Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Joy of Teaching Sewing

Victoria-Rose and Lyda with their matching pillowcases.
 Victoria-Rose, my college sophomore daughter, and her friend Lyda have recently decided that they want to learn how to sew.  Picture me mentally jumping up and down and screaming with joy but calmly and casually saying, "Sure, honey, why don't you invite Lyda to come home with you for the weekend?"  (I didn't want to scare them away!  I've been waiting for this day for YEARS!)

I spent the week before their arrival home planning and getting things ready.  I purchased Parts Gear boxes for them and filled them with a Singer sewing kit (12 threads, seam gauge, sear ripper, pin cushion, pins, shears, etc.), glass headed pins, embroidery scissors, needles, and small plastic containers of buttons.  I also purchased detailed Singer sewing books for them.  I decided that pillowcases with their straight seams would be perfect for beginning seamstresses.

On Saturday, the girls took my JoAnn's coupons, yardage amounts, and a gift card to JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts to choose their coordinating fabrics for two pillowcases each.  They were gone for HOURS!  Victoria-Rose later said that they were overwhelmed by the selections and distracted by all the goodies in the store.  She also said that she now understood how I could spend hours there!

The girls decided that their first pillowcases would be matching ones of dark green with a cream/green floral border and cream cluny-type lace.  Each girl also made another pillowcase with different fabrics.  Lyda's was a blue floral and Victoria-Rose chose a purple floral but changed her mind when she got home.  She then 'shopped' in my stash and chose the fabrics in the photograph below.  Her second case was made to fit a king sized pillow she uses at school.

The girls learned how to make French seams and overcast seams for clean finishes and how to attach lace edging using a tiny zig-zag stitch.  I was so proud of them and they were proud of themselves!
The girls and Victoria-Rose's second case.  Lyda had her other
one packed in her tote already.
They have already chosen fabric from my stash to make totes the next time Lyda visits.  Am I happy?  You bet I am!!!

 The photos below show a bolster I recovered and another small pillow for Victoria-Rose's bed at school.  The cross-stitching on the little pillow was from a set of ten pieces I found at the Hospice Resale shop near us.  Someone had done all the work for a quilt but then didn't put it together.  The colors went well with Victoria-Rose's color scheme in her dorm/apt. room.

The back of the pillow with an 'envelope' style closure.  The bird will not be up-side down if the pillow is turned the right way up!
To Ponder:
A life well lived is simply a compilation of days well spent.
Douglas Pagels
Have a delightful day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pinafore Sundress Outfit From Vintage Patterns

I love vintage sewing patterns!  I love so many of the styles of years gone by:  full skirts, circle skirts, bonnets, butterfly sleeves, puffed sleeves, and beautiful embellishments.  I made this little ensemble in 2008 and sold it at the Women's Exchange in St. Augustine.  I used two very old patterns from my pattern stash to create this toddler outfit with vintage appeal.
The fabric was a soft muted yellow floral cotton that reminded me of fabrics in the 1940's.  The embroidered eyelet was some that I had 'mellowing' in my stash and was just enough for the butterfly sleeve treatment.  The buttons were from a button box passed on to me by a friend.
The pattern is one of those really old ones from the 1940's that had been ordered from a newspaper and had no written pattern markings, just different sized holes arranged in patterns to show what the pieces were for and how to attach them.  This was my first attempt at sewing with one of these patterns and I discovered that it wasn't difficult at all for someone with pattern reading experience.  The pattern called for a deeper hem but the style was already a short one so I opted for a narrow hem.  The little shorts were part of the original pattern and were obviously quite needed for modesty.

 The bonnet was made from a different vintage pattern from the same decade.

 The bonnet buttoned in the back making the bonnet much easier to wash and iron.
 The bonnet has a great brim for shielding delicate skin from the sun's damaging rays.
Someday I'll have to make these patterns again.  I hope you enjoyed them!

