Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Altering a Sleeveless bodice for a Sleeve


As promised here is the follow on tutorial on changing a sleeveless bodice to receive a set in sleeve.


Children's Corner Louise fits Princess quite well and is open to many adaptations. This one is a fairly easy alteration, even if pattern drafting scares you. I used the bodice of Children's Corner Virginia to alter my sleeveless bodice. I used Children's Corner Ruthie for the sleeve. For my mind, it seems counterintuitive to add to the bodice to add a sleeve but that is what you do. A sleeveless bodice is cut in on the armholes and can sometimes dip down at the neckline.


You can see the extra width of the CC Virginia pattern piece underneath the CC Louise pattern piece. (To answer the obvious question, yes on the Lolli-Hop Lane dress I did use a Children's Corner Ruthie sleeve, the reason I did not use the bodice of Ruthie for the inset sleeve alteration is because the Ruthie has a high yoke and it would have meant an extra step of taping, tracing the skirt to the bodice to get a complete armhole. Remember all Children's Corner patterns are interchangeable in their parts. So a Ruthie sleeve would fit a Virginia armhole.) So onto the instructions of how to do this.

  • Lay your sleeveless bodice pattern piece over your "sleeved" bodice piece. Matching center fronts. 
  • Decide at this point if you want a to leave the neckline dropped, I chose to leave it.
  • Trace a new pattern piece 



It is a tad difficult to see through the three layers, my stack has the Virginia bodice on the bottom, the Louise bodice in the middle of the stack, ending with the tracing paper on top of all. Transfers markings.


Note on your new pattern piece all pertinent information. Virginia armhole, Louise bodice with smocked insert, size and cutting directions.


Repeat the same process for the back bodices. It really is that simple.


Voila! My sleeveless dress has been altered to include a sleeve. Proceed with your normal construction.  I hope this helps those that had questions about how I altered the dress pattern for the article Lolli-Hop Lane in Classic Sewing Spring 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Altering a non smocked bodice for a smocked insert


I have been asked to do a tutorial on how I altered the Children's Corner Louise for both a smocked insert and sleeves. This post will be about the smocked insert. Another will follow in a day or so with the sleeve alteration.

First off I am not a pattern drafter but I am a fair to midland instruction follower. For many years I have heard many wiser than I say how the pieces/parts of Children's Corner patterns are interchangeable. I have found this to be true. This is not always the case of every pattern line, but Children's Corner patterns were developed over the years using the same pattern blocks. This is what makes them interchangeable.


I love the way Louise fits, it is appropriate for a little bit older girl while still allowing for some design changes. I knew I wanted it smocked but at six and half I felt like a basic yoke like CC Lee was a tad younger look than what I was going for. That bodice is a blank canvas for so many design changes. I chose to insert a smocked panel.



One thing to keep in mind is proportion. I am not a big fan of a smocked insert covering a child's entire chest. To me, it looks over done as well as heavy. Unlike a pleated skirt or full smocked bodice, the insert is more rigid by nature and has a tendency to stand up away from the child like a placard. A more narrow insert has less chance of doing that. That is just my opinion. I chose to make the insert about one-third of the length of the bodice.  The finished insert is approximately 3" of the 9" of the bodice front. This measurement might change depending on the size you are making.  Try to keep in mind the  rule of thirds and this will work well for you.


I made this Children's Corner Lee for Princess last Easter. I smocked the plate as written and ended up with chocolate bunnies under her arms. I like picture smocking but not to have it end up under her armpits! She loved it and that is what matters. All that aside, I didn't want to smock bunnies for under her arms this year.


So I chose to add "wings" to either side of the insert. A wing is a block of fabric the same depth as the pleated piece cut on the straight of grain. I joined these blocks on either side with a 1/4" seam. This join on either side left an opportunity to pipe! You know how I love piping. Make sure your wings on either side are of equal size. This piece will become your complete insert.

