Halloween Bedtime

The Ninja pumpkin design is from  XXXand the witch -costumed koala is from an old Amazing Designs collection, Seasonal Daisy Kingdom.

Alastair’s pillowcase design is Embroidery Boutique’s Ninja Pumpkin design. Vivian Rose’s little witch -costumed koala is from an old Amazing Designs collection, Seasonal Daisy Kingdom.  The moon and stars were added.


Soooo busy!  I thought my “golden years” were supposed to be leisurely!  But they are not and I am not complaining about my full, rich, active life.  Still, a little leisure would be nice.

I know I have promised Part 2 of my post on lace tape, but that has been pushed to the back burner, due to new family demands and responsibilities.  I’m sorry about that but it will be posted as soon as I can get to it.

Aside from all the must-do’s I managed to squeeze out these Halloween pillowcases for my two younger grandchildren.   6 yo Alastair who is a big time Ninja fan, and Vivian Rose, 2.5 yo is delighted with anything.

The really fun feature of her pillowcase is the moon and stars, in the sky and on the witch robe.  After the success of her firefly dress with glow-in-the dark lightning bugs, I invested in several spools of glowing thread. It offers so many creative opportunities!!!!

There are not many colors available so the yellow is not very bright—-at least not in daylight.  But look what happens when the lights are out, when our adorable little girl is tucked in and ready to fall asleep, or planning her mischief for the next day.


1-glow in the dark

This is Vivian’s pillowcase in the dark. It glows! The moon, stars, jack-o-lantern and robe stars shine in the night sky. What child wouldn’t be fascinated by that?


It actually glows yellow, but I’m no great photographer and this was the best I could do to capture the iridescence.If you look back at the daylight design, you can see the moon, stars, witch robe stars and the jack-o-lantern face.

Now that was so much fun that I might make one for myself, or my grown children.

Are you sewing anything for Halloween?  Jenny Jo, what incredible costumes are you making for your Fabulous Five?  I’d love to hear about it and vicariously enjoy the making of your projects.

Back to must-do’s.


I just have to share this with you.  My 11 yo granddaughter confided to her mother that she had heard some bad news from a friend about one of her neighbors.

She said, “His parents tried to raise him right.  But it’s so sad.  He ended up working at a drug dealership.”

All About Lace Tape~Part 1

Lately, there have been considerable discussions and questions about lace tape, its origin and uses.  The history is quite interesting, as its development involved a salvage warehouse and an unraveled sweater for my Rebecca. That was in 1987 when I first brought this product to the heirloom sewing public.

Most of this history is detailed in this post.  Because lace tape is one of my favorite sewing products, I’d like to share some applications and techniques.  For many years I taught a 6-hour class around the country.  So there is a lot of material on the subject, too much for one post.  Lace tape can be used for shadow applique’, colored entredeux, colored shark’s teeth, tiny piping and so much more. So stay turned for details.  A few future posts will feature projects with detailed directions.


Approximately 3/8″ wide and available in a rainbow of colors, lace tape is a loosely woven 100% cotton trim.  It has a gathering thread on each side and is wonderful for lace shaping.  It also can add a bit of color to an heirloom project.

lt 2 examplesrecol


1.  for lace insertion substitute joined to lace edging or other insertion


Peach lace tape was joined to lace edging and then stitched to flat bishop before smocking. See Molly’s Lace Tape Nightie for more pictures and information.


preparation:  Like heirloom trims, lace tape is easier to work with after being starched and pressed, unless it is being shaped.  Use the finest thread, preferably 80/2 Madeira Cotona,  and  the smallest needle appropriate to the thread size.

technique:  Butt lace tape to lace.  Zig zag the two pieces together with an approximate stitch setting of W 1.5-2.0, depending on width of lace header, L .8-1.0 edging.  NOTE: An edge joining foot makes this much easier.


1-lt to lionsxx

Lace tape joined to Aesop’s Fables Binche lace.



2.  for trim applied on top of fabric

lt on fabricxx

preparation: If it is positioned in a straight line, starching and pressing both the fabric and the lace tape before placement will make handling easier.  Thread the machine needle with a color matching the lace tape and the bobbin with thread to match the foundation fabric.

first pass:  Place the starched lace tape on the fabric as desired and straight stitch as closely as possible to each edge.  Pin or use a glue stick if necessary. Press.

second pass: For a more finished look, work a decoative stitch such as feather, pin, or tiny zig zag over the edges of the lace tape. This can be done in matching or contrasting thread, depending on the desired look.  Press once more.  When applied on top of fabric, there is no need to cut away the fabric behind the lace tape.  This makes the article a little more sturdy.

emb close

Black lace tape runs parallel to the Nutcracker on my grandson’s Christmas shirt. More photos and details are posted here.

