Author Archives: Kathy

Fall At The Beach

I just returned from a beautiful weekend at the beach!!!  The beach in the fall is wonderful!  There are very few people on the beach, so it is very different from going in the summer when everyone is out enjoying the sun/sand.  I had the beach nearly to myself when I went out for a walk.  It was very quiet and peaceful.

When I arrived at the beach, I unpacked and then enjoyed a lovely walk on the beach.  This is what it looks like from both directions during the off-season.  Beauty – just as God created it!  It was just me and the birds!  LOL!  They didn’t seem to mind.

After my walk, I went out to the porch swing and enjoyed some stitching time while there was still sunlight to work by.  As you may be able to see, I’m working on my next Alabama Chanin style garment.  It doesn’t get better than this – a glass of wine and stitching as I overlook the canal!!!  I could hear the ocean waves as well.

Friday and Saturday I spent time teaching the Stranded Smockers and Stitchers Guild.  What a delightful group of ladies!  We all had fun and they were a great group to teach and we had a nice room for the class.  These ladies work so hard to put on Sewing At The Beach each January – it was really nice to be able to spend time with them when they weren’t “working”.  I’m so glad that they invited me to come and teach!

After class I returned to the beach house and enjoyed one last evening and morning there with a walk on the beach.

Sunday morning sunrise was just spectacular!  With the temperatures in the 60ºs and the ocean breezes, I was able to just enjoy God’s creation.  After seeing this gorgeous sunrise from the rooftop deck, I had to head to the beach for my walk and I knew the sunrise would be equally beautiful there!

I’ve returned home again and have unpacked.  Now to decide on what to do for today and my next project.  It was so wonderful to spend a quiet weekend away at such a peaceful place.  Next time I believe that I’ll have my husband join me and maybe spend longer there!  😊

 

 

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Stitching – Alabama Chanin Style

Recently I finished up my first garment that was stitched in the style of Alabama Chanin.  This is a far cry from heirloom stitching, but I love the look and enjoyed the process.  Everything about this was new to me.  I’ve never stenciled before.  I’m not great at the stenciling!  But I will persevere and hope to improve on that front.  Thankfully, most of what is stenciled is cut away!

When I first came across this style, I quickly bought a couple of her books – they come with patterns included.  The first book had paper patterns included in the back of the book while the second book had a CD with some of the same patterns, but some newer ones.  Be aware that if you choose to have the patterns printed, it can be expensive as they are on large paper.  One of the ones that I had printed ended up being $13.  I may try tiling them on the home printer next time and see how that works.  The books include detailed explanations on how to achieve the look.

To create the garments, the pattern pieces are first cut, then stenciled and then layered (stenciled fabric on top of base fabric) and pinned or basted together.  Then the handwork begins.  Each stenciled design is stitched around – I chose the easiest method, which was a running stitch.  After stitching around all the stenciled designs, the inside of each design is cut away, leaving just a bit of the stenciled area behind.  I love the resulting effect!

After all the stencils are stitched/cut, then the garment is hand stitched together.  There are many options for this as well – I chose a traditional (inside) seam allowance and then topstitched the seams for additional strength.

I ended up using a pattern that I drafted for my first garment.  It has been quite a learning experience, but a delightful one.  I know that the second garment will be better and I’ll do some things differently.  However, this one is one that I am happy to wear – it’s comfortable, and I am proud to have completed it.

I have my fabric, paint and stencil chosen for the next outfit.  I need to decide on the pattern so that I can get started!  However, last night I discovered that Alabama Chanin is offering a new class on Craftsy, so I immediately signed up and will be watching that before starting the next project – I’m sure that I’ll learn some new things from her – even if it is just watching her hands while she is stitching.  I can’t wait to start!

Since this is a slow process, I’m undecided if I should sew for cooler weather that is coming, or sew another warm weather garment since there are so many hours involved.  Decisions!

I hope you’re continuing to try and learn new things!  It’s always an adventure!!!

Dressing Dollies

In preparation for Christmas as well as a birthday (this week!), I have been sewing some doll clothes for the little girls.  This is such fun sewing!  I have several more on the cutting table, but thought I’d share a few before they leave the house.  These are for the 18″ dolls such as the American Girl dolls, Gotz dolls, etc.

I have my wonderful Dolly’s Wardrobe book, which has patterns that match the Children’s Corner patterns.  You can still purchase this book from Children’s Corner store.  I used these patterns to make doll clothes for our daughter, and used them again for the granddaughter’s.

I had a couple blouses cut out and partially sewn from when our youngest daughter still played with dolls.  They are vintage now!  LOL!  So, I finished one of them up to go under a jumper.

The jumper pattern is from Genniewren and goes together very quickly.  Her patterns are excellent as are the instructions.  I used the a-line dress pattern, but didn’t do the color blocking for this dress.  It’s an easy change to make.  If you don’t want to change up that pattern, her Melanie pattern top could be used – just add length.

I have another jumper made, but need to make a blouse to go with it yet.

The next dress made turned out so sweet!  I love smocking and was thrilled to make up this Lucy dress pattern.  I made up my own smocking design, though Genine has a pretty smocking design included with the pattern.  I think this is my new favorite dress pattern!

Instead of embroidering small flowers, I used tiny buttons from a craft pack.  That worked out great and was very quick and easy.

