Monday, April 16, 2012

The X Factor

The X Factor
Its Monday night and I've been designing and sewing for three weeks now.  I'm tired, but I'm also feeling some progress on this boating ensemble for Lettie Lane.  Of course, Lettie is still in her grey dress, so dear Daisy must remain in her knickers and be a little mannequin.

This particular little smock has some interesting features.  For one, the length of the shoulder is longer, which required some on the spot designing.  I used the all in one pattern I'd made with the front fold, and lengthened the sleeve a bit.  Then I simply cut the sleeves off "off the shoulder", gently gathered the new sleeve edges and reattached them for the look.  It worked.

Smock Without the Belt
This top also introduced me to smocking.  I must have read three books and watched countless Youtubes only to discover that what was illustrated by Sheila was not true smocking, but a combination of smocking gathers and cross stitching.  I call this Xmocking.  In order to have done real smocking, the top would have needed 20-25 folds in a one inch section and it would not have resembled this illustration whatsoever.  Of course, when you're developing a new technique like the Xmock, you have to perfect it to make it work.  I can't tell you how many times I had to rip embroidery thread out!  What I required was three diamond patterns within five folds or pleats.  I chose to make seven folded pleats in order to have the anchor fold on each end.  Then I measured and pinned and embroidered the decoration within the boundaries of the seven pleats. 

The pockets have a little zig-zag embroidered stitch on them, and the sleeves boast the diamond pattern all the way around.

The collar is squared on the back flaps for a rather nautical look, which was by request - a good one.  One of the most difficult things to do was desiging the v that would become laced up.  I honestly had no idea what to do, but realized it had to be lined.  What I ended up doing was cutting a lining, a shorter version of the top, and once sewn on, I cut a one and half inch slit right through the lining and top.  I stitched down the sides of this cut starting at the neckline, then turned this inside out.  It worked!  I was scared to pieces doing this, but I was at my wits end not knowing how else to achieve this.  I got lucky!

Squared Collar and V to Be Laced Up
The poufy pursey pockets were yet another piece to design.  The pocket ended up being a half moon shape, lined, then gathered all the way around the edge, save for the top ends that would get gathered across left to right, and embroidered.  I stitched them on from the underside of the top, catching the pocket gather just under the pouf so the stitching wouldn't show.  There are many Lettie Lane outfits with these pockets and I intend to further develop these until I'm more comfortable with the look. (Do I dare say, "Have a better look"?)  These will work and they do look sweet, but I think perhaps only the bottom edge might have been gathered.  Next time.

I'd recently gotten an order for several Lettie Lane dresses, so I decided it would be best to make two at a time as my Lettie would wish the same ensemble.  I learned with both the indian costume and the pumpkin costume, that after I'd made one to the finish, it was a very long process to start afresh and make another one.  Also, when you're sewing two, and the pattern is for the first time, sometimes you work something out better on the second, and can go back and redo the first.

Pink Smock Times Two
I just finished the belt today and was able to use these little buttons I'd purchased just for finishing touches like this.  Coral pink hat straw is on order, as well as a golden-brown silk-satin ribbon for the band, and some peach colored mulberry flowers and leaves for the decoration.  I also have a nice piece of basswood to carve the two paddles from.  One for my doll, one for my customer's.  And, then there's the skirt, which I'll begin tomorrow.  But, we all know that I'm the Pleat Queen by now! LOL

Now to Make This Pink Straw Hat and Paddle
Do I spend too much time on these outfits?  Do I agonize over the details?  Is it worth it?  Yes.  It always will be, for what I've done with my etrennes and accessories, I find natural to do with these ensembles.  The result (I hope!) is an heirloom quality costume for our dolls.

I have come to the conclusion though this, that I love working with and around bright color.  I love designing clothing that tells a story and I hope my creations do just that.

The days have turned sunny and nature is dressed head to toe in shades of green. Spring! I do take breaks to sun my little nose and enjoy one of the prettiest times of the year.

Miss E. Mouse


  1. I love the details you have put in the outfit. So pretty.

  2. I think this is my favorite of the outfits you've done so far! I can't wait to see it with the hat and skirt. And your even planning an oar!!