Sunday, April 26, 2009


The cutest Peter Rabbit you ever saw!

The pattern is Primrose Lane Michaela. I had heard that it ran a bit short in the length so I lengthened it 3/4" and made the sleeves about 1/4" wider. The fabric is Fabric Finders Dobbie. I like the look and texture of the fabric but I will tell you it is a boogerboo to iron. I should clarify, not to iron, but to keep looking ironed. It has a very crisp hand after it is washed, almost like a shirting. Actually is sounds like shirting as you are handling it.

Jan of BessieMary and I were discussing differences in fabrics after they are washed when I was looking for fabric for the christening gown. This fabric was softer before washed. I am okay with it, but will admit not too sure how happy baby's mother is going to be with me. Oh well.

The collar is again one more scrap from that "hunk" of pique I used for Wally. I wonder how many more things I can squeeze out of it. I have to figure out what it is and where I got it. I love it. The good thing about lined pique is you can even get an on grain collar out of a chunk of fabric with no discernable top or sides. You know the lines of the pique are on grain by virtue of the way it is woven.

So here is baby's gift ready to be wrapped. I finished the bubble EIGHT days before it is needed for the shower. Unheard of in my world. I ordered the the book from Amazon and it came yesterday. It is a beautiful big book that has been reprinted. The pages are big and the pictures delightful. Now if there is also baby wrapping paper upstairs get out of my way, I am headed out to buy a lottery ticket!

I did find this often neglected notion to be very handy for this garment. With the smocked neckline by the time you get the smocked panel, piped on either side seam, add the lining behind the panel, the 3 layers of the piped collar and bias neck band you have SEVEN to NINE layers in some spots to turn to the back and hope it stays there. This little gem was invaluable. I had used it before but to bang the life out of bulky points etc. Well imagine my delight when I actually followed the DIRECTIONS printed right on the front! Jeezo pete, worked great. My iron puts out an obscene amount of steam so shaping the neckline around my pressing ham, steaming it and then applying pressure with the clapper did the trick. You do have to let it cool and dry before you handle it again but it turned that neckseam to the back and stayed there. So next time a lot of layers give you trouble remember to grab your clapper.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let the embroidery begin! and 100 posts!

Have my fabric washed, dried, ironed, starched and the center panel traced. I traced while Peter Rabbit is hanging to dry


Think this baby is Irish? I also traced a few non obnoxious shamrocks on the yoke and some will go around the hem if time permits. I plan to use padded satin stitch, trailing, seed stitch, stem stitch, shadow work, lazy daisies, granitos and applique cord in this design.

To answer a question before I get asked...

Yes I do trace my embroidery with a blue wash out marker. NO I don't use pencil. For me pencil is evil. Yes I starched my fabric before tracing (about 6-8 layers), yes I used a #2 pencil, yes I have tried an Ultimate Marking pencil (Ultimate evil as far as I am concerned), yes I have used a #3 pencil. You want to know when and if you will want to commit hari kari? Spend 100+ hours on an embroidered panel and not have the *&#! pencil come out. No matter how long you soaked it or what you soaked it in. So no, I don't trace with pencil.

I use the blue marker by Clover. They have a fine point and a wide point point marker. The fine point is not a felt tip, it is something hard. So it makes a fine line and doesn't dry out as quickly as some others. I buy them by the 3's. If I keep the pen moving as I trace it doesn't bleed out into a fuzzy line either. Of course if I left it in one place I would have bleed lines.

Now there is one drawback to tracing in blue wash out marker. Watch your water glass! Don't ask how I know.

And HAPPY ONE HUNDRETH POST! How fitting that the first post introducing myself to blog land was about christening gowns as well? I am off now to gather threads and hoop the part(s) that need to be shadow worked first.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Him is cute!

Smocking done on baby gift. I think he is cute. Obviously the "hem" of his blue jacket has come undone on the left since it lists a bit lower than the right. But as usual I am okay with it. That seems to be my mantra. Need to construct it now. Hopefully tomorrow it will be done.

The christening gown fabric arrived today. 4 weeks and 2 days until it needs to be finished.

This is my 99th post! Whoa nelly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another attack of blog surfing sickness...

