A Little Christmas Past

I have been taking a break from stitching these past weeks so thought I would share some more of my heirloom sewing. Actually almost 13 years ago…I sewed a Christmas Dress for our first born grandchild. (Now I am officially what I call ancient.) Being that “lace” was the “in” thing for me then. I proceeded to “semi design” a dress for our granddaughter and I thought I would share. As you can see “bold color” was my goal. I took ideas from all of my books on heirloom sewing and cobbled together this outfit.

The main material is batiste with cotton lace inserts with machine embroidered “holly” motifs. Also beading insertion around the sleeves and in the main skirt with 1/4 inch red silk satin ribbon. Tons of “pintucks” for the bodice and at the hemline. I think my eyes must have been very tired keeping track of sewing all of them. As you can see there is also an slip that was sewn with a lace hem. Lots of work but very enjoyable at the time.

So here she is with it on in all her glory! What wonderful memories!

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Years ago….A Smocking Commission…Ring Bearers Outfit and Pillow

   Many, many years ago a friend asked if I would take on a commission to make a “Baseball Themed” Ring Bearers Outfit and Pillow…I used a smocking pattern from a Martha Pullen book and changed it for an insert in a cute little boys outfit. The pillow was just pleating with the lines of a baseball stitched and a baseball button inserted in the middle with fake rings and ribbon. All in all it was a challenge but came out rather nice in the end. Guess what….. “I found the pictures I took!” What a blast to look back at what was made so many years ago. My heirloom sewing days brought much joy! I really enjoyed doing smocking at the time and hope someday to get back to it. (psst…I found more smocking project pictures…what fun!)

   Above is the picture smocking motifs some mini baseballs and bats. (had to repeat for two of them)

   Now here is the final outfit when finished. Acck! all that piping! Buttonholes and snaps were also a challenge. I forget what the material was but I do remember it being expensive. I am sure the wedding was a “hit”!!

   The ring bearers pillow was different…I had to come up with the baseball design and I hoped they would like it!! Never really heard how it all turned out but it was worth it just for the experience and the challenge.

These photos were taken with my Olympus Camera….(considered ancient nowadays) There were no cell phones etc. to just point and shoot. This camera was one of the early ones that had a card so one could move them to a computer via a special cable that worked with the camera and the software on my computer. My mind stills reels with all the technology! 

Chloe the Cat ..Steps 22~26

    Whewwww!!!!!!…. this section was a lot of different stitching. Padded Satin, Laidwork, Split Stitch, Eyelets, Long and Short Shading. I think that about covers it. The design on the fabric only had “2” eyelets printed on it and the one on the cover of the directions has 10! Five large and 5 small. I decided to draw two more large ones in and 4 small. They came out fine. I freehanded the small ones and the bigger ones I traced what was there and used a bright light to trace them again on the fabric. So am happy with the result. I just love poking holes in fabric for some odd reason. 

See that area there to the left? That is the last part of the Cat!!!! The Tail!! I probably will finish the whole tail (there are two sections) before I share that and then on to the bird on the tail…..! Getting there.. I will have had plenty of experience with Padded Satin Stitch by the time I am finished! I will have to show both cats together it should be interesting!

Padded Satin Stitch….A back view of the padding  ooops!

    Working on Chloe the Cat …there is a lot of “Padded Satin Stitch”. So much so it may become overwhelming at times. I have this thing where I just want to do satin stitch and details of how to do this stitch become “moot”. That said there are many ways to pad your satin stitch. Trish Burr has a wonderful “Needlepainting & Whitework Handbook” that goes through descriptive ways of all the ways she works her designs. Great reference! 

     The “Padded Satin Stitch” is in there of course. You would think one would look it up and refresh the memory at my age. (Just to much stuff up there now.) Okay I was stuck because of the design here with some sharp corners etc. Sooooo…I looked it up and realized I could of done this padding differently. As I said I am a satin stitcher so would take the floss even while padding and go in the opposite direction of the final stitching and do just satin stitching in the needed direction. That said …uses up a lot of floss!

