Category Archives: smocking

Family Cruising

How’s this for a Cozumel tropical paradise?

It’s been way too long since a new blog has been posted but I’m  trying to catch up.  To say we have been busy is a gross understatement.  But let me tell you one of the many events that have kept us running– our wonderful Royal Caribbean cruise with our daughter and family.  There are some sewing projects to see but lots of fun to report.

I had packed a bag of smocking projects which I expected to complete while enjoying the view and sea breeze from our balcony.  Some smocking was done but I packed way too many projects with way too many great expectations.

My good friend Carol, our daughter’s fabulous mother-in-law, was with us and had the same idea.  She knitted and I smocked.  So we sat and stitched, but only for short periods of time.

 

 

There were so many activities.  Vivian Rose wore “Nana clothes” every day.  Here she is leaving an activity wearing a bishop Easter dress from a few years ago.

 

 

The dress was generously sized for her two years ago and desperately needed a tuck under the arm.  It still needs the tuck and the only other fitting problem its short length.   Regardless, she loves the dress.  I really need to make those tucks. Why she is wearing her backpack under the dress is a mystery to me. She wore this dress to dinner one night.

 

 

For dinner each night she was dressed in smocking. This dress was made for her mother 30 years ago and was worn by cousin Laurel before Vivi for a few years. Now it’s another one of Vivian’s favorites.  It’s still in perfect condition, another hurrah for Spechler-Vogel’s Imperial batiste Continue reading

Bees for Bea

 

This is longed for and long-awaited baby Beatrice, whose name means “she brings happiness.”  And she surely has!  Our church, family and friends prayed long and fervently for her safe arrival into the loving arms of her adoptive parents.

The afternoon of her baptism a few Sundays ago, friends hosted a barbeque for the entire church and other family friends in Beatrice’s spacious country back yard.

This sign greeted guests.

 

Did I mention that the theme of Bea’s nursery is Winnie the Pooh? Can you tell?

 

Of course, it was HOT!

I made the smocked bee sundress for Bea, complete with bloomers and a hat. She is  tiny, born 2 weeks early at just 6 lbs. Even the newborn size is huge on her. But babies grow and there is still plenty of steamy summer weather left here in central Florida.  It should fit her soon.

Using black on such a tiny baby gave me pause.  But there is no way around it when you are dealing with bees.  The picot edged bias softened it a little but I much prefer white or pastels for newborns.

At the top of her hat sits an adorable little bee which I found on the facebook Smocking DeStash site.  I bought 20 because I knew there would be many opportunities to use them for Baby Bea.

 

This country barbeque in a huge yard with pet goats and chickens was just the sort of fun children love. Still, they needed a few special activities. So while they were eating I discreetly hid bees all around. Continue reading

Church Dress for Beatrice

OFB Smocked layette dress pattern on white Imperial batiste.

 

At last Baby Bea’s church dress is finished. So many things I wish I had done differently, but it is done.  The pattern is OFB Smocked Layette, made from white Imperial batiste.

I used this pattern with the little bit of smocking because I wanted to focus on  the cross embroidered trim at the hemline.  It would have looked better, I think, with short sleeves.

 

 

Because the cross embroidery is Swiss, I felt compelled to use Swiss for the other trims. Do you ever mix heirloom laces with Swiss on the same garment?  I’d like to know your opinion on that.

The tiny Swiss trim at the neckline and smocked sleeves should be short enough to avoid irritating her delicate newborn skin.  It has a built in entredeux stitch so I wove that with floss  to add a little color higher on the daygown.

The cross trim at the hem was 6″ wide.  After attaching it to the entredeux beading there just seemed to be too much blank space.  So I removed it, trimmed the cross piece to 4″ and rejoined it to a new piece of entredeux beading,  threaded with pink ribbon.

 

It still looked to plain so I added twin needle “shadow work” in pink on either side of the beading.

This is the first bonnet I have ever made with the ruffle behind the smocking.  I’m not sure I like it, but Bea is so tiny, just now 7 lbs. that I thought the ruffle might obscure too much of her precious face.

 

 

The twin needle work was repeated on the back of the bonnet near the drawstring ribbon.

Continue reading

Magical Parade Dress

This sweet little dress is my third Ode To Joy from Maggie Bunch’s Sew-Along.  What a great class and what a perfect little dress!  The length was for a tunic, but Maggie’s pattern is so adaptable that I added a wider border at the hem to make it a dress.

Can you see the “prince” is riding a unicorn?

Who doesn’t love Sarah Jane’s truly magical prints for Michael Miller?  Many are borders, with the the fun part running along the selvage.  That allows for two 22″ widths of delightful borders. Most have coordinating prints that can be used for the hem, sleeve and neck binding.