Are you like me, when you have things on your "I have to get _______ done!" is when blog surfing sickness strikes (BSS)? Well it happens to me. A lot! On my ironing board are the pieces that are cut out to zip off a baby gift before the fabric for the next christening gown arrives. Christening gown grandma wants the gown by Memorial Day weekend, so I know there will be many many attacks of BSS in the next FOUR AND A HALF weeks. I can do it, I can do it.
But anywhooooo in the midst of all the flurry over my seamless pleating tutorial (thank you kind, adoring fans) I have gotten hits from all over.
Well I am a nosy individual and like to know who is peering in the window so I will follow those hits thus taking me to new places never before visited. And we know how BSS works, you go to one place that links to another, that links to another and so on and so on, etc etc etc. You get the picture.
Well that was a long drawn out verbose way to saying "look what I found!" Jodie of Vintage RicRac has opened my eyes to an addiction that I didn't know existed. Selvages. Now I have used selvages and their awesome colorway dots to match floss but then tossed it aside like a bad habit. Jodie has made garments from it, a parasol, a tote bag and many other cool things. But the selvage dress....ohmygoodness. So cool. And so fun. Who knew? Just the type of project to throw my procrastination gene into overdrive. Think of the hours I could chop away at that FOUR and A HALF weeks playing with selvages.

This cute pattern is next up on the hit parade. Need to go pleat it, so I can smock a cute little Peter Rabbit on it. Baby Shower is May 3rd. Also need to buy a Peter Rabbit book to go with it. Isn't that a cute idea? On the baby shower invite it asked for classic children's literature to build a library for baby. If it weren't for the cg we know that this baby gift would not be complete before 10pm on May 2nd. But that won't be the case. Wanna bet I am still breaking a sweat to get it wrapped 30 minutes before the shower?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seamless Pleating Tutorial

Seamless Pleating Method #1
I am going to cover two methods of seamless pleating. I have used simple batiste because it was on my cutting table. And serendipitously there were two colors. At first I thought that would be a pain and then realized it was perfect. So it is two colors so you can better see where the seam would occur.

Seamless pleating can be used anywhere you need to combine two pieces of fabric and don't want the bulk or worse the "bump" of the seam to show for example a bishop or an insert for an older child that needs a tad more than 45" fabric to not look so s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d after construction. I know as Bunny commented on the butterfly bishop that you can push your French seam into the groove of the rollers as you pleat. For me, it works great for 3 out of 4 seams. Invariably the one seam it didn't work is on the front. Ticks me off every time. So I prefer seamless pleating.

And as always click on the pictures to enlarge.

Your first piece goes through the pleater as you would any other.

My first piece you can see has cleared the pleating rods.

Insert your second piece making sure that the tops are even, or in other words your top edge is lined up on the same location on the pleater rod. We often use the grooves in the rod as a landmark. Use the same groove for you second piece of fabric.

The two pieces after they have been taken off the pleater. Ignore the pleat "boo-boo" to the right. I was obviously not paying attention and must have pulled on it. See I even let you see my mess ups. I'm not proud.

Mark your seam allowance.

Choose the pleat closest to your seam allowance and mark the peak of the pleat. See what my pleating boo boo caused? That is how I know I must have been pulling on the fabric as it was feeding. Probably had the fabric between my thumb and forefinger right there at the center. But all that aside, this is a sample and I wasn't re-pleating it. Mark your peaks closest to your seam allowance.

I have pushed my pleats back together and you can see the pleat marked that signals my seam allowances.

Smock up to your seam, here my needle has pierced that LAST pleat I will stitch on my first piece of fabric.

Take your next stitch on the FIRST marked pleat of the second piece of fabric. Try your best to maintain a consistent tension. It will be a tad challenging since you are squeezing together 2-5 pleats. Don't fret it, trust me it will all come out okay.

Here I have completed the smocking. I know it is just 5 rows of cables but come on, I am just showing you, not stitching a masterpiece here. It is obvious on the left where the seam will be. On the right is the back of the piece.

Now remove your gathering threads. Take a deep breath, it is okay! Wait for the magic.

Voila! Look at that seam allowance pop up there as if by magic I tell ya!

Flip it over and your stitches look even. If the colors of the fabric didn't change you wouldn't be able to tell there was a break there. It is that easy. Now go back and stitch a seam on your marked seam allwance. Get as close as you can without stressing over it. You smocking is going to maintain your seam allowance.

Seamless Pleating Method #2

Again I have used two different color fabrics for better illustration. Mark the seam allowances on your pieces. Begin feeding first piece of fabric through the pleater normally being more careful than I was in the previous example to feed evenly and slowly enough to control it but not so slowly you wear yourself out before you get to the fun part.

When you come to the end of the second piece it should like the picture above.

Pull the piece OFF of the pleater. Relax, it will be okay, I promise. Pull your gathering threads out of the seam allowance. Leave gathering threads on the front.

DO NOT RE-THREAD YOUR PLEATER YET. Begin feeding second piece of fabric making sure again to have the top lined up with the same groove you used as a landmark on your first piece.

