I hope to inspire and entertain you with a lot of sewing and a little of everything else!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

For the Wee Ones

I have really enjoyed making these tiny gowns. I am sad to think of why they are needed, but glad to help in a wee way.
This little gown is from a pattern by Joy Welsh of Applique for Kids. She generously allowed SAGA to publish it and has graciously allowed me to post the PDF in my MAS Patterns Group!! Thank you, JOY! I used ecru Martha's favorite cotton batiste for this gown. I don't remember where the lace came from- possibly a super MP Co. sale. It is about 2" wide, cotton, and very soft. I initially added the wide lace at the neckline, but it was too much. So, I cut it in half widthwise and I like the scale better, but I wish I had stitched it to the top  of the casing, instead of underneath. I would have moved it again, but I just can't undo all the tiny stitches. Next time I will know.
I love the sleeves. I used a little lace beading with narrow ribbon and it allows ease of dressing, but also can be fitted so it's not too blousy.
The embroidery is a cross from Creative Keepsakes Christening II with "In God's Arms" added in Embird. It is stitched in gold metallic thread.
The embroidery next to it is one I digitized. It is actually based on a tattoo of a Dad who lost an angel baby. I asked people's opinions and they overwhelmingly felt it was not appropriate, so I am not using that one on anything.
Joy's pattern is great for several reasons:
1. It comes in 4 sizes from Tiny Preemie to Newborn
2. With the drawstring neck, it is super quick to sew
3. It is nearly flat in front making it a great canvas for embroidery, lace work, etc.
4. PDF makes it so easy to print and it has just 3 pieces!
 So, go download yours today and give it a try to help Preemies in your area.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gonna Have to Face it, I'm Addicted to...

Shadow work! I know, I know it's supposed to be love and I have plenty of that from my awesome family! But I have had so much FUN with the machine shadow work designs. I love the Applique for Kids designs.
Look at this sweet little chick! If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that we have hens and they are great pets. So, anything with a chick is a "yes" for me!
This "Baby" design is just lovely! I have to say that when I can do this on the embroidery machine in 5 minutes, I think twice about doing it by hand!
Here are some strawberries with blossoms. All of these are stitched with DMC 50wt cotton thread and Madeira cotona 80wt cotton in the bobbin. I recently treated myself to some bright colors of this thread. I had originally bought about 6 pastel colors, but I like it so much that I had to expand my palette! The cotton is my favorite thread to use. It really looks like hand work and doesn't have the sheen of rayon.

These designs are so cute, easy, and work well for so many garments. Check out Applique for Kids!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Smockin' It Old School: The Finished Dress!

I have had quite a spell lately. In the past 10 days, we have had a hospital visit for DD, dog seriously sick at vet, one of our chickens died, a kidney stone for DH, minor car accident for my Mom, and a gross cold taking over the house. We are waiting for our luck to turn back to good!!
Anyway, I am finally here to share the finished dress.
It still needs to be hemmed. I like the way it looks- I was aiming for a 1940s look. I couldn't decide what to do for a collar, so I just left it off. I added a sash in the back- you can see it poking out.
Here's a closer look at the smocking.
This is the transfer I used for this dress. It is the one shown on white here. I hope you enjoyed this series on "Smockin' It Old School"!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Smocking by Vintage Transfer: part 2

Here is part 2 of my article on Smocking by Vintage Transfer. Come back to see the finished dress tomorrow!!
Popular 1937 Smocked Matinee Jacket Pattern

Why Use Transfers? Transfers were one way ladies could smock before pleaters were available. You are probably familiar with “dot” transfers that can be used to pre-pleat fabric for English Smocking. The transfers I have shown are also made of dots, but they are in a pattern, so that pleating and stitching are accomplished in one step! There is no need for measuring because the spacing and pattern is already set. If you want to smock without committing to the cost of a pleater or, like me, you want to try doing it “old school” then this could be a fun thing to try!
Cute McCall's Girl's Smocked Dress Pattern, c1950

Where Do I Find Transfers? Ebay and Etsy are great places to search “vintage smocking transfer”. You will pay anywhere from $3 up to $20 or so, but if you are patient, you can get them inexpensively. If you are lucky, Goodwill, yard sales and thrift shops will be great places to find these.

