Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Bottles and Jars

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.
Maybe a little too much like Christmas.  We have snow
on the ground and there is a definite chill in the air.
I spent most of  yesterday creating  Snow Bottles.
Bottles of all sizes and ages.
 Some with a bit of magic
 or dreams of other places.
 Vintage Santa's peeking in windows.
 Bottles holding wishes to be made.
 Vintage bottles and images.
 Even a bottle brush tree.
 Bakelite buttons and brooches adorn the tops.
 A butter knife bent into a bookmark.
 With a soldered charm featuring a vintage
Christmas Stamp.....postage was .06 cents!!!!
 Christmas past and present all off to find homes
elsewhere and to bring someone else a bit of joy.
Speaking of bringing JOY!
I had a nice surprise from Sherry, she sent me
the sweetest sachet.....I knew what it was
as soon as I opened the envelope. 
 The scent of cloves gave it away....
some scents just mean Christmas.
Sherry had the sachet wrapped in this
beautiful tissue paper.
Sherry has a delightful blog that always has something
new and different with each post.  From sewing to drying flowers, even a few posts on fancy cars, Sherry gives us a peek into her world.  Check out the fancy tote bags and elf shoes she made recently!
Thank you Sherry!
Santa has also been busy and one of his elves
Paulette sent me something special in the mail.
Paulette filled a special order for me!  A Christmas
gift that is sure to please one of my daughters.
Paulette creates the most beautiful felt pieces.  Each
item is full of details and exquisite stitching, a work of art you can hold in your hand.  If you are not familiar with Paulette's work, please visit her blog and be prepared
to be inspired.
Thank you Paulette!
Christmas is fast approaching, try to spend some quiet
time remembering all we have to be thankful for. 
Love to all,

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wee Care #3 With A Little Something To Hold Onto

This time I had a little boy in mind.  I was thinking the gown should be a bit simpler, without the addition of lace.  Then I saw Prince George's Christening gown!!! My goodness what an incredible work of art with more lace than most wedding gowns.
So, next time I make a boy's gown, I may just have to add lace.  Especially since Susan and Marie have both been so kind to send me lace for these gowns.  While I was emailing with Marie, I told her I wanted to create a small heart to enclose with these gowns.  Something the mother could keep and hold onto.  A heart that would hold the memory of one so dear.  Marie suggested a wool heart, that was  the perfect material with which to create a small keepsake.
A small woolen heart with just a touch of embroidery to match the gown created for their child. 

A heart...the symbol of love.
Vicki suggested that I also include a small card with my name and address.  She explained often the mother wants to send a note of thanks to person that has stitched the gown.  My first thought was, no thanks are needed.....but then I gave it more thought.  There is very little that can be said to a mother that has just lost her child.  There a no words that can ease her broken heart.  But, maybe allowing her to write about her loss was a way to give comfort, a way to express her grief.  So a small card stating that the gown has been stitched with love is also enclosed.
This gown also has a ribbon threaded through a casing in the hem, allowing the gown to be gathered closed at the bottom.
With each gown I can see my stitching improve.  Speaking of that I have been reading every book I can find on smocking and heirloom sewing.  I have, after 50 years of sewing, become obsessed with stitch balance and length, changing needles, using the correct size needle, pressing seams, prewashing fabric...let's just say, I want these gowns to be the nicest things that have ever left my sewing room.
This past week I joined SAGA, the Smocking Arts Guild of America. My intentions are to take every correspondence course I can to improve my skills and to learn absolutely everything they have to offer.  In the process of joining I have become friends with Carla, the  SAGA Membership Registrar, she has been so helpful and encouraging. I truly feel as though this is what I am intended to do...and that is a very nice feeling indeed.

Love to all,

Monday, October 21, 2013

Extra Tiny Wee Care Gown

Small, very small, less than 1 pound.  That is the size baby this gown will fit.
Cut from a soft pink batiste.
The lace is old, very old, it was my grandmother's, found in her sewing box wrapped in a bit of tissue.
Smocked with "Waterlilies" 12 ply silk thread using only 2 strands.
The pattern may be found here.

I read a post earlier today on Martha Broyles' blog.  She too had created a tiny pink Wee Care gown. Please take a moment to read her post.  I was so touched by one of the comments, I quote in part, "You have just made the ONLY gown this baby will ever wear." 
That thought, makes this project so very important, such an honor to be a small part of....well, so to speak an "Extra Tiny" part of.

