Over 700 Wee Care Garments Donated at the Frisco SAGA Convention

I just got home from the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) annual convention. It was a crazy, wonderful and exhausting time. There were old friends, new friends, line dancing, wonderful classes and stitching galore! Of special importance was the amazing Wee Care donations that were received. 1380373_597361086988655_750489003_n

Wee Care is the charitable arm of SAGA. Garments are made and embroidered or smocked and donated to area hospitals with Neo-natal units for babies that are born prematurely. The gowns are used to dress these little ones that that are too small for clothes you find in stores during their stay in the neo-natal unit, as well as for bereavement clothes should the worst happen. SAGA Chapters throughout the United States make and donate the gowns to their local area hospitals – over 7000 this year! But many members also bring gowns to the national convention. Members also use spare minutes during their time at convention to stitch bonnets. By the end of convention, there were over 700 donations for a hospital in the local area as well as to a local military hospital. This year the gowns were donated to Dallas Methodist Hospital and Darnell Army Hospital. Wanda DeWitt our new Wee Care Chair encouraged the donations by supplying a hand stitched reticule with all manner of goodies included as a raffle prize. photo

Each Wee Care donation earns the stitcher a Wee Care ticket for the Wee Care raffle basket. Interested in participating? You will find a list of all the SAGA chapters on the SAGA website at www.smocking.org. If you are looking for Wee Care patterns and ideas, check out the SAGA pinterest board at http://www.pinterest.com/smockingarts/wee-care/. Patterns such as this one are available.wee careStart stitching now for a great cause and bring your donations to the 2014 SAGA convention in Orlando next September. As the new President Elect, I hope to see you there. Maybe we can convince Wanda to offer another reticule as a prize!



Do You Two Step?


 Have you ever wanted to learn to smock? Do you admire beautiful embroideries from by-gone eras? Do you love to sew for children but your garments have that “homemade look”? Do you read sewing blogs and wonder to what the terms pin stitch, faggoting, hemstitch and featherstitch refer? Would you like to broaden your sewing skills? Come join the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA™) at its annual convention in Frisco, Texas October 23rd-27th and you will have a discover your hidden talents! Yes I will be there!NbAT5Ahles_-_Advanced_Fagoting_to_Hemstitching_2005When you hear the word convention I hope you are thinking fun, exciting and educational classes!  Each class has been evaluated and approved by a SAGA selection committee so you can be assured that you will be taught proper technique and execution allowing you to expand your sewing skills. From pattern drafting for children, mastering the peter pan collar, designing your own smocked ornament, learning how to shadow embroider, working on pulled thread, tackling the pea hole hemstitch, mastering your pleater, stitching an elaborate Elizabethan Panel, or simply perfecting your smocking, there is something for everyone taught at all levels!5ablsElizabethan_Panel_pic

Are you ready to challenge yourself to improve your stitching? Join the SAGA Artisan Program™ and work toward attaining the level of apprentice, artisan or master in four different areas of expertise – smocking, embroidery, fine machine sewing and fine hand sewing. There will be an informational meeting of the Artisan Program™ at convention to explain the process and classes you take can count toward achieving the necessary levels. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInterested in helping your community with a service project using your stitching? Come and learn about the SAGA Wee Care Program, and get inspired by the talents of our members who donate hand smocked and embroidered gowns and bonnets to local hospitals for neonatal units and bereavement programs. 

wee careDon’t know anyone? Don’t worry – ladies who stitch are friendly, helpful and love to have fun. So join the SAGA convention, learn a new technique, participate in the doll clothing contest and yes, even learn to Two-Step!2o9MRJAdams_No_More_Pleater_Problems_Photo

SAGA has chapters through out the United States and a chapter in Mexico and Australia! Local chapters meet monthly, bring teachers for seminars and participate in the Wee Care Program. If there is no chapter located near you, you can still become involved through the members at large program. For more information, check out the SAGA website at www.smocking.org! Now I am off to try and round up some cowbow boots! See you in Frisco!


Robson Jacket Pattern has arrived from Sewaholic!

Robson Pattern

The New Pattern from Sewaholic has arrived! It is the Robson jacket pattern – a classic trench coat.  The coat features a rounded collar and lapel, princess seams and front pockets. It is double breasted with storm pickets. and epaulettes for a classic look.  The coat is unlined and the inner seams are bound with bias tape for a clean finish. It closes with buttons and a fabric tie for an hourglass silhouette. I have to admit the thought of making a trench coat seams like quite an undertaking, but I read through the directions and each step is thoroughly explained. This won’t be a quick project, but by following Tasia’s directions, and working through step by step, you can have a terrific coat with classic style that will bring you may years of wear!Robson Coat Infor

By the way, if you have looked for the other Sewaholic patterns at Pink Hollybush and wondered where they all went to, everything is back in stock!


