Monday, June 30, 2008





I feel like I disappeared from the earth the past few days. Our computer had a nasty problem and has been visiting the Geek Squad. I 'm pretty good with the old CPU, but could not get a handle on this problem. Anyway, the Geeks did and I am back in business. Amazing how attached we get to these things!

As soon as I get caught up on some business things tomorrow I hope to have at least one, but hopefully two, tutes up.

In the meantime, here's a pic of a little jacket I made DGD Sophie to wear in case of a chill at a wedding last summer. I would love to try this technique on something for moi. It was a little monotonous to make but I thought the end result was cute. Some basic inexpensive poly lace was the ground and I did a cross hatch of bias strips of flannel. Throw the thing in the wash and dryer and then it ravels up and looks so cute. I have posted pics of the her "flower girl" gown I made her for the wedding as well.

The past couple of computer-less days, I have been doing a great deal of hand sewing. Upon re-reading the entry form, I discovered that I should have plenty of time to finish my bag for the contest. That motivated me a lot and I have been embroidering and working on the bag non-stop for the past two days. The name of this art piece will be "Starry, Starry Night". I keep thinking of Van Gogh the whole time I work on it due to colors and all. Luv Van Gogh!....Bunny

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Carly's Christening Gown



If you read the last post you know that our twin grandchildren and their big brother were all baptized this past Sunday. I have told you about Zak's Christening gown and all its details. Carly's gown was quite special as well, for reasons other than just Grandma making it. I have mentioned before about my aunt who bequeathed me a ton of antique lace, much of it liturgical. One of the things in that gift was a priest's alb of exquisite lace netting. It had very full sleeves and the body was quite full as well, offering lots of yardage to work with . I had dreams for years of making it into some sort of garment as it was so beautiful but always felt it would be a sacrilege to make any sort of fashion garment. Talk about Catholic guilt! My research told me that young seminarians were not allowed to wear these ornate garments any more so that meant I couldn't donate to a seminarian, my first choice for this beautiful garment. Once that was not an option, I held on to it and prayed for the day that I could maybe make it into either a wedding or a Christening gown. Any other use of this lace felt like sacrilege to me, but that's my own issue! One day, feeling like I never would make use of this beautiful fabric, I decided to just go ahead and make a christening gown, and if a grandchild arrived who could use it, well, that would be wonderful. If not, well there was always Ebay. In the meantime, I had the pleasure of designing. I made the gown and it sat in the closet for about three months and then we got the announcement that we would be the grandparents of twins. Not long after, we were informed that they would be a boy and a girl.

The lace is gorgeous. Since the sleeves were so full as well as the garment itself, I had plenty of fabric to use. It was a challenge to use it to the max but given that I probably have six square inches left, I think I succeeded. I took my inspiration from several areas. The lace itself and its liturgical symbols were just meant for a garment with religious meaning. Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine had a christening gown made from antique lace and that was my original point of departure. Then I saw in a Sew Beautiful magazine how someone utilized embroidered lace netting to make a bodice for a dress and that was added into the mix. Throw in the challenge of the actual fabric and the design was coming together. I made both gowns for size 6 months as I was not sure if my children would want to use them and also,being twins, would anyone have the time to pull this all together. When DD and her hubby announced the Christening, I was thrilled and the gowns were then given as a Christmas gift, two weeks after they were born.

This fabric is 80 year old lace netting from a priest's alb. I have lined it with silk dupioni. I had big issues with how to cut the dupioni. Some garments used it on the cross (most) and others on the straight of grain. I eventually decided to cut it on the cross. The edges of the antique garment were scalloped and had lace crosses on them. I tried to utilize this taking most of the skirt from the bodice of the garment and using the sleeves to make the tiny sleeves of the christening gown. The skirt was smocked at the top using tiny pearls and geometric smocking done with floche. For some reason smocking the netting was very rough on my hands. Tiny silk piping is on the top edge of the smocked skirt. The silk lining and the antique netting are treated as one layer for the smocking I played with the scalloped borders on the tiny bodice and came up with the design you see, using scalloped edges on the bias to accent the yoke. The neckline has a frill of the cotton netting and a bias binding of silk.

