Sunday, February 24, 2013

Scalloped Hem Tutorial

I recently made a custom dress from the popular Pascale pattern featuring a scalloped hem adapted by Kathy Dykstra.  Today I thought I'd share my secret for an easy scalloped hem.

Pascale Scalloped Hem


First, select a contrasting fabric for the scallop and coordinating bias.  I purchased my bias since it was going to be a solid color, but you can make bias tape out of fabric if desired. (a good idea for a  future blog tutorial!)

Cut out your skirt pattern pieces as required for your particular pattern.   I used the Pascale pattern but any pattern can be adapted.  I had a template for the scallop provided in Sew Beautiful  #141 with Kathy Dykstra's adaptation.

[caption id="attachment_298" align="alignleft" width="400"]All supplies for a particular project. All supplies for a particular project.[/caption]










A template would be easy to make with the curved edge of a dinner plate or bowl, quilting templates or from a cutting board.

Trace the scallops onto your fabric with a fabric pen.  When it comes time to cut the contrasting scallop out of the fabric, DON'T CUT THE SCALLOPS but cut straight across the top of the scallops with about an inch of extra fabric at the tips of the scallops.

[caption id="attachment_388" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Cut a straight edge on both sides of constrasting fabric Cut a straight edge on both sides of constrasting fabric[/caption]

After your skirt is constructed following your pattern directions, pin the right side of the future scallop to the wrong side of  the bottom edge of your skirt.  Sew a seam along the bottom of the skirt with a seam allowance specified by your pattern.

[caption id="attachment_389" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Sew seam on bottom of skirt attaching future scallop to skirt. Stitch along marked scallop after sewing the bottom skirt to the contrasting fabric.[/caption]

Then turn the contrasting future scallop to right side, iron seam allowance  and stitch along the marked scallop you made earlier with the fabric pen.  CAREFULLY cut off the straight edge of the contrasting fabric by following close to your newly stitched scallop.

Now it is time to add the bias tape!  I discovered fabric basting glue recently and LOVE it!  I started by securing the bias tape to a "slope" on the trimmed scallop edge with a pin.  Squeeze a small beaded line of glue along the "slope" and press the bias into place.  I also secured by sticking a pin into my ironing board while I continued to work on placing the bias.  It was dry enough to move as I worked my way around the skirt.  So much easier than pins!

[caption id="attachment_390" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Use fabric basting glue to help with the bias. Use fabric basting glue to help with the bias.[/caption]

Continue gluing and pinning. If you've never mitered a corner, don't freak out!  It's easy!  I use my seam ripper and place it at the top of the scallop point on top of the bias tape.

[caption id="attachment_415" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Use the seam ripper to help with the mitered edge. Use the seam ripper to help with the mitered edge.[/caption]

Holding the bias tape with the seam ripper, use the other hand to fold the bias tape back.

mitering 2(Note the mashed fingernail? ALWAYS turn serger off when threading....:)  After the first fold, bring the bias tape back onto itself and headed down the scallop.

[caption id="attachment_417" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Fold the bias back on itself. Fold the bias back on itself.[/caption]

Adjust the fold so the "seam" made in the bias, or the mitered corner, is straight and sitting on top of the tip of the scallop.  I use my seam ripper tip to hold the bottom in place while adjusting.

[caption id="attachment_418" align="aligncenter" width="400"]A little dab will do it! A little dab will do it![/caption]

Here's where the oh-so-wonderful basting glue comes in handy!  Put a little bead under the fold.  Pin directly into the ironing board and continue down the "valley" of the scallop.  By the time you get ready to shift the skirt it will be dry enough to move.  Don't worry about any excess glue sticking out, it dries clear and washes out!  If I tried to pin that mitered point, I'd have buckles and difficulty sewing a straight stitch .  The glue keeps everything nice and neat and makes sewing straight stitches a breeze!

[caption id="attachment_419" align="aligncenter" width="400"]A completed scallop with mitered bias trim! A completed scallop with mitered bias trim![/caption]

Finish gluing the bias and then take to machine and stitch close to each edge.  That is, a straight stitch a scant 1/8" from top edge of bias trim and a scant 1/8" from bottom edge of bias trim.  Remember to leave the needle in the fabric at the tip of the scallop, lift the pressure foot and turn the fabric to go down the slope of the next scallop.  Repeat all the way around the skirt.

[caption id="attachment_420" align="aligncenter" width="400"]I also trimmed the yoke. I also trimmed the yoke.[/caption]

I used the same technique for the yoke bottom. (In this photo the trim has been glued but not sewn.)

[caption id="attachment_421" align="aligncenter" width="400"]My completed yoke. My completed yoke.[/caption]


Viola!  My version of the Pascale dress.  This dress was a custom order for a very special birthday girl....

[caption id="attachment_422" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Front of Pink Pascale. Front of Pink Pascale.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_423" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Back of Pink Pascale Back of Pink Pascale[/caption]

Hoping you try this method!

Sew Happy,


Ney Ney's Stitches



Monday, February 18, 2013

Tennessee Treasures

This past week I was in Tennessee to visit family and attend the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention at the Opryland Hotel.  After visiting my family in Franklin County, we headed toward Nashville.  I asked my husband if we could stop at Children's Corner so I could get a few patterns.  He obliged and waited in the truck while I browsed through the pattern selection. I ended up with 5 patterns (does that classify as "a few"?) from Michie Mooney, Bonnie Blue and Children's Corner.

