Friday, March 12, 2010

Pink Celebration with Princess Priya

I mentioned yesterday about Martha's nice giveaway. It's good to celebrate that she has over 100 people who follow her blog (it's where I go to be calm and feast my eyes on the beautiful things she makes), but she has also learned she is expecting her first granddaughter. Which is the reason for the pink theme.

I personally love the color pink; in fact, I'm wearing a pink shirt today, but neither daughter much cares for it - except for their pink-and-purple phases in elementary school. But I didn't know that when they were babies, and they sure wore it a lot, gingham and batiste and smocking that Mama made, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Mike has never said the word pink.

Martha asked us to share our favorite pink item that we have made, and there are just so many in the past, but the one project I did in Meridian has to be my greatest sewing satisfaction. This was at the "senior center" which they fortunately let me be a part of although I wasn't officially a senior then. We met every Wednesday for 3 hours in the morning and sometimes even into the afternoon. There were maybe 5 or 6 of us at a given time learning from a very talented teacher - a retired English teacher who also did every kind of needlework imaginable - and did it well.

That year Mike had generously let me subscribe to Australian Smocking and Embroidery and pretended not to be shocked at the subscription price. It's a wonderful magazine, and I drooled over all the patterns and even the photography. I think it was the picture of the little girl in the pink dress (Issue 55, Princess Priya) that made me ask Teresa one day (very hesitantly) if she thought I could make something like that. She studied it a few minutes and then said, "I don't see why not."

So I took a deep breath and dove right in.

It was pretty much a sampler of everything I had learned - smocking, shadow stitching, bullion knots (LOTS of them), regular embroidery, plackets, bias binding, buttonholes, piping - and I even learned to do a scalloped hem and sleeves.

Behind the scenes. I still have the tracings and patterns I used.

The smocking is just a tone-on-tone, but it's a beautiful pattern, a little out of the ordinary, but not hard to do once we figured it out. And the piping went on fairly straight.

I love the way a dress looks at the bottom row of smocking.

The hem was fun to do. I think the enjoyment came from taking my time. I would trace and turn and press and stitch for 3 hours without interruption, all the while enjoying the funniest group of ladies ever. If I ran into trouble, I had a helping hand to get me out of it. At the top of every scallop is a shadow-stitched bow with a cluster of flowers in the middle of it. I loved the shadow stitching, but those bullions got tedious, especially since I was just learning and didn't have a knack for it. But they'll pass, all surrounded by lazy daisies and French knots.

The back of shadow stitching is pretty in itself - interesting. And very much in need of a haircut.

The sleeves are my very favorite part of the dress. Smocked, embroidered (shadow, bullion, and regular), and scalloped.

Even the neck binding lay down smoothly for me.

And the back placket didn't pucker or go all crazy like sometimes. It's straight. I'm just a bad photographer! And still can't tie a sash.

I'm even proud of my teeny French seams! It doesn't take much to make me happy.
I just realized there is not an inch of lace on this dress, so for something this complex, it was very inexpensive. I can't remember now but probably less than $25, just a few yards of batiste and lots of embroidery floss.

I'm not sure who will wear this one day. If I don't have grandaughers, I'll find someone to give it to, but it gives me a lot of pleasure just to see it when I look in the closet.

I miss those days and wonder if the ladies still meet on Wednesdays. I would love to find a group like this again one day. There's nothing like the closeness of a group of people who sew together, whether it be quilting or smocking and embroidering, or crocheting and knitting. Work goes faster, ideas are shared, and you have built-in teachers and admirers - and friends.


  1. So so beautiful

  2. It's me Ida Beth , it is so pretty. You are an artist

  3. i am anonomous and envious

  4. Wow, that is gorgeous! We should start a sewing group when I get to Columbus--we can hold it half way, in Auburn!! ;-)

  5. Becky, the dress is gorgeous! Do you remember the PINK sweater you crocheted for my soon to be 40-year old daughter when she was born? We still have it!
    Linda Crews

  6. Wow, that is just beautiful!!! No more of this willie nillie "I am not very good at this." This is a stunner. You should be very proud, it is just so lovely. Great job.

  7. Well, gee thanks, everybody. I appreciate it. I AM proud of this dress because it's proof that I can do things, but I've gotten rusty over time and need to keep on trying. I believe the secret to that dress is that I actully read the instructions before instead of after while I was ripping out mistakes.

    Linda, I remember the sweater, little cables at the very front, I think. I've looked for that pattern again but can't find it. If you have a picture of it then or now, I'd love to see it again. We need another pink post...... 40 years... I was a child knitter.

    Heck, Lydia, I'll go all the way to Columbus if you find us a group. I'll be the old lady this time!

  8. Beautiful dress and beautiful workmanship (or workwomanship)!!! I do hope you have a granddaughter who will have the honor of wearing this dress. That would mean I get a great niece on the Windham side of the family.

  9. Thanks, Kathy. That will be nice if it happens - but I'm concentrating on blue nowadays just to be safe. I have to sew for 3 or 4 years in the future because I'm so slow. But I mainly just do it because I love it and don't really care who ends up wearing them - if anybody.

  10. Well, know how I feel about this particular dress that you made. When I come home, I end up opening that closet 4 or 5 times just stare at it. The pictures just DO NOT do your dress enough justice, and they're good pictures! I love everything about it, especially how the bottom smocking makes the sweet, delicate pleats in the front of the dress. I wish I could have carried on the Ray women's talent, but at least I have a good eye for beautiful work like this....I DID grow up around it, and I remember you and Grandmama Ray measuring me for dresses, hemming the final product as I wore it, so the hem would be just right. On Sundays, I got so much attention from all the women at church, so many of them complimenting me on how beautiful the dresses were. I'm still not too fond of the color pink, but I LOVE this shade of pink....really, really pale pink. BTW, is that a real little girl modeling the catalog dress? She's so perfect and pretty that she almost looks like a manequin, or a photo that's been painted. Aborigine, I'm guessing? Anyway,goodnight, Mama! Love you so much,


  11. Absolutely GORGEOUS!! You have quite a talent!

  12. Thanks Suzanne. I'm waiting for you to show us your knitting expertise!

    Elise, that magazine is published in Australia, but they do their photo shoots everywhere, it seems. It's worth buying just to look at the beautiful people and scenery in addition to the clothes and patterns.

    I know you appreciate handwork even though you and Emily do tease each other about wearing smocked dresses, and I think you would enjoy it yourself if you ever got over your fear of the needle - sewing needle, that is.