Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall stitching

I didn't get this little bishop finished quite as quickly as I originally planned. Doesn't that happen to all of us? 

I used a combination of Scared-d-Cat and Octo-Bear, both by Little Memories. I didn't want specifically Halloween or Thanksgiving. So I went with a general fall theme.

The pattern is Children's Corner Bishop. I used a pima cotton called Kiwi Gingham from Bessie Mary.

Hopefully I will have a picture of our baby modeling her new bishop soon. I am onto Christmas sewing and finishing up convention projects. (The darker green around the center pumpkin is because the fabric is still wet where I spritzed out the blue marker. I'm delivering the dress within the hour and didn't have time to wait for it to dry completely.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day Gettin' You Down?

Just get up and dance, you'll feel better.

Monday, October 25, 2010

You like me! You really like me!

Sally Field's memorable Oscar acceptance speech, 1985

or you people are gluttons for punishment!

100,000 hits. Who would have thought.

Thank you faithful readers for your loyalty, comments and questions. Thank you even to the few who email me wanting to give me a piece of your mind. I can use all the pieces I can get, mine has left the building.

I continue to learn from so many of you. To be inspired and to feel graced. Two and half years ago, I started this as a lark. It has become something I look forward to. I love sharing my passion. My goal is to share that passion to create in hopes that you will share it with those you encounter.

And the searches that lead some readers here. Not to joke at someone's expense, but frankly some of them are hysterical. Some of them came about from spelling errors I miss; others I have no idea. One of the latest was "whipping friends and family." How that got someone to my corner of the world, I can't fathom. The search, "back dimple piercing," remains one of my favorites.

I hope you have been inspired to create in your own life or learned from my mistakes. Whatever brings you here, I hope it has brightened your life.

Keep stitching, or as my husband has been quoted, "Smock on!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

More blessings from friends

My friends are afraid this baby may be nekkid. LOL, just kidding. When I knew I couldn't keep up, I recruited reinforcements. My friend, Dawn, also a stitching buddy graciously agreed to smock a bishop for our baby. I had made a bishop as a gift from this butterfly print pique a while back. When our baby Mommy spotted what was left, she claimed it. And here are the beautiful results. Dawn is a superb stitcher. She can smock circles around most of us. These are her photos.

Close up of the gorgeous smocking. Also is the piping detail at the neck. The pattern is "Beginnings" from AS&E #73. The smocking plate is "Jewel" by Wonderfully Made, available from your favorite heirloom retailer. I just love it, and better yet, so does her mother.

 The back, where the smocking meets perfectly in the back. I never have that luck. Or should I say skill. Buttons are antique mother of pearl that were in my Jeannie basket.


But this beautiful dress would not be complete without its model. She is 3 and half months old, weighs 16# and this is a size 6 months. Fits perfectly.

Notice the cheek chewing. She is beginning to cut teeth. That has proved a little dicey the past few days. Not a happy camper. But pretty no matter what.

Thank you again Dawn!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Heavenly Fibre Art

I stumbled across this on Mary Corbett's Needle and Thread. We did not see these when we zoomed through the V&A in London last April. I wish we had. They were put on display in honor of Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Britain in September.

This is a look at some glorious tapestries designed by Raphael on commission to the Vatican during the 16th century. Awesome is not a big enough word to describe them. Go here if you are unable to view the video here.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friends are a blessing


I am so blessed to have wonderful friends in my life. Sarah is a stitching buddy that I hang with on Avery Island every year. The gown above was one of two projects at La Broderie Bayou 2010. This linen gown was taught by Gloria Rivera. Sarah got her gown finished lickety split in spite of the miles and miles of hemstitching. I admit with all that was going on around here since mid June, mine was put away without any guilt what so ever. My brain wasn't into it this summer. I can't imagine why.

