Author Archives: Kathy

Christmas Sewing in July

I love getting a head start on Christmas sewing!!!  I was told that there is a Disney trip planned for Jan. 2019 and that the kids could use some special clothes for the trip.  While I’m sure that the intent was for 1 or 2 outfits, I have had so many different ideas in my head that who knows how many they will end up with!  LOL!

My first thoughts took me to the “Vida” dress by Farbenmix.  It continues to be a favorite of mine because of the fun in designing the dress with different fabrics and trims.  I definitely have to think outside the box for me.  My box tends to be classic, heirloom and smocking.  This dress is none of the above!  That said, I still have LOVED every Vida dress that I’ve made. The newest one is a Minnie Mouse dress, complete with a monogram.

Before starting the dress, I had to wash all the fabrics.  That slowed me down only for one day!  Then I got started on the dress the following day and had it finished by the end of the day.  I love it!

Since it is a brother/sister going to Disney, little brother needed something as well.  I chose a more masculine monogram for him and I think he will love it.  I purchased shorts to go with it, but my mannequin is too small for his size and the shorts fall off.  LOL!  Suffice it to say that he will not be without some cute shorts to wear with his shirt.

I spent countless hours on the computer looking through my thousands of embroidery designs.  Unfortunately, after looking for all the perfect appliqué designs for both outfits as well as the other outfits in the works, I can only recall that the fonts came from Kabo Designs on Etsy.  However, when I went to search for a link to share the fonts, I discovered that they are no longer selling embroidery fonts, but have changed to die cut outs.  So sad – the fonts stitched out beautifully.  I’m glad that I have so many to choose from.

Next up in the sewing room is another t-shirt for Liam.  I have Livvy’s princess carriage outfit finished and have selected his appliqué design.  I just need to stitch it out.

I am having such fun with this sewing.  I’m definitely going to make all the little girls a Vida dress for a Christmas gift.  I had forgotten how much fun it was to sew this dress!

Moving forward…..hope to get more things done!  I hope everyone else is enjoying some fun summer stitching!  Remember, Christmas isn’t that far off!  LOL!

Quilted Micro-Preemie Bunting Pattern & Tutorial

The last several months I’ve been sewing some of the adorable micro-preemie buntings that I found as a free download on the internet.  It is adorable and very functional.  Our SAGA guild has already been able to provide one of these buntings to a family that lost their precious little girl.  Of course, that made me want to make more of these, so I proceeded to cut out and begin to sew 16 more.  I have all but 8 of them finished, many are duplicates, so I only included a photo of different fabrics..  They have taken a considerable amount of time.

While I love the pattern and the style, I fount it to be very tedious with all the fiddly parts of it – the extra blanket inside, a pillow, etc.  After making quite a few of these and having to hand sew on all those tiny ribbons, I was determined to come up with something that had the same look, but was easier to construct and my goal was to eliminate the hand sewing since it took hours to stitch on all the little ribbons!

I am quite pleased with the gown that I came up with and am thankful for the inspiration that came from the first pattern that I made so many of.  I have been able to complete 3 of these buntings in the same time that it takes me to complete one of the other ones.  It also uses less fabric & ribbon and requires no hand sewing.  So, I’m offering it as a free download to anyone that wants to make these. (fingers crossed that the PDF download works!)  I know that they are much appreciated by both the families as well as the hospitals.

Kathys Quilted Micro-Preemie Bunting

Quilted Micro Preemie Bunting – For Babies Less Than 1 lb.

This sweet little bunting has been designed as a burial bunting for micro preemie babies.  It stitches up quickly and uses minimal amounts of fabric.  Quilting the fabric gives it the necessary body.  Small bits of lace or trim can be used for embellishment if desired.  A little hand or machine embroidery can be done very quickly.

Fabric for the inside of the bunting should be flannel, though any soft and absorbent fabric can also be used.  A variety of fabrics can be used for the outside fabric.  If pre-quilted fabric is used it eliminates the need to quilt the fabric.  Quilting cottons, broadcloth, satin, piqué, etc. all work well for the outside fabric of the bunting.  A lightweight minky fabric or cotton chenille also work for the outside of the bunting.  If using either of these fabrics, I would recommend using flannel rather than batting for the inner layer.

Small scraps of trims or lace can be used to decorate the front flaps of the bunting.  These would include ribbons, soutache braid, Swiss eyelet lace, Val lace, rickrack, etc.

