Sunday, August 9, 2009

Love and Kisses For Natalie

From Vintage Pillowcase to Smocked Sundress

I adore vintage linens and can't seem to stop collecting them. I can do most any kind of embroidery and I know the untold hours spent in making these textile works of art. I think about the ladies making these treasures and wonder if they were made for their hopechests or as gifts for someone they love. I both hate and love when I find something this lovely in the bottom of a bin in an antique store or an estate sale. I hate that the owners had no respect for the work and have discarded it and love that I have now found a new treasure for my collection. Some things are in excellent condition and can be used as is, others need to be repaired or cut up to make a new treasure.

Many people make pillowcase style dresses using fabric yardage. They are very cute and comfy. They are quick and easy to make and sizing is rarely a problem. Lately my collection of vintage pillowcases have been 'calling to me and requesting' that they be used in some way. I decided to make pillowcase dresses and blouses out of pillowcases! This beauty is named for the sweet little one whose grandmother bought it and for the French knot O's and little cross stitched X's in the original embroidery.

I smocked the top of the pillowcase with an adaptation of Ellen McCarn's smocking plate "Jennifer". I did a less fancy version on the back and the front smocking was adorned with bullion flowers that resembled the flowers in the original embroidery. I used flosses that came close to matching the embroidery on the bottom but we have to remember that this is a vintage case that has been laundered countless times. A perfect match wasn't possible. I used the cut off section from the seamed end of the case to make a pair of panties to cover a diaper. (Using new cloth would not have matched at all!) I embroidered some flowers like those the original needle artist made on the seat of the panties for a little whimsy. This little set is one of the things that I have enjoyed working on the most. I hope you like this creation as much as I do!

The original vintage pillowcase.

The 'love and kisses' and flower hearts on the bottom.

The smocked back before blocking and finishing.

The smocking and embroidery on the panties before construction.

Close-up of the smocking.

The completed sundress and panties.


  1. A TRUE pillowcase dress! It looks so complete and finished with the embroidery echoed in the smocking and the very neat look of the arm and neck edging. The best looking and most adorable adaptation of a pillowcase I've ever seen!

  2. I love what you did with this vintage pillowcase, Karen! Fabulous job of recreating the original concept into the smocking & the panties embroidery. Love that hemline trim as well. BRAVO!!


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