My first Ode to Joy was poorly made, as I was in a hurry and did not read the directions carefully.  But I loved it anyway and so did my then 4 yo granddaughter.   MM/Sarah Jane’s “Swan Lake” print,as shown, is still available.

 

 

Notice how nicely the smocking lies across the bodice.  On the Magical Parade dress shown at the top, I brought the smocking to a point at center and the control was lost.  The skirt ripples.  How many of these will I have to make before I pay close attention?  I’m a slow learner, for sure.k

My second OTJ, again made in a hurry, had the neckband applied incorrectly and it rippled.  The sleeves were left ungathered which gave a look I liked.    Again, the straight across smocking along the bottom row kept the bodice flat–flexible but flat.  The whimsical cat print is my cat-loving granddaughter’s favorite.

 

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy dress

 

Maggie’s on-line class is very comprehensive.  She  take beginners from pleating (though she will provide pleated kits for novices without pleaters), to construction to smocking.  If she offers it again, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So the pink and gray gingham Magical Parade at the top is my latest creation for 5 yo Vivian Rose, though I have purchased yet another MM/Sarah Jane border and companion print to make another.  Little girls love it because it just pulls over their heads, no buttons to deal with.  Mothers love it because little ones can dress themselves easily, no muss, no fuss.  And I love it.  Can’t you tell?

 

Great On-line Class with MaggieB!

This is the first Ode to Joy Border Tunic  I made working through an on-line class offerred  by Maggie Bunch.  It is a fabulous class for everyone from  beginners to experienced smockers.  Maggie takes you from border print fabric selection, to pleating, to construction and smocking.  But she throws in so many little informational gems and tips.  I learned so much.  You may provide your own fabric or she offers some darling kits.  She will even pleat for you if you like.

This class is a bargain at $30.  Maggie practically holds your hand through the whole process and answers any questions promptly.  To the best of my knowledge, this is just the second time in the last 12 months that it has been offered on-line. She did teach it at that great sewing event, Sewing at the Beach.

Maggie said on-line.This is an online sewing and smocking lesson, held in a private group, here on FB. The fee for the lesson is $30.00. Kits are optional. You can sew from your stash! I post a lesson a day for about 2 weeks. The Group stays open for about 8 weeks after the lesson is complete for you to sew at your own pace. Sizes are 1/2 3/4 5/6 and 7/8

 

The first time round, I didn’t print out the instructions and files.   So when I made my second dress, a lot of mistakes were made.  Note the sloppy neck binding.

 

 

So I am repeating the class and you can be sure that I will keep notes and files.  Now you, too,  can take this class!  The pattern is not available for sale, just as part of the class.

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Ode to Joy Smocking Group is taking members. This Group is an online smocking class, lead by me, for the play top using quilting cottons or border prints.
This is a work at your own pace lesson. The lessons will be posted one a day for about two weeks starting June 1. Join now so you have time to get the list and order your supplies.
The fee $30.00 includes membership in the Group and all lessons from fabric choice to smocking to hem.
Please private message me your PayPal information for the lesson. Registration will close May 18.

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Through the years, several readers have commented on my smocked garments, saying they wish they knew how to smock.  Few live within easy driving distance of classes so this is a great option.
Other than wanting to learn more, I have no vested interested in this class.  I just want to share a great learning opportunity with you all.

2 Free Easter designs and Upcoming Easter ’18

free Bunny trio applique pattern Childrens Corner Callie

 

As usual, I am way behind with Easter sewing and sewing in general.  I thought this might be a good time to share some earlier Easter features–dresses and free designs.

This little chocolate bunny dress was made for my 15 month old granddaughter to wear to the church “bunny lunch and egg hunt.”  I was so pleased to finally have the perfect use for my small piece of brown bunny Liberty of London tana lawn.

When I could find no embroidery design that suited me, I bumbled through the digitizing process to create this beginner design.  It is yours for the asking by leaving a comment below.

The second free design is one I used on several Easter baskets.  The name, of course, is not included but the design itself is Easter eggs nestled in grass

For the free grass and eggs design just leave your request in the comment section below.

 

Vivian Rose’s formal Easter dress that same year is one of the few with which I was mostly satisfied.  It is a modification of Rebecca’ Bow Dress, a pattern I designed many, many years ago for Martha Pullen and for my own 5 70 Rebecca.

 

 

Of course, I sewed for the boys as well.  This was a favorite of my younger grandson.

The shirt is Ginger Snaps Hudson’s Sunday Suit.