 Supplies:

12” W x 15” L piece of fashion fabric

12” W x 15” L piece of batting

12” W x 15” L piece of flannel

12” W x 15” L piece of batiste (optional)

24” of ¼” or 1/8” ribbon

12” of lace/trim (optional)

Thread to match

Blue wash out marker

Print the pattern. Ensure that the pattern has been printed to the correct size by checking the 1” box.  Printing should be done from a computer, not a phone or tablet.  Cut out the 2 pattern pieces and tape together, matching the notch.  Printing 2 copies of the pattern and taping both together will give the full pattern piece, which is helpful for aligning patterns on the fabric.

To mark the fashion fabric for quilting, start on one side of the fabric and using a gridded ruler, mark lines at 1” intervals along both the length and the width of the fabric. The grids can also be stitched at 45º angles for a different look.

Place batiste with wrong side facing up.  Place the batting on top of the batiste, matching all cut edges and then place the fashion fabric, right side up, on top of the batting, aligning all cut edges. Pin to secure.  Starting at the center line of the 15” L, stitch along the line from top to bottom.  Moving out from the center line, stitch remaining lines until all the lines have been stitched along the 15” length.  Repeat for the process for the 12” W to complete the quilting of the fashion fabric.

Using batiste as the backing for the quilted fabric is optional, but I found it much easier to have the batiste backing on the fabric for cutting out and sewing.

Cut out the bunting pattern from the quilted fabric and another from the flannel.

I found that  cutting the top of the pattern straight across and then marking the “v” shape between the 2 taped together pieces as well as marking the circle worked well.  It was easier to cut out the “v” afterwards by folding the fabric in half and then cutting along the drawn in line.

For some fabrics (particularly the satin, which frays easily) I traced around the pattern piece, then stitched the layers together and cut out just outside the stitching line.  Having a compacted edge made it easier to sew.

With right sides together, stitch the seam for the hood of the bunting, stitching around the curve and stopping at the circle.    

Do any embellishing at this point.

Cut the ribbons into 6” lengths and pin the ribbons to the quilted fabric.

With right sides together, pin the flannel to the quilted fabric all around the outside edges. Stitch around the entire bunting, leaving a 2” – 2-1/2″ opening between one set of ribbons.

Trim seam allowance a little and clip curves and clip into the right angle, right up to the stitching line.

Pull bunting through the opening to get it right side out.  Press.  Pin closed the 2″ opening.   Edgestitch around the entire bunting, closing up the 2” opening.  An edge stitching foot can make this process easier.

Remove blue wash out marker by spritzing or soaking in cold water for 5 minutes.

Fold up lower section, bring outside sections together and tie the ribbons into a bow.

Tie ribbon ends into knots or heat seal or use Fray Check to prevent the ribbons from fraying.

Embellishing ideas:

A bit of Swiss trim with an entredeux edge was stitched about 1″ away from the seam (so measure 1-1/4″ away from cut edge to apply).  Floss was run through the ribbon and then used again to stitch French knots in the flower centers.

Pink and yellow tiny rickrack were braided together to give just a little complimentary color to this bunting.

Val beading with pink ribbon was used to trim this bunting.  The next time I do this treatment, I think I will move it a little away from the seam allowance and I think it will look better.

Two different sized rickrack was used for this bunting.  The smaller stitched on top of the larger.  If you find it difficult to keep the trims in place prior to stitching, use a washable glue to glue down the trim.  Elmer’s washable glue can be used and then press dry for a quick dry.

I hope you’ll enjoy making these sweet little buntings for your local hospital!  Please feel free to share this post with your sewing group, SAGA guild, etc.

Happy stitching!

Kathy

 

 

Lots of Sewing Fun

Getting ready for the beach trip always means lots of sewing for me.  I love making the little girls matching outfits.  They are young and still enjoy matching each other, so I love to sew for them while they are still excited after the mermaid outfits, I made the girls matching watermelon dresses from the Children’s Corner “Jacqueline” pattern.  They turned out so cute!  I do think that this pattern runs slightly larger than their other patterns, but maybe that’s my imagination!  LOL!

Then I completed a Bonnie Blue “Claire” outfit with an insert that I had smocked years ago.  I love this flamingo smocking design from Frances Messina Jones.  It is called Fancy Flamingoes.  I was thrilled to be able to finally use this smocked insert!  I do find that the Bonnie Blue patterns run significantly larger than the Children’s Corner ones and need to remember that before I use them again.  The outfit has been a big hit with Ella and she wears it quite regularly.

My last sewing venture prior to the beach was making up a “test” sample dress of the Felicity pattern called Sunny Dress and Bloomers.  I made this several years ago for the girls and they looked adorable in it, so I thought I’d try it again.  I remembered it running very wide, so I made a size 4 dress for Ella (she wears a size 6X).  It has plenty of growing room in it!  I will have to see what it looks like on her before I make more of these.  I love the ruffles and it’s a cute dress.  As always, the larger sizes look better on the little girls rather than on the mannequin.