Imagine my surprise and glee when Sarah asked if I had anyone around here who might be available to "borrow" her finished gem. Sarah doesn't have any little ones in her life right now. I jumped at the chance to give her exquisite gown a foster home. As always click on the pictures for a close up. The above picture makes the neck look wonky. It does meet, not sure why it looks funny in the picture.

This is a close up of the drawn thread work and embroidery on the frint skirts. Sarah does gorgeous work. 

 This is one of the hemstitched tucks on either side of the dress front.

This precious gown also features sweet little petal sleeves. My daughter loves the little sleeves which really surprised me. I didn't think she would like that. You never know.

The details of the gown are wonderful. Here is the delightful hemstitching and gorgeous feather stitching on either side of the front placket.

The back features a deep tuck that is outlined with with hemstitching and more feather stitching.

Here is the back tuck up close. All of the embroidery is done with DMC Color Variations floss. A sweet mix of colors.

And best of all,

the gown modeled by our very own center of attention. It fits her wonderfully and will for a while.

Our Mommy loves the gown. Baby is wearing it over a blue Swiss flannel slip. It really makes the pink embroidery and drawn thread work pop.

Thank you Sarah for thinking of us when looking for a foster home for this beautiful gown.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Danger, Will Rogers! Danger!

That is what someone should have said before I opened this cabinet! You see it is kind of like wiping that spot on the window over the kitchen sink. You wipe that spot and the next thing you know, you have taken down every curtain in the house and washed ALL of the windows! That is why you can't see out of my kitchen window, I learned that lesson. But, I had forgotten the lesson about looking through "just a couple of issues" for that smocking plate you vaguely remember.

Because when you browse those few issues, it turns into dozens of issues. Dozens of the beloved Creative Needle, I still miss them. ::sniff:: You then are enticed by all of the gorgeous projects you had forgotten about. The ideas begin to swirl in your head, you can't sleep at night for planning all of them. Then comes the next morning when you realize you won't live long enough to accomplish all that you want; so you narrow the wish list down to what you hope is a manageable few.  That is what what this pile is here. Just a few.

First up is finishing this fall bishop. And finish hemming a precious bishop that a dear friend made for our baby. I am so blessed to have wonderful people in my life who take up the slack when I have way more planned than I could ever accomplish.

So stitcher beware! Be careful when you pull out "just a few issues" to look for something. It will snowball on you.

Sometimes Mommy does put her in just a t-shirt.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Quick Gift

A quick gift for my daughter's girlfriend. A sweet little sun suit for a sweet boy born in July. This will be for next spring, it is a size 12 months. Featured on the bib front is a machine appliqued whale. Don't you love his a cute smile? The machine embroidery design is a Sew Many Designs/Junebug Designs combo pack called Whale Ahoy.

The pattern I used was Baby Playsuit by Creations By Michie'. It works up super fast. I think it took about as long to trace as it did to sew.

It is made from a cotton shirting with pima cotton for the bib. I trimmed the bib with whip stitch piping. All from my stash. So a nice gift for the "cost" of 3 buttons. I don't consider it a cost if I shopped in the closet. I know I bought it sometime, just not this time.

Someone has learned to grab onto their clothes, so her pretty gowns are up around her head all the time these days. She has even found a way to gnaw on them occasionally. I wonder what lace, starch and fabric taste like?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bishop Sleeves-Set In in the Round

It is a common practice among heirloom patterns, or patterns in general, when stitching the sleeves seams in a bishop, stitch the sleeve seams then pleat the bishop. Next to stitch the side seams you run the stitching down the side seam from the bottom edge of the sleeve all the way down the side of the dress to the bottom of the dress hem.  I'm not a fan. I don't want lumps and bumps in my armpits when my arm is hanging at my side and I don't imagine children do either. Especially if you have a child with sensory issues. They are going to squirm and wiggle with those seams bunching under their armpits. It is possible to have a set in the round sleeve on a bishop. I am in the process of pre-constructing a bishop for our baby and decided to share this finishing method with you, faithful reader.

