Laurel asked for a Care Bear dress, specifically Cheer Bear which, she informed me, is pink with a rainbow “belly badge.” At the time, I didn’t know what a belly badge was. I do now. There is so much to learn when you are a Nana! But I do know that there are no Care Bear smocking plates. I felt a challenge coming on.
Looking through my smocking plates, I came across Pandamonium by Little Memories and knew that a single one of those bears could be transformed into a Care Bear. Hurrah!
I had to regraph a portion of the panda to get the white belly just right for the outline stitched rainbow. Then the eyes were changed from the droopy, sad, slanted straight stitches to perky French knots. Voila! I had me a Care Bear! The next challenge was to sit the bear, 4 full rows tall, with enough head room to remain well below the neck binding, enough to give the illusion that he was in the clouds. And still it needed a border. Smocking more rows in the front than over the shoulders, I thought, would solve that problem. This is a style I’ve always liked. I like to see a nice pouf at the shoulder and on a little one, that does not allow for many rows of smocking.
Smocking deeper in the center front and then tapering the pattern up to the sleeve seam allows you to utilize more picture smocking plates than if you had smocked that same number of rows all the way around. The rainbow colors were repeated in a wheat stitch pattern just below the neck binding. The diamond pattern was simply continued around to the back.
The dress itself is a ready to smock bishop made of polycotton microcheck. There’s that easy care component so popular with young mothers.
The garment came with shirttail hemmed puff sleeves, pleated and ready to smock. I simply cut off the portion of the sleeves that fell just below the underarm seam and added a tatted insertion which used as beading. Silk ribbon, 1/8″ wide, was woven through the insertion/beading and a tatted edging joined to that.
Instead of my preferred pearl buttons at the back, I used brightly colored “utility” buttons and didn’t feel one bit bad about it. First, all of my bright rose pearl buttons had been used up on the unicorn 5th birthday dress. And secondly, this Care Bear dress is for everyday wear. It can stand proud in any American playground with its plastic buttons.
Laurel has enjoyed wearing it to school and to the park as well as to parties. She is never careless, but she never worries much about getting it dirty because she knows, as she told me, that her Nana can always make her another one. And she is right.