Category Archives: Fine machine sewing

Summer Sewing Wrapping Up

Since our beach trip, I’ve done plenty of sewing, but haven’t done any blog posts about it.  I guess that makes me a blogging failure.  LOL!  Part of my problem is that I’m having issues with photography in the studio.  I will have my technical support guy (hubby!) look at that this weekend.  So, you’ll get my iPhone pictures instead.  Not great, but the best I’ve got!

First of all, I made a casual version of the Spanish Lace dress that I photographed at the beach.  I like the casual version as well and see potential for it as a top!  I think older girls would love this.  I need to draft this in the smaller sizes.

Upon returning home, I had a package delivered to me from a SAGA group in MI that needed bias bands placed on the little gowns to finish them up.  Some needed hems.  All needed ribbons and snaps.  It was so nice to finish up these little gowns and have them ready to deliver to a hospital.

Another package arrived from Claire Meldrum (fellow SAGA teacher) who sent things to use for Wee Care as well.  One of the items was a lovely piece of handkerchief linen with the most beautiful hand embroidery on it!!!  Initially I thought I’d make it into a blanket, but then decided to take it as a challenge and make it into a little gown – placement was challenging due to the location on the piece of fabric.  I found the perfect pattern in a past SAGA News issue and made the dress showcasing her embroidery.  I was very pleased with how it turned out.

For inquiring minds, this pattern will be reprinted (I’ve been told) in the Wee Care issue of SAGA in 2020.

I’ve done a few pretty sets (blanket, bonnet & gown) for Caleb Ministry as well.  I forgot to include the blankets in the picture – whoops!

I then completed a few ready to smock gowns and bonnets that I can take with me when I travel.  They make perfect airport/airplane projects since they are so small.  I’ll share pictures of those when the smocking is complete.

These last few weeks I decided that it was time to complete some of my ancient UFO’s (Unfinished Objects).  The first one that I pulled out I had started for our youngest daughter, but obviously didn’t get it done in time!  It’s a size 4.  She celebrated her 27th birthday in July!  😯  It was time to finish this sweet dress.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out.  Although my sewing has changed and improved significantly over the last 25+ years, I didn’t want that to stand in the way of finishing this dress.  I am choosing to see the less than perfect sewing as a testament to how I’ve improved over the years and celebrating that!  The smocking design is something new that I designed.  If this is a style that you like, the Fall issue of Classic Sewing Magazine includes a pattern by Gail Doane that has the same pleated area in the front.  I would highly recommend getting a subscription so that you don’t miss a single issue!!!  I have a couple of dresses included in this issue as well.

Included in this issue is a download for a machine embroidered welt pocket that Joy Welsh of appliqueforkids.com created.  It is an AMAZING technique.  Who knew that a welt pocket could be done completely (and perfectly!!!) on an embroidery machine!!!  The gray dresses were done with Joy’s embroidery files.  The orange dress was done using the traditional welt pocket technique using a regular sewing machine.  Both methods are discussed in the magazine.  This dress pattern is included in sizes 2 – 7.

The next UFO was even older – can you believe that!!!  I started it when I was pregnant with our youngest.  😳  Well, now she will have it one day if she has a little girl!  Hahaha!!! I had obviously been inspired by a pleated front bishop – there had been an article in an old CN magazine with the directions.  So, yet another pleated front dress.  This dress is a size 6 mo. bishop day gown.  Again, I’m celebrating how far my sewing has come over the years.  I just love how this turned out.

So, what’s next on the list of projects – well, one more pretty day gown that has been started and is incomplete.  It has been all sewn, but needs a hem treatment.  The shadow work embroidery is completed down one side of the front, but not the other side.  It was also started for our youngest.  After sitting all these years, the blue wash out marker had faded away.  So, I’ve marked the embroidery on the side and am ready to start on that gown.  It is too pretty to not finish.  You can look for that in a future post.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed some fun sewing this summer as well.  What’s on your list of projects?

 

Summer Sewing Continues!

With my set of 3 dresses completed, I was ready to move on and create something different. I have a plethora of pretty patterns, but seem to always go back to the same ones.  This time, I chose something different!  Of course, it goes so well with my current fixation with scallops!!!

After reorganizing all of my fabrics and putting them on shelves rather than in totes (which were very heavy to pull out of the closet), I found many fabrics that I’d forgotten about.  This was one of them – a poly/cotton basket weave piqué.  Perfect for summer.  Moms will appreciate the fact that it requires no ironing!!!

I decided to use Wendy Schoen‘s “Hannah” pattern.  This is such a timeless, classic design!  I believe that the pattern is out of print, but perhaps she could be convinced to bring it back as a digital pattern!  If you aren’t familiar with Wendy, you are probably new to heirloom sewing.  Wendy’s designs and talent was a regular feature of Sew Beautiful magazine for all of the years that it was in production.  Now her designs can be seen in some of the Classic Sewing magazines!  She is a prolific designer and extremely talented!!!  She is someone who I have always admired and hope to be half as talented as she is!