While at the beach, I was able to get a cute picture of Livvy in her mermaid outfit made from my Mermaid Dress and Top pattern.  She looked adorable!!!

Eva had her mermaid outfit as well, but it was harder to get a picture that shows it off.  They were having such fun with the telescope, even though it wasn’t working!  (we didn’t put the money in it!!!)

Since being home, I’ve enjoyed some relaxing sewing and have been able to be creative.  I finished up 20 sets of diapers from the Teeny Tears pattern.  You have to request the pattern from them to sew these up.  Our SAGA guild includes these diaper sets with the tiny gowns that we make.  While these are tiny, so one would think that they are a quick sew, they actually take longer than you would think.  They are quite fiddly to stitch, clip/trim and turn and then topstitch, but I still enjoy making them.  My friend gave me all of these scraps of flannel that she had left from her quilting projects, and there were enough to cut out about 100 diapers!!!  Obviously, I still have more to sew.  LOL!

Then I had Ella over this week for her first sewing lesson.  She was so excited about it and couldn’t wait to start a project.  I chose a pillowcase as her first project and pulled out 6 different complimentary fabrics for her to choose from.  She did such a great job with her sewing and was quite proud of the finished pillowcase!

Ella was totally focused on stitching straight.  She went nice and slow and was very accurate.

She told me that this was going to be her favorite pillowcase!!!  ❤️  She can’t wait for her next lesson.

I hope that all my sewing friends are enjoying a wonderful summer and stitching up some pretty things!!!

 

Princess Slippers

I’ve finished my next set of 3 matching dresses for the girls.  This time I chose the Children’s Corner “Mary De” dress – one of our favorites!   I have the older version, so I have to adjust the bodice when I do an insert.  The newer pattern has been revised so that the insert option is in the pattern.

While I know that princess shoes aren’t necessarily a beach theme, they are always popular with little girls.  That, however, wasn’t the driving factor in my smocking choice.  😂  What drove the choice was that I had 2 matching inserts that were purchased from Beaux Et Belles when they used to sell inserts after the season was over.  I am thankful that I still have some that I can use.  It makes for a quick sew when you don’t have to do the smocking!!!  I always get questions about where to purchase the inserts.  They don’t sell them anymore, so the only place is on the second hand market (Ebay, Etsy, etc.).  You’re on your own if you wish to find inserts to purchase.  They always had original smocking designs, so that is nice as well.

Thankfully, I had the smocking design from Frances Messina Jones that is also a princess slipper!  It is called A Perfect Fit.  I chose to do different borders only because I’m trying to make it a point to try things that I haven’t done before, and this seemed to lend itself to trying out curved smocking.  I’m happy with the way it turned out – the plate is adorable and I enjoyed the curved smocking.  Frances has the cutest smocking designs – you need to check them out if you enjoy picture smocking!!!

I know that I’ve mentioned this before when I’ve shared inserts that I’ve purchased from Beaux Et Belles.  I find it amazing that the picture smocking on these inserts is done with TWO strands of floss rather than the 4 that we normally use!  Amongst the smocking community, both new and seasoned smockers, there is always discussion regarding how many strands of floss to use for picture smocking and such.  Most often today, 4 strands of floss are used.  However, I have seen many comments suggesting that 5 strands of floss are needed for good coverage.  As you can imagine, there are as many opinions as there are smockers!  LOL!  And many of the opinions are quite strong.

My opinion is to do what works best for you.  That said, the evidence is clear that 2 strands of floss do a wonderful job – it is a matter of technique and practice to get the 2 strands to lay smooth and do the job well.  Pictures don’t lie!  Here is a close up of the 2 strand smocking.  It’s beautiful!

A while back (and shared in a previous post) I did an experiment to see if I could picture smock with 2 strands.  The answer is a resounding YES!   But, the results will vary if you take a smocking design that was designed for 4 strands and then use only 2.  Here is my experiment picture.

For the experiment, I chose a smocking design by Creative Keepsakes.  This design recommended 3 strands of floss for the sailboat.  The center boat is smocked with 3 strands. The boat to the right is smocked with 4 strands and the boat to the left is smocked with 2 strands.  As you can see – ALL have adequate coverage on the same piece of broadcloth.  The only difference is the size.  I do not “treat” my floss in any way other than separating the floss into individual strands and then putting them back together, threading the needle and stroking the threads as many times as is needed to remove all the kinks.  You can feel the thread becoming more smooth as you stroke it more.  In addition, some of the oils from your skin will aid in conditioning the floss.  I don’t starch, iron, use wax or any other of the numerous methods that are done.  30+ years of picture smocking has given me plenty of practice.

