Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why We Don't Get More Done Around Here

As we go into another holiday weekend I thought that I would share some fun pictures and the reason that we are not more productive around here! The first picture says it all. It IS hard to type once baby toes have found the keyboard.

The second reason we are not more productive is that babies are just so darn funny! I was able to stand in the background and snap a few pictures at a recent photo shoot for Sew Beautiful Magazine. Jennifer and Co. does the photography for the magazine and she is sooo good with the little ones. She truly loves what she does and it shows! I love standing in the background and watching what they do with lighting and staging the pictures.

Christian is modeling an outfit that will appear in the 2012 holiday issue.

He was mesmerized by the fake snow......

And proceeded to dive right in. We had a awful time getting him to look up and the stuff stuck all over the black corduroy outfit.

The next "bright idea" was to lay him on his back and get a picture of the front of the outfit. He thought rolling in the snow was a better idea, and living in Alabama this might be as close as he gets. My photos are fuzzy because we were laughing so hard! He settled down while modeling the other two outfits. Anna and I had a wonderful time as always and left out of breath and ready for lunch.

I hope that everyone has a Happy New Year! I'll get back to sharing fun sewing projects and tutorials next week once my company leaves so just hang on. :)


Monday, December 26, 2011

Were Your Holidays Quite?

Mooresville, Alabama

When our children were little I often wished that the holidays were less hectic. As they have grown up I would just like a few of them around. And as always I hope that everyone is well. No such luck this year...... all three of the boys were out of town and those remaining were sick. Except me, which left me in the wonderful position of taking care of everyone else! And so, another day of trying to entertain myself when fun things should be going on. I'm not complaining, it is just how it happens some years and then the good years are really really good!

Fortunately, Santa brought me some really cool crafting and photography books this year and I plan on spending the whole day going through them.

Happy holidays and I hope that they are not too quite! :)


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just A Thought....

I was flipping through some old pictures last week and ran across this picture of me Christmas morning 1962. I still remember how exciting it was to get the little pink kitchen set for Christmas. I wasn't nearly as excited last week when I had to buy a new garbage disposal. Have I lost the magic of Christmas?


Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Sew Beautiful Magazine

It felt like Christmas came early when Rex brought in the mail and my preview copy of the new Sew Beautiful magazine. And what were the chances that Christian, Anna, and Jason would be here for a visit when it arrived? There were 5 copies in the package, so we had a race to see who could find Christian's picture first!

The process started in August while I was in Arizona visiting and the magazine e-mailed me asking about a certain baby outfit that they had spotted on the blog. Why do these things always happen when you are out of town? After I figured out which outfit they were talking about, and tried to remember where is was, in Christian's closet, things moved quickly from there. Christian was photographed at the end of August and I then had to really scramble to get the article and embroidery design completed. One of the dangers of having a garment requested that I have had on hand for awhile is that I then have to retrieve or remember all the details and techniques. But all of those are good problems! :)

Of course we were thrilled with the photograph and it was so much fun to see the finished product from the photo shoot. It is truly amazing how well that they can photo shop out spit up! This was also the day that Christian started arching his back and trying to roll over. What you don't see in the picture is Mommy and Nana Shay ready to catch him if he topples over.

And the best news of all is that this is the beginning of the new "For the boys" article that will be in each issue this year! I was given the opportunity to come up with 6 garments and accompanying articles which will feature designs, tips, and techniques for our little guys. Since my first 3 children were boys and I now have a grandson, this is a project that is very close to my heart and that I am looking forward to sharing with you during the next year.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christian's Christmas Outfit

Thank goodness that Jon-Jons go together rather quickly. Christian's Christmas outfit is completed and best of all, he is really cute in it! The Jon-Jon is made out of the same micro checked gingham as Emma's dress with a white Imperial Broadcloth smocked insert. The shirt is also made from Imperial Broadcloth and is an old pattern that I had on hand.

You might be wondering why the boy doesn't have on his cute white dress shoes that Nana Shay bought him. Well, it was almost nap time and I saw no need in making him mad trying to get him to uncurl those sweet baby toes so that we could put shoes on for a picture. He appreciates it when I let him do what he wants! :)

What is more Christmasy than a station wagon with a Christmas tree strapped to the top? While designing the plate there were several hard choices that had to be made such as how much smocking or in other words, how busy did I want the design to look? So, the decision was made to leave it at one lone station wagon. What do you think the reason was?

