Category Archives: ready-to-smock finished projects

Baby Comes Home

Vivian Rose sleeps sweetly in spite of he jaundice.

Vivian Rose at home, sleeping sweetly in spite of her jaundice.


Vivian Rose is home with her family and I am here helping, but mostly enjoying this precious baby. Of course, she is beautiful and strong, and we are pretty sure she can talk and read. She just chooses not to.

This polycotton daygown, which was intended as an everyday, utility frock, was promoted to Coming Home Outfit  because the other garments– of   Swiss batiste, Swiss flannel, dotted Swiss stripe, and Liberty  were much too large.  Even this newborn-3 month size enveloped her like a gunny sack. Frankly,  I think the yellow Old Fashioned Baby gown would have been the best fit.  But yellow is not a good color for a baby with significant jaundice. Continue reading

Gingerbread Christmas

I’m scrambling here, working on the grandsons’ Christmas outfits and preparing for tomorrow’s arrival of 2-1/2 year old Alastair.  He will be with us for a few days and will have my undivided attention.  So there is no time for a new blog post. I hope you will enjoy this re-run.

The children’s ages and Christmas garments are not current.  But the upcoming gingerbread house decorating activities will be just as described below–except that Robert may have a little more restraint with the candy.  Then again, he is a little more experienced and might get away with even more this year.

Whatever.  We will have a grand time decorating.  I hope you have a chance to do this with a child.  It is messy, yes, but sooooooo much fun.


“And I had but one penny in the world, Thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.”  William Shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost



Laurel and Robert, wearing the gingerbread John-John now worn by his little cousin Alastair


Unlike the character in Shakespeare’s play, I’m not sure that I would spend my last penny on gingerbread. I’d probably go for a scrap of fabric or lace, or a needle …..but I digress. This is about gingerbread and Christmas outfits for my grandchildren.


The marshmallow snowman had a short life. And he did not melt, did he, Robert?

The marshmallow snowman had a short life. And he did not melt, did he, Robert?


If you have read more than two or three posts on this blog, you will know that gingerbread plays a huge role in our Christmas festivities. Robert and Laurel, at ages 2 and 3, seemed ready to be introduced to this family tradition. They made their first gingerbread houses, received gingerbread ornaments for their personal collection, added a charming book, Gingerbread Land, to their library in Nana’s nursery, and wore smocked gingerbread outfits for various holiday activities and on Christmas day. Continue reading

Re-run: Smocked Brother-Sister Frogs


This post is a rerun.  I’ve spent most of every day this past week tending to my dearly loved  89 year-old aunt.  She has been hospitalized and has suffered a rather dramatic fall into dementia, so I have been trying to arrange a move from her assisted living facility to a higher level of care in a nursing home.

Between dealing with her needs and tending my 2 year old grandson Alastair, I have run out of time and decided to re-run some old posts until I can get caught up.   I doubt if any readers have read all  or even most of the 386 posts from the birth of this blog.  So here it is……

I love to see siblings in coordinating clothes.  My son and daughter are fully 4 years apart in age, so I was only able to indulge in this practice for a very short time.

But my granddaughter Laurel is just 15 months older than her brother Robert so I have made them many “matching” outfits.  Laurel loves it, her mother loves it and Robert, frankly, doesn’t care one way or the other.

Continue reading

Gingerbread House Party 2010

Rebecca, Alastair and the house he wants to get his little hands on!

The day after Thanksgiving, my precious daughter hosted her annual family gingerbread house party and what a party it was!

Rebecca was especially excited about Cousin Robert’s hand-me-down John-John.  Smocked with gingerbread boys and candy canes, it  looked just as good on Alastair as it did two years ago on Robert.

Like so many of the brother-sister outfits I have made for them, these garments were both ready-to-smock.  It’s very rewarding to see this outfit have a second life with my second grandson. Of course, Robert and Laurel have been raised in our family’s gingerbread tradition and made their first  houses that year.

Laurel and Robert, wearing the gingerbread John-John now worn by his little cousin Alastair

Since my children were little, we’ve always made gingerbread houses for Christmas.  For several years, the PlayGroup Mamas gathered to make houses for the children, before they all left home. But that was before the handy kits with pre-baked walls and  roof panels, frosting mix and a generous supply of candies.  Continue reading


These ready-to-smock garments are a real responsibility!  All were purchased for Robert and Laurel who have outgrown the remainder of my stash.  So now I am scurrying to finish up the boy’s things for 18 month-old Alastair.

His mother has requested some duck themed clothing, since his Alastair’s middle name is Drake.  I wanted to go a little further and concentrate on the drakes.  So I pulled out some old smocking plates and designs and plan to combine them for something a little less repetitive than either scene.  The yellow graphs were someone’s good idea for miniature smocking but they never caught on.  Still, I bought one of each and have used them periodically for tiny designs.

I especially like the cattails in Jerry Stock’s plate and the drakes in the leaflet, though I see now that the ones I like are obscured by the graph design.  The scan on the right shows how dramatic they are. They should show up nicely on the white Jon-Jon insert.  Continue reading

DIY Ready to Smock Bishop Nightie



Fewthings are sweeter than a little girl in a smocked nightgown.   This ruffle sleeved classic bishop in blue batiste is smocked in white with pink bullion roses, edged with French lace.  Six year old Laurel loves it.

The nightie was completely constructed before it was smocked.  Again and again, I have heard friends talk of their stacks of unfinished projects.  Many, if not most, are smocked garments awaiting construction.  Smocking is a joy.  Construction is less so.  Some of these projects will never  be finished.




