My Stitching Spot – Lighting and Magnification

I wanted to share with you some of the items in my stitching spot that have made my stitching so much easier and more enjoyable. Over the years, my eyes have “matured” and I have needed to accommodate that and make some adjustments. I suspect that there are others that may benefit from some of the same stitching “aides”.

My desire is to have a calm, peaceful and comfortable spot for stitching. Of course, it also needs to have excellent lighting as well as sufficient magnification for whatever project I may be working on.

My living room has wonderful lighting when the sun is shining. However, on cloudy days or in the early morning or late evening, the lighting isn’t sufficient for stitching. Needless to say, I don’t plan to slow down on my stitching projects, so, thanks to wonderful technology and sewing aides, I have been able to continue stitching along happily.

The first sewing aide that is used quite regularly is my magnification lamp. It is a floor model with adjustable arms and a swivel head. I purchased this many years ago when I was having difficulty with shadow work embroidery – getting back into the EXACT same hole with the needle. This exact model isn’t still available, but there are newer ones that are new, improved and will work fabulously for any seamstress!

These lamps for for magnification for handwork, but if magnification isn’t needed, but excellent light is required, these fit the bill – they can be adjusted to be overhead. The ability to wheel this lamp from room to room makes it a wonderful choice for anyone! I love the clean white color, but it seems silly of me to buy yet another one just for a different color. 😜

Floor lamp with magnification Of course, there are many models at different price points – just make sure that what you are looking at has enough magnification and lighting for your needs!

The next item that is invaluable to me is actually 2 items – my Ipad Pro and the stand for it! I have linked to both of these, but if you already own an Ipad or tablet, just make sure that the stand will accommodate the size that is needed. It is wonderful to have the adjustable stand and the gooseneck allows it to flex forward any way that is needed for optimal viewing.

The Ipad is wonderful! The ability to zoom in closely in order to see stitches as large as needed!!! I use this all the time for smocking picture smocking designs. I also like the fact that the lighting/brightness can be adjusted – I keep it set higher than average so that there is plenty of contrast.

Of course, no room is complete without music – at least, not as far as I’m concerned. I have 2 fabulous Sonos speakers that provide whatever type of music I’m in the mood for at the time. They connect to Pandora, my own music library, etc. Having a husband that loves technology and loves a good sound system is a real bonus!!! I have a pair of these in my sewing room as well.

Then there are the stitching necessities – the sewing caddy, a pattern that I sell in my Etsy shop, is always with me when I’m stitching. I carry it from room to room and it holds my scissors, pins, needles, rulers, marking tools, etc.

The current project I’m smocking uses beads, which make any project so elegant! I have the most wonderful way to manage the beads while smocking. I have a gift card tin that I have fitted with a tacky mat. The beads stay put until you remove them – even if you drop the tin!!!

This little tin works great for carrying your work around from room to room or even for traveling since the beads stay stuck to the mat. This was one of my best finds in recent years! Of course, smocking with beads requires a milliner needle. I found that the size 8 milliner needles worked best with 3 strands of floss and the size 11 beads.

When smocking with beads, you want to add the bead when you meet up with the final pass on a smocking design. So, in the picture below, the cable row was smocked first, then the 2-step trellis. When the trellis stitch meets the cable row, add a bead there. The bead at the lower point of the trellis will be added on the next row of smocking.

This bonnet matches the Wee Care gown that I finished recently. I will share the smocking design for you to download.

Be sure to pleat half rows for these tiny Wee Care gowns! I used DMC#818 for this gown. The video for this post can be viewed on YouTube.

Happy Stitching!

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Wee Care Sew-Along 4 – Madeira or Alternate Hem Treatment

In this sew-along we will be finishing up the gown by doing the Madeira hem or alternate hem.

First, I have to apologize as I’ve created a minor problem with the construction. For the original gown, I sewed the sleeves, inserted them into the gown, pleated the gown, did the hem treatment and finished with finishing the back of the gown and attaching the bias band. It seemed to me that it made more sense to do the hem last, as is done on most dress/gown projects. Obviously, I didn’t consider the full implications of changing the construction order. 🙄

To create the Madeira or alternate hem treatment, the back of the gown needs to be unfinished. So, for those that have finished the back of the gown already, you will need to remove the stitching in the hem area so that the Madeira hem can be sewn. I’m sorry for the un-stitching required, but thankfully, it’s a small amount. You will also need to add that hem allowance to each side of the pattern piece that you’ve created so that the contrast band pattern and fabric will be the same width as the unfinished gown.

The first step will be to cut 2 contrast bands of fabric, at least 1″ deeper than the highest point of the hem pattern created and as wide as the gown. Starch the bands as well as the skirt fabric. Then place the scallop pattern of your choice on top of one of the contrast bands, and trace around the scallop shapes with a blue wash-out marker.

