Friday, May 24, 2013

Honeycomb Smocking Tutorial {Guest Post}

 Guest Posting at A Jennuine Life!
Blessings!  I'd love for you to join me over at A Jennuine Life as I share the sweet beach outfit above and a honeycomb smocking tutorial in her Lost Arts of Sewing series.  This is smocking without a pleater and everyone can do it!  Just click  HERE and check it out!  While you are there, check out the other 'lost arts', too.  The series began on May 20th.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Aurora's Heritage Napkins Dress

Click on the photos to enlarge them.
 I just love vintage linens!  I marvel at the handwork and time that was put into lovely things made to grace a home.  There was a time when every young girl learned how to embroider, sew, knit, crochet, and tat.  Now these pastimes are no longer as needed or desired by many (most?) young people who are used to instant gratification in all areas of life.  These needle arts take time and practice to perfect.   There is hope, though!  There are young women learning these things on their own as evidenced by the sew-alongs and challenges of Project Run & Play.  One young woman, Sarah from The Gregarious Life, has taught herself how to smock this year.  She has made several smocked dresses for her little girl and is using vintage patterns to make delightful clothes.  I'm not sure when she finds the time because she has goats and chickens, too!

It is well known in my school that I appreciate old linens, buttons, and bits of lace, etc.  Sandra, known to us affectionately as Diva, came to school one day with a package containing eight gorgeous handmade cutwork napkins and gave them to me.  They were her mother's napkins but they weren't something that Diva would use but she knew that I would put them to good use.  The first thing I made was a little sundress for Diva's granddaughter Aurora.  I had the perfect floral fabric to go with them:  Le Jardin Birds N Butterflies by Susan Winget.  I used Portabello Pixie's Petal Knot Dress for the pattern in a size 3.
Aurora's Heritage Dress Back
A little closer look at the wonderful handwork.
I used two of the beautifully made napkins for the front of this dress.  I used one as the attached apron and one for the bodice overlay.  I love how the elaborate handwork drapes down from the bodice over the napkin apron attached at the high waist.
Are there any beautiful napkins or hankies hidden away in your closets?  Perhaps you might want to take them out and fashion something new out of something old!  Have fun!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beautiful Grace

 As promised, photos of the beautiful Miss Grace Carmen and her family.  I made Grace's First Communion dress.  You can read the details on the dress here.
Grace in the church courtyard.

Grace receiving Communion.
Grace and her grandmother, Marylou Brennan, light a prayer candle after the service.

Grace and her daddy.

Allison and John, Grace and little sister Kate.  Little brother Jack didn't want to be photographed.  He's three.  No other explanation needed.
Me with both Grace and Kate.  (Kate's dress details can be found here.)
It was a happy day, full of grace and Grace!  I was honored to be a part of it!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Grace's First Communion Dress


I recently had the privilege of making Grace Carmen a special gift:  her First Communion dress.  Grace was in my kindergarten class two years ago and is the oldest of three children.  Her parents are very involved with our school and volunteer in their children's classes as well as on our PTA.  Her dad heads our All Pro Dads events each month.  Her little sister Kate is in my kindergarten class this year.  I made Kate the Birds and Butterflies dress I made for my first Project Run and Play sew-along entry earlier this year.  (See it here.)   

Grace is a bright and beautiful little girl with very definite opinions on what she should wear.  When it was time to decide what this very special dress should look like, I didn't sit down with Grace's mother to design it.  I sat down with Grace.  
It was such a pleasant experience!  I determined the dress fabric (white satin batiste) and then I asked her questions.  Would you like a full twirly skirt? An a-line?  What type of neckline?  What type of sleeves?  Smocking?  Lace?  Pearls? Embroidery? And lots more!  The resulting sketch below is what we came up with.  She didn't want smocking but she did like embroidery and wanted an embroidered floral heart on the bodice of the dress and embroidered crosses of flowers on the sleeves.  She liked lace but only wanted a small amount on the dress.  She wanted the dress to be ankle length and the bodice to come to her waist.  She liked the idea of a large sash bow.  We talked about head-pieces and veils with her mommy and I asked if she had saved her own wedding head-piece.  She had!  Grace would wear her mommy's veil and pearl encrusted head-piece.

