Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lacy Wrap Dress

In the process of stitching lots of practical things I find myself forgetting how much I enjoy working with lace. This dress has been designed and stitched to be a preday class at the Martha Pullen school in February and July of 2011. The entire front wrap bodice, back bodice and sleeve of the dress are strips of French and Swiss laces worked over a layer of silk organza. The skirt is silk organza over blue cotton batiste.

The bodice and sleeve edges are finished with entredeux, 1/4" Swiss edging, and running stitch worked with three strands of DMC floss.

Hailey did a little try on for me. Notice all the missing teeth - she's so happy to be going to kindergarten this year.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Silk Dress Binge

I'm on a bit of a silk dress binge. I like the intensity of the silk colors and the crisp feel of the fabric. This first dress is a copy of 'Eloise' which was featured on the cover of AS&E #87. The original dress was made from a beautiful tropical weight men's grey flannel suiting. It might be one of my favorite dresses I have ever made.

My new version is apple green silk. It was sold as dupioni but it really feels and behaves like silk taffeta.

There are a few things I have learned along the way when working with this silk. It seems to work best to interface the area to be smocked prior to pleating the fabric with a very lightweight interfacing. The stuff I'm most partial to at the moment is the 'Baby' interfacing you can get from Sally at Farmhouse Fabrics ( It seems to add just the right amount of body and stability to the outer fabric. You will have a hot mess on your hands if you try to just pleat the silk on the cross grain without adding the interfacing. Trust me on this. The second thing I have discovered is that this silk does not gather very nicely (really not very nicely!) on the cross or lengthwise grain. Areas that required gathers such as the skirt back to the bodice back presented a big problem. I got around this by softly pleating, big 2" pleats, the skirt back to the bodice back.

I really like the formal, almost bridal look this gives to the back of the dress. The next problem was the sleeve which required gathers on the cap and at the cuff. I found that cutting the entire sleeve on the bias solved the problem. For some mysterious reason the silk gathered beautifully across the bias. This dress is for a class I'm teaching at the Children's Corner in Nashville Tennessee in October.

This next dress is another color version of the silk dress Jorden was modeling in a previous post. The fabric is the ivory silk taffeta trimmed with lavender and smocked with Mill Hill seed beads.

I quite like the strong contrast the darker lavender provides. The Mill Hill beads add just the right amount of bling. I think both these dresses would be prefect for flower girls in almost any color combination. I'm thinking about a lime green/hot pink combination next. This project is also for a class at Martha's Pullens in February and July of next year.

Matt (5th child) moved away to college last week. The house is achingly quiet. Who would have thought I would have missed all that piano banging, viola plucking, guitar strumming, loud singing, craziness already. If you want to check in on him look at - maybe this is mom bias but I think he is quite an interesting writer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Before and After

Sweet baby Jane turned one year old this week. The before and after pictures speak for themselves.

Wild Thing!

Here's a photo of my oldest granddaughter Jorden wearing a new smocked silk dress. It's a adaptation of one of the dresses in my 'Sew Cute Couture' book. The project was a little exercise in smocking an entire dress without any of the actual smocking stitches showing on the right side of the dress. All the stitches are either beaded or back stitched. I plan to use this dress as a class project in 2011. Jorden could not resist popping off a cartwheel before we could rescue the dress off of her.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some Things Are Just Perfect

Still rock'in hard at 68 - maybe there is hope for all of us. A big thank you to my good friends Wendy and Randy who gifted me these near front row tickets. Perfect night, perfect outdoor venue, perfect music.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Matt's Graduation Day

Congratulations to my beautiful boy. Today was your 18th birthday and high school graduation all rolled into one. You have always been comfortable in your own skin and not ever afraid to be exactly who you are. I can't wait to see what the future will hold for you. You are one smart cookie as evidenced by all those cords hanging around your neck. You are loved beyond measure - what a lucky mom I am.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jen's Wedding Dress

Here's a little look at the wedding dress I hesitantly altered and highlighted a section of in an earlier post. I just love this dress. Jen is my neighbor and I've known her since she was about 10 years old. She has grown into a very stylish young lady and I think the 1950's fitted silhouette looks fabulous on her. We put our heads together to come up with the style of the little cropped jacket and I made it out of ivory silk shantung. It seems a perfect compliment to this beautiful dress.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Finished Floofy

I was in Boston a few weeks ago teaching for the Bewitching Stitchers SAGA group. After class one day some of the SAGA girls took me to a wonderful little knitting shop to see the 'Floofy Skirts'. It was love at first sight for me. I love to knit and this project allows you to sample all those interesting textured yarns you never know what to do with.