Place the 2 contrast bands with right sides together and pin to secure. Put the water soluble thread on the sewing machine (top only) and stitch along the blue lines with a 2.0 stitch length. Be sure to take one diagonal stitch across each scallop peak before continuing stitching along the scallops. The diagonal stitch will result in a better looking point at the peak. Accuracy is essential – the way that the scallops are stitched now will be the way that they look on the finished garment.

After stitching the scallops, trim away the excess fabric from above the stitching line with an even seam allowance. Clip across the point. Then clip the seam allowance of the curves at 1/4″ intervals.

Turn seam allowance to the back (see video) on each side of the point, insert the long tweezers, pinching the folded seam allowances, and turn the point/fabric right side out. Press with a dry (NO STEAM) iron. Do this along the length of the contrast band until all points are turned and pressed. Ensure that you are satisfied with the points along the band, if not, make any adjustments.

IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT THIS TECHNIQUE IS PRACTICED ON SCRAP FABRIC PRIOR TO WORKING ON THE CONTRAST BAND!!! Use some of the leftover fabric from the project to try the techniques and then save the practice piece to practice the pinstitching on.

Place a damp linen press cloth on top of the fabric and press until COMPLETELY dry. Once it is completely dry, the 2 layers can be separated easily. If some places are still stuck together, repeat the process with the damp cloth.

Change the sewing thread to 60 wt. thread. Sew the contrast band to the gown with the right side of the contrast band to the wrong side of the fabric. Trim seam allowance. Understitch. Then press the contrast band to the right side of the fabric and pin the band to the gown along all the scalloped edges/points.

With 80 wt. thread in the top and bobbin, stitch the contrast band to the gown along the folded edge.

PINSTITCH HEM TREATMENT

To prepare the gown for the pinstitch, heavily starch (NOT ELLEN’S BEST PRESS) the hem of the dress. Allow to dry. Then press.

Cut 2″ strips of water soluble stabilizer (Sulky Fabri-Solvy) to the wrong side of the dress centering over the scallops and overlapping the stabilizer as needed.

Set the sewing machine to a pinstitch/hemstitch. The correct stitch will go back and forth 2x and then zigzag once. Use a #110 needle, 80 wt. thread on both the top and the bobbin and the open toed foot. Set the stitch to 2.5 L and 2.0 W. Stitch along the scallops, pivoting as needed and pivoting at the points (see video).

(optional) Trim away excess stabilizer carefully.

ALTERNATE HEM TREATMENT

If you machine doesn’t have a true pinstitch, a double needle hemstitch can be done using a double top-stitching stitch on the sewing machine. This stitch will go forward one stitch, go back one stitch, then go forward again in the same hole, repeat (so forward one, back one, forward 2). I have always called this a double stitch. Some call this a lightening stitch. Again, it is recommended that this stitch is practiced on scraps of fabric before doing it on the gown.

Starch the hem of the gown before beginning. Cut 2″ strips of water soluble stabilizer and pin them behind the scallops of the gown, overlapping as needed.

With 60 wt. thread on top and in the bobbin, the double hemstitching needle and an open toed foot, center the fold of the scallops between the 2 needles and stitch the double top-stitch, pivoting as needed. When the peak of a scallop is reached, leave the needles down, raise the pressure foot, pivot, set the pressure foot down and continue stitching. The fabric will look distorted when you pivot at the point, but as soon as the stitching continues, it will flatten out and look right.

Trim away excess stabilizer.

Regardless of which hem treatment was used, the remainder of the back of the gown can now be finished with a narrow hem.

Soak the gown in cold water for 5 minutes to remove all of the blue wash-out marker. If this doesn’t remove all of the stabilizer, then hand wash the garment in warm, sudsy water and agitate a bit. Rinse completely. Hang to dry and press as needed.

To finish the back of the gown, cut a length of 1/8″ ribbon (32″ – 40″, depending on size). Thread the ribbon into a tapestry needle and insert into the bias band at the neck. Begin at the edge of the bias band at one end and come out at the end of the smocking at the opposite end.

Sew 2 snaps on the back of the gown, the first snap 1″ below the bias band and the second snap 1″ below the first.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the sew-along and have gained some new tips and techniques that can be used in future projects! Please ask any questions you may have and I’ll be glad to answer!

Happy Stitching!!!

Kathy

YouTube Links:

Sew-Along, Lesson 1

Sew-Along, Lesson 2

Sew-Along, Lesson 3

Sew-Along, Lesson 4

I am adding links to the complete list of the products I’ve used throughout the series should you decide that you need any of these.

