Category Archives: ladies

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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Antique Featherstitch Extravaganza

“Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

antique woolen petticoat, heavily embellished with surface embroidery, feather stitching and moth holes


Antique needlework has always intrigued me.  So when I spotted this petticoat in an antique shop many years ago, the owner was surprised when I smiled and purchased this moth-eaten slip.  Her eyes said “Why would you want that?”  but her mouth said, “THANK YOU!”

First, I’ve always wondered who made this and who wore it?  Whoever kept warm in this petticoat was either a beloved child or a tiny young lady.  The satin waist band measures a scant 22,”  has a lovely hand stitched buttonhole and a pearl button.  The length is 24″.  My first thought was just who would go to all this trouble for a child’s under garment?  Then, as a mother and grandmother who has spent countless hours on a single garment for a precious little one,  I laughed at that absurd thought.  And I know many of you are laughing, too!  At any rate, I’ll never know for whom this was stitched, but it’s obvious she was well loved.

Needlework is a way to capture Love, Beauty, Peace & Time.” unknown

Well, clearly there is little to be done with this moth-meal leftover other than study it.  And it certainly is worthy of careful scrutiny, with the exception of the moth holes.  Just look at the features. Continue reading

Blue Bows~Handlooms and Swiss Embroideries


Originally posted in 2011…

Stitching a nightgown is always a pleasure.  Often made as gifts for birthdays, holidays or bridal showers, pretty sleepwear is appreciated by ladies old and young.


This gown was made for my daughter when she was a teenager.  The pattern, Mary Lydia, is an old, all time favorite of mine.

Its versatility allows you to use goods of any width.  The armhole curve is placed over the finished fancyband and dips into the skirt fabric.  It is also suitable for a sundress.


SWISS HANDLOOM blue bow insertion on back yoke




SWISS HANDLOOM blue bow insertion on front yoke


Made of all Swiss goods–batiste, galoon beading, blue bow handloom insertion and edging–it is guaranteed to present sweet dreams.

This handloom is one of my all time favorites.


SWISS HANDLOOM. It is exactly like hand stitched shadow embroidery.

SWISS HANDLOOM. It is exactly like hand stitched shadow embroidery.

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Wedding Aprons



A wedding is not a marriage. A wedding is only the beginning of an undertaking that may or may not, someday, develop into a marriage. What the couple have on their wedding day is not the key to a beautiful garden, but just a vacant lot and a few gardening tools. (David and Vera Mace)

Because it’s June, the favored month for weddings, I will re-run some earlier posts about my daughter’s wedding.  Sure,  a lot of sentimental fluff is included but that’s because I’m a sentimental gal.  There are also some useful ideas for wedding sewing.

This month, my fabulous husband and I will celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary. I wish every couple could have this much happiness.



1968. Because we wanted to be married in Florida, where we would start our life together, fewer than 30 guests attended. But we didn’t care.  My mother made my dress.


Rebecca’s garden wedding for 130 guests at our home was a hands-on affair, orchestrated almost entirely by family and friends. Only the photographer, ceremony string quartet, reception Cajun band and wait staff were hired.

As soon as Rebecca and Harvey’s engagement was announced, my dear friend Susanna presented me with her own well-used tote bag.   It was embellished with the text MOTB–Mother Of The Bride. She had used this bag extensively while planning her own daughter’s fairy tale wedding.

Susanna graciously offered to serve as wedding coordinator and was promptly engaged in that volunteer capacity. From that time on, in our conversations and planning sessions, familial relationships were designated by letters–MOTG (mother of the groom), AOTB (aunt of the bride), Grandmother of the Groom (GMOTG) etc. It was fun.


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Heirloom Cutwork Tablecloth Dress



This is an amazing dress, an example of what I would call heirloom recycling.  Whoever made this dress embraced the “green” philosophy–or simply needed a white dress and had a pretty tablecloth.  Whatever.




On a yard sale/church bazaar Saturday outing,  a mother/daughter duo came across this dress.  Well aware of my penchant for antique textiles,  the shopping duo decided then and there to gift it to me.   What wonderful friends!  And, of course, I was delighted.



front bodice motif


Remarkable for a number of reasons, the dress is made from a beautifully stitched fine linen tablecloth.  It was not immediately obvious that the cutwork, surface embroidery and needle lace inserts were not embellishments meant for a special gown.





My first clue that this was a tablecloth was when I discovered the embroidery at the neckline, under the bodice overlay.  Hmmmmmmm….no reason to embroider there.





It is pieced together so artfully that the placement of the designs and the needle lace seem well planned for a dress.  The skirt was cut so that the cutwork lines up at the side seams.  The unusual sleeve style incorporates a corner of the cloth.

At the upcoming mother-daughter church luncheon, a display of vintage wedding gowns and dresses will be featured.  So I pulled out the dress and proceeded to launder it.  That’s when I discovered the embroidery at the neckline and the non-standard skirt attachment.




Close examination convinced me that the cutwork and embroidery were done by someone other than the seamstress who constructed this garment.  There is a noticeable disparity between the workmanship of the handwork and the construction.

This is most noticeable with lace attachment.  It is simply straight stitched onto what appears to be a machine rolled and whipped edge at the hem and sleeve edges.




However, on  the front and back yoke overlays, which are lined, it is very nicely hand stitched.



The color has been edited to show stitches joining lace to overlay.


It seems to me that the short opening at the center back would make it very difficult to put the dress on.  But it’s likely that the seamstress/designer didn’t want break the horizontal line of the lace on the overlay.

Of course, I wonder for what special occasion was the dress made?  It could have been a confirmation or graduation dress.  It even could have been a wedding dress.  Whatever.

