In my last post on this subject, I was hoping to get this finished over a week ago. I can always hope, can't I? It's finally finished and cleaned, and being modeled by the little bear. Those two little dark spots right at the neckline aren't design elements, but just little indentations formed in the smocking.
I have two roses embroidered in the front, as I didn't center the design so that one would be in the exact center. One thing about smocking dresses is that I really do not like starting in the center, working to the end, then turning the smocking upside down to smock the left side. So I thought I'd be really clever by marking the center, finding the repeat in the smocking plate and count the repeats to the left. I smocked the design so a large heart would be in the center. Well, theoretically. I was off by five pleats. At least I know what to pay attention to in the pattern a bit more closely next time.
The embroidery on the hem is a simple shadow work bow accented by bullion roses with a French knot above each one. The colors given in the instructions are very pale, and to my mind are lovely. The colors are DMC 225 ultra light shell pink, 372 light verdigris, 543 ultra light beige and 739 ultra light tan. The smocking is all done with the pink floss.
Here are three of the little lovelies. Our SAGA guild made the blue gown and I pleated and smocked it. I made the white ones from start to finish.
Likes and dislikes:
This was from AS&E 97, Tiny Angels, designed by Susan O'Connor and Robin Hart. This issue came out late last year, so it may still be available various heirloom sewing and smocking shops. It gives instructions for sizes Newborn (7 lb, 2.5 kg), Preemie (Aussies say Premmie) (5-6 lb, 2.3-2.7 kg), Small (3-4 lb, 1.4-1.8 kg), Tiny (1-2 lb, 5000900 gm), and Teeny Weeny (less than 1 lb, 500 gm). I made the Tiny and TW. In the last post I complained about the sleeves being set into the dress with no side seams, like you would make a larger bishop. Well, as it turned out, these instructions were the same. Since the widths of the dresses were pretty generous, I went ahead and cut the fronts and backs separately, attached the sleeves, and pleated as usual. Then I sewed the side seams. I just find it much easier that way. The extra time for the side seams more than compensates for the pleating frustration with the sleeves. Of course if your pleating skills are better than mine, you may not find this a problem. The pattern had directions for a hem treatment, which I didn't make on these. In it, the hem is folded up about three inches, and attached with a twin needle in a swooping design. Next time, I'll definitely make it.
For our local hospitals, we don't bind the neckline, but gather it by threading 1/8 inch wide ribbon through a top row of half spaced baby waves. This means the neckline edge must be finished in some way. On the TW, I made a narrow hem, but on the T, I sewed some of the tiny lace to it. I think I like the narrow hem better, as the lace looks odd gathered so tightly. I've also rolled and whipped the neck edge which works well. Our guild uses a bit of elastic on the sleeves, but I left them ungathered and unpleated, making it in the angel wing style.
This pattern is a great resource for making these gowns, but you can also get patterns and smocking plates on the SAGA website. I plan on making more of these to have on hand to smock when I need a quick and easy project. As I've said before, these are great for working on in the car. In fact, several years ago, we drove cross country to bring our son to school in Connecticut. When it was the guy's turns to drive I sat in the back seat and smocked 11 of these gowns.
On a personal note: We've had a big change in our household, as Mr. California Stitching retired at the end of April. I'm hoping he will take over some of the weekend chores, such as shopping, so I'll have a bit more time to stitch. We'll have to settle into our new routine and see what happens!