My friend Kelli has been smocking again and so today I am turning the blog over to her to inspire you with another amazing creation!
Sometimes a piece of fabric speaks to you and you have to have it! Ok, let's be honest: often times, almost always, you can see a fabric online or in a store and you have to have it! As the meme goes: sewing fabric and collecting fabrics are two different hobbies. So we buy that we must have, not always knowing what the fabric will become. Occasionally I stumble across the perfect pattern or garment for one of those must-have fabrics and I am excited at the impending marriage of fabric and design! This was the case when I saw the London Calling Dawn lawn fabric. The fabric showcases a unique coalescence of sophisticated, dreamy colors of pink, gray, soft golds and cream. When I got my hands on it, I was in love with it's silky soft feel and beautiful drape. I knew it could be used for any number of projects, so I collected three yards. I did make a smocked ladies nightgown trimmed in the Gray Cotton Crochet Lace for a treasured mom friend of mine.
She was overwhelmed with appreciation, which as a side note, makes parting with a creation joyful. But I still had a little over a yard left, so it went back into my collection until I was thumbing through an old Australian Smocking & Embroidery (Issue #98) magazine. The darling garment, "Sugar," a diaper shirt and cover by Kris Curtis, was adorable!!! What is appealing about the garment is it looked to be a quick sew: a little smocked piece frosts the neckline like a beautiful pearl necklace, no sleeves, a little lace to flounce against chubby baby legs and arms, with teeny ornamental buttons.
I knew the London Calling lawn would be perfect and sometimes it is just fun to sew something little and delicate to be reminded how little and delicate the precious wonder of new life is.
The garment features a little bit of smocking on either side of a center front pleat.
The smocked piece is a narrow strip of fabric trimmed, pleated, smocked and fitted to the garment between the front shoulder seams. Sugar was originally made of a solid pink voile and the instructions provide great measurements for the voile; however voile pleats up very narrowly, so more voile fabric is needed to adequately cover the width of the shirt front compared to other cotton fabrics. I actually cut the measurement given in the article (it's not a lot to begin with) and then adjusted my lawn fabric to fit. I tied off the pleating threads adjacent to the center front pleat edges and made my adjustments on the outside edge pleating threads, which means I cut fabric off in equal amounts on both end to suit my taste for plump, evenly distributed pleats. I maybe cut off 1 1/2 to 2 inches total. Be careful not to cut your pleating threads! Two things to keep in mind when you adjust for your fabric. First, look at the smocking pattern repeat and make sure you keep enough pleats to complete the full pattern and don't end up with a hanging trellis! Second, you want the trim you apply to lay nicely.
I planned to use the same Gray Cotton Crochet Lace that I used on the ladies nightgown arm opening to trim the neckline smocking, but I could tell the cotton crochet lace had too much body to ruffle up and lay attractively once pleated. I just dug into my collection of french lace, made sure I had enough for the neck, arms and legs and voila, I was back in business. The seam allowances are small, a narrow 3/8 inch, so be mindful when applying the smocked piece to the neckline that you catch it deep enough in the seam allowance. It really did stitch up quickly and it was a fun project. I hope to know a chubby legged baby girl for it someday, but for now it is equally as satisfying to have a sweet confection, made with love, reminding me that sewing, smocking, creating and gifting is something that I love to do and that sometimes we have to just enjoy the process from start to finish.