Gingher Pocket (Kindergarten) Scissors

Point Pusher with Ball End

Imperial Batiste

Schmetz 70 Microtex Needle

Schmetz 110 Jeans Needle

Schmetz Double Hemstitch Needle (if your machine doesn’t have a pin-stitch)

Long Tweezers

Rotary cutter

Press and Cut Board

Ruler with Grid

Starch

Water soluble thread Vanish Lite

Blue Wash-out Marker

Freezer Paper

Long tweezers

80 weight thread – Aurifil or Madeira Cotona

60 weight Mettler thread

Sulky Fabri-Solvy or other water soluble stabilizer

Plastic Snaps

White 1/8″ satin ribbon

Tapestry Needle

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Wee Care Sew-Along 3

This segment of the sew-along will cover putting on the bias band, tying off for smocking and then designing the scallop hem design.

Before attaching the bias band, finish the backs of the gowns. It is recommended that you turn in a narrow hem that is approximately 1/4″ finished – wide enough to sew a snap onto. Next, count pleats between the front armhole seams to find the center of the gown and mark the center with a blue wash-out marker.

Cut bias band 1-1/8″ wide and about 1-1/2″ longer than needed. Mark the band at each end with the finished neckband size and also mark the middle of the band.

With right side facing up, tie a knot in the top 2 pleating threads. Pull the knot to the fabric. Pin the bias band (right sides together) at each end and at the center.

Sew the bias band to the gown with a basting stitch (see video). The stitching line should be between the top 2 pleating threads. If it needs any adjusting, fix and re-baste. Then sew on top of the basting thread with a 2.0 stitch length. Stitch again a scant 1/4″ away from the first stitching line. Cut away excess fabric at the second stitching line.

Fold the bias band to finish the neckline (see video), trimming the bias band if needed.

To create the scalloped hem, measure across the width of the gown at the hem. Cut a length of freezer paper the same length as the width of the gown hem. The length can then be cut into 6″ wide strips so that you can practice with 3 strips of freezer paper as you design the hem.

Fold the freezer paper in half to find the center, then fold in half again – those folds represent the side seam of the gown. Watch the video to see how simple it is to create pretty scallops.

Link to video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84bPcgjmemA&feature=youtu.be

Stay tuned for the next lesson, which will be the Madeira hem application. This can be done with a sewing machine that has a pin-stitch or a second method that doesn’t require a pin-stitch will also be shown – that one requires a double hem-stitch needle. Be sure to have your supplies ready for this segment. You will need a blue wash-out marker, water soluble thread, water soluble stabilizer, #110 needle, #80 weight thread, and the kindergarten scissors (optional, but very helpful).

Water soluble thread Vanish Lite

Water soluble stabilizer Sulky Fabri-Solvy

Blue Wash-out Marker

Freezer Paper

Kindergarten scissors

#110 Schmetz needle

Schmetz double wing needle (if your machine doesn’t have a pin-stitch)

Long tweezers

Point Pusher with Ball End

80 weight thread – Aurifil or Madeira Cotona

60 weight mettler thread

Schmetz #70 microtex needle

Sulky Fabri-Solvy or other water soluble stabilizer

Double Hemstitch needle (for technique if you don’t have a pin-stitch on your machine)

Enjoy putting on the bias band and designing your unique hem scallop!!!

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Wee Care Sew-Along, Part 2

After downloading the pattern, follow the instructions and cut out the gown fabric/rectangle as directed. Fold the rectangle in half, and then in half again in order to cut out the armhole curve.

The armhole curve has TWO placement lines. For the gown that has NO SIDE SEAMS, use the inside line!!! Place this line on the fold and cut around the armhole.

Next cut the sleeve rectangles. If you plan to use the boy’s pleated sleeve pattern, add 1″ to the depth of the rectangle. Using the same armhole curve, cut the sleeve armhole on the OUTSIDE placement line.

Decide on what sleeve treatment will be used. For a smocked sleeve, pleat the sleeves with the desired number of rows (I usually pleat 5 half spaces, 7 for a NB) and be sure to leave the pleating threads long enough to flatten the sleeves out in order to finish the lower edge of the sleeve with a narrow rolled hem or with lace.

Before attaching lace, it is best to starch the lace. For this, use starch, not Ellen’s Best Press. Ellen’s Best Press is a starch alternative, not starch – you won’t get the same crisp results with it as you will with real starch. I use Faultless Heave Spray Starch (link below). It is also available at grocery stores, WalMart, etc.

Attach lace or hem the sleeve bottom. If you need a refresher on how to attach lace, I do have an e-book available on my Etsy site.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/586348280/french-machine-sewing-primer-with-bonnet

For a boy’s pleated sleeve, follow the instructions on the file below (click on the blue PDF) to download the file. This includes instructions for all sizes. Read before cutting out and making the sleeve!!!

