Antique Featherstitch Extravaganza

“Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

antique woolen petticoat, heavily embellished with surface embroidery, feather stitching and moth holes

 

Antique needlework has always intrigued me.  So when I spotted this petticoat in an antique shop many years ago, the owner was surprised when I smiled and purchased this moth-eaten slip.  Her eyes said “Why would you want that?”  but her mouth said, “THANK YOU!”

First, I’ve always wondered who made this and who wore it?  Whoever kept warm in this petticoat was either a beloved child or a tiny young lady.  The satin waist band measures a scant 22,”  has a lovely hand stitched buttonhole and a pearl button.  The length is 24″.  My first thought was just who would go to all this trouble for a child’s under garment?  Then, as a mother and grandmother who has spent countless hours on a single garment for a precious little one,  I laughed at that absurd thought.  And I know many of you are laughing, too!  At any rate, I’ll never know for whom this was stitched, but it’s obvious she was well loved.

Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

Well, clearly there is little to be done with this moth-meal leftover other than study it.  And it certainly is worthy of careful scrutiny, with the exception of the moth holes.  Just look at the features.

The hemline design is just spectacular.  Worked with a heavy silk or rayon cord, the embroidery is heavy and elaborate.  Can you see where the hemline is faced? The wool is very lightweight, embroidered only through the top layer.  But the cutwork edge is stitched through both layers.

 

 

The tucks are deep and secured with feather stitching.  This decorative stitching is applied throughout the garment.

 

 

Three 1″ tucks are held in place with feather stitching, which also covers the seam of the hem to the skirt.

Feather stitches were applied along the center back placket to hold it in place.

 

Note the fullness of the skirt is drawn up with pleats instead of gathers.

 

There is only one seam, along the side, which I would have expected to be at the center back.  The seam allowance been pressed open and secured with even more feather stitches.

 

 

Moth holes and all, I find this to be a lovely garment.  I might just try to duplicate the wide. open feather stitch with the My Custom Stitch feature on my Brother Dream Machine.   It is also on Brother top-of-the-line machines from the original 8500 (not the 8500D), the ULT 2002, 2002D, 2003D, Duetta 4000D, Duetta 4500D, Quattro 6000D  and  likely more.  Other machine brands may also have a design-your-own-stitch feature.  I’d love to have that stitch.

That’s all I know about this petticoat which was made with so much love.  I have really enjoyed gazing at it through the years and fantasizing about the adoring grandmother with a gray bun and a white apron who made it.  Of course, she was sitting in a rocker in front of the fireplace drinking a cup of tea, humming hymns, and adding love to each stitch.  What a pretty picture.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Smocking Destash and Restash

Dear Friends,

If you’ve read my blog once  or twice you probably know that I moan and groan about the out-of-control quantity of my sewing supplies.

But I have found a wonderful facebook group, Smocking Destash.  And you can join too!  It’s basically an on-line garage sale for sewing supplies!  You can buy and sell without charges like those on eBay.  The prices and ever-changing items being offered are just fabulous.

The need for room to move around causes me to offer bargains.

 

There are two more bookcases full of fabric, much of it needing a new home.

 

I vacillate between shame and motivation to reduce the amount to a manageable size.

 

 

Aside from the bargains, often an unused pattern or piece of fabric is sold and others decide they MUST have it.  So they rush to their sewing store to purchase it.  I’ve done that a lot!  Everyone wins.

I sold about 50 yds. of my beloved Liberty of London tana lawn for $15 py,  laces, tatting and patterns for bargain prices.  The flip side is  that I have purchased about 100 yds. of  to-die for fabrics, gorgeous laces, ready-to-smock garments and patterns from Children’s Corner to Kari Mecca to Wendy Schoen, many of which are no longer in print.

 

 

At least one shop owner is closing her retail store and selling 60″ wide cotton gingham (retailed for $14 py)for as little as $3! Spechler-Vogel featherwale corduroy for $5 py in a rainbow of colors, piping, and more!  Patterns and books that have long since been out of print have been sold and continue to show up for sale periodically.

If you would like to join this group, just drop me a note at NCcabin@aol.com or leave a comment at the end of this post stating that you would like to be included.  I’ll get back to you.  FYI, there is no charge to join the group but you must have a facebook account.

 

So come join the fun.  Get  rid of the fabric and patterns you know you will never use and find some new treasures.

 

 

 

 

Beaded Bag

If you happened to stop by these past  two weeks, you must have thought I have dropped off the face of the earth.  Though very busy, I have managed to stitch a few things that I would like to share with you.

 

monogrammed for a bridesmaid

 

Today I’m showing a feminine drawstring bag.  This is a bride’s gift to her bridesmaid, stuffed with a few precious momentos, reminders of the young ladies’ time together and a matching monogrammed handkerchief.  After the wedding, the bag can hold more handkerchiefs or whatever pretties that need a container.