Love to all,

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Wee Care" Gown

My first "Wee Care" gown is complete!   The gown is one I began working on at home during my recent smocking lessons.  In my eagerness to learn, I cut out and pleated the fabric on my own.  There are several great video tutorials that demonstrate pleating and smocking on YouTube. So, if you live in an area without the benefit of smocking classes, you too CAN learn.
The dress fabric is batiste (I believe) I had in my stash. These little dresses use the full width of the fabric, but not much in length.    The pattern was found here on the Wee Care site.
You can find smocking patterns (plates) there as well.
The smocking plate is a diagram for your hand stitching, much like a cross stitch pattern.
Using 3 strands of embroidery floss you stitch along the top of each pleat.  The most important part, is the direction which thread is held  while stitching.  Meaning, if the thread is held above or below the needle as it is inserted into the fabric. That direction allows the threads to travel from pleat to pleat in an attractive manner.
There is a bias cut band on the neck and the sleeves that is attached with the sewing machine and turned to the inside and hand stitched into place.
You can see the band better in this photo without the bonnet.
I was lucky to have 2 daughters that loved dolls.  "Bitty Baby" made the perfect size model for this little dress.  I have a few other dolls that will model smaller dresses. 
 I spent the day with Vicki yesterday, we took photos of some of the pretty pink Breast Cancer scarves that have been donated.  Many of you, my friends, have donated your handmade scarves to this worthwhile cause.  Vicki works with tiny babies as a neonatal nurse, so I picked her brain to learn what would be the best design for these little dresses.  She was a wealth of information and I am so thankful. 
So there you have it, my first Wee Care gown and bonnet....I can hardly sit here long enough to write this post...I am wanting to go back and begin the next!  This time with a bit more experience, knowledge and no less enthusiasm.
Love to all,

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Learning Something New

I have long wanted to make "Wee Care" gowns.  The idea constantly tugged at my heartstrings. "Wee Care" gowns  are smocked bishop-style gowns that are donated to local hospitals to clothe babies who die at birth or shortly after.
I will quote from  the Smocking Arts Guild of America website:
A social worker at one hospital stated, "We use them almost exclusively for babies that have died or are going to die. We're able to cover up a lot of the medical equipment with the gowns so that the parents get to see their baby looking great. Sometimes, the parents keep the gowns as a keepsake; sometimes, the babies are buried in them. I try to let the parents pick out which gown they want on their baby. Sometimes, it's the only parenting they get to do."

I imagine the parents, hearts broken, looking at their tiny sweet child.  In their minds the dreams of ballet classes and football games being swept away all too soon.  If in some small way I could do something to ease a bit of their pain....I simply must do it.
I have gathered supplies through out the past few years.  A pleater sits in my sewing room waiting for the first bit of fabric to be rolled through.  Soft shades of embroidery floss and floche  will be used to do the smocking stitches....which leads us to my new learning experience.

Smocking lessons!   Last week was my first lesson at The Smocking Shop, and it was so much fun!  We learned several stitches Outline, Stem, Cable and The Baby Wave.

Homework was to create a baby bonnet with our newly learned stitches.

There was a bit of unsmocking that went on in the beginning
and I did start out smocking on the wrong side...but with perseverance the stitches began to flow.
The bonnet was special, my first attempts at smocking, so it needed a special stand.  The stand is a candlestick, with a padded foam ball on top.  A bit of a vintage lace tablecloth and ribbon add a nice touch.
I have found other smocking inspiration:
Freda featured a smocked egg on a recent post.
When I left a comment she offered to share some
tips on creating the egg and mailed me on to look at
as I make my own.  Thank you Freda!
Another friend that is also a wealth of needlework inspiration is Deanna.  She recently purchased a smocking pleater and has been having the best time running fabrics through it and applying her beautiful needlework to the pleated fabric.  Thank you Deanna for your encouragement and inspiration.

Keep learning new things, listen to your heart and look for opportunities to help others....your cup will runneth over.

Love to all,

Monday, September 2, 2013

Gifts for Courtney

Wedding Bells rang this summer for a friend.  She asked me to create her garter and one for her to toss.

 A penny (for luck)  from the year of her birth was stitched into a small pocket behind the crystal heart. 

Courtney is a gifted musician and vocalist.  To hear her play the harp or sing is like listening to an angel.  When I saw this fabric at a quilt show,  with images of Brides and sheet music,  I knew it was perfect for Courtney and her special day.
 Brian Haggard's book "Embroidered Memories, provided all the inspiration for the stitching.

 Buttons  add a special touch.

 Adding the date will help Phillip not forget their anniversary!

 If you get a chance, check out the retreat Brian is hosting in early November.
 How wonderful to be able to sit side-by-side with Brian and learn his techniques!
 Courtney had a beautiful wedding and the garter she tossed, was proudly worn on the head of the young man that caught it....Let's just say, "A good time was had by all!"
Love to all,


Monday, August 26, 2013

Altered Couture - Magpie Style

    If you follow my Pinterest boards, you know I love Altered Clothing.  Clothing that has had crocheted lace or sometimes even doilies  added for a feminine touch. I envy those girls that weigh-in about 120 and are 5'8"....they can wear just about anything.  But when you are on the + side of  120 and the - side of  5'8", care must be given in the addition of fluffy
   I have been collecting clothing that I thought would make a good base for lace additions and they were sitting in my sewing room.  Summer is quickly passing and time is running out to wear white pants, so Saturday I dug out my laces and began sewing. It was great fun and everything went together very smoothly.  Don't you love it when that happens!  
Not only was the sewing fun, but the outfit was great fun to wear that evening!

                                          Love to all,
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