Thursday, December 27, 2012

Completed: The Bishop

It took longer to complete this dress than to incubate the child who's wearing it.

The process was humbling. 

I taught myself to sew in high school. My first dress was a flower sundress made of brown rayon blend. It fell apart the first time I washed it, but it didn't matter. I was hooked. After we got married I invested $100 in a Brother sewing machine from Walmart and set to work in earnest.

Those were the days before easy-to-find independent designers. Those were the days before sewing blogs and YouTube. 

Those were the days I spent hours bent over my dining room table, decipering big-box patterns and trying to figure out what it meant to "understitch." (Didn't figure that one out until recently, by the way.) Somehow I managed to learn how to sew, and now I'd consider myself proficient.  

So.

"Sure, I can teach myself to smock!" I thought. "How hard can it be?"

Ha. Ha ha. Hahahahaha. Hahahahahahahahahaha.




It turned out better than the first time around, and it's wearable at least. Even better, now I've gathered some resources (including tutorials linked in the comments by a helpful reader named Elizabeth) and am ready to tackle another bishop.

I'm determined the next one will be worthy of this precious face.


16 comments:

  1. You fixed it! Hooray! The smocking is easy! It's all the tricky construction stuff that creates problems (e.g., the neckband of your first bishop). I'll tell you about my first bishop sometime (I'm self-taught, too, you know). I just saw your comment about the blocking guide and I'll find that and send it along. The dress looks great! The next one will be even better!

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    1. I had no idea you were self-taught! That makes me happy; I was beginning to think it'd be impossible to teach myself. The Martha Pullen DVD I bought helps, and I'm planning to subscribe to Sew Beautiful eventually. Heirloom sewing is just a different ballgame.

      Seeing your beautiful creations makes me know it's possible. Your encouragement means so much, friend.

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    2. I am! My mom showed me some sewing machine basics when I was little, but they didn't really stick with me. I had no idea what to do when I bought one. And she showed me a few smocking stitches, but I figured most of it out by trial and error and a few kind ladies at church and the fabric store who helped correct me. I can't take credit for my embroidery skills - that's all my grandmother's doing. She would teach me when I'd visit her over the summer. Very fond memories. I know you won't believe me, but heirloom sewing is really easy. I'm obsessed. Already thinking about Easter! So, yes, it's possible. The DVD will help. I think the biggest thing is just finding your own way of doing things. You know...reading and watching and doing until you find a way of completing projects that is comfortable for you. So glad we can share this love of fabric and sewing and making!

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  2. My goodness! What a cutie in this beautiful dress - guess we will be seeing a lot of this precious little face in many more dresses over the coming year. Well done to you for having the patience to create such a brilliant dress...J

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  3. It is beautiful! Knowing nothing about smocking myself, I am thoroughly impressed! I just love smocked baby dresses; I snap them up at thrift stores when I find them.

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    1. Thanks, Dianna! It's true -- smocked dresses are precious.

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  4. "It took longer to complete this dress than to incubate the child who's wearing it." I had to giggle at that statement as it always seems to take me a year or longer to finish a smocking project!lol I think the dress looks great!

    Cindy

    btw, I found my way here through the Sew Country Chick link party.

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    1. Thanks, Cindy! That was the first piece of advice I received from a fellow smocking friend: "start early because it'll take forever to finish." So true.

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  5. Great story! I have always wanted to learn smocking too but I guess I will have to wait until I have grandchildren. You did a beautiful job! It's no wonder those dresses are so expensive.

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  6. Thanks, Justine. It's true -- they take so much time to create it's no wonder they're so expensive!

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  7. Michelle,
    It is beautiful. My smocking experiences (and sewing) have been the same way. I just jumped in when my first daughter was 18 months and it seemed essential to know how. I'm still not sure I do anything even remotely proper but it works and I'm happy. I'm calling that success. Your Eliza is beautiful. My baby is named Eliza as well.
    Also, thank you for recognizing my blog in your recent post. I was flattered and delighted. I love rummaging through your blog. You make gorgeous things. I'm impressed with your committment to Project Run and Play. I had good intentions last week but alas it is Thursday and I haven't started anything.

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    Replies
    1. I'm really, really good at commitment. Not so much at the follow through. ;)

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  8. This is so beautiful!! Simply stunning!

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