Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting ready for a Birthday

As I mentioned last week, someone is getting ready to have a birthday. This time, two summers ago, we were on daily baby watch with Mom on modified bed rest. How quickly the time flies. There are probably days Mom wishes she was on bed rest! I didn't do a special occasion dress for this year's birthday but did do this cute breezy summer dress.

I used a poly/cotton blend by Nashville Cotton that was in the stash for both the main and contrast fabric. It is lined with Imperial broadcloth.

Frannie by Children's Corner

The pattern I used was Frannie by Children's Corner. I have made Frannie Baby in the past but never the big girl Frannie.

The back has a simple one button placket. I interfaced the section to be slit down the back. It gives that placket a bit of stability without any stiffness.

I opted to put elastic in the underarm as opposed to the ribbon ties. Toddlers sometimes have trouble keeping things tied.


I actually refrained from piping the armholes (you know that is hard for me) but I had to pipe the collar.


The cute cupcake applique is from G G Designs. It stitched out great. I did back the area to be embroidered with German interfacing and used a technique I saw on Pinterest to back the applique fabrics with HeatnBond Lite. After the embroidery was complete, I re-ironed the embroidery to loosen and cut away the excess interfacing.

The panties are made using Mary from B&B Blueprints. The have a generous fit which is still needed over a diaper.

I am off to pack up her birthday box so it will arrive in time for her big day two weeks from now.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake

Cupcake that is. Someone has a birthday coming up. This is what I'm working on.

Off to finish, the bride will be home on Saturday. I'll have to switch hats to "Mother of the Bride." We will be meeting the dress. Who knew? We will also be collecting the matching fabric for the Flower Princess and Princely Ring Bearer. Let the fun begin. 100 days and counting! Ahhhh. Do you know where I can buy six extra hours a day? I'll pay any price.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beach Portraits

Posted by The Biped's Monitor

The Munchkins' mom wants to do beach portraits while her sister, photog extraordinaire, is visiting this week. So another break neck project before I boarded the plane was to whip up some "portrait whites."

I used Spechler-Vogel Skip Dent, a tonal stripe poly-cotton. This momma needs a break so easy care fabric was in order. I bought it from Bessie Mary a while back. Since I had no time to ponder and plan, I grabbed two patterns that I had done before, were traced out and familiar. I had them constructed before I left except for buttons and stitching on the trim.

Old Fashioned Baby

First up was Best Embroidered Baby Clothes by The Old Fashioned Baby.


It stitches up quick. I used a machine embroidered train across the front,

I tea dyed some crochet trim in my stash for the sleeves and neck. The machine embroidery matches the trim much closer in person than it appears in this picture.


Baby H let me try it on him real quick. Easy, breezy for summer.

The Old Fashioned Baby

The second was another pattern by The Old Fashioned Baby. It is one of her new patterns Toddler Summer Dresses. Another quick and cool choice. I made this dress last summer at Jeannie's Summer retreat. I am sad I won't be able to attend this year but wedding planning trumps that. It is this weekend when the bride will be home. :( Oh well, can't do everything at once.


Again a quick machine embroidery on the bodice and some ancient Swiss trim across the bottom.


There was no ecru 1/8" ribbon to be found in St. Louis the day before I left, so white it was, threaded through the Swiss beading at the raised waistline.


This fabric in white (It used to come in colors.) was a bit sheer for my liking, so after I got home I ran up a slip using the same pattern with a tad taken out of the armholes and neckline. Nothing fancy here, Imperial batiste with some lace edging. I did run a very loose 1/8" elastic through the waist. I hope it works.


Princess was in "a mood" that day. This was the best picture I could get.

So what are you working on?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Piping a Bishop Neckline-a Tutorial

I have said it many times and I will say it again, "A mind is a terrible thing to lose." Jill asked to see a tutorial on piping a bishop bias band neckline. I had every intention of doing it before I left for Israel. Ran out of time. I am working on a bishop now that I planned to use to take photos. In looking through other photos on my computer for something else, I ran across photos I did LAST YEAR with the intention of doing just that. I tell you my mind is gone. Gone. Oh well.

I love the look of a piped bishop neckline. I must admit that observing so many of Cheryl's is what gave me the bug. I just love the tailored, clean finish look of it. And to be honest it makes placing your bias neckline on a bishop a piece of cake.  You can place that piping right where you want it without hoping it is lining up like you want it to. Often times putting on a bias binding can feel like a bit of a stab in the dark. Not so with adding piping first. No matter how wiggly my top row of stitching might be, I can get that piping right where I want it. The illusion of it makes you think my stitching is straight when in reality is isn't.

Here goes, remember to click on the pictures to enlarge.

