Saturday, July 4, 2015

America's 1st Lady of Sewing - Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross is one of America's most honored seamstresses, however most of what you may have learned in school about her and the creation of the American flag is most likely myth. 
Legend states that George Washington visited Betsy Ross in Philadelphia with a sketch of a flag that he wanted made. Betsy was a standout with the scissors and she demonstrated to George how to cut a five-pointed star in a single snip. Legend goes on to say that he was impressed and then asked her to sew the 1st American Flag. 
The truth of the story is that there is no solid evidence of who made the very first flag, but history credits Betsy Ross with making the first stars and stripes flag. She was a successful upholsterer and produced flags for the government for over 50 years. She was a skilled artisan, who represented the many women who supported their families during the Revolution and early Republic.
One of my most favorite photos of the 'birth' of the American flag is shown below. It depicts so much of what I love about sewing: the act of creating, community and fellowship with others who share that same passion that I have. May God bless sewing and may God Bless America!
Have a blessed 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

{thread weaving in smocking}

Hey there, I'm still alive...and still smocking - sometimes I just get so busy that I forget neglect my Sewing Journal.
I have been working on a little smocked bishop for the past several weeks...or is it months? I am in no hurry to get it done since it's not for any particular person or event - it's just for the love of smocking! Rainy~dreary days are perfect days to sit and smock when I can't get outside and enjoy the sunshine. 
I am using Southern Stitches Pink Petunias PDF Smocking plate for this project. I already have a smocked bonnet prepped to smock when I get the bishop done. In this design, one of the unique aspects is thread weaving within the smocking. This might be new to some people, so I thought I would share how easy it is to accomplish.

This "stitch" really adds a pop, as you can see in the photo above!

I started my project by choosing floss colors, which ironically coordinated with the pants I was wearing that day! 

One of the most asked questions I get is what kind of floss I use in my smocking. I am using DMC Coton Perle #8. What I like about this floss is that 1 strand of it is equal to about 3 strands of regular embroidery floss. This is a time-saver for me. I don't have to strip the floss and I can get right into my smocking. The other perk with this floss is that it has a beautiful sheen to it! I use a #7 or #9 darning or crewel needle.
PDF Smocking plates are also a handy item! I can load the smocking plate up on my iPad and have a perfectly lighted smocking plate that is so easy to take along with me without the fear of losing it or it getting damaged.
When starting the first row of waves, I always start from the center and work out so that I can be assured that my design will be perfectly centered once all smocking is complete.
 This is a good closeup of how beautiful this thread is!
After working two rows of waves, it's time to start the thread weaving.
Just slide your needle up and down under the center cable stitches of the two rows of wave stitches, creating the weave! Sometimes it's easier to even use the eye end of the needle so that the point doesn't get caught up in the floss. You could also use a small lacing needle for this stitch. Don't pull too taut, you want a nice loopy look - almost like a pique. 
I have had some ask if the weave stays when the garment is washed - yes, I have never had a problem of it coming out or getting misshapen. 
Hope you like this sweet embellishment and can add it to your next smocking project!
Stay tuned - I will share this ensemble when it is all completed!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Monograms for all occasions

Monograms; everyone knows what they are, but not everyone knows exactly how to properly create one. A monogram is a motif made by a single letter or a combination of letters overlapping as a single unit. Monograms are often made by combining the initials of an individual or a company, used as a recognizable symbol or logo. 

A monogram tells a story. It suggests who we are or want to be, puts forth our views on marriage, tradition, and individual identity not to mention the wonderful things it does for linens, garments, stationery and and a host of other things. 
A monogram consists of a person's initials — usually a variation on the first, middle, and last name—and much has been written about proper monogram etiquette. Often times it's a matter of preference, and there are many different ways in which to create a monogram. 
A monogram can have just one main letter of the first name or last name of the person you are creating the monogram for. 


Vintage Dots Monogram Set

Monograms can also have just two letters; first and last name of the person. Typically tho, monograms are created in 3 letters. There are variations for the 3 letters, most often done in one of 3 ways:

  • Single Person: first name initial on left, last name initial in the middle, and middle name initial on the right.
  • Married Person: first name initial on left, last name initial in the middle and maiden name initial on the right.
  • Wedding Monogram (or married couple): her first name initial on the left, married last name initial in the middle and his first name initial on the right.

Monograms can be Informal or Formal. Below are some examples using monogram fonts available at Southern Stitches.


