Friday, November 21, 2008

A link to the past

Julie from Smocked Clothes commented #2 DD's birthday post that she hadn't heard of picking up gingham squares to smock the fabric. It is similar to the picking up iron on dots.



There are two ways to use iron on dots, since I think they are evil I haven't used them in 27 years. One way is as I described, you pick up the dots as I did the gingham and that creates your pleats and smocking design as you smock across the fabric. This method has been referred to as American smocking. Not many people have heard that term, like many people from England have never heard it called English smocking. English smocking can be done with iron on dots as well. This way to use the dots is the truly evil evil side of those &^%$# dots. You pick up each dot with a tiny stitch to form pleats across the fabric that you then go back and stitch the smocking on. (I am sure my oldest daughter and my friend Jan are cringing at the grammar in this paragraph. Sorry girls.) I pleated ONE dress with those dots, never finished it. I was so done in by pleating it by hand, I had long lost interest by the time it came to smock. I love the smocking part, not the prep part.

I think I found the pattern that I used to make that little blue gingham dress. I found it at "America's Garage Sale" aka ebay.



It is the same smocking design. This pattern is from the 70's the seller stated. I may have bought when my oldest was born. I thought I still had the pattern. I still have the pattern I made my sister a toaster cover with, why I have no idea, but I didn't keep this one. Anyone want a pattern for a toaster cover? In the description for this pattern it states that it has the transfer dots included, but I am sure it has the gingham directions as well. I wouldn't have used those dots twice.

I pondered re-making the same little dress out of this blue plaid, and Children's Corner Lee. I am sure the embroidery would be light year's better, I would pipe the yoke, pleat it before I smocked it on one of these handy dandy gifts from the gods, the Super Amanda Jane pleater,



and surely the construction would be immensely better. But I stopped myself. I loved that little dress, love that picture, I loved that I had made it for her and so began the legacy of taking pictures of my children in their mommy-mades. If I remade it, it just wouldn't be the same dress made by a young mom with two tiny children, little to no time on her hands, working full time to help put her husband through school; but loved her children enough to wrap them in stitches of love. Sewn while babies napped or everyone else had gone to bed. That little dress really can't be replaced. So I walked away from the project. Its better that way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bookworm award!



I have been awarded the Bookworm award by Missy at The Little Things in Life. Thank you Missy. This little award made me laugh at first. You see the rules are not difficult, brainiac, high brow or lofty. They are:

  1. Pick up the closest book you can lay your hand on.
  2. Turn to Page 56
  3. Find the 5th sentence,
  4. Type out that sentence in your blog post.
  5. Pass it on to five people
Now what was funny about that you ask? Well the closest book to me was on the desk to my right where my "brain" folder etc from our daughter's weddings are waiting for the last daughter to get married. Well there was a book in there. Wedding Papercrafts. I turned to page 56 and what do I find? There was only 4 sentences on the page! So I had to cheat right out of the box and choose my second book. It is a bit more impressive unless you knew that it was close at hand because I have spent the past 3 hours clearing the mountain off the desk, so it was uncovered waiting to be put away.
Here we go:

Journey of the Soul
by Doris Klein, CSA

"While it does not make sense to our linear mind, we are invited to trust in the merciful God who supports us in this suspended place, giving us all we need to lift the wings of our heart."

At least it was a long sentence to make up for the non existent one in the first book. I hope you have better luck. So for fun I will pass this onto

Cheryl at Time Really Does Fly
Robin, a new blogger, at Sew It Snows
Cindy at Sew Blessed
Jane at Northern Exposure with a Southern Twist
and my daughter, (she felt left out last time) at No Really We are Still Trying to Get Pregnant. She might be sorry.

It will be interesting to see the books close at hand for other people.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Custom Camera Strap GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Custom Camera Strap GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

As is the custom in blog land there is a giveaway! Shey B is giving away one of her beautiful camera straps in honor of one of Grosgrain's readers. ANd if you are like me, you find your way from blog to the next by the links they share. That is how I found it. One of my stitching pals Jenn had posted about it on her blog. So the funny bone is connected to the arm bone is connected to the hand bone... You get the picture. Go visit and find out how to buy one, you have to buy it because I plan to win the giveaway. :)

Happy Birthday to our beautiful girl!


Hard to believe, 27 years ago #2 daughter was born. She was our miracle baby, but after many months in bed and countless doctors visits, she was kind enough to also be our "banker baby". First contraction at 9 she was born at 3:30. No one lost any sleep and it was a beautiful crisp November day. If only raising children as a whole were that easy. Seriously I wouldn't trade a moment.


