Category Archives: smocking

Beautiful Easter ’17

What a hambone! This little girl in her smocked Swiss voile bishop loves the camera.

 

I hope you all had a joyous Easter.  Ours was beyond fabulous, with a beautiful worship service and all four grandchildren and their parents for the weekend.  It could only have been better if our pilot son had not  been flying out in the wild blue yonder.

It was a non-stop celebration.  Saturday morning a church family hosted an Easter egg  hunt for 40+ children.  Wonderful as the hunt and the huge bounce house were, the highlight for most of the children was fishing in the pond.  Those fish were hungry and hit on every line.  Every child caught at least one fish. Grandson Alastair, 8, caught 4!  He was ecstatic.

 

 

When our older grandchildren flew in from NJ that afternoon, their first priority was to cuddle and play with 11 week old Samson and Delilah.

 

Children and puppies go together like peas and carrots.

 

After getting acquainted with the pups,  swimming was the favorite activity.  Laurel, 12, and Robert, 11, had lived their entire lives in central Florida until their Sept. 1 move to New Jersey.  Their first northern winter gave them a new appreciation for the Florida weather they had always taken for granted.   They were very eager to swim and enjoy the warm sunshine.

 

 

After swimming we made carrot patch brownies.  Take a look at this video.  It’s such a kid friendly recipe.

 

 

This was so much fun and all 4 children participated.  The boys loved smashing the Oreos.  I expect this will be a new Easter tradition for our family.

 

 

 

Easter Sunday morning we had an egg hunt in the front yard  before church.

 

Alastair was so excited that he somehow put on a long sleeved shirt under his dress shirt but remembered his bow tie. Vivian Rose wore her blue silk dupioni bishop from two years ago.

 

Examining their loot. Each child had an embroidered Easter basket.

 

Finally it was time to put on her pink Easter dress.  Since the dress featured no cats  I expected it would take a sack of jelly beans to get her to wear it.  But she liked it!  A lot!

The dress s a Swiss voile modified bishop.  At the hemline is a medallion with a cherub, a remnant from a damaged antique tablecloth. It is pinstitched in place.

 

 

The hemline is gently scalloped and edged with insertion, beading and edging, hemstitched, of course. Seven inches of fullness was removed from the center front so the medallion would not be lost in the folds.  The unsmocked area was gently gathered then loosely smocked at the neckline and hand ruched to the depth of the smocking on either side.  The neck and sleeves are bound with ivory Swiss batiste.

 

Vivi with puppy Delilah

 

Laurel used her chalk egg to express our feelings for this glorious Resurrection Day.  It was pure joy for our family.  I hope you all had a very special day.

 

 

Kids Say the Darndest Things

V passion vine bench CR

Vivian Rose wearing her Meet Me at the Fair outfit.

We enjoyed a fabulous weekend with 4 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose.  She kept us laughing for 3 days.  If you’ve read earlier posts about this unique little gal, you know she is very strong willed and more than a little mischievous.

As soon as she arrived she asked for yet another kitty cat dress.  On a quick stroll into my sewing room she spotted the fabric just recently purchased in anticipation of cat dress #3.

cat fabric

 

“Make it now, Nana!  I will help.”  And she did, in her own way.

 

She was pulling out all the "rainbow fabric" off the shelves from behind the blind which protects my fabrics from sunlight.

 

After pulling out “rainbow” fabric from the shelves behind the sunscreen shades, she made herself a scarf and pillaged through my button drawer.  Very little sewing was accomplished. This was exhausting for both of us.

So I plunked her on a quilt in front of the tv, thinking she would surely fall asleep.  About 10 minutes later she strolled in wearing nothing but her panties, asking was her dress done?

I told her she must put her clothes on.  “No, I don’t want to.”  Several admonishments brought the same response, “No.”  So I told her that if she wouldn’t put her clothes on I would not sew her dress.

She said, “Well, I’m sorry you won’t be able to sew, Nana. I know you like to sew.”  With head held high, she resolutely went back to her quilt in front of the tv.  I just sat there for a few minutes and then resumed sewing.  When I peeked in on her, she had dressed.  Whew.