The fabric is a lovely organza from fabric.com.  The fabric was cut 10″ x 16″.   With a width of 118″ 7  bags can be cut from 1/3 yd. with plenty of room to straighten the fabric edge.

In order to show off the ribbon, ivory French lace beading was used instead of a casing.

The beaded trim was originally  joined to a dark brown twill base.  After it was stitched in place, the taupe colored satin ribbon stitched on top of it.

The same ribbon was used for the drawstring ties.  Thread for the monogram was chosen to match the ribbon.

I love a quick project every now and again.  This same bag could be purposed for so many other uses–bridal showers, birthdays or any gift occasion.  It’s nice to have a simple project to make up in a hurry when the need arises.  Then try stitching a pretty bag like this.

 

 

 

 

Too Big, Too Precious

8 yo loving her too large, unhemmed smocked dress

 

This dress and this little girl make my heart sing.  Our summer has been so full,  so busy, and absolutely fabulous, but this dress is one of the highlights for me.  All this busy-ness is why  it’s been so long since I have posted.

Our pilot son flew the family down from their new home in New Jersey.  11 yo Robert and 13 yo Laurel spent the week visiting with old friends and spending time with their cousin Vivi.  What a wonderful family time that was!  Cousins, pool, golf cart rides, puppies to play with–it was plenty to make them happy.

 

Robert and Vivian Rose

 

Robert stayed with us when the rest of the family went home.  The next day we drove to the North Carolina mountains where we stayed at a fabulous cabin.

 

Now this is a great place to enjoy smocking!

 

At wonderful Bear Ridge Cabin in Brevard, our daughter Rebecca and Vivian Rose joined us while 8 yo Alastair was spending his last week at Camp Watitoh in Massachussets.   Our mutual friend Zahra and her two children also joined us while the daddies stayed at home working.

The children were just delightful, a special treat for this Nana and Granddad.

 

After s’mores, the children were all jammied up and ready for bed.

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Clergy Stole

 

What a joy it was  to make this stole for our young, exceptional pastor! He has   the wisdom, powerful teaching and Biblical understanding of a much older, more experienced pastor.  Our church is growing in leaps and bounds with his leadership.

Sunday in  the pulpit he wears a suit and tie. A traditional black robe hangs in his closet, but he said he doesn’t wear it because without a stole he looks like a judge.  Hmmmm…I thought, I could make one!   How hard could it be?  How long could it take?

Well, let me tell you this one was not hard but it did take a very long time.   Operator error again.  I made so many mistakes!

Whenever I take on a project unlike any I have made, I like to research the subject to get a comprehensive view of just what is involved.  Google took me to a lot of blogs and sites for free patterns.  Pinterest took me on that same route. Both have numerous free patterns, mostly labeled quick and easy.  I didn’t want quick an easy.  I wanted good.  So I looked further.

 

 

Again and again, the name Elizabeth Morgan came up,  listing her patterns and  book, Sewing Church Linens.  Aha!  I had purchased that book in anticipation of working with my dear Aunt Rheeta to make a communion cloth for her church.   But the book did not address stole making.

 

 

At her web site, www.churchlinens.com,  there were so many inspiration photos.  I read about her stole teaching kit and called to order it. What a charming lady she is!  She feels strongly that, for so many reasons, church vestments should be sewn by the congregation.  It is a blessing for both the sewists and the church to use their talents for the glory of God.

During our lovely and lengthy chat, I learned that Elizabeth is 82 years old and  has been making clergy stoles and church vestments for 30 years.  She is the stole guru I had been seeking!  She is without question the guru with decades of experience and one who teaches seminars around the country on the subject of church sewing.  Elizabeth Morgan is one who is willing to hold my hand and mentor me as I began this new sewing adventure.

In our chat, Elizabeth dircted me to Deb Schneider at Windstar Embroidery Designs.  Deb has digitized classic and vintage liturgical embroidery designs from an 1850 book of hand embroidery liturgical designs. Windstar also offers a huge variety of other designs, but my focus was on the religious category.

Wow!  This site was had me planning a baptism stole, a communion stole, stoles for weddings, advent, Easter, Pentecost and more!  (Can you see how I get a little carried away?)  I ordered this design (along with several 2  yard cuts of dupioni in white, green, red and gold).  And now I’m thinking about making pulpit drapes and more from the scraps.

 

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“..land that I love!”

 

our 4 yo grandson ready for the fireworks

 

Every day I am grateful to be living here in the USA, truly the “home of the brave, land of the free…”

We’re all eager to celebrate our nation’s birthday.   But it is important to pass our love and appreciation for the liberty we enjoy on to our children and grandchildren.

