Think Spring Dress

UPDATE: There have been several inquiries about the sleeve finish so the process is detailed at the end of this post (below the groundhog eating wolf).

It’s been so long since there has been a new post at  Janice Ferguson Sews that faithful readers might have thought that I was missing in action. I’ve been tending my dear husband who had knee replacement surgery two weeks ago. Post-op he spent a week at the same rehab center where I recuperated from my joint surgeries and gained some valuable insights into life.

So I have been spending time with him, running errands and doing his many, many household chores. Whew! That man does more around here than I ever realized! He’s my grocery shopper, gardener, pool boy, morning feral cat feeder, garbage hauler, very best friend, and more. I have really missed him.

At last, he’s back home, stepping lightly with his gentleman’s cane and walking the fast track to a complete recovery.

That's not really him. And it's not really me.

That’s not really him. And it’s not really me.

And I’m back too, with a finished project to share with you.

This cheerful little dress just makes me grin. Looking at it reminds me of our Florida springtime with raspberry pink azaleas, white dogwoods and the bright turquois waters of nearby Blue Springs.The fabric says spring to me.

think spring dress all recol

Even here in our relatively mild central Florida climate, spring is something my whole family is anxiously awaiting. This is grandbaby Vivian Rose at the playground on a frigid 40 degree day. Can you tell what she thinks of cold weather?


“So Puxatony Phil says there will be 6 more weeks of this?!#$&!?”

If Floridians are weary of rain and 30-50 degree cold, I can’t imagine how tired you Northerners are of bitter winter. But I digress–this post is not about weather.

The Think Spring dress was cut out, pleated and ready to smock when I went with Rebecca and family to our cabin in October. Intended, of course, for baby Vivian Rose, the frock was smocked almost completely while we sat around the fire as the babies slept. When we returned home, the unfinished project was bagged up and put aside so I could start Christmas dresses.

Now, almost 4 months later, I’ve grown tired of moving the ziplock from place to place in the sewing room. For me, having it out on the cutting table or the ironing board or on the shelf is safer than putting it away where it would have been forgotten (okay, okay—or lost. BACK OFF, all-knowing Judy D., Terry C., Suzanne S., Mildred T., and June M!). So instead of starting something new, I finished it.

But I have forgotten the details–pattern, plate, etc. I probably used Children’s Corner Ki and added some trim to the front opening.

My Children's Corner Ki is a very old pattern--but still great.

My Children’s Corner Ki is a very old pattern–but still great.

Note: I know Children’s Corner has reprinted and repacked their older patterns with color photos, but these yellowed envelopes are like old friends. Often when I pull one out, I remember making it for my daughter or for a gift. New color pictures can’t take me down Memory Lane.

think spring smocking

The main fabric itself makes me smile, as I recall memories and the tight bond I have with my stash.When I bought this print many, many years ago at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store (Paradise for sewists) in Gastonia, NC, my fabulous friend Suzanne Sawko and I were on our way home from a week-long sew-a-thon at my cabin, the same place that this fabric finally met floss and a #7 crewel needle.

Suzanne’s taste has always been ahead of the times. She liked this piece, but the print did not appeal to me. It seemed garish at a time when most classic children’s clothing was either pastel or primary colors. Now 15 or 20 years later, it seems very contemporary.

Because I have a tendency to defer to Suzanne’s good judgement and because I loved the hand of this 100% cotton, it won me over. It is a creamy, soft yet serviceable, heirloom quality fabric with a weave like a baby twill, but very soft. The registration on the print is crisp, almost like a Liberty tana lawn. Oh, and did I mention that it was on sale–always a strong selling point. So it came home with me, in a Mary Jo’s bag with yards and yards of other fabrics that called my name.

think spring sleeve

Raspberry pima gingham trims the front, angel sleeves and neck line. The Swiss trim is my all-time favorite, with the large entredeux holes next to smaller ones through which I like to weave floss. I bought a ton of this from Martha Pullen less than a year ago, but have used all but a yard of it. Wish I could get more.

Tomorrow, I’ll whip up some bloomers. Now Vivian Rose has a dress for spring or for these cold Florida days if she wears a long sleeve white shirt and leggings under it.

But not to worry. I’ve heard that a wolf has taken care of the weather.


Sleeve finish: The raw edge of the angel wing sleeve was encased in double fold raspberry bias. It was first stitched on the wrong side, then wrapped around to the front and secured with a tiny zig zag (L 1.0 W 1.0) using monofilament thread. The Swiss trim was trimmed to the edge of the entredeux and then butted to the folded edge of the raspberry bias on the sleeve. It was joined to the gingham with white 80 wt. thread and another tiny zig zag. I don’t recall the settings, but it was just enough to go in each hole and still penetrate the folded bias. Finally, the floss was woven through, after the Swiss was joined to the sleeve. Voila’! Let me know if this isn’t clear.

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