Ladies Smocked Bed Jacket Pattern, c1940

What Can They Make? Smocking transfers were most common for children's clothes, but they were also made for ladies' bed jackets and dresses, hats, bedspreads, curtains, and even lampshades! 
McCall's Pillow Patterns with Texture Smocking, c1960
There are also smocking transfers to make different patterns called “texture smocking” for pillows and other items. These tend to make a larger smocked pattern.
Interesting Mail Order Pattern for a Gingham Flower Basket, c1950
How Do I Use Them? Prepare your fabric by prewashing and ironing. Cut a rectangle for your skirt according to your pattern. English smocking generally requires 3 to 4 times your finished width, while transfer smocking is less full and you will only need about 2 ½ times your finished width. Lay the transfer with the ink side down and slowly press the transfer. It might help to cut it into 2 shorter pieces and match them up, because once you start ironing, you cannot move the transfer or you will have a mess. There were even transfers meant to be transferred in a curved shape for bishop-style garments. Believe it or not, transfers from the 30s and 40s will still stamp perfectly well if they are unused! It is best done on solid-color fabric, as I found it very hard to see on prints.
The Pattern After Being Ironed On: Ready to Go!
How Do I Stitch? You will use 3 strands of DMC floss. Start on the top row on the left and come to the front just to the left of the first dot. Travel to the next dot and pick up just the fabric behind the dot (about 1mm). Pull up the thread. Tension is very important. I found I had to pull it much tighter than seemed intuitive. 
A Dress in Progress
Travel across the row from left to right, going from dot-to-dot and travelling up and down as you go. For each dot, just pick up the width of the dot. Work the smocking in rows from top to bottom.
Pink Dress Smocking
Transfer Used on Pink Dress, above

The main difference from English smocking is that unsmocked areas will be “puffy” with no back-smocking able to be done. Where rows are very tight, the appearance will be very similar to English smocking with neat pleats. Where there are empty areas, fabric will puff out. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Smockin' It Old School: Vintage Transfers, part 1

This week I presented "How to Smock by Transfer" to my Smocking Guild. It was part of a program we planned about Alternative Ways to Smock. Another member taught us how to do Counterchange Smocking. I am posting the informational hand-out I gave them here. This is the first part: History.

Most companies produced hot-iron transfers that were single-use -- the unused pattern had raised ink that transferred to the fabric. If the design is composed of small dots, it's a Numo style pattern. Designs often were offered in a choice of blue ink (for white or light fabrics) or yellow (to show up on dark fabrics). Many companies eventually switched to a lighter or electric blue that would show up on light and dark fabrics. A few companies used green ink or the silver-tex process (raised silver ink).

McCall Pattern with Perforated Dot Transfer, c. 1920
History: The first commercially available iron on transfers were produced in the late 1800s. The very early transfers used perforated tissue paper. Black powder was sifted through the holes to mark the design. Another early method was to rub or moisten the transfer against the fabric, but iron-ons quickly became the norm.
Early Butterick Smocking Transfer, c1928

Butterick, founded in 1863, is the oldest surviving pattern company. Well into the 1920s, Butterick transfers came in the same brown kraft envelopes used for its sewing patterns. Sometime in the 1920s the envelopes became glossy white and the transfers became Silvertex (raised silver ink). 

Butterick Girls' Dress Pattern, "a Delineator Style"
Their patterns and transfers were advertised in the “Delineator” magazine. Butterick apparently stopped producing transfers in the early to mid-1930s.