The last finished outfits are pants and a smocked top.  Genine made the top pattern to match my Temily top that was in the Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine several years ago.  It has just a bit of smocking in the center.  Her top pattern is called Kataya.  The pants are a very quick sew with an elastic waist.  I used the Melanie pattern and added length to the pants.  The pants can be worn with either of the tops.

I did make a change to the top pattern and had it open all the way down the top for easier dressing.  I wanted to make this as easy as possible so that “mom” didn’t have to be involved in dressing the dolls.  LOL!

Again, I did my own smocking design, though Genine provides a pretty smocking design in the pattern.  This is such a small section to smock, it can be finished in about 1/2 hour.

On this white top, I decided to try the neckband without elastic and with only a bias band.  It worked out well, but in the end, I prefer the elastic.

For all the doll outfits, I used snaps for the closures.  I like the Snap Source snaps – they come in so many colors and with either a closed cap or an open cap.  For the doll clothes, I used the size 14.

Today I’ll wrap up a couple of these for the birthday party, and save the others for Christmas.  I have many more needed for Christmas!!!  Next up for sewing is the doll coat pattern!  I can’t wait to sew this up – it’s cut and ready!!!

Have you started your Christmas sewing yet?  If not, I highly recommend the Genniewren patterns as well as the Children’s Corner Dressing Dolly book.

Sewing For Boys – The Pants Problems….

The weather will soon be cooler, and Liam will need pants to wear.  Shopping for pants for him has proven to be quite the challenge.  Why?  Skinny pants won’t work for him.    Ideally, some pull-on type of pants would be perfect so that he can get them on/off easily.  Have you tried looking for a pull-on pant that isn’t athletic wear?  They are almost impossible to find!!!

Naturally, I thought I could make pants for him.  However, finding a pattern that would fit was equally challenging.  I have many, many pants patterns from our favorite heirloom pattern companies as well as patterns from the big 4 companies and the Ottobre magazine.  Ottobre definitely has the most stylish clothing for boys and stitch them with plenty of the same details that you find on ready to wear garments.  But going through all my magazines and then tracing – ugh!

I have found that nearly all my pattern from heirloom sewing companies as well as the big 4 companies have “issues” – either the crotch ends up too low or the rise is way too high, coming above the belly button or both.  🙄  Also, the legs tend to be quite wide.

In the end, I decided to use a pair of Izod pants that I had purchased (the only pair suitable that I found) for reference.  With Liam’s measurements  and the sample garment, I made my own pattern.  Well, the first go at it was an epic fail!!!  😂  They ended up in the trash!  But, I stuck with it and the second pattern was a winner.

I used some royal blue poplin that was in my stash.  I didn’t spend time on many details since this was a test of the pattern.   I did add the same waistband treatment with the buttonhole elastic across the back.

With the sample finished, I tried the pants on Liam.  He wasn’t too thrilled with trying on clothes.  LOL!  But, we did manage, though you will need to excuse the silly poses – I love this funny boy.

Notice how the pants are below the belly – just like ready to wear.  Why can’t sewing patterns keep up with the style/trends that ready to wear have?  No children are wearing their pants up above the belly button!  Even when/if they try, the pants will slide down below the belly – it’s just the way they are built!

Thankfully, in spite of his antics, I could see that these were a good fit.  I had some khaki fabric in the stash and it was just the right fabric for some casual church type of pants for him.  The mannequin is a bit small for these pants, but you get the idea.  That said, this picture is the best representation of the color.

Pockets were added to the back.  I think I may make them slightly smaller the next time.

Pockets in the side seam were also added and a lighter weight fabric used for the pocket bag.

The pocket was edge stitched on the front and then extra stitching was added at the base of the opening for durability.

The inseam was edge stitched for both appearance as well as durability.

A mock zipper was added to the front of the pants and then a button above it to give the appearance of a button/zip closure.

I think these will work well for Liam – he will be able to pull them up and down easily but they still have the appearance of a dress pant.  Just like that, we’re ready for the cooler weather – whenever it wants to show up!

Are you ready for fall?  What are you sewing???

 

Buried in the Sewing Room!!!

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted lately, it’s because I’ve been buried in the sewing room!  It’s as if I have had ADHD in that room and it’s been chaos in there.  😱

After making the pillowcases for the little girls, I decided that Liam should get a pillowcase for Christmas as well, so I found some cute pirate fabric and whipped up a pillowcase for him.

Once that was completed, I decided to make a knit dress for Ella.  Well, that involved pulling out my tote of knits, going through patterns, Ottobre magazines, etc. and then tracing off patterns, washing knits, and on and on.  In the end, I couldn’t decide what to do as all the patterns I traced off were going to be too big.  Ugh!  I shoved that in the corner and then started working on doll clothes.

I found that I had several doll outfits cut out from when our youngest played with dolls.  Hahaha!!!!  Talk about nearly vintage!  These were 20 years old.  So, I completed a few of those, found more patterns and printed those out and made several, but then got distracted with making purses for the SewPowerful project (due to the affiliation with the doll dresses I was making). If you don’t know about the Sew Powerful project, you need to read up on it and (hopefully) participate!  Cinnamon and Jason have done a wonderful job helping these young girls stay in school with the purses and supplies that they provide as well as helping the moms work.  It’s a fabulous project.

