Category Archives: smocking

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?

 

May Musings….

May is Mother’s day month and I am keenly aware of how blessed I am to have such a wonderful mother!  She has always been there for me, always loves me and has always been the best example of a godly Christian woman.  Her love for God, family and others has been constant and she lives out this love daily.   She has been a constant encourager to all of us, expecting us all to be the best that we can be and pointed us to Christ at an early age.  For that and so many other things, I’m so blessed!   I hope that I can be the same example for everyone that I am in contact with as she has been for me!

This picture is 2 years old, but I love it – this is my sister and mom – 2 lovely ladies in my life.

This is a more recent picture of mom, dad & their 4 kids at their 65th wedding anniversary party last summer.

I’ve also been blessed to be the mother to 4 wonderful children, the mother-in-law to 4 terrific spouses and the grandmother to 4 beautiful grandchildren here on earth and 5 more that I will meet one day in heaven.  I’m thankful that God has entrusted me with the role of mom & grandma and love all of those that he has placed in my life, including my loving husband of 42 years (we just celebrated our anniversary yesterday!).  I hope that I will have the positive and godly influence in their lives that my mom has had in mine!!!  This is a picture of our gang at the beach last summer.  As always, spending time with all of them is so much fun!!!  We’re looking forward to another beach trip this summer.

I have spent the last few weeks sewing tiny gowns and bonnets in memory of our precious grandchildren in heaven, in honor of their moms and in the hope of bringing a small measure of comfort to the moms that will receive these gowns for their little ones.  This is something that I try to do each year as I celebrate Mother’s day and recognize that for some it is a hard day due to losses.  I donate gowns to both our SAGA guild, which passes them on to area hospitals as well as to the Caleb ministry – a local ministry that provides wonderful support and has many resources for those that have suffered loss.

I have recently been blessed to receive fabric & laces from others that are no longer able to make these little gowns.  I have used all of the gifted fabrics and laces for these recent projects.  Thank you to all of those that have participated with me in this endeavor by sending me the fabric and lace.  ❤️

I have been trying to make more “sets” as opposed to just gowns.  The first set is a blanket, bonnet & gown in pale yellow.  the accent flowers were done in lavender.  The smocking design on the gown is one that our local SAGA guild donated to convention as table favors one year.  This gown is the SAGA Wee Care gown pattern and the bonnet is a free download from Laurie Anderson – unfortunately, I cannot get the link to work.  The pretty cross design was purchased at From The Needle of Anne.  Her designs always stitch out beautifully.

My cell phone pictures are so much better color than the ones taken in the studio.  Definitely need my technical support guy to check out the “problem”.  LOL!

The next set is done in pale pink, though for some reason I couldn’t get the colors just right when I took the pictures.  The same gown and bonnet pattern were used and the cashmere flannel blanket is so soft and sweet.  The smocking design was one that our local SAGA guild donated one year for convention table favors.  I don’t remember what embroidery design I used for this, but I suspect that it was from Martha Pullen.

The last 2 gowns don’t have matching bonnets as there was only enough fabric for the gowns.  You know how whites don’t all match!  I didn’t want a mismatched set to go to a family.  The white cross design is another From The Needle of Anne and the smocking design was my beaded design that was featured in a SAGA news magazine.

The aqua and white smocking design is an out of print design from Kathy Crisp called Tiny Baby Bishops – it is a favorite of mine to smock on these little gowns.  The cross on that dress is a Martha Pullen design from many years ago.

I have 4 more bonnets and gowns made up and ready to smock.  These are easy to pick up and work on when I’m traveling.  I like to have several on hand since they smock up so quickly.  I smocked all of these little sets while we traveled and enjoyed a weekend in the mountain with our friends.  I’ll leave you with these beautiful pictures from that trip.  Nothing can trump God’s beautiful handiwork!!!

The first waterfall we visited was spectacular!!!  We were able to walk behind it as well.

The second waterfall we visited was also pretty, but not nearly as impressive as the first.

We also did a small (2 mile) hike up the mountain.  We were up 4,000 ft.  The views were breathtaking from all angles!

I look forward to more stitching this week!  I’m working on a pretty embroidered pillow that I hope to share soon!!!  I pray that you will be able to count your many blessings as you stitch something beautiful!

 

 

 

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?

