Saturday, February 23, 2019

Chalice Pall in need of Repair


This poor little Pall recently arrived looking in a bit of a sorry state, but so charming that it was well worth restoring. The lovely gold lace edging was falling off, and the silk was discoloured, and rather clumsily sewn down to the very grubby linen backing.


After taking it all apart, and removing the old linen and its tatty inner card, I managed to give the silk a gentle clean and re-mount it onto some white cotton. The gold trim was re stitched, using metallic thread, back onto the cotton to minimise the stress on the edges of the silk. I made a new linen pouch to hold some acid-free card. This was lightly stitched to the back of the cotton lining at the four corners, for ease of removal if it needs cleaning in the future.



It's now all ready for when it will next be used at Easter...just got to get through Lent first!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Another Sweet little girl on her First Communion Day

I didn't have too many first Holy Communion dresses this year. I think St. Zelie just sends me what I can cope with - two wedding dresses, and several large liturgical projects are quite enough for a seamstress working alone! However, I did like the way this one turned out -


But it's always a pleasure to see the child wearing them, especially once they've been sent off to foreign climes!

Mary Bernadette's mother made a special effort to get these photos to me in September, so it's about time I updated the blog with them!

Here are the kind words she sent with the photos -

"I would like to thank you again for the beautiful dress you made our daughter. We are so grateful to you.

 I was not sure if I’d ever sent you some pictures so I wanted to take a moment and do that now.

 The veil, the purse and the dress were just beautiful.

I look forward to our second daughter Margaret Mary who is now one years old wearing it on her First Communion Day. "

I love it when I hear that the dress will get used again in the future.







This was another one made earlier this year for Lydia Martha, with a personalised bag and a mantilla veil, her busy Mum hasn't got round to sending me the photos yet!











Thursday, November 29, 2018

Out of the Fire, Into new Life!


One of our FSSP Priests had a habit of rescuing things that were to be burnt, because nobody wanted them. This deep purple velvet Chasuble was one of those things, which he saved the day before it was due to go on the bonfire!!! He asked if I could do anything with it, and the decision was made that the front and back central panels could be conserved, and mounted onto a new Chasuble, which is what I did.
(There's a burn hole in the velvet)



Our Parish said it would donate the cost of the work to him as a leaving present, so it has been a bit of a nagging thing with me, since he left several months ago. I had been rather snowed under with wedding dresses etc. in the summer, and as it was a time-consuming job to a) find a matching purple velvet,  which Father wanted to be a silk velvet, and b) sew said silk velvet which has a life of its own, and is not really suited to nice stiff roman vestments and  d) to locate a matching gold metallic trim, I eventually promised him I'd get it done by Advent.  It took a long time to find a silk velvet that matched well enough, (it's amazing how few silk velvets are available, and how many different purples are out there!) so I was pleased that the one I eventually plumped for was a really good match.

Phew, just managed to get it delivered this week...



The goldwork is beautiful, imagine burning that!



Father was very pleased with the result, little realising what a tricky job it was. Please don't anyone else order a silk velvet chasuble from me.....at least, not for a year or so 'till I recover.









Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Small things can make a Big difference.

I was recently requested by a Priest to make a new Monstrance cover for the Church he's just become Parish Priest for. He said the old one had a burn in it...(and it had been like that for years!!)



Not only that, but it might just have been one of the ugliest looking covers I've seen in my life - (even without the burn!) He wanted a more classic shape, and also requested a matching Pyx cover with a Eucharistic motif on it.

I digitised the motif, and it was machine-embroidered in gold thread.

 Both were lined in lovely deep red silk.



I think they turned out well, even if pretty much anything would have been better than the original!!



Father was very pleased with the result, and sent me a photo of it in action, as it were! I'm sure the Parish will be richly blessed with a Priest who cares about the small details.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Another Beautiful Bride, another Wonderful Wedding!

