Friday, August 8, 2014

Sweet Smocking for BOYS!

I get many requests to create items for boys. The market seems to be saturated with all kinds of sweet things for girls, but for boys it's just a little more limited. When I pleated up 9 day gowns to take along on vacation to smock, I decided to focus on infant boys for 3 of them and add a smocked cap, designed especially for boys!

I have 3 boy's day gown & cap sets available for purchase in sizes preemie (4-6lb), newborn and infant. Each set is smocked just a tad differently. The photos shown are the preemie size set. If you would like to purchase one of the sets, please email me!
The bonnet turned out so sweet, that I decided to write up the instructions and create an ePattern!
The smocking is quick and easy - just 2.5 rows of smocking!
I have included 3 smocking graphs in the ePattern too!
The ePattern is an instant download and you can order it at Southern Stitches Brer Rabbit Designs
I have had many customers and Facebook fans email me about smocking. I have a great Smocking Handbook available for beginner smockers and those who want to perfect their smocking stitches! 
Also coming soon to Southern Stitches is online eClasses in smocking! Please subscribe to my news journal list to be the first to hear about when it begins!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cluck-Cluck Rick Rack Jumper

Little did I know when I was commissioned by Sew Beautiful Magazine to create a garment using Rick Rack for the Back to School Issue, that it would be my very last article and the end of an era for the magazine. 
It was a bittersweet day when my preview issues arrived...and difficult opening the box to take a peek at the last issue...ever. Altho it is sad to see the end of Sew Beautiful Magazine, I am confident that Heirloom Sewing and Smocking will be kept alive by those of us who thrive on it. I am also optimistic that there will be future publications along with current sewing blogs, that will keep us inspired to sew!  
The idea for the Rick Rack came from Pinterest and to my knowledge has never been published, altho there is a small blog post in a foreign language showing the one photo. That small photo clip of the embellishment really caught my eye. I couldn't tell what the original creator had put the embellishment on...perhaps it was a kitchen towel or maybe a table cloth. I immediately saved the idea on my Pinterest board as I thought it would be darling on the hem of a dress. When I was commissioned by Sew Beautiful Magazine to create something using Rick Rack, I knew that the readers of the magazine would go crazy over this unique use of Rick Rack.

The article in the magazine has all the instructions on how to create this darling embellished rick rack hem. I also used Rick Rack on the sweet pocket!
I used Children's Corner Pattern "Lucy" for the jumper.
On the yellow blouse, I used some sweet picot edging with the piping on the collar and sleeve edge.
Fabric for the jumper is denim and the blouse is yellow broadcloth. All fabric and supplies were purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics. I lined the jumper in a tartan plaid and if I would have had more time, I would have made the jumper reversible - perhaps it will be something I will do at a later date. I left the seam open inside so that I could easily add an embellishment to make this jumper reversible! 
I hope that Cluck-Cluck has inspired you with this unique Rick Rack embellishment!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sew Inspired!

What inspires you to sew? 

Let's first take a look at the definition of "inspire" from Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


verb \in-ˈspī(-ə)r\
: to make (someone) want to do something : to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create
: to cause (something) to happen or be created
: to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)