I’m looking forward to the beach trip and I hope to get 3 more outfits finished next week!  Fingers crossed…….

Happy stitching!!!

The Mermaid Dress and Top & New Pattern

I’ve been busy stitching outfits for our upcoming beach trip!  I’ve had such fun with all these designs and outfits!!!  I may have to make several more.  😊

The first outfit was a popsicle set.  I chose the popsicle colors based on the polka dots in the fabric I was using for the shorts.  The smocking design is called Chip’s Frozen Pops.  It is an older design from the 80’s/90’s.

Of course, I thought it was adorable.  However, when I tried it on Eva – my granddaughter with a definitely sense of style – she vetoed it in favor of a “sea green” top with pink pigs smocked on it!  Ack!!!  After finding some aqua domestic dotted Swiss in my stash, I did manage to talk her into mermaids, so all is well.  Mermaids are a better theme for the beach than pigs.  LOL!

While there are several cute mermaid smocking plates, I decided to create my own design for this summer’s beach trip and came up with the mermaid and dolphin.  I really like it!

This was the first one, and my fingers are crossed that Eva will love it!!!  She also chose the fabric for her shorts, which was a stretch twill and perfect for shorts.  The contemporary design seems to go well with the water/mermaid theme.

As you can see, I got quite carried away with the pattern and the beach-y theme.  A dress was requested for Ella, so I made the mermaid dress out of piqué.  I had fun with the hem and stitched jumbo rick rack under the tuck and then stitched on top of the stitching line with a coral stitch and variegated thread (#5 pearl cotton).

The white top is a sheer voile, doubled and with a self ruffle on the top.  I wanted to smock it with the same design I did many years ago for a special Ebay outfit.  I loved it then and I still love it now.

This has now become my new Etsy pattern and I’ve called it the Mermaid Dress & Top.  I have drafted it in sizes 1 – 7 and there are 3 options for the dress/top – a bias band finish at the bodice top, the 2nd option is quicker to sew with a yoke in the back – so the back can be smocked or left unsmocked and just gathered into the yoke.  The 3rd option is the self-ruffle finish seen on the white top.  I’m happy with each version and can’t wait to see all the little girls wearing their new mermaid outfits when we are at the beach.  Here’s the back variations:

I am sure that I will get questions about the shorts pattern – it is not included.  You can choose your favorite shorts pattern and if you are so inclined, scallop the hem.  Drafting shorts patterns doesn’t excite me the way that smocked outfits do!

I have several more on the design table now.  I can’t wait to start them.  What are you stitching?

Kathy

 

Adorable Boy Diaper Sets!

I’ve been absent for too long.  What have I been up to, you might ask.  I’ve been pattern drafting and testing. I’ve finally finished up the diaper set pattern for infants and included NB – 12 mo. sizes in the pattern.  I have at least one request per month for my preemie pattern in larger sizes, so now it is done!  Whew!  That was some work.  Of course, before I would consider listing the pattern, I had to make it up in each size.  I now have several sweet sets that I can save for future grandkids or use for baby gifts.  I love how each one turned out!

I love red, white and blue – especially for little boys!  I worked on the shadow work anchor embroidery while we drove to the mountains on Sunday to visit the inlaws and spend Mother’s Day with my MIL.  The 2 hour drive was ample time to get the embroidery finished.  However,  I don’t recommend shadow work embroidery in the car!  LOL!  It was quite the challenge to get that needle back into the same hole while riding in a car.  However, it did turn out cute!

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Another set was made in green seersucker and I had to include the frog embroidery on this set!  One of our SAGA guild members had embroidered these frogs on a Wee Care outfit and I loved them, so I did them on the diaper set.  If you’re interested in the design, it comes from the A – Z Bullion embroidery.

Then I did another outfit with the tiniest bit of embroidery.  I appliquéd the boat with a blanket stitch and then added just a little hand embroidery to finish up the boat.

After 3 boy outfits, I decided to make a fun little girl outfit instead of the frilly lace one like I did for the preemie set, though the instructions are included for the frilly lace set in the pattern!

Obviously, I couldn’t exclude lace altogether!!!  I gathered up some flat lace and stitched it on using ribbon to cover up the raw edges of the lace.  I am quite happy with how it turned out.  Then I added piping and lace to the blouse.  The yellow flower buttons were such a great match to the fabric.

