Category Archives: smocking

Smocked Knit Nightgowns!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Beach and Bonnets!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Girls and Dolls

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

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

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

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

Extra large buttons finished off the front of the dress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabulous “Frannie” Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What fun projects are you stitching this summer???

 

 

Sweet Baby Bishop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

What a wonderful thing to have a day when we can celebrate the mother’s that helped form us into who we are today.  I have been blessed to have a godly, loving mom who has always been a great example to me.  She taught me what it was to be a child of God, has loved me unconditionally and encouraged me to do my best.

My aunt (mom’s sister) was also very influential in my life, as were both of my grandmother’s.  All godly women.  I took this picture of myself, mom and her sister last year shortly before my aunt passed away.  It’s not the best picture, but I’m glad that I have it.

Be sure and take time to celebrate you mom today!  If you mom is no longer with you, enjoy and celebrate the memories!

This past week I had plenty of time to play around in my sewing room, cleaning, organizing, etc. while hubby was away.  I did manage to finish up a couple of projects that were nearly finished.

The first project finished was a dress from SATB in January.  The dress is “Vintage Visions” by Trisha Smith.  It is the sweetest dress.  I had set it aside due to my questions about the embroidery design and pocket placement – thinking I had lost the embroidery template.  Once I realized that it was a freehand drawing I went ahead and drew in my design.  Fingers crossed that the pockets are in the right place!  I can’t wait to see this sweet dress on Livvy.

The next project was finishing up a top that I used for demonstration purposes at SATB.  The top is the Jane pattern from Classic Sewing magazine.  I finished up the top and made some shorts to go with it.

Ellas was excited about this outfit and I’m sure it will look so cute on her!  The whale design is from Junebug Designs, “Whale of A Tale” – if you can find it at and heirloom shop, snatch it up as it is out of print.

I hope to finish a few more UFO’s that I found this week!  Until then……

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

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!!!

Wedding, Chicago and Workshop!!!

So, it’s been a little while since my last post.  Well, we’ve been busy!!!  Our youngest daughter got married on 4/8 and it was a perfect day for it.  The weather was outstanding and she was a beautiful bride!  Of course, I’m prejudice.

The little ones looked adorable in their outfits and did their jobs well.  LOL!

After the wedding weekend we celebrated our Savior’s resurrection on Easter Sunday and had the kids/grandkids over for a meal and some fun activities.  The kids looked adorable in their Easter outfits!

Easter Monday we flew up to Chicago to be with our son and daughter-in-law for his heart procedure.  Monday evening we were able to go out to eat with them and enjoy a delicious meal!!!

Tuesday morning we headed to the hospital early in the morning.  We were so thankful that many prayers were answered and they were able to repair the heart with no damage!  It was a rather stressful LONG day waiting, but the hospital had lovely waiting rooms and the staff were so very helpful.  The dr. was one of the best in his field.  We praise God for his wonderful provision and for the outcome of this.

I love this picture of Steve with Lauren at the wedding!

After the quick trip to Chicago, I headed up to Maryland to do a workshop with the Chesapeake Treasurer’s guild.  What a fun group of ladies to teach!!!  They were enthusiastic about the classes and techniques they learned and I had a great time with them.  It was so fun to see the different choices that the ladies made for both the dress class as well as the embroidered jacket class!  I’m looking forward to seeing some pictures of the finished outfits on FB soon!!!

Now that I’m home again I’ll be working on my next new project as well as managing the home front and preparing for the next workshop.  I am loving the next project and hope to share it soon!  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

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.

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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!

 

Something Quick!

Where does the time go?  I have such good intentions to post sewing things, but then life happens and weeks go by.  I have continued to sew and have been working on some new ideas, classes and sample garments.  I won’t show those yet – not until they are ready!

My favorite event of the past month has been a workshop with Cindy Foose!  Our guild had her come and teach for 3 days – it was such fun!   Cindy is a wonderful teacher and I enjoyed her class immensely.  If you have a chance to take a class from her – go for it – you won’t be disappointed.

Yesterday I decided I was going to sew ONE thing.  LOL!  So I did.  Between cleaning, sorting out things that I need to let go of (sewing supplies!), printing class materials and meal prep, I managed to cut out and sew a pair of pants.  Not a huge accomplishment, but I met my goal.

I found this cute top at a consignment store and paid only a couple dollars for it.  It is by Orient Express and is well made, very lightly worn and the smocking is so pretty!

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I’m not a fan of the bias band being sewn down by machine, but I’m not about to correct that.  In my stash was some wonderful pants weight twill from Patsy Aiken.  It has been aging for a few years.  🙂  It was a perfect match for the top, so it was chosen for the pants.

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I thought that the top was a bit plain, so I added the rick rack to the top.  Just like that I have an outfit!  Score!!!

Today I hope to cut out and sew a quick jumper.  I hope to quickly find the embroidery design that I’ll use on it.  I don’t know about you, but I can spend hours looking for the perfect embroidery design.  😛  After that, I have a few Christmas outfits to complete – only a couple weeks until Thanksgiving, so I’d better get on it!!!

Happy stitching…..

More Tiny Sewing

I’ve been busy the past few weeks trying to complete my charity sewing.  After finishing up some Wee Care gowns for our SAGA group, I moved on to sewing diapers to match the gowns.  I signed up to work in conjunction with Teeny Tears – another organization that provides tiny diapers to hospitals all over the country.  They send the diapers in pairs so that there is one for the baby to wear and another for a keepsake.  The little diapers are darling!

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I completed 20 sets of these diapers to co-ordinate with the SAGA gowns that we were sending to Camp LeJeune!!!  These are fun to make and don’t take much time or fabric.  If you’re interested in an easy ministry to be involved in, I’d highly recommend Teeny Tears.  If you don’t sew but still want to participate, they accept donations as well.  🙂

Being on the Teeny Tears Facebook page, I saw how pretty so many of the ladies package their items to send to the hospitals and I immediately brought my suggestion to our local Dogwood chapter to improve our presentation.  All members agreed, so we purchased organza bags for the gowns/diapers and I repackaged all of our gowns from their ziplock bags to the organza ones.  Now families will receive this pretty package of handmade items.

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As I worked on all of these SAGA things and reorganized them, I discovered that the SAGA gown also comes in a very tiny size – under 1 lb.! How have I not realized in all these years that there is a tiny size???  I’ve been sewing these gowns for more years than I can count, but have never noted or smocked the tiny size.  So, I immediately had to try it out.  It is as sweet as ever!

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Having made this extremely tiny smocked gown, I have decided that I will make more of these, but I won’t be smocking those tiny sleeves again!!!  LOL!

With that big project behind me, I moved on to sewing for Caleb Ministries.  I had been given several beautiful knit blankets, booties & bonnets and they needed a special gown to go with them.  The larger gowns will get flannel blankets since the knit ones would be too large to fit into the gift box that Caleb Ministry provides for the families.  This is another wonderful Christian organization that provides a needed service for women.  They also accept donations if you would like to support this type of ministry and don’t sew or knit.

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So, what’s next???  Well, next week is the SAGA national convention and I plan to go as a student this year!  I’m busy packing and making sure that I have every supply needed for all the different classes.  I’m looking forward to a fun sewing week!!!  When I return, I think it will be time to start some fall and Christmas sewing for the little ones.  🙂

I hope to see some of you at the convention!!!