Category Archives: Machine Sewn Projects

Memory of sewing an Outfit for Grandchildren

Having really enjoyed sewing some clothing for the grandchildren when they were toddlers (now teenagers!) One pattern and outfit I absolutely loved came from a magazine called “Ottobre”. They still publish more than a decade later a few times a year and it is available in the states through The Wooly Thread . The magazine comes out a few times a year with a children’s editions, women’s editions and sometimes other special editions.

This particular pattern was just so cute and I enjoyed every minute of the challenge of sewing it and I can still remember seeing myself making it! I am so glad I have pictures of it. (Well, actually I made “two”!) Just wanted to share….since my stitching has been waylaid for a bit again. I was ever so thankful I had a “digital camera” when they were fairly new..I really like having these memories at my fingertips!! The last photo is a closeup picture of the bottom of the “other outfit” that was made.

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! 

Heirloom Sewing…A Unbeliveable Learning Experience

   For many years I was what could be called a “plain jane” sewer… simple and practical…my mantra “was” at the time if it is easy go for it. What happened, was “the new embroidery sewing machines” .  In the late 1900’s (you know 1995 or so) I was able to acquire one of these beauties!! Never again, in my mind, would I ever do hand embroidery…now we know that is not true now…but was then…!

   The sewing machine dealership where this machine was purchased had some wonderful classes on how to use these new computerized machines, that included projects making Heirloom clothing. Heirloom sewing uses those gorgeous fabrics such as silk, handkerchief linen, swiss nelona, batiste, silk organza and others…just stunning! Laces galore made from cotton (not the polyester lace a lot of us grew up with!) I had no idea that these “cotton” laces even existed! I was taken in completely and have never looked back. Now knowing what is the best, it has been hard to satisfy my ever growing need for quality in materials. 

    These images are from a Martha Pullen/ Viking Licensing that I took in the early 2000’s .  Of course a wedding gown for an 18 inch doll! Machine embroidery and laces, entredeux (the embellishment with the small holes) , gathering laces, lace shaping, and also twin needle pintucks. You made all of this first, then cut out your pattern and added the entredeux and other embellishments. Cotton bastiste was used for the gown. Then for the fancy dress, machine embroidery on silk organza, silk for the dress and then organza for the hem.


   Below you can see decorative machine stitching around the silk organza window and on the silk organza of the gathered ruffle of the top of the “fancy dress”. I was glad to learn about what needles and threads can be used in a sewing machine. It was and still is amazing to me what a sewing machine can do when you have the tools and teachers to guide you…

  The classes made me aware of a lady who started the school in Huntsville, Alabama.. The schools name was “Martha Pullen’s School of Art Fashion”.  Basically a shy person I got myself to go by myself. Then going changed my life. As a confessed technique geek this school was fantastic! The teachers were wonderful. All that was said about “southern hospitality” was beyond anything I had experienced in my life. I just soaked up the atmosphere and all the learning one could get… The best takeaway for me was because of the “way” these machine techniques were taught …understanding how to do them was easy for me…thank goodness…!

    These next pictures are of a class project that was taken at the “School of Art Fashion” one year with a very talented teacher named “Connie Palmer”. The pillow below is made from handkerchief linen and ‘again’ with silk organza, machine embroidery, lace and entredeux. Even the closing on the back has decorative stitching going down each side. It was a blast to learn what you could do with your machine… If you look a the first picture …a wing needle…was used to create the entredeux effect around the edge of the lace on the pillow. The machine embroidery was fairly easy because you embroidered it first on a separate piece then did your lace shaping and /or decorative stitches. A lot of work being precise! My greatest takeaway in the years since was that my “hand embroidery” became easier for me because I was seeing how machine embroidery was stitched out as well as designed in the software..I will say I will always be in awe of all the artistry that goes into designing any type of embroidery/sewing designs and have the highest regards for those who do this for all of us so we can relax and make something beautiful!



Enjoying techniques…

Today is for “technique geeks”…One of the best things is “learning and trying” different sewing/embroidery techniques. A friend who is a prolific quilter has always repeated the mantra “learn something new every day” (of course it may be about something other than sewing/embroidery) I had this really cute piece of what I called fairy fabric, it just called to me…sparkly…and dainty…So I finally decided to make a pillow out of it…I know….another pillow…. well…there are approximately 5 different techniques on this pillow…Most relate to my “heirloom sewing background” Below is a picture of the pillow. Showing some wear but still in pretty good condition!

 This is a list of the techniques on this pillow … gathering…sharks teeth…cording….decorative cording….metallic thread decorative stitching…. using the built in stippling stitch on my sewing machine…binding….and borders..


