Category Archives: Second Time Around

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.


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.


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.



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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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