Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Spy Spring!

The sun is shining.
The flowers are blooming.
Spring is arriving!

Nothing says Spring like Mr. Robin Red Breast!  He and Mrs. Red Breast were also enjoying a few moments in the sun!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bonnet with Frills Upon It, V

I saved the best for last!
This is my most favorite bonnet pattern.  It is the Little French Bonnet from the Old Fashioned Baby Bonnets pattern.  The pattern is available here and here.
While the back is easily adjusted with a ribbon casing, there is also a back seam which adds a little more shape to the bonnet.  The version in the pattern uses all lace to create the bonnet's fancy band.  To me, this is the perfect place to use a small piece of lovely Swiss embroidery.

I have also made this bonnet using a variety of fabrics.
A few of my favorites have been made with dotted swiss and silk dupioni.  Unfortunately, I am usually clipping the last thread, as I run to the baby shower or post office!  I apologize for the lack of those photographs, but just picture some of the most delectable little bonnets from the most scrumptious fabrics!
Both of the bonnets above are made with Swiss Nelona.

Another method of embellishing the ribbon streamers is shown on the first bonnet.  This ribbon manipulation  is done on the streamer itself.

Measure a piece of ribbon approximately 24" long.
I used 1" wide silk satin ribbon on my bonnet

With a single piece of knotted sewing thread, stitch a row of running stitches 1/8-1/4" from one end of your ribbon. 
Drop down approximately 1-1/2" inches and stitch another row of running stitches.
Drop down another 1-1/2" interval and stitch a third row of running stitches.
Drop down once more and stitch a fourth row of running stitches.
Remember, your thread should match your ribbon.  The orange thread is for photography purposes only!

Gently pull on your thread to gather the ribbon into three petal shaped loops.
Looks like I should have fluffed that little petal on the left a little more!
Take a few anchoring stitches and tie off your thread.

I used a little mother of pearl shank button to help anchor the streamer to the bonnet, and hide any gathering or tacking stitches.

If needed, trim the end of the streamer.  Most of my streamers are approximately 18" long, and cut at an angle to help prevent fraying.

Hoping to see lots of babies in beautiful bonnets this Easter Sunday -- and beyond!

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Monday!

Evidently I was not the only one not quite ready to relinquish the weekend and start another work week.
Blogger is experiencing technical problems with uploading and displaying some photographs.
Stay tuned!  
Hopefully the post and photographs planned for today will materialize at some point!
Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blessings on Palm Sunday

All glory, laud and honor,
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bonnet with Frills Upon It, IV

As promised, more bonnets!
This bonnet is so simple, but so sweet!  Construction incorporates the basics of heirloom sewing by machine:  joining lengths of lace and Swiss entredeux insertion with a tiny zig zag stitch.  A ruffle of wide Swiss edging, rolled and whipped to the fancy band, frames the baby's face.  A narrow piece of Swiss Nelona is rolled and whipped to the back.   It is then gathered with ribbon run through a narrow casing.

This little bonnet could not be more simple to construct!  It originally was a linen hand towel with a wide cutwork border.  Again, a narrow casing in the back shapes the bonnet.
This was the project in a class taught by Jeannie Baumeister at a past Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) Convention.

The streamers on both bonnets are embellished with silk satin ribbon rosettes -- one of my favorite embellishments!

I normally use ribbon that is approximately 1/2" wide.  Cut a piece of ribbon 9-1/2" long.

Make a mark 1/4" from the end, at the top of the ribbon.
Continue marking the length of the ribbon at 1" intervals.

At the bottom of the ribbon, make another series of marks.
These marks are also 1" apart; however, they are staggered halfway between each of the marks at the top.

Please note that these very large markings are for photography purposes only!  You have no idea how many heart palpitations I had marking this beautiful silk satin ribbon with huge blue blobs!  The blobs may also cause some of the measurements above to appear a little skewed.  Sorry! 
Your marks should be tiny -- just a speck. 
I often just eyeball the measurement, or finger press them into place.

Next, bring the raw ends together and stitch a tiny 1/4" seam.  This is why you placed that first mark at the 1/4" spot.
Again, contrasting orange thread used only for photography.  You will use sewing thread that matches your ribbon.  Some directions for ribbon rosettes instruct you to stitch the seam later in the process.  I have found it is easier to stitch before beginning to gather the rosette.
Use a single thread.  Be sure to knot at both the beginning and the end of the seam.
You don't want your beautiful rosette falling apart!
After stitching and clipping your thread, turn the ribbon circle right side out, and finger press the seam open.