Next Up: A Spring Coat!

DSC00237Here is the inspiration – a $30 coat I picked up at H&M last fall! I love this coat! If I am going to gush all over a piece of clothing you would think it would be something fancier, more expensive or a designer original. This coat just has a perfect fit for me.  Besides that, it is a perfect length to go over a dress but also looks great with a pair of pants. So I decided a needed a spring version – something in a bright and cheery color. I also have been reading Gertie’s Sewing book and wanted to try a little tailoring. I looked at the big pattern companies with no luck as well as several of the smaller ones. Then I thought to check Etsy and eureka! I struck gold with a vintage 1960s McCalls pattern!

DSC00261I found another pattern that was even closer to my coat complete with princess lines, but the pattern was more expensive, smaller and I wasn’t sure the princess lines would work as well with my textured fabric. Speaking of fabric, I picked up this wonderful textured cotton at Sawyer Brook last fall when I dropped by their warehouse – definitely worth the trip if you are in the area! The lining is a fun polyester I picked up a JoAnns.

DSC00238Here is a close-up of the red fabric where you hopefully can see the texture.

DSC00239I did a quick pin fitting to see if I was close to my original and it looks great! I will have to lower the dart but otherwise this looks like a great match!



A Review of New Look 6097

DSC00084I have to admit I probably wouldn’t have given this pattern a second look if it weren’t for seeing it made up on Goodbye Valentino’s Blog - it was just so pretty on her. The pattern photo as well as the pattern drawing did nothing for me.  But after having made and worn it, I just love it and will definitely be making it again for summer in a short sleeve version!Side Ruching Detail

Here is a close-up of the side ruching detail. So what is so special about this dress? First, everyone tells you that the wrap dress is flattering to everyone, but I promised myself several years ago as I deposited a wrap skirt in the Goodwill bag that I would never own a wrap item again. Let’s just say there was a wardrobe malfunction involving the wrap of the skirt that could have been much worse if not the for the fact that I was wearing a slip and leave it at that. This dress is a faux-wrap. You have the wrap styling without the wrap danger! The skirt wont’ fall open when you sit down, and the v-neckline won’t gape apart when you bend over.

The neckline is also a nice height – no need to raise it. I did add a snap just to hold it in place which is easy to do inconspicuously with the fold-over knit finish. Also, the skirt has pockets! We all love pockets. Did mine look like the pattern envelope? I lengthened my sleeves and skipped the cuffs since I wanted a long sleeve version for winter. I also skipped the collar, but will probably include it in my summer version. Finally, I went for a self-fabric sash rather than the belt.

Is there anything I will change the next time around – yes – because you always learn things! I cut a 10 but skipped the FAB (I usually do a FBA to a 12)  and even with that the bodice was on the large side. I took in quite a bit on the side seams. Also, the pattern doesn’t include any directions to stabilize the diagonal neckline and it is easy to stretch it out while making the fold-over finish. Next time I will try stabilizing it first. Give this pattern a try – you won’t be disappointed!

A Great Pencil Skirt from a Free Pattern

dressmakingA few months back I mentioned this great find Dressmaking, the Compete Guide to Making Your Own Clothes by Allison Smith. The book is a wealth of knowledge with step by step pictures.  There are also several free patterns available for download on the DK website. The book then shows you how to make several variations from the patterns. I used the A-Line skirt pattern to make a skirt for each of my daughters and now used the pencil skirt pattern to make a skirt for myself.Pencil skirt

I was very pleased with the pattern and do plan to use it again. I love that it has a very modern look (or maybe I should say retro) with a hollywood waist instead of a waistband. As I wore the skirt throughout the day I did feel the front waist was creeping up a bit. A comparison with a ready to wear skirt that I own whose waist fits perfectly, showed that the pencil skirt’s waistband could be shaped slightly lower at the center front. Or it could just be that I need to do a few more sit-ups! At this point, I am blaming the waistband and will shape it slightly differently for the next skirt. I don’t consider that a negative of the pattern – I am just trying to tweak the pattern and get the perfect pencil skirt fit for me! Do take a look at Dressmaking by Alison Smith, you won’t be disappointed.

My Favorite Sewing Christmas Presents!

DSC00167I know it is February, so why on earth am I talking about Christmas gifts. Well sometimes family, the holidays and sickness can waylay the best intentions but in the spirit of better late than never – here are my two favorite sewing gifts from this past Christmas.  First up are pattern weights from my daughter.

