Gathering Threads

Barefoot in the Park

Posted by on May 23 2010

Thanks to another rainy Saturday, I’ve managed to tick another WIP off the list: a cap-sleeved top and bermuda shorts for my niece.

Due to a fairly successful stash diet, that has seen me foregoing new fabric in favour of my existing choices, I’ve made some pretty decent inroads on my stash over the past year and a half. I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times but on the whole, the rubbermaid tub lid fits a lot more snugly than it did this time last year.

This project and the halter top and capris I finished a week or so ago are all fruits of that effort. With the exception of the waistband elastic, which I was totally out of, everything from the floss to the fabrics, is stash. And if you think the floral print bears a striking resemblance to some of the fabrics from the diaper bag project, you’re right. I loved sewing the fabric so much, I saved my leftovers and was able to find enough yardage to squeeze off the top’s pieces.


The top is Paisley Park, from AS&E #83 while the insert plate is a shortened version of Summer Blooms, from AS&E #87.


I really enjoyed making the bullion daisies. They were surprisingly easy and while I think they’ll require a little more care during laundry than a bullion rose to keep them looking pert, I liked making them a lot. They were fun!

The shorts are a green twill which I have thankfully seen the last of. Lovely hand, sews and wears beautifully but the colour alone gives me fits, it’s so green. I bought it years ago, planning to make overalls for the boys and then came to my senses, when I realized just how electric it really was! The pattern was my usual suspect, Kwik-Sew for Toddlers, sz 2. I’ve made these pants/shorts so many times, I can practically sew them with my eyes shut but they’ve got a great fit, well drafted and they lend themselves to quick and easy play clothes so well that I never bother with another pattern.


In order to tie them to the top, I added a very simple mock-cuff with two strips of 1 3/4″ bias floral print, topped off with the dregs of my green plaid fabric. It was a squeeze, getting enough out of my tiny scraps to finish this project off, but I was able to toss the scraps with a feeling of virtuous thrift, knowing that I’d made headway in my stash and made a cute outfit at the same time.

Ebele in Progress

Posted by on May 18 2010

I’ve been gorging myself on smocking now that my day-to-day job is on summer hiatus.

I’ve got several outfits in various stages of doneness – here’s a quick peek at one of my wip’s. It’s my interpretation of the “Ebele” plate that was featured in AS&E, Issue #83


I’ve made a few changes to the plate: changed the colours to match my bandana-print fabric, rather than the African indigos used in the spread, skipped the beaded cables and shortened the length of the plate by one row because I am making the dres s in a size 2, one size smaller than the smallest listed size.

I enjoyed working this piece, which will be finished as a halter dress with three-tiered skirt with rick-rack trim. I normally prefer plain fabrics, the better to show off the smocking, but this densely patterned plate and fabric make for an interesting and more subtle look. I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to try something new. And when it’s all done, I’ll be sure and post pictures of the finished dress.

Summer fun

Posted by on May 12 2010

Here are a few snapshots of an quick little outfit for my niece that I finished last night. Stanley’s sucking it in a little, because he’s a wee bit too big for these clothes – when I see my niece next I’ll try and get some snapshots of her actually modelling her new duds.



The capris, which are a size 2 and bottom half of “Flower Power,” were an excuse to play with my new ruffler. Fun! Fun! Fun! I will be ruffling lots of things from now on, let me tell you.
The top, which I made in the 24mth size, is the top half of “Trendy Tot.” It came about because I was at loose ends Sunday night and wanted to start a quick and easy smocking project to go with the bottoms. It was simply rectangles, with an elastic casing along the back. I finished the smocking in two easy nights. No buttons, simple bias application and only one smocking stitch is used. I think it would make a great beginner project for anyone learning to smock, because there’s no piping or shaped blocking to contend with.
Both projects were very quick to work up and I found the instructions and pattern pieces generally very good. Not surprising since both of these projects are Country Bumpkin patterns, and they do very good work. I found them in their 2008 book, “Designer Smocking for Tots to Teens”. I really like the designs in this book – they’re very RTW and they do a nice job of incorporating smocking into outfits other than the classic yoke dress.

I do have a few points on my wish list – more clothing for boys, more patterns for fall and winter, I wish there was an envelope for the pattern supplement because once they’re pulled from the book, they’re completely loose with nowhere to store them and finally, I really wish the smocking and construction and cutting directions were together, rather than forcing me to flip back and forth between the construction and smocking sections, when I need to look at a detail or check on the blocking size. It just gets annoying after a while, when you want to sew or cut something and have to search through the whole book to find the width of the bias strip because you’re not sure where they’ve stuck it.

I also made life a little more difficult for myself because the top was originally designed in denim – I made my top in a very light embroidered batiste. This meant that the pleats were much lighter and far less full than the blocking accounted for. Given how simple and small the smocking actually was – just rows of Van Dyke worked in an overdyed variegated floss – I worked around it no problem but if I were making it again, I’d probably bulk up the pleats with a fusible interfacing, just to give the pleats a little more substance.


SAGA 2010 Convention in Norfolk, VA

Posted by on May 02 2010

May 1st has been marked on my calendar for a good month or so. That’s the day that registration opens for the 31st annual SAGA convention.

This year, the event’s being held in Norfolk, VA, a part of the U.S. I’ve long had a desire to visit. I attended my first conference every last year, when it was held in Indianapolis, and loved every minute of it. Not only were the classes first-rate and then some, what made it for me were the people.

They were about as nice a bunch of souls as you could ever want to meet. It can be difficult going to a convention on your own and because I’m a member at large, without a group to call my own, I didn’t know a single, solitary person. Well, that lasted about fifteen minutes, because to a person, everyone was happy to introduce themselves, offer advice to a newcomer, issue invitations to join them for coffee, lunch, banquet table, and more. It was as comfortable as a favourite pair of jeans and I promised myself that I’d be back next year for sure.

This year’s roster of teachers and events looks equally good. My focus is smocking but there are classes on hand sewing, embroidery, fine machine sewing, doll dressing and more. And there are so many things to learn outside of class, including the Friday market, where there are sewing goodies galore, the justly famous raffle baskets and of course, the Design Competition and Show and Share.

If you’re interested in learning to smock or want to take your sewing to the next level, the SAGA convention is a great place to learn. I’m going to be there – will you?

The Times, they are a changin’…

Posted by on Apr 29 2010

OK, forgive the Bob Dylan pun, but it seemed appropriate with a new project of mine being featured in the May issue of the Crafts n Things newsletter
diaper bag outside
The diaper bag is a very spring-like project I designed for them earlier this year. It’s based on a prototype I developed for my own son nearly six (six! how can it be six!) years ago, when he was an infant. I simply couldn’t find a portable changing system that let me actually change him on the road. So I made my own. Oh, the joys of sewing.

I’ve been twiddling with the design ever since. The latest version of this changing bag features lots of secure zippered pockets, a soft, padded removeable changing pad (as the mother of two boys, I know pee happens!) and roomy slots for wipes, ointments and diapers that keep them right at hand.

diaper bag open
My good friend, Laurie, at Adorable Heirlooms, hooked me up with a lovely selection of fabrics, including some of the nicest cotton prints I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Seriously, smooth, 60″ wide, lovely hand. They sewed up like butter. Thanks, Laurie!

This project works really well for boys too – there are so many cute quilting prints out there. In fact, this bag has become my go to gift for showers. I’m at the age when a lot of my friends are adding to their families and I’m coming to suspect I’m being invited just for the diaper bag! 🙂

If you make this project for your own little one, you might just find the same thing happening. Be prepared to clear your social calendar when the invitations start dropping through the mail slot.