October – SAGA 2013 Convention Is Now History

This was my first time to attend the Smocking Arts Guild of America Convention.  This year it was in Frisco, Texas which is a mere 30-40 minute car ride from my house.  I started off on Wednesday with my bags packed and went to the Dallas Love Field airport around noon to pick up Barbara Meger.  We went to lunch and then journeyed up to Frisco and got checked into the Embassy Suites.


The registration desk was right around the corner and I got my packet of information along with a tote bag and identification card to be worn around my neck.  Since I was a first time attendee, I had to place a pink ribbon under my name so that everyone would know it was my first convention.  I had a meeting with other first timers and the president explained what to expect.  We met the official photographer and other board members.  Then we went to a banquet room and had dinner together.  It was nice to visit with the other ladies in my smocking guild and I really enjoyed my roommate, Janice. This was her first convention too.

Due to work, I was not able to attend the entire convention but was able to attend 3 days so only took 2 classes.  My first class was on Thursday, a 6 hour class.  It was taught by Judith Adams from around Sydney, Australia.  The class was called “Painting with Ribbons and Beads”.   Here is Judith with the finished product, taken after class was over.


I learned some new stitches and techniques and can’t wait to complete my project.  I will definitely take what I have learned and incorporate these new things into a doll dress or a dress for my granddaughter.  Here is a picture of my unfinished piece.  I cropped out the bottom of it because I’m not finished with those rows yet.  It was fun working with silk and pretty glass beads.IMG_4508

The second class was called “Pleat One, Smock Two” taught by Phyllis Brown.  The project used for this technique is a bonnet that is reversible.  The two sides (one solid, one printed) are pleated as one piece (6 rows) and then smocked on both sides traveling through to each side and hiding knots between the layers.  It is a very pretty finished product but complex to smock and construct.  I hope to have this finished before too long and take pictures of the finished product.  We ran short on class time and I didn’t get any pictures after class.   For now, this is all I have done.IMG_4510

Below is a picture of my packet with a booklet that told me where my classes were and what the agenda for each day was so I could be in the right place at the right time.  I also took a picture of my kits for both classes.  The one in the middle shows the smocked bonnet and on the end is the ribbon and beads kit.IMG_4504

On Thursday night we had dinner together and also got to see the teachers with their various projects for classes.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing their work and getting to chat with these very talented ladies. Here is a picture of Barbara Meger with many of her projects from class.062057063064

I didn’t take pictures of Judith Adams during the teacher showcase but here are a few of her things that she allowed me to photograph after class ended. I would love to take a class to learn how to make this beautiful collar.053048055056

The convention was lots of fun for me as I always enjoy learning new things and meeting new people.  I was thrilled to hear, after I left, that the dress I voted for won for best design.  It was a dress that was created by Judith Adams that featured a smocked dress with overlaid lace that was smocked with glass beads.  It was simply beautiful!  I’m sure a picture of it will be posted on the SAGA website (www.smocking.org) but I didn’t take one for myself.  I dream of making a similar dress for my granddaughter some day.  More about the convention will be posted also on www.lonestarsmockers.com.  Thank you for stopping by to read about my adventures in Frisco.

September 2013 – Smocking and ribbon weaving

I have seen many examples of smocked garments with ribbon woven under and over the smocking stitches.  The look of it appealed to me so I thought I would give it a try.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take step by step pictures so all I have to show is the finished product.  When choosing a smocking design for where the ribbon will be woven, just smock a zigzag .  I used a full row between rows 4 & 5 and simply did a cable on row 4 and dropped down to row 5 and did another cable then back up to row 4 with a cable, etc.

Once the smocking was done, I found some ribbon that matched the fabric and was not wider than the distance between each row.  I found this sage colored ribbon, shiny on both the back and front, that was 3/8 inch wide.  The problem I had was judging how long to cut my ribbon before I began the weaving.  After measuring the width of this doll dress bodice (about 11 inches) I tripled the length and cut a piece of ribbon 36 inches long.  I left about an inch on the left, pinned that into the fabric seam allowance, and began weaving it through the zigzag.

I took the ribbon up under the first zig, and then brought it down over the floss and under the zag.  While I was weaving the ribbon through, (up, over, under, etc.) I kept thinking that if I run out of ribbon I would have to start over with a longer piece!  But, I wove the first ribbon through and had about a 3 inch tail so I cut the second piece 36 inches long and wove it through the bottom of the design.  Here are pictures of the finished product:

IMG_4393IMG_4394Now that I know I can do it, I plan to incorporate it into a dress for my granddaughter.  I use the dolls as my testing ground before I make something for my granddaughter!  Next month I am taking a class on ribbon weaving at the SAGA Convention in Frisco.  I hope to learn tricks and techniques to do an even better job next time.


Come join the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA™) at its annual convention in Frisco, Texas October 23rd-27th


click the logo for details 

PinkHollyBushDesigns.com has a post about the event. Make plans to attend. You won’t be disappointed. You can download the printable PDF brochure here. The brochure is full of details, including lots of full color photos.

The Smocking Arts Guild of America website details the classes that are available. I’ve already signed up for two:

• Class #106 – A Smocked Sequel To “Painting With Ribbons And Beads”

• Class #118 – Pleat One Smock Two

I hope to see you there. Leave a comment below if you’re going to be there. I’d love to meet you.


