Category Archives: heirloom sewing

Church Linens

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I was honored to make these church linens for a mother to give her son upon his ministerial ordination this very Sunday.  This thoughtful mother has made up a gift package that includes these and other items her son will need as he pursues his calling.

Made of very fine linen, two communion napkins (or “veils”) to cover the elements were embroidered, hemstitched and edged with tatting. The napkin corners were rounded because mitering tatting is way above my skill level.

Pin stitch was worked around the perimeter with a #100 sharp needle.  I’ve learned that using a wing needle with tatting is a recipe for disaster.  But stitching slowly and carefully with the sharp, there were no tatting casualties.

 

slightly modified design is from ABC  Christian Symbols collection

slightly modified design is from the spectacular  Christian Symbols collection of ABC Embroidery Designs

 

The baptismal lavabo is made from a blank linen guest towel with three rows of hemstitching.

 

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I had a hard time coming up with a design that suited me.  What I wanted was a simple baptismal shell with three water drops symbolic of the trinity.  After an extensive and unproductive search of both my design library and on-line designs, I finally bought this  design from Embroidery Library, deleted the green scroll and rotated the shell. Continue reading

Wisteria Lesson Photo Transfer

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This little piece is one of my favorite projects.  Embellishing any worthy image is incredibly rewarding but with today’s technology, it could be done so much more easily.  When I stitched Wisteria Lesson, each of the embroidery designs was positioned one at time with a printed  template then stitched one at a time.

Now with my Brother Quattro I can scan the image and then position all the designs on the computer.  By using the sort feature,  most of the design using the same color, such as the dark purple, would be stitched at the same time.  This would eliminate a huge number of thread changes.

With this advance in technology, I could more quickly and easily embellish a photo of my grandchildren romping through a field of bright pink phlox and black eyed susans and one of my garden and one of the treehouse with the azaleas blooming nearby.  And as soon as I finish sewing Vivian Rose’s 2nd birthday dress, mending my daughter-in-law’s couch pillows, resizing my daughter’s tablecloths, making new pillowcases to match Alastair’s new bedding, and….and….

Well, there are a few other must-do’s but I definitely plan take on one of these photo transfer projects as soon as possible.  Read all about it in this earlier post.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This project surely must warm the heart of anyone who has shared the joy of needlework with a child. When the 1913 edition Embroidery Lessons with Colored Studies was added to my library of vintage and antique needlework books, I was enchanted with the cover illustration.

The goal of the teacher to inspire and instruct, the challenge of the eager young student to succeed, the scent of the wisteria, sweet and heavy….I experienced all of this as the intimate vignette drew me in.  Under that idyllic arbor, I dreamed of teaching my fantasy granddaughter to sew.  (Hurrah!  I have TWO and 10 year old Laurel is already an accomplished little sewists!  Vivian Rose’s turn comes up in a few years.) I went so far as to plant a wisteria vine right then and there, though I had planned to do so for some time.

 

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Wisteria Lesson, my title for this charming scene, has been transferred from the booklet cover to a sheet of specially treated silk which was bonded to paper and run through my inkjet  printer.  The silk image was layered with thin cotton batting and a backing and machine quilted.  It is embellished with machine embroidery and a few hand embroidery stitches.  This really fun project was made possible by the very talented and creative Sue Lord.

The first time I met Sue Lord was at a workshop.  She showed samples and offered detailed instructions on photo transfer to fabric at a workshop. In her musical Georgia (pronounced “Gaw-ja”) accent, Sue drawled so much new information and so many creative ideas that I returned for the repeat session in  the afternoon.

Coming back would have been worth it just to hear her talk again, regardless of what she said,  but Sue seems incapable of simply repeating a class.   She added new material and even more inspiration to the re-run! Or maybe I was just getting the hang of the drawl.  Whatever.  At any rate, my head was spinning when her lecture/demo was over.  Raring to go, I left with enough handouts and confidence to tackle a photo transfer project.   I knew Wisteria Lesson would be that project.

Continue reading

Christmas Outfits from the Past

EncoreShadoworkCollardress1

Hand embroidered Sarah Howard Stone collar and velveteen dress for my daughter, 1983. It was worn a few years ago by my older granddaughter, Laurel.

 

They say time flies when you are having fun and, let me tell you, I have had a good bit of fun making holiday outfits for my children and grandchildren.  Like many of you, Christmas and Easter clothes are my favorite and most memorable projects.

 

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This collar reminds me just how hard I  tried to get the stitches just right as we drove to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving.   It was a two hour drive along bumpy back roads and I poked my fingers more than once.  But I couldn’t waste the time. As the family sat and visited after the pumpkin pie, I continued to embroider.

Who knew that 15 years later it could be done on an embroidery machine?  Who knew there would be home embroidery machines? Certainly not me.

 

R L Stetson puffing

Robert and Laurel all ready for the Stetson Christmas concert. She is wearing recycled heirloom from her Aunt Rebecca’s closet.

