About Me

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I'm Christina, Gran to three beautiful wee toddlers. I'm also a wife, a mom, a sister, a friend. My family means more to me than I can ever say. And... I sew!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Lauryn Easter Dress!

In my heart of hearts, I love hand embroidery ‒ the finished work is just SO pretty, and you can literally work on it ANYWHERE!

(True story: years ago, my husband and I commuted to work together. During the winter months, when it was still dark at 6 am when we began the hour-long drive to the city, I would wear a headlamp so that I could work on my smocking in the dark. The headlamp was perfect, because it focused the light directly on my work, yet didn't interfere with his ability to see the road. It was only months later that one of my colleagues asked me about the symbol on my forehead when I arrived each morning. Symbol??? Turns out the headlamp strap was so tight that the underside of the lamp left an imprint on my forehead each morning... and I had absolutely no idea. This was the symbol:


Yep. I arrived for work each morning with a target on my forehead. 
But I digress... )

Back to smocking.

When I was young, I lived for the day that I would have children of my own. I never wanted a career, or to travel... I only wanted a family. In my dream, my little girl was named Kate, and she wore smocked dresses. So, long before I learned to drive or even met my husband, I learned to smock.

Fast forward many years, we did indeed have our wee Kate, and she did wear smocked dresses. For a few years, anyway. Then came t-shirts and sweatpants, and the dresses were a thing of the past.

Fast forward many MORE years, and – Oh! Be still my heart! – we have grandchildren! Three, to be exact. And among them are two little girls, Olivia and Lauryn. Only two months apart in age, I once again can pour my heart into garments for the wee girls I love more than life itself. So imagine my joy when Lauryn's mother Lyndsay asked if I would make her an Easter dress. I cannot even.

And here is Lauryn's first Easter dress, complete with matching diaper cover.

I cannot wait to see her in it! 

The fun is just beginning, as a 'Canada Day' romper is already on order (Lauryn) and, with luck, Olivia will soon get in on the action. I am a happy Gran. 💜

Happy Easter!


Construction Details:

1. Adding piping to the collars.

2. Collars complete!

3. Back and front shoulder seams stitched and pressed.

4.  Collars stitched in place between the dress and bodice/back linings; the linings have been turned to the inside.
(The importance of the linings cannot be overstated, as they protect tender baby skin from rubbinb against any knots.)

5. Back placket and button loops stitched in place and pressed.

*Normally, the buttons on the left back would be placed on top of the smocking so that, when buttoned, no placket would be visible. Because we were concerned that the neck was too small for Lauryn, I made a FNA (full neck adjustment, lol) that you can see in the next photo.

6. It's obviously not ideal, but it's more important to me that Lauryn be comfortable. Besides, this dress is *not* being judged in any competition. And honestly... she'll outgrow it in about 2 minutes...

7. Adding the sleeves.
I only gather the sleeve cuffs after the sleeves are stitched in place, and the arm and side seams are complete.

I don't have a photo, but after the sleeves are stitched across the shoulders, it's an easy seam on the underside of the sleeves, the underarm, and straight down the side. The only trick is ensuring that you've caught all of the side seam allowance in the seam, and the smocking lines up as one continuous pattern front to back.

8. I had to scrounge for a pattern for a diaper cover, but finally found one that would work. Side seams are stitched and pressed, and the only thing left is to add the fabric bias for casings and add the elastic.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

My favourite dress... EVER

Obviously, some habits die hard. Like the one where I neglect to post.

This will be a quick post -- a post made possible because my daughter Kate's wedding photos arrived! And I can finally share professional-quality photos of my favourite project EVER: ring maiden Lilyrae's dress for Kate's wedding.

The dress is Elodie from Perfect Party Dresses, by Susan O'Connor.

Special shout-out to Phillipa Maitland, who captured this beautiful wedding exquisitely!

Getting ready...

Here is a close-up of the beadwork in the bodice:

Lilyrae LOVED her dress! And why wouldn't she? It was perfect for swinging with Tim...

and even more perfect for dancing!
I was so very pleased to be able to contribute a little something special to this perfect day.
Here are some pictures of the happy couple. To Kate and Chris, love and happiness always!
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Happy Ever After!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'm Ba-ack!