Informal Monograms

BRD Typewriter Applique - Satin with Bean Stitch

SSBRD Stars 'n Bars Circle Font

Fancy Scallops Block Monogram
BRD Shadow Work Circle Monogram +eBook Instructional
Monograms can also be created where all 3 letters are the same size, as shown below: In this case you would put first name, middle name, then last name.
SNB Add-on Set of Star Letters

Formal Monograms

Monograms can also be elegant and fancy!
BRD Elegance Monogram Set

My most recent released monogram set is my Belle Anne Monogram Set. It combines the beauty of shadow work and the elegance of satin stitching.
Belle Anne Monogram

No matter if it's informal, whimsical or elegant, everyone loves to have something monogrammed. Monograms can be used for all sorts of occasions!
I am constantly creating new and unique monograms that can't be found anywhere else! My monograms are different from the rest because I spend a great deal of time creating them from the ground up. The difference from a Southern Stitches monogram and the rest is that I never auto-digitize my fonts. Cheaper priced fonts that you find out there are always auto-digitized, meaning the digitizer has found a font online, then typed in a letter into their software and the software does all the digitizing automatically. That is why they can sell the font for so cheap. My fonts are hand-punched, which takes an enormous amount of time and precision. I make sure my fonts (and other designs) all have proper unlay stitching, as well as the finished stitching on top. Many of my fonts are created from Vintage monograms made for hand-stitching. I am currently working on 2-3 more Vintage-inspired fonts that are just gorgeous! Please follow me on Facebook to see photos as I work on new designs!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Easter Bonnet

Easter memories of my childhood included coloring Easter eggs, baskets full of candy, hatching chicks and chocolate bunnies. The weeks leading up to Easter tho included shopping for all the Easter finery to wear to church on Easter Sunday! More important than the dress, tho, was getting a new bonnet for Easter and being so excited about wearing it. 
Yep! That's me in my smocked dress and a Easter bonnet!
This fond memory makes me wonder where and when did Easter bonnets originate?
An Easter bonnet represents the tail-end of a tradition of wearing new clothes at Easter in harmony with the renewal of the year and the promise of spiritual renewal and redemption. The Easter bonnet goes way back in time, even before Easter itself. The very first bonnets were usually made by a circle of leaves and flowers. It symbolized the cycle of the seasons and the coming of Spring. The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates new life and rebirth, which is why people would get new clothing.
At the end of the Civil War, came the "Sunday of Joy". This day allowed mothers and daughters to come out of mourning by wearing pastel colors and incorporating pretty spring flowers. The 1870's marked the beginning of the Easter Parade in New York, which allowed women to proudly show off their new Spring clothing and Easter bonnets.
Easter fashion traditions are still alive today, celebrated among the young and old alike. Easter bonnet often mark the beginning of many people's love for hats and still symbolize the new life in the coming of Spring, warm weather and religious celebrations.
Times have changed tho, and I don't see the traditional Easter bonnet worn like the old days anymore, however the tradition is still very popular for babies and young children. Spring tends to be the start of finding the perfect bonnet for little ones and is most worn from Spring thru the Summer months.
I recently drafted a new ePattern just in time for Easter sewing! My new Brer Rabbit's Button Bonnet is the perfect bonnet for infant and toddler boys and girls.
Perfect for anytime of year, my vintage-inspired Button Bonnets will be adorable for your little ones! Each bonnet is quick and easy to make with lots of options, such as 2 styles of brim for both bonnets. Girls style includes a scalloped or plain brim. 


The boys style includes a short or long visor. 
Detailed instructions & machine embroidery for shadow work bow and color work bunny included! Sized newborn to 3T!
You can order it HERE!
Another popular style bonnet is a Smocked Bonnet for both boys and girls! Click on photos to order ePattern.


If you don't know how to smock, you can learn by taking my Smocked Bonnet eClass - just click the photo above!

This Easter I hope your little one will celebrate the coming of a new season with a beautiful handmade Easter bonnet!



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sweet Vintage-inspired Baby Frock

Vintage baby frocks and vintage patterns are my most sought-after treasure! Yes, I am all about the thrill of the hunt and nothing is more satisfying than unearthing a truly incredible piece (or five) from another era! 
Often times the vintage garments and patterns I find come with unknown facts about where it came from. Many times I find a spectacular piece and wonder how a particular unique technique was done. This just intrigues me to purchase the garment to figure it all out! Just wait till you see some of the Vintage pieces I've purchased that I plan to re-create this year! I thrive on the challenge and it's all about seeking incredible treasures and letting my creative juices flow in re-creating the piece!
Such was the case with this little frock. The 1930's vintage pattern was an incredible find and had never been cut into or used at all! The instructions were very sketchy (like one small paragraph on tissue paper in multiple languages) and I had one little confusing diagram to follow...the rest was left to me to figure out!
As with most vintage patterns I find, I made changes to the original - I always like to put my own twist on something to make it unique. With this one, I decided to try to re-create all the embroidery with my Bernina 780. I started out by making some design changes and then digitizing the embroidery for the dress. The results were incredible!
Center Front of skirt
Front Yoke
Back Yoke
Sleeve Cuff
Dress Front
Dress Back
As you might expect, it took multiple hoopings to create all the embroidery on this little frock. Careful repositioning and lining up of the hoop was also something that takes a bit of know-how and patience. This is where printing off templates is a must. Much of this frock was created in-the-hoop!
I am extremely pleased with my first test stitch out of the designs and I have little, if any, tweaking that needs to be done. The vintage design makes this modern-day gown look like a true heirloom piece!
This little frock will soon be offered as an eClass at Southern Stitches. I will be teaching several techniques in the eClass; using templates and lining up designs in multiple hoopings, entredeaux on a curve, painless plackets, wing stitching and more! All machine embroidery designs along with my revised pattern will be included. More info coming soon! Follow me on Facebook and please subscribe to SewNso's Sewing News Journal.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Forever-an-heirloom...