I used some fabric that I had used previously for a tote bag and managed to whip up 7 purses and got them sent in.  Sadly, I only took pictures of the 4 matching ones.  I’ve since seen pictures of so many cute and creative designs and I’ll be doing more with trims and such when I make these again.  This is a year round project, so feel free to jump in and make one or many to send in!!!  I hope to hear that many of you will be supporting this wonderful cause.  The purses are easy to make and don’t use much fabric – it’s a wonderful way to use up stash.

With the purses completed, I started working on something for the Classic Sewing magazine. Of course, that involved pulling out more fabrics, drafting supplies, etc.  At this point there was stuff all over the sewing room!!!  It’s a small room, and the mess was monumental!  So, with a good start on that project, I turned to my Alabama Chanin style project.  I’ve worked on that for a couple of weeks – mostly because it is hand sewing and that way I could avoid the mess in the sewing room.  LOL!

I find this to be such a fun project!  I am not good at the stenciling of the fabric – I sew, I don’t paint.  So that was quite the challenge.  Embroidering on t-shirt fabric is different from any of the other type of embroidery that I’m used to.  It’s been a learning process.  With the embroidery completed, the center of the stenciled part is cut away.

The top is now complete, and I’ll have to get hubby to take a picture of it since I’m pretty sure you don’t want to see the bathroom mirror pictures.  😂

Then I moved on to the next challenge – little boy pants.  Of course, more fabric, patterns, tracing paper, etc. came out.  Yikes – the mess continues to grow.  I have managed to get a great fitting pair of pants for Liam, but that will be my next post.

I’ve cleaned up in the sewing room a bit.  When you lose patterns and fabrics that you need – well, it’s time to clean up.  I am used to working on a couple of projects at a time, but this has been ridiculous.  I will be returning to working on only a coupe things at a time and hopefully won’t get into this mess again.  We’ll see how that goes!

I hope you’re enjoying some fun stitching time!

 

 

Christmas and Crayons!

I have been stash diving lately, trying to decide on how to thin out the “stash”.  I have accumulated quite a large collection of fabrics due to many years of sewing for the public as well as selling outfits on Ebay back in the day.  LOL!  And then there is the obligation to purchase fabrics from all the various shops that have gone out of business in the last 25+ years or so because you never know when or where you’ll be able to purchase fabric again!!!  Needless to say, I can make most anything without setting foot in a store at this point since I have a collection of fabrics, laces, trims, buttons, etc.

As I was pulling out fabrics to let go of, I found this gem – some really fun fabric that was made by a company called Princess Fabric, Inc.:

I purchased this fabric 8+ years ago at a unique little shop that had everything you could imagine – current and vintage sewing supplies!  It was kind of like a “pickers” store – nothing was merchandised pretty and you had to dig through to find things.  I got several treasures there.  I had no particular plan other than that I thought it might make a great boutique outfit to sell on Ebay.  That never happened.  It was going to be sold for a bargain, but then I had a fabulous idea!!!

This fabric is meant to be colored, so I immediately ordered fabric crayons – 3 sets for 3 granddaughters.

Then I whipped up 3 pillowcases with different band colors for the different girls.  That way the pillowcases will match the bedroom and will also help with identification, should they have a sleepover and all use their Princess Pillowcases.

Crafting, princesses and new pillowcases!!!  What could be more fun than that!!!  I know that the little girls will be thrilled with this gift.  They are all about crafting and princesses.  I had just enough fabric for the 3 pillowcases and have a 6″ strip left, which I will include for them to practice on.  Coloring on fabric is a bit different than coloring on paper.  😜  I also thought that would help the moms practice with the “heat set” after the coloring is over.

They can color on both sides of the pillowcase – that should keep them busy for a minute!  Don’t you just love all the different “scenes”!!!

I’m thrilled to have a Christmas gift finished!!!  I know others that have already been sewing Christmas gifts and have quite a few put away.  Maybe this will inspire me to continue with the Christmas shopping – even though it’s in the 90’s here!!!

I’ve also done some other sewing this week – I made several more of the ready to smock nightgowns (finished with that for a bit) as well as some tiny diapers to go with the Wee Care gowns.  I’m not sure what will be next, but I have a feeling that it will be something unexpected as I continue the stash diving!  If anyone is interested, there are several groups on Facebook where you can buy/sell from each other.  I’m trying to stick to selling, though sometimes it’s hard to not buy something!  LOL!  If anyone is interested, place a comment and I’ll add you to the groups!!!

Another Dress + Zip Tutorial

Another day, another dress!  When I delivered the last dress to Ella, Eva was very downcast that she didn’t get a dress (in spite of the fact that she told me she didn’t like it and didn’t want it the day before!).  So, since she requested a purple and pink one just like Ella’s (the C’est Dimanche Roma remake), I had to make one for her as well.  It’s a fun dress, so I was happy to make something that she actually wanted!!!  She hasn’t been a fan of any of my creations lately – only the dolly dresses.

 

I drafted the dress in a size 5, did some stash diving to find a purple and pink floral for her – she wouldn’t want “dainty”, but rather something bold.  I found a suitable purple and orange.  I hope that will suffice – there’s some pink in there!

I chose a contrast center panel for this dress – just to break up the busy print.  I am happy with the choice as well as the bright orange piping.  With fall right around the corner, I decided to add sleeves to this dress.  Keeping with the lines of the dress, I chose to draft a straight sleeve and piped those and lined them with the contrast used on the front panel.

