The Dodge County Fair 2015

Another year has come and gone at the Dodge County Fair.  I thought I’d share a few of our favorite photos from the event in Kasson, Minnesota.  My kids enjoyed showing their spaniels, a clothing and textiles project, blueberry-lime jam, peach jam, and a fine arts drawing.  They had a lovely time.  The photos during the canine show were taken by a local photographer, Laura Seljan Photography.

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Chevrons and Bows

My daughter, Rachel, age 10, created a “Chevrons and Bows” Maxi skirt and top for the 4-H Clothing and Textiles “Clothes You Make” project and participated in the Fashion Revue yesterday evening at the Kasson Methodist Church.


Her inspiration started with a length of chevron bamboo knit found during a shopping trip at Ginny’s Fine Fabric with her three older sisters.  Using the Children’s Corner “Ainsley” pattern, she altered the A-line skirt, lengthening it to the floor.  For the top, she started with measurements suggested for a pillowcase top, found online.  She used Swiss lined pique because she liked the surface texture and the coverage.  She created a neckline casing for the ribbons in English voile from Acorn Fabrics.  All her inside seams are nicely finished with French seams.


She found the turquoise and white ribbons at the Kasson Variety Store locally and matching flip flops at Target.

She learned a few things during her three-day sewing project:

–how to cut bias strips and finish the arm scye with a binding

–how to create a casing

–how to create a French seam

–how to sew bamboo knit without ripples

–how to hem bamboo knit using seam tape


Earlier in the day, Rachel met with 4-H judges to present her garment for their review of her construction quality.  The judges ask each participant several questions about their garment and the techniques involved, and they give suggestions on how to improve their sewing skill.  In the evening, the participants present their garment to an audience during the Fashion Revue.  Rachel received a blue ribbon for her project.  The green ribbon is received by each participant.


I enjoyed seeing all the garments sewn by the kids of all ages.  There were many very well done outfits this year.  Likely, there will be a photo in the Dodge County Independent in the coming weeks.

A few young guys in Dodge County also had a little fun with the Fashion Revue by entering the “Clothes You Buy” category.  As is fitting in rural Minnesota, they purchased hunting gear and presented their wares, just like any other candidate.

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Tim, on the right, resembles a bush.  Mason, on the left, resembles cloth brush.  Both are definitely well camoflouged.  In their honor, the theme of the event was developed:  “On the Hunt for Fashion.”  I learned this gear is suitable for hunting critters other than the White Tail Deer.  Mason explained that their gear would be pointless for deer hunting, because the hunter has to have approximately 1/3 of their bodies covered in Orange.  Tim said when the judge asked him “with what attitude should you participate in an event like this?,” he responded, “You should participate with confidence and an attitude that you don’t care what other people think.”  Mason commented on his makeup, noting that “makeup like this doesn’t just happen.”  (His makeup being of the camo type, of course.)  It’s clear that everyone had a good time.




Bishop in Bearissima

Not too long ago, I spent some time doing a little pleating.  I wanted to experience for myself the differences in two fabrics in particular, English voile and Swiss batiste, which is called Bearissima, made in Switzerland and distributed in the United States by Bear Threads Inc.  Swiss is said to be the best of the best, and it is a requirement in the higher levels of the Artisan program of the Smocking Arts Guild of America.

A while back, I shared a picture of the English voile, and told about how nicely it pleated.  The pleats are crisp and stay just as planned.  It’s truly a beautiful, sheer fabric.  Both are 100% cotton.

Bearissima is also lovely, and I want to share it with you as well.

Here it is on the ironing table, blocked for a little bishop gown, after pleating:

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Can you see how sheer and lovely it is?

I am looking forward to working smocking stitches on this piece.  This will be a family heirloom, so I am taking my sweet time.

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Rachel’s Smocked Top and Skirt Remake

Prior to the hand bells finale this Spring, Rachel’s black silk smocked dress needed an alteration.  There had been an accident.  My mom always said, “Accidents do happen…”  And, an accident did happen to Rachel’s special black silk smocked dress.  There were tears.  She didn’t mean to.  Rachel had put her dress on to show a friend, then zipped outside and hopped on her brother’s little bike…  Seconds later, she tore into the house with tears…..  She had mangled the skirt of her dress with the wheels of the tricycle.  All in a few seconds.


One Spring day, I spent a little time (5 hours) changing it into a smocked top and A-line skirt.  Thankfully the damage to the skirt was low enough that I was able to remove it without difficulty.  I purchased a new yard of silk charmeuse from Ginny’s Fine Fabric to create a new A-line skirt.  I removed the lace from the hem of the dress and added it to the new hem of the smocked top.  I purchased a different narrow lace,  and added it to the hem of the skirt.

Problem solved.


Tears changed to smiles.  And the hand bell ringers play on.

Japanese Lawn

Just arrived, for the little ones…

Japanese Lawn in soft colors.  Perfect for daygowns and little dresses.  See our Fine Fabrics page for more details.

Japanese Lawn, 100% Pima Cotton, 45" wide, in Pale Periwinkle, Maize and Pink

Japanese Lawn, 100% Pima Cotton, 45″ wide, in Pale Periwinkle, Maize and Pink

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.



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.