A New Year, A New Pattern

It’s been too long since I’ve posted about my sewing adventures!!!  I was busy with Christmas sewing and couldn’t show the gifts and with all the extra activities that happen around the holidays, well, blogging just didn’t happen.

Last weekend I was in Houston, TX with the Midnight Oil smocking group and had such fun!  They are a great group with such talent!  I can’t wait to see their finished dresses – there were so many beautiful fabrics and laces chosen for the project.  Of course, I forgot to take pictures.

I have stayed busy sewing, designing and teaching – all things that I love.   My latest project has been finishing up this bonnet pattern!

I first made this bonnet years ago for Ella.  She looked adorable in it, as I’m sure that any little princess would!   The bonnet can be hand or machine embroidered on the bonnet brim and back as well, just adding to the sweetness without taking too much time to complete.

Over the years, I’ve had requests for this pattern, so I decided that this would be the first thing on my agenda for the new year.  I’m quite pleased to offer it in sizes 6, 12 & 18 mo. in my Etsy shop.

Need a cute and relatively quick gift idea for a new mom – this is perfect!

I am also working on new things for the Classic Sewing Magazine.  If you don’t subscribe, you’re missing out on so many wonderful patterns and ideas from a variety of fabulous designers.  You should consider checking it out!  Of course, I’m biased!!!  LOL!  You’ll have to wait to see pictures of those things.

If you’re interested in the dress pattern that matches the bonnet, that can be found in the Spring 2017 issue of Classic Sewing Magazine and was printed in sizes 1 – 5.

It’s time to be thinking about Easter and spring sewing if you haven’t already started!  I’m staying inside on this chilly day and making plans for some fun sewing for warm weather!!!

Happy stitching!!!

 

 

A New Dress

The last few weeks have been interesting and full of smocking as well as some travel.  For a couple of weeks I was limited in what I could do, having to keep my leg elevated.  Thankfully I had several smocked pieces that I could work on during this time!

Then we headed up to Michigan for my parents 65th wedding anniversary celebration.   What a blessing to have their example in our lives!!!

My sister knows how to throw a party!!!  She had all the decorations displayed so nicely, beautiful flowers and delicious food for everyone.  There were 60 people at the party – family members, church friends as well as their long time friends that were able to attend.  My husband was able to take some nice pictures for us.  It was so nice to see cousins that I haven’t seen in 35+ years as well as to see my brothers and their wives/families.  It was a great get-together and my folks were thrilled to have such a wonderful turnout!  They even had some of their original wedding party members attending!!!

I love that mom’s wedding dress was included.  It was made by her aunt, so it is near and dear to my heart knowing that sewing is part of my heritage!

Here’s a picture of my mom and dad and my siblings.  We have only gotten together about every 5 years due to all of us living so far apart.

Once I returned home, I was able to sew again.  Whew!  I stitched up 3 of the diaper covers that I had smocked the week before and then started working on the dress.  All that time spent doing very little left a lot of time for me to peruse Pinterest!  Dangerous!  While on Pinterest, I found a gorgeous smocking design that I knew I had to do, and again, was thankful to have an insert already pleated and ready to go. I managed to track the photo back to a youtube video.  With the video, I found the Facebook page, Instagram page and managed to get the email address of the lady that produced the video.  I have tried every way possible to contact her, to no avail.  So, I did what any smocking enthusiast would do – I tried to recreate the smocking design.

It wasn’t hard to recreate, but it did take quite some time to smock the pink “ribbon” before embroidering the flowers.  Hahaha!!!  I’m quite pleased with the results!

For the dress, I used the Children’s Corner “Libby” pattern.  I’ve had this pattern for years, but never used it.  ???  Why?  Who knows.  It’s adorable and I love that this can be worn with a blouse underneath to extend the wearing time into cooler weather.  I tried to locate this pattern to provide a link, but it seems it is out of print.  It is probably still available at a few heirloom shops – you’ll have to search if you want this one!

I am thankful to have such a huge stash of fabric and was able to use what I had.  There was just enough of the polka dot to squeeze the dress out, but not enough for a large hem.  No problem – I like the use of a French bias for the hem.  The French bias hem adds a touch of color, which I think it perfect for this dress.