Because I wasn’t thrilled with the button back option of the first dress, I decided that this dress would get a zipper.  I find a zipper to be a much more practical option than buttons all the way down the back – especially since this will be a play dress.  Trying to minimize the opportunity for a wardrobe malfunction!  Eva is one busy and wild girl, so wardrobe function is important.

I had Livvy and Liam over yesterday afternoon, so I got Livvy to try on the dress.  I think that it is a bit big on her – I made a size 5, and it’s a perfect fit on my size 5 mannequin, but Livvy is still 4, as is Eva.  I may have to make a size 4 pattern and sew some 4’s for Livvy and Eva.  Isn’t she cute!!!  I think I’ll add a narrow sash to the back so that it can be snugged in and worn now.  Pardon the cell phone picture!  LOL!

There are 3 different zipper choices that could be made – invisible, lapped zipper or centered zipper.  I didn’t have an invisible zipper, so opted for a lapped zipper back.  I think it’s a nice, clean finish and almost invisible.

When I learned to sew, we were taught that the centered zipper looked “cheap” as it was used on the mass-produced garments seen in less expensive stores, while lapped zippers were seen in better clothing.  I don’t even know if these distinctions are even made anymore, but in my mind, a lapped zipper looks better.  I’m happy with the results and it will make dressing quick and easy.

I know that so many seamstresses (both new seamstresses as well as seasoned ones) have a fear of zippers, so I thought I’d share my easy application that I’ve used for many years. (I had to use cell phone pictures, but I think they are clear enough)  When I learned to do zippers this way 20+ years ago, it was such a game changer for me.  I hated the basting, etc. that was taught in home ec classes and was never happy with the end results prior to this method.  I have chosen contrast fabric/zipper/thread so that it will be easy to see.

Choose your zipper, place it next to the seam area and with the top of the zipper even with the upper edge of the fabric, mark along the seam where the bottom stop of the zipper is (the metal part at the bottom).  Sew the seam below the mark with a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance open.  Then press open the 5/8″ seam allowance on both sides above the stitched seam.  A seam guide works really well for this task, giving the fabric a nice crisp crease while measuring at the same time.

With the zipper foot on the machine, place the top edge of the zipper even with the top edge of the fabric and place the zipper seam allowance underneath the fold, placing the raised edge of the zipper right against the folded edge of the dress fabric.  Stitch very close to the folded edge (1/8″ or slightly less).

After taking the first couple stitches, leave the needle in the fabric and raise the zipper foot and carefully open the zipper past the zipper foot area.  Continue stitching along the folded edge.  After a couple of inches have been stitched, leave the needle in the fabric, raise the zipper foot and close the zipper.  Put the zipper foot back down and continue stitching until you reach the bottom of the zipper, where you placed the mark.

At the bottom of the zipper (make sure that you are just PAST the metal stop), leave the needle in the fabric, raise the zipper foot and pivot the fabric/zipper 90º.  Take the other side of the seam allowance and place the folded edge right on top of the stitching line and lower the zipper foot.  Hand crank the wheel of the sewing machine for 4 – 5 stitches.  You want to be just on the other side of the zipper.

Then raise the zipper foot, pivot the fabric 90º, lower the zipper foot and begin stitching back up towards the top of the fabric, keeping the stitching line evenly spaced from the folded edge (use masking tape to aide with stitching straight if needed) and with the folded edge staying exactly on top of the previously stitched line (you want to JUST cover that line of stitching).

When you approach the pull tab of the zipper, put the needle down into the fabric, raise the zipper foot and open the zipper.  Place the seam allowance of the fabric so that it is aligned with the seam allowance of the zipper.

Continue stitching keeping the foot the same distance from the folded edge and stitch to the end of the fabric.

With my contrast thread, you can see that I got a little jag over when I opened the zipper foot – I was hurrying rather than being careful.  Of course, with matching thread this wouldn’t be visible.  However, the goal is to keep everything perfectly even.  😛  It took me less than 2 minutes to put this zipper in – it took longer to stop and take the pictures during the process than it did to stitch the zipper!

As you can see, the lapped zipper is even, the stitching line is covered by the fold of the lap.  When a waistband or facing is sewn to the top edge, it leaves a beautiful finish.

If you’ve been afraid of zippers, give this a practice try – you’ll be amazed at how easy zipper installation is using this technique.

What’s next in the sewing room?  Maybe another pattern draft, though I have pulled out and washed some knits that I may give a try sewing.  😃

French Pattern Review and Remake

If you read my last post about the knit nightgowns, you know that my friend sent me home with a French pattern that she was anxious for me to make.  So, that was my project for the day yesterday.

Over the weekend I spent time researching the dress pattern since I wasn’t at all familiar with the pattern line or this specific dress.  The pattern line is called C’est Dimanche and the pattern name is Roma.  Because my Norton security indicates that the website may not be “safe”, I have not gone there for any information or to see what else is available.  I’m notorious for getting viruses.  😳

Isn’t this the cutest dress!!!  The designer clearly has some fabulous design ideas.  Cuteness sells, and I think she’s sold quite a few!

Pinterest was my main source for research.  I like to see the fit of the dress on a real child since I know that sketches can be misleading.  The pictures on Pinterest weren’t encouraging – most looked to be ill-fitting and too long-waisted.  I also found a blog with a “tutorial”, which is obviously needed given the instructions it was really tragic, to say the least (bias cut on the straight, etc. – and it turned out as bad as you are imagining!!!).  I decided a muslin of the bodice was necessary before cutting into good fabric.

