Wednesday, January 6, 2010

French Hand Sewing by Machine

When I got the invitation for a baby shower from my cousin Jackie and learned it was for her daughter Kitty, I was ecstatic. That meant my niece, Kitty, the gentle child with an old woman soul was having a baby of her own. (Here in the south, if the family is close, we forget all the second cousin and removing once or twice and just call our second cousins nieces and nephews. Lest you think we are stupid, we know the difference, we prefer to ignore it and keep the family close.) My “niece” Kitty is having a baby, and by looking at the invitation, she is having a GIRL! Her name will be Emma Jean. Is that not the prettiest name, so old fashioned.
I pulled out my favorite heirloom-sewing pattern and began collecting the supplies. Whew! The supplies are amazing and I had forgotten how much lace it took to realize this dress. That meant it was going to be expensive to make not to mention the 40 hours I already know it takes me to make it. What is a girl to do? I call Michelle ( and let her know I need bunches and bunches of lace, and made the order from her website. She hustled all the fabric and laces together for me and got them mailed fast.
Knowing I needed a full 40 hours, I set the entire Christmas week aside for the construction of the dress, as the shower would be January 3. I followed my plan on the first day to get all the panels completed. Great, things are working out. I needed to do pin tucking but found I did not have a pin tuck foot. (Don’t even suggest I do it by hand.) Call the dealer. Yea, they have it there. I will be in tomorrow to pick it up. I start the next morning finishing some small details but my machine is acting up. Call the dealer, what do I do, suggestions made, tried, pack up machine and take to dealer. I have to say Patrick at Sewing Machine Station saved my life. (That is not an exaggeration when one is sewing an heirloom dress.) The verdict was terrible; my machine was out of balance. Catastrophe! He sent me away for about an hour while he fixed it. He didn’t tell me it would be a week or 10 days, no, he fixed it right then. I did not hover, I found somewhere to go and wait for a call. About an hour and a half later, I had my machine, my foot, and a lost day. I refined my schedule, and got things ready to work again fresh the following day. (“Schedule, “you say? Yes, it is who I am and what I do. Miss organization.)
The following morning bright and early, I began again. Pin tucks are gorgeous and even, the Bernina working like a dream, and I am on my way. Other than taking a long time, 40 hours is NOT an exaggeration, the dress went together like a perfectly formed puzzle. I was on a roll, finally. I completed the dress with time to breathe. To tell you the truth I have made this dress four times, and I am so proud of it every time. Nevertheless, I believe this might be the last one. “Never say never, “they say, but….
I share with you the result of some pink Swiss Batiste, yards upon yards of Swiss lace insertions, edgings, beading and silk satin ribbon. You should try to make one of these dresses, but please don’t start with this pattern, although, she does tell you to when to take a break and eat some Kisses™. A break and some chocolate can get you through anything. Kathi


DLSarmywife said...

oh my goodness that is just the loveliest thing I have ever seen. I am sure your niece will adore it and treasure it forever! ( I know I would!)

DollZandThingZ said...

That is s o beautiful! You did a wonderful job and it will certainly become a family heirloom!

Kathi Mendenhall said...

Dear Deborah,
Thank you so much. Now I just hope it fits. I am concerned about 7" for a baby sleeve. Is that large enough? We'll soon know. Emma Jean will be here in March. Kathi

Loretta said...

This is a thing of extreme beauty! I think little Emma will be sweet in it. You must take oodles of pictures of her wearing it. I just found your blog and love it.

Kathi Mendenhall said...

Wow, thank you everyone. My cousins have taken the heirloom items and had them mounted in shadow boxes. One of the cutest we have is in my aunt's house now of my cousin Judge's baby suit. It is a blue knitted bubble suit and has some of his baby things, silver engraved sippy cup, etc. in it. They are talking about doing the same to this dress. I will post a picture of Emma with Kitty's permission when the time comes. I am glad you are liking the dress. I feel affirmed! Kathi

Unknown said...

What a lovely gift, beautifully created. Now of course, you are going to make a smaller version to match for her first doll?

Kathi Mendenhall said...

Dear Shirly K,
What a nice idea. I think the answer would be "no." LOL! That was hard to do. I do have a doll dress that is similar that I am trying to finish to show you how you can do similar things for a doll. If I could just get some other things done. They stack up on me.
I'll get back with you. Kathi

Martha said...

Wow, Emma Jean is going to be just beautiful in her "auntie" made. You would never know you had challenges while constructing it either. Truly beautiful.
7" is going to be just fine for the sleeve.