All you need to get started is 6 to 10 skeins of interesting textured yarns in one to three color families. The skirt is worked from the top down on circular needles following a very simple formula. You do not have to count anything or follow any stitching charts - just plain knitting. It is not boring because every few rows you get to start a new and interesting yarn. I really like the way the colors and textures play against each other. This skirt will be a welcome addition to my somewhat conservative (that's code for BORING!!) mostly black wardrobe. You can see lots of pictures of finished floofys and get the instructions from

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Trip to GNO SAGA

I'm soooo far behind with my blog posts. At the end of March I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans for classes with the GNO SAGA group. They have a long time tradition of being a very well organized, active, SAGA group. They bring teachers in for weekend classes several times a year and are a really great group of accomplished stitchers. On the last night I was treated to a real Louisiana style crawfish boil.

Martha Stewart could probably have taken some entertaining tips from my hosts - the entire evening was beautiful. After dinner we retired to Suzette's amazing sewing room and I was beyond pleased to see she had completed four complete dress and jacket sets from my book.

Suzette had also completed the dress and jacket set I had taught for the guild way back in 2002. As a teacher, it is greatly satisfying to see such beautifully embroidered and constructed FINISHED class projects.

I already have plans to go back to see my stitching friends in New Orleans in September of 2011.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Marathon Crew

Here we are at the early morning start of the SLC 2010 marathon. From the left are my oldest daughter Erin, my wonderful neighbor and Michael's best friend's mom Shauna, my third daughter Lauren, me, 17 year old son Matt, and 14 year old son Morgan. Lauren, Matt and Morgan ran the half and Erin, Shauna, and I did the full. This was Shauna's first full and Lauren's first half and they both blew me away with their determination. We all managed personal best times for our events and I'm quite sure we all felt another tall strong boy running along with us. I hope to participate in this event every year until I have to be pushed in a wheelchair.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Marathon Eve

This picture was taken while running up my much loved mountain two weeks ago - we had a bit of a blizzard Easter weekend. Tomorrow is the SLC marathon and the weather is predicted to be a perfect sunny 68 degrees. Welcome to spring in Utah, if you don't like the weather wait ten minutes and it will change. My wonderful, wild, crazy family are all getting ready to participate in the various events tomorrow. I'm feeling really unprepared this year. We will all be running for Michael. My kids have posted a video of last years marathon at Wish us luck!

Monday, March 22, 2010

How cool is this!

I have reluctantly agreed to alter a wedding dress for my neighbors daughter. It's the most gorgeous, interesting thing I have ever seen. The entire dress is covered in horizontal rows of shaped netting, sequins and spiraled silk ribbon. The base fabric is silk shantung. The netting is machine stitched on and sits out at least 1/4" from the surface of the dress. I can't for the life of me figure out how it was stitched to the surface of the dress in such an intricate pattern. I may be in way over my head here so wish me luck. I will try to get the brides permission to post a photograph - the wedding is in June.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Almost heaven....South Carolina????

I know the song goes "almost heaven, West Virginia" but I'm quite sure it was almost heaven, South Carolina for me last week. I was lucky enough to spend four days teaching at Farmhouse Fabrics in Beech Island, South Carolina. Sally's warehouse is an overwhelming experience - in the best possible way. I've included a few close up photos to show a tiny portion of what's available at Farmhouse Fabrics.

I had an excellent group of students from all over the country, several of them dear friends who I have not seen in the last two years. Sally and her staff, especially Connie Palmer, were beyond helpful making sure everything went well. Everyday at lunchtime we were treated to a beautifully presented meal.

Between the stitching and the great food and the unbelievable on site SHOPPING I don't think anyone wanted to ever go home. I plan to go back two more times this year and hopefully many more times in the years to come. You can visit Farmhouse Fabrics online at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sweet Baby Jane

Sweet baby Jane is 7 months old, has three teeth and is crawling. I held her down long enough to model a new hat which will most likely be the jumping off point for a new four piece summer outfit. Hat fabric is white cotton pique trimmed with ric-rac and red mini micocheck.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Trip to Florida

I had the opportunity to go to Florida last week and stitch for five days with a wonderful group of ladies. The classes were sponsored by the Victorian Smockers SAGA group and were held at Laura's Sewing in Palm Beach Gardens. We had a lovely big classroom where roses and chocolate magically appeared on Valentines day. A big thank you to Laura and her excellent staff who out did themselves to make everything run smoothly. Another big thank you to Pat and her husband Bernie who were my hosts. They made my stay so comfortable and I even managed some early morning runs around the beautiful golf course their home sits on. Everyone there thought they were in a cold snap but for me it felt just like summer.

