Category Archives: ready-to-smock finished projects

Quickie Bishop for Beatrice

Beatrice wearing her aqua broadcloth ready-to-smock bishop.  The smocking design is Allison Leigh by Ellen McCarn.

This is my precious church granddaughter, Beatrice, wearing a bishop dress I completed for her in a relatively short time.  FYI, she is truly a granddaughter in my heart, but when I don’t identify her as my “church granddaughter,” I have to field questions as to which of my  almost middle-age children have had another child.

Ready-to-smock garments are readily available from a number of sources.  Most of my purchases have been from a few members of the Smocking Destash facebook group.  They do a fabulous job of pleating and constructing the garments using quality fabrics.  This garment was complete, from neck binding, to buttons and buttonholes to the hem.  Others are often in various stages of completion.

White lace trimmed the sleeves but I had something else in mind so the lace was removed and replaced with this.  Unusual lace and trims have always caught my eye, and this one certainly did.

This lace is one of the most useful, versatile pieces I have. Just 1/4″ wide, the edges are straight enough to be used as an insertion or edging. Floss woven through the entredeux-like holes makes it a tiny beading.

The sleeve was pleated with only 3 rows. So using a Swiss trim with entredeux seemed too wide, overpowering the narrow smocking.  This 1/4″ trim still allowed for the addition of color to match  the smocking.  Additionally, I had it on hand.

I was pleased to get this dress ready for Beatrice pretty quickly. Several other ready-to-smock garments lie in wait in my drawer of upcoming projects.  Now I just need a drawer full of time for all the projects I want to do!



Technique & Summer Fun Bishop


 NOTE:  I’ve since shortened the dress by 5″ and it fits so much better.

In my humble opinion, bishops are a near perfect garment for little girls.  They are comfortable, long wearing and easy to construct.  Would anyone rather construct than smock?  Not me.


These "Smockables" used to be readily available from Martha Pullen Company. They are no longer for sale there.

These “Smockables” are no longer for sale from Martha Pullen Company.


Ready-to-smock garments from Martha Pullen Company were my go-to “bring-along” project for trips.  When they were readily available, I laid in a supply.  But I have run out.  The white bishop shown above is the last one that will fit any of my grandchildren.  The few remaining Smockables are for sale here.

Starting with a ready-to-smock bishop is the quickest way to get one finished.  I soon grew tired of the basic style offered and have had fun modifying it.

A few weeks ago, I was packing for our trip to North Carolina.  We were headed to the mountains with our two younger grandchildren and their parents.  I knew I had to have some handwork for those few (VERY few) quiet moments after 2 yo tornado Vivian Rose was asleep next to her easy-going brother, Alastair.  I grabbed this last white bishop and couldn’t help but think “ho-hum.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love a geometrically smocked white bishop.  But I was in  the mood for something a little different.  Then, due to the less-than-tidy condition of my sewing room, I spotted this scrap red border given to me by my friend, Suzanne Sawko.  Hmmmm…


border scrap FI Continue reading

Christmas Outfits Past Part 2

I hope you have all finished your Christmas sewing.  I’ve moved on to baking and gift wrapping and hope to finish up in time for our big family celebrations.

Here are a few more Christmas outfits from the past.  These gingerbread outfits for my  two older grandchildren were favorites of mine.   A few years later, new grandson Alastair wore Robert’s suit.



Ready-to-smock gingerbread outfits were paired up with a Creative Needle smocking plate.


One year I planned to make matching Thanksgiving outfits for the children.  The Viyella brown plaid garments were made but before I began the bibs, plans changed and the older two would not be with us that day. So I decided to use the garments for Christmas.  But that was a stretch—brown plaid for Christmas.  I made it work.



Alastair’s Christmas outfit, Children’s Corner Glenn with linen bib embroidery from OESD’s Current Critters Continued.


Laurel’s basic yoke dress was trimmed with tatting, as was her linen bib.




Laurel also had a tie-on bib with a Current Critters Continued design.


These Current Critters embroidery designs are so charming. Continue reading

Christmas Outfits from the Past


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.



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

Desperation Bubble

bubble front all


Have you ever been  desperate to smock and thwarted in the effort?  Desperate to stitch hand embroidery and been hampered? Desperate to sew in a power outage?  I bet the answer is yes.

It reminds me of my crazy friend Catherine who, 25 years ago, had taken her boys to the beach.  Settled down in the sand on an old quilt, under her beach umbrella, she pulled out her smocking only to discover that she had everything but a needle!  Desperate, like me, she walked up and down Daytona Beach asking each sunbather if she might have a #7 crewel needle that Catherine could borrow or buy.  That, my friends, is desperation.  To no one’s surprise but Catherine’s, she came up empty handed.

