Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Underneath It All

Here is a sneak peek of the Flower Girl dresses. I will discuss the dresses in another post.

The term "Can you see it on a moving child?" applied here ...big time. I worked for months on the smocked dresses and slips and flower girl baskets making sure everything was perfect.

This two little girls discovered their "New Best Friend" at the rehearsal and had a blast. They twirled, danced and ran all over the church together.  They were absolutely adorable.

 The only time they were still long enough to get a photo.

When I make a special dress such as a Flower Girl dress or a First Holy Communion dress I always make a slip to go with the dress.   The slip can be worn in the car to the event and can be worn between pictures and at the reception.

Each slip is unique and is made to go under the special dress.  For this wedding, the Flower Girl dresses were sleeveless with a full smocked bodice. The fabric was Cotton Sateen from Kaufman fabrics.

The slightly heaver weight of the Flower Girl dress fabric allowed me to use a color fabric under the dresses without it showing (except when the girls were doing cartwheels........ and twirling and.......dancing.)

We looked at several colors and went with 60inch wide Imperial Batiste in "Sky Blue". The other color I was considering  was "Neptune". The fabric is available at several places. I bought mine from

The reason I went with the Imperial Batiste from Spechler Vogel as opposed to a 100% cotton batiste is that Imperial is soft and does not wrinkle. It is also cheaper (I was absorbing the cost of both dresses and slips as my gift towards the wedding).

As I said before each slip is designed to go under the Special Dress. This means that the slip will not peek out at the neck and arm holes and the ruffles of the slip's skirt will enhance the Special Dress.

The easiest way to accomplish these goals is to make the slip from the dress pattern and make modifications.   I used Children's Corner "Louise" in a size 3 for both Flower Girl dresses.

The following Tutorial is for modifying a dress bodice pattern to make a slip/sundress:

I am going to start with tracing the Front Dress pattern onto pattern tracing material (do not cut out the front bodice that you traced). I like to use Easy Pattern by Pellon from JoAnn's Fabric. I buy it by the bolt with my 40% off one item coupon.

With a pencil, transfer all markings (seam allowances, straight of grain line, notches)  Fold pattern in half and mark the Center Front on the pattern. Also, add notations as to what pattern you are using and what size, ie.....CC Louise , size 3 for Flower Girl dress/slip. 

I know this is a "DUH! I already know this" but I need to point this out in case you didn't realize or need a reminder.  The neck and arm hole seam allowance lines (marked in red in the illustration) are the finished edge of the dress. What this means is the slip needs to be  below these lines if I don't want it to show.

Below my seam allowance lines I am going to draw another line that is 1/2 inch below. These are my guidelines or boundaries. I don't want to go beyond these lines when I am modifying my bodice or my slip will show. I choose 1/2 inch below because I want to add piping to the slips for a clean finished edge.

If I was just going to make a slip that had shoulder seams I would be about done but I want some thing different.   To create a Sundress style slip I need to mark a horizontal line that is parallel to the bottom edge. I drew my line so that it intersected with my 1/2" guide lines. I could have gone lower with this line but these slips are for 3 year olds to wear in church.

Now I am going to connect the arm hole line with the horizontal line with a dress maker's curve.

Mark seam allowances and notations then  pat yourself on the back because you have created the front bodice of your slip. You will need to follow the same steps for the back bodice.

Okay, now lets talk about copyrights. I created my slip from the Children's Corner's Louise pattern. This makes it a derivative of that pattern and is still copyrighted by Children's Corner. Nuf said.

I decided to make the slips extra special and added an insert of joined lace to the front bodices.  I am making two identical slips so instead of  creating two separated joined lace inserts I am going to just make one strip which is long enough for both bodices.

The front bodice pattern measures 13 inches wide and 6 1/2 inches tall.  To make two, I need to start with a piece of fabric that is twice as long as my bodice with some extra ease. 

I cut a piece of fabric  that is 15 inches wide and 15 inches tall(6 1/2inches x 2 + ease).  Pull a thread to make sure all the sides are on the grain.

With a pencil I mark the "Top" of the fabric in an area that will be cut away later (you could also use a small safety pin). I want to make sure my fabric's straight of grain is going in the right direction(up and down)  and stays that way during the construction process.  Set the fabric aside for a few minute.