In order to sew (or create), often times we must be inspired by someone or something. There are many who might not even be sewing if it wasn't for being inspired by someone or something. 
Where do you find inspiration?
For me, it might be fashion magazines, sewing books, vintage garments, old photographs, sewing blogs, Pinterest, websites, sewing shops, antique shops and the list goes on. The pages of Sew Beautiful Magazine were chocked full of sewing inspiration. Garments were created and articles were written for the sole purpose of inspiration. The magazine motivated me to sew. It's where I got the inspiration to learn to smock and learn heirloom sewing techniques. The ideas were all made available to inspire us to "borrow" the idea and create something that could be your own.
The whole sewing community is based upon borrowing ideas and applying those ideas to our own creations. That's where you find the beauty in sewing and often times it can challenge you to learn a sewing technique and improve your skills. 
Many of the top designers I know from my sewing community borrow ideas from Pinterest and Vintage Garments. There is nothing wrong with doing that. Taking an idea and putting your own spin on it is what makes it your own creation and others find inspiration in both originals and re-creations. Often times that's what draws us follow certain designers. Their inspiring ideas is what motivates us to sew and create.
Many of the articles in Sew Beautiful were Vintage Re-creations. Those re-creations often times inspired and motivated me not only to sew, but to design. Here is a sampling of my own articles that were published thru the years in Sew Beautiful Magazine. Each were inspired either by a Vintage Garment or technique found on the internet.
"Lucy's Lace Legacy" 
Inspired by my own grandmother's vintage lace gown
"Gone Fish'in"
Inspired by a Vintage Baby Blanket purchased 
in an online Antique Store
"Tucked Lace Gown"
Inspired by a Family Heirloom Gown
from my own collection
"DARling Clair"
Inspired from a Vintage Garment
Kathy Barnard commissioned me
to re-create this vintage garment
for Sew Beautiful Magazine.
"The Cherry Dress"
Inspired by the St. Louis Women's Exchange
I created the buttons down the front in a 
new and unique way with machine embroidery
stem and buttonhole and the buttons create
the cherries.
"Grant's Vintage Romper"
Inspired by a Vintage Garment
I was commissioned to draft
a pattern from the original garment.
"Cluck Cluck"
Inspired by an image I found
on Pinterest. The original rick rack
had not been applied to any garment,
just a small photograph of the technique.
It was totally my idea to use it on the hem
of the A-line Children's Corner "Lucy"
This is me
and this photo inspired me
to create this:
as I worked off a diagram
from this:
So go out there, use the internet, old and new magazines, books, Pinterest, blogs, websites, vintage garments and media of all sorts and be inspired to sew! Let whatever that catches your eye inspire you to use it some way in your own unique way! It's perfectly ok, to borrow an idea and put your own spin on it. Putting a new spin on an old idea is how new designs and ideas are created. That's what inspires others to create and be motivated to sew!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pleating with Precision

One of the most important factors to successful smocking is pleating your fabric correctly. Beginner smockers and maybe even intermediate smockers might not be aware of this important factor. I recently created a quick video to instruct and educate how to pleat with precision. 
Fabric preparation is extremely important if you want your smocking to stand out and be noticed. This is particularly important when using fabric with a nap or one-way design, such as the polka dots shown above. Nothing is more distracting than to see a smocked insert where the fabric is off-grain or off-nap. The smocking is straight across the rows, but the fabric might be so off-grain or off-nap that it distracts your eye from the beauty of all the hand smocking.
The video I created is just a quick overview of 3 types of fabrics; batiste, gingham and polka dot, but the techniques taught will pertain to most any fabric you choose.
Another previous tutorial I have shows more in depth photos and instruction on pleating gingham with success and you can find that here.
After properly preparing your fabric for pleating, you will then be ready to pleat. In my video I mentioned my Pleating 101 tutorial, which you can find HERE.
I hope that you find my tutorials beneficial as you learn to smock or perfect your smocking technique. As always, I welcome your comments and if you have any questions, please send me an email.
I am working on creating a smocking class for beginner smockers or for those who want to improve upon their skills. This will be a class that teaches the process from start to finish - types of fabric, fabric prep, pleating, smocking stitches, proper technique and finishing the project. Kits will be available for this class. More information will be coming about that - please sign up for my newsletter so that you can be the first to know when it's available!
I also wanted to direct those who are new to my blog and smocking that I have a smocking handbook available.
This eBook Handbook teaches all the basic stitches and some advanced stitches for smocking. It's a handy guide that you can load up on your iPad or computer and reference to as you learn the smocking stitches.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Patriotic Stars 'n Bars

Digitizing machine embroidery designs is very time-consuming and tedious work, but it's something I do enjoy doing. A few weeks ago I embarked on a huge digitizing project that took about 4 days and more hours than I can add up! 
I challenged myself to create this 
Patriotic Stars 'n Bars Circle Monogram Collection
Creating unique monograms is something I strive to do and this one has proved to be a winner! I have loved seeing what my customers have been creating with this font and I am proud to share their amazing creations with you!

The Stars 'n Bars Circle Monogram is available in multi-format and sizes, including Jumbo size. For more information, please visit Southern Stitches.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Old-fashioned Summer - classic sunsuits!