A. I didn't want to overpower a 6 month outfit and distract from the cute guy who would be wearing it.

B. Time was and issue, so I stop smocking while there was still time to finish the garment.

C. It is a station wagon driving in white out conditions!

Actually, Anna and I both agreed on "A", but I think that the others are valid reasons. More is not always better especially with sewing! I still like the simple classic designs and plan on sticking to them!

You can click here for the free smocking design!

* Please disregard any suspicious looking e-mails from me! My account has been hacked and we are in the process of taking care of it.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Snowman Jon-Jon

While I was frantically trying to finish smocking the boy's Christmas outfit, I decided that I would take a little break and stitch up a quick project, so that I would feel like I was accomplishing something! I happened to have a piece of fabric that matched the onesie that we found for $4.99 at K-Mart.

Anna stitched up the snowman which we found on "Planet Applique", while I took a break to prop up my giant cast which I have to wear for 2 MORE WEEKS!

The Jon-Jon is made by pattern #137 and is out of olive green pique'. We were so pleased with this project and how handsome the boy looked that we have plans to go through my remnants and see what else we can come up with!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Christmas Dress

Emma is a petite little thing, wearing a size 12 month for her first birthday, so I decided that she needed a simple dress. And I also wanted a dress that would last past the holidays. Considering that this is the dress that I was working on when I had my little accident, and it got mailed a week later than I intended, that ended up being a good plan!

The dress is made out of red micro check gingham using pattern #135 and is smocked with a simple design that reminded me of snowflakes. I smocked the dress while in Arizona and did a few test stitches to make sure that Emma's mommy liked the design. The girls in the family are not picky, but I do try to make sure that I am making things that they like! :)

I made up the smocking design as I went along and about half way through I realized that it is almost identical to a dress that I made last year. How is that for originality? You can click here for the Free Design. But this was a good way to show how the design looks on a different fabric.

Christian's Christmas outfit is made out of the same red fabric and will hopefully be finished this weekend! Being in a cast is really slowing down the sewing process

*Answering a couple of questions..... A reader asked about the number of rows that I Back Smocked for Emma's fall dress. It is not necessary to Back Smock behind the purple geometric smocking.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Fall Dress For Emma

Emma was a pretty good sport about modeling for Nana Shay as long as Grandda Rex was close by. That is his hand in the picture. Although she had not seen Grandda since she was 4 months old she went to him like they were old friends! I'm sure that the strong resemblance between him and daddy helped, but she is a friendly girl.

The dress is made from Fabric Finders print #973. I ran across the fabric back in the summer and loved the purples and olive greens. I spent quite a bit of time picking out the floss color and ended up using DMC #153 and #553. The dress is a variation of pattern #131 which I also used for her dedication dress. The directions can be found here.

For this size 12 month dress, I pleated 16 rows and stitched a 5 step Trellis Stitch. The dress is also Back Smocked with the 5 step Trellis design.

You might be glad to hear that Emma's Christmas dress which was interrupted with my mishap is now in the mail and Christian's outfit is ready to construct! What are you working on for Christmas or is your sewing all done?


Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Happened While I Was Away

Our boy decided to sit alone while Nana Shay and Grandda were in Arizona visiting Emma. I guess that will show us not to be gone for two whole weeks! So, for those blog followers who remember Christian's arrival into the world in May, you will understand how thrilled we are that at 6 months, he is doing everything right on schedule.

You might also notice that in a matter of weeks he lost his brown baby hair and is going to be a blond for now. He looks so much like Anna at that age, including the blond hair, blue eyes, and dimple, that it is kind of creepy.

And although his mommy has a special place in his heart that only a mommy can fill, he looks just like his daddy when he is thinking and knows that when daddy is around it is play time!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Sewing Mishap....