 

A few years after the shadow work collar was made, my daughter wore a burgundy velveteen dress (just like this one) with this very puffing collar.  Then Laurel wore the collar on a new burgundy velveteen dress. Continue reading

Seaside Madeira Table Linens

placemat

 

Making these  table linens was a nice break from sewing for my granddaughters. Fine white linen is paired with lime green and embroidered with a fun blue fish.  This color combination reminds me of the beach, just 30 miles away.

Sitting on the screened breakfast porch, looking out over our front yard with this table setting made me just as happy that I was not roasting on Daytona Beach and scanning the waterfront for sharks.  It’s very peaceful on my porch.  I enjoy pulling out dishes and napkins that coordinate with the setting.

Linen is one of my favorite fabrics and Madeira applique’ is one of my favorite sewing techniques.  Add pinstitching and embroidery–well, just let me tell you I was having a big time!  I never once missed lace or a girlie  angle.  If there is any interest, I would be happy to put up a Madeira applique tutorial.  Let me know if you would find that helpful. Continue reading

Blue Bows~Handlooms and Swiss Embroideries

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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.

BlueBowsMaryLydia

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.

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SWISS HANDLOOM blue bow insertion on back yoke

 

 

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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.

————– Continue reading

Frilly Kindergarten Shorts Set

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This is another outfit in the kindergarten wardrobe Suzanne Sawko is making for her granddaughter.   It seems to meet all the requirements of primary school wear in Florida–the outfit is cool, comfortable and allows for active play.

At the same time it satisfies a little girl’s desire for feminine clothing, as well as her Mamaw’s own desire for a pretty back-to-school wardrobe for this 5 year-old.  And what teacher wouldn’t love to see a new student in a smocked garment?  Clearly, this is a winning 2-piece set. Continue reading

Suzanne’s Whimsy Dress

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Here is another  outfit my friend Suzanne made for her granddaughter’s kindergarten wardrobe.  Of course, also she made the tights, the fabric flower on the leg,  and the hairbow.  This tall, gorgeous,  little redhead would be a knock out in a gunny sack, but when wearing the sweet things her grandmother has made, she will stop traffic.

There is so much detail and a surprise everywhere you look.  And yet, it is perfectly unified.  The pink gingham  outfit was inspired by Kari Mecca’s  book,  Sewing with Whimsy.

 

pink gingham top

 

Suzanne is an avid crocheter and can whip up a flower in a flash.    Notice that the button in each flower’s center is the same.  That gives an element of unity to the varied embellishments. Continue reading

Timeless but Expendable Heirlooms

Vivian Rose at nursery school

Blue bishop, 2014–Last week at nursery school, Vivian Rose was cute and comfortable.  She is wearing a bishop dress made 32 years ago for her mother, Rebecca.  True to the adage that any bishop is good for 3 sizes, this size 3 dress fits our 16 month old just fine after the hem was taken up.  And it will fit for a long time.

 

Recently, I’ve changed my thoughts and opinions about the use of heirloom/smocked garments. From this post title, it’s likely you can tell  where I now stand on the issue of packing away my lovingly stitched heirlooms.

With their almost timeless appeal and classic style, they can be worn in any fashion era.  Until recently, my plan for their future was that they be carefully packed away in acid free tissue and then be passed  down to the next baby in the family–whenever that might be.  I felt certain that the style and stitchery would still be appropriate.   Often,  that is exactly what happened, i.e. the Imperial batiste bishop dress shown above and below.

But I hadn’t expected that they would be put in service for everyday use, like at Vivian Rose’s pre-school.  There, painting, bib-free eating, and rough and tumble playground time are daily events.  And no child tumbles more roughly this little dynamo.

 

Vivian Rose's mother, Rebecca, wearing the same dress 32 years ago

Blue bishop 1982–Rebecca, Vivian Rose’s mother,  wearing the same blue bishop dress.

Continue reading

Gallery of Readers’ Easter Projects

 

Children's Corner Johnny

Julie’s Children’s Corner Johnny–how many French knots do you think there are?

 

It seems like forever since there has been a new post at Janice Ferguson Sews.  Busy, busy, busy is what I’ve been but only some of that busy-ness has been sewing. Sigh….

Now the distractions and other responsibilities are mostly behind me so I can share more sewing projects and chat.  Before the joyous Easter celebrations are even further in our past, I want to share some of the Easter outfit photos I received from our creative and talented readers.

Julie shared these photos and information about the precious, classic Johnny she made for her nephew.  She also smocked a dress for her niece.  I’d love to see that. Continue reading

Alastair’s Hurry-up Easter Suit

A Easter suit

I know this outfit is crooked on the hanger. There was a stiff breeze blowing and I could not keep the shirt hanging properly.

 

We always talk about how busy we are, but I have never let other things make me cut it so close with Easter outfits for the grandchildren.  Just like when my children were small, I was up until after midnight Saturday before Easter.

 

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But I finished all four outfits.

Alastair’s Easter suit was a very satisfying project.  Like few hurry-up projects, it finished up quite nicely, leaving me  generally pleased.   I learned that sometimes surrendering my picky-ness for a rush project is okay.  It is more important to have an  OK outfit done for Easter than an up- to-my-picky-standards outfit done a week later.  This was made in about a day and a half, and those were busy days aside from sewing.

 

goods A suit Continue reading