Monday, April 22, 2013

Repurpose Challenge: Petticoat Lace Blouse

This asymmetrical blouson top was made using a commercial
pattern and a deep, tiered-lace hem from an antique petticoat.

In last week's newsletter, we shared with you a lovely triple ruffle bonnet from Martha Pullen's antique clothing collection. Martha has accumulated piles of vintage white garments over the years, and many - such as that bonnet - are extraordinarily special and have been handled with care. However, others were purchased in priced bundles so the pieces were in less-than-perfect condition, stained, torn or otherwise marred.

Rather than discard these less-than-perfect pieces, our staff has taken on the challenge of remaking them into something beautiful and heirloom-inspired.  I (Amelia) made this asymmetrical blouson top - which was featured in our March/April 2013 issue - using a commercial pattern that was drafted with a shoulder ruffle. Instead of using self-fabric for the ruffle, however, I used the deep, tiered-lace hem from an antique petticoat. 

If you would like to make a similar blouse from an antique petticoat, keep in mind when you are shopping that there are many beautiful options. They aren't all rows of lace like this one; some have lace shaping, tucks and embroidery. Look for pieces that are damaged above the flounce as they can be more reasonably priced. If Martha's stash is any indication, there are countless skirts and petticoats still in existence with all sorts of lace designs begging to be revived as part of a modern blouse, skirt or baby gown.

Beautiful vintage lace should not go to waste tucked away in an attic.
Find new life for it on a modern design.
How to make it:

I used Burda Pattern #7549, but any off-the-shoulder top, tunic or dress will work. Follow the instructions in the pattern and instead of using a fabric flounce or ruffle, incorporate your antique piece. Choose a lightweight silk or cotton fabric like China silk, cotton lawn or batiste. I chose the best of both worlds with a silk/cotton blend of Martha's Elegance fabric from the Martha Pullen Store.

You will need 1/4-inch-wide elastic for the off-the-shoulder top edge and 3/8- to 1/2-inch-wide for the bottom casing. If you would prefer to use new laces, create your own stacked flounce with 6-1/2 yards of lace and use the pattern as your guide. You may finish the top edge with a row of lace edging to cover the elastic casing by butting and zigzagging the lace header edge to the top edge of the blouse before you insert the elastic. 

TIP:  Salvage some of the skirt fabric for a seam allowance above the lace (usually 5/8 inches). If this is not possible, add a strip of fabric to the lace so that you can connect it to the top of the blouse. Rather than pick out the flat felled seam above the lace, I just used it in the seam allowance.

I removed the last two rows of lace to narrow the width of the flounce.
Speaking of Burda patterns, F+W Media (our parent company) announced a new partnership with Burda Style last week, and we couldn't be more excited. Welcome to the family, Burda Style!

For more spring sewing inspiration, be sure to check out our huge Spring Clearance Event happening now at the Martha Pullen Online Store.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful, 
Cyndi and Amelia

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Triple Ruffle Bonnet from Martha's Attic

Triple Ruffle with Back Bow Bonnet

One of our most popular features in Sew Beautiful magazine is "Martha's Attic" - a regular column in which Martha Pullen showcases garments from her vast antique clothing collection. Martha has been collecting for around three decades, and it is always exciting to see what fabulous find she will share with us next. 

Pieces from Martha's collection have also been featured on episodes of "Martha's Sewing Room" and in various books. In the book Vintage Baby, Martha showcases infant and older babies' clothing from the Victorian era.

Many of the beautiful antique embroidery designs found in Vintage Baby were replicated and released as a two-part companion machine embroidery CD. These designs have been some of our most popular embroidery designs over the years. Now, for the first time, digital download versions of these CDs are available to purchase in the Martha Pullen Store.

To celebrate, we'd like to share the following excerpt from Vintage Baby in which Martha details a lovely Triple Ruffle with Back Bow Bonnet:

Triple Ruffle with Back Bow Bonnet 
American, circa 1900 

For years I've been holding back some of my most special baby pieces to put in a "baby only" book, and now I finally have an opportunity to share them with you. I purchased this one in Sturbridge, Massachusetts so many years ago I can't recall the circumstances. The bonnet is made in a Swiss embroidered fabric with a batiste triple ruffle. When a baby wore the bonnet, the three 1-1/4-inch ruffles would encircle her sweet face. A very narrow piece of baby French lace is whipped to the tiny, turned-under edges of the tightly gathered ruffles. Even tinier baby piping attaches the inside ruffle to the bonnet and the bonnet to the gathered back section. 

The bonnet was made using a Swiss embroidered fabric with a batiste triple ruffle.

A little bow attached to the back adds to the bonnet's charm. It is made of white batiste, not embroidered Swiss, and finished in a 1/4-inch hem that is turned under twice and hand picked. This same white batiste was used for the ruffles and ties, which are 19 inches long. The lower back of the bonnet, which would lie across the back of baby's neck, is a 3/4-inch by 3-inch strip of embroidered fabric joined to the piping that encircles the crown. It is finished at the bottom with a single lace-edged ruffle about 3/4-inch deep. The three front ruffles meet and join to this back section. The bonnet was handmade, which means that it took a long time to make this tiny treasure for a very special baby. 

The little back bow adds to the bonnet's charm.

This bonnet was purchased in Massachusetts, so I thought I would include this advertisement from the May 1905 edition of The Youth's Companion, a catalog that was published in Springfield.