And of course to go back to the subject always at hand, this was the first thing I smocked for her. It was a BIG 3 pattern done on Poly/cotton Dan River gingham. You picked up the squares to stitch the smocking.



The stitches are wonky, I can't even discern what the blue flowers are stitched in and no piping, but I loved this little dress; this is one of my favorite pictures of her. Taken at a photographer's booth at the only grocery store of the tiny town we lived in at the time. LOL.


For First Communion I had planned that all of my girls would wear the same dress. The dress I made for her older sister. Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work. So a new dress was made. From Mimi Turner's French Dress by Martha Pullen, she thought she was so grown up.



She even let me smock her prom dress. I can't seem to lay my hands on that picture right now. Instead this her celebrating the day she graduated from high school.




And the day she got married. A beautiful bride. Happy birthday baby girl. I love being your mom.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Is he cute or what?



Isn't he cute? I really have nothing to share or knowledge to impart, I have been playing with my new camera. This is a shot that I didn't enlarge, I took it this close up, didn't adjust anything. Straight out of the camera. I love this little guy, he is made by a former chapter member of my SAGA chapter. She donated him for our auction. I probably paid too much for him, but I love her stuff. I have one of her large winter bunnies. Time to bring her out again. Laura is so talented. So just to give you a smile I decided to share. I think he needs a name. Hmmm?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quick project and a new camera



After spending my time doing pin stitch, shadow work and time consuming turkey work it is fun to pick up something quick and knock it out. A friend gave me this little kit from Bareroots in June Lake ,CA. It was fun to do, and quick. Which is always nice. Plus my new camera came today so I got to play around with it when I took pics of my little candle mat.



I think I do itty bitty stitches better than big honkerin' ones. And when you look at them under a gazillionX zoom they look even worse. But I am okay with it.

I also received my new camera today. My old camera is about 7 years old and probably would do more than I knew that it could. I am terrible about reading the manual; I just push buttons and see what happens. Good thing it wasn't a camera from Mission Impossible or it might have self detructed by now. But the new one is a Panasonic Lumix FZ28.



Now I am SURE it does more than I am aware of. I am trying to read the manual to learn some more. I may even have to purchase a book or two. I would love to take a class or two. To many in blog land it probably isn't that whizbang of a camera, but it is more than I had. So we will see. Wish me luck!

Pin stitching

Designdreamer asked if the pin stitching done on the bunny jacket was done by hand. Yes and no. I am a firm believer as I have said before, that it doesn't matter how you get to Cleveland as long as you get there. I want the pin stitching to look even and uniform. But I don't want to belabor over it. So I cheat. First I stitch the pin stitching on my machine that is threaded with Wash A Way Thread.


I stitch with a large needle, a Schmetz 100 or 110 sized needle with the Wash A Way, then go back by hand and stitch in and out of the same holes. I get the hand look with the precision of the machine doing all of the measuring for me. There is more than one way to skin a cat! Thanks for your questions and comments. Edited to add that when I wash the garment, the initial stitching done with the Wash A Way thread dissolves leaving just the hand stitching behind.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Awww-sweet bunny tails

I have been MIA this week due to being under the weather and spending a lot of time at hospitals and doctor's offices. Hopefully that will be over soon. On to the subject at hand; sweet bunny tails.



Remember I love linen. And pair it with adorable fluffy bunny tails and you have almost heaven. This is the finished matinee jacket and bonnet set I gave you a sneak peek of in this post. It is a class called "Baby's First Outing" and it was taught by Wendy Schoen at this year's SAGA convention.



Shadow work bunny bottoms with turkey work tails. Embellished with embroidery of back stitch, lazy daisies and French knots. Stitched with DMC floche. Quite simple really. The jacket hem is pin stitched.


Somehow instead of being finished first it was edged out by the baby gown. But I love this set. I love this bonnet. One of my favorite things is the silk satin ribbon that is ruched under the brim. Very nice touch. It is kind of fiddly to do but the effect is so sweet. Can't you just see a sweet baby face peeking out from under this bonnet brim?



This set is sized newborn to 6 months, so that is a baby in arms or often over mom's shoulder. So as a treat the back yoke is embroidered too.



The same embroidery is on the bonnet.