3.  for unshaped shadow applique’

Lace tape has many qualities to recommend it for shadow applique’.  Since the edges are finished, there is no fraying and less danger of pulling away from the outline of the shadow design.  Depending on the color of the fabric under which it is placed, a variety of hues can result from the same color of lace tape.

preparation:  Press and starch both lace tape and foundation fabric.  Thread both the needle and bobbin with thread to match the foundation fabric.  Adhere lace tape to wrong side of fabric with pins or glue stick.

first pass:  Straight stitch from the wrong side as closely as possible to each edge.  Press.

second pass:  On right side of fabric work a decorative stitch to cover the straight stitches and the edges of the lace tape.


This is the fancyband on a christening dress.  White lace tape is placed behind white fabric to create the shadow effect.  More pictures and info about this project are posted here.

This is the fancyband on a christening dress. White lace tape is placed behind white fabric to create the shadow effect. More pictures and info about this project are posted here.


This is another example of lace tape used for shadow applique’, though at the hemline it is shaped.


Parchment colored lace tape was applied behind batiste and pinstitched in place.  Note the brighter color of the lace tape showing on  the inside of the hem.  More photos and detail

Parchment colored lace tape was applied behind batiste and pinstitched in place. Note the brighter color of the lace tape showing on the inside of the hem. More photos and details are posted here


4.  for lace lining

A student in one of my classes came up with this creative use of lace tape on a ecru linen ring bearer’s button-on suit.  She lined lace with old rose lace tape (almost a dark biscuit, but more like a pressed rose, brownish pink, no longer available) to better show the pattern of the lace and to introduce some contrasting color to the suit.

There are two techniques for this application. Both techniques require matching width of lace tape to width of lace.  Lace tape can be a tad narrower than lace, but not much.

technique #1: Though this method requires two passes, it is hard to make a serious error.

preparation:  Press and starch lace and lace tape.  In #60 needle, use fine thread in color to match lace  tape.  In bobbin, use thread to match foundation fabric.

first pass:  With lace tape on right side of fabric, straight stitch as closely as possible to lace tape edge.  Press.

second pass:  Thread needle with thread color to match lace  Place lace over the lace tape and stitch it in place with a straight stitch or a narrow zig zag.

technique #2:  This is faster but requires more precision.

preparation:  Layer the lace on top of the lace tape.  Place them as one piece over the placement line.  Pin or not, as needed.

first pass:  Stitch theedge of the lace down with either a tiny zig zag or a straight stitch.  The zig zag makes it more likely that the lace tape will be stitched in place rather than just floating free under the lace.  Press.

NOTE:  To be used in this manner the lace must be precisely the same width as the lace tape or the same width as two or more pieces of ace tape joined together.  As with other straight insertions of lace tape, it is not necessary to cut away the fabric behind.


This is a rehearsal piece for a dress made years ago for my daughter. Dress whereabouts is unknown. (How did that happen?) No details.

This is lace tape behind tatting.  It was a rehearsal piece for a dress made years ago for my daughter. Dress whereabouts is unknown. (How did that happen?) No details.


That’s more than enough for one post.  Check back to read about the two different kinds of lace tape, using it for colored entredeux,  lace shaping with lace tape and grid work.

So what do you think about lace tape?  Do you like it?  Have you ever used it? Now it is available and reasonably priced from Farmhouse Fabrics.

Fan Team Gear


Creative Needle, June, 2005

Creative Needle, June, 2005


Hurrah, football season is here! Like families around the country, we look forward to kickoff.  As huge Florida Gator fans, every Saturday in the fall we hunker down for a full day of football, in front of the tv or at the stadium.


FL gator sign


Tradition dictates that everyone wear their “colors” on Game Day. The grandchildren keep outgrowing their team gear, so,  like  many of you, I’m trying to get them suited up for kickoff.


1-L first gator

Laurel was just 3 weeks old when we attended the annual Gator Nation gathering at the Daytona Speedway. She wore this cool, Swiss cotton pique top with pima check bloomers.