Above is a picture of the sharks teeth with the stippling to help hold them in place. First I glued them to keep the point of the fold and then I stippled them…I did 4 strips this way… I made a folded bias tape and zigzagged the edges down in the process of making the pillow…A pink border was also added to give a nicer finish to the sharks teeth.. I put a gathered flange on the inside of the bias tape and decorative cording…Now the decorative cording was done with pink and then using a machine blanket stitch and metallic thread I stitched over the cord to add a decorative touch.

Above is a closeup of the cording and bias …In the center  of the pillow using a decorative stitch with metallic thread I just meandered around the prints of the fairies..

The grandchildren love this pillow which is a nice remembrance when they come to visit….we are all so spread out these days!

Hope you all are having a wonderful week…we are enduring winter weather here….barely!!

A Pair of Pillows

Looking through some photographs this morning I came across this picture of my twin pillows..This is a JanLynn Designs  
that I made many years ago…A commercial pattern/kit…(No longer available) used what they called “candlewicking” and having learned a lot about heirloom sewing by machine I was intrigued to do this design by hand..the center motif has butterflies and I remember the instructions saying to use two strands of floss to do them with. I just thought it was to thick! Those butterflies are delicate so I proceeded to use only one strand of floss..which made more work because of the filling… the candlewicking was done by bringing the thread up on top so a very pretty motif formed. Most candlewicking is a surface only knot so to have the thread cross on the top of the fabric with the knot was different. One of the harder things was to do “both” in the same color..throughout the whole piece. As always I thoroughly enjoyed the work…I look at them now and the time was well spent making these…

The second picture below is the close up of the center motif as you can see the butterflies definitely look soft and delicate am I was glad for embroidering them with one strand of floss.

Next is a photo of the candlewicking…tedious…but the final effect was worth it…One thing I probably will always repeat is that I am glad as needleworkers we can enjoy our own pieces and finish and tweak them the way we want. By the way the lace edging on the pillow was put on by sewing machine using a fine 80 weight thread on a folded piece of fabric then gathered and stitched ….I like it still…I must have done these pillows about 5 years ago now…

Hope  you can get some inspiration from the techniques shown…..Back to stitching on my Mouse!

Plaid Poinsettias

Just a basketful of handmade Plaid Poinsettia stems…these were made a number of years ago when for some reason there was a need to have a nice looking Christmas decoration. Using two pieces of fabric and tracing the petals along the edges…next, laying a length of flower wire in between the petals….while using “steam a seam Lite…to fuse the two fabrics together …
Now using a decorative thread to satin stitch the center wire and along the traced edges of the petals and voila!…you have a petal. Making nine for each flower and adding a really pretty cording in the middle for the stamen… as you can tell I made “oodles and oodles” of these petals but I am still happy after all these years how well they have stayed…. Have a Merry Christmas!!!


A Cheap Smocking Tale

Many….Many…Many years ago I made this dress for my first grandchild…the pattern I believe came from  “Australian Smocking and Embroidery Magazine”… the unique (or cheap) things about this dress are that it was made out of $1.00 a yard cotton mini gingham check material….and…sulky rayon thread 3 strands crocheted together to make the edging…I do believe as a needleworker we have to have a certain amount of over the top patience with a touch of the just the right kind of crazy…. also…everytime I look back at what I have made I see the  “I was nuts”…but also so pleased with the results of my creativity and with all the other needleworkers who contribute to our world.


 The following pictures are a closer look at the bodice…hem….bow in back and sleeves of this dress…there is beading within the smocking stitches as well as handstitched bows and boullion flowers with a crocheted edging …the edging was attached with entredeux then the”sulky rayon” was crocheted making a scalloped edging around the bodice, hem, sleeve and bow in back.  I do remember enjoying making this dress….Lots of work but the accomplishiment was worth the final finish!





My Homemade Sewing Bits ….Mermaids

As a change of pace since being stuck on thread and needle painting for awhile …sharing another passion is the love for small stuffed creatures “not super tiny” just smallish…there are absolutely wonderful designers out there…For myself I can just drool at their creativity when it comes to these designs….Often taking the pattern and sewing it up then admiring the uniqueness of it all. 

Today  I am sharing the picture of a couple of “mermaids”, that were requested by two of my grandaughters…the pattern is called “Little Mermaid Sewing Pattern” by Dolls and Daydreams.

Manipulating the fabric was the goal for this project deciding to use a very shiny fabric and fusing fleece and then using a decorative stitch on the sewing machine to make the piece look like fish scales….next I placed the pattern piece on the prestitched fabric and cut out the tails….I must say the girls loved them and they came out cute….