If I'm not mistaken, the last time I posted on this blog was a little over six years ago. Six. Years. Ummm... I've been busy?

It's not like I haven't been smocking -- if anything, I've smocked and sewn more than ever in these past few years. My only excuse for not posting is that the last six years were terribly difficult years for me. 'Nuff said. Things have turned around now, and I finally feel like I'm in a good place to be sharing myself once again. I'm So let's all see if I do better *this* time around, shall we?

In the past six months alone, I've smocked and constructed 7 dresses for wedding flower girls, etc., and one baptism romper for... drumroll here... my GRANDSON! Yup. I'm a Gran. My lifelong dream has come true, thanks to my son and the adorable love of his life. No one ever prepares you for how awesome it is, but trust me -- it is so, so much more than wonderful.

There are so many things I want to make for him! I've made the one and only smocked garment that his father will allow him to wear, so I've invested in an embroidery machine and plan to sew and embroider all kinds of things for him to wear in the weeks, months, and years ahead. All the while, I will continue to smock, teach smocking, and will now even sew garments for myself. Cause it's all just SO much fun!

Here are a few of the garments I've made recently:

Matching dresses for two little wedding beauties!

Grandson Cael's baptism romper

Ring maiden Lilyrae at my daughter Kate's
October 2015 wedding
(professional photos to come!) 

A custom order from England, the Liberty print
was actually sent to me to smock!

A random dress (that looked so much better on
its wee little girl than on the hanger!)

Big sister dress for a summer wedding, 2015
(professional photos to come)

Little sister dress at the same summer wedding,
2015 (professional photos to come)

Dresses for identical twin girls at the same
summer wedding, 2015 (professional photos to come)

Nautical-themed custom order

The thing that jumps out at me is that I need photographs of these garments as they're being WORN! I'll see what I can do about that going forward...

For now, it just feels good to be back.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where did the last 6 weeks go?

I can't believe that it's been six weeks since I last posted an update. My apologies! A lot has gone on in that time:
  • We drove our daughter back to her university on the east coast, and took a few days on the return for a little R&R;
  • I completed two custom orders (one 'Amy' and one 'Mary De', both by Children's Corner).
  • I finished the smocking on a new bishop dress (size 3 months).
  • I completed most of the smocking on the bodice of a dress I'm designing myself.
  • I started a 10-week fashion sewing course (to upgrade my self-taught sewing skills).
We've also had fantastic fall weather here in Eastern Canada, so that means we've been trying to get outside and enjoy the warm(er) temperatures before our winter arrives. Winter here normally begins in late November and lasts until late March -- and brings with it lots and lots of snow and freezing cold temperatures. (We have pictures from two years ago in which our snowbanks were as high as the top of our garage!) Although the winter is long, it means that I get to do a lot more sewing! Most of the smocked dresses that I've made to date are summer outfits...so I am looking to branch out and begin producing fall and winter dresses made from warmer fabrics, and with long sleeves.

Here are some pictures from my most recent work:

I think that will be it for the summer dresses...

Bye for now,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Busy Month... Whew!

It has been a busy, busy month! I had two bishops dresses to deliver, size 18 mos., and each customer wanted blue dresses... so I used the same fabric (Fabric Traditions) and smocked one in blue and yellow and the other in two-tone pinks. The smocking plate is a modified version of Carol, by Little Stitches. I cannot decide which dress I like better! (Which one do YOU like best?)

I'm also working on two sundresses to be finished this week. I'll post pictures as soon as they're done. These garments are both size 1, one pink with lavender smocking and bullion flowers; and the other one lavender with pink smocking and bullion flowers. Only one is for a customer, so she'll have her choice of the two -- and the other one will be available for sale. The smocking is all done, I only have to construct them. Maybe I'll start that tomorrow night? :-)

Remember how I said in an earlier post that I had been asked to supply the gift shop at our local hospital with some of my garments? Well....... on Tuesday, July 8th I took over a dozen garments -- different styles and sizes -- and they chose to start off with four: three smocked jumpers with white blouses (matching piping on the collars and sleeves), and one short-sleeved smocked dress. We agreed on a price, and I suggested that I would get in touch in a month or so to see whether they had sold. Believe it or not... and I AM NOT KIDDING... they called on Friday, July11th to tell me that three out of the four had sold! And to ask if I could deliver more. Three garments in three days! Woot!!

