Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wee Care #3 With A Little Something To Hold Onto

This time I had a little boy in mind.  I was thinking the gown should be a bit simpler, without the addition of lace.  Then I saw Prince George's Christening gown!!! My goodness what an incredible work of art with more lace than most wedding gowns.
So, next time I make a boy's gown, I may just have to add lace.  Especially since Susan and Marie have both been so kind to send me lace for these gowns.  While I was emailing with Marie, I told her I wanted to create a small heart to enclose with these gowns.  Something the mother could keep and hold onto.  A heart that would hold the memory of one so dear.  Marie suggested a wool heart, that was  the perfect material with which to create a small keepsake.
A small woolen heart with just a touch of embroidery to match the gown created for their child. 

A heart...the symbol of love.
Vicki suggested that I also include a small card with my name and address.  She explained often the mother wants to send a note of thanks to person that has stitched the gown.  My first thought was, no thanks are needed.....but then I gave it more thought.  There is very little that can be said to a mother that has just lost her child.  There a no words that can ease her broken heart.  But, maybe allowing her to write about her loss was a way to give comfort, a way to express her grief.  So a small card stating that the gown has been stitched with love is also enclosed.
This gown also has a ribbon threaded through a casing in the hem, allowing the gown to be gathered closed at the bottom.
With each gown I can see my stitching improve.  Speaking of that I have been reading every book I can find on smocking and heirloom sewing.  I have, after 50 years of sewing, become obsessed with stitch balance and length, changing needles, using the correct size needle, pressing seams, prewashing fabric...let's just say, I want these gowns to be the nicest things that have ever left my sewing room.
This past week I joined SAGA, the Smocking Arts Guild of America. My intentions are to take every correspondence course I can to improve my skills and to learn absolutely everything they have to offer.  In the process of joining I have become friends with Carla, the  SAGA Membership Registrar, she has been so helpful and encouraging. I truly feel as though this is what I am intended to do...and that is a very nice feeling indeed.

Love to all,
Deb

Monday, October 21, 2013

Extra Tiny Wee Care Gown

Small, very small, less than 1 pound.  That is the size baby this gown will fit.
Cut from a soft pink batiste.
The lace is old, very old, it was my grandmother's, found in her sewing box wrapped in a bit of tissue.
Smocked with "Waterlilies" 12 ply silk thread using only 2 strands.
The pattern may be found here.

I read a post earlier today on Martha Broyles' blog.  She too had created a tiny pink Wee Care gown. Please take a moment to read her post.  I was so touched by one of the comments, I quote in part, "You have just made the ONLY gown this baby will ever wear." 
That thought, makes this project so worthwhile....so very important, such an honor to be a small part of....well, so to speak an "Extra Tiny" part of.

Love to all,
Deb

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Wee Care" Gown

My first "Wee Care" gown is complete!   The gown is one I began working on at home during my recent smocking lessons.  In my eagerness to learn, I cut out and pleated the fabric on my own.  There are several great video tutorials that demonstrate pleating and smocking on YouTube. So, if you live in an area without the benefit of smocking classes, you too CAN learn.
The dress fabric is batiste (I believe) I had in my stash. These little dresses use the full width of the fabric, but not much in length.    The pattern was found here on the Wee Care site.
You can find smocking patterns (plates) there as well.
The smocking plate is a diagram for your hand stitching, much like a cross stitch pattern.
 
Using 3 strands of embroidery floss you stitch along the top of each pleat.  The most important part, is the direction which thread is held  while stitching.  Meaning, if the thread is held above or below the needle as it is inserted into the fabric. That direction allows the threads to travel from pleat to pleat in an attractive manner.
 
There is a bias cut band on the neck and the sleeves that is attached with the sewing machine and turned to the inside and hand stitched into place.
You can see the band better in this photo without the bonnet.
I was lucky to have 2 daughters that loved dolls.  "Bitty Baby" made the perfect size model for this little dress.  I have a few other dolls that will model smaller dresses. 
 
 I spent the day with Vicki yesterday, we took photos of some of the pretty pink Breast Cancer scarves that have been donated.  Many of you, my friends, have donated your handmade scarves to this worthwhile cause.  Vicki works with tiny babies as a neonatal nurse, so I picked her brain to learn what would be the best design for these little dresses.  She was a wealth of information and I am so thankful. 
So there you have it, my first Wee Care gown and bonnet....I can hardly sit here long enough to write this post...I am wanting to go back and begin the next!  This time with a bit more experience, knowledge and no less enthusiasm.
 
Love to all,
Deb
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