Category Archives: bishop

A Quick Bishop

This past week was one of R&R for me.  I stitched things that I love and enjoyed it!  Sometimes a week of R&R is just what is needed to rejuvenate.  One of my stitching projects was a bishop dress.  This was a quick bishop because I happened to find this ready-to-smock dress in the closet.  It’s practically vintage as it is at least 10 years old, and the fabric even older!  😛  There’s only a couple ready-to-smocks left in there.  I had sewn many RTS outfits several years ago – before grandchildren!  So, now it’s a real bonus to find one the right size and to be able to complete the smocking.

I had our wild little Eva in mind with this dress.  It’s a pretty wild print!  LOL!  Also, this is a poly/cotton piqué, so very easy care.  That’s a real bonus for busy moms!!!

I used my favorite bishop “dip” design method in order to smock just one figure on the front.   I do modify the “dip” design to accommodate different pictures, but the free design is a good starting place.  Then I chose a lady bug from Frances Messina Jone’s “Make A Ladybug Wish” plate.  This is available at many fine heirloom shops.  I love the way that it looks on this bright print!

It’s still not a sure thing that this will get worn.  When I brought it to Eva, she told me that she didn’t like it.  😂  She does have her opinions!  However, when I told her that I’d give it to Livvy, she changed her mind and said that she would keep it.  We’ll see – it may still go to Livvy!  LOL!

I also finished stitching and sewing my sample garment for a new class and loved the way that it turned out.  I’ll share that in the next post.  Until then, keep on stitching!!!

Just breathe!

So, the wedding is less than 2 weeks away and we’re in the last days of all the little details to attend to.  Although we’re so excited about the upcoming wedding, there’s always stress involved.  My plan is to add nothing to my calendar for this week and next week and to enjoy some relaxing sewing time as time permits.  This is relaxing and enjoyable to me when it doesn’t involve drafting/sewing for new classes or magazine articles.  LOL!  I started this process on Saturday and had a delightful weekend!

My first nearly finished project only needed a couple of rows of smocking and some buttonholes and buttons to be sewn on.  I enjoyed finishing the little dress and look forward to trying a different method of using a contrast fabric at the top of the bishop.  I believe that each method will have benefits as well as challenges.  I am OK with this method, but think the there may be a better option.  After I try a couple of others, I’ll be back to report and share my findings.

I used the apple design that I did for the Classic Sewing magazine‘s fall 2016 issue and eliminated the color changes and added a chain stitch around the outside to mimic the apples in the fabric.  I graphed the bird to match the fabric.  What a funny little bird!  I also backstitched the smocking area with a 4 step trellis stitch and like the wavy effect that it gives.

As always, I used my practical 2 button back closure.  I find that this method actually stays closed while the dress is being worn.  😜  That’s always a plus with active toddlers!

With the bishop dress completed, I moved on to the next nearly finished project.  As I have moved clothing around in the bedroom closets and rearranged space after our daughter moved out, I found several projects that needed only a little attention to be finished.  One project was a sample “Suzette” dresses that was made when I designed the dress.  I made 5 samples – the blue dress was one of them.  I recently taught this dress and it’s one of my favorites with the simple lines and smocked sleeves.  This dress only needed a hem and a button and button loop on the back.

I machine stitched the hem in the dress and then added the featherstitching.  I can say that I’m not totally thrilled with my featherstitching at the hem!  On the bodice I use a grid to get the stitch uniform.  For the hem, I decided to try it without a grid.  Oh my!!!  Wrong choice.  However, I’m giving myself some grace and recognize that nobody will be down at hem level inspecting this dress, so as Elsa says “let it go”.  That’s exactly what I’m doing!

I do love this dress and will love seeing both this one and the bird/apple dress on the little girls.

Today I’ll dive back into the closets and see what else can be finished easily and hopefully enjoy some fun stitching time between the wedding errands and such.

I hope you’re enjoying some spring sewing!  Our weather has warmed up and I think spring is here to stay!  Soon it will be time to start the summer sewing!!!

Keep on stitching……

Kathy

Just Some Fun Stitching!