Here is the part you can't get too zealous or you will get ahead of yourself. Feed the fabric slowly onto the UNTHREADED needles, smooth out the seam allowance. Turn your pleater handle just enough to get your fabric to the end of the needles without going off.

Carefully without bending your needles or pulling too hard on your fabric, clear the fabric off of the needles just up to your marked seam allowance. Stand up straight and take a deep breath and stretch your neck. Remember to breath.

NOW re-thread your pleater needles being careful to keep them in the same order. How do I know that this is important you ask? You will have a hot mess if you rethread the needles in a random order and not the one that matches your first piece of fabric. Trust me, been there, done that.

Continue to feed your next piece of fabric. See how the seam allowance has fallen to the back allowing your fabrics to meet up and kiss? If you are doing a bishop you will repeat this process for all four seams. I think it is worth it.

This is the two pieces off the pleater. No visible seam.

Turn it over and there is your seam allowance waiting for you. You can go ahead and stitch your seams now if you want.

To finish the raw edges of your seam allowance you can roll and whip it by machine, finish it with a zig zag or do a mock French seam.

To do a mock French seam, stitch your seam with a straight stitch close to your smocking. Then trim one side of the seam allowance to 1/8". I fold the second side of the seam allowance over half way, fold again letting the folded edge meet the machine stitching of your straight stitched seam, making sure to encase the seam allowance you trimmed to 1/8". Whip stitch down.

I hope this helps you. Try it and see if you like it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another pet peeve...

We know I have many. You would think that my projects were perfect for as many things as I complain about. :) But another thing that I feel detracts from your smocking is pleating thread pleats left in the garment. There is a difference between handmade and homemade. Or euphemistically called "loving hands at home." One thing that screams homemade in my oh not near humble enough opinion is when you remove the pleating threads from your garment and don't press out the extra pleats that remain below your smocking.

Some people are afraid of hurting the smocking by getting the iron up to that stitching. Not so.

I scoot my hot iron right up to that stitching. And will either spritz it with starch or water. Okay I admit, I use starch usually and get it pretty wet. I want those pleats GONE! I do this before I construct it so I can especially get into those pleats over the sleeves.

Look at the difference in the two sleeves. The sleeve on the left has not been ironed up to the smocking. See how it makes the sleeve lay flat? You won't get that precious puff sleeve if it has to fight the pleating in the fabric. The sleeve on the right hasn't even had the applied and you can see it already is taking on that puff shape.

So don't be afraid, use your iron.

Butterfly bishop-DONE!

Bishop for DD's boyfriend's Goddaughter is finished. I didn't take a picture of the panties. I used Children's Corner Bishop pattern, and Ellen's Watercolors from the 2008 Nov/Dec Issue of Creative Needle. Fabric is a pique.

Excuse the fact that my hanger is covered with tissue paper, I had to unwrap the dress again to take a picture of it. She had it packed and ready to take back to Louisiana today. Love puffed sleeves, love bishops. And really liked this plate. I will use it again. It was cute yet quick. Of course a bishop in a size 6 months is quick by nature.

Want your pleats to stand up nice? Use a pique so that you have to pack those buddies into the neckband. No self surviving pleat has room to lay over! I pleated this bishop with the seamless pleating method. I don't care how careful you are, how tiny your French seams are, when pleating a bishop, at least one of those seams are going to show and look chunky. I don't like chunky. I'm chunky enough without my bishop seams being chunky too.

I like it and I hope the baby's momma likes it too.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Didn't she do good?

My #2 daughter's first attempts at smocking. I know for a fact that my first project didn't look like this. Makes a momma proud. ::sniff:: She doesn't like how the bottom is turning out so we talked about how to fix it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hey Aim!!!!!

Progress made baby girl.

Yes my DD today was a little put out on the phone today when I was telling her about how I was gathering info, examples, pictures etc. for the next christening gown's Grandma. She was afraid I had thrown everything to the wind because a cg had come on the horizon. NOT!!!! This sweet bishop is on its way upstairs to be blocked so that I can start on construction tomorrow. That is what is nice about an infant sized bishop in a simple geometric. Give me a few nights of good TV and I can smock away. I am anxious to see how it turns out. I am torn as to whether I think the green floss is a little too yellow. But I like it. This little bishop is for her beau's Goddaughter. Since she is coming home for Easter my goal is to have it constructed so she can take it back with her on Monday. The things we do.

On a more serious note, in less than two days we enter into the holiest of holy days of the church year. Triduum. I love these days. The sights, sounds, smells, music and images of these days remind me once again that we are an Easter people.

