Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Of Mice and Milk!

A wee while ago I was ̶r̶o̶p̶e̶d̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶o̶  politely requested to help out with a girls' Summer Camp being run by our FSSP seminarians.  I was merely asked to do one afternoon of sewing...with 21 girls! Not being a teacher, (I really don't think home-educating one boy counts!) and realising that there would not be any sewing machine facilities for all of them (even if I brought my collection of 6 machines along!) I was rather daunted by the prospect. After all, I can thread a needle, and do a bit of hand-stitching when   ̶a̶b̶s̶o̶l̶u̶t̶e̶l̶y̶  necessary, but to spend a whole afternoon teaching girls to hand sew was going to be well outside of my comfort zone. Nonetheless, after googling some simple hand sewing ideas, and madly trying them out myself, to make sure they were achievable in the time allotted to us, I ventured forth, and I have to say, an enjoyable time was had by all.

I chose three main projects, a zip and ribbon purse, which mainly involved a lot of straight stitching, to hold the ribbon to the zip, but with a bit of clever going round the corners, which made it into a purse once the zip was done up:-
Of course, nearly all the teenagers wanted to do this one, but they had to be competent stitchers if they were to get through the amount of sewing needed to finish the project, and fortunately most of them did manage to do so.

The simplest task was to make a ring pin-cushion as this only needed one line of gathering stitches to pull the circle of fabric up to make (once it was stuffed) a little ball that could be glued into the "ring" made from a bottle cap and elastic.

This shows one of the girls very seriously studying her pin-cushion ring! whilst the lassie behind
is furiously finishing off the nose on her mouse!

 And the third project was to make a mouse pin cushion. I had cut out all the pieces necessary so the girls just had to sew and stuff them, and finish off the eyes tails and nose. I was pleased that the girls all seemed quite keen to achieve something, even the ones who had obviously never done any sewing before, and I was glad that I stayed overnight, as many who hadn't quite managed to finish in the afternoon were still requesting my help the next day. For those who wanted simpler tasks there were bookmarks and little purses or stuffed shapes to make too.

When we came down to breakfast, Father was blaming the mice who had been sitting on the mantelpiece for the fact that the milk supplies were rather low! (But I'm sure they were innocent!)

All in all, it was quite a good learning experience for me, (hand sewing isn't so bad, after all!) and I do hope it inspired a few girls to take sewing further.

And especial thanks goes to the helpers who were with me that day, as I know I couldn't have managed such a big class all alone.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bespoke Cotton Lace Mantilla

Here is one of my latest efforts, a navy blue cotton lace mantilla, made to  a specific size by request.  The lady who ordered it wanted it to have a scalloped edge, so I had to digitize an edging lace for my machine which would finish the mantilla in scallops. 

There was a slight gap between the scallops at the two corners, so I filled those with roses!

A discreet label in black was attached.  I like to design labels to suit the object or garment they will be sewn in to.

The new owner seemed very pleased with it, and I managed, even with all the Summer breaks to get it to her in time for the Feast of the Assumption.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Super Model Mantilla Modelling!

I made a lovely mantilla for a super young woman who does a wonderful job for the pro-life cause.  She had expressed a desire for one that had scallops all round the edge, so with my trusty embroidery machine I managed to find a way to copy the shape of the scallops that were already along one edge of the fabric, and came up with this,

I just hope the modelling agencies don't come after her,
we wouldn't want her to stop her good work!

It's a lovely soft cotton-embroidered lace, (so hard to find decent laces of that sort at a reasonable price!) It did take a long time to make, so doesn't come cheap, but it's well worth it if you want something spectacular.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Last First Holy Communion Dress of the Season!

Today I managed to deliver the last dress I will have to make for First Communions this Spring/Summer - whew, a weight off my mind! It was quite exciting when the first few commissions came in, then it became rather daunting as I had more orders than ever before this year. But, thanks be to God, everyone got what they wanted, and in time for their special day.  I also have to thank  my trusty courier, (you know who you are, Mrs P!) a lovely American lady married to a chap from my parish, who very helpfully took dresses over to the States when she was visiting family, and posted them over there, thus avoiding the worry of them being held up in customs. She also brought back the pretty fabric that I used in this last dress. 

Isobel's dress is made of embroidered polyester chiffon fabric,
lined with cotton lawn, and trimmed with bands of cotton broderie anglaise..

With wide satin ribbon ties.

Now I can put the white threads away, and move on to another project at the other end of the spectrum, a cassock for a lad who enjoys serving at the altar.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Baptismal Gown for a Summer Baby

I made a First Communion dress for a little girl last year, and her mother is now expecting a new little one, so she came back to me for a Baptismal gown.

This is the first one I've made since I desperately tried to finish my son's before his Baptism - nearly 19 years ago now! (Which you can see in the Header photo of the blog, next to St Zelie!)

The mum had several ideas of what she wanted, so using those, and my own finds - a fantastic lightweight cotton lawn with woven satin stripes and tiny lozenge-embroidered stripes - some lovely soft cotton Nottingham lace, and several specially digitized embroidery designs, it came out beautifully. 

The only problem with sending it to the USA was that the tracking number went dead after it was logged as having got on a plane at Heathrow, so there was a rather nail biting week or two where I hoped and prayed that it was still in transit - and eventually it did turn up - in plenty of time, since baby is due in June!

I was very pleased with the way it turned out but it was time-consuming to make, it took just as long as a first Communion dress!

Detail of the baptismal shells

an IHS cross

and some wheat and grape vines

The fabric is light as gossamer,
and has a cotton lawn lining

Had to wait for an obliging gust of wind to show it off!

A simple button fastening at the back

And of course, there has to be a matching bonnet with embroideries

And the expectant mum is very happy with it too, DG!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Traditional First Holy Communion Dresses 2016

Here are a few examples of what has been keeping me busy the last couple of months!

Leena's embroidered cotton voile

It has a huge duchesse satin bow, by request.

Mary Genevieve's embroidered cotton dress
and mantilla veil.

The dress has been made to be passed down
to Mary's younger sister, Margaret, hence
two matching bags have bee personalised.

This lovely embroidered cotton voile
catches the light beautifully.
Made for Heidi Elizabeth.

For sisters, Helena and Liliana who will be
making their First Communion at the same time.

A beautiful cotton broderie anglaise fabric was
used in Shianne's dress.

Nina's dress is also a lovely light-weight
cotton broderie anglaise.

With a satin ribbon tie.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Chasing away the Chilly Winter blues

 I'm a bit of a sucker for old fashioned sewing patterns, so when I saw a 1950s one for a baby's "papoose" type sleeping bag I snapped it up. Last Summer, I had bought some lovely quilted fabric from one of my favourite places in France - Alencon (couldn't get any lace, but there was a new fabric shop on the outskirts of town which sold stuff, the likes of which I've never seen in the UK) - and I had been wondering what to do with it.

I love the donkeys, and the Sunbursts.

Bright and cheerful for this grey time of year.

It seemed ideal fabric for the papoose, and I had a little lady (and her Mum) in mind to try it out on - one wonders whether things from yesteryear are still likely to be appealing to the Mothers of today!

And the lovely cotton pique lining fabric was from the same shop too,
I think St. Zelie may have liked this if she were sewing today!

The mother was delighted with it, as the baby had been cold in her Moses basket at night, since she always seemed to throw her covers off.  Mum has just managed to send me some lovely pictures of her sweet little one (less than a month old!) fast asleep, and looking very cosy, I must admit!

God Bless, and
Sleep tight Philomena. X