The first thing you have to do when stitching your sleeve seams is to stop about an inch or two before the end of the seam.The x's mark where I stopped stitching. I had done seamless pleating on this bishop, so my seams are unfinished at this time. We'll get to that later.

I French seamed the sleeve and the sides of the dress. Yes, it is a bit fiddly, but it is worth in my opinion. Then I finished the sleeve hem with a narrow hem. You can see I haven't taken my "cheater stitching" out yet where I marked my 1/4" hem allowance. But I have a clean finish to the bottom of my sleeve without that "thing" peeking out at the bottom of the sleeve.

Here is the resulting "hole" in the sleeve seam after the French seams are done.

I pin the remaining underarm seam together matching my French seams.

I hope you can see this, the sun was shining in the window right at my presser foot. I just stitch the remaining seam, making sure to match my stitching lines from constructing the upper sleeve seams.

Voila! My sleeve in set in in the round with no lumpy fold over business under the arm. Now to finish that seam edge.

You can trim and then zig-zag the edge, you can use seam tape to finish, you can serge the seam allowance or you can use a mock rolled hem, which is what I have done.

First trim one side of the seam allowance to 1/8". The remaining seam allowance is 1/4".

I press the wider seam allowance over the shorter one with my iron. Now we are ready to do the mock rolled hem. It is also called a faux French seam, Cindy Foose calls it a toymaker stitch. Doesn't matter what you call it, it is very easy to achieve.  Along the seam on the short side, starting at the right if you are right handed, I take a stitch right next to my stitched seam. Then travel to the fold of the pressed edge of the larger seam allowance and again take a stitch. Alternate back and forth between the stitched seam and the folded edge for a couple of inches.

Then pull your working thread until the folded edge curls over to meet the seam stitching on the shorter side.

Pull until if looks like this. I have used waxed thread I purchased from Wendy Schoen. It is a Sarah Howard Stone product. Inquire at your favorite heirloom shop. Regular weight sewing thread that you wax yourself works just as well. But you really need a waxed working thread to prevent breaking when you tug to form the roll. Continue in the same way, stitching your alternating stitches for a couple inches, pull to roll, until you reach the other side. It does not take that long, I timed it, 20 minutes to do this seam.

Here is my finished faux French seam. Tiny, neat and trim. Now to apply the bias band, then I can get to smocking little punkins and leaves.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cuteness overload

Be careful you may break your "ohhhhhhhh" button. These are just too cute. I love the color of the bunny on the right. But seriously, how cute are they?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sweet Bunnies on a Blanket

Originally uploaded by Nanna's
Isn't she adorable? This was a well loved child's blanket that was saved with wool embroidery. This bunny and her siblings dance along in strategically placed areas to give new life to a well worn "lovie". So adorable.

I finished the feather stitching along the bottom of the gown. I was going to do more and decided, enough. I am done with this.

I also added a small lily of the valley motif to the bodice. I also "fixed" the area at the top of the bodice where the feather stitching lies between the areas of smocking. It wouldn't behave as I wanted it to, so I beat it into submission by making two hand stitched tucks behind there. Now it lays where I want it to. I declare this project done! The gown now awaits some siblings in years to come.

I have actually entered the sewing room today. Working on some quick things. He's kind of cute isn't he?

Next up, a fall bishop for our baby girl. Mommy thinks she needs some green in her life. I plan to smock it with a mix of pumpkins and leaves. Should be cute.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A gift of love

The gown is finished and the most beautiful baby in the world has been baptized into God's  family of faith. It is no secret I love a christening gown. I was asked once what item do I still have from childhood that I cherish the most, I immediately answered, "My christening gown." I don't know why and I am sure there is some deep Jungian reason that is beyond my capacity to understand. All that aside, I hold it dear and secretly spirited it from my mother's possession as a teenager and still have it. It hangs in my sewing room. All of my own children were baptized in that gown. Sadly, it is not sturdy enough to withstand another generation's use. The upside of that is, I have the precious opportunity to make a family gown for each of my four children. This is the story of the first of those.

