Category Archives: girls

How-to: Garments for Ghana

Required disclosure:  I am a paid Brother Ambassador.  Not required:  I absolutely love Brother Machines.

Several readers have written asking if they may participate in the Garments for Ghana project.   Others asked how our project operated so they might do a similar event in their own community.  When I mentioned in response to a comment on this topic that I might write this post, at least one promised that she (sweet Sandee) would not find these details boring.  I hope she is not the only one because I am going ahead with this.

Before I began, I was given some direction from the mission team leaders.  The request was for bright colors, since the landscape there is pretty bleak.  We did that. Check.

Second, there must be no buttons or closures  that might break or need replacement. Such replacement is not an option for mothers in these areas.  Check.  Elastic at the neckline was the only closure notion.  I know elastic gives out after a couple of years, but I expect these garments will be worn out long  before the elastic is.

Third, in many African nations and apparently in Ghana, bare shoulders for girls and perhaps adult females, is taboo.  So we needed some sort of sleeve.  Check.  I did notice early on that many photos of pillowcase dresses for Little Dresses for Africa showed the girls wearing a  tee shirt under their dresses.  Now I see that the site offers a free pattern that has a sleeve, much like the pattern I used.

Fourth, each garment must be marked with its size.  I had a bag of labels for sizes 1-5 and for the others I embroidered sizes on grosgrain ribbon in the hoop.  Ladies who worked from home used a sharpie to write on ribbon, which like the others,  was tucked into the elastic casing at the back.

As mentioned in the previous post, one of my goals was to make a dent in my huge fabric stash.  I announced to our church membership that we would begin sewing garments for Ghana, for the medical mission team to deliver in June (NOW!!!).  Then it started–bolts and bolts and yards and yards of lovely fabrics were carried in every Sunday morning.  Granted,  in came 2 or 3 old curtain pieces, but I felt no guilt in not using them.

If you would like to do this as a community project, I suggest that you announce it a  few weeks before you begin.  Of course, permission to reserve the facility (church fellowship hall or whatever) must be given.

Then assemble necessary power cords and strips to reach the machines.  Of course, you can do as you please, but I anticipated more participation if the ladies didn’t have to pack up  their sewing rooms to participate.

Several boxes of supplies were packed, one for scissors, one huge box with threads in every color and wound bobbins in several sizes for different machines, one for pins, pin cushions and extra machine needles, one for other notions such as fray block, marking pens and bobbins for a variety of machines and a jar of size labels.  This is all not necessary, but it was very helpful even for ladies who they brought their own supplies.  “Oops–forgot my scissors.”

Our church owns 3 basic sewing machines, which had been stored and unused for several years.  My dear husband and I spent several hours cleaning, oiling and readying them for use.  I also brought along two of my own machines so it was not necessary for at least 5 ladies to bring their own.

As for patterns, it took me a little while to get what I thought was the perfect one. I did not want to purchase a pattern for each sewist, preferring to purchase just one for all the dresses. Making all the kits myself guaranteed no copyright infringements. Many individuals, however, have their own patterns which could be used outside a community project.

At first, I chose this cute pattern and sewed it for a sample on our mission display board.

 

I quickly learned that this pattern absolutely required a serger.  The underarm 1/4″ seams were to be serged and folded under and stitched in place.  All instructions referred to serging the 1/4″seams rather than sewing them.  It’s a great pattern, but not do-able for my group as I didn’t want to involve a serger.   There were many beginner sewists who could not work around that need with satisfactory overcasting.  Again, the sleeve ruffle and pockets were not a part of the pattern.

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Garments for Ghana

This is the first of 7 clotheslines that hung from the walls in fellowship hall.

Required disclaimer: I am a paid Brother Ambassador.  Not required:  I genuinely LOVE Brother machines.

UPDATE:  The first picture is in from Ghana!  Though this little girl is not needy, I think she is the daughter of Ghanese pastor who hosts the mission team.  Gayle had said this child would be given first choice.  She certainly looks pleased. Her father reported that she didn’t want to take off  the dress and slept in it!

