Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March MADEness!

March MADEness! No, it's not a typo!!

It's not exactly madness at the Midnight Oil Smockers' meetings and we're certainly not playing basketball, but we do manage to get a lot of smocking and sewing done. (Hence the MADEness title!)  Finishing garments or other projects makes one feel like a winner every time. This month was no exception! 

Peg Pocket Dress Sew-in

Our first gathering of the month was on Saturday, March 18, when a few members met at Quiltworks to continue our progress on the Peg Pocket Dress, which was the featured garment of a Trisha Smith class in February. It's always the hope that a dress will get finished at one of these sew-ins, and perhaps if we didn't have such a great time visiting with each other, we might get more done. Of course, a lot of the fun in creating treasures is the actual process of doing them, and being able to do that with friends may slow things down a bit, but it certainly adds richness to the periods of sewing. 

Leslye led the group of sewers, and thankfully she brought the dress from her 1st Peg Pocket Dress class with Trisha. (She's now taken the class twice, lucky lady!) Having this dress to study really helped when one of the chapter members would get stumped by the pattern directions.

 Laura, hard at work on the bodice of her dress.

 Leslye is SO helpful, and she organizes these sew-ins. Every group needs someone like her!
 Juli is working away on her dress.

 Trena's work space. She gave us a refresher course on how to make a "hot dog" hem. (Look it up on Youtube!)

 Joanne is always cheerful! But when you're spending the day sewing with friends, why wouldn't you be?

Perhaps Susanna is thinking through the old saying, "Measure twice, cut once"?

Trena, trimming her piping. Having the right tools makes any job easier!

Lunch Recommendation: Trena, Laura and Denise took a break at lunchtime and headed to The Backyard Grill on Jones Road, which is a few doors down from Quiltworks. What a great place!! We highly recommend it.

March Monthly Meetings

Morning Monthly Meeting Program: Needles

 Leslye presented a fabulous program on needles. She explained the difference between needle names and sizes, as well as manufacturers. Her examples were extremely helpful and her handouts were very informative.
The consensus: We're all going to be looking for Tulip needles! They sound wonderful.

 The needle guide she handed out to each of us. Thanks to Wendy Schoen for giving permission for Lesley to hand these out to all of the MOS members.
Cathy made and distributed neat little needle holders that were the size of matchbooks.
(Photo coming soon) Thanks Cathy!!

Evening Meeting: Sergers

 Kathleen, the owner of the Sugar Land Sewing School, presented the evening meeting on the use of sergers. Her tips and guidelines were incredible! She is one talented seamstress, and she makes her techniques sound so easy. Everyone left determined to dust off their serger (or go buy one) and get started on sewing more projects.

 Brenda and Teresa listen and learn from Kathleen while having a good time doing so. 

Thanks to Lana and Bill at It Seams To Be Sew for letting us meet at their shop. They are great hosts! 

Coming soon!
March Sew & Share: Boy Challenge, UFO/Stashbuster entries & lots of other beautiful garments.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

WeeCare Gowns.....Because We Care!

February chapter meeting: 
WeeCare Workshop

February's monthly meeting was postponed because of inclement weather, but that didn't stop the Midnight Oil Smockers from showing up a week later than planned. Chapter members got to work on the group's philantropy: WeeCare gowns. These gowns are bereavement clothing for those sweet children that are either stillborn or don't survive to leave the hospital after being born. Sad? Yes. Comforting to those that use them? Absolutely. Knowing that, the chapter members lovingly construct and smock these sweet little gowns and bonnets for those parents that will need them in a very dark time of their lives.

Step 1: Cutting the fabric

We use Imperial Batiste fabric, which is a cotton/poly blend, and is a mainstay in the smocking world. It is a light fabric that has a wonderfully soft hand, yet is firm enough to pleat and smock easily. We begin by using a tried and true pattern to cut the fabric. The pieces are put in plastic bags for organization's sake. These then move on to the 2nd step. (This picture also shows Step 3 in the back: Ironing.)

Step 2: Beginning Construction

Members begin the construction process by sewing together the two back panels, the two sleeve scythes, and the front panel.

Although we take these projects very seriously, we don't take ourselves that way. There is always a lot of fun banter between members, as shown here by Nikki and Roberta. Barbara, wisely, is laughing, but staying out of the discussion! Somehow, we manage to get a TON of work done while having a great time doing it.
After this first construction step is finished, the gowns are sent ready for:

Step 3: Ironing (See picture above)
The gowns are pressed and readied for pleating.

Step 4: Pleating

The ironed gowns are rolled on wooden dowels and fed through the pleater, which pushes a set amount of needles carrying thread through the top of the gown.

For an interesting article on the fluter, the precursor to the pleater, read The Fluter Iron: Forerunner of the Smocking Pleater, by our own Tawn Hunka. You can find the article in the November 2016 issue of SagaNews (vol. 37 Issue 4).

Next Steps:
After this step, the gowns are either sent home with chapter members to be smocked or they are sent back to Construction to have the seams and hems completed. The gowns can be smocked when construction is completely finished, if preferred.