The closure in the back is a placket. The priest's garment had a beautiful placket utilizing lace on the edge. I had to make a traditional placket on the silk dupioni lining and then line that up with the gathered netting and lace edges of that placket so they we would were in sync with each other. I was pleased with how it came out.

The tiny sleeves on this garment have a rather "unseen" couple of rows of smocking at the wrist. Silk ribbon is woven thru this smocking and let me tell you, that was the most difficult part of the whole garment. Smocking netting is like smocking air, and very frustrating. On the bodice I was working in unison with the silk lining but on the sleeves it was truly just air. The 1/8 inch silk ribbon woven throughout the wrist ended up being quite lovely and a perfect scale for a new baby. ETA, 06-26: Just wanted to mention a bit about the armscye. Being sheer netting on one side and three plus layers of silk and netting on the bodice side, some thought had to go into the seam finish. What I decided to do was bind the seam with silk bias binding. That gave a pretty finish that had to happen due to the high visibility offered by the netting. All other seams, including the free hanging netting, were French seams.

I am not sure when and if I will ever sew any more christening gowns. In a perfect world I would love to sew many more. They are frothy, amazing confections that enhance their baby wearers and do their stitching grandmothers so proud. For our family the baby arrivals are done. Perhaps a cousin or auntie will ask and/or appreciate the efforts of an aging sewist whose DNA predisposes her to just make pretty things. Maybe that relative will ask for a Christening gown..........Bunny

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zak's Christening Gown


Yesterday our darling twins, Zak and Carly, and their big brother Graham were all baptized in a beautiful ceremony. I have been waiting a long time to make a christening gown and when we heard there would be two babies to dress, it was a double thrill. The picture above is of Zak in church during the service. He loves to chew fabric, usually a blanket, but found the silk quite tasty as well, so a rather wrinkled gown it is.

Now I am in the Northeast where it generally isn't the tradition to formally dress babies, particularly boys, for this blessed milestone as they do in the South. But my roots are Southern and my DSIL and family are from Louisiana as well, so I decided to go all out and buck New England Puritan roots. It was a good move. The babies looked like "royalty" to quote a member of the congregation and our Graham was also just as handsome as can be in his blue blazer and chinos.

My challenge, of course, was to not be too girly with the gown but still have it elegant. I decided on the off white silk taffeta and some additional subdued details. There is a narrow band, about and inch and a quarter, of simple baby wave smocking in a soft blue. Tiny piping of the same silk taffeta borders the top and bottom of the smocked insert. There is also piping on the cuffs and collar. All the piping is whipped with the same pale blue floss. I loved whipped piping. When I make the piping I use the stitches to measure out where I whip, ie, entering in the stitch hole of every third stitch. This way the whipping wraps perfectly evenly. The center front is stitched with double featherstitching, hand done. On either side are corded pintucks. They are filled with size 8 pearl cotton.

To add to the masculinity I thought a pleated skirt would be more appropriate. The pleats meet at center front in an inverted box. I just love how the taffeta falls in such lovely folds.

On the back of the gown I used a placket and three small pearl buttons. The gown is self lined with the same silk taffeta.

On the hem is a piped edge. This is a technique I learned years ago from an old Threads and have used a lot. First you fold the fabric up 1/4 inch to the RIGHT side of the garment and press. Fold up again 1/4 inch to the RIGHT side and press again. Now, machine stitch down the center of the double fold. Now flip back to the wrong side and press to hold the hem in place. This is a great hem for any type of sheer too. I have used it a lot in sewing for the children.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, I will post about Carly's gown, more elaborate, made from antique 80 year old lace and new silk.

As usual, clicking on any picture will enlarge the details for you...Bunny

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gold Lace Medallion

This is a broader view of the closeup of the lace medallion that I posted last night. It is about 12 inches tall and about 6 inches wide. I can so remember medallions like this, out of gold threads, being on the priest's garments when I was a child. From the research I have done, this "ornate" decoration is no longer allowed. There are very specific measurements and ratios when it comes to lace and embellishments on priest's garments today. Personally, I enjoyed all the grandeur, but that lack of humility certainly had it's downfall, didn't it?

