Trousers for Ben

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It’s warming up in Minnesota.  The snow has melted away, and everyone is excited to get outside.

The past few weeks, I’ve been working on a few pairs of trousers for three-year-old Ben.  First, I used Oliver+S’ “Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts” pattern, but altered the pattern for trousers.  This pattern is designed with a faux fly and adorable pockets (little gents love their pockets).


I also continued my practice with pattern drafting, and drafted a basic trouser pattern by Mansie Wauch at the Cutter and Tailor Forum.  (Have I mentioned how much I enjoy this?!)  I added similar pockets (that work with a box of Tic Tacs), included the faux fly–appropriate for this age–and gave them a similar waist band treatment.



In case you didn’t hear…

Acorn Fabrics in England is celebrating their 40th year in supplying superfine fabrics.  They have a Valentine’s promotion currently, free shipping on orders of 50 pounds and more.  Good until March 1.  This is “because they LOVE their customers.”  Just add “LOVE” as your promotion code.

A second place who LOVES their customers is Ginny’s Fine Fabrics in Rochester, Minnesota.  They also have a gift for you for Valentine’s Day–30 percent off on all knits, good until February 14.

Have you heard about Huddersfield Cloth?  They are creating wonderful wool cloth in England again!  (As I understand it, most of the wool production had been moved off shore, but they’ve brought it back!)  I recently purchased 10 yards of a lovely lightweight super 160s wool from Huddersfield Cloth in French blue.  I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  Let me know if you would like to see and touch it.

We LOVE our customers, too, and always give 10% off our products, excluding pleaters.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love Working with Voile

I’m getting ready for a two-hour “pleat in” in Richfield on Saturday.  The Lakes & Prairies chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America is holding a session to cut and pleat a few precious little gowns for the Wee Care program of this national organization.  It’s been some time since I have created a little gown of this kind, so I thought I would refresh my memory.  I’ve also been wanting to work with Acorn Fabric’s cotton voile, a very lightweight, airy fabric, and this is a great opportunity.

After hand washing and drying my one-yard piece, I pulled a thread and established the edge along the grain of the voile, cutting one 12″ X 36″ piece and two 5″ X 9″ sleeve pieces, as needed for the gown of a 3-4 pound baby.

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The weave of the voile is nice and straight.  I took a look at it under a microscope and found the width of the thread to be consistent all across the weave and the weave very straight and clean.  Those characteristics were evident when I pulled a thread.  It was very easy to see the cutting line and my pieces were straight and even all across.

I followed the Australian Smocking & Embroidery pattern from issue 48.  This pattern is available as a free download at Country Bumpkin.

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One of the biggest challenges with pleating a bishop style garment is getting the four seams–that join the two back pieces, the two sleeve pieces and the front piece–through the pleater without breaking a single pleater needle and keeping the fabric straight and on grain as it passes through the pleater.  In the past, I concluded that the “seamless appearing seam” method that Nancy Malitz teaches in her “Practically Perfect Pleating” correspondence course is the best method, as most often I have experienced difficulty while pleating batiste weight fabric and regular or tiny French seams.  Unless each seam was extremely tiny (as in no more than 1/8th of an inch), the seam would “balk”, I was left “rocking the seam” with very often a broken pleater needle or two, and the project ending in disaster for the little gown.  This is why I’m excited about working with voile!

In my experience today, the voile cooperated beautifully.  I created a plain seam and then serged the seam edge with a 2-thread rolled edge.  I was very pleased to find the voile and the seams had no difficulty passing through the pleater–resulting in no broken needles.

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Once off the pleater, I blocked the gown to fit the neckline to the “small” size.

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I tied the pleating threads, leaving a 2 cm seam allowance at the back edges.


I pleated and blocked the sleeve edges.

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The gown is ready to smock.



Labors of Love

I hope everyone continues to enjoy the Christmas Season.  We have a little snow still here, even though much of it melted yesterday.   The slightly warmer weather is welcome in Minnesota.

It’s unusual for our family to celebrate Christmas at home.  On a normal year, we would be in Illinois, Indiana or Michigan, visiting family.

I thought my friends who love the needle arts would appreciate this picture.  I was inundated with labors of love yesterday.  I love my kids; love my husband; love my family.

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Lydia created the winter headband, Rachel created the frilly scarf, Madeline created the “infinity” cowl, and Hannah made one of two gloves.  I loved the fact that she wrapped her work in progress due to time constraints.

Hannah also made a pair of wool gloves for her dad.  He loves how they fit!


Warm Seasons Greetings to All.





Playing hand bells at the Mall of America


My daughters participated in a hand bells choir at the Mall of America, Radisson Blu hotel, yesterday, about an hour after the scheduled Black Lives Matter protest.

When we arrived at 3:15 p.m., the traffic was heavy and we counted about 12 police cars lined up on the side of the MOA nearest the hotel.  We accepted the offer for the hotel to park our car.  The hallway that connects the hotel to the mall was locked and at least three security officers were manning the area.


The choir was scheduled to play Christmas songs for two hours.  Initially, mostly hotel guests and the students’ parents attended their performance.  But, eventually, the hallway to the Mall was opened again.  Shoppers wandered through the hotel and listened to the students playing as well.

We are thankful that the protest remained peaceful overall.

We wish a Merry Christmas to all and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Smocked Christmas Ornament

Everyone is getting ready for the Christmas Season.  Every where you look, there are Christmas lights and decorations brightening the main streets of towns in our area.  It’s that time of the year.


Our Chapter President, Lynn Schoonmaker, treated us to a festive lesson on ornament making at the November meeting of the Lakes & Prairies Smockers, a chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America.

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Lynn prepared approximately 20 kits with a pre-pleated piece of the cotton/silk blended fabric, lace edging attached.  She included DMC floss, a bell-shaped foam form and a white pin, as shown on the bottom.  (What some may not know is that pleating takes time; putting kits together also takes time to gather and organize the supplies.)

She guided our group through preparing the pleated piece for smocking.  We had two smock plates from which to choose.  One a little more challenging than the other.

She even had the ornament shown here ready as an example.

My daughters, Lydia, Madeline and Rachel, all joined me for this meeting.  They loved the project, and greatly enjoyed being at the meeting.

Our many thanks to Lynn!