I continue to enjoy sewing children’s clothes – it helps me avoid making the window treatments for our kitchen!  LOL!  Maybe I’ll get to those soon.   What’s up next?  That’s still in the planning stages.  Stay tuned!

 

Baby Britches – Another Diaper Cover

I’ve been enjoying these smaller, quick projects lately.  The diaper covers fit the bill perfectly! After finishing up the Sweet Cheeks diaper cover pattern, I started working on a similar one that would work for baby boys as well as baby girls and came up with this version and called it Baby Britches.

Can’t you see this set on some little twin babies!!!   I love picture smocking, so that would always be my first choice for little boys and is often what I choose for little girls.  The smocked cars are from a Pat Garretson smocking plate called Danny’s Toys.  That smocking plate has several different small designs that would work on the diaper cover.

I had fun making these little diaper covers in all the sizes, including the doll size!  The smaller doll sizes take no time at all to make – perhaps 1 hour for smocking AND sewing them!

For the 2 diaper pictured above with the tiny sailboats, I smocked my own tiny sail boat design and am putting the design here so that others can smock this design as well.  You can download the graph by clicking on the blue words below.  🙂

tiny sailboats

Even for the picture smocking “challenged”, this is a simple plate with only 2 rows to picture smock.  The sails are trellis stitches, as is the flag.  I honestly think that anyone ought to be able to smock this tiny design!

I went out and purchased some little shirts to photograph the diaper covers with and think that both the onesies as well as the shirts look good with them.  Of course, I’m probably biased!  LOL!  I felt like I had my “Vineyard Vines” vibe going on with these with those pineapples and whales.

For easy dressing and a no-iron option for the tops, choose onesies!  Though I’m not particularly fond of them, they do allow the diaper covers to shine!!!

The little whale smocking design is a Kathy Crisp miniature design called Babies Ahoy.  You may still be able to find her plate online.  It has several tiny designs featured on the one smocking plate.  It was hard to choose which one to smock!  There are other small designs available to smock as well – just look at some of the smaller figures on picture smocking designs and you will see that you probably have more in your personal stash than you realize!

I like embellishing the back of the diapers as well and the little girls nearly always get some sort of ruffles while the boy covers can be monogrammed or they can have an appliqué design stitched.

I couldn’t resist doing some embroidery on the waistband for the little girl diaper cover – it offers a small area to embroider and took only a few minutes and I think adds a lot!

There are so many ways to embellish both the waistband as well as the diaper cover back!

With 2 doll sizes offered in the pattern (Bitty Baby size as well as a 12″ – 15″ size), I think these would also work well for Wee Care items for the hospitals.

I hope to see some creative ideas from all my smocking friends!  Until then, keep on stitching!!!

“Sweet Cheeks” Smocked Diaper Cover

For the past year I’ve seen pictures on Pinterest of smocked diaper covers, but when I searched for a similar pattern, I couldn’t find any.  Our smocking guild issued a challenge which included using red gingham and spaghetti bias on anything, so that was my incentive to get a pattern finished for this diaper cover.  I loved the results!

I’m looking forward to bringing in my “challenge” item and also to seeing what everyone else has completed for their challenge.

After completing my challenge diaper cover, I proceeded to draft the other sizes.  I couldn’t stop!  I ended up with 9 different sizes for the diaper cover!!!  The smallest 2 sizes are for dolls – a 12″ – 15″ doll, and then a 15″ – 18″ doll.  Then the sizes move on to Preemie (4 – 5 lb.) all the way up to XL (21- 24 lb.).  That larger size could fit many 2 year old still in diapers.

Each diaper cover that I made became my new favorite!  I just love all of them!!!  LOL!  It was so fun taking pictures.  I wish that I had a NB baby to do portrait pictures wearing just these sweet little covers!  How cute would that be???  Of course, I love ruffles and couldn’t resist adding ruffles to the back of these!

I can also see these as being a quick way to dress up a onesie.  I’m not a fan of onesies and was glad that my granddaughters were never seen in them.  However, I do see the appeal from a busy mom’s standpoint – soft, comfortable and easy wash and wear.  That said, onesies are in the same category as PJ’s to me – not something you wear out in public!  LOL!  Definitely am showing my age with that comment.  Anyway, I thought that a quick pull on of this sweet diaper cover and they go from “PJ’s at home” look to “boutique”.