Dainty Lawn Baby Bonnet 25 Cents 
Narrow tucks, hemstitched edge. Very neat and of fine quality. Sent post-paid on receipt of price. Give baby's age. 'DAINTY THINGS FOR BABIES.' Bonnets, Bootees, Dresses, Sacques, Sleeveless Undershirts, 'Alma' Shirts, etc. By mail. 
Send Stamp for Illustrated Catalogue. Albert D. Smith & Co., Dept. Y, Springfield, MA. 

For great vintage-inspired embroidery designs, be sure to check out the Vintage Baby 1 and Vintage Baby 2 downloads, as well our new digital download for Bonnets and Booties

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful
Cyndi and Amelia

Monday, April 8, 2013

Baby Bubble with Embellished Double Pintucks

Our finished baby bubble!

Baby bubble rompers are one of our favorite things to sew, and we love thinking of new ways to recreate the classic pattern. From ruffles to puffed sleeves to embellishments, a number of things can be done to make your finished baby bubble one of a kind.

In the following how-to, designer MichiƩ Mooney will show you how to add embellished double pintucks to a baby bubble. This cute-as-a-button project first appeared in our March/April 2007 issue of Sew Beautiful.

The pleated-front baby bubble shown here is made of yellow handkerchief linen and features six sets of double release pintucks for a total of 12 pintucks. Each tuck is embellished with a hand running stitch using two strands of embroidery floss (the sample uses gray blue DMC Embroidery Cotton Floss [#159]). At the end of each set is a button (the sample uses a blue button with a swirl edge from Wendy Schoen Designs).

Embellished double pintucks

How to Create Embellished Double Pintucks:

NOTE: Apply tucks to a block of fabric before cutting out front. 

1. Starting 5/8 inch from center front, mark two tuck foldlines 1/4 inch apart and 3-1/2 inches down from neck seamline. Each set of double pintucks is 7/8 inch apart from first tuck to first tuck (fig. 1). 

Figure 1

2. Fold and stitch one release tuck at a time. With matching thread, stitch precisely 1/16 inch from fold, stopping at bottom of each line. Press tucks apart. 

3. Using two strands of DMC floss, hand stitch an even running stitch in space between pintucks (fig. 2). 

Figure 2

4. Sew a blue button at end of each tuck. 

5. Construct bubble as instructed in pattern. 

For more great technique and project tutorials, check out our newly released Sew Beautiful 2007 Collection. This collection features full-sized electronic versions of all six issues of Sew Beautiful from 2007 and includes printable patterns, tips and techniques, how-to articles and more. 

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful
Cyndi and Amelia

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Master the Lazy Daisy, Satin Stitch and French Knot

We love our sewing machines, but sometimes our delicate projects require stitching that simply must be done by hand. Of course, different projects require various types of hand stitches. We'd like to share quick tutorials for three of our favorites: the Lazy Daisy Stitch, the No-Fail French Knot and the Satin Stitch. The tutorials are excerpted from Martha Pullen's new book Heirloom Quilts, which is a great resource for quilting beginners as well as anyone looking to learn heirloom quilting and sewing techniques. 

Lazy Daisy Stitch
Lazy Daisy Stitch: 

1. Bring the needle up through the center point if you are stitching a flower, and up just next to a vine or flower for leaves (fig. 1). 

2. Reinsert the needle back down into the initial hole. In the same stitch, come up through the wrong side of your fabric approximately 1/8 to 3/8 inch (3mm to 1 cm) above the initial piercing (fig. 2). Wrap the ribbon behind the needle and pull the ribbon through keeping the ribbon from twisting (fig. 3). 

3. Insert the needle straight into the same hole or very close to the same hole at the top of the loop (fig. 4). Notice that the needle goes down underneath the ribbon loop (side view fig. 4). The top view of figure 4 shows that the stitch is straight and will anchor the ribbon loop in place.

No-Fail French Knot
No-Fail French Knot:

1. Bring the needle up through the fabric (fig. 1). 

2. Hold the needle horizontally with one hand and wrap the ribbon around the needle with the other hand (fig. 2). If you are using a single strand of floss, one or two wraps will create a small knot. If you are making French knots with 1/16-inch (2mm) silk ribbon, the knot will be larger. The size of the knot varies with the number of strands of floss or the width of the silk ribbon being used. 

3. While holding the tail of the ribbon to prevent it from unwinding off the needle, bring the needle up into a vertical position and insert it into the fabric just slightly beside where the needle came out of the fabric (fig. 3). Pull the ribbon or floss gently through the fabric while holding the tail with the other hand.

Satin Stitch
Satin Stitch: 

1. To guide your stitching, first lightly trace off the area to be filled directly on the project/fabric so you have two defined lines to follow. This step aids in maintaining the varying stitch widths as they fill the shape. Secure your fabric in an embroidery hoop.

2. Begin at one end and work the needle from one side to the other, stacking up the thread just below and next to the previous stitch (fig. 1). Continue this wrapping process, keeping the fabric secured and taut while the stitches are pulled with light tension so that the fabric will not tunnel.

Heirloom Quilts includes tutorials for a variety of other quilting and heirloom techniques, as well as patterns for two beautiful quilts, the Pink Tulip Quilt and the Blue Linen Quilt. 

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful
Cyndi and Amelia