 

Last year, 4 yo Vivian Rose wore a pink Swiss voile bishop with an antique lace cherub medallion in the skirt.  She loved it, in spite of the absence of cats, rainbows, or leopard skin print.

 

 

 

This year will be special for me, my daughter and Vivian Rose.  She will wear her mother’s 35 yo Rebecca’s Bow Dress.  I’m just finishing the slip. The original has gone missing in these many years.  Alastair, bless his heart, will patiently endure wearing a coordinating bow tie, as he has in years past.

 

 

We’re looking forward to a joyous Easter celebration with both of our children and their families with our 4 precious grandchildren.

I wish you all a wonderful and meaningful Easter this year.

 

 

 

Maggie B’s Kitty Cat Ode to Joy

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy dress

 

My 4 yo granddaughter and I really love this Ode to Joy pattern by Maggie B.  It is offered to students in her on-line class with excellent directions and a multitude of step-by-step instructional pictures.  Our little dynamo is always on the go, in a hurry to get wherever and impatient with fussy button closures.  She’s a gal who has places to go, people to see, and things to do.  So just get on with getting dressed!

One of the best features of this little frock is that it simply pulls over the head like a tee shirt  No buttons, no buttonholes.

 

As you can clearly see, the neck binding is loosey goosey. It IS important to use the correct size elastic and worth a trip to the store if you don’t have it on hand. Lesson learned.

 

With it’s pop-over style and comfy fit, Ode to Joy is a favorite of our Vivian Rose.  The cat print is an added bonus, making it a very popular wardrobe choice. Continue reading

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy Dress

 

 

Maggie Bunch has created a new classic with her Ode to Joy pattern.  I love everything about this dress–quick smocking, easy construction, use of coordinating print and the comfort of a pull-on dress or playtop with no buttons to fuss with.  It is smocked front and back with only about 90 pleats sleeve to sleeve.

 

 

Ode to Joy was first taught by Maggie as a class project at Sewing at the Beach and she is now offering it as an on-line sew-along class.  She has given several sew-along, smock-along classes, reasonably priced at $25.  They are a bargain at any price.

Step by step, Maggie sews along with you and posts even more detailed photos in the process.   She is also  is available to answer questions.  The class begins mid- June.  Registration is limited so if you are interested, check it out ASAP on her website here.   

I learned so much making this little dress.  Sewing and smocking on a border print requires some special considerations and Maggie addressed them all.   Reading how she adjusts the garment pattern to accommodate the border fabric pattern others was so comforting.  I don’t EVER want to go  through trying to match side seams and the front button closure as I did on CC Jenni Leigh.  Now I can figure out a way to match the print more easily on most patterns.

 

Note the side seam near the yellow dashed line.

 

I first saw this dress made up in the same Michael Miller Swan Lake fabric on one of the smocking/heirloom sewing lists and just fell in love with it. I wish I could recall who made the dress so I could thank her for the inspiration.  The dress was modeled by an absolutely adorable,  curly red-haired child.  I HAD to make it. Already, my plate was full to overflowing, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

Locating the fabric required an hour-long internet search.  Everyone, it seemed, was sold out of this charming print. Finally, I located a shop in Washington state which had both Swan Lake and the coordinating print in stock.

Vivian has been adamant that she only likes garments with kitty cats, hearts and rainbows.  To my surprise, the success of the pink bishop for which I had no hope, was due to the fact that there were hearts in the smocking.  Hearts in the smocking?  I can do that!

You can see  that the Swan Lake smocking is heavy with hearts, just what Vivi loves.  I expect she will wear this dress quite happily.  She arrives her on Memorial Day for a week of Nana Camp.  Film at 11.

NANA FUN:

Meanwhile, I sent the photo of the little red-haired girl wearing the dress to my Rebecca and gave her some persuasive arguments to convince 4 yo Vivi that this was the dress for her.  Yeah!

“Tell Nana no thanks.  I only like dresses with kitty cats, hearts or rainbows.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #1.  “Nana says if you will wear this dress and be happy, she will then make you another kitty cat dress.”

Vivi:  “Tell her to just make the kitty cat dress.”

Rebecca went to persuasion #2:  “Nana really wants to make this swan dress and if you don’t want it she will give it to Eloise (our pastor’s 4 yo daughter).”

Vivi: ” Ok, ok, ok.  I’ll wear the dress and be happy.  I don’t want Eloise to get the kitty cat dress.”

The fine print of that proposal went right over her curly head.  Whew!

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Vivian Rose also caught a fish but she seemed more disgusted than thrilled.  She was happy to have her daddy’s help dealing with her catch.  She looked so cute and comfortable in her Petite Poche Penny. Continue reading