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.


  1. Reminds me of the coats I used to wear when I was a little English girl, without the embroidery. Beautiful ensemble !!!

  2. Lovely! The coat is wonderful and that us one of my favorite liberty prints.

  3. So elegant as usual. When you say baby interfacing could you provide a product name and or weight? You can tell I'm not ready for this class, but love it just the sames.

    Thank you,


  4. I'll take one of each ;) You've outdone yourself and that's saying something! What a beautiful and classic outfit.

  5. I LOVE the entire outfit! Beautiful! I'm sure I need to make one of those!

  6. Swoon!!! There is nothing I don't love about this.

  7. Oh Gail, it's divine! Almost makes me wish for cold weather! Debbie

  8. Beautiful! You do beautiful work!

  9. Gail, this is a gorgeous outfit. I think it's my favorite to date. Where will you be teaching this? I am definitely coming! Janise Crumpler

  10. Stunning! You have outdone yourself this time. I love this little is sweet as can be. You have some very lucky class participants!

  11. Others have beat me to it, but I'll say it again, you have outdone yourself! This is so beautiful in every way. I hate to say it, but I love padstitching! It's been a long time since I've done it. Your tailoring is exquisite! However are any of us going to live long enough to make all the beautiful things you keep creating?? Oh, please, please, please, Lord, let me have a granddaughter!!!

  12. Hi Laurie
    The 'baby' interfacing is a lightweight woven (it tears on the crossgrain) fusible interfacing. It is 60" wide. I use it on many things including behind any area on lightweight fabrics I am going to pleat or as a full interlining on suits and jackets. You can find it online at my Etsy site (www, or through

  13. Oh my....what a stunning ensemble!! Both pieces are just gorgeous. The lines on each are flat-out superb!!

  14. I am speechless........Beeeautiful!!!

  15. Gail - I love your coat. I am coveting it something fierce. And since I actually live somewhere wool makes sense, I'm wondering what your plans for the coat pattern are? Will you be selling the pattern in your etsy shop, offering it as a kit or teaching it at upcoming workshops like SAGA? Because I really *really* want to make it.

  16. Oh Gail -- drooling over this gorgeous ensemble while far far away in Papua New Guinea. I have had to spend time freshening up my house here doing boring things like sewing curtains and recovering chairs. Sigh. I've finished curtains in the bathroom, the living room, and a bedroom. I scored a "hit" at some second hand shops last week -- two large garments made of silk, each for under US$1. Ripped the one apart on the way home and pulled straight of grain -- will probably use it to line the pair of silk dupioni pants I still plan to make.

  17. This class with you was the most enjoyable! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.


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