Because I didn’t plan to make the jacket that goes with the dress, I felt that the bodice needed some detail on it.  I added pin tucks and embroidery to the bodice and then also piped around the neckline and sleeves, which required a different sewing order than what was suggested in the pattern.

Wendy’s patterns have wonderful instructions and lots of detail – it was delightful to work with her pattern and I believe that the fit will also be just right!

The back is as cute as the front with the cutout design!!!  I love this!  I can’t wait to see this on Ella!

I also strayed from the pattern a bit and chose to line the skirt so that a slip wouldn’t be necessary.  I think that was a good choice given the back cut out and the lack of slips available these days.

Wendy does gorgeous hand embroidery, including pin stitching!  I chose to machine pin stitch the hem and didn’t do any of the other embroidery at the hem.  I’ve included a picture of the stitching at the hem, only to show that it IS possible to pin stitch on poly/cotton.  Obviously, natural fibers are much prettier for this type of work, but I’m pleased with the results and feel that this is just enough for the dress I’ve made.

This is the perfect dress for Ella, who is now 9 years old.  The pattern starts at a size 7.  This is definitely something to add to your pattern collection if you can!  The older girls will love it!

Now, what to make next……..

 

Bringing A Dress Up to Date

Just a break from the NY shopping adventure.  😊  There’s extra blog posts while I am forced to be less busy.

Upon our return home, we had 2 of the granddaughter’s for the weekend while their folks were away.  The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a nice time with the girls.  We were soaking up the sunshine!

Monday morning the painters arrived to work on our kitchen cabinets.  Needless to say, the kitchen is off limits for the moment – no cooking, which I don’t mind, but it is a bit inconvenient to have the entire kitchen taped up!  LOL!

At the end of the day, I did ask that the refrigerator be unwrapped and later that evening I had to bust into the microwave.  LOL!  But, progress is being made.

In the meantime, I’m keeping busy around the house – specifically in the sewing room.  However, with our gorgeous Carolina weather (72º and sunny today!), I am also taking advantage of some quality time in the back yard and relaxing with both hand sewing and reading.

While the girls were here, I took the opportunity to go through the closet and try on some of the samples as well as some of their Auntie “Lo’s” dresses.  This beautiful silk dress fit, but it had those HUGE 90’s style sleeves.  I love this dress, and someone should be able to wear it, so I decided to update the sleeves so that it was wearable.

This is the original dress with the HUGE sleeves.  LOL!  Yep – Auntie Lo wore it like this!

I removed the sleeves and bias band and recut the sleeves to something more in line with both traditional as well as what would be worn today.  Working with silk duping isn’t for the faint at heart – all that fraying!!!  However, I am very pleased with the updated version.  I removed LOTS of fullness as well as some of the height of the sleeve.  The new picture is more accurate colors.

This pattern was a favorite to make for our girls in the 80’s and 90’s.  It is the Little Sunday Dress for Big Girls.  What I love about the dress is that the back yoke wraps around to the front of the dress, allowing the pleats to stay closer together on the dress front without needing to add more fullness to the skirt widths.  Notice that there is no side seam under the arm, it is wrapped to the front.  The back also has dart options for a closer fit and you could also add a belt or sash, which I didn’t do either.

Another detail to point out, because I know I didn’t always remember to do this in my early smocking years – the back yoke should end at the same place as the smocking, so frequently adjustments were needed.  I chose to have the piping end at the center of the purple design, not at the bottom of the tiny wave as I thought that looked a bit odd.

For this special dress, I made a lace block and then cut the collar out of the lace and added the lace ruffle around the outside of the collar.  I love how it looks on this dress – it makes it so special without being too over the top.

The smocking plate is “Ashes of Roses” by Oliver Goodin.  She has beautiful smocking plates and I’ve done quite a few of them.  This is definitely a favorite of mine.  I chose to do silk ribbon flowers and leaves on this dress.  I cannot remember if the plate uses silk ribbon or something else, and I cannot get to it at the moment – kitchen construction.  Hahaha!!!

So, I’m feeling quite relaxed today, resting my leg (per dr. orders) and enjoying the weather and the sewing.

Don’t overlook some of the vintage patterns and plates – they frequently have some wonderful details that you certainly don’t seem to get in any of the big 4 pattern companies.

Just a little Easter inspiration for everyone!  We found enough dresses in the closet that I don’t really need to make anything for Easter for the girls.  But, that doesn’t mean that I won’t!

So, while the kitchen is off limits, I’ll enjoy some stitching.

What are you dreaming of for spring and Easter?

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!!!!

 

 

 

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

 

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…..

Kathy

Vintage Cobbler Apron

I have finally finished all the work required for a new class.  Yippee!!!  I’m thrilled with the finished apron!

This adorable apron pattern is inspired by a vintage pattern that was called a Cobbler Apron.  No idea why they would call a child’s apron a cobbler apron – children certainly aren’t cobblers.  LOL!  I adore this style!  It is just so cute and I couldn’t resist recreating a version of this apron that would be suitable for today.  I chose to maintain the vintage inspiration and call it a cobbler apron.