Stitch the underarm seam allowance with a TINY 1/4″ SEAM. I have a Youtube video on how to do this:

With the sleeves completed, stitch the sleeve into the armhole. If you have cut & stitched accurately, the sleeve will fit into the armhole perfectly.

Of course, all of the instructions and demonstrations can be seen on my YouTube channel:

This is a longer video, so if you already know how to attach lace, roll & whip, etc., you can fast forward through those parts! 😊 I just wanted to make sure that someone new that wanted to try this would have enough information to apply lace correctly.

You are ready to pleat at this point. Please follow the pleating video if you would like to see how I pleated the gown. Pleat with the number of rows recommended or desired.

Stay tuned for the hem instructions!!!

Links for some of the additional supplies I used – you may already own these:

Rotary cutter

Press and Cut Board

Ruler with Grid

Starch

Keep on stitching!!!! If you have questions, please ask and I’ll answer them here.

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop – it gives me a little bit back for my time producing these videos! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Wee Care Gown Sew-Along

I’m going to do a SAGA Wee Care gown sew-along for all those that wish to participate. The Wee Care gowns are the tiny bishop gowns used at the hospitals as infant demise gowns. It’s a beautiful expression of love and caring for the precious little ones that don’t make it and the families are so appreciative. I make so many of these each year, and I thought it would be a nice way to share some of my tips and techniques.

I will be sharing how I put together this gown. I use the SAGA Wee Care gown pattern by Nancy Newell and I cut the gown out using the NO side seam method.

Download and print your pattern, gather your supplies and be sure to watch the YouTube video.

I’m providing links to the supplies that I use and recommend, though feel free to substitute if you have different preferences. Just click on the blue words and it will take you to the website.

Gingher Pocket (Kindergarten) Scissors

Mettler 60 wt. thread

Madeira Cotona or Aurafil 80 wt. thread

Point Pusher with Ball End

Imperial Batiste

Schmetz 70 Microtex Needle

Schmetz 110 Jeans Needle

Schmetz Double Hemstitch Needle

Long Tweezers

Sulky Fabri-Solvy

Water Soluble thread

I will be sharing videos of how to insert the sleeves, sew the bias band on as well as how to create an easy Madeira hem – with or without hemstitching. I particularly like this hem treatment to embellish a boy’s gown. Of course, the same techniques can be used on another project – Easter dresses, tea towels, quilts, etc. Lots of options! So, even if you aren’t creating a Wee Care gown, learn the technique and use it elsewhere. Of course, the tiny gowns are a great way to practice and perfect different techniques while blessing a family.

Join the fun and enjoy the process! Hopefully you’ll learn something new or different!

Keep on stitching!

Kathy

Disclosure: The recommended products contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting me when you shop! These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products. These are the products I use and have gotten great results with. I would never recommend poor quality products.

Tiny Gowns and YouTube

This past week I’ve completed several tiny gown sets that will be donated to Caleb Ministry. This is such a wonderful ministry to those that have lost their babies. Even if you don’t sew, you can support this ministry through your financial gifts. I pray for the families that will receive these sets and that God will bring comfort in such a time of sadness.

Each set that I make consists of a gown, cap/bonnet, flannel blanket & a handkerchief.

This set uses the smocked pattern from SAGA. The cross design is from Sonia Showalter Designs and it stitches out beautifully every time, as do all of her embroidery designs. I don’t remember where the tiny footprints come from.

These sets use the pattern from Caleb ministry. Again, the embroidery designs are from Sonia Showalter Designs.

I especially enjoy making the little girl sets – I guess I love lace and pink! This is the SAGA pattern for the gown. The bonnet pattern is from Laurie Anderson and stitches up quickly. Again, the embroidery design is from Sonia Showalter (link with the first picture).

Again, this gown uses the SAGA pattern. This is one of my favorite embroidery designs from Sonia Showalter – what a precious Bible verse and so appropriate.

In addition to making all these sets, I have been working to learn how to make video tutorials. What a learning curve this has been! I’m certainly no expert, but I have learned a few things and have MANY more to learn. With the video, I also had to learn how to set up a YouTube channel. This morning I uploaded my first tutorial – Tiny French Seams tutorial. I hope to continue this learning adventure and will post more tutorials as I’m able to. Hopefully each will improve as I learn more.

So, that’s how I’ve been spending my time these cold and wet winter days! I hope you’ve enjoyed some special stitching as well.

