The Dino Kartsonakis Christmas Show

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In 1993 (I think!), Annie played the piano in Dino Kartsonakis’ Christmas Show in Branson, MO.  I made her dress, of course!


It was sparkly and beautiful, and she loved it!


Here’s the dress, a little wrinkled from hanging for 20+ years in the closet, but otherwise intact.  It was a combination of careful stitching and garment construction, and quick finishing for a garment that would be worn only a few times.  For the stage, glitz wins out over fine detail!  The dress was made from an iridescent synthetic satiny fabric with synthetic lace yardage and trim.  I think it was a Butterick pattern.


The peplum was a separate piece, consisting of lace yardage gathered and stitched to a stretchy wide sequin band.  It fastened under the bow with hook and loop tape and a snap.  The elastic has deteriorated and is no longer very stretchy, so I had to pin it in place to take this photo.

I hand-beaded the neckline and bodice with iridescent glass beads.  After bringing the dress in for approval (I was the only Mom making a show dress,) I was asked to add even more sparkle.  So I glued iridescent sequins on the bodice for more glitz!


The entire dress was lined with a polyester lining, and I added horsehair braid (which is not really horse hair, of course!) to the lining hem to hold the skirt out nicely.


It was a busy November and December that year, getting Annie to practices and performances, but what a fun thing for a fourth-grader to get to do!  And this dress kind of falls into that princess category that almost every little girl loves! 🙂


Smocked Brother/Sister Outfits

I think I made my first smocked garment from a Vogue (?) baby pattern, using iron-on dots to pleat the fabric.  When I discovered Sew Beautiful in the spring of 1989, I bought a pleater and made the most of the couple of years my children were willing to wear smocked brother/sister outfits!  Here is one of those sets:

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This would have been taken about 24 or 25 years ago (ugh, am I really that old?!)  And except for the fact that the dress sleeves are longer and puffier than current fashion, these garments would work just as well now as then.

plaid green overalls

David’s outfit was made from dark green featherwale corduroy and a poly/cotton plaid.  The smocked insert was Imperial broadcloth.  The pattern was probably Children’s Corner “Jeffrey,” but I’m not sure.


I’m not sure what smocking plate I used.  If anyone recognizes it, let me know and I’ll give credit!  Or perhaps I didn’t use a plate at all, but made it up.  Anyway, David’s Paw, my Dad, was a farmer, so this was appropriate!  My smocking didn’t go all the way to the edges of the insert, but remember, this was one of my first pieces, and I’ve never been an expert smocker, anyway!

green plaid dress

Annie’s dress was made from the same poly/cotton plaid and Imperial broadcloth, so it was very easy care.  She wore this to school, and then the dress was passed on to a couple of friends, so it’s seen a lot of wear.  In fact, there are a couple of small holes in the skirt, probably from getting caught in the chain of a swing.


The narrow eyelet trim around the collar doesn’t look like a Swiss trim, it was probably an inexpensive eyelet.  Remember, this was long before online shopping, and I lived in an area where heirloom supplies were completely unknown!  The chicks are “Barnyard Friends” by Creative Keepsakes.  Keep an eye on those little chicks…


…because they showed up a little later in this romper I made for one of my nephews!


I’m sure I made up the rest of this smocking design.  And, I know, I have some puckers that I would be able to avoid now, but the romper is cute, anyway, and somewhere there’s a picture of my nephew wearing this.


Here’s the back of the romper, probably the Jeffrey pattern, too.  So cute!

Class Launch!


“The Machine Embroidery Inspired Quilt” is now live on Craftsy! I’m so excited! I just e-mailed the winner of the free class giveaway, Jessica S.

As a thank you to all of you who entered, I’m offering a 50% discount on the class when you use this link

Now I’m off to finish watching my first Craftsy class!

P.S.  The Zundt embroidery designs are worth the price of the class!

Easy Appliqued Bib

Way back when, I went through a machine applique phase.  My children were young, and I appliqued simple designs on lots of things.  I think I used some coloring books for designs, and also an applique book or two.  Fusible web, satin stitching, and easy embellishments made for some very quick projects.  I actually burned out the foot control on my Kenmore machine with all that satin stitching!

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I made dozens of bibs for my children, and also as gifts.  These were so easy and soooo practical!  They are great, inexpensive, practical baby gifts.  Some of the bibs I made were used by both of my children, and both of my sister’s boys as well.  Little ones learning to feed themselves need bibs…



Somehow, I don’t seem to have any photos of these bibs that aren’t hidden by the high chair tray!  But after all, that’s what they were for.


