Friday, November 21, 2014

Master Class - Details, Details, Details

I am lucky enough to be asked to teach private classes every so often.  Inevitably the ladies in these small groups end up becoming my trusted friends.  As these classes tend to become annual events there is always the desire to move up a notch or two in difficulty with the planned class project.  This year I have designed  the quintessential little  English girl's outfit - a smocked Liberty print dress and matching wool dress coat. It definitely falls into the category of 'master' or advanced class ranking.

The dress is constructed form Liberty of London tana lawn 'Wiltshire' which is one of their classic prints that stays available for several years rather than just one season.  The smocked sections on each side of the box pleated center front panel run right up into the shoulder seam and are backed with 'baby' interfacing to plump up the pleats and give a more structured appearance.  It does require a 32 row pleater to prepare the side panels for hand smocking.

The piped collar features a dark navy overlay of cotton pique which coordinates with the covered buttons at the sides of the center front panel. The lower ten rows are surface smocked with rows of trellis stitch and the upper portion is back smocked to show off the beauty of the 'Wiltshire' print in it's altered, pleated state,  Chunky bullion roses (three strands of floss) are centered between the sets of trellis stitch.

The back of the dress is finished off with a piped modified sash that ties into a flat self bow.  I did not want the bulk of a traditional tied sash under the dress coat.

The coat has a traditional look but is modified with added fullness in the side panels to accommodate the fullness of the smocked dress worn underneath.  French dark navy blue Italian wool flannel is a perfect weight for a little girl's coat.  The upper body and sleeves and completely interlined with 'baby' interfacing but the lower front and back sections are not interlined to allow for gathering up the wool into the bodice front and back.  

I tried using fusible hair canvas which was something new (to me!) for the full front panels and the collar.  I was very pleased with the results and would definitely recommend it  for children's tailored garments as it does not need any pad stitching to hold it in place.   The next photo shows a peek inside the half finished coat with the hair canvas in place on the front panels, the 'baby interfacing used as an interlining for the remaining upper portion of the coat and the shoulder pads in place.  

The front of the coat closes with machine buttonholes and self covered embroidered buttons to coordinate with the embroidery on the collar of the coat and the print of the dress.

A generous box pleat at the center back  allows for extra fullness in the lower portion of the coat.  A decorative shaped half belt embellished with a bullion rose and a bit of feather stitch accents the back waistline. 

The coat is fully lined with flannel back satin for additional warmth without adding too much bulk. The lower hemline is padded out with strips of bias cut fusible woven interfacing and the raw edge bound with scraps left over from the coordinating dress.  It is all covered up with the lining but I still know its in there!

I am going to have my students choose from three colorways in the Wiltshire print which all coordinate beautifully with the dark French navy coat.

The project will be sized 4, 6, and 8.  The sample dress and coat shown are a size 4.  I am going to try making the coat up in cotton pique which could be a good  weight for all my southern friends who would have no use whatsoever for a wool coat. You can click on any of the photos for a (frighteningly) enhanced close up view.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gotta Love A New Gadget and a Double Piping Tutorial

We sewing ladies are great collectors and everyone loves a new gadget.  These scallop rulers might not be new on the market but they are new to me.  I wanted to try a project that would feature what this little gem will do.  I am sure they were developed for the quilt market but I can think of lots of places I might use them in the embellishment of children's garments.  

The ruler and the 'pusher' are sold separately and come in 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1 1/2", and 2" sizes.  I used the 2" size for this project.

The ruler allows you to quite simply mark and stitch two straight grain strips of fabric together (I used raspberry and aqua 1/32" micro check) and end up with a double scallop border.  I gathered it up for the angel sleeve and applied it flat around the hemline.  It gave a very nice reversible effect on the angel sleeve.

The project would be great for someone just learning to smock because of the small amount of basic trellis stitch smocking on the center panel.  I don't love the way fine pine pique looks pleated on the cross grain (parallel to the selvage) so I took the liberty of turning my center panel and pleating it along the lengthwise grain so the rib in the pique runs horizontal rather than vertical. It's O.K to beak the 'rules' sometimes.

The other interesting design feature on this project is the double piping.  There are several possible ways to make double piping and on this project I used the following method. 

I sew with a Pfaff  and prefer to use a center groove open toe applique foot for making piping.  It has the perfect size little groove right down the center to hold the cord and allows for multiple needle position adjustment.  It is also a very short foot which helps when going around curves.   If you want to end up with double piping that has a 3/8" seam allowance start with a 1" wide bias strip for the outer color.  Wrap the bias around the cord and stitch with a basting stitch one stitch width away from the cord.

For the inner color cut the bias strip 7/8" wide.  Right sides together and raw edges even lay the inner color on top of the outer color stitched piping.  Use the same foot and needle position to stitch through all layers right on top of the stitching line from the previous step.   

Lay a second piece of cord right next to the stitching line and using the same foot and needle position wrap the inner color over the second cord and stitch one stitch width away from the cord.  

You will end up with a 3/8" seam allowance.  When the double piping is applied to the garment move the needle position in one click closer to the cord to ensure the original stitching lines from the construction of the double piping do not show.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Remake of 'Sweetheart' and Bullion Rose Tutorial

I have had many requests for kits for the 'Sweetheart' project that was featured on the cover of the Australian edition of 'Cute As a Button' which is the EXACT same book as the American edition titled 'Sew Cute Couture".  Believe me.... I know it's all a bit confusing.  Unfortunately both titles are now out of print and can be a bit tricky to find at a reasonable price.  If you happen to know of a good source that still has them please let me know.        