Scarlet O’Hara would have found this a welcome, comfortable change from her velvet drapery dress.

Blossom Basket Blouse

blossom basket blouse


I hope 2012 is off to a good start for all of you.  For us, the new year was kicked off in the midst of chaos rather than the cozy family gathering we had planned for our Christmas #2 celebration.

First our pilot son was called away for a last minute flight to Denver. Then after the bonfire and s’mores, the grandchildren’s plans for a loud welcome to the new year were foiled by 6 year-old Robert’s battle with croup and Laurel’s virus.

Finally, after unsuccessfully trying to soothe his cough with the cold air humidifier, my son-in-law and I left at 2 a.m. and drove 40 minutes each way to Robert’s home to retrieve his croup medicine.   The remaining adults tended to Robert and Laurel. Being on the roads at that time was a little worrisome, but we arrived home safely.

The best part of the new year was that our daughter and her family were here for a whole week.  However, this left me not a free moment as 2 year-old Alastair claimed my undivided attention. I loved every minute of it, but there was no time for blog writing, sewing or picture taking. Consequently…

For Faded Charm’s  White Wednesday, this is a rerun of an earlier post. I hope you find a tidbit or two that interest you.
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Miss Alice’s Tatted Yoke~Another Re-run

“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.”  Leviticus 19:32 




This verse is beautifully scripted above a peaceful scene painted on a wall in the lobby of the nursing home where my 89 year old Aunt Aileen is settling in.   A few days ago, we had a family picnic on the lovely screened porch, overlooking azaleas and newly leafed oak trees.   We dined on fried chicken, biscuits, baked beans, potato salad, fresh strawberries, cherry cheesecake and a raspberry-brownie cheesecake.  All that cooking reminded me of  tailgating at Norman Field in Gainesville for Gator football games.

Attended by her robust and sharp witted brother Richard (91), her wheelchair bound sister Dollie (83)  and her very fit and active “baby” sister Rheeta (76),  Aunt Aileen enjoyed the rare gathering of the four remaining siblings (of the nine children).  Added to the mix were my energetic,  entertaining and well-behaved grandchildren, Laurel  (6) and Robert (5), their mother, my husband and I.  The full circle of life was represented.

At every visit with her, this scripture serves as a gentle reminder of the treatment and respect this age group deserves.   I think of it so often, as I continue to deal with the details of her relocation.  And it reminds me of another elderly lady whom I loved so well, Miss Alice Van Cleef.

Again, I have to resort to a re-run for lack of time.  This is one of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy a little historical insight into my tiny hometown, Glenwood, and an introduction to Miss Alice, one in whose presence the entire community rose.





BACKGROUND: The tatted yoke on this camisole is at least 90 years old.  What a testimony to the sturdy fruit of the shuttle!  I had sentimental reasons for my appreciation of this yoke (detailed below in HISTORY) and made a camisole for my daughter.  Miss Alice, the previous owner, was especially fond of my children and they grew up knowing her as an exemplary model of Christian womanhood.  In 1996, this garment was featured in my series entitled  Antique Textiles in Creative Needle magazine. Continue reading

Part II Goodbye SATB2011

I hope you are not yet tired of the details of Sewing at the Beach 2011 because I am still enjoying the fresh memories of a great school.

The young man in the handsome blazer was a doll and a great escort for the cutie pie in the smocked dress. She had been well-coached to smile at people. But the minute her eyes turned away from a member of the audience, her dazzling smile warped into bored fatigue. It was late for little ones.

As a wrap up, I would like to share with you a few photos of the students projects, fashion show and banquet table party favors.

Then I want to introduce you to living proof that sewing is, indeed, a bona fide Elixir of Youth.   Continue reading

Shopping Girls Jacket



My friend Betty Ludwig just sent pictures of this to-die-for  jacket.  At one of the MArtha Pullen Schools of Art Fashion in Huntsville, Alabama,  Betty was my assistant when I was teaching  there.  We had such a great time.

Betty regularly assists at Martha’s licensing and is quite an expert with her serger.  And, obviously, she is an expert on the sewing machine as well.   These are her comments about the jacket.

“I’m sending you a couple of pix of a jacket I made.   It is Missy Billingsley’s
jacket tutorial using Evy Hawkins designs
Shopping Girls. 



Any jacket pattern will do but I used the one Missy recommended, Nancy’s Notions  “As you wish Jacket” pattern, but I hope to make a silk one and use the Heirloom Girl’s from Evy. She has a whole
set of the different girls that look great on lots of things.   I like sewing
for myself so  I knew I wanted to make a jacket using them.  I’m going to change the neckline with the silk one…”

There are so many details to admire and study.  The embroidery designs speak to the shopper in each of us while the girlie pink and blue fabrics are fun and contemporary.  I especially like the inclusion of the black and white designer dress print which adds a little sophistication to pattern.




The combination of quilt piecing and machine embroidery not only enhances  each feature, but is so well balanced that neither overwhelms the other.

What a great job you have done, Betty! Your jacket is full of inspiration for sewing in the new year! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Lavished Linen Blouse


This classic linen blouse is lavished with fil tire’, bullion roses, lazy daisies, web roses and point de Paris.  It looks like the product of an overworked, thimbled embroideress.  In fact, it was all done by machine.

Wing needle entredeux and shaped French laces add detail and delicacy to this versatile garment.  It is a project I designed and taught at the Babylock school at a Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion in Huntsville.

The machine embroidery is from Fil Tire’ and Fancywork Combinations  by Suzanne Sawko and me.  Suzanne digitized the designs and her fil tire’, in my unbiased opinion, is the best,  cleanest and most delicate machine embroidered fil tire’  there is.   Continue reading