Shadow Work Christmas Collar

Christmas 11 collar whole


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.


Christmas 11 collar side2


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.


xmas lace scan0001


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.


lace cut0001



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.


Christmas 11 collar insertioin


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.


gathering lace


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


gathered lace


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.


Christmas 11 collar beading


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?


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 were 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, of which there was no sign.  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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.