Gathering Threads

Gail Doane 4-Piece Set workshop

Posted by on Apr 27 2013, in Embroidery, Sewing for Children, Smocking, WIP

I ran away from home last week.

But before you panic, don’t worry.  I didn’t tie all my belongings up in a handerchief and set off on a raft; I went to Pennsylvania to attend the SAGA Needleart Retreat in State College.

If I’d been thinking about the blog, I would have taken pictures but unfortunately, I was way too busy having fun to bother stopping long enough to  take pictures.

Trust me though, it was a fabulous few days away.  Met up with old smocking friends, made a whole bunch more and stitched and stitched and stitched.

I took Gail Doane’s 4 Piece Farmhouse Set.  I alway love making Gail’s projects and when I found out there was a chance to take a class with her, I jumped at it.  I made her justifiably famous Eloise a couple of years back and it came out beautifully.  That dress was a winter dress with a serious dress up factor.  This class focused, very sensibly, on making a coordinating set of clothes for a toddler:  an embroidered jacket, a smocked dress, a smocked top and a cute pair of reversible pants.

The jacket front is embroidered with a band of buttonhole and cast-on flowers, and a tiny row of french knots all around the perimeter.

Here is a close-up of the sleeve embroidery.

It was a great class.   Seriously, the tips and tricks she shared made the enrollment cost alone worth every penny.  How to pleat the dress front after the armholes are cut.  The best dimensions and materials for baby piping.   The purdiest bound edges you’ll ever want to see.  Cast on flowers that don’t look like they’ve been stricken with blight.  An awesome trick for overcoming the bulging wrapped end of a bound neckline.  It was a fabulous three days.

We spent the first day working on the coat embroidery and Saturday tackling different elements of the smocked dress.  Just look at my binding.  And my piping!  Aren’t they pretty?   The piping is about 1/16″; the binding is a scant 1/4″.  No ripples, no bunches.  Just smooth and firm and even. The sleeves, the hem and the neckline are all bound in the same fashion; the coat is too.  I’ll be very good at teeny-weeny bindings at the end of this project and it’s all thanks to Gail’s meticulous instruction.

The back has a touch of smocking too.  Just two narrow panels worth but it’s so nice to see something thinking about the back with as much care as the front.  There’s nothing I hate worse than ‘coffin’ clothes (all the business on the front, none on the back ;))

Sunday morning was spent just working on the project as we saw fit.  No one finished everything up, but it’s amazing what a few hours of uninterrupted sewing time will do to see you through on a project.  I’ve been working on it here at home and I’m nearly finished the dress.  I still have work to do on the jacket but I hope that before April Showers start bringing May flowers, it’ll be ready to be worn.


  • Lynn Poulin

    Hi Claire–It was great to meet you in Pennsylvania (as one of the other Canadians who smock!!) Your projects look great–I haven’t had a chance to work on mine since I got back. It truly was a marvelous weekend of sewing and stitching and I hope SAGA plans more of these in our backyard!

  • Claire

    It was great meeting you, too Lynn. We Canadians were small in number but mighty in smocking talent 🙂

  • Beautiful!!! Your piping and binding are perfect!!

  • Claire

    Martha – Gail’s directions are so good that it makes it a piece of cake to get great results!