I'm calling it the "Sewing Mishap" since it is the results of getting really really excited that I had completed the smocking and hem and Emma's Christmas dress and all it lacks are buttons. In my excitement, I got up off the couch not paying attention to the fact that my foot was partially asleep. With my hands full of sewing supplies I had no way of catching myself so we made an evening run to the ER where they kept asking, "Can you put weight on it?" Were they kidding? Why would I want to put weight on a foot that was swelling that fast? Other people in the ER were even commenting on the amount of swelling. Our visit resulted in a bandage, crutches, and visit to the orthopedic doctor the next day where they diagnosed the worse sprained ankle in the history of the world. The good news is that I no longer need the crutches which were an accident waiting to happen. The bad news is that I am in a hard cast for two weeks. What fun!!! :)

So, please bear with me, between the two week vacation and the cast it might seem like I am no longer sewing and sharing. I am now home, not needing the pain meds as often today, and have plenty of pictures and ideas to post and share over the next few weeks.

What am I thankful for this year? Besides all the special things that are too numerous to mention, I am thankful that the cast is for only two weeks and that Thanksgiving dinner was not at my house this year!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Birthday Girl

We just got back from spending two glorious weeks in Arizona! The main purpose of the trip was sweet little Emma's 1st Birthday, but we managed to squeeze in some fantastic sightseeing while we were there. Ben (our oldest), Tiffany, and Emma were able to drive us all the way from their home in Sierra Vista, which is south of Tucson, to the Grand Canyon. Rex had always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and let's just say that he wasn't disappointed!
The birthday girl was all smiles and enjoyed a dress made by Nana Shay and Auntie Anna that she was allowed to eat cake in.

And the monkey outfit was perfect for the birthday girl to play and learn to pull up in while we were there! Yes, I still can't believe that Rex and I happened to be there and watching the first time Emma pulled up. Within two weeks she progressed from, "Oops, I accidentally pulled up." to pulling up on our pants legs!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Birthday Outfit #2

After completing the birthday dress I found the perfect smocking plate and fabric for a birthday outfit the very next day! Fortunately there is still a lot of college football going on which only means that there is a lot of time for smocking. I smocked Ellen McCarn's "Monkey Business" on white Imperial Broadcloth and used the insert with the print twill fabric.

I didn't have the pattern that I had in mind, so I combined the top of pattern #132 to the bottom of pattern #103. A little math was involved to the get the length right, but is was relatively easy. An old pattern that I had on hand was used for the blouse.

Aren't the monkeys cute? I can hardly wait to see Emma wearing it at her party next week!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Dress For The Birthday Girl

It seems impossible that Emma is about to turn 1 year old! Even more impossible was how much trouble that I had deciding what to send for her to wear. It is still pretty warm where they are in Arizona, so I decided that I would go simple for the dress and we can always put a sweater with it. The dress is made using pattern #122 and the applique' is from Since I envisioned Emma getting to eat a cup cake in this dress, I decided to use a really inexpensive cotton polyester twill blend fabric.

I used white seersucker and green gingham for the collar and applique'. I decided to dress the collar up a little by hand stitching white rick rack to the piping before constructing the garment.

You can watch the next blog for the "back up" birthday outfit!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

What He Wore To Church

This is what he wore to church. What I want to know is what was he thinking? Actually, I know what he was thinking..... He had been waving his fat arms around for us to pick him up and instead we put him in another outfit, propped him up, and took his picture. It might be best that we he can't talk yet!
I made the outfit out of a fun print using pattern #133. For the collar, I traced off the tee pees onto tracing paper and then scanned them to the size that I needed. I used basic embroidery stitches, so the hand work went really fast.

Our little guy is now 5 1/2 months old and weighs 16 lbs. He also has decided to skip size 6 month, so Nana Shay is really needing some extra time for sewing!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Secret To Straight Smocking Pleats

First, I thought that I would share a picture of what is happening on my design board right now. Little Emma's first Birthday is right around the corner and of course she will need something to wear for the party. The center picture on the board shows the colors and the monkey theme that mommy will be using. Everything else are snippets of possibilities that I will be using. The "Monkey Business" smocking plate is by Ellen McCarn is new on the market. Exactly what I was looking for!

And now, back to the purpose of this blog. I get asked quite often, "How do you keep your pleats straight during construction?" So, here it is......

It starts with the pleating. ALWAYS pleat extra "Holding Rows." These are pleated rows at the top and bottom of the smocked piece that will help keep the pleats from shifting during construction. You can see in the picture that the row of smocking is on Row 1 and then below that is the Holding Row. I then smock a Cable Row using two strands of floss that matches the fabric between Row 1 and the Holding Row.