The jacket  for the original 'Sweetheart ' project was made from 100% wool Doctors flannel which started out as ivory. I had tried to dye it lavender with a different project in mind with very limited success.  Because I thought I had ruined the fabric I figured there was nothing to loose and I threw it in a pot of hot water with a bottle of Rit brand black dye.  The wool took the black dye beautifully.  You would never know it was once a very unattractive mottled lavender.  The bishop dress and jacket trim fabric is probably one of my all time favorite Liberty prints.  I am being polite when I say it is a 'vintage' Liberty.  It was from back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth and Liberty prints were only 36" wide.  I would like to hear from some of you fabric hoarders (you know who you are!) who still have 36" wide Liberty prints waiting for just the right project.  So..... clearly it was not possible to provide kits for the project as shown as both the jacket and dress fabric were a bit obscure and completely unavailable.  

My remake of the project is Dakota pique for the jacket and a lovely paisley lawn for the dress, both trimmed with 1/32" pima micro check. You might recognize the paisley lawn from a previous post.  I love this fabric.  It is not an easy thing to find  a good quality lightweight cotton lawn in a small scale print in several  nice color ways.  My rule of thumb when choosing a print to coordinate with an embroidered jacket is to look for at least three distinct colors in the print and a good green.  This lawn more than fits that criteria.   

The kit will be available in three color ways on my Etsy site..  I would like to give a big shout out to my friends at who make all the custom colors in hand dyed buttons for me.

There are probably as many ways to make a bullion rose as there are people making them.  I would like to include my take on the classic spiral bullion.  These instructions are for big chunky roses as shown on the 'Sweetheart' jacket.

Spiral Bullion Rose:
  • work with three strands of floss and a # 7 milliners needle
  • it is helpful to interface the area behind the embroidery
  • use three colors of floss plus a green.  Use a contrast for the center and two shades of pink or red (a light and a medium shade) for the spiral rose petals.  Use the darker shade for the center fifteen wrap spiral bullions and the lighter shade for the outer twenty-two wrap spiral bullions.
  • the spiral bullion is made in four sections (colors):
  • center - one, five wrap bullion and two, ten wrap bullions
  • inner petals - six, fifteen wrap spirals
  • outer petals - eight, twenty-two wrap spirals
  • leaf base - four, twenty four wrap spirals

1.    Work one, five wrap bullion at the center point.

2.    Bring the needle back to the left and take a new backstitch to make one, ten wrap bullion that cups beneath the five wrap bullion.

3.    Turn the work completely over and make a second ten wrap bullion.

4.   To make the first fifteen wrap spiral bullion, bring the needle up at about 11:00.  Leave a gap, the width of one bullion stitch, between the entry point of the thread and the center bullion stitches. 

5.    Backstitch about ¼ of the way around the center.  Make the first fifteen wrap bullion.


6.    To make the second fifteen wrap spiral bullion, drop the needle to the back of the work and bring it up at the half way point on the first spiral bullion. 

7.    Backstitch about ¼ of the way around the center and make a second fifteen wrap spiral bullion.

8.    Repeat Steps 6-7 to make the third, fourth and fifth spiral bullions.

9.    The sixth, and final fifteen wrap spiral bullion is made be bringing the needle up at the half way point of the fifth fifteen wrap spiral bullion.  Backstitch about ¼ of the way around the center bringing the needle in close to the center, to the inside of the first fifteen wrap spiral bullion.  Make the sixth fifteen wrap spiral bullion.

10.  To make the first 22 wrap spiral bullion bring the needle up at 11:00 leaving a gap the width of one spiral bullion stitch.  Backstitch about 20% of the way around the center fifteen wrap spiral bullions.

11.  Make the first twenty-two wrap spiral bullion.

12. Make the second through seventh twenty-two wrap spiral bullions in the same manner as the previous color spiral bullions.

13.  The eighth and final twenty two wrap spiral bullion is made by bringing the needle up at the halfway point on the seventh twenty-two wrap spiral bullion.  Backstitch about 20% of the way around the center, bringing the needle in close to the fifteen wrap spiral bullions.  Make the eighth twenty-two wrap spiral bullion.

14.  Bring the green in about 2/3’s of the way up on the left hand side of the spiral bullion rose.  Backstitch about 20% of the way around the rose.

15. Make a twenty four wrap spiral bullion.  Make the second, third, and fourth green spiral bullions in the same manner. 

16.  Stitch the heart button at the indicated position. Use three strands of floss to outline stitch the stem line.

17.  To make the bows draw a ¾” long line on a piece of paper.  Mark the center point and the ends of the ¾” line.

18.  Using ¼” wide silk/satin ribbon cut the end on a 45° angle.  Fold the ribbon in on itself half the distance of the ¾” line and secure with a pin. 

19.  Fold in the second loop keeping the cut end of the ribbon on the inside and secure with the pin.  Fold in a third loop directly behind the second loop and secure with the pin.

20.  Fold in the fourth and final loop resulting with two sets of two loops stacked on top of each other and secure with the pin.

21.  Cut the ribbon on the back side on a 45° angle.

22.  Using a hand sewing needle and doubled thread in a matching color to the ribbon, bring the thread up through the center of the bow.  Wrap the thread tightly around the center three times and tie off on the wrong side. 

23.  Use the center thread to tack the bow to the center of the stem.


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