This pattern is so trendy and fun – I can certainly see the appeal.  The open neckline and the faux Peter pan collar are something that young moms really like!  True necklines and classic Peter pan collars are things that I continually hear young moms call “old-fashioned”, not to mention that they believe that the necklines are too tight.  Kids today aren’t used to the close fit of a true neckline, so I can see where they may be perceived as too tight.  Generational differences.  LOL!

Cutting out the muslin and then attempting to sew it proved to be more of a challenge than i anticipated!!!  The pattern was first offered only in French, but later an english version was offered, which is what my friend bought.  That said, the english version is most interesting.  LOL!   I have to wonder about the translation.  These are phrases that aren’t ones I’ve ever encountered in my many years of sewing.

The description leaves a lot to be desired and the diagram doesn’t really help.  LOL!  Thankfully, I don’t really need instructions.  Pity the seamstress that does need them!!!

There were several things about the muslin that I found to be strange.  After sewing the shoulder seams, I thought that they looked very oddly shaped.  What’s with that jut outwards at the shoulder seam?

Once I got the muslin going, I found other minor issues that were easily corrected.  The biggest problem that I found was the lack of directions regarding the seam at the back bodice – I couldn’t find any directions or diagrams for that.  I suspect that is the reason that there are no pictures on any fan blogs of the back of the dress.  The pattern markings are only in French.  You do cut the back lining shorter than the bodice lining at the back edge. I believe that the bodice is to wrap around to the back to make a facing, and then join to the lining.  However, I never found any instructions in the pattern that addressed the bodice back and I’m not sure how that happens after you stitch the entire neckline.  😳  Thankfully, it is only a muslin.  I marked the center back line and left the back unstitched.

Once the bodice was finished, I tried it on my victim.  The fit wasn’t stellar and the longer waistline just looked frumpy. I decided that rather than work with this pattern draft, I would take the idea and draft my own pattern from a bodice that I know fits.  I’m so glad that I did!

The pattern instructions leave out so many instructions – no interfacing is advised, no instructions to clip curves before turning, no under stitching, no stitching reinforcement at that sharp turn of the collar section (though a circle of iron-on interfacing is suggested as optional), etc.  I don’t know if the designer assumes that this is common knowledge, or if she’s  not familiar with these techniques.

My final assessment of the pattern is that the designer has a wonderful idea, but the pattern and instructions leave a LOT to be desired.  I wouldn’t recommend it, though she has a fan blog with many glowing reviews.

My dress is made from a lightweight print chambray.  I added piping to the armholes as well as the waistline.  I interfaced the faux collar to give it body and crispness and, of course, interfaced the facings in the back.

The original pattern has a gathered skirt and a waistline that is lower, more at the true waist. I don’t care for that look on little girls (most of the Pinterest pictures confirmed that), so I went with my usual raised waistline.  I thought that the style of the dress was very “Laverne and Shirley” (you have to be over 50 to be familiar with that reference), so I decided to put a circle skirt on the bodice.  I love the result!!!

I did choose to button all the way down the back, which isn’t my favorite for kids.  Next time I think I’ll do an invisible zipper, which I think will be a better choice.

I can’t wait to see this on Ella!  My mannequin is a professional fitting mannequin, but a size 5 and the dress is a size 7.  Not idea, but it’s the best I can do.  This dress is really for next spring/summer for Ella, but I’m sure that she will be able to wear it a little big for the remainder of the summer.  Now that I have the pattern drafted in Ella’s size, I may try another one with more of an heirloom twist.  We’ll see….

I think my next project will be a quick and easy dress for Eva’s doll.  She doesn’t like anything I sew for her 😂, but she’s all about new clothes for her doll.

 

 

 

Smocked Knit Nightgowns!

As I was going through many of my older magazines, I came across a pattern for a smocked knit nightgown in an old AS&E magazine.  I decided that I had to try smocking on knits.  I think this would be so sweet as a coming home from the hospital gown for the young moms that are more casual and wouldn’t do a smocked day gown.  I pulled out a white knit from my “stash”, but was too lazy to dig deep into the stash.  Instead, I called my best friend and told her I needed some ribbing to make the nightgown.

What is it about shopping in someone else’s stash that is so much more fun than going through your own???  She had pulled out several knits and some ribbing.  I went home with 2 pieces of knit from her stash and a couple of options for ribbing.  Then I went to work.

Because we didn’t find a good match for the white fabric (you know how many shades of white there are!), I chose to use yellow.  This white fabric is really nice, but heavy!  It is the weight of those “beefy” T’s.  It was a real bear to get through the pleater – much like pleating corduroy or velveteen.  Once I got it pleated, it was a dream to sew and to smock.  I smocked my design rather than what was included in the magazine.

The next nightgown that I worked on was the lavender rosebud print from my friend.  I made 2 of those.  It was a nice, lightweight knit and easier to sew.  I’m in the process of smocking it, but include it in the pictures anyway.  The next gown that was made was the pink gown with long sleeves shown in the next picture.  After finishing it, I determined that those sleeves are much too long!

With 4 gowns finished, I went over to deliver hers and we proceeded to go through more of her stash.  She pulled out her harder to get to knits (you know how those stashes are squirreled away!) and I went home with a LOT more pieces of fabric.