This is a new class that I’ve submitted to SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) for approval and the pattern will accompany the class.  If you have an interest in needle arts, I would encourage you to consider joining SAGA!  You can learn so much and enjoy stitching time with fellow enthusiasts!  There are always plenty of stitching options available around the country each year – both at local guilds as well as retreats and conventions.

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I don’t offer patterns for sale.  Just thought I’d put that out there since I always get questions regarding the patterns.

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Please disregard the “stuffing” on my form.  LOL!  I don’t have a form for a size 1, so a padded wire form is the current display.  I need to find another option for displaying smaller sizes!

I’ve embroidered a fun flower garden around the hem of the dress and surrounded the flowers with spaghetti bias for some extra interest and pop.  I just love this little apron!  Of course, I also can envision this as a cute skirt for older girls!  I will be working on something like that next!

The back is as cute as the front!  No two flowers are alike – that would be too boring!!!  Hahaha!!!

While I love the idea of this being worn alone as our children did and as was done for many years, it would also look so sweet over a yoke dress!  Pretty much any print, solid or gingham would work!

Pictured above and below is the first version of the dress. This version was stitched in pearl cotton.  The new version uses stranded floss, which is much easier to obtain and has many more colors available.  I do love the first version as well though!

I hope everyone else will be as excited about this new class/pattern as I am!!!

Now, off to begin a skirt…..

Kath

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

Teaching, Sewing, Cleaning and Wedding Stuff! Yikes!

You might wonder where I’ve been for the last month or so since my last blog post.  Well, it’s been rather busy!  I spent 2 weekends in a row teaching, which is something that I really enjoy!

My first weekend was in Savannah with the Waving Girls SAGA guild teaching my “Suzette” dress.

The ladies in the class were delightful and I enjoyed meeting many of them for the first time and seeing others that I’ve met before as well.  They did a great job with their handwork and sewing!  Aren’t they a great looking bunch of ladies!

An additional benefit was being able to stay with my aunt Lil and seeing my cousin Martha and her husband and one of their boys!  It was so wonderful to catch up with them and share a meal and fellowship around the table!  She and my late uncle Jim have always been such a blessing to me!  I definitely stole this picture from her FB page – this is my aunt Lil and my cousin Martha.

The following weekend I spent with the Palmetto Pleaters in Greenville, SC.   This was another great bunch of ladies!  I have yet to meet a group of sewing ladies that I didn’t like!  We spent the first day working on the “Annalise” blouse.

The second day was spent constructing my Prince/Princess diaper set.  There were many cute versions that were worked on in this class since the students brought their own choice of fabric for the set.  A couple of the ladies even finished theirs!

I enjoyed my time with them, met some great ladies and had a wonderful hostess there as well!

After 2 weekends away, I returned home and helped with moving our daughter into her new place.  She and my husband had done the heavy stuff while I was gone, but there was still plenty of work to do and boxes to move and unpack.  That also involved some heavy duty cleaning, furniture moving, etc. on the home front.  I spent an entire week cleaning and putting furniture back in place!!!  Not my idea of fun, but it was work that needed to be done.  I’m enjoying a VERY clean house at the moment.

Then it was time to get serious about wedding stuff – the wedding is right around the corner!  I started with the ring bearer’s outfit.  I just knew that this would be quick and easy.  Well, it was quick and easy, but it didn’t fit my big guy!  😲  He is tall enough that the shorts looked like “hip huggers” on him!  LOL!!!  Not the look we were going for.  So, I’ve completed the second version of the outfit and I’m confident that this one will fit just right.   I used the Children’s Corner “David” pattern for the shorts and the sleeves and the “Michael” pattern for the shirt, though I changed up the shirt front a bit.  I fear that both of these patterns are now out of print, but they are still available on the second hand market.  I highly recommend them.  Of course, I’m sure that there are other similar patterns currently available at your favorite heirloom shop.

The color of the shorts is really more of an oatmeal/khaki color – but I edited it so that they show up darker – that was the only way that the embroidery on the shirt would show up!  I’m no photoshop expert, for sure!!!

The shorts are linen and the shirt is a cotton broadcloth.

After completing the shirt, I felt that the center of the shirt needed something else – a touch of embroidery.  So, I used a vintage embroidery design for inspiration and came up with this simple design.  I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, even though my hand stitching isn’t as perfect as I’d like it to be!  I used size 30 pearl cotton for the embroidery, which I think is normally used for crochet.  It worked quite well and I like the simplicity of the running stitch!

Next up is making the ring bearer’s pillow.  Surely I won’t need to make 2 of those to get one successful pillow, right???   Needless to say, I’m busy!   You may not hear from me again for another month!!!  We’re keeping fingers crossed that the weather will warm up in the next 3 weeks.  We went from warm, spring temperatures (with everything blooming!!!) to frigid cold this past week.  With an outdoor wedding, warmer would definitely be better!

Hope you’re enjoying some fun spring and Easter stitching!

Kathy

 

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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!!