least of these” as Matthew 25:40 says.

I wanted to do a variety of patterns, so here is the result of that.  I’ve been saving preemie patterns for years, but never tried any of them.  I enjoyed stitching some different things for these babies.

The first 2 gowns were very quick and easy to make.  I used the pattern downloaded from a blog.  These are the size for 2.5 – 4 lbs.  Because I made these from a tea towel, the hemline was already decorated and finished.  On the first gown, I matched the neckband to the stitching on the hem, but decided that the second gown was getting a pink gingham neckband.  I did not line the gowns as the pattern directs.

I liked the quick stitch and simple design of this gown pattern but wanted to add some embroidery, so I adapted the pattern and added a box pleat to the center so that I could machine embroider tiny designs to the front of the gowns.  The box pleat protects the babies fragile skin from the embroidery stitching.  Again, the are unlined.  I chose French seams instead of lining and it works quite well.

The dress with the blue gingham trim is the smallest size (1.5 – 2.5 lbs.) and the dress with the red trim is the next larger size.  The sweet embroidery design comes from Appliqué for Kids and is a perfect size for these tiny gowns.  I neglected to write where the anchor comes from – I have so many designs to choose from.

I drafted a tiny hat to go with the little gown and embroidered the hat.

One of our guild members brought in some tiny quilts with her gowns last year and I thought that was a lovely idea.  So, I found just the right tiny print in my stash of fabrics and cut 2″ strips and pieced together a tiny quilt to match the red trimmed gown.  The finished quilt is 18″ square and works well for a baby this size.

I have also made another identical quilt sized for the 1 lb. babies.  It is not pictured because it looks exactly the same, but measures 15″ square.  I think I will eventually make a gown to go with that quilt as well – I would prefer a gown with the turquoise stitching for that one.

I like using a nautical theme because our guild sends gowns to Camp LeJeune and it just seems appropriate.

I also drafted a tiny hat to go with the gown and embroidered it as well.

As I looked for other patterns in the files I’ve collected over the years, I found a pattern for a smocked boy’s cap, but it had no picture.  I was intrigued and had to make it.  It was labeled “preemie”.  It drives me crazy when the size cannot be identified!!!  I will eventually make a tiny gown to go with the boy cap, but I’m not thrilled with the finished look, so doubt I’ll use it again.  The finished size would fit a 1 lb. baby.  I think I just don’t care for an open back with a bow for a boy.  Call me picky!  LOL!  The pink hat is similar to my preemie pattern, but sized for a 1 lb. baby.  I will definitely be making a tiny gown to go with this.  I just ran out of time.

I first saw one of these sweet buntings at the SAGA convention in Hampton, VA.  One of the members had made several.  I had saved the pattern for the bunting prior to that, but hadn’t made it.  After seeing it in person, I knew I would have to make some of these.  I made 3 of them using chenille from my stash.  These are designed for babies smaller than 1 lb.  The doll inside the bunting is 5″ – just for reference.  These take a bit longer to make, but are well worth the effort.  The pattern is free.

The next gown is the smocked gown  rom AS&E #29 – a favorite pattern of mine.  I decided to do some machine embroidery at the hem and used a bodice design from Kathy Harrison’s Gals and Dolls pack.

Thought these are designed to be stitched on sheer fabric so that they will mimic real lace, I was very happy with the stitching on the batiste.  The smocking design is one that I made up as I stitched.  I rarely follow a published design when I smock the tiny gowns/bonnets.

The last 2 gowns were made from the SAGA Wee Care #1 pattern.  I used the pattern adaptation that was published in Sew News Volume 35, Issue #3 and the bonnet from Volume 36, Issue #3.  The corded pintucks add sweet detail and a touch of color.

The hem embroidery bear is another quick stitch from Appliqué For Kids.  I didn’t do the shadow work, but just stitched the outline – it was stitched in less than 2 minutes!

The tiny bear is another embroidery design that I forgot to note when I was choosing designs, but I’m sure that it would be easy enough to find a tiny design that is similar.

That wraps up a week and a half of stitching.  I have enjoyed every minute of it and hope that this inspires others to do some charity sewing as well.  There are so many organizations that would welcome additional items for their hospital donations.

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Easter Sewing

Yep, that’s right.  Now that Christmas is past, it’s time to think about Easter dresses!  Easter comes early this year – April 1st.  With that in mind, I chose to work on a dress that I started considering months ago.

Last year (maybe the year before) I found a beautiful Strasburg lace dress at a thrift shop for $4.  Why was it there?  Well, there was a section of melted lace.  😕  Strasburg lace dresses have always been beautiful.  They are made from quality fabrics and have beautiful smocking and/or hand embroidery on them.  However, although the laces are soft and look very much like the cotton heirloom laces that are typically used on heirloom dresses, the lace is a man-made material – probably nylon.  To iron these dresses, high heat is needed for the cotton, but if the heat is too high, the lace melts, rendering the dress useless.

I snatched up the dress and immediately removed the lace collar, including the lace around the collar that had been attached with a perfectly executed fagoting stitch.  Then I removed the embroidered panel around the hem of the dress.  It was surrounded with a cheap beading, which was also at the edge of the sleeves. At this point I set it aside to work on later…….

Months and months later, I rediscovered the dress as I cleaned up in my sewing room.  I pulled out my stash of white fabrics and found a cotton lawn that was the closest match in color and weight to the fabric used in the original dress.   I’m so pleased with the finished dress!!!

The original dress appeared to be around a size 6, so I made a size 7 dress for Ella to wear this Easter.  I used the Children’s Corner “Margaret” pattern (out of print) and shortened the bodice by 1″ and redrafted the sleeve to be less full.  The original dress was a float dress with a high bodice, but I chose a lower one since Ella will be 8 this spring.  It seemed more appropriate for her age.

The collar has beautiful shadow work and surface embroidery all around the collar.  I replaced the plastic lace with heirloom lace that was the same width and kept the same look, attaching the lace with #12 pearl cotton and the fagoting stitch.  I was very happy with the results.

The hem also had matching shadow work and surface embroidery and was well worth the effort to remove it and use it again.  I chose to use Swiss beading to attach the lace as I felt it would hold up better than using a soft, French Val lace.  I like the way that it looks without any ribbon running through the beading, so I may leave it that way.  I used the same Swiss beading for the arms, but did use ribbon there.

The embroidery design on the collar and hem band alternate with a shadow work bow design and then a surface embroidery design – both are beautiful.

I am so pleased with the finished dress.  It was a quick project with the use of the already embroidered collar and hem band.

With the dress finished, I realized that a slip was needed.  That was today’s snow day project. Now I have the Easter dress and slip finished and have a beautiful dress with a minimum amount of effort!  Win!!!

I did take a picture of the sleeve from the Strasburg dress as I found it interesting.  The sleeve is not gathered at the bottom edge of the sleeve, rather the beading is attached flat and the sleeve is then pulled up with the ribbons.

Upcycling a beautiful, but damaged dress has been a fun project!  Now I need to decide what I will do for the other 2 girls.  What will you be working on for Easter?   It’s time to start!

Kathy