Keep on stitching……

Kathy

MICRO-PREEMIE BUNTING PATTERN – for under 1 lb. babies

Today as I worked on a Wee Care gown, I realized that the micro-preemie bunting pattern and instructions that I’d previously shared was one that was lost. Therefore, I’m sharing it again so that anyone wanting to make these and donate to their local hospitals has access to the pattern.

This sweet little bunting has been designed as a burial bunting for micro preemie babies. It stitches up quickly and uses minimal amounts of fabric. Quilting the fabric gives it the necessary body. Small bits of lace or trim can be used for embellishment if desired. A little hand or machine embroidery can be done very quickly.

In the past, I used one of the bunting patterns that was shared online. While I was happy with the finished bunting, it was far too complicated (my opinion).

This bunting is designed to ensure that the baby is securely wrapped. It can be completed in a very short time and it is done completely by machine.

Fabric for the inside of the bunting should be flannel.  A variety of fabrics can be used for the outside fabric.  If pre-quilted fabric is used it eliminates the need to quilt the fabric.  Quilting cottons, broadcloth, satin, lightweight fleece, etc. all work well for the outside fabric of the bunting.

Small scraps of trims or lace can be used to decorate the front flaps of the bunting.  These would include ribbons, soutache braid, Swiss eyelet lace, Val lace, rickrack, etc.

Supplies:

  • 12″ x 15″ piece of fashion fabric
  • 12″ x 15″ piece of thin cotton batting *
  • 12″ x 15″ piece of batiste
  • 12″ x 15″ piece of flannel (lining)
  • 24″ of 1/4″ or 1/8″ ribbon
  • 12″ of lace or trim (optional)
  • thread
  • blue wash-out marker
  • ruler with 1″ grid marks

*alternately, 3 – 4 layers of flannel can be used instead of batting

Instructions:

Open the PDF pattern file in Adobe reader on a laptop or desktop computer.  Print the pattern. Ensure that the pattern has been printed to the correct size by checking the 1” box.  Printing should be done from a computer, not a phone or tablet. Cut out the 2 pattern pieces and tape together, matching the notch.  Printing 2 copies of the pattern and taping both together down the center will give the full pattern piece, which is helpful for aligning patterns with designs that need to be centered.

To mark the fashion fabric for quilting, fold the fabric in half lengthwise and finger crease.  Open the fabric up.  With a blue wash out marker, draw a line along the crease.  Fold the fashion fabric in half across the width and crease.  Open the fabric up and using a blue wash out marker, draw a line along the crease.  Using a ruler with a grid, mark additional lines at 1” intervals along both the length and the width of the fabric.

Place batiste with wrong side facing up.  Place the batting on top of the batiste, matching all cut edges and then place the fashion fabric, right side up, on top of the batting, aligning all cut edges.  Pin to secure.  Starting at the center line of the 15” L, stitch along the line from top to bottom.  Moving out from the center line, stitch remaining lines until all the lines have been stitched along the 15” length.  Repeat for the process for the 12” width to complete the quilting of the fashion fabric.  (For interest, the grid can also be stitched at 45º angles.)

Cut out the bunting pattern from the quilted fabric and another bunting from the flannel.  It works very well to print 2 copies of the pattern and tape them together in order to work with the full size pattern.

Tip – the pattern can be traced onto the quilted fabric and then straight stitch along the drawn line. This secures the 3 layers together and is easier to work with. Cut out the shape just outside the stitched lines.

Cut straight across the top of the bunting, leaving the “dip” section in the front uncut.

With a blue wash-out marker, mark the front “dip” section. This will be the dart that makes up the shape for the bunting hood. It is easier to sew the dart in first and then trim away the excess fabric. Mark the dot below the dip as well as the placement lines for the ribbons with a blue wash-out marker.

With right sides together, stitch the dart/seam for the hood of the bunting, stopping at the circle.  Repeat for flannel.  Trim away the excess fabric inside the dart. Do any embellishments desired at this point.

Cut the ribbons into 6” lengths and pin the ribbons to the quilted fabric at the placement lines.

With right sides together, pin the flannel to the quilted fabric all around the outside edges.  Stitch around the entire bunting, leaving a 2” opening between one set of ribbons. 

Trim seam allowance a little, clip curves and clip the corners at an angle, stopping before reaching the stitching line.

Pull bunting through the opening to get it right side out. Press. Edge-stitch around the entire bunting, closing up the 2” opening.

Remove blue wash out marker by spritzing or soaking in cold water for 5 minutes.

Fold up lower section, bring outside sections together and tie the ribbons into a bow.

These are so quick to make, it’s easy to finish several of them in a very short time. Be creative with little bits of trim.

I hope that this will inspire you to use up some of your smaller pieces of pretty fabric and create a sweet bunting! I am including the PDF file for the pattern for your use. Click on the link below to download.

