Hello Again!

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra set of arms & hands? So many times I find myself wishing for that. I could accomplish twice as much as I do now. That would be wonderful!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written~ too long! I feel bad about it. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, I’ve just been so busy with my work. Unfortunately I’m not one of those people who are good multi-taskers. There are so many things I’d love to make, but they all require a lot of time. In the interest of trying to get more items made, I decided to concentrate my efforts for a while~  and that’s why I haven’t been here. There is still  so much that I want to make,  so I can’t commit to a regular writing schedule , as I hope to be able to do someday,  but I intend to pop in more frequently and let you see some of the things I’ve been working on.

I recently finished a custom order Christmas dress for a customer that was probably the most difficult order I’ve ever worked on. It was a real challenge,  but I was determined to do it. I worked on this dress for a month, twice even staying up all night working because I had to see what it looked like~ and if I’d captured the scene pictured in my head.  In spite of the difficulty I have to say that I really enjoyed the challenge this dress presented. Creating it helped me learn a lot about perspective & how to fit a lot into a small space~

The order was for a Christmas dress in green fabric, smocked & with an embroidered scene that included a Christmas tree with colored lights, a little girl, a basset hound & a chocolate lab. Once the sides are smocked there is only about a 3 1/2″ x 3″ space left in the center to compose a scene. That’s really not much room at all. Most of my scenes usually have 1 or 2 major figures in them. That is usually what fits the most comfortably. This request was for twice as many figures as I usually have, so the major problem it presented was how to fit everything in and still have it look nice- and the figures be identifiable. When I thought about the scene, what appeared was an outdoor picture. When it came to actually embroidering the scene I pictured, I realized quickly that I was also going to have difficulty with the snow- and how to show that some of the figures were in front while others were further back. These were the two major problems that kept me up all night~ and taught me a lot. I have never been so totally engrossed in a dress as I was with this one,  and I’m happy to say that I was pleased with the results~ (the scene pictured in the upper left corner.)  If you look closely you will see that the string of tree lights begins in the little girl’s hands & extends down to the basset hound at her side. The basset hound holds a section in his mouth while the chocolate lab, having wound the lights around the branches a few times,  is standing behind the tree with his end of the lights held in his mouth~ and so the title, “Three to Light the Tree.”

Just before beginning work on the order for the Christmas dress I made a dress for my shop that is my personal favorite. When shopping for fabrics,  I like to buy cuts of whatever I see that I think would make a nice dress- without having any particular dress in mind. I bring them home, wash them & put them away until I’m ready to begin a new dress. That way I build an adequate supply of fabrics so that when I’m ready to start a dress, I can look at them & choose whatever I’m in the mood to work on. The fabric for this dress is fabric that I’ve had longer than any of my other fabrics. Every time I went to choose fabric for a new dress I’d pass this one over~ it just never seemed to “grab” me~ until recently. I think I even surprised myself when I opened the cupboard where I keep my fabrics,  spotted this and said, “Yes!” I never would have guessed that it would turn out to be my very favorite dress,  but that’s exactly what happened. Once I saw the fabric I knew exactly how I wanted the dress to look. It’s always a bit scary to me to combine fabrics as I’ve done here, with the collar & sleeves in white and the body of the dress in a small print, giving the dress a “jumper & blouse” look. It’s difficult to visualize which fabrics will look good in that style & which won’t. It’s definitely not fit for every print. This is only the second time that I’ve tried embroidering on the “puff” part of each sleeve, but I really like the way it ties the print of the fabric  together with the white sleeves, although it’s not an easy thing to do. In fact it’s very difficult to embroider from inside the small area that is available in the sleeve of a baby dress,  but I think it’s worth the effort and contributes to creating a dress that’s both unique and very special.

These are just a few of the things that have kept me busy in recent months. I’ve also been knitting, as I’m trying to build a supply of knit items for my shops as well, but more on that in my next post. I’m working on a new dress right now and I’m close to being finished embroidering the scene. I’m looking forward to getting to the part where the dress gets sewn together. I’m sorry to say that my sewing machine which has served me so well over the past 25 yrs. has finally said,  “enough!”  It’s replacement is sitting, still in it’s box, waiting for me to reach the stage where it will be needed. I’m anxious to see how it will work. Hopefully I’ll love it as much as I’ve loved my old machine and,  (whisper-)  maybe even a bit more!  I’ll let you know how I like it, next time I write~ must return to work now!