Special children’s clothing for the July 4th holiday shows them that this is an important celebration.  Since my grands are all far away this Independence Day, I’ve looked back at a few earlier celebrations with and for them.

This was granddaughter Vivian Rose’s first July 4th.

 

 

Our two older grands wore these outfits one summer.

 

 

Of course, the holiday specific food is also important—and enjoyed.

 

18 month old granddaughter Vivian Rose loves her corn on the cob!

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Children and Puppies=Inevitable Damage

Children and puppies–I do love and enjoy them.  Damages are to be expected and the children who are the light of my life  never fail to deliver in their younger days.

 

 

Recently, Vivian Rose, 4 yo, was here for a week of Nana Camp.  She is a scamp so I rarely let her out of my sight.  But one  day she slipped away while I was on the phone.  She was wearing her back-to-school Children’s Corner Jane.

 

At the top of her head is what Vivi calls her “fountain.” This was her signature look for a few weeks at the beginning of the last school year. She loved it.

 

As I turned away from  the kitchen sink, Vivi stood behind me, looking quite artificially serene.  Her outfit was streaked with what looked like peach sidewalk chalk marks.

 

Vivi’s back to school Jane.  After laundering the stain remains

 

“What’s on your shirt, Vivi?”

Smiling sweetly, “Dirt.  Umm hmm.  Brown dirt.”

“It doesn’t look like brown dirt.”

Big blue eyes widen as she replies, “Well, the red polish was vewwy vewwy high u—uh, I mean…. it’s brown dirt.” She smiled and walked away.  End of subject.  What she lacks in honesty, she makes up for in creative explanations. Continue reading

Bubbles for Brother and Sister

Mickey Roadster bubble

Minnie Roadster bubble

 

What fun I had stitching these bubbles with the new Brother iBroidery.com Mickey Roadster designs!  The digitizing is just excellent, with so much detail and such appealing, bright colors.  Children will love these.

The bubbles are featured at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial, with detailed instructions, especially for the applique’ function on their Dream and Quattro machines.

Embroidery is straight stitched in place while in the hoop before it is completed with a satin stitch surround.

 

Minnie’s design is applique’s in place with with a straight stitch.  The fabric was cut closely to the stitching.  Then the satin stitch was worked flawlessly around the design, as shown on Mickey’s bubble.

Mickey’s roadster is very masculine.  Note the perfect tracking of the satin stitch around the unique shape of the design.  This was all done in the hoop.

 

 

 

The pattern is another delight, including two versions each for boy and girl.  I’d love to make every one of these.

 

 

Babies are so cute in bubbles.

Now that these are finished, I’m back to embroidering more camp logo shorts for 8 yo Alastair’s return to summer camp.  I just grin when I work on these, remembering the happy times I had at Camp Watitoh more than 50 years ago.  Bob and I met my ssecond summer there when we were counselors.  He taught sailing and I taught water skiing.  It just tickles me that Alastair is enjoying the specialof the Berkshire Mountains and having a wonderful camp experience.

So what are you sewing now?  Summer projects?  Or are you already on back-to-school garments?  I’d love to hear about it.

 

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy Dress

 

 

Maggie Bunch has created a new classic with her Ode to Joy pattern.  I love everything about this dress–quick smocking, easy construction, use of coordinating print and the comfort of a pull-on dress or playtop with no buttons to fuss with.  It is smocked front and back with only about 90 pleats sleeve to sleeve.

 

 

Ode to Joy was first taught by Maggie as a class project at Sewing at the Beach and she is now offering it as an on-line sew-along class.  She has given several sew-along, smock-along classes, reasonably priced at $25.  They are a bargain at any price.

Step by step, Maggie sews along with you and posts even more detailed photos in the process.   She is also  is available to answer questions.  The class begins mid- June.  Registration is limited so if you are interested, check it out ASAP on her website here.   

I learned so much making this little dress.  Sewing and smocking on a border print requires some special considerations and Maggie addressed them all.   Reading how she adjusts the garment pattern to accommodate the border fabric pattern others was so comforting.  I don’t EVER want to go  through trying to match side seams and the front button closure as I did on CC Jenni Leigh.  Now I can figure out a way to match the print more easily on most patterns.

 

Note the side seam near the yellow dashed line.

 

I first saw this dress made up in the same Michael Miller Swan Lake fabric on one of the smocking/heirloom sewing lists and just fell in love with it. I wish I could recall who made the dress so I could thank her for the inspiration.  The dress was modeled by an absolutely adorable,  curly red-haired child.  I HAD to make it. Already, my plate was full to overflowing, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

Locating the fabric required an hour-long internet search.  Everyone, it seemed, was sold out of this charming print. Finally, I located a shop in Washington state which had both Swan Lake and the coordinating print in stock.