Summer is about here and one of the classics I love to see babies dressed in are summer sunsuits! My newest ePattern fits into the category of "classic" perfectly! It is a Vintage-inspired classic sun bonnet and sun apron.

This is the easiest little set to make up and don't you just love the big bow in the back?
The Vintage-inspired Prairie Sun Bonnet is also a very easy sewing project. Can't you just see a sweet baby face wrapped with the brim of this bonnet?
The crown of the bonnet buttons to the brim, making it easy to wash and iron. I've also designed the back with a casing and spaghetti cording that ties in a bow. This allows you to cinch up the back of the bonnet to fit and also can lie flat to iron.
As a BONUS I have included Brer Rabbit Designs "lil britches" blommers to complete the ensemble! The ePattern includes sizes newborn to 5T.
Anther great summer sunsuit is my Vintage-Inspired Sunsuit epattern with the ruffle bum. Also included is a boys version that has a pocket on the bib. You can read more about this sunsuit here, or place your order at my website.
All my ePatterns are an instant download after purchase and will get you sewing right away! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A diamond in the rough - gorgeous vintage find!

There is just something about Vintage Garments that make my heart beat a little faster when I see them. I find myself continually seeking them out in antique shops or online! The white cotton, timeless classics with pin tucks and embroidery just seem to catch my eye every single time! I recently found a "diamond in the rough" and oh what an awesome find it is! 
This little gown is cut from one piece of fabric and only has side seams. The gown is stamped with "Royal Society No 4372X". 
Royal Society was not a company, it was a trademarked brand name for needlework patterns and supplies owned by the H.E.Verran Company of New York. The company was incorporated in October of 1912, shortly after the silk art embroidery craze fell out of popularity and the company ceased operations in 1930. So that tells me that this little gown was printed somewhere between 1912 and 1930. I say "printed" because Royal Society products were hot iron transfer designs for wearing apparel. I assume this gown  was all printed on hot iron transfer paper and someone ironed it onto the fabric to begin making this gown. However, I do know that they also created kits, as you can see from the vintage advertisement below:
The gown is in incredibly excellent condition - the fabric fibers are in pristine condition, with no staining, as is the silk embroidery that is completed on the gown! 
I will add also that based on the fabric fibers and embroidery floss that this gown is old...and I mean really old, as in vintage. It is not an old transfer that someone ironed onto new fabric. It could quite possibly be one of the kits that were created back in the day. The stitching done on the gown, further proves it's age.
The neckline is just precious with all those scallops and sweet embroidery down the front!
Each shoulder has 4 perfect pin tucks that appear to be stitched by hand!
Since there is no shoulder seam, the pin tucks carry on to the  back of the garment. The neckline has not been cut out yet, as the handwork is not complete. If you look ever so closely, you can see where the back placket line is printed on the fabric.
This photo shows more clearly the neckline which is not cut out yet since there is handwork to be completed.
The side seams have been stitched with french seams and appears to be possibly stitched by hand, since the stitches are not in a perfectly straight line - they are angled a bit.
The lower edge of the gown has been stitched with a very soft cream colored silk embroidery floss using a blanket stitch on a scalloped edge. There are sweet daisies printed on the front of the gown that have not been embroidered yet.
The uniformity of the scalloped edge blanket stitch has been done very neatly! The follow photo shows a little more detail.
The sleeves have not been embroidered yet, but as you can see in this photo, that the fabric is printed with the instructions for how to complete the sleeves with the scalloped blanket edge and where the casing lines are.
Seeing this just makes me wonder who the stitcher was and whom she was making this little gown for...was it her own child? Was she perhaps pregnant for a little one? Or maybe she was a grandmother anticipating her first grandchild. I also wonder why she didn't complete such a precious little gown. Whomever owned the gown, took excellent care of it and made sure it was carefully packed away and preserved to be finished at a later day and time. I bet they never imagined that nearly 100 years later, in 2014, this gown would find a new owner who values it's worth!
Oh the fun I will have as I seek out silk embroidery floss that closely matches what the original seamstress used. My hope is to finish off this gown in the future and that I will have a sweet grand-daughter someday that can wear it.


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