Sewing Vloggers

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Smocked Sand Dollar Top

"Flower Power" from "Designer Smocking for Tots to Teens", a Country Bumpkin publication. This company is located in Australia and subscribes to the highest standards of publication as well as sewing.   It is a beacon in the ever depleting world of publications devoted to heirloom sewing. Sadly, issue 100 of "Australian Smocking and Embroidery" will be the last but I think you can still order it. It will be a compilation of some of their best designs. In the meantime they have other great magazines and books devoted to the craft of sewing and embroidery.

As with all of the AS&E designs, the pattern is very clear and easy to follow. Nothing is left to chance and with some focus  a beginning smocker could definitely pull off this particular design. The requisite flower on the strap was my own addition but what little girl's outfit is not naked without a flower on the bodice somewhere these days? I want this to get worn and the flower is a big draw to my granddaughter. This is a simple summer top meant to be worn with jeans or maybe some white leggings. It is not particularly long for a top.

It appears to be 100% cotton that I picked up somewhere, no clue. I just love the beach sand dollar design. Don't we all just love sand dollars? The back of the top is self lined with a curved bottom.
  It's sadly draping on the hanger but will be lovingly filled out by my grandaughter. You can see the vintage buttons from my inherited collection on the back and in the center of the flower.  Did you catch the matching sand dollars? Up there with bad or no pressing, unmatched patterns are a Becky Home- Home Ec-y clue for sure. My PPP. (personal pet peeve) It takes more time and effort but is so worth it.


This is really a great simple project that I think any beginning smocker could handle. Simple trellis stitches are all that are used in the smocking design provided in the pattern. As always with smocking, finding that center  pleat is critical as well as carefully counting so you can line up your stitches perfectly. For the uninformed, smocking provides very comfortable elasticity. So this top can be worn for quite some time stretching a bit as the child grows. 

All in all I think it is really cute, cute to the point of a modern little girl eagerly wearing it. Not long ago my eight year old Sophie said to me, " Bunbun, can you make me some clothes that aren't so old fashioned?" I think this one will fill the bill. Right after that she and her little girlfriend went in to her closet, dressed themselves up in a couple of smocked "special" dresses, put on crowns, and played Princess all afternoon. Be still my heart.  


In my commitment to bring quality information to our latest generation of stitchers I am going to do a series of posts covering everything from introducing you to the "Masters" (with my definition of the term) to where to get quality tutorialsand much more. Stay posted. I am going to tag these posts with a "Newbie" tag so they will be easily searchable but the information will be  for everyone as you will soon see. While I am sure many of you have your own opnions on the subjects that  I will bring up,  keep in mind that it will be my subjective opinions expressed and it will all be positive and hopefully very helpful to the Newbies out there. Mo' lata'...

 My darling hubby is a sure keeper! At a yard sale the other day he spotted this vintage beauty in perfect condition, spent one dollar, and brought it home for his loving wife. It is made in Ohio. When's the last time yo saw that printed on something? It is in pristine condition, has a burly maple ruler with a beautiful varnished finish. The weighted box on the bottom keeps it standing and in the front is a recessed felted little area for your pins. I would assume this was circa 1950s, the time I took my first sewing classes at Singer at the age of ten. It brings back fond memories and will have a place of honor in my little studio. Thanks, Ern......Bunny 

ETA: Blogger will not let me alter the print size no matter what so sorry if this is difficult to read. I will reload later and fix hopefully. 


  1. So very sweet! And your DH is surely a keeper!

  2. What a precious top! You are so right about CB pubs, they are always excellent and a joy to read and use. I imagine that not many will notice the matching sand dollars but you know it and that's what counts. Some years ago I bought a cast iron skillet at a garage sale that had on the back: "Wagner Ware, Sydney, O". Made in Ohio before the two letter Postal Codes for the States were introduced.

  3. Beautiful top, the fabric is a lovely summer choice. I also took sewing classes at Singer around age 11- they were quite good and I was obsessed with learning, having already sewed with my great-Aunt Jo for a few years. Great skirt marker, something else to add to my list of items to seek at estate sales :)

  4. This is lovely! Your grandaughter is sure to love it. I think it does look modern, but also a bit high end and very lux.

  5. Bunny another very sweet dress. Sophie's comment " Bunbun, can you make me some clothes that aren't so old fashioned?" is just too much but the precious moment was when she and her friend dressed up and played Princess. Aren't those old Singer skirt markers just the best? I have my Mom's which is in pristine condition. Your hubby is definitely a keeper!

  6. The top is absolutely gorgeous!

  7. Beautiful work! I only found your blog a couple of weeks ago, but I check it regularly! I'd love to become as skilled as you are someday.... :)

  8. That is so cute! Love it! I also love your little bunny label. Where did you find those?

    1. Shane, I stumbled upon an entire roll of these labels at a Mom and Pop fabric store in Manchester, NH, many moons ago. I thought they would be great as a label so bought the entire roll for a dollar. There are literally hundreds of bunnies on the roll.

    2. Well, I'd say that was truly serendipity!

  9. Love this top immensely! Blue and white is my favorite color combo and your sewing is, always, exquisite. I always appreciate the closeup photos and your sharing of details. Thanks so much.

  10. Wow!!!! This is so beautiful, what a lucky little girl! I know a lady who smocks and I always love seeing what she's working on too!

  11. What a precious dress! What little girl wouldn't adore wearing that!

  12. I have made this top before and it looks GREAT on a girl. I love the drape of this simple top. Excellent! I am too so sad about AS&E. They have an excellent publication.

  13. That is just precious! I like the flower on the front-such a perfect touch. Your husband sure knows how to please his lady!

  14. I have the same book and I now feel the need to pull it out and look for something else to make for my granddaughter. I love the way that the sand dollars match in the back. One question: Are there side seams to this top, and if so, did you manage to match the sand dollars there, too?

  15. Oh, I have to comment on the hem marker. Using one of these for the first 20+ years of my sewing life I remember how easy it would be to hem a dress!!! I tried this past Saturday to hem a knit dress and no longer have this hem marker, I asked my dear DH to "just pin up some fabric at the middle of my knee". After many many many attempts he thru up his hands and said " I can't do it". I thought back to this item and wished I had one today, wonder what happened to mine from so many years ago.
    Thanks Bunny for this blog.

  16. You did a wonderful job on this!!! I always love to see different interpretations of my pattern. This is truly darling. I hope Sophie loves it. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  17. Beautiful job on the top Bunny. Your dgd will love it. So original, fresh and summery. As usual your smocking is perfect and I love that little lace flower.

    I remember those Singer hem things. I had one years ago - my mum gave me hers when she got a new fangled one with a squeezy puff bulb that sprayed powdered chalk in a line so you could totally mark the hem on your own without anyone to help (of course it only worked if the white chalk showed on your fabric) but it was a fun gadget!


Engaging commentary:

A Vintage Top

  It was a windy day! Hair fail! If you are a fan of Threads Magazine , and any passionate sewist should be, you will recognize this top. It...