Category Archives: Wee Care

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

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!

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!!!