Keep on stitching…….

Kathy

Ka

Fabric Storage Boxes

I keep seeing pictures of these cute, but small, storage boxes made from fabric. I love the idea of those, but the small size was not appealing to me. Maybe I have too much stuff that larger boxes have more appeal!!!

Well, with Valentine’s day coming up, I decided I’d try some of these boxes for the grandkids and then fill them with a few goodies. After perusing the internet for tutorials, and reading many – some good, some tragic – I moved forward and made the first one. Of course, I was choosing elements from different techniques that I read about and then doing my own thing, particularly with the sizing and turn down cuff. As you might imagine, I had a few challenges before getting it down just right. I’m very happy with the finished boxes!

Each of the boxes are made with plastic canvas inserts in all 4 sides, slipped between the outer fabric and the lining fabric in a channel created by stitching down the edges. I used fusible fleece for the outer layer of fabric and then used iron-on interfacing for the lining fabric. A removable bottom insert with the plastic canvas sits inside each of the baskets as well. The boxes measure 8.5″ x 11″ x 9″ tall, so they will fit lots of treasures! The turn down cuffs are different sizes as I experimented with different sizes as each box was made.

I love the frame and font on this basket!!! That said, it did take an hour to stitch out! It is called the Flourish frame from Embroitique. The font is also from Embroitique, though I don’t remember what it is called. Both stitched out beautifully, as her designs always do!

Ignore the faint chalk lines in Liam’s basket – they will disappear eventually. This basket is made with a heavy piqué for the outer layer. I’ve been using what I have in my “resource center” as much as possible and this was the perfect color for his superhero box. I have no clue where his design comes from – I’ve had it for more years than I can remember. Because this was the first box made, and with numerous mistakes during the process, I chose to stitch this design out as a patch and glue on afterwards. So thankful that it was done this way as otherwise I would have needed to trash the first attempt at the box and start over. LOL!

By the time I got to the 3rd box, I realized that if I added piping to the upper edge, the top-stitching would be much easier and the look a bit cleaner. That was a good choice! This font and frame are also from Embroitique. The frame is the Miller frame, and again, I don’t remember the name of the font. I guess I should write these down as I create the embroidery design to stitch, but I never remember to do that! The off-grain print on Ella’s and Livvy’s boxes bothers me, but I prefer to keep the fabric on grain when sewing rather than keep the design straight. How I wish designs were printed on grain!

Eva’s box was the last to complete and as you might expect, I got better with each one. The embroidery frame and front for hers are also from Embroitique. The frame is the Bowman frame, again, with a font that I cannot remember. So sorry about that! However, you can choose any front from Embroitique and it will stitch out beautifully! The cuff on this box is 2″, and the size that I prefer – now that I’ve done several of these! 🤣

The boxes are filled with some goodies and ready to deliver! Now, to decide what my next sewing project will be……

I do hope that you are able to keep busy and creative these days while staying at home and safe! Keep on stitching!!!

Kathy

BEAUTIFUL HEMLINES

A beautiful hemline is a lovely way to compliment a bodice – smocked, embroidered, tucked, etc. There are so many ways to embellish a hem. Some are more time consuming and difficult, others are quicker and easier (relatively speaking). This post will address some of the many options of interest to anyone that enjoys heirloom sewing. Hopefully it will inspire some creative thinking for your next sewing project!

A smocked bishop dress is deserving of a beautiful hem treatment. This hem was stitched with a pin-stitch, done by hand and then embroidery was added above the hem. While I nearly always will choose a machine method of hem finishes, I do love hand-work and wanted to test the waters with a hand, pin-stitch. With a small sized bishop dress, this didn’t take too long. This is a cost effective treatment and only requires a lightweight thread for the pin-stitch. Any book on heirloom techniques will include instructions for this stitch.

For reference, this dress was made from Imperial batiste. The smocking design is a variation of Ellen McCarn’s “Cary Anne” smocking plate – I made a few changes. Contrary to the opinion of many heirloom stitchers, it IS possible to do a hand pin-stitch on a poly/cotton fabric. Because of the easy care of this fabric, this dress is likely to get more wear than one that requires special laundering as well as ironing.

As mentioned, my “go-to” methods are almost always a machine method and I love including color in the hem and bodice of a dress.

Scalloped hems always look beautiful!!! Of course, they are more work and will take more time. The finished result is always worth the extra effort! This dress has a scalloped, contrast hem that is machine pin-stitched. Machine pin-stitching also takes time, but goes much more quickly than doing it by hand. Pintucks and embroidery above the hem elevate the design, making it even more beautiful. Pintucks are an easy way to embellish a hem and no additional cost is incurred!

