Category Archives: Second Time Around

Opinions Change–Hurrah!

Children’s Corner Gwen with lengthened sleeve ruffles.

 

Granddaughter Vivian Rose, 4 yo, has always had strong opinions about her wardrobe.  Her taste in fashion has been less than classic, requiring bribes  for her to wear many of the garments I have made her.

But now she has changed her mind!!!!  She is asking for more Nana dresses!

It’s like she is recognizing her femininity, the flip side of her (Tarzan’s) Jane or Moana Strong Female persona.

 

 

I love this picture, taken when the family was on a camping trip last weekend. She looks like an Amazon girl, bringing home the 5 yo “man” she bagged!

Last week, I sent a package with Harry Potter clothes for her 8 yo brother, Alastair.  This lace trimmed second-hand Rose confection was included just so there would be something for her.  Better to receive something she did not like than to receive nothing at all and assume Nana didn’t love her as much as Big Brother.

Her mother was shocked when Vivi squealed, “I love it!”  Hurrah!  She would wear it at her school program in a few days.

When Vivi came to breakfast the next day wearing the pink smocked bishop, Rebecca reminded her that they were saving that dress for the school program.  Vivi was not happy. She wanted to wear it to school that very day.

 

This is not a face you want to see at the breakfast table.

 

But Rebecca relented and Vivi was delighted, willingly posing for pictures before heading off to preschool.

 

The ruffle sleeve edge is trimmed with lace, pinstitched in place.

 

Back is closed with plastic snaps. Ribbon bows are tacked to the snaps at the end of each ribbon inserted into the smocking.

 

Of course, I was thrilled with this change of opinion.  I was doubly pleased because the dress has been hanging in the nursery closet for some time, waiting for Vivi to grow into it.  When I showed it to her when her family was here for Easter, she told me “no, thanks.”

But as she said when she called to thank me, she said, “I didn’t like it then, but I love it now!”

 

The same lace was inserted above the hem, also pinstitched.

 

The lace is one of my dearest treasures. Mr. Russell, owner of the renowned lace wholesaler M.E.Feld Co., always generously shared his wealth of knowledge about the kinds of lace and its history. He always patiently answered my many questions when we spoke on the phone as I placed my order. It was his practice to send his customers a huge box of lace from which to choose. The unwanted, or in my case, over budget items were then returned.

 

 

In one of these boxes, whose arrival usually put me into a state of hyperventilation, there was a bolt of lace, wrapped on a blue card and marked “Made in France,” just like the others. But this one said “100% nylon.” Mr. Russell explained that these were called “levers” lace (though I have since seen it spelled “leavers”) and were just as fine as the cottons, but intended for lingerie or other items which would be subjected to heavy and/or frequent laundering.

Technically a galloon with a decorative edge on both sides, it is straight enough to be used as an insertion as well as an edging.  For more information about galloons, check out this post Antique Lace Galloons.  You will see that other galloons have been used as edgings as well as insertions.

This is especially appropriate for a dress for Vivian Rose.  Her mother’s aversion to ironing (I’m talking about my daughter–this is clearly a genetic mutation) means that not only the cotton batiste which tumbles nicely but the lace will be presentable right out of the dryer.

The dress was made about 20 years ago for our god child whose mother returned it for Vivian’s use.   So I was doubly pleased for the dress to have a second chance at being worn.

FYI, Rebecca asked Vivi’s teacher for mercy with regard to the dress.  This sweet lady directed Vivi in such a way that the dress came home on our rough and tumble little student from school totally unscathed and intact.  It required nothing more than laundering to be ready for the school program.  What a miracle!

Sigh…I am one happy Nana.

 

Baby Shrek’s Christening Gown~A Work in Progress

Now this is FUN!  And even more than that, it’s a meaningful challenge.   For a family friend of more than 40 years, I am lovingly adapingt a 100+ years old family christening gown.  Requiring many special considerations,  this baptismal robe is for an especially precious baby boy.

 

UFO bodice

UFO bodice + one sleeve

 

His mother, whom I have known and loved since she was 4 years old, grew up a mile from our home.  Her parents are two of our dearest friends.  But now this young mother  lives in New Zealand with her French husband.  They were blessed with this beautiful son after many disappointments.

beautiful Baby Shrek

beautiful Baby Shrek

 

His parents want him to be surrounded by family and close friends at this milestone in his life.  So in a few weeks they will be making the long trip from Down Under all the way to Florida, then on to France.  Their son will be christened at one of these locations.

Here is the complication.  The heirloom family gown, like most, was made for a 0-3 month old baby.  But this baby will be 9 months old when he is baptized. Continue reading

Not the Easter Outfits I Planned

I hope the egg dye on Alastair's fingers had dried before he laid hands on Vivian Rose.

I hope the egg dye on Alastair’s fingers had dried before he laid hands on Vivian Rose.

