An Autumn Portrait

Here in middle of the country, autumn is usually a beautiful time of year. This year has been no exception. The trees put on a colorful show, the skies are often clear and blue, and the humidity lessens. Autumn is nearly over Рrain and wind during the past week have denuded the trees, and there is a hard freeze forecast for this weekend, with possible snow flurries.

Twenty-one years ago (I think!) my parents had an autumn portrait taken of their grandchildren. Here are my Annie and David, and my sister’s two sons.

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Of course, I made coordinating outfits for everyone ūüôā One girl and three boys, ranging in age from just under a year to eleven years old. I chose a very soft, bright plaid cotton flannel as something that they might all be willing to wear!

I don’t have the shirts Annie and David wore any longer. Annie’s had a V-shaped, bias front yoke that I fringed at the lower edge. I don’t remember doing it, but the picture shows fringe around the collar, as well, so I assume I fringed a strip, then inserted it in the collar seam as I would piping. David’s shirt had an attached hood, and I found a brightly colored¬†lizard button that I added to the chest pocket.

I do still have my nephews’ garments! Thanks, Mom and Cathy, for saving them.

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This was Sean’s shirt (the plaids on the front placket really do match, but the way it’s hanging shows that they don’t!)¬†

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You can see that I matched the plaid on the chest pocket. Just as a tip, look at the little stitched triangles at the upper edge of the pocket – this really helps keep pockets from tearing out, and adds a nice professional touch for very little effort!

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The cuffs were made with a continuous-lap placket and two pleats.

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On the left upper sleeve, I appliqued a colorful lizard to match the lizard button on David’s shirt! I added googly-eye buttons for fun.

All of the “big kids” outfits were from commercial patterns – I have no idea which ones.

Mark’s overalls may have been made from a commercial pattern, or some other pattern, or adapted from a pants pattern.

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The smocking was Ellen McCarn’s “Crayon Rainbow.”

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I wanted the legs to snap, but wanted fewer snaps than snap tape. So I cut the snap tape apart and spaced them out on the inner leg opening.

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The back waist was elasticized. The criss-cross back straps buttoned to the inside of the back waist, with multiple buttonholes to allow for growth.

Finally, these garments have been stored with others that I have made. Do you know that purple boa feathers shed copiously?! I was picking little purple feather shreds off of these garments as I was trying to get photos, but obviously missed some.

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And where did the purple feather boa enter into my sewing history, you ask? Well, as a trim on a very sparkly dress! But that’s a story for another day…

 

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Arrowmont

My daughter and I will soon be going to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts to take a week-long workshop together. Arrowmont is a lovely old crafts school nestled in the Smoky Mountains, hidden just off the beaten path in Gatlinburg, TN. This will be my fifth visit there.

The first time, in 2004, I think, Annie and I took a class in glass fusing. What a wonderful time we had! The next year, she and I tried enameling.

Two years later, in 2007, David joined us, and we took a class in woodworking. It was a blast! Learning something new with grown children, focusing on the task at hand, in beautiful surroundings – well, I highly recommend it!

This is the coffee table David made. After he got home, he finished it, and it was one of his most prized possessions. When everything else in his life fell apart, this was one of the few things he took great care of. It is now in Annie’s living room, and she cherishes it.

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This was Annie’s wild and crazy table! She included every technique we were taught ūüôā Unfortunately, it sustained some water damage in a closet and¬†had to be¬†discarded.

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And this is what I made. It was supposed to have a quilt made to go behind the wavy lattice, but that hasn’t happened, and the table is still unfinished.

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The surroundings are so gorgeous! The entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park is just a couple of miles away, and there is a little scenic drive even closer.

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In 2008, Annie couldn’t make it, and David and I took a workshop in bead-making. Hot glass and torches. These are some of the beads he made.

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Because they needed to cool overnight in the kiln when we left, the instructor shipped them to us. Sadly, they never made it here. I wish so much I had some of¬†his Arrowmont¬†beads! Aren’t they beautiful?

David had¬†taught¬†himself¬†some lampworking before we went, and fortunately Annie and I do have some of the beads he made at home. She made me a pendant with one of those beads (but of course I can’t find the photo right now!)

I made some beads, too. So what did I do when I brought mine home? Added fabric, of course! I made a quilt. This is “Monochrome.”

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It is 45.5″ x 60″¬†and was made in¬†2009. It¬†is truly a mixed techniques quilt!¬†It includes English hand smocking (because I needed some hand work to do while my husband was in the hospital for a week), fabric manipulation (inspired from a costume in the stage production of “Phantom of the Opera”), foundation piecing, machine applique, digitized embroidered motifs and free-standing lace.¬†And glass beads above the tassels! It includes cottons, necktie silk, machine embroidery, monofilament, and silk¬†threads, perle cotton, seed beads, glass, purchased tassels, and cotton batting.¬† Embroidery designs were from EmbroideryOnline, Zundt Designs, and Martha Pullen/Zundt.

“Monochrome” won 2nd place in the Computer-Aided Machine Embroidery category at the 2010 Houston Internation Quilt Festival, and an Honorable Mention at the 2010 AQS show in Paducah.

Here’s a close-up…

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And the beads (click on these images to see them better)…

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Now, it’s been seven years since I’ve been there. Annie and I will be learning about wood-turning. She’s done some, but I never have. If previous years are any indication, it will be a fun, memorable, relaxing, and creativity-inspiring week!

Easter Finery

Spring is here!

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I enjoyed sewing coordinating outfits for my children for as long as they would tolerate it!  This has to be one of my all-time favorite photos of them together.  It was taken in 1990.

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Their outfits were made of Imperial broadcloth, and the smocking plate was “Cottontail Bunnies 3” by Mollie Jane Taylor.

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David’s pattern was (maybe?) Children’s Corner Jeffrey, but it is not lined, so I’m not sure if that was the pattern I used.

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I used tiny piping on the collar and fake cuffs, as well as along the top and bottom of the smocked insert.

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I omitted the top and bottom rows of the smocking plate.¬† Aren’t those fluffy little tails cute?!

Here’s a picture from 1997 of my nephew in the outfit.

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I’m not sure what, if any, pattern I used for Annie’s blouse and dress.

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(I’m also not sure what that glare is on the lower part of some of these photos.¬† It’s my photography abilities, not the garments!)

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Her bunnies had pink tails, and the collar and cuffs were trimmed with gathered Swiss edging, as well as piping.

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And even though they weren’t visible when worn, her dress had mother-of-pearl flower buttons.

The next two outfits were from the next year, I think, and probably the last time they wore matching duds.

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This dress was (maybe) a New Look pattern, but again, I’m not sure.¬† The fabric was a print cotton, and looking back, I think, “Wow, why didn’t I pick a prettier color than that grayed-down lavender?!”

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The collar shadow embroidery is from a Wendy Ragan design in an early issue of Sew Beautiful, stitched on, and lined with, Imperial batiste.

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Then, turn around!

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I made the collar to fit the Swiss motif.

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What a sweet embroidery design!

David’s shirt is double-breasted to match Annie’s dress.¬† He probably had blue pants or shorts to go with this.

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It is Imperial broadcloth, and the collar is Imperial batiste. I have no idea of the pattern, if any.

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The light blue trim along the collar is not an applied edging, but a narrow shadow embroidered strip.

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The back has boy bunnies instead of girl bunnies!

Now, I haven’t sewn Easter outfits in a long, long time.¬† But a few years ago, I did dress up some Peeps for a surprise package for Annie! ūüôā

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French lace and pearl buttons, of course!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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…

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

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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.

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