Category Archives: White Wednesday

Embellished Ralph~White Wednesday

There are so many wonderful opportunities for children to wear their holiday outfits, from the hometown Christmas parade to Santa’s lap pictures to church services and Christmas dinner.  Some of these events are casual while others require more formal wear. Given enough time, I like to make seasonal garments for my grandchildren to meet more than one of these occasions.

We all know the time saving benefits of starting with ready made fleece or tee shirts. But when I found this monotone smocked Ralph Lauren dress, marked down by 75%, I began to look at ready-to-wear with a broader view. I knew that with the addition of a little red and green hand embroidery, it would make a great Christmas dress for my 5 year old granddaughter.

Personally, I love tone-on-tone embroidery. But the ivory smocking, ivory silk ribbon embroidery and ivory bullions were just lost on this little ivory dress. Unless you viewed the child at her eye level, you would probably not even notice that the dress was smocked. Continue reading

Knitted Christening Gown

 

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It was mentioned earlier that knitting was my first needleart.  Actually, for many, many years, it was my only  needleart.  So when I was awaiting the birth of our first child, my knitting needles were going non-stop.

This christening gown was one of the first projects I began for our eagerly awaited baby.  A delicate white knitted lace shawl was knitted immediately after the gown.

Unlike today, when this dress was made, expectant mothers rarely knew what gender their babies would be.  For many readers, that dates this dress circa Cave Man Era.  So when I decided—for whatever reason I don’t recall— to add lace with color, I purchased yardage in both pink and blue.

Days after our son was born, the blue lace was stitched in place. Four years later, when our daughter was born, the blue lace was removed and replaced with the pink trim which remains today.

 

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Antique Tabletopper Reproduction

 

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White Wednesday seemed like a good excuse to re-run this post.  You might enjoy viewing this lovely antique textile even more if you enlarge the photos by double clicking.  ~~~~~~

Antique textiles have long been a weakness of mine. The extensive handwork and intricate details routinely stitched in an earlier era are almost impossible to find in contemporary  household linens. Some of the design elements, however, can be duplicated for a very nice effect, if not the elaborate, luxurious look of the antiques.

The ho-hum tabletopper shown above is patterned after a special linen treasure, shown below. Made of linen like the original, the reproduction was stitched as a project sample for a 6 hour class, so the elaborate embroidery was necessarily minimized to what could be completed in that short period of time.

 

antique table topper

antique table topper

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White Hankies

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This image has been darkened to show details of the white-on-white embroidery.

 

The opportunity to post a White Wednesday blog along with others at Faded Charm motivated me to plunder through my handkerchief collection again.  As I said in an earlier post, there are few genres of needlework that include so many wonderful techniques as handkerchiefs.

 

 

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In a relatively small area, spectacular stitching is often combined with extraordinary edgings.  These beauties are tiny treasures.

 

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Note the unusual shaping of the linen and the delicate handmade edge. Continue reading

Vintage Baby Laundry Bag

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Antique baby things always enchant me.  I hope you are not bored with them because I have several I’d like to share with you.

This little white laundry bag is one of my favorites.  It makes me wonder how a young mother, with all the responsibilities of raising children and running a house, could find the time to make this sweet sack for soiled baby clothes.  Of course, there is the possibility that a resident grandmother or other relative could have made this elegant little accessory for the family’s newest member. At any rate, it is charming.

This is truly a modern project for old fashioned Nanas.  A sturdy, 15″ x 18″ drawstring bag is a useful item appreciated by young mothers.  My daughter kept one folded in the diaper bag for the soiled clothing inevitably generated on outings with baby Alastair.

My friend Suzanne Sawko used this vintage bag for inspiration when she designed and stitched these for an article in Creative Needle magazine.

 

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White Wednesday~Made Over Baby Dress

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This sweet little dress has been more trouble than I ever expected.    Have you ever had a good idea, visualizing an easy re-make on an item with potential, and then been sorry you ever started?  Well, that’s exactly what happened with this ivory linen size 1 frock.

Purchased on a shopping trip in Puerto Rico with June Mellinger, I thought with a simple modifications,  I would love it.   WRONG!!!!

We had finished teaching at an event there and were scouring old San Juan for treasures.  In that absolutely enchanting enclave, we strolled into a shop filled with linens and baby things, both machine and hand embroidered.

June went for the linen housewares and scrutinized  much of the machine embroidery.  She was tickled to find several items embroidered with designs featured on Brother embroidery machines.  Obviously, at least one cottage industry was alive in well on this tropical island. Continue reading

Embroidered Italian Trousseau Sheet

Following the lead of Jeannie B. and other bloggers, I’ve boarded the White Wednesday wagon, posting about something white each Wednesday.  This is my first WW post. See more White Wednesday at Faded Charm.

 

Italian Trouss bedside

 

Twenty years ago, I was strolling the aisles of a huge antique show when I spotted this extraordinary bed linen.  Tied up with a blue satin ribbon,  folded neatly with the monogram centered, the creamy white sheet called out,  “Janice!  Take me home!”  So I did I think my husband even heard it, because he declared that it would do for my birthday present.

 

Italian Trousseau monogram

 

It is incredibly beautiful,  product of countless hours with needle and thread,  all the while dreaming of future marital bliss.  The padded satin stitch monogram and all the surface embroidery is so raised, so dimensional.

 

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The eyelets are perfectly executed, with not a whisker showing.  The embroidery flows from one side to the other on the 84″ wide linen sheet.Below, intricate hemstitching adds another delicate texture.

 

Italian Trouss hemstitching

 

The sheet’s 2″ hem at the foot is done by hand, with tiny, nearly invisible stitches.