Below is a picture of the back of how I padded my satin stitch.

    Now this picture is actually how Trish shows how it should be done.

    Gee..what’s missing….all that extra floss! One can just come up “next to” the previous stitch and go back to the front to take the next stitch. Now a picture of the front of this with the “padding” done ready for the satin stitch to put on top. (tommorow…I’m tired).

I will be doing the “satin stitch” over the running stitch which helps to give it a nice edge. I did most of my padded satin stitching the other way. I need to remember to do it this way because I like it. Just wanted to share what can be done and it does come out pretty much the same. You would really only be saving floss. It could affect the final product by making it thicker. Just not sure about that. So it really depends on what one likes of course and each one of us has different approaches to how we do our stitching! 


Chloe the Cat…Steps 20~21

   I absolutely loved doing this section. Even my “padded satin stitch” came out nice. Doing laid work is always fun and enjoyable while having to think about keeping it uniform. There are a couple of things that were approached differently than what the directions say and that is I stitched the “padded satin dots” first before doing the background around them. This approach works better for my style of stitching. Also some of the outlining was done before the background got started on the “laidwork”. One needs to feel comfortable when stitching and I do tend to change an order of stitching if my brain has a hard time with what a designer might do. It is nice to be able to do this. In the end it all usually works out! The next section will finish the main part of the body. I get to do some eyelets! I enjoy doing them as I have done them before on some of Trish Burr’s embroideries! Rubbing my hands together in anticipation!! I know we all have different things about stitching we like so just so you all know “eyelets” are one of mine which  just is really great doing by hand!

Chloe the Cat..Steps 14~19 Padded Satin Stitch and Dot Stitch

   Oh, how I wish I could be a perfectionist..”not”…ever going to happen. With this design from Trish Burr there is quite a bit of padded satin stitch. One particular place is up on the cheek area of the face. I “almost” took this out after stitching it because it looked to me “awful”. I saw some of the satin stitching in other areas  looked just fine but just this cheek area was giving me a bit of a “why” moment! (there “were” other words going through my mind) Being that the area had quite a bit of outlining to be done on it I decided to go ahead and stitch the outline in. Below are the before and after pictures. 

   Also I contacted Trish and asked her about the shading on the dot stitch along the neck. I was just thinking of how did she shade this area and take the color from one area to another so smoothly? Looking through the magnifier and noticing one stitch next to the dot stitch in the next color then slowly changing that one stitch to the full dot stitch. Then repeating it on the way down with the shade changes. I was pleased with the results. Trish reinforced what I was doing so was glad I contacted her.


 I really felt this was a “huge” mess….now look at the difference when the outline was added and also the “dot stitch”. I was really surprised! I was really thinking I would need to take this out. It is not perfect but fine for me at this point. I shared before that my eyesight is getting a little more “iffy” these days. I will perservere because I do get so much joy from plying my needle!

Below is “Chloe” with what is finished so far. Trying to work on her as much as possible. There is some more laid work and am looking forward to doing that. Plan on framing both cats when finished as I have in mind someone to gift them to. They love cats! 

Size of Thread and Needle….Needle Grabber To the Rescue…

   Working on “Chloe the Cat” there is “alot” of “padded satin stitch”. I mean alot! The thread that is used is DMC blanc floche…which is much thicker than just one strand of DMC floss.  After threading up the needle with the needle supplied and then starting to do the padding underlayment….I found I was having to really fight getting my needle through the fabric plus the previous layers that make up the padding. Here comes the needle grabber! It is just a round circle of lightweight rubber with a rough like surface which you can then pull your needle through instead of fighting and hurting the old fingers. The one used here is green but they also come in other colors. I know you could cut up some solid heavier shelf lining to make your own. These little things are great finger savers.  