 

What an exciting, satisfying project this has been!  Since the end of Feb. a group of ladies and 4 children of River City Church, EPC, have gathered every Thursday to sew for the needy children of Ghana. Our goal was to make 100 garments. We finished the last week in May with 76 dresses and 44 pairs of shorts!

Getting started with basic instructions.

 

Starting a pair of cargo shorts.

Our efforts were in support of this summer’s second medical mission trip to Ghana, led by a church member Dr. Lyle Wadsworth and his nurse wife Gayle.

NOTE:  Please excuse the wrinkled dresses.  The garments were pressed before being hung on the clothesline. But after being packed for shipment to Ghana, many were unpacked to be photographed.  It was just too time consuming to iron all of them.

Overturned yo-yo’s created puffy balloons. The teepee bag covers a runaway balloon.

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What has been keeping me busy!

My goodness but life has a way of keeping me busy and away from writing blog posts!  But I have been sewing.  Here us a sampling of some of my projects.

I found this heart headband slider as a freebie (for a short time only) for Valentine’s Day at Tattered Stitch.  It makes up quickly and was a big hit with my granddaughter 6 yo Vivian Rose.  She wore it to the family’s special Valentine breakfast and then to school.

Vivian Rose at the family’s special Valentine breakfast.

 

It was so quick and easy to make that I made 18 for the little girls at church.  They were delighted.  This is just the first batch I made.

 

 

Then Aunt Rheeta made her annual pilgrimage to Florida to escape Indiana’s bitter cold winter weather.  She sewed and sewed, making 10 mug rugs.  Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of all of 12, but she made a set of 4 hunting themed mug  rugs for each of two of her sons, one more feminine design for her daughter and one for her house/dog sitter.

Then she made these two for Joanne and Kyle, parents of precious baby Bea.  She said she has been praying for them since March so they almost feel like family.  She went to our Bible study group at their home and was so pleased to meet this lovely couple and spend time with darling Beatrice.  Kyle loves to hunt so one is for him and the fall print seemed to go well with Joanne’s home decor.

 

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Back at Last!

First, let me wish you a happy Valentine’s Day!  My latest post at Brother’s blog Stitching Sewcial is all about embroidered cards, specifically Valentines. I wish you all joy and happiness on this special day of love.

 

 

The tutorial gives all the ins and outs of embroidering cards, from choice of cardstock size and attaching embroidery.  Check it out and please leave a comment at Stitching Sewcial if you find it helpful or inspiring.  Here are a few of the other samples.  Details of each are included at Stitching Sewcial:

 

 

The front embroidery is covered and inside text is Minnie’s quote.  It reads:

 

This one is for our 6 yo granddaughter.  The inside text reads, “Vivian Rose, you are our favorite princess.”

More are posted.  I had a hard time stopping, since these are so much fun to make.

But much more has been going on since I last posted here at Janice Ferguson Sews.  Of course, Christmas was pure joy, with both of our children joining us with all four of our precious grandchildren.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Many gifts were stitched. Mug rugs caught my attention and I made several for my daughter-in-law, but didn’t manage to get a photo.  These are so much fun and make great gifts.  She is our nature girl and really liked the apron I embroidered for her with this fabulous bear from Urban Threads.

I replaced the topstitching with brown thread.

Many loved ones received my standard gift of dishtowels and homemade jams.

Our precious church granddaughter Beatrice was a vision of baby beauty in her Old Fashioned Baby  Christmas dress.  Her headband had a feltie with a tiny deer to match her dress.

 

Now, after months and months of worry and frustration, her adoption is complete and joy abounds.

I really got into felties and made one to go with granddaughter Vivian Rose’s dress.

The stacked cats Christmas tree design is from Apex Embroidery designs. Their designs are great! The gifts below were added from various other sites.  Cute white leggings with big red and green polka dots went with the dress, but I missed a picture of that.

 

It was almost a repeat of last year’s smash hit Christmas frock but it was an enormous upgrade with the new lining.  She wanted to wear it with the lining on the outside, but that was not allowed.