Some time ago, I began making my own ready-to-smock bishops.  To me, doing the construction first makes as much sense as eating your vegetables before dessert. The initial surge of enthusiasm for a project can get me through the sometimes tedious construction phase and before the project is yesterday’s news, it is ready to smock.  Yippee!!! Continue reading

Finishing Touches-Alastair’s Farm Suit


Alastair's Farm Suit, v.2

Alastair’s smocked farm suit is finally finished.  I had completed the smocking when we were in the mountains a few weeks ago, but needed to upgrade it a little.

This was a ready-to-smock outfit and I have relied heavily on them this past year.  The quality is very good, but there are improvements that can be made.

original collar and button

The shirt was a plain, serviceable and nice white broadcloth.  In order to make it more a part of a two-piece outfit, I added a whip stitch to the collar and cuffs.

upgrade: embellished collar, pearl buttons, red thread button sewing

At the collar, a 3.5 straight stitch was worked in white thread.

The edge of my presser foot was guided along the piping, making the stitching line perfectly parallel to the piping.

On the sleeve, there was ready made stitching below the piping.  On both the sleeves and collars, red 12 wt. thread was simply whipped over and under the stitching line.   Continue reading

Alastair’s Farm Suit

my hardworking husband (in the Florida shirt) taking a break with the carpenter

Things have been pretty hectic here in the mountains.  The repairs to our cabin turned out to be a lot more extensive and time consuming than expected.  We’ve had workers rebuilding a side deck and the back entrance,  as well putting in a French drain to stop the flooding of our storage units.

Personally,  I think it seems unpatriotic to put in foreign drain with our economy in such dire straits.  But Bob assures me that there is nothing French about it,  all the materials came from Lowe’s and  it really is a domestic drain.  Whatever.  At any rate,  I have not gotten as much smocking done as I had expected.

The little ready-to-smock Jon-Jon suit for Alastair is as done as it’s going to be until we get home.  The smocking is finished but the suit awaits some decorative stitching on the shirt collar and cuffs as well as button replacement.  I will probably remove the machine hem and finish it by hand.

I really thought I’d have one daygown smocked by now.  Every day I fix lunch for the workers, something I have always done when work crews are underfoot.  When our swimming pool was built, when the roof was replaced, when the pavers were laid, we’ve always provided lunch.

This time, the motivation is even greater.  The people in this area, and probably throughout the mountains,  seem to have an exceedingly  high standard of honesty and hard work.  Several years ago, we couldn’t find anyone to deliver firewood all the way up Seven Devils Mountain.  Finally, Bob responded to yet another firewood ad and was told again that they don’t deliver up here.

To get in and out of the cabin, we have to "walk the plank" or hike down the steep slope to the steps to the front deck. I live on the edge and "plank" to the back to check their progress. My new knee handled it pretty well.

We had the whole family up for the week and we all love a fire.  So Bob told the man that he would pay an extra $25 or $50 or  “whatever it takes” to get firewood.  The man drove from Boone, 20 miles away and then up to our cabin, unloaded the firewood and quietly asked for an extra $10 for the long  distance delivery.  Bob rounded up the cost of the firewood to include a nice tip and then handed the man $10 for delivery.  He was happy and so were we.

About 15 minutes later the man was at the back door.  Bob had given him a $100 bill instead of a $10.  He seemed offended by our surprise that he would go to the trouble to return.  “It just wouldn’t be right to keep it,” he stated simply.  He left with a genuine $10 bill.  Note: When we got home, Bob got new glasses.

The workmen who are here now are good Christian men who  give their best effort to the job.  My dear, handy hardworking husband works right along side of them.  It’s a pleasure to cook for these men and a share their lunch hour.  It makes me feel like a farm wife.

Tomorrow, I’m serving grilled Reuben sandwiches, fresh baby carrots and apple pie ala mode.  And, of course, sweet tea.  I’ll catch up on my smocking later.

Stitching in the Mountains

our cabin on Seven Devils Mountain in Banner Elk, NC

Bob and I are  at our mountain cabin in North Carolina, enjoying the cool air and relaxing a little.  I love this place, located between Boone and Banner Elk, in what is known as The High Country. The cabin is at 4500′ elevation, above the summer tourist bustle and the heat.

All afternoon I sat here, smocking and sipping sweet tea.

But there is always work to be done when we are here so we’ve done a little of that as well. And there is more to come.

This afternoon, I sat on the front deck and started on the ready-to-smock Jon-Jon for Alastair.  The combination of needlework and the tranquil setting left me feeling peaceful and serene. Bob was banging around replacing molding, cleaning out gutters  and hauling long-since forgotten storage bins from the utility rooms below the deck.  Even his noise seemed domestic and comforting.  Continue reading

Friendship Offerings

“All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin.”  Lord Byron

This quotes really speaks to  the history of my 20 year friendship with Suzanne. She has always shared her joys and mine with equal enthusiasm .  Of  course, there were the occasional shared sorrows, but our charmed lives have seen precious little of that.  So when her son’s first child was on his way, we shared her joy.

For someone who sews, happiness is often expressed in a needlework project. With a daughter-in-law who loves all things heirloom, Suzanne knew this baby’s mother would appreciate a monogrammed smocked outfit. I got started right away.

Again, I used one of the ready-to-smock bubbles and smocked it with Ellen McCarn’s monogram leaflet. One of the best features of this design is that the height of the letters can be adjusted to almost any size. The 3-month bubbles have only 6 pleating threads, so that requires a short design. Continue reading