The June 2005  issue of Creative Needle is chock full of inspiration.  If you have this back issue, pull it out for a fresh look.  Now that I have 4 little Gator fans to dress, I have found new ideas, far  more than I noticed when there was just one baby girl to dress in orange and blue.


Baby Gator Girl, soon to be Big Sister to Baby Gator Boy.

The next year at the Gator Gathering, Baby Gator Girl, was soon to be Big Sister to Baby Gator Boy.


In the feature pictorial article BE TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL, every single photo shows beautiful children, beautifully dressed, wearing team loyalty on their chests.  I especially like the careful listing of details, including pattern, smocking plate, and machine embroidery designs.



6 month old Alastair was suited up for Game Day in a cool cotton Ralph Lauren romper. The Fighting Gator embroidery was stitched in place of the pocket that was removed. The buttons were restitched with orange thread.


The Creative Needle issue also includes a Quick Stitch silverware holder, perfect for tailgating.  All directions are included for this tailgate-friendly project.  Customizing it for your team is just a matter of a little machine embroidery  and/or color selection.  With all the fun, new designs for fans, it’s easy to be creative.


LR-shirts tailgatingxx

TailGator Laurel wears an applique’d girlie Gator. Robert is dressed for the occasion with an applique’d Gator tie.  They were ready to eat and head to the stadium.


Since I’m so far behind this year, I will share some team gear projects from previous seasons, including garments made (but not by me!) for Georgia Bulldog and Clemson Tiger fans.



Kennedy’s all-Dawg outfit is smocked with bulldogs.  Don’t you love her hairbow and sandals?


Fan gear is not just for Game Day.  Kennedy wore this to graduation when her mama was awarded her Ph.D. diploma from the University of Georgia.  She is  the same Dr. Mama who stitched this Clemson dress for a friend.


The pillowcase dress style is great for team gear.

The pillowcase dress style is great for team gear.


In the South, football weather can be scorching.  It’s important to be comfortable as well as stylish.



For away games, we gather around the tv to cheer our team. Then the dress code is more casual. Laurel wears a simple tee and a Gator cap as she steps out to our front porch at half time.


She is a little more grown up now and prefers more trendy outfits.


Paired with blue shorts, this cotton vest was cool for hot daytime games.

Paired with blue shorts, this cotton vest was cool for hot daytime games.


And of course, now she needs a purse–a Gator purse.




It’s not just children who deserve special Game Day gear.  This sweet hometown Gator Girl always joined us for tailgating.


Our tail-Gator aprons were a big hit.

Our tail-Gator aprons were a big hit.


She asked for an apron, so I made one for each of our 5 tail-Gator cooks.




I love this design from Embroidery Library.



This F on the apron and the colors were modified to make it more Florida specific.


It’s time to get new team gear stitched for the grands.  Have you stitched anything that shows  your team allegiance?  ~~~

I like these commandments.  Go Gators!

10 Commandments of College Football Fandom

  • 1.  Thou shalt wear team colors.  But think twice before adorning yourself with body paint–you don’t want to be the Internet photo that goes viral.
  • 2.  Thou shalt know—and sing–your  team’s fight song from beginning to end.  Sure, you can “watermelon watermelon” your way through the alma mater, but not memorizing the fight song is a fan failure.
  • 3.  Thou shalt keep your language clean (unless of course, the quarterback fumbles on 4th and goal).
  • 4.  Thou shalt support the coach.  Even when his calls are questionable.
  • 5.  Thou shalt be respectful to visiting teams.  Remember:  Southern ladies and gentlemen never boo. JSF NOTE:  Sadly, this commandment seems to be disregarded at most SEC games.
  • 6.  Thou shalt set up a tailgate no fewer than three hours before kickoff (six if it’s a night game).  JSF NOTE:  WHAT!?$%!???  We must arrive at Norman Field in Gainesville no later than 8 a.m. for a 3:00 game, no later than 10 a.m. for a 7:00 kickoff.  Otherwise, we have to set up on the outskirts of town along the curb. Table linens and matching cozies are encouraged but not required.
  • 7.  Thou shalt theme your tailgate food around the visiting rival.  Gator bites, anyone? JSF NOTE:  We serve jambalaya before LSU games, ribs before Arkansas, hot dogs for Georgia, Rock Cornish game hens for South Carolina, etc.
  • 8.  Thou shalt stay through the 4th quarter–rain or shine.  That’s what ponchos are for, y’all.
  • 9.  Thou shalt respect the solemnity of Game Day by planning weddings, births, and other life events around the football schedule.
  • 10.  Thou shalt not covet other teams bowl games, national championships, or Heisman Trophy wins.  There’s always next year.