Our sketch.  I measured both Grace and Kate so both are on this paper.  So as not to confuse myself, I highlighted Grace's measurements.

As you can see, I faithfully followed the design we came up with together.  Grace is a small, very slender child.  The bodice was made twice!  The sleeves, too.  Even with the measurements and carefully tracing the pattern (basic square yoke) on the lines to accommodate her size, the first bodice I made was too wide and two short.  I ended up drafting my own bodice and adapting the sleeve pattern I had to fit.  Making those pieces took me longer to draft than I care to admit!  I so admire those who regularly draft their children's clothing!  
I love to embroider and as I stitch I often think of the child for whom the garment is being made and I pray for her/him and the child's family.  The flowers for this design were chosen with care.  In Victorian times different flowers had specific meanings and were used to communicate wordlessly.  I wanted to incorporate flowers with special meanings into Grace's dress.   The daisies signify innocence and purity.  The pink roses signify grace, elegance, and sweetness.  The blue forget-me-nots are for faithful and true love, love that never dies, like our Lord's love for us.  Blue is also the color most associated with the Blessed Mother of Jesus and I wanted to include that color, as well.

The back of the dress has a five button closure, Swiss trim sash keepers, and a lace placket.  I know that  no one can see the lace placket but I know it is there!
The five buttons are vintage mother of pearl buttons given to me by a friend a long time ago.  They represent the five members of Grace's family.  Mother of pearl is also symbolic of the Blessed Mother.
I trimmed the ends of the sash in the same French lace edging and insertion that is on the sleeves and hem.
I first drew the cross on a piece of paper and then filled it in with flowers matching those in the heart wreath.

The next picture shows the skirt front pulled up so that the skirt lining is showing.  Grace wore a crinoline style slip purchased at a bridal store beneath the dress.

Another view of the dress showing just how long it is.
Grace and her family were very pleased with the dress and that made me very happy!  I attended the First Communion service and loved seeing Grace in her special dress.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera!  Grace's mommy has emailed me a few of the photos they took.  I'll post pictures of Grace in the dress soon, after they have been resized, etc.  

Have a wonderful day!  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Little 'Catch-Up" and a "Tease" or Two

I Will Be a Guest Blogger!

Jenn at has asked me to do a guest spot on her blog series featuring Lost Arts of Sewing. What an honor!  Even with all the end of the year activities and events at school and for my graduating son, I couldn't refuse!  This will be my first guest spot on another blog!  I knew that I wanted to do something with smocking but I chose an old technique that doesn't require a pleater.  In this way those of you who have thought you might like to try this needle art will need nothing except needle and thread. The series starts on Monday, May 20th.  My post will air on on Friday, May 24th.  I hope you will check out my post and all the guest bloggers for the series.
 We spent Mothers' Day at Busch Gardens in Tampa this year.  Lots of fun but it was pretty hot.  My sweet husband took the picture above.  Logan rarely enjoys having his photo taken...can you tell?   He will graduate from high school in just a couple of weeks.  Victoria-Rose has finished her first year of college and is now home for the summer.  Yay!  She's home!

Aren't these topiary butterflies amazing?!  I could walk around Busch Gardens and just enjoy the flowers!
The embroidered heart is on the bodice of the First Communion dress I finished recently for sweet Grace. I know that this is just a 'tease' and  I'll blog about that soon, I promise.   I have to complete and send the guest post to Jenn ASAP.  Here is the little 'tease' of the garment made for the guest post.
Have fun and take a little time for yourselves.  Today is the only May 18, 2013 we will ever have!  Enjoy!
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