Once the gowns are smocked and all construction is completed, they are again ironed and packaged with a caring note to the recipient, then delivered to the Houston, TX area hospitals that give them to the families that need them.

Many Hands Make Light Work!
That old saying certainly holds true for the Midnight Oil Smockers. At the February WeeCare Workshop, 71 gowns were prepared for smocking, while 94 more were in some phase of the process when the workshop ended. 165 gowns is quite an achievement, but when you care about

 these families as much as the MOSmockers do, it's not work, it's a delight!

Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 18     Sew-in for Trisha Smith class/UFOs
                                                       Quiltworks 9 AM - 4 PM
                                                       Work on completing the Trisha Smith Peg Pocket dress or any
                                                        other UFO you have

Monday, March 20      March monthly meeting
                                                       Day meeting: Tracy Gee Comm. Center 10 AM - Noon
                                                       Night meeting: It Seams to be Sew 7 PM - 9 PM
                                                       March Challenge: Boys Will Be Boys!!

Remember: Keep smocking and creating, but most of all, keep smiling. Life's too short to spend it with a frown!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Rainy Days & Mondays

Rainy Days and Mondays.......
  mean it's time to stay home and smock!

100% chance of rain. Perhaps there will be thunderstorms. The weather predictions were enough to keep most of us home today. And inside.....unlike this smocked cutie. This is the work of Claire Meldrum. Claire isn't a member of MOS, but her darling dress brightened this deary day, so it was definitely worth sharing. She used Janet Gilbert's plate Rainy Days and a vintage pattern from the 1950's. Check out the details at www.clairemeldrum.ca/flowers-showers-and-smocking/.

On this rainy day here across Houston, Texas, several MOS members are working on Trisha Smith's Peg Pocket Dress. Trisha taught a class to our group in late January using this pattern. She is a gracious, fun, and informative teacher. We had a blast (but we always have fun together, no matter what we're doing!) and learned so many construction techniques. Most of us have been sewing and smocking a very long time, so learning new techniques and tips was a wonderful bonus. We'll be bringing our finished dresses to our monthly meeting in April to see who's finished. How fun it will be to have a room full of these dresses in all different colors and prints!

Here's one of them in progress:
Yep, not any further along in the process than when the class ended last month. Hopefully, something will get accomplished on this lazy, rainy day. Won't this be precious when it's finished? It speaks of Spring and warmer, clearer days when little girls will once again be running around, twirling their dresses. For now, it brings focus to a day that could drag by without much accomplished. So for now, it's back to the sewing machine.

Keep smocking and creating, but most of all, keep smiling! Life's too short to spend it with a frown (even on a rainy, dreary day)!!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Sachet

Looking for a quick Valentine's project? How about this counterchange heart plate? It makes a sweet little sachet, or it fits nicely on a styrofoam ball for an ornament. It's easy to start and easy to finish. 

This pattern is just one project in "A Circle of Friends: The Project Notebook of the Smocking Arts Guild of America," which was presented to attendees at the 1994 National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The Yankee Chapter from Rhode Island contributed it to the notebook, and it smocks up nicely. (Sample in photo is not blocked.)

Counterchange Heart Sachet
Yankee Chapter of SAGA, Rhode Island

Materials Required:
     Ribbon Floss or Ribbon Thread 
     Beeswax to prevent stitches from slipping (not used in above sample)
     Size 6 or 7 embroidery or quilting needle
     7"x15" piece of Polished Apple Cotton 3/8" gingham check  
     10" piece of 1/8" ribbon to match for tie

1. Counterchange the design included (below) for gingham fabric two times.
2. The counterchange design forms two large hearts (one for the front and one for the back), two borders and a casing.
3. After the smocking has been completed, fold the fabric with the right sides together and line up the stripes or checks by holding the fabric up to the light.
4. Stitch along the side and straight across the bottom following the lines of the fabric. Trim seam and turn right side out.
5. Starting at the center front of the top row of smocking, thread the ribbon through the vertical stitches that form a casing. Pull up and tie a bow.
6. You finished! This little sachet is now ready for potpourri or candy or jewelry or anything else you like.

Share your Valentine Day projects with us!!

New SAGA Smock-A-Long

Ever wonder how to smock a scalloped shape?

Join your smocking sisters and learn (or perfect) the Curved Line Technique. Evelyn Philip, a long-time teacher of SAGA correspondence courses, has given SAGA permission to offer her course, A Study in the Curved Line Technique, online to SAGA members. To participate, you must register for the course.

Your first lesson will be emailed to you on March 1. You will receive an additional lesson weekly for a total of three lessons. To participate, you must be registered by March 15. Artisan points can be earned for finishing this class. To receive the points, you must have finished the course and sent your picture to facilitator Jann Young by April 30. 

For more info or to register for the Smock-A-Long, go to SAGA's website, smocking.org, or check out the SAGA Facebook group page.

Monday, January 30, 2017

January Sew & Share

January Sew & Share

Cindy Shealor's small pillowcase cover made out of cotton batiste. The plate is from Ellen McCarn, but Cindy isn't sure what the name is.

