Tag Archives: heirloom sewing tutorial

More Hemline Solutions

This is another re-posting of a previously “lost” blog post with a few updates.

Often times a special occasion dress is made which involves much time as well as expense and is worn only a few times.  Little girls tend to outgrow the length of the dress before the width.  With a little planning the dress can be lengthened and another year or so of wear can be had.

When a hem is taken out, most often the crease line remains visible – not appealing on a beautiful heirloom dress.  Since most of the time only a couple inches of length need to be added, a great solution is to cut the dress off at the crease, add a row of beading or insertion, and then you can add the cut off section of hem below the insertion and finish the lower edge with a lace trim or you can add a width of eyelet that compliments the insertion/beading and the remainder of the dress.  The goal is to make it look like a plan.  You may need to cut a bit more of the skirt length off, depending on what you add to the bottom of the dress.  Of course, if you plan ahead when you first make the dress, you can set aside extra trims that you’ve already used in the dress for lengthening later on.

While these pictures are dresses that were not specifically lengthened, they are good examples of how you could lengthen a too short dress.


If you’ve used a floral print for the heirloom dress, the floral fabrics between the added on lace is a pretty choice as well.


Of course, a beautiful lace fancy band is always a wonderful choice!


Just a few more ideas.


Ribbon and lace offer a slightly more cost effective solution.


You can even add embroidered laces that use the colors in the smocking to add a beautiful hem and lengthen the dress.

For a more casual dress, adding a contrast band with some rick rack works well. By adding a second layer of rick rack, it looks more like a design option than an add-on.

Of course, a contrast band can be added with lace as well.

A scalloped band is a lovely and more unusual treatment for length.

Adding several color blocks is yet another option. This dress had an impossible stain on the lower skirt. Because of the various colors in the smocked flowers, a couple color block sections offered a great option!

I did a chain stitch over the seam for additional interest.

These are just a few examples of how to creatively and beautifully add length to a dress. As you can see, the possibilities are endless!! Hopefully it will jump start your creative juices and allow you to come up with even more ideas if you need to lengthen a pretty heirloom dress!

Happy stitching!


Lots of Stitching

I don’t know where the time has gone!!! I continue to stay busy sewing as well as creating new patterns. I’ve also been busy making lots of new Wee Care gown samples that I will use as samples in an upcoming workshop.

Since my last post, I’ve added 2 new patterns to my Etsy shop. The first one I just adore for summertime! It makes a gorgeous outfit for beach pictures, weddings, etc. It is perfect for the little ones, boy or girl, as well as older girls.

For little ones, bloomers can be used instead of a skirt, however, I loved the idea of creating both the bloomers as well as the skirt for a little girl!

What a great way to have options!!! The pattern is called Button-on Bib, Bloomers & Sundress.

The most recent pattern is my City Frock Dress/Tunic pattern. This is another fabulous pattern for summer sewing! Of course, it’s also suitable for cooler weather with a blouse or t-shirt underneath.

All the girls were a big fan of the large pockets! I had fun making these dresses & tunics!

Of course, I continue to make my Wee Care sets for Caleb Ministry. I have completed quite a few that I’ll be using as samples for an upcoming workshop. I did a variety of different hem treatments for the gowns.

The beautiful crocheted edging on this blanket and the next one was done by another friend, Maribeth, and sent to me. It almost makes me want to learn to crochet again!

Traveling up to Michigan to visit with my parents gave me plenty of time to get the gowns smocked! It’s a really long drive! I made sure that I had several gowns ready to smock before the trip!

For the boy gowns, I added a pleated sleeve version that I’m particularly fond of. Several years ago, another smocking friend of mine, Beth, made a gown with a pleated sleeve. She generously shared the instructions with our local guild. As the years progressed, I worked with the new Wee Care chair for the guild and we tweaked the instructions a bit more to end up with a sleeve that I do like for all the various sizes from the under 1 lb. size to a NB size. I have had requests for these instructions, so I’m adding them here for you to download. All the sizes are included in the PDF file.

I hope that these will be helpful to others that make these special gowns. I wish they weren’t needed, but if they can provide one less thing for bereaved parents to worry about, I’ll continue to make them.

I hope you’re having a fabulous spring, stitching beautiful things and getting ready for the summer months!!! Keep on stitching!!!


Heirloom Sewing 101 – Sewing Flat Lace To Fabric

Working with heirloom laces is easier than you think. For these instructions and the corresponding video, I will be working with the Tapered Smocked Preemie Bonnet by Laurie Anderson. If you are a Facebook member of the SAGA Wee Care group, she has generously donated this bonnet pattern to the group and it can be downloaded there. I am making this bonnet to match one of the Wee Care gowns completed in a previous video.

For this technique, I am using Imperial batiste, heirloom lace, 60 wt. thread, sz. 70 Microtex needle & Faultless spray starch.

After cutting out the pattern and pleating, per the instructions, flatten out the bonnet in order to attach the lace. Pull one of the header threads of the lace in order to go around the curves, as shown on the video.