How this bubble came to be is a result of such desperation.  It didn’t turn out as planned, it didn’t turn out great,  it didn’t really please me.  But it did scratch my itch  for some form–any form!– of needlework. Continue reading

Alysha’s Birthday Dress


Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you who has mothered a child of your own or a child of another. (Frankly, I cannot imaging anyone who sews or reads this blog who has not reached out to children and grandchildren of their own and/or others.) The love and attention showered on our precious children is the best use of our precious time.

I’m at that happy time of life when I can enjoy my beloved adult children as well as the beloved grandchildren they have given us. My daughter Rebecca and daughter-in-law Shelly are both incredible, wonderful mothers whom I admire and love dearly. I wish each of you a happy day filled with appreciation from and for your loved ones.

Around here it has been busy, busy, BUSY!!!! We’ve been blessed with almost back to back and overlapping visits from our four grandchildren and even more happy chaos.  In a future post I’ll tell you all about Laurel’s luau 9th birthday party, new fleece blankets for each grandchild and the progress of our newly tamed feral cats and the kittens.

So once again, I am rerunning an old post, though I do have a few new thoughts and plans.  I hope  to make a very similar dress for new granddaughter Vivian Rose before her first birthday.  FYI, Alysha is almost 5, adorable and the apple of her grandparents’ eyes.


Continue reading

Ruffled Smockable Bubble

V bubble front

The six month size fits her perfectly with a crotch extension.

This past week with our grandchildren has been delightful—and exhausting!  Laurel wants to teach two of her friends to sew, so she did a practice lesson.   Robert spent an entire afternoon with his grandfather assembling a free standing basketball hoop.  Alastair spent time with his cousins handling and socializing the feral kittens we have housed in the old chicken house.

A orange kitten 1

Alastair with one of his favorite kittens and one of his favorite bandaids.

Each day, I thought surely tomorrow this bubble would be completed!  Finally it is, after this special time with Robert, Laurel, Alastair and baby Vivian Rose. Continue reading

Baby Bishop Bubble

baby bishop bubble all

Psst!!! Ready-to-smock Smockables, have I told you lately that I love you?  As Elvis sang, could I tell you once again somehow?  Well, I am going to.

Two weeks ago (yes, 10 days before finish-the-Easter-clothes rush) I was asked by an extremely devoted member of our church to smock something for a fundraiser April 5.  Yikes!

Maria is at the church every day, working on one thing or another.  I Just couldn’t tell her no and I knew couldn’t possibly start until after Easter.  Smockables to the rescue!  I finished in just 3 days of “free” time (humphh!) between laundry, cooking, etc.

Having a few of these beauties in my stash makes me feel like SuperSmocker.  I may not wear a cape, but with these little treasures handy, I feel like I can do almost anything! Continue reading

Lighting Candles, Playing Dolls, This and That


crying Karoline

My mother, Dollie Manning, was a very gifted doll maker. Years ago, she made the as many as 80 porcelain dolls for each of the Sewing for Dolls events that Mildred Turner, Terri Johnson and I held around the country. Additionally, she provided dolls for several similar schools sponsored by Ellen Nickerson in the San Francisco area. Mom also made tiny 3-8″ dolls that Lezette Thomason marketed and for which Lezette had drafted patterns. Then there were the dolls she made for our daughter Rebecca. That’s a lotta dolls.

When 8 year old granddaughter Laurel discovered that there are 3 storage bins of dolls in the garage, she just had to see them. She was allowed to select one to keep and she chose this very unique baby who had lost a shoe through the years.

You don’t often see a doll crying but Karoline (the name given her by Laurel) had tears that looked real.

tears cr

The sheen on Karoline’s tears is from clear fingernail polish.

Then I told Karoline’s story to Laurel. Continue reading

“Found” Clothes for Vivian Rose

I’ve just returned from a visit with 7 week old Vivian Rose and her family.  She is smiling and holding her head up now, so it was exciting to see the changes in just a few weeks.

While I was there, my Rebecca rediscovered these baby clothes buried deep in her cedar chest.

The pink daygown above and the white one below with fagoted lace were made shortly after Rebecca discovered that she was pregnant the first time.  We expected a girl but got precious little Alastair instead.  So these gowns with their matching bonnets were packed away.

After Vivian Rose arrived, the gowns could not be found.  Rebecca thought I had them and I thought she did.  Finally, she checked her cedar chest and there they were, along with several other sweet things that we both had forgotten about.

Now, Baby Girl has a greatly expanded wardrobe, with no more effort from her old fashioned Nana!  Here are some of the finds……


Alastair wearing his little lamb daygown

The lamb daygown was made for and worn by Big Brother Alastair, but I think it will be just fine for a little girl.  It will give her mother a break from all the pink she requested and received! Continue reading