 

V granddad's study

In her granddad’s study, wearing her Children on Parade dress.

 

Here she is after she ran upstairs to give her hardworking grandfather a kiss. “He needs one,” she said after having been told that he had been working ’round the clock to get a proposal done by Monday.

When asked if she missed her mama and daddy, she calmly replied no.  But this is how much she loves them, “10!” she replied with arms spread wide, as shown.

How much does she love Nana?  Again, “10!”  How much does she love Granddad?   “45!!!”  She is really his girl.

This 10 for Nana was a big relief, especially after an earlier incident.  Earlier, I had to fuss at her about something, so she retreated to the front porch to pout for a few minutes.

pouting

pouting

She returned to the kitchen, got paper and pencil from the supply closet and sat down at the table.  First she wrote her name then scribbled a list of words.  Note that Vivian routinely adds a second syllable to one syllable words, i.e. boys are “boy-ez.”

“What are you writing?” I asked in a conciliatory voice.

“I’m making a li-on of all the people I love.”  Then she looked me right in the eye and said,  “Nana, you are last on the lion.”  So my new rating of 10, equal to her mother’s was comforting.

Later, we played with the 3-face doll my mother made years ago.  I love the doll and it enchanted both my Rebecca (Vivi’s mother) and cousin Laurel when each was 5.

 

DSC06220cry

 

When I first showed Vivian the happy faced doll, she smiled.  When I discreetly switched to the crying doll, she grabbed it from me, turned the doll’s head, and said, “That’s a crazy doll.”  Then she walked away, unimpressed.

Sunday morning, as we were getting ready for church, she demonstrated some of her ballet moves.  She needs more lessons.

 

ballet kitchen

She is wearing her Christmas dress from 2 years ago. It’s pretty darn short on her now. Glad I made long bloomers.

 

On the way to church, we advised her that there would be a children’s sermon, at which time she would go to the front of the church with the other children.  She liked that.  She is very social.

 

V pew

Waiting for church to start.

 

As soon as the pastor said, “I’d like to invite the children……….” she was racing down the aisle.  She was at the front of the sanctuary when he finished his sentence, “ages 3 to 5 to come forward.”

She spun around, gave us a deer-in-the-headlights look and ran back to our pew.  “But I’m FOUR!!!”  We assured her it was okay and back to the front she ran.

At the fellowship hour after worship, tables are arranged around the perimeter of the basketball court.  After she gobbled her cookie, she walked to the empty center of the room and announced (not that anyone heard or noticed) that it was time for her ballet show.  She twirled and danced (no music) and fell a few times.

At the end of the brief performance, she turned to each side of the room, spread her arms out wide and said, “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”  Then she returned to our table.

bumblebee

That afternoon we had fun playing with this free-standing bumblebee, left over from one of my projects.  She chased, pretending to sting me and I was appropriately frightened. Then we reversed roles.  I guess that planted the seed for her nighttime deception.

At bedtime, as we headed for her bed, she gave a loud warning.  “Do not go in the closet, Nana!!!”  I was immediately suspicious and asked why.

“Because there is a very, very big wasp in there and he will sting you.”  hmmmm..I smelled a rat.

“Don’t you worry, Vivi, I’ll get that wasp.”  She still protested NO!  until I turned the closet door knob.  Then she said, “I’m sorry, Nana.”

The closet was perfectly in order.

closet-2

 

Very gently, I asked her what she had done.  With some shame she showed me where she had stashed 4 Milk Bones for our dog Rastus, who had already far exceeded his treat limit for the day, thanks to her generosity.  She admitted that she planned to “treat” Rastus after we fell asleep.

So those are some of the highlights and fun of our 3 days with Vivian.  Of course, my favorite hairbrush has disappeared along with my new toothbrush which is purple (her favorite color that day).  But who cares?  We had a grand time and she didn’t want to go home when her mother came to pick her up.

Sigh…..it’s nice to know that I am no longer last on the lion.

 

 

Readers’ Easter Sewing

Big announcement coming in the next few days!

