Category Archives: smocking

Remorse, Fish, Family, and Fun

 

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This is one of our three formerly feral cats, obviously no longer feral. They were a daily source of delight for 3 yo Vivian Rose and 7 yo Alastair.

 

Before the summer was over, our two younger grandchildren came  across the state for a week of Nana (and Granddad) camp.  As all grandparents know, it was a fabulous, memorable time for all, not the least of whom were their folks who were relieved of parental responsibilities for a week. How well I remember that special joy in years gone by.

In an effort to give this some sewing references, I must tell you that Vivian Rose’s suitcase was packed with nothing but Nana-made clothes.  I love my daughter for that–and a million other reasons.  Vivian wore her firefly outfit, the ever popular parade dress, her ABC shorts set, the CC Jane tricycle set and others.  More pictures should have been taken, but I was too wrapped up in the children to shoot more.

 

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With a goofy grin and a little chocolate cake still lingering on her mouth, Vivi wears a well-worn Children’s Corner Katina, made fir her mother 35 years ago. There is something to be said for polycotton. The dress and bloomers are in near perfect condition.

 

FISH

A highlight of  the week was a visit to our friends’ garden and koi ponds.  The day before our outing,  Alastair and Vivian Rose collaborated on a pair of koi dishtowels for their hosts.  Alastair actually did most of the embroidery, with Vivi pushing the needle threader, presser foot lever and start button occasionally.  They chose the threads and were quite proud of the results.

the children did the embroidery at my Dream Machine. Alastair is fascinated by the technology and Vivi loves to push the buttons--any buttons.

The children did the embroidery at my Dream Machine. Alastair is fascinated by the technology and Vivi loves to push the buttons–any buttons.

 

John and Susanna are the grandparents of Baby Shrek who surely found a world of delight at their home when he visited in September.  Vivi’s mother and our daughter, Rebecca Susanne, was named for dear friend Susanna. (But Rebecca Susanna sounded a little too heavy on the -a”s.)

 

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Susanna led the trail through her jungle paradise.

Susanna led the trail past the koi pond and through her breathtaking garden.

 

After a short time, Vivian left the fish.  They were pretty, they swam, she moved on.  In her explorations, she discovered a quiet hideaway where Susanna likes to sit and read, though she seldom sits.  She and her husband John are always on the go, what with keeping up with the garden and ponds, doing church work, and being friends to all.

 

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Vivi was awed by the wind chimes and a singing bird in a secluded nook in the garden.

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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!!!

 

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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.

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

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Christmas ’15

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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 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…

 

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Easter Outfits from my Past

Is there any more joyous occasion for sewing than Easter? It’s time to get started but instead of pulling out the lace and batiste, I find myself looking back at those confections from the past. For me, it’s not about seeking inspiration so much as it is about enjoying the memories all over again, like re-reading a very good book.

Among these outfits, there might be some inspiration for those of you who have not yet jumped into this special sewing season.

Who doesn’t love babies in daygowns?  And with a sweet big brother they are even more precious.

 

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If daygowns interest you, details are posted here Happy Easter ’13.  This post details the daygown with fagotted lace and a hand embroidered front placket

 

The next year Big Brother Alastair wore this little suit.

Another hurry-up outfit, made for my grandson Alastair.

This hurry-up Easter suit  was made for my grandson Alastair.

 

It seems like I am always in a rush to get Easter outfits finished.  This one for Alastair was no exception.

Making this dress was pure joy.  I love the Swiss handloom and laces.

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Baby’s Easter Dress, made for Vivian Rose last year. It was a modification of a dress I made for her mother 31 years ago.

 

And I love this picture of her strolling through the grass.

 

Vivian Rose, 15 months old, Easter 2014

Vivian Rose, 15 months old, Easter 2014

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