Nikki Stasny's blue & white seersucker baby boy bubble. The pattern is Creations by Michie #102--Pleated Bubble, and the embroidery design is from Applique for Kids. Nikki's grandson will look adorable in this outfit!

Susan's Reilly's Dorset Buttons. She attended a Houston Embroidery Guild workshop and learned how to make these beauties.

Susan's gorgeous tea cozy from Australian Smocking & Embroidery #34. Susan made this for a friend who drinks tea. Even if you didn't, who wouldn't want something this beautiful in their home?

Susan Reilly is modeling her jacket made from Vogue pattern #8430, and she definitely took the new 2017 Stash Buster challenge to heart. The jacket is crafted from wool she bought in Vienna in 1983!

Beth Walz' silk dupioni square yoke dress made several years ago for her daughter (now grown and married!). It was begun at a Martha Pullen school somewhere around 1997 and then finished in a Sue Stewart class in 2004. The classes were on lace shaping, and it's obvious Beth learned the technique well. Below is a close up of the bodice of this beauty.

Isn't this a fun sundress? Marisol Arteaga made this Children's Corner Mary De in pink gingham. She bought the smocked insert already done at MOS' Midnight Madness sale. One more great reason not to miss a single meeting!!

Susanna Terris' lovely smocked square yoke. It is made from a Gail Doane pattern. Here's a closer look at her beautiful smocking and embroidery.

Susan Reilly's Children's Corner bishop in cotton from it's Sew Heavenly. It's smocked with African Princess from Australian Smocking & Embroidery #46. Susan decided to make a more contemporary bishop, and this was the result. Great execution!

Susan Reilly planned on this dress being worn on Valentine's Day, 2016, but things didn't work out that way! She finished it in time for it to be worn in 2017, and it is a beauty. She used the square yoke bishop from Australian Smocking & Embroidery #91, and smocked "Caitan" on a novelty print cotton bought at Buttons & Bows. Below is a close up of the smocking:

This cutie was Karen Madden's first smocked dress ever. She smocked and constructed it in 24 hours for a Mardi Gras party. Wow! The pattern is a CC Bishop and the smocking plate is her own. Very impressive, Karen.

Karen Madden made this Christmas nightgown out of 100% cotton knit and used an Australian Smocking & Embroidery pattern. What a great way to greet Santa!

Have you ever seen a tea towel look so lovely? Leslye Usner used tea towels and a Creative Needle bishop pattern to make this sweet creation. The smocking design is also from Creative Needle.
A close up of Lesley's lovely work:

Leslye Usner's adorable bib. The pattern is Cherry William's Baby Layette and it is made of blue gingham. Lesley isn't sure of the smocking plate design name, but she did a great job on it.

What a lucky baby girl Roberta's granddaughter is going to be when she finally arrives! Roberta has already made her several sweet garments, including this baby gown. The pattern is from Lezette Thomason. It is made out of white Bearissima and trimmed with ecru lace. Roberta adapted the pattern by curving the ruffle at the neckline.
And then she made a matching receiving blanket, which she constructed of white Bearissima and Swiss flannel with whipstitch piping. The embroidery pattern is from Martha Pullen.


This cute outfit was made by Stuart Williams. It is Pattern #107 from Creations by Michie in a 6 month size. Stuart constructed it from Imperial Batiste & blue microcheck with antique pearl buttons. Adorable!

Stuart also made this daygown from Jeannie Baumeister's book, The Old Fashioned Baby. The pattern is Priscilla's Layette. It is made of Imperial batiste.

The embroidery design is from another of Jeannie's books, Book of Heirloom Embroidery. Very lovely.

Lucy Netherton made this adorable jumpsuit out of Kaufman corduroy using Bonnie Blue's Brylee pattern. It is a size 3 and is smocked with Cross-Eyed Cricket's 3 Little Pigs. Lucy modified the pattern and added the ruffles and side sashes.

Don't you love how these 3 little pigs have sticks, straw and bricks!?!

Stuart Williams also made this Lee from Children's Corner in cotton broadcloth. It is a size 1. Any little girl would look precious in this!

The smocking plate is Angela by Terry Collins and the collar was purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics. So pretty!

That's all of the Sew & Share for January. Thanks for visiting.

Next week: an update on the Trisha Smith classes and pictures of all the fun.

Keep creating for those you love. It keeps the art of smocking alive, it helps you stay young, and it tells others how much you care for them!

Monday, January 23, 2017

January Day & Evening Meetings

Our January meetings were a great start to the new year. Our program was presented by Twila Hixon, who gave tips on putting zippers into garments. Her presentation and handouts were very informative.

This month,  there was a challenge to those who took the Gail Doane Jellyroll Jacket class. They were to bring in the finished jacket. Five ladies did and a drawing was held to see which seamstress won the prize for this challenge. Theresa won! Didn't these ladies do a fabulous job?
 Left to Right: Brenda Bristow (also holding Trena Stephens' jacket), Susan Reilly, Teresa Jimenez, Leda Cunningham.