With the new pieces of fabric in my sewing room, I cut and pleated up 9 gowns in one day and then stitched up one of them that evening.  I’m telling you, these are so quick to make!  Once cut, I think it takes about 40 minutes to completely sew the gown – and that includes counting the pleats to find the center.

These last 2 are “vintage” Carter’s knit fabric.  Does anyone else remember when you could shop at outlet shops and buy the fabrics and trims as well?  This was LONG before those yellow “sort of” outlets that are all over the place.  I think that the lavender may be from a children’s wear outlet as well.  These knits have aged well and are now ready to smock!

While I would always choose a beautiful daygown for a baby, so many young moms haven’t got a clue what a daygown is and they certainly don’t want to iron.  I think these nightgowns along with a burp pad and bib will make a lovely baby shower gift!  If you disagree, please don’t burst my bubble – I love believing that these will be enjoyed and used.  😛

The gown pattern was in AS&E #19 – an older magazine and probably difficult to find. It came ins a NB – 12 lb. size as well as a 12 – 18 lb.   It has 3 sleeve options so that is nice.  I love the little puffed sleeve!  So sweet and little girlish.  In the magazine it is longer and designed to smock.  I didn’t want to smock the sleeves and so I shortened them and added the cuff that was designed for the straight short sleeve instead.  I’m really happy with the results.  I have a few other suggestions if someone has that magazine and plans to make the nightgown.

  •  The long sleeves are way too long.  I made the sleeves on the pink gown according to the pattern.  For the other gowns, I trimmed 1″ off the sleeve length and I think another 1/2″ could easily be removed.
  • The shoulders at the back yokes don’t fit together properly – the back shoulder is 1/4″ wider than the front shoulder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I chose to smock a simple design on the dress and then graphed it out to share with my readers.  I also changed up the graph to be suitable for a Wee Care dress or a tiny bishop.  I hope that you will enjoy it!  This is suitable for any small space that you want to smock – including a bonnet!

I think that this little gown could easily be made by adapting a t-shirt pattern – maybe even one from Kwik Sew.  I’ll have to look into that.  It would be adorable as a tiny dress with matching panties as well.

So, after completing 8 ready to smock gowns, I put the other 5 that I have cut out away and brought my serger in for a spa treatment!  It is much-needed.  I’ll be working on a French pattern next.  Stay tuned for a report on that.

*** Please excuse the bad pictures, I was having a bad picture day today and seemed that nothing was in focus.  Ugh!***

Beach and Bonnets!!!

Last weekend was spent at the beach with friends.  We had a wonderful time and great weather!!!  I can’t wait to go again!

During the 3-1/2 hour drive there and back, I was smocking bonnets!!!  I love a sweet bonnet and all our little girls (daughters and granddaughters) wore bonnets.  After returning home from the beach, I got busy putting together the bonnets so that I could get my new pattern listed on Etsy.  I’m thrilled to offer this bonnet pattern.  I’ve named it Bella’s Vintage Smocked Bonnet.  It was inspired by the many vintage bonnet patterns that I’ve seen.

I’ve included 2 different styles for the bonnets – the bonnet on the left has more smocking and bias trim details while the bonnet on the right is a quicker and easier style with just a bit of smocking at the bonnet brim, narrow hemmed sides and a casing with ribbon for the back closure.

Because baby head sizes vary so much, I’ve included 4 sizes in the pattern.  A Preemie (5 lb.) size, which also fits the Bitty Baby dolls, a NB – 6 mo. size, a 1 – 2 and a 2 – 3.  I believe that pretty much covers all sizes that would wear a bonnet.  LOL!  It is just as sweet on a doll as on a baby!

This is the NB sized bonnet being modeled by a Lee Middleton doll.

This is the Preemie size modeled on an American Doll Bitty Baby doll.

Graphs for all the sizes are included in the pattern, so no need to figure out how to downsize the graph.  I’ve had such fun making each of these bonnets!

All of my bonnets were made from Imperial batiste for easy wash/wear.  I know how quickly a little drool can “decorate” the bonnets, so something easy to wash and put back on the baby was planned, though it would be beautiful in the special heirloom fabrics as well. I look forward to making more of these to have for baby gifts!  I hope that others will also enjoy making them as well!!!

So, that’s what I’ve been stitching lately – what have you been up to?.

Girls and Dolls

I’ve had such a great time sewing for the little girls and their dolls this past week!!!  When I delivered the dresses and matching doll dresses, the little girls squealed with delight!  That makes it all worthwhile.  They immediately dressed their dolls and had to show me.

I let Ella and Eva choose fabric when they visited a week ago.  They aren’t necessarily what I would have chosen, but they are what the girls wanted, so that’s what I made. I have pinned the doll dress to the little girl dresses in all the pictures.  I hope that will be visible enough.

The first dress was the Children’s Corner  “Lillian” pattern.  I had a matching stripe fabric that I used to make a center panel and trimmed the panel with large rick rack.

I took a commercial doll pattern and changed it up a bit to look more like the Lillian pattern.

Extra large buttons finished off the front of the dress.

I had to take a picture of the back of the dress to show how matching the design is such a great idea – it makes the pattern on the back of the dress flow so nicely and seamlessly.  My friend, Joan Messinger would give her approval on this – she always matches everything perfectly!!!