   Now in the picture above I am also showing a needle that is threaded with my blanc floche. I changed my needle to a bigger one mainly because I have always felt it makes more sense to use a needle a similar size of the thread…less tension and stress on the thread when constantly pulling through fabric. Does it make a bigger hole in your fabric? Yes, it does.  As with any project one just needs to weigh the options and use what works to get the best result and I found the larger needle works fine here. Also there will be a outline that will “ hide” any so-called holes. I really do not see much on this piece so I am happy! When you use a sewing machine and thread up you also should use the size needle for the size of the thread.. it makes a huge difference in helping to lay the thread on the project neatly ….and that is for either machine or hand sewing. The picture below shows the laying of the satin stitch with the larger needle. I know I have shared before one has to use what works for you and this works for me!

    I am getting on with the next steps with “Chloe the Cat” and will update that soon. I want to get back to my “Trevelyon Cap” which is getting close to being finished! I get a feeling all three projects that I am working right now will be done around the same time… I am already rubbing my hands together and itching to work on something else.. 

A Surprising Use For a Needle Minder

    I love accidents when your stitching and a light bulb goes off then it’s…. “Now why did I not see that before and boy it is a nice way to do this!” Accidentally tracing some of the elements for Alison Coles “Victorian Elegance” …upside down… the wires were reaching out to the center of the hoop which caused no end of frustration. Yes, I tried the twisting around the pencil and covering them and that was just fine…But…then purely by accident “of course” they would get caught on my “needle minder”. Just so much magnetism! This usually happened as I was starting the wire wrap around the shape then to be couched down.  Just as I was about to do my twist with the pencil I realized I could just send the wire up to the “needle minder” and “voila” it  stayed there with all the magnetic glory and out of the way “in the middle of the hoop”! I am thrilled to find another way to keep the wires out of the way! Sure I will use any method depending on the element to keep those pesky wires out of the way. Happy to have found another “idea” to help and another way to use the “needle minder” ! If I ever do another “Stumpwork” piece I hope I will remember this trick and maybe..just maybe… I will trace all my elements upside down!!!! Love it!!!

You can see the twisted wire here in this photo and the element traced with the wire towards the outside of the hoop.

This photo has the wires all just attached “magnetically” to the Needle Minder! Worked great!  I do try to keep all of my stitching covered as I work so therefore all the “ Glad Press n Seal”.

Wish I had Remembered This Earlier!

  All of us who embroider and sew love the tools that make the project go “easier”. I for one have accumulated all kinds of tools relating to my hand embroidery as well as machine sewing through the years. Now, for the interesting part… I do organize my tools of the trade so I can find them and/or see and grab them at a quick glance… whether they are in a drawer/case that is specifically labeled or just hanging around on a shelf out in the open. I am very fortunate to have some wonderful furniture passed down to me by my mother-in-law who was a fantastic sewer and very talented. So many of my items that I stitch are on the shelves being displayed including tools that are unique and used in the embroidery craft.  

   So a number of weeks ago I went to a class with “Alison Cole” as the tutor, and had a fabulous time. All of the elements are stitched with a hoop. I basically “hand held” my hoop for the class.  I did have an small Irwin clamp (need a much bigger one) to attach it to the table but the clamp was just to weak to hold the hoop. So I suffered holding it.  We only worked on just one element at a time so it was not to bad. Came home and started to work on the elements to get them finished. Ummmm…fast forward and guess what …my hands started hurting! This was unacceptable so had to take a few days off for recovery.  In the meantime I am in my “handwork area” and reorganizing things. Then something said  “Look Up”…so I did and then it hit me… I have this sit on frame up on the very top of my furniture that I could of used for my class as well as here at home. It “CLAMPS HOOPS”! I remember thinking ages ago how do I use this embroidery stand….never once thinking that it would work for the class I took…(not going to tell you what I was thinking when I realized I could of used it at the class…some major mumbling went on) .   Sooooo…now you probably know I am using it for finishing the embroidery and therefore less stress on my hands and arms.  Such a relief…thank goodness for “tools of the trade”.

