Tag Archives: puffing

Easter ’18 Week

Vivian Rose at Oma’s house, decked out in her mother’s Rebecca’s Bow Dress.

I hope you all had a joyous Easter. The Ferguson family had a fabulous week of Easter celebrations! We saw both of our children with all four of our grandchildren, but not at the same time. A good bit of sewing was done before and after their arrival.

Saturday we joined our son-in-law’s family for Easter dinner.  5 yo Vivian Rose was resplendent in her mother’s 35 yo Rebecca’s Bow Dress, with her curls confined to elaborate, elegant French braids.

The original slip has been lost through the years so this white Imperial batiste slip was made.  Because it really can be worn as a dress, a bow was embroidered on the yoke. To avoid it shadowing through the dress, it was stitched in a very pale pink and white.

The same yoke pattern was used with 1/2″ removed from the top half of the armscye.

Ever obliging 9 yo Alastair wore his bow tie made from the Little Boy Bowtie:the Quick and Easy Version pattern which I have used so often.

The color matched the green leaves in his sister’s fancyband.

The bows alternated with 3 vertical strips of lace.

I love this picture taken as Vivian was ready to put on her heirloom dress. Alastair was proud that he was already dressed and ready for the egg hunt.

The bunny was tied at the top with a bow, but Vivian HAD to open it.

See the felt candy-filled bunny in Vivi’s hand? That was such a fun little project. I made 20 of these for the children at church, as well as for these two. Vivian had a bunny filled basket and loved handing them out. I so regret that I did not get a photo that or of all the pink, blue, yellow and white bunnies together. They were a big hit with all the children. Continue reading

Christmas Outfits from the Past


Hand embroidered Sarah Howard Stone collar and velveteen dress for my daughter, 1983. It was worn a few years ago by my older granddaughter, Laurel.


They say time flies when you are having fun and, let me tell you, I have had a good bit of fun making holiday outfits for my children and grandchildren.  Like many of you, Christmas and Easter clothes are my favorite and most memorable projects.



This collar reminds me just how hard I  tried to get the stitches just right as we drove to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving.   It was a two hour drive along bumpy back roads and I poked my fingers more than once.  But I couldn’t waste the time. As the family sat and visited after the pumpkin pie, I continued to embroider.

Who knew that 15 years later it could be done on an embroidery machine?  Who knew there would be home embroidery machines? Certainly not me.


R L Stetson puffing

Robert and Laurel all ready for the Stetson Christmas concert. She is wearing recycled heirloom from her Aunt Rebecca’s closet.


A few years after the shadow work collar was made, my daughter wore a burgundy velveteen dress (just like this one) with this very puffing collar.  Then Laurel wore the collar on a new burgundy velveteen dress. Continue reading

Judith Dobson and the Tea Dress

This is my post for Freckled Laundry’s Air Your Laundry Linky party.


From the 1989 version of the Tea Dress, this one is made of white Swiss batiste, ivory lace and entredeux, with a blue broadcloth underdress.

Laurel’s Easter dress has had its final press and is on a hanger, ready for Sunday. After a 22 year wait for someone to wear it, I have finally stitched this beauty. Since finishing it, the dress has been in my thoughts quite a lot. While my hands were occupied with mindless tasks like piping and machine embroidery for the grandsons’ outfits, my mind wandered over details of the garment.


Bodice features fil tire’ and surface embroidery. Except for a few French knots, all embroidery was done on my beloved Brother Innovis 4500D.

I couldn’t help but think about Judith Dobson, designer of this pattern. She seems to have dropped out of the sewing world, at least from my range of sight. Still, I have no doubt that she is out there, stitching fervently, beautifully and perfectly. As the mother of five children, including twin girls who modeled her creations for Belles and Beaus ads in Sew Beautiful and Creative Needle magazines, she likely became too busy to spend much time way from home since I last saw her. Now, with any luck, she has grandchildren to dress.