Something to ponder:
The game of life is a game of boomerangs.
Our thoughts, deeds, and words return to us
sooner or later with astounding accuracy."

Think wonderful thoughts, do kind deeds, and speak beautiful words, my friends!  Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A is for Autumn

Katy of No Big Dill has begun a new sewing series that is just 'right up my alley' as a kindergarten teacher.  She is 'sewing up the alphabet' this year and has invited us to do the same and link to her blog about it on Sept. 6, 2013 (HERE).  She made the most beautiful dress for her niece with a subtle 'arrow' on the skirt  for the Letter A that is simply stunning.  I couldn't wait to begin sewing!

Over the past two weeks, on my long drive to and from school, I have been fantasizing, mentally designing, and sewing dozens of outfits for this series.  Alas, I have sewn next to nothing.   In my head there is a pants outfit with ants embroidered on it carrying food away and another with hand embroidered redwork animals.  In my head....that is as far as I got.  

So... I have resorted to going through pictures of things that I have made in the past that I have not shared in detail on this blog, searching for things that fit Katy's theme.  I found plenty of apple themed dresses but I shared them in a post HERE.  Finally I found this little baby outfit that I named 'Autumn Frolic'.

The fabric reminds me of watercolor autumn flowers and I just fell in love with it when I bought it a few years before I actually cut into it.  Let's just say that I was 'saving' it for this project.   This little Autumnal ensemble was made for gorgeous Natalie back in 2008.  Her grandmother had commissioned me to make several little outfits for Natalie, her first grandchild.  

I used a Children's Corner pattern called "Hilary" in a size one knowing that it ran big and would be more like a size 18 months.  I decided to add a little smocking and loved how the fabric pleated up.  It was 'busy' already so I just did a simple cable and wave pattern without any extra embroidery.  

 The little appliqued 3D flowers were from a Primrose Lane pattern called "Baby Rose".  I sewed it to the ribbon and then pinned it on with a safety pin so that it could be removed for washing.
 I made and applied lots of tiny piping using a quilting calico and lined the bodice and sleeves in the same fabric.
 I love the closure on the back in this pattern.  It crosses over and buttons with just one button.  Lots of the tiny piping added here for detail, too.
 The bonnet was made using Simplicity Pattern #2908 but I changed it up a bit by adding a frill and another appliqued 3D flower on the inside of the brim instead of appliqued scallops.
 I made a pair of matching britches but I can't remember what pattern I used.
 The outfit looked just stunning on this beautiful baby girl.  The colors suited her so well.  Her grandmother reported that whenever she wore the ensemble she would 'stop traffic'!

Although it is still VERY hot and humid here in my part of Florida, the colors in this dress are making me think of cooler weather and the coming season.  It is also making me hungry for my husband's favorite pie, pumpkin!  I think I'll make one as a surprise for him today.

Something to ponder:
"Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.
Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness,
and a home to the stranger.
Be a breath of life on the body of humankind,
dew to the soil of the human heart,
and a fruit upon the tree of humility."
From a Baha'i Prayer for Peace

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Maddie's Tea Party Dress

 I made this dress early in the summer of 2012 but never got around to blogging about it.  I forgot all about it until I was sorting through photos on my computer recently.  It's a sweet little dress full of meaning and it was made with love for Maddie, the daughter of a teaching friend.  Maddie was eight years old that summer and loved a good cup of hot tea and tea parties.  Her mommy, Jenn, also loved tea and tea parties.  We began many a morning at school sharing a cup of tea and enjoying our friendship.  Jenn is now an assistant principal at another school and is sorely missed at ours.
 I did some vintage style hand embroidery on the bodice of Portabellopixie's Petal Knot Dress in colors that coordinated with those in the teapot print of the skirt.  I also did a little hand embroidery around the flower shaped buttons on the petal straps.
Here you can see the sweet little blue birds and butterflies flitting about the pretty teapots.
Something to think about:
"You are given a daily invitation to fill your heart with all the smiles it can possibly hold.  Douglas Pagels