This pattern is available in my Etsy shop.. The fabric for this dress is satin batiste – both the white and the yellow fabric. It is dreamy to work with and creates a keepsake heirloom.

This dress is similar to the yellow/white dress above, but a little quicker to complete. This is a Madeira hem in a contrast color that is machine pin-stitched to the skirt. It has hand embroidered shadow work above the hem – both of these elements are repeated in the bodice.

This dress is made from Imperial batiste for the easy-care that the fabric offers. Because of that, it was worn often, washed frequently and still looks beautiful. As you can see, the machine pin-stitching can also be done effectively on a poly/cotton blend. The pattern and instructions for this dress is available in my Etsy shop.

This is another example of a contrast hem – a shadow Madeira hem, done by machine. The technique for this hem is a bit different. A heavy contrast fabric (hot pink) is used underneath the batiste skirt to shadow through as a pastel pink. This method is much quicker and easier than the previous 2 dresses shown and only requires a pintuck needle and foot and a wing needle. The dress features hand embroidery above the hem. The contrast fabric and embroidery are repeated on the dress bodice.

For an heirloom look with less hours invested, this style will fit the bill. This dress is also made from Imperial batiste, so another easy care dress that should get worn frequently. The pattern is available in my Etsy shop.

Shown below is the same hem technique done with a simple scallop design and with silk ribbon embroidery at the peaks. It is such a versatile technique!

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This is yet another dress using the same technique.

Swiss batiste blue dress with lace.

Satin batiste lace dress with lace overlay bodice, sleeves and a lace scalloped hem.

Pima cotton lawn dress with lace bodice and hem.

It goes without saying that you can never go wrong with a traditional heirloom dress and LOTS of lace! Each of these examples show how the lace hem is a repeat of the lace bodice.

The blue dress is a basic yoke dress using heirloom techniques to add lace. The white dress is a basic yoke dress, smocked, and with heirloom techniques to add a lace overlay bodice, lace sleeves and a scalloped lace hem. This dress was featured in Sew Beautiful magazine several years ago. The pink dress is a pattern available in my Etsy shop.

Sometimes a single lace edging is sufficient as a hem. This adds a touch of elegance without taking away from the dress bodice embroidery and the lace sleeves. This vintage inspired dress pattern is available in my Etsy shop.

To create an heirloom dress with lots of appeal and a little less expense, ribbon can be used in the hem and bodice paired with lace for a stunning dress. This is a great way to learn and use heirloom techniques without breaking the bank! These dresses are made of Swiss batiste, ribbon and lace. It does not require a lot of fabric and could also be made with Imperial batiste if easy care and savings is a factor.

With Easter fast approaching, consider a beautiful hem to compliment whatever you might be creating for someone special!!! You can’t go wrong!

Happy Stitching,

Kathy

PRESSING – TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Professional looking results – isn’t that what everyone desires? Besides good sewing techniques, pressing, or lack of pressing, as you sew can make the difference between quality, couture/custom looking garments and a “home-made” looking garment. While the thrill of creating in front of the sewing machine is great fun, pressing each step of the way is absolutely necessary to create a polished looking garment. So, what kind of aides/tools are there to help create a fabulous finished garment?

A good iron and ironing board is needed for good pressing results. The iron does not necessarily need something expensive, but it is imperative that it has good steam capabilities. The ironing board is easily modified in order to obtain better pressing results. Ironing boards typically come with a shiny, heat resistant cover or a thin cotton cover. Neither of those will produce great results!!! Better results are achieved when these are replaced. The best ironing board cover will include several layers of natural fabrics. Begin with a thick 100% wool cover on top of the ironing board. This can be as simple as an old wool blanket (I have my dad’s old army blanket under mine – that horrible green!) cut to the size of the ironing board. If the wool is thin, use 2 layers. On top of that place a layer of 100% cotton batting – the kind you use for quilting. Again, this is cut to the size of the ironing board top. The final layer is the cover, which should be 100% cotton – white twill (think denim) works well and can easily be made.

Making your own ironing board cover is as simple as placing the ironing board on top of the fabric on the floor, tracing around it and adding to this measurement all around to handle the board depth (usually 1″) and then extra (3″ – 4″) in order to have the cover wrap underneath the board. Finish the outer edges by adding a casing and insert string or elastic so that the cover can be cinched up tightly – much like a bottom sheet of a bed.

As pretty as the designed covers are, they are not always the best choice. Print fabrics present the risk of having any colors from a transfer to the garments while pressing. White fabric looks crisp and eliminates that risk. The layers offer necessary padding and the cotton & wool retain heat & steam to improve the pressing process. The top cover is easily removed for cleaning!