Place the lace 1/8″ from the edge of the bonnet front, with the scalloped edge of the lace facing towards the bonnet (right sides together). Set the straight stitch of the machine to a 2,0 length and stitch the lace to the bonnet, stitching on top of the header threads. Go around the corners carefully, ensuring that the gathered portion of the lace isn’t caught in the stitching.

After the lace is attached, switch to a zigzag stitch (4.0 W & 1.0 L) and zigzag the seam allowance of the lace to “roll & whip” the seam, which will give it a nice finish. The left swing of the needle should be on top of the header lace/stitching line and the right swing of the needle should go off the fabric.

Once the roll & whip has been completed, finger press the seam allowance towards the fabric and then change the zigzag stitch to a 1.5 W & 1.0 L. Stitch this zigzag stitch on top of the lace with the left swing of the needle going through the bonnet fabric & seam allowance and the right swing of the needle barely going into the lace. This keeps the seam allowance from flipping forward and showing through behind the lace. While this is an optional step, I always do it to keep the lace in place.

All of these steps are shown in the video, so you can refer to that to see the steps completed.

I hope that this will help you in your quest to learn more heirloom sewing techniques!

Happy Stitching!!!


Links to some of the supplies mentioned:

Imperial batiste

60 wt. Mettler thread

Size 70 Schmetz Microtex 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.

Machine Granitos

Machine granitos are simple to make and can be finished much more quickly than hand-stitched granitos. To prepare for stitching the granito, use a circle template and a blue wash out marker to draw the circles where they are to be stitched on the fabric.

Cut a small piece of Totally Stable stabilizer and iron it to the fabric behind the drawn ccircle.

Thread the machine (top and bobbin) with 50 wt. DMC cotton thread in the color desired and use a size 70 Schmetz needle and an open toed foot. Set the machine for a .3 – .5 stitch length.

Take 1 stitch in the center of the circle. Gently pull on the top thread so that the bobbin thread comes to the top and pull it through. Holding both threads, take a couple stitches to secure the threads, then trim away the tails next to the fabric.

Set the machine to a zigazag stitch with a stitch width of 1.5 and a stitch length of .2. Stitch 12 – 20 stitches. Be sure to count the stitches! Stitch the same number of stitches forward, then backward, then forward again and backward again. This completes the machine stitching. For the granito stitched in the video, I stitched 13 stitches.

Gently pull on the bobbin thread until the top thread comes to the back. Tie a square knot to secure the threads. I generally will tie 3 knots.

With your thumbnail, push back and forth a few times on the wrong side of the granito to push the threads towards the front. Then pull away the stabilizer. Your granito is complete!

If the granito doesn’t look completely round, the shape can be pinched between finger nails to help round it out (see video).

Granitos are a lovely way to add visual interest to garments, pillowcases, doilies, etc. Have fun stitch some!!!


Supplies needed:

Circle Template

Fine Tip Blue Wash Out Marker

Totally Stable Stabilizer

Schmetz sz. 70 Microtex needle

DMC 50 wt. Cotton Thread

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.

Heirloom Sewing 101 – Joining Lace To Lace

This simple tutorial goes along with my YouTube video about joining flat lace to flat lace. It’s a simple process. The first thing that you want to do is to starch the laces. I prefer to plan ahead and cut the lace lengths needed (cut about 2″ longer than what the finished length will be) and then place the lace in the bathtub on top of a white towel and starch – REAL starch, NOT Mary Ellen’s Best Press – them until they are dripping wet. Then I hang them over the shower bar to dry – it only takes about an hour and it keeps the iron from getting gunked up.

Once the laces have dried, give them a press. If pressing them makes them too soft to work with, repeat the process.

To join the laces, you will want to use lightweight thread & machine needles – Aurifil 80 weight thread or Mettler 60 weight thread can be used. With the 80 weight thread, a size 60/8 or 65/9 Microtex or Universal needle should be used. With the 60 weight thread, a 65/9 or 70/10 Microtex or universal needle should be used. The 60 weight can also be used for construction. The 80 weight is only for lace joining – it is not strong enough for construction

It is most helpful to use either an edge-joining foot or an open toed foot for joining laces. Try them out and see which one works best for you. Both can be seen in action on the video along with the end results.

When joining flat laces, set the machine to a zigzag stitch with a stitch length of 1.0 and a width wide enough that both header threads of the lace will be encased (shown in red).

If trying the different feet for this technique still results in difficulties, you can try using OESD Wash-Away Tape behind the lace. This will hold the lace in place as well as stabilize behind the laces for stitching. The end results will be slightly different than stitching without the stabilizer (seen on video), but if it is the way that you can make it work for you, then use it.

You can join as many laces together as needed for your fancy band. For more detailed French Machine Sewing techniques, I do have a book available (with bonnet pattern) in my Etsy shop.


Below I will add links to some of the products that I use, should you need any of these.

Aurifil 80 weight thread

Mettler 60 weight thread

Schmetz 10/70 Microtex Needle

Faultless Heavy Starch

Edge Joining Foot

I hope you’ll enjoy trying out some French Machine sewing!


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.