March – American Girl sized boots

Having only made boots for my larger Himstedt dolls, it was quite a challenge to scale my pattern down to fit an 18 inch doll.  I first tried to simply shrink it down on a copier but the proportions weren’t right.  I finally ended up doing it the way I originally made my Himstedt doll boot pattern, mostly trial and error using scraps of fabric and tracing them on to cardboard.

Actual boots created from this pattern

Actual boots created from my pattern

My first boot turned out great, except I couldn’t get it on the doll!  I never had that problem with my 33 inch dolls.  So, I had to decide where to make an opening.  The back seam was the easiest solution.  I made these boots that can be laced through eyelets.  This boot could also be closed by using narrow Velcro strips that overlap but I like the suede or ribbon laces in the back. The flaps and buttons are non-functional and only for decoration.


My next attempt was to sew up the back seam and use the front of the boot as the opening. I used the scalloped flap as the closure by sewing Velcro patches to hold the boot shut.  You could also work three buttonholes into each flap and button it down onto the boot side with buttons so that the flap and buttons are not only decorative but functional.

black and white button boot AG


I used all new materials for the making of these boots, except for the bottom soles, which were cut from an old belt.  I found an old purse at a second hand shop that has enough good spots to cut out pieces for some boots.  I plan to try that next.  I found some old belts at a thrift shop that I used as the bottom soles for these boots.


These are not the easiest things I’ve ever made.  The smaller the scale the more tedious and labor intensive.  If you would like to try my pattern, it is for sale in the “Items for Sale” section.  I have created a downloadable PDF that is 17 pages of step by step instructions with pictures I took as I made these boots.  Don’t rush, be patient, take your time, and you too can make boots for your 18 inch doll.  I would love to see how YOUR boots turn out.

Here is a picture of Kirsten (American Girl), Pansy (Daisy Kingdom), and Felicity (American Girl) modeling their new Victorian styled boots.  I was hoping these would fit my Chatty Cathy girls but no, their feet are quite a bit larger.  Unfortunately I don’t have any Victorian dresses made to go with the boots.    These are some dresses I made using Daisy Kingdom patterns (now out of print).  One thing I learned:  Don’t make the dresses too long or you can’t see the boots!

IMG_4148So, I had to roll up the hems on the two longer dresses so the boots show better.

IMG_4149My Kirsten(on the left) was just purchased and was well played with.  She has some issues.  I plan to restring her and restore her so she can stand alone.  I will do a tutorial on how to tighten up those wobbly legs and a few other problems.  She has several ink marks on her vinyl and I have taken pictures of the before pictures and hope to have the after before too long.






February – 2013 Counterchange Smocking

February 2013 – February has been a wonderful month for our family. We have a new grandson! He and his mother are doing well. We have so much to be thankful for this February. This is the month of hearts so I decided to make something with hearts for my almost 2 year old granddaughter.

Counterchange smocking requires a grid. You can draw one yourself with a water soluble pen but that takes lots of time and measuring. You can use stripes which gives you the vertical part of the grid but then you have to draw the horizontal lines. Or, the easiest way, is to use a checked fabric. When you find a checked fabric, you are immediately ready to begin counterchange smocking, no prep necessary.

I had some fabric that was made for the “Red Hat Society” with red hats on a purple background. When I bought that fabric I also bought the companion fabric which happened to be a checked fabric. I used a template called “Love Stuff” made by Ann Hallay, who has created lots of counterchange patterns from smocking.


Here is the finished piece. If you have done English smocking you know that it covers approximately triple the width, but with counterchange smocking, it is about double and does not stretch.

IMG_3764wsI didn’t make it wide enough to fit the width of the bodice piece so I centered the design and added extra fabric on each side.  Then I used double sided clear tape (Wonder tape) and placed a strip just above where I wanted the piping sewed down.


I cut a bias strip of the checked fabric and made piping to sew at the top of the smocked insert piece.  I pulled up the paper strip exposing the other side of the double sided tape and pressed the piping into the correct position.


Then I took it to the sewing machine and used a piping foot to sew the piping in place.  I love using the wonder tape because it keeps everything in place without pins and makes it easy to sew the piping down.



Next I added the top part of the bodice, put right sides together, and sewed it to the smocked piece to get a complete front bodice piece.



All I now needed to do was lay down the pattern piece and cut out the bottom half of the armhole.

IMG_3778ws IMG_3780ws


Once the front bodice was complete and matched up with the pattern piece, I followed the rest of the pattern cutting out the back bodice pieces, sleeves, sashes, skirt, and skirt band.  Here are pictures of the finished product.

IMG_3821IMG_3822If you are interested in doing counterchange smocking, I would recommend getting the book that Ann Hallay wrote called “Counterchange” showing instructions on how to use this technique.  This is how I first learned to do counterchange smocking and it is a technique that I love to use because it goes very quickly, much more quickly than English smocking, and requires no pleating.

Next month’s post will show how I made leather looking boots to fit American Girl dolls, and other 18 inch dolls.  I will also have a pattern available in my “for sale” section.  Thanks for reading.