Shadow Work Christmas Collar

Good grief!!!!  Less than a month until Christmas and I am just now getting the grandchildren’s holiday outfits together!  I’m sewing in the fast lane now.

The collar for 7-year old Laurel’s burgundy velveteen dress is finished.  Swiss cotton organdy has been tinted with coffee.  The collar pattern is from Sarah Howard Stone’s Basic Yoke Dress.

The collar is lined so that the embroidery stitches will not show and also so that  the effect of the strong burgundy color shadowing through the ivory organdy is diminished.  The lining covers only the spokes, not the insertion.  The contrast of the lace spokes against the dark velveteen is very pleasing.

The machine embroidered shadow work designs are from Suzanne Hinshaw’s Charming Embellishments collection.  Though the set was marketed for placemats and linens,  the designs are appropriate for many other purposes.

I really choked using metallic thread to outline the holly leaves.  But I thought Laurel would love it and I’m trying to mix a little contemporary in with my old fashioned Nana style.

When designing needlework projects, I have to start with something tangible.  I am very visual and need something in my hand to lay eyes on to get started.  For this project, it was the spectacular lace.  It was purchased at an estate sale and may be antique.  At the end of this post I have a bizarre story about this lace.

The lace was pinstitched in place on my fabulous Brother Duetta 4500D.  Aside from fabulous embroidery, this machine does the finest heirloom stitches you have ever seen.  It is absolutely foolproof.  Can you tell I love it?  Actually, my Brother ULT 2003D does just as well.  Brother has really perfected their machines.

The challenge was to find suitable insertion.   A spoke collar needs insertion between the spokes but I had no companion piece.  After much deliberation, I had initially decided to use beading and ribbon.  But seemed too distracting from the embroidery and lace.  What I wanted was the insertion half of the lace.  And getting that would be tricky.

I have a lot of lace.  So when I begin a project, I’m not overly worried about making a mistake because there is always plenty of extra.  But this was just a 3+ yard piece and there was no room for error.

TECHNIQUE:  After carefully measuring the spokes to determine exactly how much was needed,  I cut that length from the yardage.  Then I began cutting away the insertion. 

On one side, there was a sizeable header which had to be trimmed down.  On the other side I tried cutting along the tiny entredeux-like holes.   But there was little not enough stability to hold it together after being cut away.  So the cut had to go into the edging, which left a narrow piece with a raw edge.

As it was pinstitched to the organdy, the thicker header created unwanted bulk.  But it is no heavier than commercial or wing needle entredeux would have been.   So I guess I am okay with that.

The collar is detachable, so that it will not laundered with the velveteen.  Entredeux beading finishes the neck, but what about an edging for that?  The 1-1/2″ lace was too wide, but I did have the raw-edged scrap edging that remained after cutting away the insertion.

By rolling and whipping/zig zagging over a quilting thread, I was able to create a bit of a header and a gathering thread.

It was heavier than most headers would be, but it worked.   The lace is so distinctive that using another pattern would have been very noticeable.

The ribbon will tie at the neck, but still the collar might shift and lose its proper placement.  So a beauty pin at the center back will hold it to the dress.

I have really enjoyed making this.  Now to the dress, and the matching doll dress, and the slip, and the hair bow, and the boys’ outfits.  Tick tock tick tock…..

How are your Christmas projects coming along?

LACE STORY

I have a friend who does estate sales.  She is an expert on china, silver, furniture and most items in a home, but has no expertise in textiles.  So she often calls for my help pricing such items.

A few years ago, she called with a most urgent SOS.  She was to dispose of the contents of a sewing hoarder’s home.  The house was well-kept and appeared to be orderly, filled with all manner of antiques, from kitchenware to furnishings.

But she was shocked to find every dresser drawer, every closet, boxes under the beds and cupboards filled with fabric, zippers, buttons, patterns, heirloom laces and more.  She didn’t know where to begin.

The next morning I met her at the house.  She was standing on the front porch shaking her head.  “Oh—My—Gosh!!!”  she said.  “I just went upstairs to the attic.  It is packed to the ceiling with sewing stuff!”  Her nightmare was my dream come true!

