Category Archives: bonnet

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.

Happy 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.


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?.

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?



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…..


More Little Things….

In case you can’t tell, I’ve had so much fun creating so many sweet little things.  I though I’d share some more of them.

After smocking one of the SAGA Wee Care bishop gowns, I made up the diaper cover pattern as well as a smocked bonnet to go with it.  For the preemie smocked bonnet, I used the free pattern that has been graciously provided by Laurie Anderson.  She has excellent instructions!  If you don’t know how to smock and would like to learn, she also has some fabulous u-tube videos (for those visual learners like myself!).  It’s easier than it looks!


Laurie also includes a simple smocking design with her pattern.  🙂  It works up quickly and is very appropriate for beginners.


I thought that this made a beautiful set for a preemie baby!

The next girl set that I finished I have already shared a picture of the gown, but without the bonnet since I didn’t have that pattern ready yet.  This bonnet pattern is now available.  The embroidery design is from “Designs For Shadow Work Embroidery and Fine Embroidery” – designed by my late friend Lane Edwards and  published by her daughter, Donna Krezelak.  The design on the bonnet is as it appears in the book.  I modified it for the corner design on the dress – a simple matter of rotating half of the design.

IMG_9950 IMG_9949

I love everything about this sweet set!  I chose a simple embroidery design so that it could be completed quickly and sent out to the expectant mom.

Not wanting to leave the boys out with the pattern, I also included boy designs as well as a girl design with a brim, though my favorite is definitely without the brim.  There’s a total of 4 bonnet styles, all lined, in the pattern The pattern also includes instructions on how to apply piping so that it is as tiny as possible and how to apply the gathered lace with plenty of tips for that.

What father would love this little bonnet with the embroidered horse?  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you where I purchased this design.  During my early machine embroidery days I lacked the computer skills/knowledge required to adequately file and note designers.  Thankfully, I’m past that now, but I have thousands of designs that I have no clue where they came from.


This is another sweet embroidery design.  I though that it may be from Martha Pullen, but I didn’t couldn’t find it online.  Perhaps someone else knows.  Both the horse and the puppy designs were shrunk somewhat to make the size more appropriate for these 4 – 5 lb. bonnets.


The last bonnet to design was a girly one with a brim.  For this embroidery, I used a design from Joy Welsh.  She has some beautiful and very reasonably priced embroidery designs.  I particularly liked this design with the featherstitching and hope to make a matching dress or diaper shirt to go with this.  She also includes tips on how to make this a continuous design that can be used all around a hem, or can be made into insertion lace.  I haven’t tried that yet, put it’s in the plans!  Hopefully soon!


I’ve enjoyed creating these special little things for some special little babies.  I had never intended to offer patterns, but several ladies requested the patterns, so I decided to offer them.  There’s very few tiny preemie patterns available.

I hope others will enjoy sewing some of these patterns as well.  For all those women that don’t have little ones to sew for , these make wonderful gifts and are also much appreciated if you choose to donate them to a hospital or to the Wee Care project of SAGA.  The piped bonnets can be made up in no time at all!

Enjoy some fun stitching!!!