Sometimes I have to take a break from designing, making kits, teaching, etc. and just want to slow down and stitch something fun.  I started one of these fun projects Wednesday evening and hope to have it finished in the next few days.  😃

My new and fun project is a bishop dress with a solid smocking band at the top.  I see these all the time on all the different websites that sell smocked children’s clothing and it’s been a long time since I’ve made one of these, so this was the time.

I chose this fun print for the project and am in the process of smocking an apple on the center front.  We’ll see how it goes!

In case you’re interested in how I do my smocking these days, I’ll show you my setup.  I am using the apple design that I created for the Fall issue of Classic Sewing magazine.  I’ll modify the file to fit the fabric design – hopefully!  LOL!  I pull up the file on my iPad, and then can enlarge it so that I can see it better with these “mature” eyes.  I also have my Dazor magnifying lamp to look through so that I can ensure that all the stitches are perfectly smooth.  Amazing all the technology that I need these days to continue to enjoy my smocking!

Once I finish up this dress, I plan to start another one with a slightly different method of color blocking the neckline.  Then I’ll decide which method I prefer.  I’m sure both will be acceptable, but I know that I will prefer one over the other!

So, that’s what I’m up to this morning – sitting in my living room enjoying the morning sun and smocking a spring dress.  I hope you’re enjoying some stitching time as well!

Some Tiny Gowns

This past Saturday our SAGA Dogwood guild had a Wee Care workshop.  As the chair of this committee, I typically don’t sew at the workshops, but make myself available for any help that is needed.  We had a fabulous turnout and I also had some beautiful gowns turned in!  What a lovely, caring group of ladies that give of their time and talent making these sweet gowns.  As always, I come away from the workshops inspired to work on some gowns as well.  It probably comes as no surprise that I always have several in different stages of completion.

Because I had several gowns that were nearly completed, I decided that this morning was the time to get those finished up.  I’m so pleased with how they turned out and now I have 3 more that are done and 1 more that only needs to be smocked.  I’ll do that one quiet evening.  They don’t take any time at all to smock!

I love this teeny, tiny size – it is for under 1 lb. babies and measures a mere 8-3/4″ long (including the lace).

Because our guild sends gowns to Camp LeJeune, I wanted to try one gown with a nautical design.  I would think it could be used for a boy or girl.  I liked the tiny sailboats (my own design).

There’s always a call for gender neutral gowns, so a white on white with no flowers, lace, etc. works well and is quite elegant looking – or so I think!

I smocked a simple design and used “dots” instead of flowers to keep this gown neutral.

So, that has been what I’ve been sewing lately.  Well, that as well as some things that I’ll have to show you later.  😛  I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

Enjoy some lovely stitching time – it’s such a great way to relax and ready yourself for a busy day/week ahead!

Kathy

Preemie Cloth Doll Sewing

It’s boxing day (what we called it in Canada) and I certainly won’t be shopping anywhere today!  So, for anyone else staying inside, I thought I’d provide some reading material.  😛

img_0061This was one project that I wanted to complete before the year end.  While at the SAGA Convention, I spotted a tiny, preemie doll.  The doll belonged to Wanda, the SAGA Wee Care co-ordinator.  I already owned the pattern, but had not taken the time to sew it.  Seeing the tiny doll was incentive for me to find time to make one.  I believe that it is always helpful for other to “see” just how tiny some of these preemies are and perhaps give them the extra push to get a few Wee Care gowns sewn.

Having a few spare minutes, I decided to head out and find supplies – 2 days before Christmas!!!  What was I thinking??? That was no small task! Traffic was horrible and the crowds in the store – oy!!!  Somehow, I foolishly thought that I could get everything at one store.  Wrong!!!  After visiting 4 stores, I had everything needed for the doll – knit fabric, fleece, plastic pellets, etc..  Just FYI – the plastic pellets used for stuffing the doll were found at Hobby Lobby.  Other craft stores didn’t carry them or they only carried them online.  On to the pattern.