McCall's Smocked Rompers, c1950
McCall patterns started in 1870 and its wide variety of transfer patterns have been favorites for well over 100 years.
 Their transfers were called Kaumagraph until around 1950, but they also had sewing patterns that came with transfers. For example, smocked dresses or rompers with smocking transfers included.
Simplicity Round Yoke Dress, c1935
Simplicity started in 1927 as a low-cost alternative to the other established pattern companies and quickly became a popular brand. They did not have the variety and quantity of transfers that McCall did. 
Vogart Smocking Borders for Dress-up Frocks, c1950
Vogart started in the early 40s and they were carried by major five-and-dime stores like Kresge's (now K-Mart) and Woolworth -AQ along with Vogart's line of stamped linens. Their selection of over 200 transfers was popular for decades and included smocking and combination embroidery and smocking transfers. Other mail order and independent pattern companies also made transfers, like Anne Adams, Marion Martin, or Pictorial Review. 

Transfers for Curved Sleeve Smocking
Transfers were printed on tissue, like patterns, and usually contained an instruction sheet with diagrams.
Sample Direction Sheet
The major pattern companies still offer a few patterns with smocking transfers in them and some nice ones from the 80s and 90s can be found very cheap.

McCall's Martha's Sewing Room Pattern
They were often in collaboration with independent pattern makers of the time, like: Kitty Benton, Oliver Goodin, Ann Hallay, and Martha Pullen.
In Case You Are on Jeopardy: My most interesting fact about vintage transfers is that the ones from pre-1950 may advise you “after stitching, wash with gasoline or benzine (sic) to remove transfer ink.” In the 19th and early-20th centuries, benzene was used as an after-shave lotion because of its pleasant smell. Prior to the 1920s, benzene was frequently used as an industrial solvent, especially for degreasing metal. In 1903, benzene was used to decaffeinate coffee! Benzene was historically used as a significant component in many consumer products such as Liquid Wrench, several paint strippers, rubber cements, and spot removers.
Back of Transfer Pattern, c1930
 Benzene is a very strong carcinogen and today the only safe exposure level is considered zero. Imagine washing baby clothes in it!

Tomorrow I will post Part 2: How to Smock by Transfer!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tiny Pink Baby Gown

I finished the little pink gown that I made from a 13" vintage doll pattern.
I hand-stitched the whole dress.
The fabric is dotted Swiss. I bought 3 yards of pink on a destash group and the seller kindly sent some extra scrap size pieces. I was just able to squeeze this little gown from the scraps.
Here's the back. I bought some iron-safe nylon snaps that I will sew on.

Even though this pattern was for a doll, it has beautiful details like these little pleats under each sleeve.

I gathered antique ecru lace around the hem and stitched it flat to the hem.
Here's a size comparison. The white gown is the one I made a few weeks ago, shared here. The scissors show you how tiny both gowns are.
I worked on this gown exclusively at "the lake" in town this summer, chatting with friends while our kids played. I have had so much fun making these tiny gowns. They use barely any materials and are a great way to try a new technique.
I have a lot of projects "in the works" so I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My Baby Goes to Kindergarten!

Yes! My sweet little Andy started Kindergarten today! We rode the bus together and he had about an hour of orientation in his classroom. He has a little girl from our neighborhood in his class as well as a good friend from last year, along with many new "friends" to meet! His teacher is a repeat for us: one that Rosie had and  loved when she was in Kindergarten!

An occasion like this calls for a new shirt, don't you think?

I started with a spring green t-shirt and added an embroidered/appliqued design from Applique Alley.

I used a jellyroll of bright colors to do the "Rocks" in rainbow colors. If they have a rainbow day at school, we will be all set.

Here's my little darling. I know he will have a wonderful year! Tomorrow is the big "First Day" for Rosie, Davy, and Andy. Katie already started a couple of "early college" courses this week and Pete goes back in a couple of weeks. Five kids at 5 different schools! It's going to be a busy year!