Duckling Preemie Isolette Shirt


Another preemie isolette shirt is finished and delivered for soon-to-arrive Baby Beatrice.  Her adoptive parents are now 5 states away from home awaiting the birth.  It was planned for her to be delivered via C-section at 30 weeks, due to the birth mom’s earlier pregnancy complications.

The good news is that Baby might not need this or the other diaper shirt I made for her! At almost 36 weeks in utero, she may be bigger than the 4-5 lb. size of these garments.  That’s something to celebrate!  Our church has been praying and eagerly waiting for this lucky baby to be delivered into the arms of her fabulous parents.  We can’t wait to see her.

I really, really like this pattern by Nancy Coburn of Ginger Snaps Designs.

It come in several  sizes from micro-preemies all the way up to regular size newborn. Several recommendations are included from NICU nurses for this sweet, specialized sewing.   Variations of  the single fabric design are included, such as this one made from two tiny scraps of pique’ and gingham.



The darling vintage duckling embroidery designs are from MommysApronStrings Etsy shop.    They stitch out beautifully and are perfectly digitized and proportioned for this little diaper shirt as well as other children’s projects.  There are several other charming designs that I will be using for future projects.  The “buttons” were also machine embroidered before the soft velco  was sewn to the shirt at the front and shoulders.

The edging trim is a soft cotton faux tatting.  Blue rick rack was intended to be suggestive of water, but I’m not sure it does.

An improvement over the first shirt I made is  the addition of a size label. This is a standard label which was tucked inside the lining.


Size label is sewn between the batiste lining and the outer fabic.

When sewing for preemies there is rarely any advance notice.  Unlike Beatrice’s situation, premature deliveries are almost always unplanned.  So having the patterns, designs, and fabrics on hand (who doesn’t have a small scraps in  their stash?)  makes sewing for them so much easier.  Ironically, I purchased several preemie patterns and it seems unlikely that I will need them.  But I have them on hand for charity donations to hospitals and for other bitty babies that will come along in the future.

It is so satisfying to stitch these tiny garments.  I have a dear friend whose husband is a neonatal doctor.  Frequently, he would “fall in love” with a particular baby and ask his wife Cherry to sew for this wee babe.  Her breathtaking creations were a comfort, distraction and joy for the anxious parents.

Have you ever sewn for preemies?  If so, would you share your experience and perhaps a photo?  I would really appreciate that.




Wrapped in Love

Swiss flannel with pinstitch joining lace to fabric. Pinstitch is woven with pink perle cotton.


I can’t seem to stop thinking about Beatrice.  She is the soon-to-be-born, soon-to-be-adopted baby girl whose waiting parents are active members of our church.   So I sew.  When she is in their arms, she will be wrapped with love, with or without this shawl.

Soft, luxurious Swiss flannel is perfect for any baby.   Especially here in Florida where winters are usually moderate, a tiny one dressed in this fabric can go out on the town without being bundled in a parka.  The blanket coordinates with a bonnet and smocked daygown featured in earlier posts.  I hope to duplicate them for Baby Beatrice.

Pinstitch and Swiss flannel go together like peas and carrots.  The holes were perfectly clear and clean, as always, but were woven with perle cotton because I wanted a little more color near the perimeter.



The lace edging is my favorite blanket trim as it can withstand heavy laundering and still flaunts its heirloom ancestry.

Six inches from the lace is a zig zag feather stitch frame, interspersed with embroidery. That stitch is worked in soft green, but I was unable to get a good scan of it.  It shows up clearly in this photo from another project.  With 30 wt. cotton thread, it works up nicely.



This stitch is one I designed several years ago in Brother’s exclusive My Custom Stitch feature.  If you have a Brother machine which includes MCS, I would be happy to share it with you.  Just leave your request at the end of this post.

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From Sea to Shining Sea


My latest blog post at Brother’s Stitching Sewcial is up, named From Sea  to Shining Sea.

Yes, the embroidery design Born in the USA  is crooked and I just now noticed!!!!!  Oh, dear,  I was so focused on the concept of “sea to shining sea” –from the Statue of Liberty in NY to the Golden Gate Bridge to the Lone Star State of Texas,–that I was oblivious to the skewing.  Sigh….

Anyway, the design is darling and so appropriate for Independence Day.  There is plenty of time to whip this up before the celebratory parades, picnics and pyrotechnics.