For the little girl blouse, I chose a fun bird to embroider.  After looking online for the perfect (in my opinion!) bird, I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I took elements of different birds that I saw and drew my own.  It was fun to incorporate some different stitch combinations to make up this bird and I think it adds such a sweet touch to the blouse.  I did include the bird design in the pattern as well – it was too cute to leave out!

I think I’m going to have to have my tech support guy (aka: hubby!) check my photo set up – I’m not getting quite the right colors and seem to have some weird shading going on.  Maybe it’s because I’ve neglected the blog and haven’t done my photo editing lately.  😂😛  Now it is on to cleaning up the room and deciding on the next project.  I think it will have to be some summer outfits for the upcoming beach trip in June.  that will be here before long!

I hope you’re enjoying some fun, summer sewing!!!  If your sewing includes sweet babies, consider the diaper cover pattern this summer!  😊

Happy stitching!

Kathy

Easter Sewing and New Pattern

I have been busy for the last few months making Easter dresses from my new pattern which I have called “Juliette”.  Why not make samples and get Easter dresses sewn at the same time!  I delivered the dresses to the little girls yesterday – in the nick of time!!!  Of course, I had to have pictures for the pattern before they were delivered and worn for Easter.  Only Eva was available to model, so she is my cover girl.  LOL!  I hope to have pictures of both Eva and Livvy wearing the dresses on Easter Sunday.

 

I love this dress!!!  When I saw the vintage pattern picture, I envisioned the dress as an heirloom dress.  Of course, I had to wait until I had time to create the pattern and stitch up some samples.

I decided to change up the neckline a bit.  I didn’t think that the boatneck with ribbon ties was the most practical.  However, I love the overall silhouette of the dress and the scalloped hem is precious!  The straight sleeve looks sweet on, though a bit odd on the mannequin.

I love every view and sleeve option of this dress.  The gathered flutter sleeve is very traditional and heirloom looking and would be perfect for a portrait dress.

I had to do some hand embroidery on one of the dresses.  While I didn’t include the embroidery design in the pattern, there are ample options for embroidery designs available in books and even online (free) from vintage sketches.

When I had Eva try on the first dress, she didn’t like it.  LOL!  So, I let her choose some laces and made her dress with the pink bow lace that she chose for her dress.  I love the Swiss lace style dress as well.  The hem is straight, so a quicker one to make.

Being the practical person that I am, I made the slip from Imperial batiste so that it will not require ironing like the dress will.  That way, the slip could be worn to a photo shoot and the dress put on after arriving.  This keeps the dress pristine and unwrinkled.

I can’t wait to see the little girls wearing their beautiful dresses on Sunday!!!  I have had such fun creating this pattern and sewing these dresses.  I love using up some of the special laces in my stash for these dresses!  Does that make them free?  LOL!

If you are interested in making this dress, the pattern can be found in my Etsy shop.  I hope that I will be seeing some beautiful versions of this dress for beach portrait pictures this summer!!!

I hope everyone has a blessed Easter!

Kathy

A French Machine Sewing Primer & Pattern

I’m excited to announce that I have a new sewing primer available in my Etsy shop.  I have been busy working on a FMS (French Machine Sewing) primer geared towards those that want to learn how to do FMS but have very little or no experience and are intimidated at the idea.  The primer offers detailed instructions with pictures that I hope will allow the novice to muster up the courage and work with these beautiful laces!  I have finished up the primer and included not only instructions but I have also have included a sweet bonnet pattern to work on as a first project.

While working on the primer, I pulled out my beautiful vintage laces and thought that this was the perfect project to use them on.  I managed to find a box full of smaller pieces of vintage laces last year at an estate sale.  Some of the lace pieces are absolutely exquisite and made of the finest threads I’ve seen.  I cleaned the laces and have been saving them for something like this.  I hope that you can see the detail on the first and the 6th (from the front, just after the ruffle).  In person, these are breathtaking!!!  This will make a gorgeous baby bonnet for a very special baby!!!  I stitched these delicate and fragile laces to some silk organza for stability.  Because of the delicate nature of the lace and the age of them, I had to hand gather the ruffle for the front.  I believe that the ruffle is a coordinating lace for the 5th lace – they both have identical ovals stitched and the netting thread is identical.

Can you tell that I am excited to finally have a project to use these pretty laces on!!!

It is my hope that those who may have been afraid to try out FMS techniques will have the confidence to not only make a sweet bonnet, but move forward and create other beautiful heirloom garments as well.

If you’ve been on the fence about heirloom sewing, this may be the push that you need to start something beautiful!  The pattern can be found in my Etsy shop.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/kathysheirloomshop?ref=search_shop_redirect

Happy stitching!!!