[caption id="attachment_394" align="aligncenter" width="400"]My pattern purchase! My pattern purchase![/caption]

The simplicity and ease of Michie's patterns coupled with classic styling, the trendiness of Bonnie Blue and the many adaptations I plan to do with Children's Corner "Lucy" ended up making the "cut". (I did have more than that in my hand and had to narrow my choices.)  Do any of you have the same problem??

I also quickly glanced through their selection of Cross-Eyed Cricket smocking templates to pick up  "a few". (there's that word again...but was able to keep it to two) Since I was keeping my patient hubby and my dog waiting in the truck, I restrained myself from looking at anything else.


[caption id="attachment_396" align="alignleft" width="600"]189 One Enchanted Evening small One Enchanted Evening[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_395" align="alignleft" width="600"]288 Very Berry Bishop web pic Very Berry Bishop[/caption]


We attended the NWTF expo and banquet and dear hubby and son got "a few" turkey hunting supplies. (I think the definition of "a few" in this case is more than two...) I enjoy my quality "guy time"!

[caption id="attachment_401" align="alignleft" width="400"]My son, my turkey guide! My son, my turkey guide![/caption]











While the guys were attending a second day of turkey calling and the like on the expo floor, the girls decided to shop and peruse an antique show in an adjacent area.  I found a treasure while poking through some vintage sewing supplies...

[caption id="attachment_398" align="aligncenter" width="300"]My vintage lace treasures! My vintage lace treasures![/caption]

Needless to say, I got a great deal on these laces and was able to share some smocking and heirloom knowledge with the booth owner who wasn't familiar with the art of smocking and heirloom sewing.

Tennessee Treasures....spending quality time with family or as my son calls it "making memories", patterns for future sewing projects and vintage laces for my stash!

Sew Happy,


Ney Ney's Stitches needle_and_thread


Monday, February 11, 2013

Trunk Show

I was asked to provide a trunk show and be a speaker for the American Sewing Guild Chapter meeting in Macon, GA to celebrate National Smocking Month.  It was a treat to see all the ladies sharing a passion for sewing.  I spoke about English Smocking.


English smocking, in my opinion, is an art form.  It requires skill, labor and love to create a garment that can make any child feel unique and special.  English smocking is a craft that is done by machines, no mass production! These garments can be passed down for years if quality fabrics are used and construction is done well. I like that my creations have made it through the playground, birthday parties, church, school and even a wayward pair of scissors in the hands of a 5 year old!  We discussed many facets of smocking including fabric selection, the pleating process, garment styles, the difference between geometric and picture smocking and thread choice.

I enjoyed showcasing some of my favorite pieces of "artwork" and sharing smocking secrets with those who were interested!



Bishops, Yoke Dresses, Inserts, Bonnets,Rompers, and  Smocked Easter Eggs.....eye candy for smocking and sewing enthusiasts!DSC_0212


I look forward to teaching several ladies the art of smocking, whether it be picture smocking or smocking and constructing your first bishop for Easter!  Thank you ladies for the invitation and a special thank you to my "angel" Mrs. Ann for all her help in transporting and setting up my dresses!

Sew Happy,


Ney Ney's Stitches

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Smocking Unraveled

February is National Smocking Month so I thought I'd "unravel" a little bit of information about the art of smocking.  Just what is smocking?  It is a form of embroidery that is created on pleats made in fabric.  English Smocking, the most popular form of smocking, is done on pleats that are pleated prior to smocking.

The pleats can be made by hand or by a machine called a pleater (kinda self explanatory huh?) that feeds the fabric through a series of rollers and needles creating the pleats needed for smocking.



Once the fabric is pleated, it is ready to be "blocked" to the right size for the garment that is being made.  Smocking can be done on a straight piece of fabric used as an insert, bonnet, sleeve embellishment or on the top of a skirt in place of gathering.

Peach bonnet


Another type of garment popular with babies is a "bishop" style because of the loose, flowing fabric that is fitted closer around the shoulders allowing movement and growth.  (Growth rings in garments are a great thing but that is another blog!)  Typically a bishop can be worn longer (my daughter wore hers for 2 years with the aforementioned growth rings) because children grow in height and not shoulder width at this age.

Once "pleated" and "blocked" the fabric is ready to be smocked--my favorite part!  An empty canvas for the smocking artist!  Selection of a smocking template ( or a pattern with smocking stitches), an original design or a combination of both; thread colors also are limitless with a creative mind.  One of the best memories I have of early smocking projects is the fact that my daughter and I selected the fabrics, template and colors together.   (I like to think I influenced her decision to work in the fashion industry:))

Jessica-The Carousel Dress

Geometric smocking (just like it says, shapes) or picture smocking (making the cute images with stitches like flowers, hearts, cupcakes, get the "picture") can be done to create an heirloom garment.

Valentine's Pinafore closeup

Speaking of heirloom....I have most of my daughter's dresses from 20+ years ago waiting to be used by my grandchildren one day.  Because I used good quality fabric and construction methods, they are ready to be worn by another generation.  A great amount of time and love is stitched in each article of clothing.  Quality is key when purchasing a smocked garment that you can pass down to other siblings and future generations.

Smocking along.....


Ney Ney's Stitches