DSC00170Yes, those are pattern weights and aren’t they fun? Sewing is always fun, but this is a way to add even a little more fun into your sewing time. The weights are made by sewing 4, 2 inch square pieces of fabric together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance to form a 3 1/2 square. Sew two 3 1/2 inch squares together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance to form 3 inch square finished fabric weights.  Stuff the weights with bulgur or rice. DSC00169Don’t forget to add a bow, because everything is better with a bow!DSC00202

I also received a beautiful needle and sissors case from my friend Julie. DSC00203It is made from a beautiful soft blue silk with yellow roses on the front and my monogram on the sissors holder.


Here is a close-up of the monogram. As you can tell, it was a wonderful Christmas around here! Now I am off to sew with my pattern weights and needle case!

Cordova Jacket Pattern from Sewaholic Available at Pink Hollybush!

The newest pattern from Sewaholic, the Cordova Jacket, is in stock at Pink Hollybush just in time for the holidays! I love this pattern, first because it really is unique, and second because it has this wonderful combination of girly and edgy at the same time. The peplum at the waist is what sets this apart – I really haven’t seen anything like it. View A has a double layer peplum.  If you are worried that will put too much volume in an area where you like to minimize the fabric, go for View B.  It uses a peplum seaming detail without adding any extra bulk at the waist and hips. Pleated sleeves also add a feminine detail but the zipper closure give it an edginess that keeps it all from being too sweet! Here is the back of the envelope for informational puposes! I can’t wait to give this one a try!

Great Find! Dressmaking by Alison Smith!

Everyone has their way to relax and for me it is with a good book. Not a novel – I tend to get too caught up in them; although over Christmas and vacation, I always indulge in a good one. No, my preference is a good non-fiction book, new sewing or knitting books in particular.  A cup of tea and a roaring fire in winter, or the glider on the deck in summer and a good book is my idea of heaven.

To indulge this passion and not break the bank, I scour the new book section of the library on a regular basis.  Personally, I think the public library is one of the greatest inventions going! You go in and come out with a whole bag of books and it hasn’t cost you a thing. Better yet, I often find that that new book that I thought I couldn’t live without is a real dud.  No harm done, just return it. Most of the time, I am entertained and then return the book.  Sometimes; however, that special moment comes when you open a book, start reading and realize you have just found a treasure!  That happened to me today!.

The treasure I found: Dressmaking: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Own Clothes by Alison Smith.  It is a big, hefty how-to book from DK publishing (you know the ones that include tons of pictures). It covers the basics on pattern alterations and provides instruction on general techniques, but the treasure of this book is the 12 basic patterns that can be downloaded for free! That’s right 12 basic patterns including the pencil skirt, shift dress, princess-line blouse, tailored pants, and shawl collared jacket! You don’t even need to buy the book to download the patterns – just go to www.dk.com/dressmaking! Having said that, you do want the book.  Each variation of the basic pattern teaches a new technique such as how to add a lining, change the neckline, taper the pants and on and on…  The patterns while classic are also modern – the waist line of the pants sits slightly below the waist, the blouse tapers at the waist, and the hemline of the pencil skirt is above the knee. There is even a section at the end on customizing and refashioning! Guest what just made it to my Christmas list! I have already downloaded and cut out one of the patterns!

Alma Blouse from Sewaholic – A Review

I finished my Alma Blouse weeks ago and now am finally getting this review posted! Where did the Fall go - I am not quite sure, but with the November winds things have finally quieted down around here! I have been sewing all along but just didn’t find the time to get pictures taken and things up online! You will be glad to know that I finished the blouse while the warm weather was still around and it has been worn multiple times! It went to Atlanta for the SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America ) convention and to Duke for Parent’s Weekend. I love this blouse! It has a nice flattering shape to it partly achieved because you get it on and off with an invisible zipper.  I cut and sewed a size 8 straight from the pattern. You just have to love when you can do that! The only change I made was to try out my narrow hem foot for the a skinny little hem.  This means that I did essentially lengthen the pattern.  I won’t show you a close up of the hem, the narrow hem foot and I are still getting aquainted. Will I make this blouse again – absolutely! I already have the fabric purchased for a long sleeve version! I will lengthen that blouse as well.This version is Veiw B with the peter pan collar and short sleeves.  I love that the sleeves are longer even though they are short – I am always cold!  The material is a lovely cotton voile that I picked up at a wonderful little shop in Ithaca, New York called Homespun Boutique.  Definitely stop by if you are in the area, the shop owner had beautiful fabrics and yarns!

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