This isn’t a great picture of the bib (although it’s a wonderful picture of the face 🙂 !)  But you can see how large and well-used it was.  This one had a turtle with a star on its shell, wearing a ball cap.

Here in a nutshell is how I made them:

  1. Start with a terry cloth hand towel.  New is good, but even used is fine.  The rough, texture-y kind of towel is better than the velvety kind.  Wash it to pre-shrink.  Cut off the hems and fringe.
  2. Choose fabric for the main bib fabric, pre-shrink, and cut to the same size as the  trimmed towel.
  3. Choose your applique shape.  Simpler is better.  Reverse the design, if it matters (monograms matter, turtles do not.)  Trace the shapes individually onto the paper side of lightweight paper-backed fusible web.
  4. Cut the shapes out, leaving 1/4″ or so around the edges.
  5. Iron the paper-backed web to the back of your desired applique fabrics.  Cut out the shapes on the traced lines.
  6. Remove the paper, position the shapes on the main bib fabric, and press to fuse.
  7. Place this upper layer right side up on top of the towel, and pin in place.  Satin stitch around all the applique edges.  Use a width of 2.5 – 3.0.  You want the applique edges to be very secure, because the bib will be washed and washed and washed!  The towel may provide enough stabilization that you don’t need any additional stabilizer.  If your stitches are tunneling, use lightweight stabilizer.  (If I were making these now, I’d use water-soluble stabilizer.  I don’t think there was such a thing when I was making the originals!)
  8. Trace around a bowl or small plate or circle template to round the corners of the bib and make a semi-circle for the neck.  Straight stitch or zigzag on these lines.
  9. Trim the outer and neck edges close to the straight stitching.
  10. Use purchased double-fold bias tape, or make your own, to bind the outer edges of the bib.
  11. Then bind the neck edge, leaving long enough tails of bias on each side to tie the bib around the child’s neck.
  12. Done!  Bring on the food!

Free Class Giveaway!

This past April, Craftsy contacted me and asked if I would be interested in taping a class on machine embroidery and quilting.  After working on the class much of the summer, I travelled to Denver in September for three days of taping.  What a great experience!


I learned so much.  I really found the production process fascinating!


And now, the class is ready to go live later this month.


To celebrate, I am offering a free class giveaway!  Click on this link to enter

One lucky person will be randomly chosen, and at the end of the giveaway, I’ll email the winner to let you know and give you the info on accessing your free class.  The class will be yours to keep – watch any time, and as many times as you like.  And the class is interactive, so you can ask me, your friendly instructor, and your classmates questions!  In addition, you’ll get exclusive Zundt embroidery designs (and if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know how much I love Zundt designs!)

I made the quilt up in three different colorways, so you can see how the choice of fabric and threads affect the look of the piece.

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As always in my classes, I squeeze in as many tips as I can to make your sewing easier and more precise.  Wait til you learn my newest uses for some very common – and inexpensive – products!

So enter today and don’t miss your chance to win The Machine Embroidery Inspired Quilt class!


Sterling Silver and Machine Embroidery – Unusual Partners!

My daughter is a jewelry artist.  About five years ago, trying to find a way to make a little money during grad school, she made these pretty little brooches.  She made the hand-crafted sterling silver centers, and I contributed the free-standing lace machine-embroidered petals.  These were really cute, I thought, and very versatile, as the centers could be removed and used with a variety of flowers.


So, of course, I made a quilt with a silver-centered flower!  This little quilt was donated to the silent auction at the Houston Quilt Festival in 2010.


The upper flower is machine embroidery directly on fabric.  The middle flower is a photo transfer from a photograph I took in our back yard.  And the lower flower is a double layer of free-standing lace petals with one of the silver flower centers.  This flower can be removed from the quilt and worn!  The light green border fabric is silk dupionni, free-motion quilted.  And all the machine embroidery designs in this post are Zundt, of course.

Then Annie tricked me!  She said she had a commission for three black-eyed Susan pins, and could I please embroider the flowers.  Some time later, I received a package in the mail.  Three lovely pins for me!   So of course I photographed them in their natural setting.  Look closely to find the silver-centered blossoms!


I’ve worn these a lot.  I’m not a “bling-y” kind of person, but these are casual and fun, a mix of silver and thread, and a wonderful reminder of my wonderful daughter!