Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shadow Smocked Easter Dress

Just click on the photos to enlarge them.
 Recently Janice of shared the gorgeous Easter dress she made her older granddaughter for Easter 2012  (see here).  (Janice is an amazingly talented needle artist who has smocked and embroidered for years and taught classses in heirloom sewing all over the world.)  I was enchanted by the beautiful work and by the trip down memory lane that her lovely dress afforded me.  You see, fourteen years ago I was entranced by the shadow smocked dresses made by Kay Guiles and showcased in Sew Beautiful magazine.   I decided to make the one you see above for my then 5 year old daughter, Victoria-Rose.  It was her Easter dress that year and her first piano recital dress.  She wore the dress many, many times over the next two years (church, out to Sunday brunch, a wedding, fancy birthday parties).  I washed it on the delicate cycle (I know, gasp) and hung it up to dry.  I also made a high yoked, full skirted slip to wear under it but that was literally worn to death and cut up for doll clothes.
 I store the things I made for my children that have been saved in one of two chests in my house, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper.  I usually take everything out and check them over every summer.  Climate stains and organic type stains reappear and must be removed as soon as possible.  I missed two summers in a row during my mother illnesses and my husband's health issues and I was very distressed when I discovered the horrible, large, ugly golden brown climate stains on the front of this dress and several other hand made things.  It took weeks of sponging with a Biz mixture.  I knew I couldn't put the whole dress in the Biz bucket because I have had silk ribbon change color on other items that I have soaked.  I carefully sponged just the stained areas and made sure the liquid did  not wick up to the silk ribbon embroidery.  As you can see, I was successful.  Thank goodness!  I have ironed the dress without starch so it looks a bit limp so that I can share the dress with you.  (I didn't use starch because it shouldn't be stored starched.)
Closer look of the backsmocking, feather stitching, and silk ribbon embroidery.
We closed the back of the dress with beauty pins.  I didn't space these well for the pictures but you can get the idea.  On this dress I used three pins.

Beauty pins closing the dress back.
I mitered a little lace on the sash tails for a pretty finish.
It has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to share this with the on-line sewing community.  This is one of my favorite creations!


  1. No wonder it's one of your favourite creations. It's beautiful. And I loved reading that your daughter had worn it for so many occasions.

  2. Beautiful dress! I love the ribbon embroidery and the beauty pins are like icing on the cake!

  3. Oh my! Your work is amazing!! Beautiful!

  4. Thank you, Ladies, for the sweet comments! I look forward to seeing a granddaughter wear this dress someday.

  5. I was just about to say, no wonder it's one of your favorites, but somebody beat me to it!! This dress is gorgeous! And I just LOVE that mitered lace on the sash!

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  7. My-Oh-My! Karen, this dress is spectacular! The silk ribbon embroidery makes such a lovely break between the shadow smocking and the skirt. When I think about how long ago you made it and how much sewing you have done in the years since, your level of stitching perfection must be off the charts! I am in awe.

  8. Thank you, Lee and Janice. Your compliments are so lovely!


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