Someone asked me how to do the scallops. I don't know if there is an official way to do them but this is what I have learned over the years,
  1. Slow down, there isn't a race, the slower you go the more accurate you can be.
  2. Use a straight stitch foot. I have never been one to use a straight stitch foot much until recently, but I can tell from this project it does give you more control.
  3. Use a very small stitch length. I used a 1.5 stitch length.
  4. I traced the seam line on the pieces instead of trying to eyeball the raw edge with the markings on the bed of the machine. I was able to follow my traced lines.
  5. Clip, clip, clip! You can't be afraid to clip up to the that stitching line, coming within 1- 2 fabric THREADS of the stitching. It is one of those physics things again. If you don't release the pull on the fabric it won't turn to the right side without having puckers and tucks at the seam line.
  6. As you stitch each scallop turn your fabric as you are stitching, try not to stop and pivot. Try to stitch each scallop, turning and stitching without stopping. You will get a smoother stitching line. There are a couple of scallops that aren't as rounded as I would like and I think that is what happened.
  7. Just as important as clipping is press, press, press! I don't know why so many people, especially young or new sew-ers don't realize or value the importance of an iron. I still am not happy with the pressing on my bonnet. I want slick smoothness without a crinkle to be seen. I have learned over the years that most mistakes and missteps can be cured with an iron and I learned very early on, if you press as you go, the better the final product will be. Then when you are finished, press, press, press some more! And starch! I love me some starch.
So enjoy this sweet jacket and bonnet. I have to go clean up my mess then decide what to move onto next. There is an advantage to being stuck at home, you get a lot of stitching done. I do know one thing, I need to pull out some boy UFO's. I tell you I am going to have a softball team of boy grandchildren when they start coming if I don't sew a few blue things. My kids are pretty on board with my dressing future grandchildren. I think they may squawck if I try to dress baby boys in pink linen though. No matter how much I love pink linen. I'll get that famous nodding up and down of the head as they stuff it in a drawer never to be seen again. And that would not make mother happy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Granito leaves, revised

Note: These are new pics and revised directions.


I am always looking for a better way to do a stitch. Not always does it have to be faster though. Sometimes I enjoy slow, detailed and some would consider tedious. In making the previous pink linen daygown over the summer, I enjoyed the embroidery but will admit that about half way through the 17,000 satin leaves I was about to lose my mind. I wanted to be done. I loved the project but enough already! So I came up with a way to do a quicker leaf. In describing it to some friends I conveyed how I discovered this half way through that project but wasn't willing to unstitch the first 8,500 leaves so had to finish them the original way. The consensus was that not all leaves are the same. True but since I had started down one front and was working my way around the other front, the two sides wouldn't have matched. Normally if you wouldn't have been able to tell, I would have switched methods and forged on. But I do believe you would have been able to tell the difference so I plowed on with the original leaf.

So here are the steps for a quicker yet sweet looking leaf I call a granito leaf. This may not be an original idea, but it was to me. Mirella Arroyo has a flower she calls a "Claudette flower" because the person who first showed it to her was named Claudette. This could be a "Martha leaf." Nah, probably not.

note: As always click on the picture to enlarge.

  • To give granitos a uniform size and look, always use the same number of stitches. If you want to vary the size of your granito or granito leaf, then you would vary the number of stitches used. This granito is 8 stitches and then 2 "magic" stitches.
  • I take my first stitch entering the fabric where my granito will lie, Point A. I don't use a waste knot for a granito. When you have this much thread piled on top of itself where you have entered/exited the fabric in the same holes it is not going to come out.


  • I exit at what will be the bottom of my granito. Point B. I take a half space back stitch, exiting on the back of the fabric I split that thread to secure it.
  • This is the bottom of the fabric where I am stitching back down from the top, you can see the needle splitting thread.


  • I now begin using a sewing motion to form my granito. Exiting again out of point B and re-entering at point A each time. That thread tail I will snip off after a couple of stitches.



  • Take two straight stitches in and out of the same hole,



  • To fatten the "belly" of the leaf, for the next 4 stitches I will throw the thread off to either side. This gives the belly of the leaf a more rounded look. Alternate one side, then the next for the 4 stitches.
  • I also use my thumb as a guide and controller. Below I have moved my thumb to the side, but as I am stitching I often will have my thumb on top of my stitches.


  • Take 2 more stitches over the center of the granito. You should have a nice plump round granito made from 8 stitches.
  • Now come the "magic" stitches to give the granito its leaf shape. For the last 2 stitches I move my point A, one to two threads above my granito. This one actually looks like it might be 1.5 threads above the granito. The stitches will go over the center of the granito.


  • Completed stitch. I will take my thread to the back and tie it off by running under my previous stitches a couple of times. Kind of cute!