Coming Home Daygown and Bonnet

Busy, busy, busy!  So this post is a re-run featuring Laurel Cade, our first grandchild and her homecoming outfit.  I think the topic is still timely.~~~~~~~


my handsome son (newborn at 9 lb.1oz) and his 10 lb.daughter

my handsome son (who was a 9 lb.1oz newborn) and his 10 lb.daughter

My babies  each weighed exactly 9 lbs. 1 ounce and were 22″ long.   My husband said my uterus had a 9 lb. 1 oz. capacity, just like a gallon milk jug will hold just one gallon.  He declared that if we had a dozen children they would all be the same size.   After our second child, I chose not to test his hypothesis.

At any rate, neither of our babies wore newborn clothes for more than a few weeks.

When our dearly loved, petite daughter-in-law Shelly was pregnant with our first grandchild, the whole family thought this precious baby would be a tiny little thing, like her mama.  After all, Shelly’s  own mother is just 4’11” so we expected a small baby.   With this in mind, I used a preemie daygown pattern for Laurel’s coming home outfit.

Imagine our  shock when this “small”  baby girl was born via C-section weighing an even 10 lbs! I had other regular size daygowns smocked and ready to go, so I took those to the hospital the day they were to be released.  But they were all too big.

We were surprised that the preemie daygown fit her perfectly.  Of course, she was only able to wear it for a short time, but I was glad that she had something that fit so well for that important trip home. Now, whenever I make a coming home daygown for a special baby, I make a preemie size.

coming home gown L

The daygown and bonnet are pale yellow Imperial batiste, smocked in shades of yellow and periwinkle blue.  Entredeux and tatted edging trim the angel sleeves bishop and either side of the front.  Blue floss is woven into the holes of the entredeux.



coming home bonnet L

It’s funny now to recall that Shelly  specifically requested no pink for her baby daughter.  Shelly is an outdoor gal with a both an abiding interest and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. Before her children were born, she hiked and camped out and spent several years as a licensed volunteer wildlife rehabilitator.  She thought there was no way that Laurel would be a girly-girl.

But each child is her own person.   As feminine as a girl can be, Laurel loves gaudy jewelry and  pink is her favorite color.   Thank goodness for her love of  pink!  About 40% of my grandmother’s hope chest stash was her color of choice. Thanks to Laurel, a significant dent has been made in that pink stash.

Cool Tool Case

bag closed empty


As a self proclaimed Old Fashioned Nana, cool isn’t a style I embrace.  But this lime green and silver  sewing machine tool bag really is cool.  It looks almost futuristic, like something that should be a space shuttle carry on.

Of course, if I were to fly to the moon in that big, scary bird I would take my Dream Machine along.  And of course, I would need my accessories packed in this cool tool bag.


Notice the pleat at the bottom of each screening bag. The free edge has been zig zagged with lime green thread to secure the crease and to add another touch of lime.    color.

Notice the 1″ pleat at the bottom of each vinyl mesh compartment.  That allows the bag to expand in order to accommodate bulky  accessories like the walking foot.


This project was designed and taught by teacher extraodinaire Lyn Powers at my home-sweet-home sewing store,  The Sewing Studio , just outside of Orlando.  I am so fortunate to live near enough to shop and learn there.  The all-day class was one of a series of 8 for owners of Brother’s Dream Machine and Babylock’s Destiny. NOTE:  If you have an extra minute, you might enjoy the little story at the end of this post.

The bag is so useful!  It holds those miscellaneous, fabulous tools that go with today’s sewing machine.  Many of these do not fit in the machines’ accessory cases and many require careful handling.  They really shouldn’t just rattle around loose in a drawer by the machine.  The batting offers protection to these valuable accessories.


bag loaded open xx

Currently it is loaded with my walking foot, embroidery foot, and sensor pen with more to come.