 

I hope you all had a beautiful Easter.  It’s not all about the clothes, I know, but for most of you readers and for this Nana, it is SOME about the clothes.

Robert Burns described my Easter ’16 when he wrote,”The best laid schemes of mice and men (read “Nanas”) gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain…”

That is not to say that my guy and I did not experience the sacred joy and meaning of Easter.  So I can’t say that I experienced “nought but grief an’ pain,”  but there were some regrets.

We had planned to join our daughter, Rebecca, and her family to celebrate Easter Suday with her in-laws, who are dear friends, across the state.  But a monkey wrench was thrown into our plans Saturday–the very day I finished Easter duds for 3 yo Vivian Rose and 7 yo Alastair–the very outfits I was to deliver Easter morning to them.  (Yes, I cut it close.  I always do.)

So Rebecca scrounged through Vivi’s wardrobe and pulled out this old bishop, which has been around the block about as many times as the mailman.  Still, it is presentable if not new.

BroBishall1

The ME designs are yours for the asking. Just leave your request in the comment section.

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Novelty Bishop~A Novel Technique

nov bish all

 

This little novelty bishop and two others were loaned to a friend many years ago.  I had forgotten all about them until they were returned last week.  Of course, they will end up in the closet of our toddler granddaughter, Vivian Rose, though most of them will have a bit of a wait until she grows into them.

Vivi will probably be 4 or 5 before she wears this classic plaid school dress.

nov bish plaid all

Excuse the ugly section of my potting shed shown in the background.   It really is nicer than that.  See here.

 

I don’t know what happened to the Liberty bishop shown below.  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.

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Updated…Compromises-Play it again, Sam!

Though nothing like this was heard at the formal Stetson Christmas Concert which is central to this post, the video below is is too special not to share. Thanks, Shirley, for bringing this to my attention. I promise you all will want to see this to the very hilarious ending.

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I’m being forced to make creative compromises.  It is absolutely impossible to sew all that I want and to regularly dress my grandchildren in the classic clothing I’ve always wanted for them.

Torn between making baby clothes for soon-to-arrive granddaughter #2 and sewing Christmas outfits for the three grandchildren who are already here, I am making compromises I never thought I would accept.

I’m re-doing, recycling, and taking shortcuts with holiday clothes, not to mention cooking and housekeeping!  This year’s Christmas frock for granddaughter Laurel is 2011 all over again.  It’s the same burgundy velveteen collar dress, though he collar has been replaced with one I made for my daughter 24 years ago.

This doesn’t even meet the bridal wardrobe standard of “something old and something new.”  This is just something old and something older!

Seven year old Robert joined us this year for the Stetson University Christmas Concert.   He looked handsome in a nice red sweater (off the rack, not even handknit by Nana), while Laurel, 8, wore this dress.  But they certainly didn’t compliment one another’s outfits.  Oh well.

The concert was absolutely spectacular and incredibly moving.  My scalp prickled and my eyes teared. Continue reading

Heirloom Bow Dress Hand-me-Down

"Rebecca's Bow Dress" lengthened

“Rebecca’s Bow Dress” lengthened

 

It seems that I have spent a lot of  time strolling down memory lane lately.  This dress is yet another project from the past, 28 years past to be exact.  What memories it evokes, what an interesting history it has!  This dress has been around the world.

I first saw a version of this pretty thing at the very first SAGA Regional Seminar in Spartanburg, SC, in 1982 (I think).   My mother, my dear friend Mary Hale Hoffmann (a PlayGroup Mama) and I attended this life-altering event.  It was also the first time that either Mary or I had left our children at home while we “gallivanted” and the first time that we experienced the world of smocking and heirloom sewing outside our circle of three.  Lots of firsts on this trip!

But first let me give you the details of the dress itself for those of you who have no interest in ancient history.

The pattern is Rebecca’s Bow Dress, which I did for Martha Pullen.

 

Bow_Dress

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Out of Retirement Pinafore

pinafore all

 

After a fabulous weekend with both of our son and daughter and their families, I started pulling out some of Rebecca’s dresses that have been packed away for Laurel. Sadly, many are already outgrown, as I missed the small window of opportunity to pull  them out for a second generation.  But this one is out of retirement.

 

It hurts to see the rippled yoke. I do a better job now.

It hurts to see the rippled yoke. I do a better job now.

 

The Little Sunday Dresses pinafore is just the right size for Laurel now.  Smocked with Ellen McCarn’s monogram, the skirt and shoulder ruffles are Swiss embroideries from Capitol Imports.  The bodice is Swiss batiste.

I had planned to pick out the monogram and re-smock it with Laurel’s initials. But the stitches are  just old enough (25 years) and the blue floss just dark enough that I’m afraid the color may have marked the fabric permanently. So I’m just going to leave it.

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