Now, play Dot to Dot! 
Again, using a knotted single thread, connect the dots with running stitches.  Begin stitching at the seam you stitched in the last step.
I have not found that there is any magic to the number or length of stitches.  Normally, I get about 3-4 stitches on the 1/2" width ribbon.
Since the seam is already stitched and finger pressed open, my needle and thread do pierce the seam allowance.  I find that this helps to hold the beginning knot a little more securely.  The stitches also help hold that little seam allowance in place when you begin to form the actual rosette. 

After connecting several of the dots, pull the thread gently to gather the ribbon. You may find the ribbon gathers more easily and smoothly, if you hold your thumb over it while pulling the thread with your other hand.
Continue stitching and connecting the dots.

You should finish connecting the dots at the seam where you began.  Again, my needle and thread pierced the seam allowance on the back.
Gently pull the thread to gather the ribbon in a circle.

Next, take just a nip in the top of each petal.
You will simply be taking your needle and thread through the top of each little peak.
When you have gone all the way around, tug gently to pull the petals together and close the center.
Your rosette will also begin to flatten. You may have to smoosh it a little and help it along!

I usually take a couple of tiny stitches in the center, pulling everything together neatly.
Take the needle and thread to the back and tie off.
You may still need to smoosh or arrange the petals to your liking. 
Yes, I love the word "smoosh"! 
Some of the edges may cup up, and others under.  You are the creator of this rosette, and may determine which way you like best!  I prefer mine to cup under.

Look how beautiful it can be when stitched with matching thread and no blue blobs!
A tiny mother of pearl shank button in the center helps to hide any stitches.
I also use the button to help attach the rosette and the streamers to the bonnet.  A few extra tacking stitches will help to secure and position any stray little petals or gathers.

I hope you also enjoy making beautiful rosettes for sweet little bonnets!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Simple Stitches

I am currently in the process of deep cleaning and reorganizing my sewing room.  Amazing the treasures I am uncovering in the process!
This hand embroidered dish towel is one item finally seeing the light of day after years in a dark drawer.  Being almost Easter, the little bunny and his carrot especially caught my eye.
Please pardon the wrinkles.  I was cleaning, not ironing!
Sorry to say that I do not know who stitched this little gem.  I do remember it being in the kitchen as I grew up.  We had similar ones that aunts and grandmothers on both sides of the family stitched.  It came to live with me several years ago when I helped Daddy moved out of my childhood home.

What struck me most was how simple all the stitches are.  It uses only the very basic stitches:  outline, french knots, lazy daisy and a few straight stitches here and there.
Often, I get bogged down with overthinking a project.  Do you? 

This proves that delightful embroidery and stitching projects are attainable for all of us.  You do not need to know how to make perfect bullion roses or other complex embroidery stitches.
It also shows that hand embroidered pieces can be used, loved, and used some more.
Instead of thinking so much, maybe we just need to stitch a little more.  There are times that more attention to details is a good thing:  coming home from the hospital gowns, angelic christening gowns, birthday and holiday finery, Holy First Communion dresses and wedding gowns.  In between all of those, there are so many opportunities for simple stitches.  We just need to seize the moment with needle and thread!

I am working on a tutorial for ribbon rosettes and other bonnet streamer attachments.  Be back soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Inquiring Minds

There were a few questions from my last entry, which I will try to answer!

Martha inquired about the fabric for the bunny bishop I am currently smocking.  It is Honeydew Smoothie Microcheck by Nashville Cotton, and can be found here.
While I normally think of a honeydew melon as pale green, this fabric is more aqua.

Debbie asked about lengths for a size 18 month bishop.
It is true that dress lengths are a little longer today than those on older patterns.  Some of the newer patterns indicate finished lengths of 19-22" for a bishop of that size.  Children come in all shapes and sizes at that age, so it may depend upon your granddaughter's height. 
Personally, I prefer a slightly shorter length on smaller ones that are still learning to walk.  Too much fabric and length can complicate toddling, as well as hide those cute chubby legs!  Once they are a little older, I love the longer tea length.