Whether or not it is true, the history of this beauty intrigued me.  Of course, this could be one of those “the queen slept here” stories, but I choose to believe it.  It surely beats a “Made in China” label.

A young Italian bride and her groom, it was said,  sailed to America for their honeymoon and decided to remain here in the Land of Opportunity.  They intended to have the bride’s hope chest sent over once they were settled.

For whatever reason, that never happened and the chest remained in Italy for more than 60 years.  After the death of the aged needleworker, her granddaughter made a pilgrimage to Italy.  Her goals were to see the land of her ancestors and to claim the chest about which her grandmother had spoken so frequently.

The story goes that the chest was loaded with this sheet and several others, as well as a treasure trove of household linens.  None had ever been used. Somehow this sheet and one other (already sold and reportedly far more spectacular than this one!) fell into the hands of  the antique dealer.  And from hers to mine.

If ever I were to feel a shortage of beauty in my surroundings, I could just pull this out.  Some work of the hands is as breathtaking as the work of Mother Nature.

 

Madeira Applique’ Hem Pillowcases

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A pair of these pillowcases were stitched for my daughter’s birthday, which is this week. She loves pretty linens and monograms, just like her mother, so this pair of pillow slips should please her.

The “C” monogram is from Martha Pullen’s  2002 Embroidery Club  collection.  I chose this style  because of its angular lines, a nice contrast to all the swirls of the embroidery below.  Years ago, I attended a quilting workshop at which the instructor casually threw out this tip.  She mentioned that when piecing with geometric shapes, she likes to quilt with curves.  Conversely, she thought that curved pieces look best with rectolinear quilting.  I’ve never regretted following her advice for quilts and frequently have applied it to embroidery designs. Continue reading

Alastair’s Butterfly Baby Blanket

Alastair taking his nap

Two things I dislike about my granddaughter–when she won’t take her afternoon nap, and when she won’t let me take mine. ~Gene Perret

In a few hours, our grandson Alastair will arrive with his parents for a short visit.  We haven’t seen him for more than a month, so we are really looking forward to seeing the changes that come so quickly in a 2 year old.
The photo above reminded me how sweet an infant he was and how much I enjoyed making pretty things for the newest member of the family.

This Swiss flannel blanket is one of my daughter Rebecca’s favorites for her baby boy.  It is embroidered with designs from Hatched in Africa.  The floral ”C”  is from their Daisy Monogram and the butterflies are from Daisy Heirlooms.


The blanket is edged with a fabulous English lace that is sturdy enough to hold up to serious laundering and yet delicate enough to look good with flowers and butterflies.   The embroideries are interspersed with feather stitching.


The lace header is very wide, but I just trim it down to half its size.  The lace was placed on the blanket, with the right side of the blanket to wrong side of the lace,  matching the raw edge of the blanket to the decorative edge of the lace. A straight stitch was sewn  in the narrow header.

The raw edged fabric under the lace is pressed toward the blanket center and away from the lace.  Then the lace is  pin stitched over the fold, usually with a width of 2.5 and length of 2.5.  Finally, I cut away that 1/2″ raw edged excess fabric and give a final press.   This makes for a very secure lace attachment.  This lace is  available at the JaniceFergusonSews store (see “A STORE” at the top of the menu on the right).

When I made this blanket, I thought it would be for a little granddaughter.  But ultrasound pictures made it clear that a baby boy was on the way.  That didn’t concern my daughter, God love her.  She adores the blanket and thinks, as do I, that it is just fine for her beautiful little guy.  Wisely, Rebecca did not feel the same about the pink, lace trimmed daygown that awaits her someday daughter.  There is still more fun in years to come!


Swiss flannel is a marvelous fabric for babies.  The weight is perfect year-round here in Florida.  The dainty nap is just enough to give a snuggle factor to the heirloom blanket.  It looks best when ironed, but neither of my girls (Rebecca and Shelly,  Laurel and Robert’s mama)  iron them every time and still they look neat and sweet.

Butterfly Blanket

Baby blankets are just a joy to make–no fitting, no buttonholes, no plackets, just all the lace and embroidery you want.  I’m eager to make another, but I keep eyeing the flannel receiving blankets with the crocheted edge on Jeannie B.’s blog.  Maybe it’s time for this crochet novice to try  something new.

MCS Featherstitch for You & T-Bonnet

UPDATE: Barbara Skimin’s My Custom Stitch book is available at  Allbrands. 

 

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This bonnet was featured in an earlier post, but since I’ve become a teeny bit more blog savvy, I decided to post it again for Faded Charm Cottage’s White Wednesday.

Why? Well, I wanted to create a tutorial page and thought I would make the zig zagged feather stitch available for download there.   It was created in Brother’s My Custom Stitch and will only work on machines with that feature.

Oh, I had big plans indeed.  I would include that stitch in my new Tutorials page, shown under the Janice Ferguson Sews title at the top of each post.  I managed to create the page and–I thought!!!–included a .pdf file for Florence Roberson’s smocked pocket pattern  shown in an earlier post. I was on a blogger roll and feeling rather pleased.

As I tried to add the zig zagged feather stitch file, a message popped up that this file type was “unrecognized” and could not be downloaded…  groan…..Okay.  I will e-mail the file to readers who request it.

Then I discovered that the .pdf smocked pocket pattern file does not show up on the  newly created tutorial page at all!#$%!!!   But I am determined to figure this out sooner or later—but probably later.

 

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Back to the T-bonnet and the zig zagged featherstitch….   If any of you  would like this file, just post a request in the comment section and I will e-mail it to you. Continue reading