These diaper covers are cute no matter what you smock on them – from the simplest smocking design to something with cast-on flowers or bullion flowers!!!  They are quick to smock and quicker to sew.  With only 4 rows of smocking, that can be completed in quick time.  Add a little more time to embroider flowers and then about 1-1/2 hours (max) to sew and you have an adorable diaper cover to bless a little girl with!!!

I was so fortunate to have Lisa test the pattern for me and we bounced back different ideas for design, sizing, etc.  She created an adorable set and dressed her reborn doll in it – just too cute!  I enjoyed working with her and her help was invaluable!!!  Thank you Lisa!!!

I think that the preemie and doll sizes would work beautifully for Wee Care items as well.  I can see the tiniest size with a bonnet or blanket going to the hospital for a loving remembrance of a precious little one.

I added lace to the back of one of the diaper covers – it doesn’t show up well in pictures, but it is so sweet in person.

There are so many possibilities with this pattern!  I hope that I’ll be seeing lots of cute versions!  The pattern is available in my Etsy shop for anyone interested in smocking their own cute little bloomers!  You can click on the link to find it.

As always, keep on stitching…….

Kathy

 

Lots of Sewing Fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Princess Slippers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy stitching!!!

The Mermaid Dress and Top & New Pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kathy

 

How To Change A Neckline Tutorial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep on stitching!!!!

 

 

 

Wee Care Week

Last week I celebrated my birthday – another year of life that the Lord has blessed me with.  I chose to celebrate my birthday by sewing tiny gowns for babies that would never celebrate a birthday here on earth.  I prayed for the families of that would receive these.  I have been blessed already by doing “for the least of these” as Matthew 25:40 says.

I wanted to do a variety of patterns, so here is the result of that.  I’ve been saving preemie patterns for years, but never tried any of them.  I enjoyed stitching some different things for these babies.

The first 2 gowns were very quick and easy to make.  I used the pattern downloaded from a blog.  These are the size for 2.5 – 4 lbs.  Because I made these from a tea towel, the hemline was already decorated and finished.  On the first gown, I matched the neckband to the stitching on the hem, but decided that the second gown was getting a pink gingham neckband.  I did not line the gowns as the pattern directs.

I liked the quick stitch and simple design of this gown pattern but wanted to add some embroidery, so I adapted the pattern and added a box pleat to the center so that I could machine embroider tiny designs to the front of the gowns.  The box pleat protects the babies fragile skin from the embroidery stitching.  Again, the are unlined.  I chose French seams instead of lining and it works quite well.

The dress with the blue gingham trim is the smallest size (1.5 – 2.5 lbs.) and the dress with the red trim is the next larger size.  The sweet embroidery design comes from Appliqué for Kids and is a perfect size for these tiny gowns.  I neglected to write where the anchor comes from – I have so many designs to choose from.

I drafted a tiny hat to go with the little gown and embroidered the hat.

One of our guild members brought in some tiny quilts with her gowns last year and I thought that was a lovely idea.  So, I found just the right tiny print in my stash of fabrics and cut 2″ strips and pieced together a tiny quilt to match the red trimmed gown.  The finished quilt is 18″ square and works well for a baby this size.

I have also made another identical quilt sized for the 1 lb. babies.  It is not pictured because it looks exactly the same, but measures 15″ square.  I think I will eventually make a gown to go with that quilt as well – I would prefer a gown with the turquoise stitching for that one.

I like using a nautical theme because our guild sends gowns to Camp LeJeune and it just seems appropriate.

I also drafted a tiny hat to go with the gown and embroidered it as well.

As I looked for other patterns in the files I’ve collected over the years, I found a pattern for a smocked boy’s cap, but it had no picture.  I was intrigued and had to make it.  It was labeled “preemie”.  It drives me crazy when the size cannot be identified!!!  I will eventually make a tiny gown to go with the boy cap, but I’m not thrilled with the finished look, so doubt I’ll use it again.  The finished size would fit a 1 lb. baby.  I think I just don’t care for an open back with a bow for a boy.  Call me picky!  LOL!  The pink hat is similar to my preemie pattern, but sized for a 1 lb. baby.  I will definitely be making a tiny gown to go with this.  I just ran out of time.