The silvery cotton fabric was quilted with a serpentine stitch and a 6.0/100 twin needle.   Alternate diamonds were stippled in the hoop with lime green thread.  Have you ever seen lime green velcro????  It was imported from France just for this class– made me feel pretty important! Continue reading

Free Happy Face Pencil Toppers Design and Tutorial

8 finished

 With the new school year about to begin, it seems appropriate to run this post again. These quick and easy pencil toppers will give your favorite students happy  encouragement.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of the things I love most about sewing is that it can be a useful tool when applied to almost any situation.  It can solve so many problems–and I’m not just talking about a ripped out hem, or torn seam.   This past week, the problem was  my Sunday School lesson and the solution was these pencil toppers and an embroidery design.

The teacher instructions were to print out the memory verse on an index card for each child to use in class and take home.  Even on colored cards this would be BO—RRRINNNNG.  Instead, I pulled up the .pdf file from one of my favorite collections, Designs by JuJu’s  Heavenly Inspirations 2 , which includes this scripture.  Won’t that get more attention than a hand written index card?




With my wonderful, free, photo editing program Picasa, a frame was added and the verse was printed on card stock.  On the back, other information was printed–the “bottom line,” and “basic truth” they could take from the story. The children went away with a shortened version of Cliff Notes for their lesson that day.

Thank you, JuJu, thank you Sewing!

Next the teacher’s guide suggested draping the room in Christmas lights as an indication of rejoicing.  Continue reading

CC Lucy at the Beach

Children's Corner Lucy with CC Parker's Pants shorts

Children’s Corner Lucy with CC Parker’s Pants shorts


It’s been so long since a new post has appeared.   Faithful readers may have assumed that I had run away to relax at the beach!   But NOT!  It’s just been a very, very busy time, so busy that it has taken me almost a month to finish this simple outfit for 2 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose.  But I am pleased with it.




Embroidery is from Babies Beach Fun by Bit of Stitch. The sun and sea gulls were extracted from other designs in my library and added.

Continue reading

Inside Out Tanks

Bingbon, a favorite character

Bingbong, a favorite Pixar Inside Out character


Have you seen the new Pixar movie, Inside Out?    It offers some insight if you are trying to figure out just what children are feeling.


Joy is a happy gal.

Joy is the happy gal on the flip side of Bingbong.


The shirt embroideries are Brother’s  Inside Out designs.  It was June Mellinger’s creative idea to embroider two off-the-rack tanks and stitch them together .  This makes one embroidered tank top,  making it reversible— or wearable “inside out.”   With this inspiration I embroidered 6 tanks and ended up with 3 reversible tops. Continue reading

Heidi’s Sewing Room

Heidi’s sewing room is neat, orderly and clearly the sewing space of a serious stitcher.  There are so many interesting and useful things to see here.  Thanks, Heidi, for sharing–and welcome back to the smocking and sewing sisterhood!

This is what she had to say:

I have to preface these pictures before you look at them. I’m 3 years retired and got back to sewing and joined a smocking guild when I retired. I hadn’t smocked for 25+ years while work consumed my life. Now retired, I sew, smock and craft for fun only.  ( Ed. note:  HURRAH!!!)



So this is where Heidi sews.


It looks like a serger sits on that gorgeous antique Singer cabinet.

Continue reading

Technique & Summer Fun Bishop


 NOTE:  I’ve since shortened the dress by 5″ and it fits so much better.

In my humble opinion, bishops are a near perfect garment for little girls.  They are comfortable, long wearing and easy to construct.  Would anyone rather construct than smock?  Not me.


These "Smockables" used to be readily available from Martha Pullen Company.  They are no longer for sale there.

These “Smockables” are no longer for sale from Martha Pullen Company.


Ready-to-smock garments from Martha Pullen Company were my go-to “bring-along” project for trips.  When they were readily available, I laid in a supply.  But I have run out.  The white bishop shown above is the last one that will fit any of my grandchildren.  The few remaining Smockables are for sale here.

Starting with a ready-to-smock bishop is the quickest way to get one finished.  I soon grew tired of the basic style offered and have had fun modifying it.

A few weeks ago, I was packing for our trip to North Carolina.  We were headed to the mountains with our two younger grandchildren and their parents.  I knew I had to have some handwork for those few (VERY few) quiet moments after 2 yo tornado Vivian Rose was asleep next to her easy-going brother, Alastair.  I grabbed this last white bishop and couldn’t help but think “ho-hum.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love a geometrically smocked white bishop.  But I was in  the mood for something a little different.  Then, due to the less-than-tidy condition of my sewing room, I spotted this scrap red border given to me by my friend, Suzanne Sawko.  Hmmmm…


border scrap FI Continue reading