Vivian has been adamant that she only likes garments with kitty cats, hearts and rainbows.  To my surprise, the success of the pink bishop for which I had no hope, was due to the fact that there were hearts in the smocking.  Hearts in the smocking?  I can do that!

You can see  that the Swan Lake smocking is heavy with hearts, just what Vivi loves.  I expect she will wear this dress quite happily.  She arrives her on Memorial Day for a week of Nana Camp.  Film at 11.

NANA FUN:

Meanwhile, I sent the photo of the little red-haired girl wearing the dress to my Rebecca and gave her some persuasive arguments to convince 4 yo Vivi that this was the dress for her.  Yeah!

“Tell Nana no thanks.  I only like dresses with kitty cats, hearts or rainbows.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #1.  “Nana says if you will wear this dress and be happy, she will then make you another kitty cat dress.”

Vivi:  “Tell her to just make the kitty cat dress.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #2:  “Nana really wants to make this swan dress and if you don’t want it she will give it to Eloise (our pastor’s 4 yo daughter).”

Vivi: ” Ok, ok, ok.  I’ll wear the dress and be happy.  I don’t want Eloise to get the kitty cat dress.”

The fine print of that proposal went right over her curly head.  Whew!

 

Opinions Change–Hurrah!

Children’s Corner Gwen with lengthened sleeve ruffles.

 

Granddaughter Vivian Rose, 4 yo, has always had strong opinions about her wardrobe.  Her taste in fashion has been less than classic, requiring bribes  for her to wear many of the garments I have made her.

But now she has changed her mind!!!!  She is asking for more Nana dresses!

It’s like she is recognizing her femininity, the flip side of her (Tarzan’s) Jane or Moana Strong Female persona.

 

 

I love this picture, taken when the family was on a camping trip last weekend. She looks like an Amazon girl, bringing home the 5 yo “man” she bagged!

Last week, I sent a package with Harry Potter clothes for her 8 yo brother, Alastair.  This lace trimmed second-hand Rose confection was included just so there would be something for her.  Better to receive something she did not like than to receive nothing at all and assume Nana didn’t love her as much as Big Brother.

Her mother was shocked when Vivi squealed, “I love it!”  Hurrah!  She would wear it at her school program in a few days.

When Vivi came to breakfast the next day wearing the pink smocked bishop, Rebecca reminded her that they were saving that dress for the school program.  Vivi was not happy. She wanted to wear it to school that very day.

 

This is not a face you want to see at the breakfast table.

 

But Rebecca relented and Vivi was delighted, willingly posing for pictures before heading off to preschool.

 

The ruffle sleeve edge is trimmed with lace, pinstitched in place.

 

Back is closed with plastic snaps. Ribbon bows are tacked to the snaps at the end of each ribbon inserted into the smocking.

 

Of course, I was thrilled with this change of opinion.  I was doubly pleased because the dress has been hanging in the nursery closet for some time, waiting for Vivi to grow into it.  When I showed it to her when her family was here for Easter, she told me “no, thanks.”

But as she said when she called to thank me, she said, “I didn’t like it then, but I love it now!”

 

The same lace was inserted above the hem, also pinstitched.

 

The lace is one of my dearest treasures. Mr. Russell, owner of the renowned lace wholesaler M.E.Feld Co., always generously shared his wealth of knowledge about the kinds of lace and its history. He always patiently answered my many questions when we spoke on the phone as I placed my order. It was his practice to send his customers a huge box of lace from which to choose. The unwanted, or in my case, over budget items were then returned.

 

 

In one of these boxes, whose arrival usually put me into a state of hyperventilation, there was a bolt of lace, wrapped on a blue card and marked “Made in France,” just like the others. But this one said “100% nylon.” Mr. Russell explained that these were called “levers” lace (though I have since seen it spelled “leavers”) and were just as fine as the cottons, but intended for lingerie or other items which would be subjected to heavy and/or frequent laundering.

Technically a galloon with a decorative edge on both sides, it is straight enough to be used as an insertion as well as an edging.  For more information about galloons, check out this post Antique Lace Galloons.  You will see that other galloons have been used as edgings as well as insertions.

This is especially appropriate for a dress for Vivian Rose.  Her mother’s aversion to ironing (I’m talking about my daughter–this is clearly a genetic mutation) means that not only the cotton batiste which tumbles nicely but the lace will be presentable right out of the dryer.

The dress was made about 20 years ago for our god child whose mother returned it for Vivian’s use.   So I was doubly pleased for the dress to have a second chance at being worn.

FYI, Rebecca asked Vivi’s teacher for mercy with regard to the dress.  This sweet lady directed Vivi in such a way that the dress came home on our rough and tumble little student from school totally unscathed and intact.  It required nothing more than laundering to be ready for the school program.  What a miracle!

Sigh…I am one happy Nana.