My favorite is night prayer late late on Holy Thursday. The church is quiet and dark except for a spare light or two on the tabernacle.

To gather together in quiet prayer a few voices reciting night prayer together. To leave the church and the world is cool, dark and almost quiet. Love it.

Then the gravity of Good Friday. What a gift Good Friday is. Yes a gift, we can't have Easter without it. How easy it can be to enter into a Good Friday mindset for so many. We often relate to the crucifixion in our lives more easily than the fact that we are a Resurrection people; as I said before we are an Easter people. God's chosen ones, loved, forgiven and redeemed. A great homily I heard once, "...they laid him in the tomb because it was close at hand, but praise be to heaven, now the tomb is empty!"

And Easter Vigil! The grand kahuna of liturgies. The fire, the dark, the lighting of the Easter candle, the lights coming on all at once. The sound of water, the smell of incense and chrism. The joy on those brought into the church. Reminding us that we have a gift of faith that they too want to share.

My prayers are with you all as we celebrate the gift of redemption. As we once again are reminded of who we are and why we are.

The tomb was close at hand, but praise be to heaven, now the tomb is empty!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Play Ball!!!

St. Louis is a baseball town. I never knew a line up, followed stats, or cared to go to a game until we lived here. Many can tell you where they were the day Kennedy was shot, or more recently on 9/11. But can you say where you were when Mark McGwire broke the home run record? Or the day Jack Buck died? Here is just a tiny taste of opening day festivities. Of course this was a MUCH warmer and sunnier opening day than the one that will occur today most likely. Though the white snow is a nice contrast against the green grass.

Not only does baseball say spring but so do butterflies and bright colors. So this is what I will be stitching on while watching the ballgame this afternoon.

Only a few more rows to smock. I am using the plate Ellen's Watercolors from the last (::sniff::) issue of Creative Needle.

Not real sure why this looks so rippled in the picture, its not in real life.

Since hanging onto the magazine while stitching the project is a pain, I just scanned in the plate and picture, made it into one page and printed that buddy off. I put it in a page protector like I do the rest of my smocking plates. When finished I will just store this with my other plates in a 3 ring binder.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Warning!!!!! Dental Pain May Ensue

Because he is so stinkin' sweet it will make your teeth hurt. Love him! This little outfit may have to be my go to baby gift for a while. Need to make a baby girl one too. The romper underneath is out of navy checked seersucker. I really don't remember where I got it from. The diaper shirt is lined pique. Buttons are from Old Fashioned Baby and the snaps that you can't see are Snap Source. It really is straight, I photographed it from the side a bit, the cat was in the way.

I can't believe I didn't notice that bottom buttonhole that was a tad too far to the left until it was cut, the button sewed on, washed, ironed and photographed. Oh well. Chances are the new momma won't notice either. At least that is what I am telling myself.

Here's another shot of that cute little whale I named Wally. I lurve him.

And because that antique feather stitch is still on my radar to perfect I put it on the collar as well. Now if you enlarge this picture you can see there are some places it gets bigger, smaller, wider and then narrower, but I am okay with it. As a whole it looks okay. I will just keep working on it. It may have been foolish to do it in navy blue though, any glitches really show up. Oh well, que sera, sera! Lastly I piped the collar with the seersucker.

Gingham, seersucker, and piping. How can you go wrong?

Parting thought:

Another face of evil................

WIRE HANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!

No my name is not Joan Crawford but just because the chick was crazy doesn't mean she was wrong. Wire hangers are manufactured for the dry cleaning industry because they are compact and cheap enough for some Sri Lankan child to produce 12,000,000 for a penny. They were never meant to live in your closets. And they sure as **** weren't meant to showcase your pretties. You work hard on your projects and you spend hard earned money on the best materials you can afford. Don't hang them, photograph them or worse yet gift them on a wire hanger. Makes me crazy to see a beautifully smocked or embroidered garment on a wire hanger. And if your budget only allows you to sew with affordably priced Imperial Batiste, that is okay. You can still go to ebay and buy yourself a dozen satin covered children's hangers for $5. How much more special will you feel to see your accomplishment hanging on a pretty hanger? And the recipient will feel like they are that much more special too. Besides, it preserves the shoulders and sleeves of the garment. Wire hangers be gone!!!! Recycle those buddies so they can find a useful purpose in life.

Till next time, next up a bishop in a sweet 6-9 months size. Am deciding between two different butterfly prints.

ANNNNNNNNNNNDDDDDD drum roll please, another christening gown! SQUEEEEEEE. Can't wait.
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