The next dress was the Children’s Corner “Lucy” dress.  This continues to be a favorite pattern of mine for a quick dress.  Eva was adamant that she needed the flamingo fabric!  LOL!  Now, we’ll see if she will wear it.  She is very opinionated about her choice of clothing (at 4 years old!) and has nixed most of the things that I make.  I think that the doll dress may be the ticket to wearing this outfit, but we’ll see.

I used the same pattern for her doll dress as I did for Ella’s doll dress, but changed it up for shoulder snaps.  Silly me, I didn’t think about it being more tricky for a 4-year-old to pull up a dress on a doll.

The cherry outfit was my choice.  I used the Bonnie Blue “Claire” pattern for this outfit.  I had heard that these patterns run very large, so I made a size smaller than I would have normally chosen, and it is still very roomy on Ella.  I trimmed the top with spaghetti bias and then used the same for the shorts to tie it all together.

The smocking design is one that I have drafted and changed up a bit for each outfit that I make.  I still am not 100% satisfied with it, so will do a few more changes the next time I stitch it.

I tied the spaghetti bias into bows at the side seam of the shorts and then hand-stitched through the center of the bow to tack them so that they wouldn’t continually come undone.

Sorry for the slightly blurry back picture – it is the only one that I took and I didn’t realize that it’s not so sharp.  The double back buttons are cute, but I think they may be a bit tedious to do up for each wearing.  We’ll see how mom feels about this before I make another double back button top.  If it is too much trouble, I’ll draft the back to be a single button back.

I still need to make a matching doll set for the cherry outfit.  I’ve found a pattern that I think will work.

Because I’m saving the Frannie dress in my previous post for Livvy’s birthday in October, I needed to make her a dress and matching doll dress as well.  For her dress, I used one of my inserts from my stash of Beaux et Beaux inserts.  I always get questions about where to buy these inserts, so I’ll answer that right away – they are not selling the inserts any more.  Sometimes you can find an insert for sale on Ebay or Etsy.  I’m glad that I purchased so many when I did – they have come in handy when I’ve needed a quick dress and the quality of stitching is fabulous!

Livvy was thrilled with the “fairy” dress but noted right away that the dolly dress didn’t have a fairy on it!  Hahaha!!!  I should have used some machine embroidery for that, but didn’t want to spend the time hunting for the right size fairy for that.  Perhaps for Christmas…..

It continues to amaze me that these inserts are stitched with only 2 strands of floss for the picture smocking – such detail!!!

I love sewing for the little girls and happily will make matching dolly sets.  I know how quickly they grow up, so I’m enjoying this stage of their life!

I hope that you’re stitching something that you love!!!

Fabulous “Frannie” Dress

After a week of frantic sewing to meet deadlines last week, I chose to do some enjoyable sewing for the grandkids this week.  It was just what I needed!  I’ve had such fun working on this latest project.

One of my favorite dresses is the “Frannie” dress by Lyn Weeks.  The dress pattern was inspired by a vintage pattern, which I feel sure has something to do with why I love it.  I really love vintage pattern styles.  The sleeve treatment is a bit tricky to accomplish, which causes many seamstresses to give up on sewing this pattern.  I’ve been participating in a sew-along on one of the sewing forums, and it has been fun to see what everyone is working on.  I have finished my dress, along with the matching doll dress and am very pleased with the results.

The original pattern by Lyn has the doll dress pattern included in the larger sizes, which is called “Frannie’s Big Sister”.  Martha Pullen/Sew Beautiful purchased the pattern rights from Lyn several years ago and sold the pattern, but I’m not sure that you can still buy either of the patterns from them at this point.

The original patterns from Lyn came in a cream colored envelope.

In the pattern is a black and white photo of a suggested smocking design, but no graph for it. I have followed the picture in the past and smocked that design, which is quite pretty.  However, for this dress, I chose to use the design that I did for Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine for my “Paisley Park” outfit (Issue #84).

After getting the geometric smocking finished, I decided to not make the flower petals, but to leave the flower centers as polka dots and then did an outline stitch around the dots and a French knot in the center.  I think it goes well with the fabric.

For the matching doll dress, I attempted to mimic the design on a smaller scale.  I’m happy with they way that it turned out, though it has less detail.

The pattern looks big for the little girls, so I think I’ll save it for a birthday gift in October.  I think it’s going to be a hit!  After all, what little girl doesn’t love matching her dolly!!!

If you manage to find this pattern on the second hand market, you may want to pick it up since they are getting difficult to find.  I hope to start stitching a more traditional dress from this pattern next!

What fun projects are you stitching this summer???

 

 

Sweet Baby Bishop

I have finally had some time to do some relaxing sewing/smocking!  While we were away at the beach, I smocked such a sweet bishop dress that I wanted to make for a baby gift.  Another couple in our Bible study group just had their first granddaughter a few weeks ago.  So, this was the perfect opportunity to stitch a little dress for the baby.

It was so relaxing to sit and stitch without the pressure of deadlines.  I knew once we got home that I would be stitching with a deadline again, so I enjoyed every minute of this relaxing, no-pressure stitching.  Of course, being at the beach certainly helped!

After stitching the dress, I decided to keep my illustrator skills sharp and graph the design.  For my dress, I loved the pink/yellow combination, but any combination of pastels would be lovely.  I used DMC#963 & 3078.  I thought I’d share the smocking plate with my readers.  😊   I gave this smocking design the same name as the baby it was gifted to!