First step is to block my bishop to size and make my piping, In this example I am using piping made from the same fabric as the dress. That decision is based strictly on mood. I have marked the center and ends of this piping but often I don't. If I have a long piece of piping I just start at one end and go to the other and using a very technical term, I whack off the extra. I must have only had just enough fabric for the piping is why I have marked it.  I start at one end of the placket and using one of my favorite notions,

Roxanne Glue Baste, (It is great. It is available at most sewing and quilt shops. I will admit to using straight up Elmer's glue as well in the past.) I will glue down the piping all the way around the neckline. I can see right where I want the piping to be and once in place, I give it a quick press with the nose of the iron.

It isn't going anywhere. If you want you can stitch it down now. The first few times I used this technique I did stitch it down. Since I am usually in a hurry, I just move on to the next step.

I use a single layer bias binding. Press it into a gentle semi circle, this will help it go around the neckline without any ripples. Do not pull and stretch it as you press. Be kind to your bias binding.

Before pinning the bias to the piped neck, check that your smocking depth matches at the placket. If it isn't, you can spritz the piping with a little water, the glue will loosen and you can adjust it's placement. At this point, I also will make a blue mark on the piping at the edge of the placket, pressing hard enough for the mark to go through the fabric to the piping cord inside. Now give just the cording a gentle tug until you reach the blue mark, snip off the excess, release the cord and allow it to go back into the piping "casing." This will make your piping seam allowance easier to turn to the back to later be covered by the bias band on the wrong side.


Pin your bias band to the piped neck, again without pulling or tugging. Being kind to your bias will give you better results. The outer edge kicks up while pinning, ignore it. It is a physics thing as my son in law says.


Stitch your bias on snugging that stitching right up to the piping. This is where I run the bamboo skewer along in front of my presser foot, making a valley in the fabric pressing down right next to the piping underneath. After that first run of stitching, flip your bias up and check to see if the seam is right next to the piping. I can't stand seeing the stitching used to make the piping peeking through. Adjust if necessary. I admit that if I miss, I don't take the stitching out, I just run another line of stitching closer to the piping where necessary.  Now either move your needle position or your presser foot and run a second row of stitching 1/8-1/4 inch away from your first stitching. This is the same technique used in the collar tutorial. I then trim right up close to that last row of stitching. (In this picture I must have decided I wanted a wider bias band since there is a third row of stitching.) This trimmed edge is very important. It gives your bias something firm to fold over when you stitch the folded raw edge down on the inside.

I did not take pictures of stitching the bias down, but Jeannie over at The Old Fashioned Baby shows this. When folding over the bias, fold it straight up and over, don't pull it to one side or the other. I stitch mine down starting in the center and working to either side. I find if I stitch from one placket edge to other, by the time I reach the other side, I have inadvertently pulled ripples into my bias binding.


Voila, a tidy firm bias binding with piping. My favorite treatment for a bishop neckline. You can have fun with it; you can have a contrast piping that matches your stitching or adds an additional pop of color, or it can be more subtle and blends in with using a matching piping. What ever strikes you at the moment.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Israel Trip Part 2

One thing you notice in such an arid country is the water, coastline and colors of the sky. It is not the "big sky" of Montana, but the color is a brilliant blue. In the two weeks I was there, I never saw a single cloud. And the different colors of the water changes depending on where you are. Just north of Tal Aviv at the ancient ruins of Apollonia, the water is a clear pale green, another thirty minutes north in Caesarea, it is a royal blue with ribbons of turquoise. On the south side of Tel-Aviv to the port of Old Jaffa, the water is a brilliant turquoise dotted with fishing and sail boats. The waters of the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel are gorgeous and the residents here spend every spare moment enjoying the sea as much as possible.

These two little water monkeys are no different. To Princess every body of water from the bathtub to the ocean is a "pool" and to be enjoyed at every possible moment. Just don't get any sand on her.

Another thing that I was struck by when walking the kids to the park, was the variety of gates in front of the houses. You rarely see a a house sitting "naked" on the street. Almost all are behind a wall of some kind with a driveway gate and sometimes with a smaller gate into the yard. They come in all styles and materials. My favorite was the one with the fleur-de-lis along the bottom.

And the flowers! They are highly prized there. Every. single. flowerbed. has irrigation running though it. Every pot, every bed, everywhere. I guess the lack of rain keeps the weeds down. The flowers you do see are a colorful respite in the sandstone colored landscape. It is a coastal experience very different from the one I grew up with where it rained every summer day at 4:00. We used to joke that the humidity had to go somewhere so it just fell out of the sky. Not so in Israel. While I was there my daughter had flower beds installed with miles and miles of irrigation tubing. Geraniums grow to the size of bushes and the hibiscus are as tall as the house. A sight to see.

Of all there was to see and do, these two munchkins and their parents are the real reason I went. It will be a long dry spell until September when they return home for Nanny Aim's wedding.