   This is a Sonata Frame and I remember purchasing it, but when….that’s a blank…. What is neat about this frame it raises and lowers, tilts, clamps fairly wide hoops and best of all you can spin the hoop over to the back when you need to fix something or end off.  There are “wing nuts” and they even supply a wooden tool to tighten these down so you are not going crazy and hurting yourself…Here are some pictures of the hoop…. I am estatic to have this in my tools of the trade now that I know how to use it. Something wonderful that I wish I had remembered earlier to make my stitching life easier! I was so disappointed in myself in having forgotten this tool. I already have other projects I will use it for in mind!

Lots of knobs for twisting and turning to get it so you can be comfortable stitching!

And “yes” that is one of my cats lazing on the deck ! She is now 14 years old. My other one is going on 18…

This is the frame flipped to the back… 

A Different Way to “Store” Floss

   Over at Mary Corbett’s Needle ‘n’ Thread awhile back there was a neat way to store your floss. If you click on the link you can see it. It was mentioned that maybe one could use just the ‘metal hangar bars” that are used for file folders to put the “Comb Binders” on and then hang your floss from them. Well….I really  really liked the idea of getting my floss hanging and more organized using a file box. My thinking cap went on and I came up with the following…(it took some trial and error) Once you make one of these it does go rather quickly. Just thought I would share. I thank the lady who came up with this as mentioned in Mary’s blog. A light bulb went off for me.

  This first picture are the items needed to make the comb binding floss hangars. You’ve got the 3/4 inch comb binder, a piece of fiber core board cut to about 5/8 inches wide by 10 1/5 inches long and the metal file hanging bar. These hangars fit inside a standard size file box ( I used a plastic one with a top) Plus you need “double sided permanent sticky tape. (Glue would just be to messy.) 

  Now you take the foam core and place a piece of sticky tape half on and half off one of the long edges. The part that hangs over gets folded over and stuck to the upper top of the foam core. I know the tape is hard to see but it is there!

Now place the metal file hanging bar on the lower half of the double sided sticky tape at the very edge of the top of the foam core.

   Here comes a bit of a tricky part. If you haven’t pressed the upper half of the tape down do it now. This is where you push the whole thing through the “comb binding” being careful that you keep the upper sticky part from attaching to it along the way. It worked well for me to keep the sticky part to the open part of the comb, less to stick to. 

   When the metal file hanging bar and the foam core is all the way through…line up the foam core with the front (the side that will open to hang your floss. Press down hard across all of the “comb binding”. If you have used permanent sticky tape there should be no worry that it is going to come apart with the lightweight floss.  See how the metal bar is pushed up against the plastic solid piece…You may need to figure out a way to balance the thing because it is wobbly. I have it stuck here on some tape to hold it for taking a picture.

   You can use a labeler or just a sharpie or whatever works for you to number each individual plastic binder. Then you can just slip each of your flosses on the correct number and them them hang all protected! For me I know this will make my life easier in the long run especially as getting older it is harder to remember where things are. I had begun labeling things long ago because I just do not want to have to think about all of it…There is way to much stuff up in the old brain as it is. If it’s labeled I can find it. Below is what it looks like finished. I plan on doing as much as I can with all my threads so they are all stored in a nice manner. You will also note I put rings on my floss so I can take them out and then put them on a bigger ring that will be used for a specific project so everything stays together. I even put more than one skein of the same color on a ring. I even pull my floss from here with the ring on. Here is a link to the article on how I use my rings for my floss. Using rings on my floss. I got these rings from a company called The Ring Lord..They supply these nifty plastic snap rings for people who make chainmail for those who are involved in the Medieval role playing …they can be painted etc. Works great for what I use them for.