Pressing vs. Ironing. Whenever sewing a garment, seams need to be pressed as they are sewn. Do NOT skip this step and wait until the garment is finished to press it – that will never render professional results. Ironing is a motion where the iron glides back and forth over the fabric. Pressing is an up and down motion on the fabric, lifting the iron to move from one section to another. It does not distort any of the fibers or stretch them out. Seams should be pressed, not ironed! The seam should first be pressed as it was sewn to meld the thread into the fabric. Then it can be pressed open or to the side, as needed, with whatever is being sewn. The last step is to press from on the right side of the fabric. The extra step takes seconds and makes a difference in the finished garment.

Pressing direction. Seams are typically pressed open. Seams that are sewn together (serged, French seams, etc.) will be pressed towards the back of the garment as it is worn. Darts are pressed down or towards the center if it is a vertical dart. Armhole seams are pressed towards the sleeve.

Pressing and/or ironing on the front of the fabric has the potential to cause problems, particularly with dark fabrics, fabrics with texture,etc. In these cases, use a pressing cloth if it is absolutely necessary to press on the front of the fabric to avoid any problems.

Pressing cloth. A good pressing cloth can save the day with many fabrics. It offers a protective layer between the iron and the garment. If possible, have several in different fabrics. A silk organza (100% silk) is nice for delicate fabrics and for times when it is necessary to see what you’re pressing. Also, a linen (100% linen) one is nice to have. Having both a lightweight, handkerchief linen as well as a heavier linen one is ideal. A linen kitchen towel works well for a heavier linen. These should have finished edges so that they can be washed as needed. Dish towels work great for a heavier linen cloth.

Hams/ham holder and sleeve rolls. These are invaluable pressing aids. The ham has nice curves that allow you to press curved areas nicely, such as darts or necklines and armholes. If the seam goes around a curve, it ought to be pressed with a curved pressing aide. A ham holder is a great way to keep the ham upright while pressing around the neckline and shaping the collar. The sleeve roll can also be used around necklines and armholes, though it may be a bit more challenging. It is great to slide into small places that need a good press, such as the sleeve. Both the ham and the sleeve roll will have one side with wool and the other side with muslin. The wool side should be used for pressing wools and the muslin side for pressing cottons and linens.

Clapper. This is a wooden shaped board that is used to set the seams. The wood draws the heat out of the garment quickly, which helps set the seam and sets the press. They frequently will have grooves along the sides for fingers in order to keep a good grip on the block. This is also available as a combination clapper with a point press.

Seam Stick. Again, this is another wooden tool for pressing seams and works fabulously for pant legs and long sleeve seams. Because the edge is curved, the seam is pressed without leaving an imprint of the seam allowance on the right side of the fabric since only the seam itself sits on the stick. Because it is wood, it also draws the steam out of the garment fabric quickly, giving a nice, hard press to the seam. These can be purchased in shorter and longer lengths and some are available with a cover.

Tailor Board. This board is also wood and has lots of curves and a nice point in order to get into tight places, such as collars, cuffs, etc. Dritz has a great blog post/tutorial on how to use this with garments and all the different curves and angles. For coats or blazers, this tool is invaluable!

Sleeve Board. This is exactly what it says – a narrow ironing board that will fit inside sleeves in order to press them. Because of the small size, it also works well for children’s clothing, dolls, etc. If using this, padding it in the same as the ironing board is a good idea.

Needle Board. This is an expensive, specialty tool and is only needed when pressing fabrics such as velvet or velveteen. The needles provide depth and protects the fabric pile from being crushed when pressing the seams.

Obviously, there are many more pressing aides that can be used, though they may be less utilized. Some things that come to mind are protective fingertip covers, pressing mitt, Rajah cloth, mini iron, an iron finger, pressing sticks, etc. If you have the space and the disposable income, these are also nice to have. The latest rage seems to be wool mats. I haven’t seen the need for these and they seem to have some drawback. I suspect that quilters find more use for that than someone constructing garments.

Many of these pressing aides can be made, particularly if you have access to woodworking tools. Any wood items ought to be made from untreated hardwoods. There are plenty of patterns/tutorials online for most of them and a quick google search will render a plethora of results.

If some of these tools are unfamiliar to you, there are numerous YouTube tutorials on how to use them. Seeing the tools in use can be enlightening. Many of these pressing aides will be like a microwave – when they first came out, many didn’t see the need for them, but once you have one, you cannot imagine living without one. 😊

Links to some of the tools shown:

Pressing clapper

Tailor’s ham

Ham holder

Point Presser/Clapper

Clover Mini Iron

Sleeve Roll

Sleeve Board

Tailor Board

Rajah Pressing Cloth

Iron Fingers

Happy Pressing!!!

Kathy