The preemie pattern is from The Cloth Doll Market.  I was unable to find any reviews of the doll.  The pattern makes up so nicely and quite accurately on sizing/shape of preemie babies.  Included is a master pattern which you have to copy and shrink it by percentages to get the smaller sizes.  I did this.

You should be aware that this method of adjusting sizes does cause some problems. When you shrink a pattern that has a 1/4″ seam allowance, your seam allowance also shrinks, so I ended up with a generous 1/8″ seam allowances to make the 2 lb. size doll.

Be aware that the pattern is hand drawn and has very little in the way of markings/guides (aka: no notches) on the pattern pieces to aid the seamstress in matching up pieces before stitching.  I followed the directions, but because there are no illustrations, some directions were challenging.  I had to read through some of the instructions multiple times to “get” what the instruction was.  I am more of a visual learner, so no pictures is challenging.  Because of this, I would sat that this probably isn’t a pattern for a beginner.

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The instructions say to use a knit fabric that doesn’t have too much stretch.  That is rather vague.  I think that giving some fabric types to look for may have been more helpful.  The only fabric that I could find with our lack of fabric stores was a knit jersey.  While it worked, I wasn’t a fan and won’t use it again.

Each piece of the doll is cut out of both the skin colored knit fabric as well as another piece cut in white fleece.  The fleece is then inserted into the skin fabric.  This is a good plan because it helps with the plastic beads that are used for the filling – it keeps the “skin” softer and works out much nicer than stuffing the doll with stuffing.  It does take a bit of forceful pushing to get the fleece pieces inside the knit pieces and I found that the jersey began to run in a few places (like pantyhose type of runs).  I put fray check on the runs and hopefully that will keep the runs in check.

After some research, I found that many cloth doll makers use a knit doeskin, which is a suede type of knit fabric.  I’ll have to order some of that if I decide to make another doll, though I’m seriously thinking about making the doll from Kona cotton if I try it again.  I have seen a picture of the doll made by another FB friend and it was in a woven fabric.

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The facial features were supposed to be painted on with acrylic paint.  I don’t paint!  🙁  So, a Sharpie had to do.  The knit wanted to stretch as I “drew” the features.  Ugh!  I was pleased to find that when the doll was finished, the 1 – 2 lb. Wee Care gown fit very well.  It’s nice to see how well these are proportioned.

Once the doll was finished, I had to get rid of the blue wash-out maker that I used to mark the darts and to draw in the fingers, etc.  Obviously, you don’t want to soak the doll after it’s finished.  That was a lengthy process.  It took many, many spritzing to get all the marks out.  I would think that they were gone, and when the spritzed area dried, they were back again.  Ugh!  Next time I’ll use one of the air-erasable markers and be sure to stitch the same day!  I did find that dotting along the stitching line worked better on the knit fabric.   Trying to draw in the lines caused the knit to stretch.

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Because of the way that the arms and legs are attached, they are somewhat posable, which is  a nice feature.

The little diapers pictured on the doll are from the Teeny Tears group.  They make diapers and donate them to hospitals for tiny babies that don’t make it.  The larger size diaper fits the 2 lb. sized doll.  I made the stockinette cap from a toddler size 5-6 sock.  I cut the cuff off the sock right above the heel and tied a ribbon in it.  It’s a snug fit, but it works.

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I did learn a few things making this little doll.  I definitely need to work on my hand sewing technique.  😂  The doll head is hand stitched to the doll body – not an easy feat between the stretchy knit and the head flopping around.  Maybe I’ll be better at this the next time.   LOL!  Pulling out the fingers after stitching was a super challenging task on the 2 lb. size doll.  I immediately decided that I’d never make the smaller sizes with fingers.  Others have told me that they make the hand with only a thumb and then a mitten style for the other fingers.  This would be much easier and is a technique I’ve used on other cloth dolls!  She does suggest this method for the tiniest sizes.

I’m pleased with how the doll turned out.  It is only going to be used as a visual aide at workshops where the smocked Wee Care gowns are being made.  Our guild is doing the next workshop in the community room at a retirement village.  I’ll have the doll out for the residents to view along with some of the finished gowns.  I suspect that we’ll have different ladies drop in to check out what we’re doing.  The doll will be a nice addition and maybe even promote some interest for some new seamstresses to join us!