Remember you can click to enlarge the pictures.

Our beautiful mommy holding her baby on the graced occasion of her baptism, October 3, 2010.

It was a gorgeous, crisp fall day, the sun was shining, the leaves were beginning to turn as family and friends gathered to celebrate. And to make it even more special, my husband, an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church was to be the one baptizing this much loved child. God was definitely there in so many ways throughout the day.

All of our children and their significant others were there. My husband always comments when ALL of his children are around the dinner table at one time. I always comment when they are all in the pew at Mass together. We were both happy on Sunday. It is the simple things in life.

I had a heck of a time getting good pictures of the gown on Sunday morning. So I apologize for the pictures not being the best.

The gown is made from silky voile from BessieMary. This is not the most expensive or extravagant fabric but I love it. It is a joy to work with. I love the fact that it keeps its filmy nature after it is washed but yet it sturdy enough to handle the hand embroidery. I lined the bodice with silk organza to give it a bit more oomph to handle the weight of the long skirt.

I used a combination of patterns both by the Old Fashioned Baby. Mommy wanted the skirt of the French Acadian Christening gown and Mimi wanted it smocked, so we combined the skirt with a shortened bodice of the Baby Gowns pattern. 

She wanted to reverse the original sized sequence of the "squares" on the skirt, making the largest one on the bottom. She chose the symbols she wanted used and mentioned "the featherstitching" about a dozen times. So I knew that was something she wanted as well.

The shell used to symbolize Baptism is done in chain stitch, back stitch and shadow work. The flourishes to either side are raised satin stitch. The water drops are padded eyelets.

The grapes and wheat on either side of the shadow work cross are stem stitch, granitos, lazy daisies, shadow work and back stitch. It represents Eucharist.

The monogram is raised satin stitch with shadow work and chain stitch lily of the valley. It was her idea to add the lily of the valley embroidery to the monogram, which coordinated with the lily of the valley maline laces used.  

I had always planned on using this lace and had collected several widths of insertion and edgings over the years. This is one of my favorite laces. I used a combination of three sizes of lace on the lower skirt with two strips of three pin tucks each to represent the Trinity. The shadow work doves in the corner represent Confirmation.

She wanted three-quarter sleeves but not too puffy and large. So I reduced the sleeve width by 3/4." By concentrating the gathering on the lower edge directly below the sleeve header gathers it still puffs nicely. The bottom of the sleeve is finished with lily of the valley beading/edging threaded with silk satin ribbon. Since I knew the beading lace would add length, I used the newborn length for the 3/4 sleeves. I also inserted lace across the sleeve.

The slip is the one from the Baby Gowns pattern also made from the silky voile. Shell hems finish the neck and armholes with lace edging across the bottom. It was nippy yesterday so mommy had a onesie underneath it all. She is styling her first jewelry gifted by a friend.

I made a size 6 months and it fit perfectly. She weighs between 13 and 14 pounds. The gown is a tad over 39 inches long. Mommy wanted long so that is what she got. It was fastened in the back with two sterling silver beauty pins. Ignore the bright blue paci, we switched it out to a plain white one soon after these pictures were taken.

In the spirit of full disclosure I will admit that there is more feather stitching to be added along the bottom of the skirt and on the sleeves. I will do that this week along with her name and date on the back of the lower skirt. My plan is to do that this week before she has her portraits taken.

There are also some things on the gown that I am not completely happy with, but you will notice I did not point them out. She was beautiful, blessed and baptized and that is what matters.

Here she is with her parents and godparents before Mass.

This is why I sew. I also will admit to a tear or two when we first dressed her. It makes a Mimi's heart sing I tell ya! I hope you, faithful readers, are working on something that makes your heart sing as well.
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