To answer Kathy, I made The Pioneer Woman's version of macaroni and cheese!
It was very good!  The jury is still out whether we like it better than my usual recipe from Gracious Goodness, an older cookbook from the Symphony League of Memphis, Tennessee.  Might need to do some more cooking!

I love your comments, and always welcome questions!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Weekend's Worth

Worked on this a little, and am eager to complete!

Actually used this instead of just reading!

Surprised to see this on Sunday morning!

Smocked a little, but not enough.

Spent much dreaded, but much needed, time with contents of this box.

Happy to see some old friends after a year!
Hope your weekend was full of wonderful moments, too!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind's
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.
                                 ~Wendell Berry~

Friday, March 19, 2010

Orange Roofs and Green Nuts!

Almost sounds like a line from a favorite children's book!
If you are of a certain age, you might remember a chain of restaurants named after their founder, Howard Johnson. They always had orange roofs.   Many were crowned with a cupola and weather vane depicting  the company logo of Simple Simon and the Pieman!

I especially remember dining at the Ft. Worth location when visiting my paternal grandfather.
One of their specialities was fried clams - a rare treat for landlocked North Texas.
Their other claim to fame was the ice cream:  28 flavors!  This was long before Baskin-Robbins or Ben and Jerry.
Mother's favorite was pistachio, hands down.  I remember sharing many scoops of that light green confection.  I was mostly enchanted with the fact that each scoop came with its own little Howard Johnson logo-bearing cookie.  A cookie that you did not even have to request. 
How sweet!

The other night, as I went dashing through the grocery store, I spied a display of these:
Nothing at all like a dish of Howard Johnson's pistachio ice cream, but they still conjured up some sweet childhood memories.
I might add that I am now totally addicted to this rather unique salt and pepper flavor and can't stop eating them!  Wonder what Mother would think?

Speaking of green, please visit Laurie to participate in her St. Patrick's Day Give-away!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Inspiring Way to Celebrate!

Amy, of Inspire Company, creates these uber cute grid samplers.
In honor of her upcoming 39th birthday, she is stitching a 39 square sampler.
She stitches one square each day.
What a wonderful way to celebrate!  Just a few stitches each day!

Of course, it is always more fun to celebrate with friends.

So, she invited others to join her and stitch 39 squares, too!

There are now about 100 participants in the 39 Square Stitch Along.

You may read and view more at

Oh, and just a note -- there will be more bonnets with frills upon them between now and Easter!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bonnet with Frills Upon It, III

Have you ever had one of those days?
You just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head.
If you do manage to climb out of bed, dress and head for work, you seriously contemplate veering off your normal route and heading straight for the park or countryside? 
Maybe you decide to eat dessert first, or just eat dessert all day long?
Yesterday was one of those days around here.
Instead, I went diving in the depths of my sewing room drawers and found this little bonnet.  I knew that its bright colors and cheerful print would make the sun shine -- even if the sun was hiding behind both real and figurative clouds yesterday.
This is defnitely a different bonnet from the ones shared earlier this week!
It was actually my "muslin"  made several years ago trying a pattern from the March/April 1995 issue of Sew Beautiful.  Looking at it, there are several things I would now do differently.
But I do love the streamer embellishments, and that is what we have been discussing.

I used two layers of cotton organdy and a built-in leaf motif on my sewing machine.  I stitched the leaf out four times -- two leaves for each side of the bonnet.
Trim the leaves close to the outline stitching.  Looks like I could have trimmed a little better in a couple of places, too!  Position on your bonnet and tack in place with a button.
Today, I might select a slightly more dainty button for this project!
The streamers for this bonnet are lengths of the bonnet fabric sandwiched between the outer bonnet fabric and bonnet lining.
When stitching them to the bonnet, I took a small tuck in the streamer.  Taking a tuck in the streamer, whether it is ribbon or fabric, just seems to make make them a little more graceful!

The design of this bonnet makes it possible to flip the brim back, and create a completely different look.  It also allows for the creative use of several coordinating fabrics.  I think it is just as sweet constructed with batiste, dotted swiss or other fine fabrics.
Every now and then we need to venture down a different path.  In coming days, we will return to the land of heirloom sewing, lace and ribbon rosettes. 
Or, I may just stay on this side of the fence and frolic a little longer!

And did you notice?
The little baby wearing this bonnet would have a touch of green on this St. Paddy's Day!
Wishing all of you the luck of the Irish, today and always!

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