Tag Archives: bishop dress

Christmas Finery for Sister and Brother

2 outfits

Hurrah!  Christmas clothes for our two younger grandchildren were finished, shipped and received late last week.  Toddler Vivian Rose’s white Swiss flannel bishop has the neck and sleeve bound with in red gingham pima cotton.  Heirloom lace is hand whipped to the bias binding.


smock close


The smocking design is just a simple diamond pattern that I made up as I stitched. Continue reading

Peach Bishop


This is one of my all-time favorite smocked dresses.  I made it for Rebecca when she was just 4 years old and now, 30 years later, still enjoy seeing it hang in the nursery closet.

There are several interesting features to this peach Imperial batiste bishop dress.  The  extra deep smocking front and back, white sleeve overlay, and original smocking design made it a pleasure to design and stitch. The bottom rows of the smocking design were drafted to mimic the sleeve overlay fancyband.

EXTRA DEEP SMOCKING: The number of rows smocked front and back on this dress greatly exceeds the recommended amount for this size.  You can see that the smocking goes far below the beginning of the armhole curve, normally the absolute last row of stitching.  Smocking rarely goes beyond this point because 1) it would exceed the width of the child’s shoulder and 2) it is impossible to pleat through that curve.




The first restriction is eliminated by smocking only a few rows at the neckline, well before the edge of the shoulder.  Secondly, the pleating is done before construction, allowing pleats to go to any depth.




This is most easily done by working with a block of fabric, rather than a cut out front and back.  The armhole curve is traced with a washaway marker onto the fabric block before pleating front, back and sleeves from a straight edge to a straight edge.  Later, the pleating threads are pulled out up to the seamline of the armhole and knotted off.  Then the armhole curve is cut out and the front and back pieces are joined to the sleeves.

SLEEVE OVERLAY:  The white sleeve cap overlay includes a Swiss embroidery from Capitol Imports, entredeux and French Val lace edging.  This detail alone elevates the easy care bishop to a more elegant level.  Continue reading

Liberty Goat Dress


R and L goat dress

little goat girl and grumpy little guy

Visions of  a “goat dress” had been dancing in my head for many years. In 1985, after purchasing Sarah Howard Stone’s first book, French Handsewing, I studied it with a passion. One page, in particular, spoke to me. It showed row after row of antique laces, including what I call goat lace. I had to have some of this.

goat lace

antique “goat” lace

 At that time, I was in the middle of my Mother Earth phase. Perhaps some readers  recall  the  publication, The Mother Earth News, or Carla Emery’s Old Fashioned Cook Book. These were daily reading for me.

On our 3 acres stood a 50 year old, formerly upscale, two-room chicken house, where our cocky Rhode Island Red rooster and his girls bunked. The  adjoining room  housed a  gaggle of geese and a few white Peking ducks.   Next door to the water fowl was the pony.  Her stall looked out over our 60’ x 60’ vegetable garden and adjacent to that was the goat mansion, my favorite place in the world except for my sewing room.

Continue reading