There were literally thousands and thousands of yards of fabric–cottons folded neatly, silks and decorator fabrics rolled on tubes, wools in plastic zipper bags and more.  So much more.

There were so many interesting facets of this lady’s compulsion.  For one, every piece of fabric had a small paper label hand sewn into the selvage, with the yardage measurement, fiber content and the price she paid for it.  The laces were unmarked, but beautiful without exception.  She had excellent taste.

Then I asked about her sewing machine, which there was no sign of.  And here is the most bizarre part of the story…….

The 84 year old woman did not sew.  But she always intended to learn. Wow.

I bought this lace and a few other pieces, but it was no bargain. My job was to put a fair price on the textiles and I did that.  But I loved this lace.  Payment for my time was having first choice of the goods and shopping before the hoards rushed in early the next morning.

Most of the folded yardage was stacked on and under tables in a bedroom, sold for $2 a bag.  I brought home several bags of cotton gingham check in colors I’d never seen before–grape, gold, brown and more.   More than 200 bags were sold and still a truck came from Goodwill to cart off the rest.

I think about that woman every time I pull out some gingham and, of course, when I used this lace.  And I wonder.

13 Responses to Shadow Work Christmas Collar

  1. Sophia Patterson

    The collar is beautiful! I have no Christmas sewing projects this year but next year I will be busy!

  2. Wow, what a story! So the lesson is, don’t just dream about sewing, DO IT!? :)

    The collar is beautiful! I love everything about it. I bet Laurel will really like the metallic thread. (Did you mean to skip that hole in the beading with your ribbon?)

  3. YIKES!!! I did NOT mean to skip that hole! There are proofreaders for text. I need you to be my proofsewer! Thanks!

  4. Beautiful Collar!! As always the whole project is pulled together with perfection!

  5. Janice, the collar is beautiful! Your work is always beautiful ‘tho. I have not started any christmas sewing yet and I feel the clock ticking also. I just got the tree up today but we don’t have everything out yet, our weather is horrible right now so I may not decorate outside, LOL

  6. June mellinger

    Cool story. Brother Metallics would take the anxiety out of using a metallic thread on such fine fabric. The yoke looks great and you know someday it could be a pretty Christmas tree skirt. I loved the story about the sewing hoarder.

  7. I did use Brother metallic, the only metallic I can use without holding my breath while it stitches. I have two shades of gold and silver as well as red and blue. The anxiety was generated by my deep seated heirloom aversion to shiny thread. But love for my granddaughter trumped my prejudice.

  8. We’ve been in NC since just after Thanksgiving so I have done no decorating but some sewing, just the reverse of your Christmas preparations. Sounds like we are ying and yang. Get that fabulous button machine out, Betty!

  9. Your work is beautiful, I’m sure your specially made gifts will become family heirlooms. Lovely xx jeanetteann

  10. What a lucky little girl to be wearing something so beautiful and precious. I tip my at to you, as like that lady, I love fabric but have no sewing power what so ever.
    Merry Christmas
    Ellen

  11. designdreamer

    WOW Janice. Just found your blog via Sewforum (which I’ve been a member of from waaaaaay back)
    LOVE this collar! Love this story of the lady that hoarded the fabric and lace. In some respects I fear I may become her – although I DO sew and have a total of 5 machines.
    I remember specifically your article in SB years ago about the lace that tells a story – can’t remember what you called it, but it definitely left an impression on me. If memory serves it was at the beginning of when home embroidery machines were starting to come on the market. At any rate I love how you solved the “problem” of how to use this lace, and hope I can remember it if I should need it in the future. Thanks sew much!!!

  12. Thank you for your kind comment. I am just as tickled to find SewForum, which I think I joined a while ago but got busy and forgot about it. There is a wealth of knowledge there. I’m pleased that you remember the article about the picture lace with AEsops’s Fables and other stories. What a good memory you have! I love that lace. In an effort to NOT become the hoarder in this blog, I am putting up for adoption (sale) large portions of my stash/resource center, including lots of that lace. I hope you will check back here at Janice Ferguson Sews and let me know what you are sewing.

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