With white shorts embroidered with a starburst,  a child is a walking, talking poster for patriotism.  I just love this.



A detailed tutorial and more photos are posted at  Stitching Sewcial.

Have you stitched any July 4th outfits for the little ones in your life?

And now for the requisite disclaimer:  I am a paid sewing expert/consultant for Brother.  And I love it.

Preemie Isolette Shirt


In an earlier post I wrote about a special baby soon to be adopted into our church family.   Due to the birth mother’s previous pregnancy complications, little Beatrice (adoptive parents have already named her) was scheduled to be delivered at 30 weeks the first week in July.  That would make her what is called a micro preemie.  Sooo early!

The good news is that the pregnancy is going well enough that this delivery date may be postponed until either mother or baby is in distress!  I read somewhere that every day Baby is in the womb translates to one less week in the NICU.   Since it seems very likely that Beatrice will spend some time in that unit, I felt the need to make something for her during intensive care.  As my sewing friend Catherine said, “This is probably the first garment you have ever made that you hope will never be worn.”  That was my almost constant prayer as I stitched this.


Ginger Snaps Preemie Isolette Shirts I (I hope she will design another pattern II) is lined and comes in 4 sizes. It’s a great pattern.


Using Nancy Coburn’s Ginger Snaps  Preemie Isolette Shirt I  pattern, I’ve made this one in the 4-5 lb. size as opposed to the smaller pattern sizes included. That’s my personal positive attitude at work,  knowing that a 4-5 lb. Baby Beatrice will be home sooner than if she needs a smaller size.  Truthfully, I hope she never wears this and comes home as a bouncing baby girl of average size.   But just in case……   And if she does not need it, the diaper shirt can be donated to the hospital for another NICU baby.

So much fiddling was done with this tiny lined shirt.  It has been said that you can make one in an hour, but I surely cannot.  By the time I selected the fashion and lining fabric and adding finishing touches it took me much longer.

Nurses of NICUs recommend that  all fabrics must be prewashed (with baby friendly detergent), be soft and preferably cotton, and have no protrusions like buttons that would snag or interfere with the wires and monitors.  Velcro was the preferred  closure for quick and easy access to the sensors.

After laboring over which fabric to use and washing a load of small scraps,  I finally decided on this sweet Eileen West domestic batiste and pima cotton lining.

Here are a few tips and suggestions for anyone making this.

  • TOPSTITCHING–After it was turned and pressed, a triple straight stitch was worked a few needle positions from the edge.  That should keep the lining in place and make it easier to iron, if they do such things in the NICU.
  • MACHINE EMBROIDERED “BUTTONS”–Before I stitched on the velcro closure, I thought it just looked very plain.  I wanted to add machine embroidered buttons down the front and at the shoulders.  I had no luck finding ME buttons that were small enough.  I spent a lonnnnng time scrolling through my design library to find something that could pass as a button.  Finally, I extracted a small flower from Brother’s Oriental  collection, reduced it by 15% and stitched it with 50 wt. cotton thread.  From PE-10 text menu I selected the period and tried to make thread holes, though they are not very convincing.  Next, a long — was added to simulate thread.  Frankly, the finished product did not justify the time spent, but I have some ideas to improve on this for my next diaper shirt.
  • VELCRO–This pattern and several of the others I ordered and downloaded (I like to see the whole field of options) recommended closing with velcro dots or small pieces down the front and at the shoulders.  Instead I just stitched a length of velcro, making it easier to close than trying to line up the dots.  Remember to put the scratchy velcro side on the outside of the garment so it won’t touch baby’s very delicate skin when dressing.  The soft side is sewn on the inside where it laps over.

All things considered, I would rank little diaper shirt as satisfactory.  Though the nurses are said to recommend bright prints, I just can’t go that route.  The adoptive mother prefers traditional baby clothes so it’s likely she will approve.

I highly recommend this project.  Not only can you do a real service for tiny babies and  their families, you can use up some precious, tiny scraps that have few other uses.

Now I’m off to make another one for baby Beatrice.  She will be a very lucky baby to have this wonderful Christian couple as her parents.   Happy sewing!






FREE Heirloom Baby Dress Sew-Along

Heirloom Baby Gown Sew-Along presented by Brother International Corporation


Classic Sewing Magazine  is offering a FREE Sew-Along.  I made this sweet little dress/daygown for Brother’s submission to the magazine and it is being offered to you. The instructions have been broken into 4 lessons.