Enjoy this day, my friends, and fill it with smiles!  Blessings, Karen

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Cottage Mama's Summer Picnic Dress (Free PDF Pattern)

 Lindsay Wilkes of The Cottage Mama (click HERE) creates charming children's clothing and sewing patterns.  The clothing has a vintage appeal with a modern twist that is just delightful.  I have purchased several of her patterns and am eagerly awaiting the publication of her first book:   Sew Classic Clothes for Girls.  The book contains a generous set of patterns for 20 girls’ dresses, outfits and accessories.  The book will be available in October of this year and can be pre-ordered from The Cottage Mama. (I have no affiliation with Lindsay or the book.  I just love her style!)  While perusing her website this summer I came across her tutorial section that is chock full of great things to make and several free patterns.  The pattern for the little Summer Picnic Dress can be found HERE in sizes 12 months to 4 years.
 I made two little size two Summer Picnic Dresses using vintage pillowcases from my stash.  The first one was for little Chloe who just turned three but is very petite.  I omitted the ruffle on the bottom and added a tuck under each arm to accommodate the straight sides of the pillowcase. (The pattern has an a-line silhouette.)  The bodice lining piece had to be straightened at the sides to match the straight skirt of the case.  I added little flower buttons with embroidered lazy-daisy leaves to the little bodice piece to go with the lovely hand embroidered bottom of the vintage case.  Bright pink satin ribbon replaced the fabric ties called for in the pattern.
 The second Summer Picnic Dress was made from an all white vintage pillowcase with beautiful satin stitching, cut-work, and a fancy crocheted edging.  I made the same adjustments under the arms and at the side as the first dress but added a piece of vintage Swiss edging as an overlay on the front bodice.  This dress also ties with ribbons.
Beautiful hand work on the pillowcase bottom.

Purchased ribbon flowers on the tie ends and the corners of the bodice.
Douglas Pagels has edited a collection of inspirational words and blessings called:  I'd Love to Give These Gifts to You.  This quote is his own:

"Each day brings with it the miracle of a new beginning.  Many of the moments ahead will be marvelously disguised as ordinary days, but each one of us has the chance to make something extraordinary out of them."

Enjoy this wonderful new day.  Look for the extraordinary in the little ordinary things you do today.  Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Smocked Baby Bonnet for Beckers

 Talented Charity of Say Grr Sewing recently had her third child, a beautiful baby girl nicknamed 'Beckers'.  Charity has amazed me with the how much sewing she accomplishes with two very little girls and now she has another little angel!  I believe God blesses young mothers with extra energy!

Charity's recent 'flip' for the Flip this Pattern Series at Frances Suzanne was truly creative, innovative, and beautiful and yet very wearable.  She made the dress look like a morning glory flower complete with a hand embroidered butterfly on the petal collar. Stunning!  Check it out HERE.

Charity is always so kind when she comments on my posts and I feel like I have gotten to know her a little through her blog.  I wanted to do a little something for the new baby so I made a smocked bonnet.  The fabric is Imperial Batiste with Cluny lace.  I smocked it with an adaptation of 'Genny' by Ellen McCarn.  I used the first five rows of Design I but I 'did my own thing' with the embroidery in the center of the cable rows. I love to smock but I love to embroider even more!
I checked my blog list this afternoon and found that Charity has posted photos of 'Beckers' in the bonnet I made her.  I can't tell you how touched I was to see those photos.  I don't often get to see the smocked baby things I make on real babies.  It was such a special surprise to see these pictures and so nice to know that Charity will use the bonnet and not just put it away.  I would rather something I made was worn to the point of being threadbare than put aside to save for 'the future'.  I feel that way about a lot of things, actually.  We use our linens and china, etc.  All we are sure of is today!

If you want to see how very sweet a smocked bonnet looks on a beautiful baby girl, check out Charity's post HERE.

Have a lovely evening!  Blessings, Karen
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