So needless to say, I am busy, busy, busy. But in a good way!
I have found time, though, to take our two yellow labs, Tanner and Maddie, out to swim some laps at a nearby quarry a few times in the past two weeks. They LOVE the water, and would retrieve their toys (large dowels inserted in 12" sections of pool noodles) all night if we let them.

And in between the smocking and playing with the dogs, I work full time. Craaaaaaazy! But FUN! :-)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another Dress Complete!

I'm happy to report that I've finished another order!

This pattern -- Amy by Children's Corner -- is a really popular style. Probably because it can be worn as both a blouse & jumper and a summer sundress.

The fabric is by Fabric Traditions, a lovely raspberry on pink floral print. I was really happy with the color of floss I had chosen, but before I started the embroidery I felt it needed another color to make it 'pop'...so I added the blue embroidered flowers. I love the result! :-)

Yesterday, I pleated the fabric for two identical bishops dresses, size 18 months. One is a custom order, the other is for my stock. I started the smocking tonight.

I also have two blouses/jumpers to assemble -- both Mary De by Children's Corner -- one a lavender floral print, size 1 (custom order) and the other a pink floral print, for my stock.

I was recently asked to stock the gift shop at our local hospital...what an honor! I'll let you know more when I have the details.

Well, tomorrow's a work day, so I'd better get the dogs settled and then get to bed. G'night!

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Designs!

In my last post, I showed some of the designs I've produced from Country Bumpkin's Australian Smocking and Embroidery patterns. Those designs will (hopefully!) one day be worn by my future grandchildren. :-)

I'd also like to show you some designs that I've produced that *are* for sale. I smock all the time, so I usually have many projects on the go. If you see something you like but the size is wrong, just let me know -- I might already be working on the size you're looking for.

I LOVE to shop for new fabrics -- I have a great stash! There is such a great selection available in the stores now, in such beautiful colors. My stash is mostly made up of small-print quilt fabrics in gorgeous colors, although I also have a good selection of solid broadcloth. I usually start a new project by deciding upon the size I want to make; then I choose an appropriate fabric and corresponding embroidery floss (I only use DMC); then I decide upon the style of outfit. After the size, fabric, and style of outfit have been determined, I cut out the pattern pieces and pleat the fabric. Most often, I begin smocking without a definitive smocking pattern in mind. I usually smock the anchor rows (the top and bottom rows), and then see where the fabric design takes me. This way, I very rarely reproduce the same pattern more than once.

Meara is wearing a little blue sundress (size 3); the dress pattern is "Amy", from Children's Corner. (Isn't she adorable?!) This pattern is easy to construct, and looks adorable on every little girl. I love the fullness of the skirt -- perfect for little girls who love to 'twirl'! The pattern includes a long- or short-sleeved blouse that can be worn under the dress. I always make the blouse with coordinated piping on the sleeves and collar.

The close-up of the smocking shows the pattern. I used three coordinating colors of embroidery floss, and played with the pattern until I was happy with how I used the colors.

I liked the fabric so much, I bought the companion in a lovely shade of green!

Here is Meara again, this time wearing the Children's Corner dress in green with the coordinating short-sleeved blouse (also size 3). You can see how I added the coordinating piping on the sleeves and collar. The construction of the blouse is a bit time-consuming, but worth the effort. I've never yet made this pattern with the long-sleeved blouse.

I had fun working out this smocking pattern, adding little diamonds to fill in the "V"s in the pattern. This pattern is smocked with only two colors of floss.

Alexia is wearing a traditional yoke-style Grace Knott dress (size 3). The fabric is a lovely floral pattern with fall colors. I loved the fabric but struggled a bit during the smocking, because the fabric isn't really very 'girly'. No matter... I love the result!

I used three colors of floss in the smocking to highlight the colors in the fabric. To provide a bit of contrast, I piped the sleeves and collar with white cotton.

These dresses, and others, are shown on my Wee Wear Smocking Web site: http://www.weewearsmocking.com/.

Gotta run -- I need to get back to work! :-)