Written for beginners, it also includes tips and suggestions that might be useful for experienced heirloom sewists.  Techniques such as lace insertion, lace shaping, pin stitch, joining gathered lace, etc. are included.

The first two lessons have been posted so go sign up!  You must be signed up to get notification of the next lessons.

I do hope you will join us.  Just click on the link in  the opening photo and you will be taken to the site to sign up.  The sleeves on this pattern (Simplicity 8024) are just precious.

Let’s sew along!



Pooh and CC Charlotte

Children’s Corner “Charlotte” pattern embroidered with pooh in Field of Flowers at

This project was posted at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial. A step-by-step photo illustrated tutorial can be seen there.

Pooh and a Field of Flowers Tutorial

It’s a cute, cool and comfortable outfit for summer.  Children’s Corner Charlotte is one of my favorite patterns–quick and easy, fully lined and a blank canvas for unlimited embroidery or applique’ designs.  I’ve made several and each is well received by my granddaughter.


This is a size 4, which was required to fit the large embroidery design.  Even so, the tunic had to be lengthened 1.5″ so the blue butterfly would fit under the arm.  Of course, a smaller size could be made by leaving off the butterfly.


White cotton twill was used for the top.  The lining, shoulder ruffles and capri ruffles were cut from a pretty floral lawn that just happened to be in my stash.  It was a near perfect match for the embroidery.

Red Kona cotton is  used for the capri, the pattern for which was included in the the Charlotte.


This is an in-progress construction photo, but it shows the bees on the capri leg.


A fun detail was added to the buttons by attaching each with a thread color in the embroidery.

If you click on  the picture, the link will take you to the blog post.  I hope you will find something interesting there and perhaps leave a comment.

Happy summer sewing!



Friendship Gift


This adorable outfit which I call “Raining Cats” was gifted to me from my sweet friend Lisa at Mommy’s Apron Strings. She knew my 5 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose is crazy for cats.  When Lisa saw his fabric and had new patterns she wanted to try, she whipped it for Vivi.

Ever so skillfully, Lisa coordinated the fabrics with the cats and the rick rack to come up with a uniquely intersting and kid friendly outfit.

The pattern for the top is  Pickle Toes Tulip Tie Top PDF 

The shorts pattern is  Cole’s Corner Ruched Shorts. 


Read details about this wonderful gift here, at Lisa’s blog.  You will want to visit it frequently because she has wonderful projects and ideas. And she is such a dear lady.  Lisa is also the administrator of Smocking Destash, a facebook group in which you would surely enjoy being a member.  Check  that out too!


Live, Love Life


This pillow was made for our precious granddaughter, Laurel.


enjoying our visit to a New Jersey tea room


She just turned 14 and I couldn’t resist offering some grandmotherly advice to mark the occasion.  Putting that advice where she could read it every day seemed like a better idea than delivering a “Things to Remember” lecture.

I loved this pattern on first sight.  When our son and family were here for Easter,  Laurel smiled when she saw it and gave me a thumbs up to proceed.  She had brought her new bedroom curtains to be shortened.  The pillow was made with those scraps, so it coordinates nicely.


The pattern is Live and Love  from Kreative Kiwi. Their designs are all so appealing and stitch out flawlessly.


The text advice offered in the pattern is sound, but I had a few of my own directives. Laurel already smiles, imagines and enjoys life all the time,  so I substituted  PRAY, work, and family for those words.  This is not to say that our near perfect granddaughter (just like yours, I’m sure!) does not already practice and know the value of these words, but emphasis on those ideals seemed more important at her stage of life.




“Family” went against the grain of this old English major because all the other words of guidance are verbs.  Parallel construction dictates uniformity in grammar situations such as this, but I was unable to find a verb substitute. So I thought,”Phooey, I’ll walk on the dark side and break the rule this time!”  So I did.  Then I noticed “ALWAYS,” so I feel no responsibility for ruining the grammatical propriety of the text.



In traditional crazy patch style, trims, buttons and other motifs were added.

My thread color choices have caused some regrets.  The pillow is made up of 5 sections, embroidered individually in  the hoop and joined on the sewing machine.  I should have printed out a template of each section and taped them together to see the overall effect.  Laurel, however, had no complaints.  She is too polite and ladylike to have ever made a negative comment about a gift.  I love that girl!