The piping is then placed next to the Row 1 and covers the smocked Cable Row. If you ever do this once, you will never forget to pleat extra rows again!

You can find additional information on smocking and construction in my "Beginning Smocking Book."


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smocked Puppies

This picture was suppose to be of the little smocked romper that he wore to church Sunday, instead it is of his favorite toy, his feet. I think that he has springs in his legs!

So if you want to see the romper it has to be on a hanger, not on the boy. The romper is made out of blue and white Imperial Broadcloth. I had not thought of using black and white gingham for the piping until I noticed a scrap on the cutting table. That is when not having a neat cutting table pays off! :)

The smocked puppies are Ellen McCarn's "Dalmatian Puppies."


Monday, October 17, 2011

Knitting With A Capital "K"

Anna and I had read that when you REALLY master knitting, you are a knitter with a capital "K." Yes, she is there. She started the elephant while still pregnant and finished just in time for the guy to fall in love with. And my knitting? Just like understanding football, I have once again started the fall making a commitment to learn, so we will see.

Here is the pattern.


Friday, October 14, 2011

A Little More Information....

I really enjoyed reading the comments on the last few blogs. Sharing our sewing struggles and hints always hits a common note among us. And how exciting that Molly Jane Taylor, designer of "Beth's Little Lambs", left a comment!

One reader asked if I could post a close up picture of the collar...... here you go! And, "What is the purpose of the gimp thread?" It pads the zigzag stitching that holds the lace in place and hides the not so pretty header of the lace.

So get your lace and fabric scraps out and give it a try! :)


Adding Lace Edging To A Collar

Here is the promised tutorial for adding the lace edging to the collar. The lace gives the collar a soft feminine look and is easy to apply.

You will need lace edging, Gimp thread, and white light weight machine thread.

First, cut out the two collars and linings and sew them together following the pattern instructions.

Cut a piece of lace edging 1 and 1/3 the measurement of the outer edge of each collar. Gently pulling the header thread at each end of the lace, draw the lace up to fit the out edge of the collar. I like to lightly spray starch and press the lace to help hold the gathers in place.

Next, pin the lace edging to the outer edge of the collar so that the lace header barely overlaps the edge of the collar. Baste the lace to the collar by hand. This also gives you a chance to adjust the lace gathers if needed.

Place the Gimp thread on top of the lace header and using an open toed machine foot and lightweight thread, zigzag over the Gimp thread. Every machine is a little different, but I was happy with a stitch width of 2.5 and a length of 1.0. I did not do anything to hold the Gimp thread in place but just took my time and stitched a little at a time, but you may want to try one of the liquid thread products to hold it in place.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Smocking Story

Not only are some patterns considered classic because they never truly go out of style, but the same goes for smocking designs. "Beth's Little Lambs" by Mollie Jane Taylor falls into this category for me. This was the first smocking plate that I successfully picture smocked 22 years ago for Anna. I vividly remember trying to read the graph and stacking the stitches. Not to mention the thrill when I held it up and asked Rex, "What are they?" and he said, " Sheep?" It is hard to explain that level of excitement to a non-smocker!

And so it was time to pull out the pattern, pink Imperial Broadcloth, the smocking design, and floss for a dress for Emma.

I attached the lace to the edge of the collar using an old technique that I had almost forgot about. You can find the tutorial for the lace edged collar on the next blog. :)


Monday, October 10, 2011

Our Saturday Outing

Just so that you don't think that I would possibly be in sewing on a beautiful fall day, although that was a thought..... Rex and I got up early Saturday morning and drove to Athens State University to the "Old Time Fiddler's Convention." I am embarrassed to say that we had never been before and we are not huge fans of blue grass music, but we are pretty diverse and are suckers for anything that gets us out of the house!

It is a blue grass music competition held on the grounds of the university that Rex happened to graduate from 30 years ago. Besides the competition, as you walk around groups are practicing, and there are plenty of crafts and good food. A disclaimer on the good food. In the above picture you will see a sign for "Fresh Cooked Pork Skins", although Rex and I have lived here our whole lives, we have never had them and have no intention of starting now. What we did have for lunch was chicken and dumplings, turnip greens, pinto beans, corn bread, and sweet tea in the Student Union building. I also conveniently bought a birthday present for my sister-in-law and a birdhouse for me!

I would love to hear of your fall outing!



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