Thursday, January 26, 2012

Heirloom Sewing by My Mom

There is a new baby in this house!  I'm in the process of scheduling little Jack's baptism and it occurred to me that I never shared pictures of the gorgeous baptismal gown sewn by my mother for our firstborn.  This darling model here is my second child, ZouZou, as these pictures were all taken a couple of years ago.

Mom does amazing work by hand and machine.

She used a combination of new and antique laces and indulged my great love for monograms by putting one front and center.

The last monogram mom embroidered for me was for my wedding gown (a slip that you could see when the dress was bustled).

My mother learned these techniques by taking an heirloom sewing class at a local fabric store.  If her beautiful work has whet your appetite for more heirloom inspiration, check out  Martha Pullen's Sew Beautiful magazine.  My mom has subscribed for years and loves it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Learning From Taking Orders

I think it is terribly fun to sew for other people.

Sewing for my own brood is cool and all but then I have to face the sorry truth that my dear ones don't properly appreciate the hours of blood, sweat, and tears put into creating fabulous things for them.  I know it's hard to believe (especially considering the obvious genius of my work, heehe) that none of my children have ever once come to me and said "Ohhhh Momma! Dis is deee mos wonnerful, boootiful, tang you make and me wuuuvvvv it!"  No, no.  That is not the usual response.  When I sew for others however, I have the pleasure of remaining blissfully unaware of the fate of my labors and I much prefer it that way!

Anywho, most often my sewing for other people is in the form of gifts, but occasionally I take 'orders' for a copy of something I've made in the past and it's always a learning experience.

Recreating a sewing project has it's joys and challenges because you want to take what you've learned and improve upon your methods, be efficient and cost effective, and increase (or at least maintain) the quality of your work.  My most recent order was for a Catholic Mass Book and a few things struck me along the way that I thought I'd mention.


It's always a good idea to keep your patterns in good shape, especially when you are creating something original. My rule of thumb is that if a scrap of paper or tissue was beneficial in putting together my project -- whether it be covered in chicken scratch notes or something that resembles a respectable pattern -- I fold it up nicely and keep it.  When I put together the Mass Book, I had saved every little tiny pattern piece and because of that, creating a duplicate was significantly simpler than it might have been had I tried to re-create a pattern from the final product.

Sewing ready patterns are a lifesaver where efficiency and cost effectiveness are concerned!

I like to keep my homemade patterns in ziplock bags or those plastic zipper bags you get when you buy linens.




Don't underestimate the work you did the first time around.  It's only natural to think that making a something all over again will be a breeze.  In some ways it will be easier because you've already done the tough footwork.  You've drafted the pattern.  You've figured out the fabrics and their arrangement.  You've learned from your mistakes.  However, that doesn't mean it will all come together in a snap at your next attempt.  Some detail that didn't give you any trouble the first time around might leave you wondering by what miracle you created the dang thing in the first place.

For example, that red felt book pictured above took me more than one attempt to replicate even though the first one went together in no time.


Concentrate on the details that really matter.  (Depending on the pickiness of the recipient, of course!)  The perfectionist in me loves to recreate something perfectly -- or better, even -- but in the whole scheme of things, that's not always feasible.  Therefore, I try not to spend too much time stressing over the minute details.  For example, in the picture above, I liked the original zigzag stitch (on the right), but when I realized that I had used a smaller zigzag in the copy (on the left), I wasn't about to spend twenty minutes ripping and redoing!

The main concern, unless you have all of the time and patience in the world (which I don't because my due date for baby number three is tomorrow!), is to create an accurate representation of the original.  Having the same look is non-negotiable.  Having the same stitch length is probably not worth the fuss.


Savor the excuse for a second chance!  Sure there are some draggy times when you are doing something all over again.  Some aspects of sewing are just plain boring.  However, I love the challenge of trying to improve on a concept, to perfect the method as much as possible and iron out the kinks from the first time around.

There is, after all, a better way to make a felt St. Joseph and I found it.

And that cross-stitch is ten times more fabulous in blue, black, and green.  Don't you agree?

All in all, it's a good thing I had the chance to make another one of these because that door knob situation needed to be remedied.  I really don't know what side it's supposed to be on, but it just feels better on the right.


On a side, I'm not sure how much sewing and blogging I'll be doing in the next few weeks and months.  As I mentioned, we're expecting baby number three any day now.  Something tells me I'll be too busy kissing my new little man to think about crafting.  But-cha never know...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Funny Gift Response

I wasn't there when our little neighbor unwrapped her sequinned angel ornament on Christmas, but apparently Symphony's reaction was priceless.

A few minutes after she opened the angel she was still examining it when she exclaimed "Silly Roo & ZouZou's Momma!!!  I'm not eleven!  I am three!"

They dropped by yesterday and Symphony informed me of the 'mistake' herself.  "I AM NOT ELEVEN!"