 

Spaghetti Bias “Dolly”

Friday and Saturday our SAGA guild hosted Cindy Foose.  As always, Cindy was a delightful and very knowledgable teacher and guided everyone along as we made the Dolly dress.  This classic dress has a pleated front as well as a pleat in the back under the buttons.  It offers the perfect pallet for embellishing, which is exactly what I did!  I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

The 2 days were enough time for me to get the dress almost finished, and with just a bit of sewing yesterday and hemming the dress today, it is done!

I used spaghetti bias trim for the bodice and sleeves.  I love using spaghetti bias and purchase mine from Farmhouse Fabrics.  It is so easy to use and is a quick way to decorate any part of a dress.

While I love using the spaghetti bias, I don’t love the pressing afterwards.  I have always had quite the time pressing the bias on the finished garment after it has been laundered or after soaking out the blue marks needed for construction.  During one of my sleepless nights, it occurred to me that I should shrink the bias.  Duh!!!  I shrink everything else.  Who knows why this thought hadn’t come to me before.  So, to test the theory, I measured off 12″ of spaghetti bias, wet it and left it to dry.  When I measured it again, it was 11-1/8″.  Yikes!!!  I think that it must stretch quite a bit during the process of creating it and winding it on the cards for the shops.  I have now wet ALL of my spaghetti bias so that I won’t be hindered with the next project that will use it.  I am still quite embarrassed that I have been using this without pre-shrinking!!!  Oh well, life!  LOL!

The back of this dress has such a cute pleat under the button placket.  It allows for a little more fullness in the skirt.

I’m sure I’ll be making another one of these dresses!  If you have a chance to take this class from Cindy, sign up right away!  You won’t regret it.

Now, back to Easter dresses – 2 down, one to go.  Just a sneak peek!!!  More later….

I hope everyone else is busy with Easter sewing!!!

 

 

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How To Change A Neckline Tutorial

Like so many seamstresses, I have a plethora of patterns that I have secured over many years of sewing.  My sewing is primarily for children and mostly for girls.  Styles change, but the basic lines of classic styles don’t change much.  Most changes are seen in the size/style of collars and sleeves.  Dresses in the 50’s sported sweet tiny collars and small sleeves while the 90’s had large collars and huge sleeves.  I’m pretty sure that a beach ball could have been stored in some of those sleeves!  LOL!

One of the more significant changes that I’ve observed  recently has been in the comfort factor of children’s clothing.  Most children are used to the comfort of knit clothing.  The result of that is that children find anything with a true neckline to be uncomfortable and it is perceived as too tight.  This became obvious when I gave dresses that our youngest daughter wore to the granddaughter’s to wear – the classic style would still work, but they said that the neckline was too tight.  Children’s necks have not gotten larger, they have become used to less constrictive clothing.  I believe that this has also resulted in seeing fewer collars on the dresses that the little girls are wearing.

With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to share ways to adjust the neckline of a dress/blouse.  While it is a very simple process, many find alterations of this kind to be intimidating.

The first thing that should be done is to trace the bodice front and back pieces of the garment on paper so that the original is preserved.  Once the bodice is traced, remove the seam allowance and cut the pattern pieces at the finished neck – shown in blue.

Once the seam allowance has been trimmed away, the neckline can be redrawn to whatever shape is desired.  Decide on how much to remove from the neckline.  It doesn’t have to be exactly the same from front to back, though it can be done that way if desired.  The following drawing shows the neckline only slightly lower in the back but gradually increasing at the front (shown in pink).  It is imperative that the amount removed at the shoulder seam is EXACTLY the same on both the front and the back bodices – shown with the green arrows.  Once the neckline looks good to you, remove the excess paper beyond the  newly drawn line (pink).

Double check the new neckline by placing the front and the back bodices together at the shoulder seam (pieces will overlap) and ensuring that they align.  Remember that some patterns allow a little ease in the back shoulder seam while others don’t.  Check the original pattern pieces to see if the shoulder seams on front and back are an exact match – if they are, then they should also be an exact match with the neckline alterations.

Now it is time to decide on how the neckline will be finished.  If a bias band will be applied around the neckline, then the pattern is ready to use just as it is.  The finished neckline will be covered with the bias band.

If a plain neckline, piped neckline, or collar is desired, then a seam allowance needs to be added to the neckline edge on both the front and the back bodice pieces.  A 1/4″ seam allowance is a good choice for a neckline seam allowance.  You can add up to 3/8″ for a seam allowance, but more than that is undesirable.

I have been leaving collars off most dresses I make, however, if a collar is desired, it can be drafted at this point.