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Annette Poole

 

Ahhh…Easter dresses!  Thanks to Annette Poole for this photo of two adorable girls in their finery.  The checked dress is silk dupioni cut from Sew Beautiful’s  Pascale pattern, size 3.   I made a Pascale  Christmas dress for granddaughter Laurel Cade when she was 9.   That is one of my favorite patterns because it is so versatile.   As a matter of fact, Maggie Bunch has a post on her blog dedicated to the versatility of Pascale.  Check Maggie’s blog for variations and insight into Laura Jenkins Thompson’s excellent pattern.

There is something so sweet about checked silk dupioni.  I think it’s a charming combination of the elegance of silk with the innocence and playfulness of gingham.  With the smocking and excellent construction Annette has made  a special  heirloom. I love it. Continue reading

Easter Dress: Disaster Averted

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose.  The pattern is Children’s Corner Betsey.

Okay, I’m done whining about missing out on Easter with the grandchildren this year.  As I mentioned (or wailed) in the previous post, this year’s Resurrection Day garments remain undelivered.  And no, that is not the disaster to which I refer in this post title.  There is no recovering that missed celebration. But the Easter dress suffered a real near disaster which I dodged, more or less.

 

27" wide with 10" embroidery

27″ wide with 10″ embroidery

 

First, the details of this dress.  The gorgeous fabric, a 27″ Swiss embroidered flounce purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics, has languished in my sewing room armoire for many years.  It was meant to be used for granddaughter Laurel, who was too small at the time to use this length.  The embroidery extends 10 inches from the hemline.  Then, like so many other projects, it was pushed down on the “make soon” list.

Now with 3 yo Vivian Rose in the family, this beautiful fabric’s day in the sun has come.  Though it was a late start, the smocking was well under way before disaster struck.

Thinking to use my time wisely, 3 days before Easter. I brought the dress along to the hairdresser’s and did some smocking while my…uh…color enhancement set.   BIG MISTAKE!!!

 

stain

ugly stain

 

Janice Ferguson’s custom color #1234 was smeared on the dress.

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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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Christmas ’15

V face on

Vivian Rose, almost 3yo, on Christmas Day in her CC Betsy

I hope December 25th was fabulous for each of you.     I was so overwhelmed with preparations that there wasn’t a spare a moment to say merry Christmas.   So now I’m sending belated but heartfelt holiday wishes to you. If you just want to know about the Christmas sewing, scroll on down past all my happy holiday family prattle to interesting features.

Christmas 2015 was almost picture perfect for the Ferguson Family.  We missed our pilot son who was called to fly off into the wild blue yonder.

At a church event, Vivian Rose wore last year’s Swiss flannel smocked bishop.  The pattern is Betsy by Children’s Corner.

 

VR SA tree cr

Bishops fit for so long.  That’s just one more reason to love them. Christmas Eve, a huge group of family and friends enjoyed a delicious dinner of shrimp gumbo and barbequed ribs at the home of our son-in-law’s mother and husband.  They are excellent cooks!  We ate and laughed and had a big time there.

Grandchildren Vivian and Alastair played and delighted us all. Christmas Day most of the same group and a few others gathered at the home of our super organized daughter and her computer genius/gourmet cook husband. Son Ryan had to leave early for the airport after opening gifts and celebrating with his family.  But the children and their mother joined us across the state after he left.

 

A santa hat V shin guard

From the moment she unwrapped them, Vivian wore her new shin guards and soccer cleats most of the day, declaring again and again, “I’m ready for soccer!”

 

Vivian was thrilled with her pink shin guards, pink soccer ball and orange “cleats.”   She pranced around showing them off to everyone, saying, “I’m ready for soccer!”  She wants to do everything her big brother does. Continue reading

All About Lace Tape~Part 1

Lately, there have been considerable discussions and questions about lace tape, its origin and uses.  The history is quite interesting, as its development involved a salvage warehouse and an unraveled sweater for my Rebecca and midnight transatlantic phone calls. That was in 1987 when I first brought this product to the heirloom sewing public.