Upon arriving home my computer savvy children have encouraged me to set up an Etsy store. I have had many requests over the years to provide kits for some of my class projects. I will start with projects from my book 'Sew Cute Couture' ('Cute As A Button') and hopefully add more as time goes on. You can find me at www.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Little Red Jacket

This jacket just makes me happy. I made it for my oldest daughters 31st birthday which was on January 1. It's so her. She's a little tiny thing and a bit of a fashionista and always likes things a little left of center so this suits her perfectly. It's made from a superfine 100% wool and Simplicity pattern 2730 - no design changes whatsoever to the pattern. Please excuse my somewhat cluttered photography - I need a lesson on cropping photos!

A series of 13 reverse darts around the neckline make for a really cute fit on this pattern and also an interesting design detail. The fabric flowers were quite heavy when completed but actually sat quite nicely around the neckline once firmly stitched down. I added a few beads to the center of the flowers. I keep gently nagging at her (that's what mom's do, isn't it?) for a photo of her wearing it. Her family just had pictures taken at Christmas time. Hunter is 9 and Jorden (wild thing!) is 7. Her really great husband Bart shall remain ageless.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Inside Peek

Some time ago Rosa asked about using fusible interfacing on the front yoke and the skirt front of a smocked dress. My apologies to her for being so slow in responding. I dislike using the words 'always' and 'never' because it 'always' seems to come back to bite you. But... I almost always interface the front yoke of any smocked dress. It just makes sense to me to stabilize the little yoke that has the big job of holding up a somtimes heavily smocked and embroidered skirt. The extra layer on the yoke helps to eliminate puckers and other nasty business that can sometimes happen along that piped seamline. It also helps pad the lower edge of the yoke to help prevent the sometimes quite bulky seam allowance from imprinting on the right side of the yoke front.

I turned this smocked dress inside out, as best as I could, to show the interfaced front yoke and also the interfaced smocked portion of the skirt front. This particular dress is made from a Liberty Tana Lawn which is 54" wide and seems to pleat down to almost nothing. On lightweight fabrics like this I will usually fuse a strip of lightweight interfacing to the area that will be pleated. Once pleated this helps form plumper pleats and keeps the fabric from collapsing down to nothing. It makes the job of blocking out a skirt front much easier.

I also like to add a single layer liner to the back of the smocked section of a yoke dress. This covers up all the yoke seams and the inevitable knots on the back of the smocking. It helps stabilize the smocked area and is comfortable against the skin.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Blast From the Past

This all started when my daughter in Texas sent this photo of her daughter wearing a velvet dress and heirloom pinafore vintage about 1989. I dug out the photo of her mom and sisters wearing the original pinafores. They were about 4, 9, and 11 at the time and are now 24, 29, and 31.

I love that good Swiss cotton batiste and Swiss cotton laces have the beautiful ability to come back to life with a good wash and a press after many years in a trunk. A couple years after the above photo was taken Lauren (the youngest) modeled a similar pinafore for Creative Needle Magazine. I'm still sad every month when there is not a new Creative Needle in my mailbox - they are greatly missed.

These photos were taken with the Utah Symphony. This pinafore features lots of hand embroidery in the paneled skirt. The Creative Needle issue is Nov/Dec 1991 if you want to take a look. Tina Lewis, a VERY talented designer and stitcher who lives in Park City organized the photo shoot and created many of the garments. A funny little side note - Creative Needle came to Salt Lake several times to do photo shoots and on two occasions I managed to have a baby the VERY NEXT DAY after they left. That might give you some indication about how stressful photo shoots can be with unpredictable children and delicate clothing. As I said earlier - they are greatly missed.

Teaching Schedule for 2018

6-11 Sewing at the Beach
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

22-26 - Private Class

19-23 Teaching Studio
St. Louis, Missouri
(or text 314 974 7561)

7-8 Bewitching Stitchers
Boston, Mass

10-14 Children's Corner
Nashville, Tennessee
Contact; www.children'

20-22 Bewitching Stitchers

30-June 2 Private Class

4-9 Private class

23-27 Private Class

7-8 New Orleans/Baton Rouge SAGA

17-23 SAGA National Convntion
Winston/Salem North Carolina

4-10 Beating Around the Bush
Adelaide, Australia

29 - Nov 2
Teaching Studio
St. Louis, Missouri
(or text 314 974 7561)

6-10 Private Class

I have several open dates in 2018 for private or public groups.
For teaching information, a current class list, and available dates, contact