 

 

The whole feltie obsession came as a result of the felties offerred at this etsy site,  Mommy’s Apron Strings.  I downloaded the snowman and gingerbread boys (offered free for a short time) and attached them to 25 hairbows for all the little girls at church.  Of course, I had to have something for the boys, so I made pencil toppers for them, using the same designs on the blank pencil topper included in the set I offered here.  But did I take pictures?  No!  I was stitching late into the night and handed them out  the next morning.

The other winner Christmas gift was a set of two fleece quillows for my son’s twin Comanche plane, embroidered with just the tail numbers.  He had asked for them and was so pleased!

Again, this is probably more than you wanted or needed to know, but I am so far behind that I wanted to let you know I have not given up sewing or blogging.  I hope you will check back to see more, posted more frequently.  But then again,

 

 

Magical Parade Dress

This sweet little dress is my third Ode To Joy from Maggie Bunch’s Sew-Along.  What a great class and what a perfect little dress!  The length was for a tunic, but Maggie’s pattern is so adaptable that I added a wider border at the hem to make it a dress.

Can you see the “prince” is riding a unicorn?

Who doesn’t love Sarah Jane’s truly magical prints for Michael Miller?  Many are borders, with the the fun part running along the selvage.  That allows for two 22″ widths of delightful borders. Most have coordinating prints that can be used for the hem, sleeve and neck binding.

My first Ode to Joy was poorly made, as I was in a hurry and did not read the directions carefully.  But I loved it anyway and so did my then 4 yo granddaughter.   MM/Sarah Jane’s “Swan Lake” print,as shown, is still available.

 

 

Notice how nicely the smocking lies across the bodice.  On the Magical Parade dress shown at the top, I brought the smocking to a point at center and the control was lost.  The skirt ripples.  How many of these will I have to make before I pay close attention?  I’m a slow learner, for sure.k

My second OTJ, again made in a hurry, had the neckband applied incorrectly and it rippled.  The sleeves were left ungathered which gave a look I liked.    Again, the straight across smocking along the bottom row kept the bodice flat–flexible but flat.  The whimsical cat print is my cat-loving granddaughter’s favorite.

 

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy dress

 

Maggie’s on-line class is very comprehensive.  She  take beginners from pleating (though she will provide pleated kits for novices without pleaters), to construction to smocking.  If she offers it again, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So the pink and gray gingham Magical Parade at the top is my latest creation for 5 yo Vivian Rose, though I have purchased yet another MM/Sarah Jane border and companion print to make another.  Little girls love it because it just pulls over their heads, no buttons to deal with.  Mothers love it because little ones can dress themselves easily, no muss, no fuss.  And I love it.  Can’t you tell?

 

Summer Picnic Dress

Originally plain white with drawn thread work at the hemline, this versatile dress from All About Blanks can become something very special. Adding a shirt makes it suitable for chilly, windy kite-flying days.

 

This “blank” linen/cotton blend dress from All About Blanks is, indeed, a blank canvas awaiting embellishment. With embroidery, ribbon and topstitching, it steps out from “blank” into the realm of special.

Its patriotic kite and images of sunshine and water seem to broadcast and celebrate the joys of summer.  For a picnic, family  reunion or any such occasion, a little girl would be the center of attention.

The embroidery design is from Brother’s embroidery site, ibroidery.com.  It is so sweet and versatile, capturing the magic of childhood summers.

 

Brother’s ibroidery.com design BIC-MTGSAS008

Another little touch was swapping out the white utility buttons with  eye catching red ones.

 

 

A complete tutorial post for this project is at Brother’s blog Stitching Sewcial.

*Required disclaimer:  I am a paid sewing consultant for Brother.

 

 

FREE Heirloom Baby Dress Sew-Along

Heirloom Baby Gown Sew-Along presented by Brother International Corporation

 

Classic Sewing Magazine  is offering a FREE Sew-Along.  I made this sweet little dress/daygown for Brother’s submission to the magazine and it is being offered to you. The instructions have been broken into 4 lessons.

Written for beginners, it also includes tips and suggestions that might be useful for experienced heirloom sewists.  Techniques such as lace insertion, lace shaping, pin stitch, joining gathered lace, etc. are included.

The first two lessons have been posted so go sign up!  You must be signed up to get notification of the next lessons.

