Too Big, Too Precious

8 yo loving her too large, unhemmed smocked dress


This dress and this little girl make my heart sing.  Our summer has been so full,  so busy, and absolutely fabulous, but this dress is one of the highlights for me.  All this busy-ness is why  it’s been so long since I have posted.

Our pilot son flew the family down from their new home in New Jersey.  11 yo Robert and 13 yo Laurel spent the week visiting with old friends and spending time with their cousin Vivi.  What a wonderful family time that was!  Cousins, pool, golf cart rides, puppies to play with–it was plenty to make them happy.


Robert and Vivian Rose


Robert stayed with us when the rest of the family went home.  The next day we drove to the North Carolina mountains where we stayed at a fabulous cabin.


Now this is a great place to enjoy smocking!


At wonderful Bear Ridge Cabin in Brevard, our daughter Rebecca and Vivian Rose joined us while 8 yo Alastair was spending his last week at Camp Watitoh in Massachussets.   Our mutual friend Zahra and her two children also joined us while the daddies stayed at home working.

The children were just delightful, a special treat for this Nana and Granddad.


After s’mores, the children were all jammied up and ready for bed.

Robert spent most of that week at Camp Ridge Haven and had a wonderful 1st time sleepaway camp experience.


Camp Ridge Haven


And at last, that brings me to the dress at the top of this post.

Zahra is a new and very enthusiastic machine embroiderer but was interested in learning about sewing as well.  She brought along her workhorse Brother ULT 2003D and was ready to try the sewing side of the machine.

I had brought along several “kits” of potential projects and both Zahra and her daughter Aliya chose this pattern.


This is a great pattern!  The shoulder ties and pockets are adorable and have great appeal for a child.


With lime green pique for the dress, orange gingham for the lining, orange whipstitch piping, and a pre-smocked insert, we were ready to sew.

Aliya is an average sized 8 yo but her mother thought making a size 10 would be a safer bet.  She surely didn’t want her first sewing project to be too small.  Zahra did a great job, but as it turned out, the dress was way too large for Aliya.  Still, she loved it!  I mean she reeeeeally loved it!


It is apparent that the dress is too big for this little girl.


The dress literally swallowed up  this darling girl.  Unwilling to wait until she grew into it, she deserved alterations.  Such drastic changes were beyond her mother’s new sewing skills so I did my best to make it fit.

Taking 1/2″ seams along each bodice side seam was a start, but was not enough.  So ties were added and attached at the altered side seams.


No one could ever say this was a well-fittied dress.  But it surely is a well-loved dress!


With the daily activities through the week–tubing, Sliding Rock, the Asheville Zoo, and gem mining–we only sewed at night, after dinner.


6 yo Kaden and 4 yo Vivi with their “gems.” Vivi is wearing her firefly outfit from two summers ago. I love the CC Jane pattern!


Time ran out before we got to the hem.

Our last day at the cabin we visited another summer camp.  For this outing, Aliya begged to wear her new dress, even unhemmed.  It was impossible for her mother to deny the child the joy she felt wearing her first mama-made dress.

Now Zahra wonders if the dress might be worn out before Aliya grows into it!  Can you think of many things sweeter than an 8 yo loving her first smocked dress this much?

Almost as sweet as Aliya’s delight is the fact that every single element of this dress was purchased at an absolutely wonderful facebook group, Smocking Destash.  This is like an on-line yard sale with only sewing items.  Many are used, some are new, some are long since out of print.  But all are at very low prices.  of course, it is a great place to clear your shelves of unused, outgrown patterns and fabric you just never got around to using.

It is a “secret” group, which means you have to be added by an existing member.  That keeps it very safe and there are, to my knowledge, no bad transactions.  If you have any interest in joining, drop me a note as a comment below this post or at

Meanwhile,  life is good  for the Fergusons and the summer has been great. My dear husband had knee replacement surgery 2 days after we returned from NC.  Rather than go to rehab he opted to come home.  It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to care for him, though his recovery is so remarkable that he requires not nearly as much care as I expected.

As I said, life is good.  I hope your summer is going well and you are getting more sewing done than I am!



9 responses to “Too Big, Too Precious

  1. from Martha Pullen forum: That is just beautiful, no wonder she is smiling ear to ear! It is great that her mother has the interest and has someone to teach her. I took my serger out to the repair shop and it is in a tiny town 10 mi west of me. He is retired and just putters with repairs now. Usually at this time of the year, he has machines setting all over from the schools. He gets them all cleaned and adjusted for the school year. My school district gave up sewing years ago so I was pleased to see the rural schools still taught it. When I went out there last week, no machines on the floor! He said the rural schools have now quit teaching sewing! Talk about a sad day.

  2. What a disappointing decision those schools have made. Sewing is like cooking–everyone needs to do it sometime! And a sewing machine is like a stove. Everyone is going to need one, no matter how basic. This child’s mother confessed that she ordered several pairs of pants on sale that she loves, but they are too long. It’s been about a year but she hasn’t gotten them to the dry cleaners to hem because they want $20 per pair. That’s more than she paid for them. Once we have our hemming lesson, she will have more pants, If only she had had a sewing class. 8 yo Aliya is eager to sew so she will be included in our next sewing lesson. Well, soon there will be two more who can hem.

  3. from Martha Pullen forum: Cute dress, cute girl, wonderful “teacher”, Janice .

  4. I love the post!! You are so sweet and humble! If they only knew the amount of work you did to “fix” my dress, you essentially remade the dress multiple times! Thank you!! Aliya loves it and shows it off to everyone!

  5. Rheeta Booth

    With all the travel and activities how do you ever find time to sew?!?

  6. Thank you, Zahra, but I only redid the steps for which I gave bad instruction! You worked so hard and did a great job when I told you to stitch the yokes in the wrong direction, etc. The important thing is that Aliya loves the dress you made. I had such a good time sewing with you.

  7. Rheeta, I don’t do half of what other women do. Bob does all the grocery shopping and errand running, Icolin cleans my house and don’t “work out” at the gym, like you! I should accomplish a lot more than I do. But thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt.

  8. Love the dress. So sweet how much she loved it.

    I’m getting back into smocking after a decade or so. My 23 year old daughter quit letting me make her stuff years ago but now I have a granddaughter. I would love info on the smocking destash group.

  9. Lisa T. Welcome back to the wonderful world of smocking. And congratulations on having a granddaughter! The Smocking DeStash group has been a godsend for me as I send my long-loved but unlikely to be used treasures to those who will use them Others, like you, who are getting started smocking will find unbelievable bargains, from .50 smocking plates to free items to greatly reduced prices for heirloom fabric, laces and patterns. Send me an e-mail at with regard to this and I can add you–and any other interested, LEGITIMATE frieds. We do an initial screening to keep out spammers.

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