There are a couple of ways to alter your pattern for the bodice front. You can figure out the depth of your insert and cut away that same depth on your front bodice pattern piece. (Remember to add back on seam allowances at the bottom of the altered bodice front as well as the top of your insert.) Or if you are a short cut person like myself there is an easier way. 


Apply piping to the top of your insert. This is just basted for illustration, I would normally glue my piping on.  And this insert is wider than the one on my dress, so there are no "wings" applied.


Attach a block of fabric large enough to accommodate the upper bodice of your pattern piece. Again this is loosely basted for illustration purposes. You now have a block to be treated as one piece of fabric.

If your pattern does not come with a full sized bodice pattern piece, trace one on a folded piece of tissue or tracing material. If you feel brave enough, fold your insert/fabric block in half making sure to center your smocked insert correctly on the fold. I am not that brave.


Place your full bodice pattern over your fabric block.  Again making sure to center your smocking.  Pin securely and trace around your pattern piece. In this case where the insert goes the full width of the bodice, stitch a narrow, short zig-zag stitch around your pattern piece just inside where you will be cutting the pleats. This will prevent your pleated piece from unraveling and losing its shape. Since my insert had the flat wings on either side this step was not necessary and I simply cut out my pattern. 




Another variance I made for this pattern was the order of work. In the pattern instructions it had you attach the skirt pieces to the front and the back separately. You ended up with a completed front of the dress and a completed back. Then it instructed to stitch the side seams together. I knew I wanted to pipe all the way around the skirt to the back placket so I completely constructed the bodice without the skirts first. Including inserting the sleeves. It is much easier to put in sleeves without the weight of the skirt involved. I then constructed the skirt, added the tucks and then attached it to the bodice with piping sandwiched between. No side seams involving piping and it is smooth all the way around the waist seam.

I hope this gives you the courage to try adding a smocked insert to a flat bodice. It really is quite easy.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What is on the machine?


Isn't this delectable? Who doesn't love a pile of Liberty of London Tana Lawn just soothing your spirit? No, its not a quilt. That is all I will tell for now.

Also, I wanted to say thank you as well for all who left comments, texted or emailed about my Wee Care post last week. Our baby is still patiently waiting, just the way we like it. She is now 30weeks 3days. Let's hope she continues to do so for a few more weeks.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Road Trip to Lolli-Hop Lane



Have you received your latest issue of Classic Sewing Magazine?  If you have, you may have spotted two of the sweetest grandgirls on the planet. Page 51 to be exact. The little one was excited to go anywhere with older cousin but that oldest one was excited beyond measure. This was her gateway to the big time. This is the tale of one Mimi's summertime road trip with two little girls. If you know anything about magazines, you know there is quite the lead time. Our trip happened last July when LG was 21 months old and Princess had just turned 6.


Like I said, that little one will barely let "Errararie" out of her sight. She won't even let her sit in a chair alone. This was the morning we were leaving. Hairs are done, teeth are brushed and breakfast has been eaten. Time to get started.


It was an exciting day, Mimi had new books, puzzles and for desperate times, DVD's at the ready. Loaded up and everyone was all smiles. We stopped at Princess's favorite place for lunch, "the biscuit place". You may know it as Cracker Barrel. She was in heaven. LG did great on the five hour drive but by the time we were at the hotel she was pretty much done in. This look of squeezing her cheeks is her way of saying "Mimi, I'm done!" Princess even succumbed to a cat nap in the sunny, warm car.


"Don't even think I'm going to get back in that car. Don't mind me, I'm just going to stroll up and down this sidewalk wall."

It was time for some dinner, baths, removing daddy done manicures and reading books. It did not take long before it was slumberland for two tired baby girls.


Next morning we were up early to "get ready", they look pretty nervous here but just prior to this there had been some serious bouncing off the walls. They were excited. Mimi threw all rules to the wind and let LG have her paci. She was deep in the depths of stranger danger at this age and I wanted all comfort measures at hand. Besides, Mommy wasn't there to tell us no.  We were off, it was just a short drive from our hotel to the office where the shoot would take place. Hoffman Media's offices are located in a beautiful part of Birmingham.