I first saw one of these sweet buntings at the SAGA convention in Hampton, VA.  One of the members had made several.  I had saved the pattern for the bunting prior to that, but hadn’t made it.  After seeing it in person, I knew I would have to make some of these.  I made 3 of them using chenille from my stash.  These are designed for babies smaller than 1 lb.  The doll inside the bunting is 5″ – just for reference.  These take a bit longer to make, but are well worth the effort.  The pattern is free.

The next gown is the smocked gown  rom AS&E #29 – a favorite pattern of mine.  I decided to do some machine embroidery at the hem and used a bodice design from Kathy Harrison’s Gals and Dolls pack.

Thought these are designed to be stitched on sheer fabric so that they will mimic real lace, I was very happy with the stitching on the batiste.  The smocking design is one that I made up as I stitched.  I rarely follow a published design when I smock the tiny gowns/bonnets.

The last 2 gowns were made from the SAGA Wee Care #1 pattern.  I used the pattern adaptation that was published in Sew News Volume 35, Issue #3 and the bonnet from Volume 36, Issue #3.  The corded pintucks add sweet detail and a touch of color.

The hem embroidery bear is another quick stitch from Appliqué For Kids.  I didn’t do the shadow work, but just stitched the outline – it was stitched in less than 2 minutes!

The tiny bear is another embroidery design that I forgot to note when I was choosing designs, but I’m sure that it would be easy enough to find a tiny design that is similar.

That wraps up a week and a half of stitching.  I have enjoyed every minute of it and hope that this inspires others to do some charity sewing as well.  There are so many organizations that would welcome additional items for their hospital donations.

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Merry Christmas!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kathy

Jumpers For Christmas and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kathy

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Dressing Dollies

In preparation for Christmas as well as a birthday (this week!), I have been sewing some doll clothes for the little girls.  This is such fun sewing!  I have several more on the cutting table, but thought I’d share a few before they leave the house.  These are for the 18″ dolls such as the American Girl dolls, Gotz dolls, etc.

I have my wonderful Dolly’s Wardrobe book, which has patterns that match the Children’s Corner patterns.  You can still purchase this book from Children’s Corner store.  I used these patterns to make doll clothes for our daughter, and used them again for the granddaughter’s.

I had a couple blouses cut out and partially sewn from when our youngest daughter still played with dolls.  They are vintage now!  LOL!  So, I finished one of them up to go under a jumper.

The jumper pattern is from Genniewren and goes together very quickly.  Her patterns are excellent as are the instructions.  I used the a-line dress pattern, but didn’t do the color blocking for this dress.  It’s an easy change to make.  If you don’t want to change up that pattern, her Melanie pattern top could be used – just add length.

I have another jumper made, but need to make a blouse to go with it yet.

The next dress made turned out so sweet!  I love smocking and was thrilled to make up this Lucy dress pattern.  I made up my own smocking design, though Genine has a pretty smocking design included with the pattern.  I think this is my new favorite dress pattern!

Instead of embroidering small flowers, I used tiny buttons from a craft pack.  That worked out great and was very quick and easy.

The last finished outfits are pants and a smocked top.  Genine made the top pattern to match my Temily top that was in the Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine several years ago.  It has just a bit of smocking in the center.  Her top pattern is called Kataya.  The pants are a very quick sew with an elastic waist.  I used the Melanie pattern and added length to the pants.  The pants can be worn with either of the tops.

I did make a change to the top pattern and had it open all the way down the top for easier dressing.  I wanted to make this as easy as possible so that “mom” didn’t have to be involved in dressing the dolls.  LOL!

Again, I did my own smocking design, though Genine provides a pretty smocking design in the pattern.  This is such a small section to smock, it can be finished in about 1/2 hour.

On this white top, I decided to try the neckband without elastic and with only a bias band.  It worked out well, but in the end, I prefer the elastic.

For all the doll outfits, I used snaps for the closures.  I like the Snap Source snaps – they come in so many colors and with either a closed cap or an open cap.  For the doll clothes, I used the size 14.

Today I’ll wrap up a couple of these for the birthday party, and save the others for Christmas.  I have many more needed for Christmas!!!  Next up for sewing is the doll coat pattern!  I can’t wait to sew this up – it’s cut and ready!!!

Have you started your Christmas sewing yet?  If not, I highly recommend the Genniewren patterns as well as the Children’s Corner Dressing Dolly book.