I choose lace with a rose motif from my stash. I started with the center piece then added the 2 pieces to the outsides.  My center pieces was 15" long. I match the print design on the crosses(B) and turn one of the rose prints(A) upside down so that the patterns were mirror images.  I estimate that I used a yard(36") each of the cross print lace and  the outside rose print lace. Each piece was then cut in half to make 2 strips.

The lace was joined together with a narrow zigzag. I used Madeira No 80 thread and my Bernina #10 edge foot.  I started with my center piece then added the cross print lace(B) then the rose print lace(A)

On my fabric I folded it in half to find my center and just finger pressed the top fold. Make a tiny cut on this fold line and pull a thread. This is a guide to make sure my lace inset is straight with the fabric.

Pin the lace insert to the right side of the fabric. Stitch the lace to the fabric with a straight stitch. Again, I used Madeira No 80 and my Bernina #10 foot.

Now the scary part comes next!  I am going to cut my fabric that is behind the lace along that pulled thread line down the center. For extra security I like to insert a ruler in-between the lace and the fabric. With Appliqué scissors cut the fabric (not the lace) along the drawn thread line. Fold each side back and press.

Pin Stitch along the lace edge. This stitch on your sewing machine looks like a ladder with a rung missing. Trim the excess fabric down to 1/4 inch. Press again.

I made a copied of my slip pattern so I could lay both patterns on my fabric at the same time. Aline the center rose motif with the center line of the  pattern.  Make adjustments as needed. Pin in place and cut out your lace/fabric bodice.

And the front bodice is done. I made 1 inch shoulder straps that buttoned in the back and added piping to the top edge and bottom edge of the bodice.

I wish I could show you the expressions on the Flower Girls faces. This was their first look at the bride in her dress. They were  totally mesmerized. They told her that they had pretty white dresses to put on also.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


The Wedding

My absence from my blog (this time) is for a good reason.  My youngest son and new daughter-in-law got married last Saturday.  Can't believe they have been married for over a week! Time flies.

The trip to the altar took about 6 years of  match making between her mother and I.  Her mother (my partner in crime) loves to spin yarn and knit and weave. We spent an afternoon comparing our drawn thread work UFOs and other hand work.  

Chase and Rebecca were blessed with the title of "Chabecca" from his pesky little sister and it has stuck.

Yes, I am dreaming of red headed grandchildren in a couple of years. Just think of all the things I could smock.

Next post.....The flower girl dresses and slips.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter

Don't you love my bangs!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Birthday

 Today is my granddaughter's 3rd birthday. Wow, time has flown by!

She wore the birthday dress I made for her to school this morning.

I am proud to say the entire outfit was made from my stash. Being in the middle of an ice storm helped me stick to my de-stash pledge.

The dress pattern is Children's Corner Louise

The skirt is Michael Miller's "Children at play".

The top is Moda Essential Dots  in turquoise.  The piping and sash are hot pink cotton that has been in my stash for years.

The buttons on the back are shell buttons from  Lots of Buttons

I used 2 yards for the skirt.  The fabric is a double border along the length of the selvage.  This allowed me to have a full skirt and match the border print along the center back.

From the edge of the selvage(which has printed information on it) to the  beginning of the border print is 3 inches.

I carefully cut off the selvage because the printed words would show through. I turned up the fabric 1/4 inch then turned up again 1 inch. the hem was then stitched by hand.

I decided to add a small hot pink cotton rick rack to the hem line. I know I could just straight stitch the rick rack down but I don't like the way rick rack looks after it has been washed and all the points are curling. Plus, I know my granddaughter likes a little bling!

Starting at the center back, I used tiny dots of basting glue and applied the rick rack where I wanted it. After everything was dry, I stitched seed beads to the points of the rick rack. I used short lengths of thread because this is a dress for a very active 3 year old.

Friday, January 31, 2014

New Smocking Plates

I hope everyone is keeping warm this winter.

Everything has been totally chaotic since my last post. I promise to finish up the picture smocking tutorial. Think of it as getting a jump on your Christmas 2014 smocking.

We have had one winter storm after another (next ice storm arrives this Tuesday). Between the farm, animals and an old farm house we have been kept busy. Of course the electric blanket stops working on MY SIDE of the bed!

 I am also happy to announce that my youngest son is engaged! Plans are in the works for  a May wedding. I can't wait to share what I am working on for the wedding shower.