My overall review of the pattern makes up really well and is an accurate representation of the size/shape of a preemie baby, but the instructions are lacking in the way of diagrams/pictures of any of the sewing techniques.  There are only 2 diagrams total and there is an assumption of sewing knowledge, so some techniques aren’t described (ie.  “sculpt the toes”).

The designer of the pattern does seem to have some first hand knowledge of preemie sizes and proportions.  That is what makes the pattern of value.  Instructions are also given if you want to make the doll a weighted doll (accurate weight for the age/size), which some do want.  This doll looks very much like the preemies that I saw in the NICU when our granddaughter was there.  There’s not another proportionally correct preemie doll pattern that I’m aware of.  So, for this reason it is a great pattern if you want proportionally correct preemie dolls.

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Perhaps today I’ll stitch the 1 lb. size (with no fingers!) out of Kona cotton and see how that works.  I’ll keep you posted!

I hope you enjoy some stitching today!

Smocked Dresses for Dollies!

The last week before Christmas found me fixing up the dollies and dressing them for the 3 little girls.  It would be a special gift.  Their Auntie Lo had a huge collection of Gotz dolls (all are around 18″) that she played with as a little girl and that I saved.  So I selected 3 of them that I thought were just perfect.  However, after many years of being packed away, they needed some serious “work” done on their hair.  It was a mess!

 

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I consulted several different websites and tutorials on how to detangle and fix their hair.  I thought I’d share the process in case there are dolls in your home in need of some TLC.  The detangling is done by first soaking the hair in a bowl of laundry softener.  Since the hair is synthetic, not human, softener works better than shampoo.   After getting the hair saturated, you massage it into the hair, then rinse out thoroughly.  This leaves the hair with a powerful smell of the softener, so make sure that you choose a fragrance you like!  LOL!  After the rinse, the hair can be brushed out, starting at the ends and working up towards the roots.  It takes a bit of time, but it does work.   Then leave it to dry.

After doing the first doll, I got smarter and wrapped the doll bodies in saran wrap to keep the body dry.  I also found that it helped to stand the dolls up in a large bowl or plastic pitcher to dry.

This method worked well, but if I do it again, I think that I will dilute the softener with 2 parts water to 1 part softener.  I think that this would be plenty of softener to do the job and would tone down the perfume smell.

Once it was dry, the hair ended up smooth, but very straight (sorry for the blurry pic).  

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Next, I spritzed the hair lightly with water, rolled it in some sponge rollers and left it for a couple hours to dry.  This left the hair with nice waves.  I’m sure that you could leave it for a day and the curls would be tighter.

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Each of the dolls got a pretty, smocked bishop dress.  While cleaning my sewing room, I discovered several ready-to-smock bishop dresses that had been aging for 15+ years as well as shoes, cowboy boots (who knew that these would be worn with dresses!) and hats.  😱  Please tell me that I’m not the only one that has UFO’s that are this old!!!  I was delighted to find these and made quick work of smocking them and putting buttons/snaps on the back.

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These 3 dollies are ready to go home on Christmas day with 3 happy little girls!  I hope that they will be excited to see these dollies in their special dresses and new shoes!

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All of these dresses were made from fabrics that I had used for our youngest daughter’s smocked clothing – what a sweet memory!

I thought I’d share my tip for getting the lace collar to stand out nicely from the dress.  It always bothers me when you pleat the lace with the bishop dress and then the 2 pieces want to “stick” together so tightly.  I think you know what I mean.  To get the lace to stand out from the fabric it is pleated with, you need to smock a row on the dress fabric so that the lace won’t sink into the pleats.

smocking under lace

Pull up the lace and smock on the dress fabric following the same path as the last row of smocking.  Smock as closely as possible to the lace.  The end result is a lace overlay that stands away from the dress, which I think looks much prettier.  😀

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I’ve enjoyed squeezing in these last 3 smocking projects just before Christmas!

I hope that you and your family have a blessed Christmas rejoicing in the birth of our Savior!