Don’t feel limited to limit the neckline change to just lowering the neckline slightly, try some other neckline adjustments and have fun with them.  There’s no limit to what can be done – a lower, scooped neckline, a sweetheart neckline, a square neckline, etc.  If you don’t feel confident in the redrafted neckline, test the newly designed bodices with a muslin or some scrap fabric and try it on the child to ensure that the new neckline is pleasing.  Cutting and stitching up a bodice take much fabric or time.  It is better to test it out and ensure that all was done correctly and the finished results are pleasing rather than to being disappointed with the results of the finished garment.

I hope that this has inspired you to consider pulling out some of the patterns that aren’t being used because of the dated styles and getting creative with some simple pattern redrafting!  Of course, adding your own heirloom touches will make it special!

Easter will be here soon – it’s time to get started!

Keep on stitching!!!!

 

 

 

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

 

Merry Christmas!!!

So, the 2 weeks before Christmas and what have I been up to?  Well, since I’m ready for Christmas 🎄, save the last bit of baking and cooking, I decided to sew something for spring!  After all, following Christmas comes spring, Easter, summer sewing – those are my favorite seasons to sew.  I love the colors, styles and everything else about spring/summer sewing!

I browsed through my AS&E magazines and was looking for something different to make.  I have so many of the magazines and thought I should start sewing some of the patterns!  I chose Flight of Fancy from issue #93 (this is still available as a PDF download from the Martha Pullen company).  I loved this sundress and the construction of it was very different from most dresses.  I was ready for the challenge!

This looked like a perfect summer dress for Ella.  The pattern came in sizes 6, 8 & 10.  Because I know that the patterns in AS&E tend to run big, I chose to make the size 6 (Ella is 7-1/2).  While her body measurements were smaller than the pattern measurements, her height was spot on.  I figured she could wear a blouse with it in the spring and then without the blouse in the summer.  Perfect older girl dress!

I chose one of my favorite European fabrics purchased years ago and paired it with some polka dots for the ruffles.

I did run into a couple of issues sewing the dress.  Though the insert was cut to size, when I went to sew the dress, the insert was too long to match the back bodice.  Thankfully I hadn’t smocked the first 2 and last 2 rows.  So, if you are going to make this dress, be aware of the insert size and back bodice and adjust as needed.  I also added width to the insert since I felt that the pleats were spread too far apart with the suggested length.  Of course, that meant many more pleats to smock!

I didn’t smock the design in the magazine but rather smocked a combination of 2 of the other smocking designs in the same magazine.  I felt that the fabric was too busy for the smocking design from this pattern and the other 2 worked better.  I was quite pleased with the outcome.

This dress back is also very pretty and perfect for our warm summers.

When the dress was finished, I thought it looked very big for a size 6, but waited until Ella was over to try it on.  Sadly, I was right – it’s huge on her!  The width is roomy, but would work with a blouse underneath, but the back waist is well below her waist.  That was a surprise since she is the correct height for the size 6 in the AS&E measurements.   The dress also was extremely long on her – it looked nothing like the picture in the magazine and hit about 3″ above her ankles.  I guess I’ll be saving that for next year!

Of course, it hadn’t occurred to me to look for errata for the pattern.  Today I found that AS&E had posted corrections for the skirt tier lengths.  😳  Apparently the measurements in the magazine were for the size 8, which explains the frumpy length for the size 6.  However, with the back waist being too long as well, even the length correction wouldn’t make the dress fit her correctly.  At least she can grow into this one.

So, I’ve put away the pink print that was going to be for Eva’s dress – sister dresses are nice if they co-ordinate but aren’t exactly the same.

Now, what to do next?  Do I dare try another AS&E pattern and hope for a better fit?  Hmmmm……

This was just a sew for fun dress, so although I’m disappointed that it won’t fit this year, it’s not a disaster.  Now I can choose something else to stitch and sew while listening to my favorite Christmas songs.

I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas season celebrating the birth of Christ!  May the peace, joy and love of Christ be with all of you this Christmas and in the year to come!!!

Kathy

Delightful Dolly Clothes

With Christmas right around the corner, I have been busy with the last few dolly outfits for the little girls.  When I make them, I can customize them so that they work best for the girls.

The first set of outfits are doll jumpers and blouses that will match Ella and Eva’s jumpers.  I used the same featherwale corduroy.  The pattern is the Mary De pattern from the Children’s Corner Dolly’s Wardrobe book..  I love how quick and easy the jumper is to make.  I could only eek out the 2 jumpers with the fabric left and ended up piecing together one of the bodice pieces, so I disguised that with some lace and ribbon trim.  The blouse is also from the same book.  I hate making the doll blouses – those collars are something that I just don’t enjoy making!  So, for the gingham blouse I made a ruffle around the neckline and I also changed the sleeves slightly.