Welcome to a new poster on the blog, Martha, of Southern Matriarch. I have enjoyed Martha's posts often on the Delphi Forum. Her blog is a delight as well. She has an incredible tutorial on hand sewn eyelets. If you want a true couture touch, check out her technique. It is actually fairly simple but so so lovely. You could definitely implement it into a closure on adult clothing quite easily. Martha's blog is very well written and cram packed with sewing info as well as some personal insight. I really enjoyed reading it and have added it to the blog roll.

I am hitting the road again tomorrow for NH and MA. Business calls for DH and I. These five hour drives are getting to me but such is life. Things are looking really good now and we can't wait to get back home with all our ducks in a row. It may be a few days until I post again. Keep checking in as sometimes I can post from DD's in MA. Take care all..........Bunny

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Spectacular Gold Lace

This closeup of antique gold liturgical lace is the pride of my collection. I have several pieces as well as a generous amount of running yardage. It is made up of very fine gold wires/threads and is appx 70-80 years old. These pieces are actually heavy. I will be showing more of this part of the collection over the next few posts. I am always in awe when I pull them out and admire them. I hope you feel the same.

Life has been hectic the past week or so. DH has been home and we have been gardening like slaves but the results have been worth it. The only downside is the time it has taken away from my sewing, sewing that I really need to do. I did get about half of the pleating done that I needed to do. I need to get more done if I am going to make the two contests I want to be in. Keep those fingers crossed and wish me good Karma, please! Or better yet, wish me TIME ! That is what seems to be at a premium lately.

DH and I have been blessed with a visit from our children, spouses, and all grandchildren the past few days, to celebrate his birthday. They all live 5-6 hours away so this was wonderful. The grandchildren climbed trees, swam in the river, roasted marshmallows, and collected eggs. My daughters and I cooked, ate, fed babies (twins), admired the gardens, and just enjoyed each other. Our wonderful SILs built a firepit out of large slabs of native sandstone on the river, were great about watching the little ones, and all around male bonded with DH, Mr. alpha male. It was a wonderful, wonderful time. Tomorrow, with one days rest, we head back to their neck of the woods, 5 hours south, to complete the details of our new business. To say it has been hectic is an understatement. But it has been a wonderful blessing.

I did manage to get about half of my pleating done. I will try to bring some with me on the road so I can at least get part of my projects going. I just can't stand being idle or wasting time opportunities so some smocking on the road will be made to order.

DH and I have a little bit more to do in the garden to finish the new beds. The new shade bed isn't mulched yet and my background trees are not planted but here is a peek at just a small part of what we added to the shade garden. To the left and right of the bottle tree are deep red astilbes. A smaller white astilbe is in front and the big hosta on the left goes without nomenclature. If anyone knows the name of this hosta please let me know.
I hope you can see the potential here and enjoy our bottle tree. I have wanted a bottle tree for a long time (my Southern roots)and this dead tree presented the perfect opportunity. I have decided to stay with just cobalt blue bottles. Here is a little about the history of the bottle trees. (Some more info here.)I found it pretty interesting. I have a feeling I may have the only bottle tree north of the Mason-Dixon line. LOL!
We so love shade gardening. It was the only gardening I could do at the our last home, so I got to learn the plants needed for cold weather and their idiosyncrasies. It was a no brainer to start right in shade gardening on our new property. I must say though, that I am so looking forward to "sun" gardening and we have started that with our veggie garden and berry bushes.
One thing you need to know is that we have carved these gardens out of Adirondack wilderness, I mean real wilderness. This involved lots of land clearing, well, maybe beyond "lots." It was all we did the first year. Then bit by bit and bed by bed it started falling into place. So, only a peek today, but more later.....Bunny

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pleatathon

Yesterday morning I lined up all my fabrics fully intending to have a pleatathon at some point in the day. These are all projects needing to be pleated with my pleating machine. The real world of gardening set in as DH was on a roll and roto tilling beds all over for me to plant. We both gardened into the evening and I have the back pain to prove it. It was great fun, as always working with DH, and we got our vegetable garden in, the new foundation bed all mulched, and things are looking good. I have another day of visiting the garden center and planting those other beds so more back pain in store today. Stretches and ibuprofen help a lot. I hate that something I enjoy so much can give me such discomfort. What are you gunnado?
I used this little bag last week with my outfit for the wedding. I made this a few years back and love it. It has given me lots of use. The front of the bag is an "intense" toile. The tassel is metallic and black threads. The long strap is a pleated run of black sandwashed silk. It closes with a strip of velcro inside across the top, folds down, and then buttons onto the silk covered button.