I hope you enjoy the beautiful fall weather that’s either just arrived- or will be arriving soon!  Fall is my favorite season, so I’m looking forward to cool, beautiful days!

About “Winter”

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I’ve just finished this dress that I call “Winter”; my third in a series of four long- sleeved dresses that I wanted to add to my store.  My goal is to have at least one long-sleeved dress in each size available. I just finished cutting out my fourth one,  a size 4, so hopefully before much longer, there will be one, OOAK,  long-sleeved dress in each size in my shop!

I thought I’d speak a bit about “Winter, ” and it’s creation,  because its appearance was a surprise even to me. I know that seems strange. It’s not the first time that I’ve been surprised by one of my dresses. The whole process of creating something  has always been a bit of a mystery to me, and making this dress,  is a perfect example ~

Not always, but often, before I begin working on a dress,  I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with the dress. I usually have a picture in mind. It’s not always a completed picture, but it’s at least a basic idea. What puzzles me,  like what occurred while making this dress, is what happens between the time I begin working on a dress with a particular image in mind, and the time I finish the dress—–and have created something entirely different from the idea envisioned when I began -

Finishing the dress before “Winter,” I began thinking about what I wanted to do with the size 1 that I planned to create next out of a piece of printed white cotton fabric.  I suddenly got an image of a white dress with green, or possibly white, smocking. The dress I envisioned had a very simple, pretty design  of smocked zig zags, interspersed with embroidered red, green, and white candy canes~  Yes!! That was it! I ran & got a piece of paper & a pencil so I could sketch a simple picture of what was in my head. I don’t usually write my ideas down, but this looked so cute the way I pictured it, that I wanted  to be sure it wouldn’t be forgotten.

I began the dress with my original idea, working  white smocking into a zig zag pattern on the white fabric,—– and somehow worked my way into the scene you see pictured in the photo above. It seems to have just “happened.” I don’t remember consciously making a decision to abandon my original idea, nor do I remember ever having visualized the scene that emerged on the dress. It’s as if my fingers just took over; as if they had planned the scene from the very beginning-  and I was there simply because I was attached!

Now that the dress is finished, I look at it and feel very fortunate. Though it was not at all what I had in mind when I began, I’m pleased with the way it turned out-  Fingers did a good job! Once again I’m left baffled by the creative process, but that’s o.k.  Sometimes it’s nice to just be surprised!!

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Long Sleeves!

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I have just listed the first of my long-sleeved dresses in my etsy shop and on my website. Two posts ago I wrote that I had decided to add some long-sleeve dresses to my shop and I had just finished cutting this one out, so I’m very happy to say that it is now finished and in my shops ready to go to a party, school~  or wherever your little girl would wear a dress.                                                          IMG_0493

I’m pleased with the way that this dress turned out. It reminds me of something out of Hansel and Gretel; in fact, I can picture Gretel wearing this dress! The embroidered scene in the center could be straight from the forest where Hansel & Gretel dropped their trail of bread crumbs. I can picture them coming upon this forest stream where a mother goose is teaching her two goslings to swim, and stopping to watch for a minutes before continuing on their way to the gingerbread house~ The eyelet trim on the sleeve ruffles dress the dress up a bit as well as tie in with the fabric’s design and the white, heart-shaped buttons mimic the hearts in the fabric’s design.

The addition of long sleeves  I think, besides being more practical for colder days, changes the “look” of the dress a bit. To me, the shorter puffed sleeves give the dress a cute, poised kind of look while the longer sleeves seem more relaxed and “artsy.” I like both styles equally well, but I find it interesting that something so simple as a sleeve length can change the overall look of the dress. It will be fun to have two sleeve lengths to choose from in my shops. I’m just beginning to cut out my next long-sleeved dress. It will be a size 3 and will probably be available in about two weeks- the time it usually takes to make one dress-  I plan on doing several more dresses with long sleeves so that you will have a nice selection to choose from, so be sure to check back occasionally to see what’s new in the shop!

Nov. Flame Fall is my very favorite season, so I’m excited that it’s just around the corner. I’m looking forward to the end of the hot temperatures and dry hillsides and the arrival of cool, breezy but sunny days, and brilliant colors as far as the eye can see!