Encore Collar

Encore:  a reappearance or additional performance demanded by an audience (definition from Merriam-Webster dictionary)



There was no real demand and I’m certainly not a real audience, but this collar has definitely made a welcome reappearance.

Worn first by my daughter 27 years ago when she was 5, it turned up at the bottom of a box of old samples I unpacked to take to Sewing at the Beach.  Now, it will be worn by my granddaughter Laurel, who is 6.

Laurel’s  black velveteen Christmas dress (2010)  featured an heirloom sewn pinafore bib,  machine embroidered with the seasonal Sugar Plum Fairy.  The encore shadow work collar refreshes the garment for a Valentine’s Day party.




Swiss batiste and tatting work well with the hand stitched surface embroidery and red shadow work bows.   I’ve always appreciated the textural contrast of tatting on velveteen.  At its first “performance” when Rebecca wore the collar, it was also worn over a black velveteen dress.




My initial exposure to shadow work embroidery was at the first SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) regional seminar in the early ’80’s.



It was held in Spartanburg, SC, at Converse College.  My mother, my sister-in-law, my dear friend Mary Hale Hoffmann, and I drove up from Florida to attend.

Margaret Pierce taught the shadow work class.  I thought she and shadow embroidery both were pure magic.  It continues to enchant me.

There, we met newcomer Martha Pullen whose first book,  French Sewing by Machine, had just been released.  Becky Summers was to have taught the heirloom sewing class but was unable to make it, so Martha stepped in.  Few people knew who she was at the time, but her name, as you know, was soon to dominate the heirloom sewing world.  NOTE:  Later, Mary Hale Hoffmann went on to write the first contemporary book on shadow embroidery, published by Martha.

Mildred Turner assisted Martha at that event.  She charmed everyone who met her and her expertise was immediately apparent.  Who could have predicted that these two ladies would have such impact on the sewing industry and on the lives of so many eager students?

A few years later, Martha held her own schools in Huntsville where both Mildred and I taught.  And a few years after that, Mildred was hosting her own schools in Maggie Valley, NC, where I taught along with Carol Ahles, Kathy Stachowicz, April Dunn, Londa Rohlfing, Jeannie Baumeister and others.  I  made so many good friends and so many fond memories. And I learned so, so much.

After doing a fair amount of shadow embroidery through the years for my Rebecca,  I was equally intrigued by Suzanne Hinshaw’s  spectacular machine shadow embroidery designs.   The ease and speed of  working this delicate technique by machine is addictive.

But  doing shadow embroidery by hand allows you to stitch whatever you like, IF you have the time.

I certainly wish I had more time to to pursue this soothing and gentle needleart.  I might stitch yet another shadow work collar for Laurel’s black velveteen dress.  Or something else……..What is your favorite form of handwork?

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