Most of this history is detailed in this post.  Because lace tape is one of my favorite sewing products, I’d like to share some applications and techniques.  For many years I taught a 6-hour class around the country.  So there is a lot of material on the subject, too much for one post.  Lace tape can be used for shadow applique’, colored entredeux, colored shark’s teeth, tiny piping and so much more. So stay turned for details.  A few future posts will feature projects with detailed directions.

ABOUT LACE TAPE

Approximately 3/8″ wide and available in a rainbow of colors, lace tape is a loosely woven 100% cotton trim.  It has a gathering thread on each side and is wonderful for lace shaping.  It also can add a bit of color to an heirloom project.

lt 2 examplesrecol

Now there are two varieties of lace tape:  Japanese and Swiss.  The lace tape shown above and used on each of the items pictured below is Japanese.

USES

1.  for lace insertion substitute joined to lace edging or other insertion

MollyLTgownsmockingxx

Peach lace tape was joined to lace edging and then stitched to flat bishop before smocking. See Molly’s Lace Tape Nightie for more pictures and information.

 

preparation:  Like heirloom trims, lace tape is easier to work with after being starched and pressed, unless it is being shaped.  Use the finest thread, preferably 80/2 Madeira Cotona,  and  the smallest needle appropriate to the thread size.

technique:  Butt lace tape to lace.  Zig zag the two pieces together with an approximate stitch setting of W 1.5-2.0, depending on width of lace header, L .8-1.0 edging.  NOTE: An edge joining foot makes this much easier.

 

1-lt to lionsxx

Lace tape joined to Aesop’s Fables Binche lace.

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Fan Team Gear

 

Creative Needle, June, 2005

Creative Needle, June, 2005

 

Hurrah, football season is here! Like families around the country, we look forward to kickoff.  As huge Florida Gator fans, every Saturday in the fall we hunker down for a full day of football, in front of the tv or at the stadium.

 

FL gator sign

 

Tradition dictates that everyone wear their “colors” on Game Day. The grandchildren keep outgrowing their team gear, so,  like  many of you, I’m trying to get them suited up for kickoff.

 

1-L first gator

Laurel was just 3 weeks old when we attended the annual Gator Nation gathering at the Daytona Speedway. She wore this cool, Swiss cotton pique top with pima check bloomers.

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Coming Home Daygown and Bonnet

Busy, busy, busy!  So this post is a re-run featuring Laurel Cade, our first grandchild and her homecoming outfit.  I think the topic is still timely.~~~~~~~

 

my handsome son (newborn at 9 lb.1oz) and his 10 lb.daughter

my handsome son (who was a 9 lb.1oz newborn) and his 10 lb.daughter

My babies  each weighed exactly 9 lbs. 1 ounce and were 22″ long.   My husband said my uterus had a 9 lb. 1 oz. capacity, just like a gallon milk jug will hold just one gallon.  He declared that if we had a dozen children they would all be the same size.   After our second child, I chose not to test his hypothesis.

At any rate, neither of our babies wore newborn clothes for more than a few weeks.

When our dearly loved, petite daughter-in-law Shelly was pregnant with our first grandchild, the whole family thought this precious baby would be a tiny little thing, like her mama.  After all, Shelly’s  own mother is just 4’11” so we expected a small baby.   With this in mind, I used a preemie daygown pattern for Laurel’s coming home outfit.

Imagine our  shock when this “small”  baby girl was born via C-section weighing an even 10 lbs! I had other regular size daygowns smocked and ready to go, so I took those to the hospital the day they were to be released.  But they were all too big.

We were surprised that the preemie daygown fit her perfectly.  Of course, she was only able to wear it for a short time, but I was glad that she had something that fit so well for that important trip home. Now, whenever I make a coming home daygown for a special baby, I make a preemie size.

coming home gown L

The daygown and bonnet are pale yellow Imperial batiste, smocked in shades of yellow and periwinkle blue.  Entredeux and tatted edging trim the angel sleeves bishop and either side of the front.  Blue floss is woven into the holes of the entredeux.

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Technique & Summer Fun Bishop

1-dress

 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