The bag employs a "shark's teeth" technique (one of my favorites). The bottom of each tooth has a tiny bead attached. Between the teeth are little puffs of silk that are punch needled in. There is variegated metallic stitching randomly imposed. (Hard to see.) Lots of tiny details that I am not sure anyone would appreciate unless I stuck the bag in their face, but those tiny details make me feel real good.
On the back of the bag you see some more metallic stitching and the sand washed silk I used.
This is a great accessory for a simple black dress, which is what I wore to the wedding. I think now and then, while the sewing urges are getting unattended, I will pull up some of these oldies but goodies to share with you all. It is one thing to wear something like this for the world to see, but it is so much more special to share it with those who really appreciate the effort....Bunny

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tagged!

I just recently got back home to NY and Paula has tagged me. Now, Lindsay has also suggested we just do this exercise, tagged or not. Since it seems like fun and a good way to get to know fellow blogistas, I am definitely playing the game.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago I was doing interior design and selling furniture for a large home furnishings store. My children were in college and we were scraping together everything we could to keep them there. My sewing mostly consisted of suits and coats that I loved to tailor. That was my work uniform. I interspersed that with an occasional silk blouse, and some artsy type vests, bags, and jackets. My job was MORE than a 60 hour week and I found Nancy Zieman's 10-20-30 Minutes to Sew very inspiring. Most of my sewing was done in the extra half hour I carved out every morning before my official get up and get ready for work time.
What are the five things on my to do list today?

Well, I just got back home from Mass and NH visits and business and it's late so I will give you tomorrow's to do list. Tomorrow on my list are:
  1. Go thru mail and pay bills.
  2. Balance all checkbooks. I think there are five.
  3. Pay quarterly sales tax and go thru rest of bills and paperwork.
  4. Cut out two new bags and get them pleated.
  5. Go to town and buy two Knockout roses, two euonymous(es), some Thujas, if I can find them, and come home and plant them and mulch.
Snacks I enjoy:

Homemade cookies, spoonfuls of my homemade pesto, complete bags of Cheetos, and any fresh fruit

Things I would do if I were a millionaire:

This is assuming there were lots of millions, because I think today all us baby boomers could do with a million is pay off bills and put the rest toward retirement. So if it were millions:

  1. Establish a scholarship fund for all our family members with the requirement that a 2.5 cumm be maintained or lose it. No free ride here!
  2. Establish a beautification fund for our little village that would make it the envy of all around. It would create a lovely park and gardens, spruce up the town center and offices, and give money to keep the churches pretty.
  3. Establish a scholarship fund for the locals.
  4. Travel, travel, travel, starting with a private beach on Turks and Caicos and then following an itinerary that would include all the fabric stores I can shop in.
  5. Buy the best honkin' sewing machines I can find, including embroidery, serger, etc.
Places I have lived:

New Orleans, LA
Lafayette, LA

Lake Charles, LA

San Antonio, Texas

Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico

Acushnet, Mass.
New Bedford, Mass.
Manchester, NH
Weare, NH
Dickinson Center, New York

Work I have done:
Picked strawberries
Flipped burgers

Asst. to Art Director of Television station

Sewn my own designs for a boutique

Daycare

Did design and sales for a ceramic tile company
Designed and sold custom window treatments Residential interior design
Commercial interior design

Sold Real Estate
Human Resource Mgr.
Sold furniture
Managed a trucking company

Can't wait to read some other memes out there in the sewing blogosphere!
I really don't know much about this lace other than it is about 3 inches wide and lovely.....Bunny