Desperation Bubble

bubble front all


Have you ever been  desperate to smock and thwarted in the effort?  Desperate to stitch hand embroidery and been hampered? Desperate to sew in a power outage?  I bet the answer is yes.

It reminds me of my crazy friend Catherine who, 25 years ago, had taken her boys to the beach.  Settled down in the sand on an old quilt, under her beach umbrella, she pulled out her smocking only to discover that she had everything but a needle!  Desperate, like me, she walked up and down Daytona Beach asking each sunbather if she might have a #7 crewel needle that Catherine could borrow or buy.  That, my friends, is desperation.  To no one’s surprise but Catherine’s, she came up empty handed.

How this bubble came to be is a result of such desperation.  It didn’t turn out as planned, it didn’t turn out great,  it didn’t really please me.  But it did scratch my itch  for some form–any form!– of needlework.


The ruffles are too skimpy.

The ruffles are too skimpy.


With my dream-come-true sewing room, I should never have been in this position.  But it happened. And here’s how.

We left a day early for our week in the mountains, with just 45 minutes to pack.   As we watched the weather channel, we could see that Tropical Storm Andrea was scheduled to deluge the eastern coast from our home in central Florida all the way to our cabin in western North Carolina.  So we decided to leave ASAP and that boiled down to 3/4 of an hour. In that kind of rush, I was lucky to grab up clean socks and underwear.

I had planned to spend those leisurely days smocking a few things for baby Vivian Rose and a few more for 9 year old Laurel Cade.  Of all the projects I had lined up to prepare, only this ready-to-smock Martha Pullen bubble was actually ready to smock.  Earlier, my Brother Quattro, a fabulous heirloom machine, made it a breeze to apply the entredeux and tatting.


sleeve crop


A few precious packing moments were spent selecting a smocking plate (Gwen Milner’s delicate Carousel Horses) and gathering up the necessary skeins of floss.




After I parked myself on the quiet side deck, I began smocking this straight yoke design onto a round yoke bishop.  But darned if those dainty horses didn’t turn into short legged draft horses—UGLY!!!  FYI, the smaller the round yoke, the more distorted picture smocking becomes.  So what now?




I had only the floss for the carousel horses and one other plate (below) which was on the opposite side of the page protector.  Fortunately, I could make this plate work.  Given my limited palette of floss colors and the need for a round yoke design, I really lucked out.



front yoke close 2


Adding to my stress was worry that I would run out of smocking before I ran out of days at the cabin.  I had just one small project for 10 days!  The only recourse was to read a lot and spend more time on SewForum, Martha Pullen’s Forum, Pinterest and facebook.  It was a desperate time, I tell you.

The other glitches had to do with the modifications I had to make after we returned home.  Remember that my daughter gave me only two directives about clothes for Vivian Rose:  1.  any color was okay so long as it was pink–light pink, dark pink, medium pink, pink stripe, pink print, pink whatever, just so long as it was pink, and 2.  ruffle bottoms were required.

I had no matching pink gingham for the ruffles and plain white didn’t suit me.  Using a print seemed to demand that the print be incorporated into another component of the bubble.  This pink polka dot cotton seemed to be good enough for both the ruffles and the neck bias, which was applied right on top of the existing gingham binding.

None of my serger thread was quite the right color so I resorted to using Mettler and DMC cotton threads, which were in short supply.  In an effort to be certain that I did not run out of thread, I reduced the width of the ruffles to 33″—way  too short for the 22″ width across the bubble back.

Oh well.  I did not have to sit out on the deck in the cool mountain air reading instead of smocking.  And Vivian Rose does have another pink outfit to wear.

Have you ever been desperate?  Tell me about it.  Maybe I will feel better about this desperation bubble.



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