The next dress that was made was stitched from some piqué scraps and I love the way that this dress turned out!  The pattern is the Betsy dress from Genniewren.  As always, her pattern instructions are excellent and the finished dress is adorable.  Genine gives wonderful tips for the new seamstress so that the pattern is also a tool for learning new techniques.  I chose to leave off the belt and used red piping at the waistline instead.

The next winter outfit is a featherwale corduroy jumper and the same blouse from the Mary De pattern, but with the ruffle neckline.  The jumper pattern is the A-Line Color Blocked dress from Genniewren, but I didn’t use color blocking.  It made the jumper very quick and easy to make.

I decided that Livvy also needed a Christmas dress for her doll and I had this cute Christmas fabric in my stash.  I had this brilliant (NOT!) idea to make the Mary De jumper but add the blouse sleeves so that I didn’t have to make a blouse.  In my mind, this was going to be quick and easy.  Well, it didn’t exactly work out that way!  😂  I did add the sleeves, but doubt that I’ll be doing that again right away as it was rather tricky.  LOL!  I do love the way the dress turned out though.  Livvy will love the sparkly rickrack used at the hem.

The last outfit that I stitched was the coat and hat – again from Genniewren.  This is called the Carla coat.  There are several options and lengths that you can make this coat.  I chose to make the long coat and I do hope to make one of the shorter versions as well.  After all, I’m sure that all the dolls will need coats!  The coat is completely lined and has an adorable hat to go with it.  I used some brushed twill from my stash and trimmed the coat and hat with sparkly rickrack as well as some lime green cord.  Now it’s time to get wrapping these up and putting them under the tree!

I’m sure that there will be more doll clothes sewing in the near future.  I have plenty of the polka dot fabric used to line the coat left and I think it would be so cute to make a dress to go with the coat!  That may be next on the sewing table for me.

Is your Christmas sewing finished?  Next up is Easter!!!  I can hardly wait to start that sewing!

 

Jumpers For Christmas and Beyond

I haven’t been in the sewing room much lately, so I haven’t had anything to write about.  However, with Christmas fast approaching, and some pretty emerald green corduroy on the cutting table, I decided it was time to get going on jumpers for Ella and Eva.  They still have fancy silk dresses from last year that will fit again this year, so the casual corduroy seemed like a good choice.  After much though, I determined that smocking a design that would work for Christmas but wasn’t so Christmas-y that it could be worn again later would be just perfect.

I chose to make the Children’s Corner “Mary De” pattern.  I’ve been sewing this jumper for so many years and can practically do it in my sleep.  If you don’t already have this pattern, now is the time to buy it.  They have revised the pattern to include instructions for an inset, which I’ve done in the past, but it requires some math.  Not my strong suit, so always a challenge for me.  Now no math is necessary as they have already done the hard work for you!

I’m quite pleased with how the jumpers turned out.  This time I actually made blouses to go under the jumpers as well.  I had broadcloth that was a perfect match for the piping, so that’s what I did.  The blouse pattern that I used was also Children’s Corner – the “Meg” pattern.  I am pretty sure that this pattern has been discontinued, but there are so many that you can choose from. What I love about the CC patterns besides the wonderful fit is that the sleeves and collars can be interchanged.  These sleeves look a bit long to me – but I rarely sew long sleeves, so they may be just right!  The elastic wrist will help keep the sleeves in place if they are a bit long.

For the smocking, I stitched an original design and made each one a little different, but used the same colored threads.  It’s so much nicer to not have to smock the identical design twice.  😊

The addition of the pink to the smocking makes the dress look a little less Christmas-y to me.

I loved finding the perfect buttons in my stash as well.  If everything comes from my stash, that pretty much makes these outfits “free” right?  LOL!  I love having everything that I need on hand when I start sewing.  With no fabric stores other than JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby in town, a stash is a real advantage!  I keep telling myself that!!!

In the spirit of Christmas and giving, I am sharing both smocking graphs with my readers.  I hope you’ll enjoy them.  If your Christmas dresses are already finished, you can use the graphs and get a head start on your spring sewing!  As you can see, I wasn’t too creative in naming the smocking designs – I named them after the little girls that they are going to!

I hope that you enjoyed a blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones.  What a joy to set aside a day to be able to praise God for the unmeasurable blessings that we enjoy each and every day!!!  Follow that with the Christmas celebration – what a wonderful season this is!!!

Hopefully you’ll find a little time to enjoy some stitching these next few weeks!

Kathy

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