Monday, July 26, 2010

Lu's Shadow Smocked Dress

Well, it's been quite a little weekend at my house! First I had a bit of a stomach virus (yay.) Then I discovered I was the proud owner of the rarest of rare Macbook Pro' with a crashing hardrive.

Do you know how long it takes to do a complete erase and install? Forever. Especially when it doesn't work and you have to do it again. And again. And finally give up and have to schedule a phone chat to explain it to the AppleStud (hi Mike!) who in the end says, 'Dang, girl. You already did everything I was going to make you do. Best send it in.'

ANYWAY. No sewing going on here, just dreaming of sewing. And no blog or email reading and I MISS YOU GUYS. I'm on a borrowed laptop now for kicks and giggles. (Addicted? Me?) And since I don't have anything new to show you, I thought I'd share something old!

This beautiful dress was an Easter dress for Lu when she was 3 years old.

The inspiration for the dress was an article in Sew Beautiful's Easter 1998 issue (my favorite issue ever!) I believe it was a Kay Guiles pictorial. I used a basic yoke dress pattern and the instructions in the magazine for the shadow smocking.

The smocked portion of the dress is at the waist, and involves a strip of fabric (in this case, a scalloped strip of blue cotton batiste) basted to the back of the skirt (white cotton batiste). When the skirt panel is pleated and smocked, the blue shadows through the white batiste creating the "shadow smocking".

The embroidery included a double feather stitch in cream with pink silk ribbon rosebuds.

The collars were treated to the same shadowed blue batiste and pink silk ribbon roses, then edged in gathered creamy cotton lace.

I have a real soft spot for this dress because of the laces. All three laces used on the center front bodice were vintage scraps from my grandma's sewing basket. I have a bit left of the narrow version, but I believe the wide center lace was the last of that piece. A little bit of my grandma stitched into Lu's dress. I'm the only grandchild who sews, so it has always been something I like to think I got from her.

There is featherstitching between the laces on the front, and I remember fussing over the silk floss I used (my first go at silk floss. And possibly my last. I've never mastered its slippery feel!)

The puff sleeves were trimmed in cotton laces, one a Swiss insertion and the other a gathered cotton.

The back of the dress buttoned down with creamy buttons. I hemstitched the placket by machine using one of my "fancy" stitches.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk back through early Quality Time sewing! I still have several things from Lu's baby & toddlerhood to share in the future. My utmost favorite dress, my own design, is yet to come. It is (if I do say so myself) DIVINE.

And there's sewing mojo too...I'm seriously into the 1930s right now, but another 1960s frock in white & blue madras plaid is calling my name too. Stay tuned!


  1. That is BEAUTIFUL, and makes me all kinds of nostalgic for my girlhood because my mom smocked a lot of our dresses. I've never learned how myself, but gosh, how I love that sweet, classic look.

  2. Nice job, Ang! It's gorgeous, you have far more patience for all that handwork than I ever will. Miss you, too!

  3. Simply beautiful.

  4. I remember the article for shadow smocking that you're talking about. I loved it then, still love it know.

    I was thinking for this series that you're doing (Lu's baby and toddler clothes) yesterday when I was getting my youngest dressed. I was putting on her a smocked dress that I had made for my oldest's 1st birthday.

  5. Angie, this is so beautiful! The shadow smocking is a technique new to me. Thanks for the enlightenment. You can show me your flashes from the past anytime!

  6. Simply gorgeous! What a beautiful little dress. Lu must have looked like a little angel in it!

  7. Wow, that dress is stunning! I have fond memories of the smocked dresses I wore on special occasions in early childhood, but none were handmade by mom, and none were anywhere near as gorgeous as this one. I love that "shadow" technique, and am tempted to find a grownup use for it.
    Hope your computer woes are over soon.

  8. What a beautiful dress. It's a nice walk back in time for you, too. Hope you feel better. I had the stomach virus recently, too.

  9. It´s gorgeous! Great job, Angie! I hope you are recovered from the virus,

  10. This is so beautiful.

  11. What a beauty! Maybe Lu will have a little girl someday and she can wear this!

  12. Oh so pretty. I had not heard of shadow smocking before but it is beautiful. Lucky Lu!

  13. Absolutely beautiful.

  14. Sometimes failed hard drives can have a hardware problem, so no matter what you do it can't be restored. But at least you tried!

    That is beautiful! Lu is so lucky that you will make clothes for her!

  15. Beautiful dress. This must have taken some time (and lots of love) to complete!


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