If you sneak over to the Press Page, tab at the top of the page, you will see that Princess had the opportunity to model for the fall issue. This was great for two reasons, Princess got to "model" alone and it also gave LG time to watch how this process worked. Again trying to ease by that stranger danger.


Phyllis DePiano and Kathy McMakin were great with the girls. Notice the Kleenex in the floor used as diversions for LG.


By the time it was their turn together, the little one was reassured that all was safe and she spied the basket of toys and books. She was ready! Princess was very patient with the rookie.



All the while the photographer Mac Jamieson was snapping away. LG never even noticed him. If she had she would have immediately given him her "cheese" face.


Excuse the not so great phone pics. I was trying to stay out of the way.


Believe it or not, we weren't really there for the girls! :) I had just taken along my own models for this issue's submission. "Lolli-Hop Lane". Featuring chocolate bunny lollipops. I had this idea rolling around in my head for a couple of years. I finally got it from the idea stage to the fabric stage.


Dress fabric is a chambray from Farmhouse Fabrics, insert is Imperial broadcloth. Collar is Spechler-Vogel poly/cotton tone on tone stripe called Skip Dent. All piped with Fabric Finders pima cotton gingham. (Click the links for resources) Anchor floss is from Vaune.com Floss colors and smocking graph are included in the magazine.

Pattern for the big girl's dress is Children's Corner Louise with a Ruthie Sleeve and a Lee collar. I love that Ruthie sleeve on an older girl. Gives a little puff without being too young.


I also modified the construction order of Louise to insert piping all around the waist of the dress. Excuse the wrinkles from handling.


For little girl's style, I used Children's Corner Carol which is included in the Aprons pattern. I modified the smocking just a tad for the single bunny, giving him a bottom border. The bunnies are all finished off with big polka-dot bows. We love big bows around here!


I'm known for many things, one of which is my love of gingham, so the buttons and back placket are also done with gingham.  You can never have too much gingham in my mind but I rarely make an entire garment from gingham. Hmmm? Wonder why.


I loved the colors and I love my lollipops and no, there is no mistake in the magazine, they don't have eyes. I didn't like the bunnies with eyes. If yours need eyes, feel free to add them. I hope you send me photos of your version of Lolli-Hop Lane.


Modeling is hard work and we were all spent! Thank goodness there is no photo of Mimi, I am not cut out to be a stage mom. I was a ragged mess by the time we were finished. They look a little ragged too.  Some paci time, a short nap and we ready to go again.


Met a friend for lunch to top off our day. We had lunch at Ashley Mac's. The sour cream biscuits are worth a five hour drive anytime! We even took some to go.


LG did great for so many hours in the car in such a short time. The last half hour of the drive home was her Waterloo, she was done. She had had enough. And this was the song of her people. "Unca" is her brother, and no his name is not Unca. By this time Mimi had let them watch TV and Princess was fully engrossed with Calliou or Snoopy, not sure which one. All in all it was a great time and I look forward to the opportunity to do it again. Anytime spent with my grands is a good time.


Thanks for indulging this proud Mimi. 


If you have not subscribed, I hope you will. If not, single copies are for sale at your local JoAnn or Barnes and Noble.

Friday, January 27, 2017

When Wee Care Becomes Personal



Wee Care, a subject close to my heart. I couldn't even link *A* post about it, there are 68 posts that I have done about Wee Care! This time though, Wee Care has become a personal, heartfelt endeavour. My son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby. Stressfully though, that baby girl has kept us on our toes. Mommy has already been in the hospital for preterm labor and is now at home on bed rest. She is 28weeks 5days as of today and we are so proud of the great job she is doing incubating that sweet little one. Doctors have told them though the chances of going to term are pretty close to nil. Their goal right now is to get to 30 weeks. We will celebrate when that goal is reached. I pray that the new goal after will be 32 weeks.

Fortunately, across the country, Wee Care gowns are not exclusively used just for bereavement any longer. That is certainly not my goal. We expect this sweet girl to grow into a feisty little one just like her five cousins. Whew. All that being said, even Preemie Princesses need Mimi-mades.