I do have a smocking project in the works. I thought perhaps I had forgotten how. It is the first thing I have smocked since Christmas. It is that bishop I pleated up real quick the morning I left. I did have to take a smidge back out. Crowded airplane stitching isn't always as accurate as it could be.The fabric was in the stash of course. There aren't many fabric stores open at 5:30 am. It is seamlessly pleated because in 30 minutes time you can't do more than that. All there is time for is a quick cut it out and run it through the pleater hoping you don't run across any glitches. The pleating fairies were with me. The green reminds me of those glass refrigerator containers of the fifities.

Until next time, faithful reader. Enjoy your day from top to bottom!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Trying to catch up on all fronts

I have been trying to get this posted for three days. Now that shoulder surgery is "almost" behind me, the trip abroad is done, it is time to get caught up on all fronts. This week has been spent with wedding things to get in order. My sense of bridal urgency has hit me. Agh!!!! Bride will be home next week so there are lots of details I want to get ironed out or at least ready to iron out before she gets home. I spent the better part of this week with a phone attached to me ear. Still lots to do but I also wanted to catch up with you faithful reader.I promised some photos of my trip. Get ready, pic heavy.

My shoulder prevented large heavy luggage, but there is always room for needlework. What do you do when you wake up earlier than needed on the day of departure? You cut out and pleat a bishop of course! More on that in the next few days.

These two sweeties were waiting for me at the airport. After a long flight, this is just what I needed. Princess couldn't stop giggling. Baby Hank, wasn't so sure. He kept me in his sights at all time, I guess to make sure I didn't make any sudden moves. He warmed up pretty quickly though.

Our first side trip was to the Basilica of the Annunciation.

My few feeble photos don't do it justice.

One of the things I loved about the Basilica, besides the obvious religious significance, was the images of the Madonna around the church and grounds. These images were all gifted by different countries from around the world. This is a close up of Japan's gift. I love the "embroidery" of her kimono done in mosaics.

We then visited Nazareth Village. It is a re-enactment site. We learned so much. Of course I also learned that I was meant to live with paved roads and indoor plumbing. Thank you God for recognizing my weaknesses. Wool homespun and sheep aren't my strong suites.

Princess did great as we drug her around the country, but sometimes a hitch on the Daddy train was necessary. Hank rode everywhere we went in what Sissy calls his "ride."

An aside from our day in Nazareth. The guide book suggested we stop into the Arab bakery, Mahroum, for a treat. Aren't we glad we did! After a confusing interaction with the clerk behind the counter; (our Arabic is pretty rusty, as in non existent) an English speaking young man to the rescue! After helping us place an order, he conveyed that he and his family had traveled many miles to visit this shop famous for the knafeh. He strongly suggested we try some. Now I am not a very "adventurous" diner, but man were we glad we heeded his suggestion. Yummy and best warm with or without a fork! Cheese, crunchy shredded phyllo dough and pistachios. Divine.


The next couple of days we hung out and played.


Next stop was a two day trip to Jerusalem. So many things to see, hear, smell and taste. I was dumbstruck that I was even there. I didn't expect to go to any of these places. I was just going to see my babies. My daughter had other ideas. I'm glad she did. We could have spent several days there; time and money dictated otherwise.

One thing that stood out for me was the collision of different cultures, languages, beliefs and perspectives. All seemingly coexisting. I am sure there are many more political/religious undercurrents that we did not see in our short time there; but at first glance none of that is obvious. When you look out over the Jerusalem skyline to see a shared view of mosques, churches and synagogues, you are struck by it. Amazing to this uneducated eye. FYI: I have NO position on the political issues facing Israel right now, so if you feel compelled to educate me, save it. Leave me with my rose-colored glasses for now.

One thing that does connect us all globally is the need to create. In the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, this loom was sitting outside a shop. I so wish the weaver had been sitting there but was glad I noticed this there anyway. He is weaving a prayer shawl. Beautiful threads on a beautiful loom.

A quick side trip to "see" the Dead Sea before heading back to my daughter's home on the coast was in order. This portion of the West Bank is very barren, sand and stone as far as they eye can see, interrupted by one lone camel waiting for a hire. I'm sure he is there for the tourist's benefit but I got a chuckle out of it anyway. Of course you would see a camel! And who would believe that we are 400 meters below sea level.

This ends the first week there. More next time. I hope you are finding time to thread a needle.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'm home

I am home from my far afield trip to the Middle East. I can't even believe I can say that. Amazing.

Israel is a beautiful country with so many places to see. The contrasts across the country are remarkable. But we all know that is not the reason I went...


It was to get my hands on these two sweeties and their momma. I got in as much cuddling, kisses and giggles as I could squeeze into a two week time period.

I did stitch a bit while I was gone and I will share that in the next few days. For a parting shot here they are wearing the Baby Playsuits I finished right before I left. We are headed to the park on this day.

So, hello again faithful reader. I will try to condense my trip into a few posts over the next week or so. I hope the bright, warm days of summer are treating you well. It is good to be home.
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