I do hope you will join us.  Just click on the link in  the opening photo and you will be taken to the site to sign up.  The sleeves on this pattern (Simplicity 8024) are just precious.

Let’s sew along!

 

 

Pooh and CC Charlotte

Children’s Corner “Charlotte” pattern embroidered with pooh in Field of Flowers at ibroidery.com

This project was posted at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial. A step-by-step photo illustrated tutorial can be seen there.

Pooh and a Field of Flowers Tutorial

It’s a cute, cool and comfortable outfit for summer.  Children’s Corner Charlotte is one of my favorite patterns–quick and easy, fully lined and a blank canvas for unlimited embroidery or applique’ designs.  I’ve made several and each is well received by my granddaughter.

This is a size 4, which was required to fit the large embroidery design.  Even so, the tunic had to be lengthened 1.5″ so the blue butterfly would fit under the arm.  Of course, a smaller size could be made by leaving off the butterfly.

White cotton twill was used for the top.  The lining, shoulder ruffles and capri ruffles were cut from a pretty floral lawn that just happened to be in my stash.  It was a near perfect match for the embroidery.

Red Kona cotton is  used for the capri, the pattern for which was included in the the Charlotte.

 

This is an in-progress construction photo, but it shows the bees on the capri leg.

 

A fun detail was added to the buttons by attaching each with a thread color in the embroidery.

If you click on  the picture, the link will take you to the blog post.  I hope you will find something interesting there and perhaps leave a comment.

Happy summer sewing!

 

 

Friendship Gift

 

This adorable outfit which I call “Raining Cats” was gifted to me from my sweet friend Lisa at Mommy’s Apron Strings. She knew my 5 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose is crazy for cats.  When Lisa saw his fabric and had new patterns she wanted to try, she whipped it for Vivi.

Ever so skillfully, Lisa coordinated the fabrics with the cats and the rick rack to come up with a uniquely intersting and kid friendly outfit.

The pattern for the top is  Pickle Toes Tulip Tie Top PDF 

The shorts pattern is  Cole’s Corner Ruched Shorts. 


 

Read details about this wonderful gift here, at Lisa’s blog.  You will want to visit it frequently because she has wonderful projects and ideas. And she is such a dear lady.  Lisa is also the administrator of Smocking Destash, a facebook group in which you would surely enjoy being a member.  Check  that out too!

 

Baptismal Towels

 

Do you have more than one project in progress?  I have stacks– some must be done NOW, some are handwork for when I watch tv with my husband, some are mindless chores like hemming for when I’m on the phone, some I put aside for one reason or another.

Still, in the midst of a looming deadline and other pressing matters, I took the time to embroider 6 hemstitched linen guest towels for upcoming baptisms at our church.  I had customized the design sometime ago for a newly ordained pastor. So it was just a matter of hooping up my stash of linen guest towels and embroider them.  It was so satisfying to stitch something simple and meaningful in the midst of all the sewing busy-ness.

You might recall my story that our church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground several years ago.

 

 

As you can see, nothing remained.  The only survivors were three heavy brass collection plates.  They have been box framed under glass and hang in  the narthex of our rebuilt building.  A one word caption is inscribed on a plaque beneath each one–STILL    ON    FIRE.  But  now, for God.

In time, the church was rebuilt, but just with the basics.  None of the lovingly made linens and other niceties made by members in the 50 year church history survived.  One of my personal missions is to restock the church with lovingly made paraments, banners and linens.

At a recent baptism, it was clear that towels were needed.

I was reminded of my grandchildren’s desire to be baptized, after witnessing the sacrament administered to 5 adults.  For the children’s sermon, they were lined up on the floor for an up close view and a brief explanation.

In the car on the ride home from church there was discussion about the service. in a clear voice, 8 yo Laurel announced that she wanted to be baptized.  When Robert was asked if he, too, would like this, he replied, “Well, maybe but without so much water.”

A few months later they were baptized, with less, but sufficient water.

3 yo Alastair was not one to miss a photo op with his cousins

 

In the next few weeks there will be more baptisms at our new church.  Regardless of how much water is used, there will be towels to dry the holy water.

Now, to work toward that looming deadline.

What are you stitching?