Also UFO's come in handy as well. I found this little gown smocked minus the sleeve smocking. No neckband or hem. I have no idea what my initial intention had been for this sweet gown but I am glad I found it. Don't you just love a sweet puffed sleeve?


The other sleeve shows the smocking.  It also shows the sweet, cozy, texture of the Swiss flannel. Love Swiss flannel. This gown was made with scraps I am sure.


A word to the wise or from those that learned the hard way; when you start a project, take a Frixion pen, write on a scrap of fabric the floss colors/numbers, size and pattern used and stitch it to the garment somewhere. Trust me. I had not done that, the project was not in a bag with the floss included as is usually the case. It was in a basket with other Wee Care gown kits, loose. (I advise using the Frixion pen on fabric and loosely stitched to the project with thread to avoid a myriad of problems. For example, a piece of paper that is not acid free could stain your project. Standard ink on paper could become damp and bleed the ink onto your project. Using pins or staples could leave rust on your project. There are all kind of pitfalls.) Thank goodness for an Ott Lite and thread cards.



I am so glad that a few years ago, I invested in these thread charts that contain actual thread samples in them. After a bit of trial and error I was able to determine the floss colors I had used to stitch the sleeves and a couple of bullions.

FYI: I don't believe either of these thread charts are available with the actual thread in them any longer. They do become available on eBay and Etsy on occasion. They are worth the search and the $ if you find them. The newer ones are printed color charts with pictures of the thread. Not as accurate.


As I said before, the gown is made from Swiss Flannel and is a gown made without side seams. It was featured in Issue #48 of Australian Smocking and Embroidery. So sweet.


Instead of a turned up hem I finished the hem with a narrow lace.


The back is closed with ribbon and antique buttons. This sweet gown is intended for a baby that weighs 3-4 pounds. The pattern includes sizes from Teeny Preemie around 1# all the way to newborn of 5-6 #. I didn't want any snaps, buttons are velcro down the back because preemie babies have very tender skin.


We all know I love a christening gown and have a full on one in the works for this baby girl. Mommy and Daddy want her to be baptized immediately after birth. There is no way a 2-3# baby could wear a 39", size 3-6 months gown, so I made a Wee Care  gown that can be used for the interim. I stitched this while Mommy was in the hospital trying to stop labor so I wanted it to be quick but still pretty.


I used Ginger Snaps Baby Daygowns Book IV. Obviously the non-smocked version. It also comes in sizes of 1# to 6#. This is the 2-3# size.


Since I didn't have time for hand embroidery not knowing how long I had to finish the gown, I opted for some simple machine embroidery. I used a couple of designs from The Christening 2 Collection by Custom Keepsakes. 


The fabric is satin batiste and I used DMC 50wt embroidery thread for the embroidery. Not a project for shiny polyester embroidery threads. I used a machine pin stitch to attach the lace down the front. Again, from a leftover fabric from another project. That stash closet does come in handy.


Excuse the back, it had been handled quite a bit trying to photograph it, so it was getting wrinkled.


I used the same closure as the pink gown. Just a couple of antique buttons to hold down the ends of the ribbon ties. This is before I tied the ribbon in a bow so you could see the tiny buttons. That neckband is only a tad over 1/8" wide, so those buttons are tiny. The buttons at the neck aren't as likely to mark or scratch their tender skin as a button closure down the back of the gown. Again, I didn't want snaps or velcro either.


Another sweet sleeve with narrow lace at the edge. Even if baby can't be completely dressed in the gown we can lay it over her in the isolette and she will have a Mimi made gown for a special moment.  We will use the full size gown later on to have an at home celebration and portraits when she arrives home.

As we continue to pray for this precious girl, I have another Wee Care gown in the works. In a slightly bigger size. Wouldn't it be wonderful if she grew straight through these sizes before she is born.

In a day or two I have photos of another sweet girl at her baptism. We have babies all around this time.
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