The hem treatment was so easy – I folded up the hem depth twice and then stitched the tuck, encasing the hem at the same time.  I added ribbon and a bow above the hem just for interest.  I think it’s a nice option to add just a bit of color.

I also stitched a couple of bonnets while I was at the beach, but I’ll save those for another post.

Upon my return home, I got right down to sewing the next dress for the Classic Sewing magazine.  If you enjoy smocking and heirloom sewing, you should consider a subscription to the magazine – it provides so many patterns and free downloads with each issue.

I just received my fall issue of the magazine last week and was thrilled to see how beautifully they photographed the dresses that I’d submitted for this issue!  Could the models be any cuter!!!

I guess that means that it’s time to think about some fall sewing!!!  What will you be stitching?

 

 

R & R

My super busy spring schedule has finally wound down and I’m now in R&R mode.  While I had planned to get some rest after this busy season, I am forced to rest now due to recovering from being ill.  Not my favorite rest, but rest nonetheless.

I enjoyed a lovely time with the Seaside Smockers guild in Virginia Beach.  What a wonderful group of ladies!!!  We had such fun stitching and sewing the Annalise top and then practicing picture smocking.  I’ve already seen some pictures of finished garments!

This group of ladies were ready to go!

I kept them working hard!

After returning from this workshop, I headed to Michigan for a visit with my folks and my sister.  I’m so blessed to have both of my parents still living on their own and I treasure the time that I get to spend with them.  Mom isn’t doing well and doesn’t get out much, but the promise of a visit to the ice cream store seemed to be just the right motivation for her to “feel better” one evening.

We visited “Norm’s Ice Cream” shop and they served the biggest small cone I’ve ever seen!!!

I love this picture of my mom and sister!  It was a moment in time where mom could forget her pain and enjoy her favorite treat.

Another afternoon we were able to get mom out of the house and we visited the temporary shops along the Lake Michigan shore.  These are the cutest little shops with unique gift items.  We walked along the row and checked out each shop during this non-busy time, which is very rare.

During this visit with mom, my sister and I took out mom’s entire collection of vintage, hand painted Bavarian cups & saucers and luncheon/dessert plates.  What a gorgeous collection!!! We put together 8 groups of these beautiful dishes – one group for each of her 8 granddaughters – and then my sister and I wrapped them up and boxed them for shipping.  Mom wanted each of the girls to have some special pieces that will remind them of her whenever they use these.  I wish we had thought to take a picture of all the pretty sets lined up – there were so many of them and each as beautiful as the next!

Our girls opened their gifts when we got together for our Father’s Day celebration.  They loved the beautiful dishes!!!

Check out all the beautiful cups and saucers on the counter!!!


So, after a lovely visit in MI, I returned home rather sick and have been faithfully taking my meds and resting since then.  We’ll be heading for the beach for some more R&R next week and I’m looking forward to it!  I hope to gather some stitching to take along with me so that I can get in some relaxing stitching time while I’m away.  I know I’ll enjoy that!

What beautiful things are you stitching during your summer vacation???

 

Busy! Sewing, Teaching and Drawing!!!

This is my busy month of travel.  Two weeks ago I was in Houston teaching for the Midnight Oil smocker’s guild and had a wonderful time with that group of ladies!  They did a fabulous job working on their techniques and dresses and I’ve seen a couple of pictures of the finished dress already.  No grass is growing under their feet!   This is the dress that they were making:

I’m heading out today to teach in Virginia for the Seaside Smockers guild.  I’m looking forward to a good workshop with them.  We will be doing the Annalise top and some picture smocking.

With my busy schedule, I haven’t had a lot of sewing time.  So, between classes I decided to do a bit of my charity sewing for the tiniest of babies.  I made several sets of the Teeny Tears diapers to go with the Wee Care gowns that our SAGA guild makes.  These were already cut out, so it was just a matter of sewing them.

Next up was a sweet little gown made for an under 1 lb. baby.  A set of diapers was made to match this gown as well.

The last project was for the Caleb Ministry and features some pretty, pin-stitched lace details.

In addition to sewing, I have been hard at work learning how to draw on the computer.  Several years ago I learned (with the help of Claire Meldrum) how to graph smocking designs on the computer.  It took several years along with many tears and frustration, but I finally “got” it.  I’m definitely NOT a computer person.

My goal at the beginning of last year was to become more proficient in Adobe Illustrator so that I could diagram stitches and techniques in my class notes.  I worked hard at it and have been able to do many of the stitches and diagrams, though not all.  So, these last couple weeks I’ve been working at learning some of the different “tools” available in the software.  I have really enjoyed the process and have learned more in the last couple weeks that I believe will make my drawings even better.

My first drawings were for a new correspondence class that I have been working on.  It is a French machine sewn bonnet, so involved drawing many illustrations of lace joining, which I’ve done before.  I expanded the illustrations and when the bonnet was finished, I drew a picture on the computer as well as took a photograph.  I’m quite pleased with the results.

The computer drawing of the bonnet:

I still can’t draw gathered lace very well, but that will improve with practice.  LOL!

Taking the drawing even further, and with the new brush tools I’ve learned, I have drawn a bishop dress.  I’m really happy with the results and think that they look very much like a charcoal sketch.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to!  Hopefully when I return I will be able to sew a bit more!  I hope that sewing is on your summer schedule!

Keep on stitching…..

Kathy