I’d like to share some recollections I have of this amazingly accomplished needleworker who has patterns, magazine articles, a book and more to her credit. Her background and experience is extensive.

I first met Judith when we were both teaching at Martha Pullen’s school in Huntsville. She taught a variety of hand embroidery classes, most notably shadow work and cutwork. Students lined up to get in her classes to learn how she stitched such stunningly beautiful designs.

Bodice back shows machine embroidered buttonholes. Flip flop lace is pinstitched above the puffing band and lace ruffle.

Bodice back shows machine embroidered buttonholes. Flip flop lace is pinstitched above the puffing band and lace ruffle.

Later, we roomed together in Jacksonville, Florida, where we were both teaching. I think it was a Classic Classes event, with Judith, Mildred Turner, Cindy Foose and Janet Hyde. Or it might have been the SAGA National Convention…whatever. There in Jacksonville we became much better acquainted and I certainly enjoyed our time together.

Sprigs of floral embroidery rest between ecru mother-of-pearl buttons from Farmhouse Fabrics.

Sprigs of floral embroidery rest between ecru mother-of-pearl buttons from Farmhouse Fabrics.

I learned that she and her five children had lived in Saudi Arabia for several years where her husband worked as an executive with an oil company. She described a culture which prohibited women from driving. That shocked me. Returning home to the United States was a great joy to her.

For some time, Judith gave children’s etiquette classes, serving high tea and lessons on propriety and manners. She also offered small group handwork schools when she lived in Colorado.

In addition to her design work, her children, of course, kept her very busy all day. But she carefully scheduled her time so that every evening, from 7-11 p.m. she stitched.

Her children must have been very well behaved. And her husband must have been very helpful and supportive. With just two children, Bob and I could hardly get baths, stories and homework finished by 9:00! I should have asked her for a class in time management.


Straight sleeves are embellished with more flip flop lace insertion and machine embroidery.

In Jacksonville, Judith graciously agreed to share our suite with my mother who arrived the second day of the school. When I called to extend the invitation, I chattered about what a gracious lady Judith was. Mother looked forward to meeting her.

While Judith and I were in class, my mother arrived at the hotel, picked up the key from the front desk and went to the room to get settled in.

She walked in the door just as a naked, dripping wet man stepped out of the shower to see who had entered!

Scandalized, my mother stormed out of the room and waited in the lobby until time for lunch, when I joined her. She was seething as she pulled me aside to speak privately.

Petticoat has 4 rows of lace, extending the too-short dress to an acceptable length.

Petticoat has 4 rows of lace, extending the too-short dress to an acceptable length.

“That Judith is NO lady! ” she sputtered through clenched teeth. “She has a man up there! We are NOT staying with her. I’m getting another room for the two of us!” Righteous indignation radiated from her black eyes.

Of course, Judith WAS a lady. The hotel had given my mother the wrong room key and we all had a good laugh about it. Actually, my mother only smiled politely. Since that incident, she has been unable even to say “Jacksonville” without a rise in her blood pressure

Older issues of Sew Beautiful feature many of Judith’s designs and articles. She purchased the Belles and Beaus pattern company from Betty Rast in Alabama and added to the extensive offerings of the company’s handwork collection. These patterns are spectacular and I am pleased that in my sewing room I have nearly every Belles and Beaus pattern published. Her lovely book, Roses and Delicate Embroidery, is like a work of art, with watercolor illustrations and careful stitch diagrams.

I haven’t seen or spoken to Judith in many years. In 2007, we were both scheduled to teach at Martha Pullen’s school in Huntsville and I looked forward to a little reunion. But there was some complication and she didn’t come. That was the last news I have about her.

I’m grateful to her for the beautiful Tea Dress pattern, first published in 1989. I am also grateful that it is now available for thos who do not have a 22 year old Sew Beautiful packed away. And I hope Judith is happy and well, wherever she is.