Apr 27, 2015

Heirloom Sewing

This is my Sally Stanley pleater, and my husband made the board for me years ago.  
Through the years, the little dowels that hold the spools of quilting thread have broken off but it still works :)
(There's a Netflix movie on my iPad, sorry didn't mean to include it!)

The grooves are where the needles go, they curve around the dowel.

I rolled the fabric on a rod and slowly turn it through the pleater, aligning the fabric with a certain groove to keep it straight.

The quilting threads act as guidelines for me to smock on.

I'm smocking a bonnet for my granddaughter Isabel's blessing.
The thread is silk ribbon.
The fabric is silk batiste and it's very difficult to work with.
I'm using Madeira thread on my Bernina 750 QE and it keeps breaking, which is very frustrating.
It seems to break the most when I'm using a gathering stitch.

This is entredeux, it's French for "between two".  
Entredeux is used in heirloom sewing to join laces or join seams.
Sometimes you leave the seam allowance on while you sew it to fabric, but if you're sewing it to gathered lace, you trim one side of the entredeux off.

Here, I have trimmed the seam allowance of the entredeux and am attaching gathered French cotton lace.

French cotton lace is wonderful to work with!
To gather the lace, you pull one of the cotton threads running along the top, as pictured below.

This is one of my heirloom books, I think it's from the late 80's, or early 1990's.
I really can't imagine dressing a little boy up in that outfit trimmed in lace, but it's a Southern thing.

This is the yoke and neckline of Isabel's dress.
Each piece of lace and entredeux is attached separately, on the yoke.
The lace with the embroidered flowers is called Swiss cotton.
I finished the neckline and attached the gathered lace with entredeux.

The shoulder seams are attached with entredeux also.

I don't have little Isabel to try the dress on and show you how the dress drapes, so I used Kermit :)

Here's a closeup, I think you can see the lace so much better here.

I used a band of embroidered swiss cotton on the sleeve, with entredeux on each side.
There will be a small "fancy band"on the lower part of the dress, and then a gathered ruffle trimmed in wider French cotton on the hem.
Isabel's blessing is next Sunday, I hope to be able to show you photos of her finished gown, slip and bonnet, next week.
I'll also have lots of photos of Isabel in her silk gown to show you too :)
Have a great week!

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  1. Oh wow! Labor of love AND lots of patience. Beautiful work on these special, delicate items, Cynthia!

  2. Oh My Goodness and more... this type of work just blows me away.
    The book front cover with the boys outfit could cause major damage in todays world but sure would suit some of the active young ladies out there of that age.

  3. Cindy, it is so beautiful. Your work is amazing. This will be treasured for years.

  4. My son and two of my grandsons had similar outfits over the years. My son played varsity water polo in college, and my eldest grandson is a nationally ranked squash player. They wore things like this until they outgrew them at about age 4-5. At that age, the other little boys paid no attention to what one another wore! All it takes is one other mother at church to dress her boys similarly and there is no problem. I treasure how they looked in those outfit - like cherubs with their golden curls!