In between storms and power outages I have been working on two new design for sale on my web page

The first one is "Irish Dance"

The second one is "Lets Party"

I hope they both spark your imagination and creativity!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Picture Smocking part 6

We left off in this tutorial with tying off our floss. Now we need to rethread our needle with 4 new strands of floss that has been stripped and tweaked like we did in the very beginning.

We are  going to stack our next row but we are increasing the number of cable stitches. Our design calls for 9 cables starting and ending with an Up stitch.

You can choose to start the new row to the left or right of center. It is totally a matter of choice. I am going to start to the right of the center line.

Just as we have done before, we are going to take the needle and floss through the back of a pleat to secure the knot. Bring the needle up through the bottom between the 4 and 5 pleat to the right of the center line.

Bring the needle and floss through the pleat on the right and we are ready to start stacking again.

I am going to stack 9 cable stitches.

Sometimes I use my needle to "Lay down" a stitch. Making sure my floss is separated, I place my needle under the floss. While applying a very slight tension to the floss with the needle, I am going to pull my floss gently down.

You could also use a needle trolly for this. To be totally honest, I have tried a needle trolley but didn't like it for several reason. One reason is everyone in the house liked to play Edward Scissor Hands with it. The second reason is I tended to poke myself every time I needed to push up my glasses. :-)

Okay, enough of sewing tools used for weapons of mass destruction. Our next row we are increasing again. Our design calls for 11 cables stitches starting and ending with an Up stitch.

This row is going to be a little different only because it is our 5th cable row. This insert was pleated on a 24 row pleater. This allows us 5 cable rows between pleating thread rows.

The same way a brick layer would use a level line we are going to use our pleating thread to make sure everything is level.

My fifth row is going to be just under and kissing the pleating thread row.  If your picture smocking was perfect you would just stitch your 11 cable stitches. But since the world and my smocking is not always perfect I use these rows to get back on tract.

I am going to start my increase row as usual (Come up in the valley between the pleats then take my needle to the left through the pleat.)

To straighten out your picture smocking we are going to either fluffy the cable row a little by laying down the cable stitch as shown before……..

Or we may need to flatten out a stitch with the side of our needle. Neither of these techniques are substitutes for bad cable stitches. If these slight adjustment don't work and you are really off then you will need to take out the previous row and restack the cable row and make corrections.

Everyone back on track? Our next row is something new. This row is a mirror image 11 cables.

When we ended our row before, we slanted our needle on the last pleat as usual. This would bring the needle and thread  in the center valley of our first stitch on this row.

I have stitched these matching rows 2 different ways. One is to just bring your needle and floss through the bottom of the pleat (as shown) so we are ready to stitch our cable row.

This works, but I find it doesn't give much support to my first cable stitch. After years of picture smocking I really prefer something different.

  • After I have stitched my last cable on the row before and my needle and floss are in the valley of pleat 5 and 6 (from the center line).
  • I take my needle down to the back through the bottom of that valley.
  • Bring my needle and floss back up the same valley but not in the same needle hole.
  • Then bring my needle and floss to the right through the bottom of the pleat as shown.

Notice that my needle depth with either technique is identical to the previous row.

We are almost done! Two rows left.  We are decreasing on both rows. The first row will be  9 cable stitches and the second will be 7 cable stitches. Both rows are  starting and stopping with a Down stitch.

Lets see if you know how to proceed on your own.

Walla we are done (with the Gingerbread Girl's head)!

Oh No!……...Before I tied off my floss I noticed the dreaded "Two headed Cable  Stitch".    I knew this would bug me so I unstitched my last row and fixed it by making sure my floss was really separated and slanting my needle more on the last stitch.

Now we are done!

What next?   Normally, I would say we were going to turn our work over and finish the body of the Gingerbread girl. Since the Gingerbread Boy's head is identical and everything is fresh in our mind, your homework is to duplicate what you have just learned.

  • You know how to read the design and dissect it.
  • How to choose your starting spot.
  • How to strip and and squeak you floss.
  • How to tie on.
  • How to start your row.
  • How to decrease a stacked cable row.
  • How to increase a stacked cable row.
  • How to stitch a matching cable row.
  • And how to tie off.

Note: We are getting ready for an Ice storm followed by snow to hit here at the farm on Friday. Due to the possibilities of having no electricity  the next installment may be delayed.   We are busy getting the farm prepared for the possibilities (gas for the generator and the vehicles, wood rack filled up, extras straw in the chicken house, everything charged up and something for me to smock) Stay safe and warm!~jg