Category Archives: shadow work

Baby’s Easter Dress

dress pink2

Vivian Rose’s white Easter dress with pink slip

UPDATE:  Finally I have a photo of Vivian Rose in her Easter dress.

VR Easter 14 crop


NOTE:  Please excuse the poor quality of these photos. They were taken midday, making it nearly impossible to get a shot without shadows.  The breeze was blowing and the dress kept moving.  And photography is not my strong suit.

Are you all busy with Easter sewing?  Busy, busy, busy has been the status around here for some time and it’s not been all about sewing.  With Aunt Rheeta’s visit,  Rebecca’s 3-day visit with Alastair and Vivian Rose,  and sleepovers with our other two grandchildren, progress on Easter outfits is way behind schedule.  But I loved every minute of these visits and have no regrets.

During that time, however, I did manage to make some progress on  Vivian Rose’s holiday finery and now that things have quieted down, I  have just finished her dress and slip.


dress no slip

dress without pink slip

Continue reading

Shadow Smocking How-to



My granddaughter’s shadow smocked Easter dress was inspired by Kay Guiles’ article in Sew Beautiful, Easter, 1998.  In fact, the dress is nearly identical to one of the sample garments shown in that article.  I take no credit whatsoever for the design or technique.


SB pic


The only changes made to Laurel’s dress are the addition of lace insertion in the skirt and the substitution of a different embroidery design that included both silk ribbon and DMC floss.

Shadow smocking is a very unique technique and not at all difficult.  But I learned a lot that I would like to share with anyone considering such a project. Continue reading

Once-in-a-lifetime Estate Sale Shopping Spree

“Almost 20 years ago, they  (the lace portraits shown below) were purchased at an estate sale,  where they were pinned to a sheet of cardboard.  If any interest is expressed, I’ll write a post about that once-in-a-lifetime textile shopping spree.  Occasionally, I still dream about it!” 



This quote is from an earlier post about these antique lace portraits. Readers did ask for the story.  So let me tell you………

This was the most amazing estate sale I had ever seen, or ever will again.  It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime shopping opportunity to acquire beautiful things.

First, a few details about one of my finds at that sale, a set of 6 placemats and napkins with a matching table runner.


blueSW placematw napkin

Shadow embroidered placemat with surface embroidery and hemstitching.


The shadow embroidery on this luncheon set is absolutely flawless.  Worked in two shades of blue, the stitches are so tiny and so regularly spaced that it’s hard to believe this is handwork.


blue SWplacemat Lcorner


The surface embroidery is equally remarkable.


blueSW placemat


The set of six placemats and napkins includes a table runner.  With my Blue Willow china,  it makes a pretty setting for lunch.  For tea, flow blue cups are elegant.  My 7 yo granddaughter Laurel and I enjoy having tea on the breakfast porch with these cups.  Robert, 6, sometimes joins us but prefers a no-nonsense Gator mug.


blue flow cup stand


So here is the story about how this all came about.  My mother’s friend, Marybelle, had a daughter who did estate sales and auctions in New England.  She didn’t liquidate little Ma & Pa farms or cottages but rather huge estates with names like Rockefeller or DuPont.  Mind you, I don’t know the surnames, but the implication was that they were of this status, rich and/or famous.


Suzanne bought these, then duplicated the technique. The article is featured in Creative Needle magazine.


The story goes that the 4 or 5 adult children had already stripped the house of  everything that interested them, which apparently was the bulk of the mansion’s  contents.   Then, at the auction, more than $5 million worth of items were sold.  The leftovers were sent to Marybelle, a well-connected Southern lady, who was to offer them to her friends.  Fortunately for me, my mother was one of her friends. Continue reading

Spring and Black Velvet

collar close all

It may seem that Laurel’s  black velveteen dress is out of season.  But the weather this time of year in central Florida can be freezing or almost hot.   Today, it is 80 degrees (I’m not complaining!) but a week ago it was freezing.  So her church clothes wardrobe requires seasonal variety.

The black velveteen basic yoke ’10 Christmas dress still fits, though the hem had to be dropped.  Hurrah for 6″ hems!  With a few 6mm twin needle tucks and a border of serpentine stitching the crease was invisible and the skirt was long enough.



As I began planning a collar to go over this dress, I recalled a box of ready-made collars that was packed away. Continue reading

Coming Home Outfit~Daygown


Alastair, 2 1/2 months, on antique carriage cover.  He had nearly outgrown this daygown, but this was the first time that the harried new parents got around to taking a picture for me.  It DID fit when he came home, but at 9 lb.s 6 oz. it didn't fit very long!

Alastair, 2 1/2 months, on antique carriage cover. He had nearly outgrown this daygown, but this was the first time that the harried new parents got around to taking a picture for me. It DID fit when he came home, but at 9 lb.s 6 oz. it didn’t fit very long!

One of the first things I made for Alastair’s layette was his coming home outfit. The daygown was made from Maggie’s Classics Daygown #113 pattern. The matching blanket was featured in a previous post and the sweet little cap will be shown soon.

Obviously, this picture was taken lonnnnnng after he came home from the hospital. He was 2 ½ months old and the gown is ridiculously short. When he was newborn, the length was adequate if not generous.  But were I to make another, I would make it much longer. You can see that it still fits him except for the length. But if it had been cut longer, he could have worn it much longer. Continue reading