I’m just now learning If I had had Brother’s BES4 program when redesigning the pillow with the substituted words, the pillow would have been so much nicer.  This program and is amazing! I could have easily made “PRAY” fit into that wedge shape and added other features.  I must add that I am a “paid sewing consultant for Brother,” but that does not require me to endorse a product.  I genuinely love BES4.

We recently spent some time visiting our son and his family in their new home in New Jersey, which is part of the reason for my long absence from this blog.  The tea room that Laurel, her mother and I visited had these pretty napkin wraps in each teacup.



Our special tea time reminded me that we were, indeed, living, loving, and family.

COMING UP–We are so excited about the upcoming and long awaited arrival of a baby.  Our immediate family is fresh out of babies since our last grandchild, Vivian Rose, is now 5.  This new baby will soon be joining her adoptive parents, active members of our church.  I am squeezing baby sewing into every rare but free moment.  I have two projects done and more are planned.  I hope you will stop by to see them.





Great On-line Class with MaggieB!

This is the first Ode to Joy Border Tunic  I made working through an on-line class offerred  by Maggie Bunch.  It is a fabulous class for everyone from  beginners to experienced smockers.  Maggie takes you from border print fabric selection, to pleating, to construction and smocking.  But she throws in so many little informational gems and tips.  I learned so much.  You may provide your own fabric or she offers some darling kits.  She will even pleat for you if you like.

This class is a bargain at $30.  Maggie practically holds your hand through the whole process and answers any questions promptly.  To the best of my knowledge, this is just the second time in the last 12 months that it has been offered on-line. She did teach it at that great sewing event, Sewing at the Beach.

Maggie said on-line.This is an online sewing and smocking lesson, held in a private group, here on FB. The fee for the lesson is $30.00. Kits are optional. You can sew from your stash! I post a lesson a day for about 2 weeks. The Group stays open for about 8 weeks after the lesson is complete for you to sew at your own pace. Sizes are 1/2 3/4 5/6 and 7/8


The first time round, I didn’t print out the instructions and files.   So when I made my second dress, a lot of mistakes were made.  Note the sloppy neck binding.



So I am repeating the class and you can be sure that I will keep notes and files.  Now you, too,  can take this class!  The pattern is not available for sale, just as part of the class.


Ode to Joy Smocking Group is taking members. This Group is an online smocking class, lead by me, for the play top using quilting cottons or border prints.
This is a work at your own pace lesson. The lessons will be posted one a day for about two weeks starting June 1. Join now so you have time to get the list and order your supplies.
The fee $30.00 includes membership in the Group and all lessons from fabric choice to smocking to hem.
Please private message me your PayPal information for the lesson. Registration will close May 18.

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Through the years, several readers have commented on my smocked garments, saying they wish they knew how to smock.  Few live within easy driving distance of classes so this is a great option.
Other than wanting to learn more, I have no vested interested in this class.  I just want to share a great learning opportunity with you all.

Bicycle Bag

The bike bag is a perfect match to my granddaughter’s bike. What a lucky coincidence! Detailed instructions are available here.


For that special biker (your child, your grand, your mother, yourself?) who has everything, how about a pretty quilted bike bag.

This was a fun project, made for Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial, in celebration of National Bike Month.   Detailed photo instructions are included in the tutorial post.

I’ve loved this design since it was first included on a Brother card, EDB LG1.  Now it is available as a single design at  for 5×7 frames.



The scenic design has white negative space, which would have made the stitching disappear into the fabric print.  So the file was converted to an applique’ and stitched on sky blue pique’.  The blog post gives directions for converting this and other framed designs to  applique’.

My husband used to take the children long bike hikes.

But not this long!


One of their favorite destinations was Hontoon Island State Park, 15 miles from home.  They would relax there at a little snack bar overlooking the St.John’s River and enjoy a cold drink.



Then they would call me to pick them up.  After the first seven miles, I’m sure they would have loved to reach into a bag like this for a bottle of water to quench their thirst.

This project is unique in that it is gender neutral and age appropriate for anyone who rides a bike.

Did you know May 18th is officially Ride your Bike to Work Day?  Please tell us about it if you do.

Happy Bike Month!

NOTE:  I am required to let you know that I am a paid sewing consultant for Brother.