So, like the buses, they all come at once! I've had three wedding dresses to do this year, and each has had its own distinctive beauty, reflecting the character of each bride. What I so love about making wedding dresses, is that the girl's input, along with my design and sewing know-how always ends up with something unique, but reflective of the bride, which you can't really get with an off the peg number (and rarely will you find one of those with SLEEVES!!)
This latest one was a real joy to make, both because of the lass's lovely personality, and because of the fabric she chose which was a rich pure silk ivory taffeta, with a distinctive shawl collar made of silk jacquard with a rose pattern woven in.
(All Photos courtesy of Peter L Jones)




 The ceremony was an Eastern Rite Ukrainian Catholic one, so a new experience for many of the Bride's Latin Catholic friends. There is a lovely crowning ceremony, and I think the dress really did make the Bride look like a queen!

Below are some details of the dress, with its shawl collar and the veil which was also made especially to go with the dress. The dress had silk covered buttons with a front opening so that the shawl collar could be all in one undisturbed piece around the back.

  The veil was made from a pure silk tulle in ivory. The Bride wanted it to cover her hair fully, and we agreed it would look nice with a lace edging. Providentially, I wandered into an antique shop one day and found some lovely antique English net lace, exactly the right colour and width! This was hand-stitched in place to form a beautiful frame for her lovely face.

Many Congratulations to the King and Queen of the Day!

Monday, September 24, 2018

And They lived Happily ever After!

Some folk think I just make First Holy Communion dresses. It's not true! Here is the latest silk and lace wedding dress and pure silk veil, made for a fairytale princess (as she laughingly told me that's how the receptionists at her block of flats used to think of her..)



I don't know, I think they might be right!

(photo stolen from one of the guests fb page!)

(Anna Pimenta Photography)


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Joy and Sorrow, with Hope.

I have been asked to make a few items recently which seem to fit into the cycle of life.

A gift set to send to Australia, for a new, much longed for baby, not quite yet delivered!




The gift-giver was quite specific in what he wanted, something "Traditional" in white, but not to look as though it were for a Baptism... hence the touches of green, with elephants marching across the bib. The set is made from a very fine cotton lawn with satin weave and embroidery details, and touches of antique insertion lace, all lined in cotton lawn (apparently, it will be hot in Australia when the baby gets to be old enough to wear it!)

The next project completed was for a Polish wedding, soon to take place, but as it hasn't yet, I can't really reveal "The Dress". It's for a lovely Welsh Lassie, who's marrying a dashing Polish Gentleman! Suffice to say, it involved a lot of piecing of extremely pretty lace, and swathes of silk satin, lots of buttons and a bow!
Sneak preview! Two different laces have been invisibly joined prior to piecing the back part of the bodice. 



The back after completion!


The last item is of a more sorrowful nature. It made me reflect on how fleeting life is, and how we should all prepare for death. A widow-to-be is expecting her terminally ill husband to die soon, and wanted a special mantilla to wear at his funeral. She had a specific idea of what she wanted. As I looked at the image she had in mind, I realised I would have to cut, shape and piece together lace. It was a time-consuming project, involving a lot of hand-stitching, all around the edges of the inset pieces of lace. But I found it a very moving task to sit quietly sewing the pieces together, and pray for her and her husband and family, and contemplate my own mortality too.


The first stage of shaping the lace edging around the dotted net. It was coming out bigger than the recipient wanted, so I had to bring the edging in more.


After completion.


When I started Zelie's Roses, I had little patience for hand sewing, wanting to get things finished speedily. The more I force myself to spend time creating things by hand stitching, the more I appreciate what Zelie Martin used to do in her lace-making! I hope I'm now of a level for her to have employed me as someone who pieces the lace together, since I still don't have the patience, or skills, to actually make lace!!

I like to add all the people I sew for to my prayers; a safe delivery for the baby and mother, a joyous and Christ-filled marriage for the happy couple, and the consolations of St. Joseph and Mary to be with the dying man and his family.