If there is a way to soil a christening or special occasion garment just before the ceremonies, it's probably been done -- splashed by a puddle in the church parking lot, speckled with coffee or a soft drink, marked by lipstick in the back seat of the car, or imprinted by sticky little fingers from a curious toddler. Yep, if there is a chance it will get dirty, you can pretty much bet on it that it will happen.
A custom-made bag is the safe and easy way to transport clothing to and from special event. My forever-an-heirloom garment bag ePattern can be made from specially purchased fabric with elaborate detailing or simply whipped up using scraps and embellished with machine embroidery motifs, which requires minimal cost or time.
This bag is so quick and easy to make, you will be amazed! I have included extra instructions for making the bag any length you desire and also with a gusset to allow for multiple garments in the bag.
The ePattern instructions are for an off-center opening that is zipper-less. Zippers always concern me in a garment bag, as it's just too easy to get a gown or worse yet, delicate lace caught up in the zipper teeth. Instead I recommend using snaps, snap-tape or even buttonholes and buttons on my garment bag. 
This was the very first bag I made, 
when creating my garment bag pattern. 
I used an off-white feather wale fabric...
...and added vintage buttons over where the snap tape is.
The monogram and embroidery on my sample bag is from Martha Pullen Company and is not included with the ePattern. However, I have created a special button ornament for my ePattern and used a font (KK Monogram) that I had in my computer. 
 The above design is included in all machine formats.
With creative placement using the same motif, you can
create a frame for a monogram to be used on the front of bag!

My Forever-an-heirloom Garment Bag ePattern is now available! It is an instant download after purchase! Click on the photo below to order!
Storage Tip:
Never store an heirloom gown in plastic, which traps moisture or cleaning chemicals and does not allow the garment to breath. I recommend that you never hang a gown for long-term storage; instead, wrap the gown in acid free tissue paper, place it inside a garment bag (or pillowcase if not making a special matching bag), then place inside a storage box with a piece of cedar for moth and insect protection.  Before storing, wash, air dry and press the gown without starch. Customized keepsake boxes can be ordered from "Baby Keepsakes" at www.babysakes.com


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year ~Sewing goals of 2015!

Happy New Year! I don't know about you, but 2014 flew by, just like the entire month of December. It seems like the older I get, the faster the years pass by. One of my favorite quotes is:
When I reminisce about this past year and think about time and how times have changed, along with how quickly it passes by, it's a little mind-blowing! Last year at this time I was working on several designs for Sew Beautiful Magazine for the coming months. I was clueless that in just a few short months, Sew Beautiful Magazine would no longer exist and I would no longer be designing amazing garments for a National magazine. It was the end of an era.

When I look at machine embroidery designs and ePatterns I created last year, I quickly notice how times have changed in one year. I realize how much work and time it takes creating fresh new designs. It's hard to keep up with the fast pace of current trends and keeping up with today's market and what customers are seeking. Sometimes my business takes all kinds of detours, due to the fact of trying to keep up the pace - it's exhausting!

Today is the 1st day of 365 days. I know how fast those days will pass and I know how many changes will take place in those 365 days. I want to make the most of each and every one of those days to the best I can! This year my goal is to take my business down a little different path. Rather than trying to keep up with the fast-paced, ever- changing trends of the day, I am going to focus on timeless, classic designs. 
My focus in 2015 is "vintage-inspired" heirlooms. From machine embroidery to ePatterns, my focus will be timeless, classic designs, inspired by genuine vintage garments, patterns and embroidery designs.
I will also be making handmade vintage-inspired garments for babies that will be available for purchase. Many of these handmades will be one of a kind or available in limited quantity and size. 
I will also be creating more eClasses, focusing on Hand Smocking and Heirloom Sewing! My Smocked Bonnet eClass has been very popular and such a great option for those who can't physically attend a sewing class or conference. The first new eClass of 2015 will be The Smocked Bishop Dress from start to finish. The bishop dress will coordinate with the smocked bonnet eClass. After that, my focus will be Heirloom Sewing eClasses, teaching unique techniques and proper hand-sewing technique. 
I will also be creating new ePatterns in 2015 - all vintage-inspired, timeless classics that you will love! Some of these designs will include both hand and machine embroidery. I will be creating new machine embroidery designs including monograms, ornaments and other machine embroidery designs inspired from vintage designs.

Happy New Year - I wish you well in 2015 and I hope that you will follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!



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