Friday, May 25, 2012

The details

I had so much fun making Caroline's flower girl dress. I loved every bit of the process - planning the design, selecting the lace and fabric, picking out the embroidery pattern, constructing the dress and lace bands, drafting the slip. I took my time with this project and it was well worth the time and effort. I documented some of the process it took to get to the finished dress.

I had been thinking about what kind of dress I wanted to make for almost a year before I made my final decisions. The "problem" with heirloom sewing is that the choices are endless! I bought all of my fabric and laces in January of this year and began work almost immediately. I chose to borrow an out-of-print (vintage, I suppose?) Children's Corner pattern called "Grace". I wanted a pattern that would showcase a lot of embroidery because I love to embroider.

Looking at the lace and experimenting with embroidery design options
Go big or go home. I opted for a more intricate design. I was glad I did.
I used tape, a window, and a water-soluble pen to mark the design on the dress back, front, and sleeves.

Practice equals consistency with embroidery. Here I'm working on my bullion stitches (in green).

Slowly but surely, it's getting done. Sometimes I was sure I was crazy for choosing something with so. much. embroidery. But if I had 5 minutes, I'd sit down and make a few stitches. I brought it with me in carpool line. Most of it got done while watching TV with Kevin.  I couldn't believe it when I took my last stitch. There might have been cheering and a happy dance.
Marking how much to cut (yikes) off the top of the lace edging

Slow and steady is the key to joining lace. I couldn't believe how smoothly this part went. I kept thinking, "I'm doing it! It's working!"

This day I had a little helper who wanted a project of her own. A yarn needle, some thread, and a pack of wooden beads kept her occupied for a very long time.

I also had to make some significant cuts (yikes again) into the sleeves for a strip of embroidered insertion. This sleeve is ready for the gathered lace edging.

Speaking of gathered lace edging, I prefer to attach it by hand.

This is one of the last steps - attaching the lace border to the bottom of the dress. I measured Caroline and marked the dress in January. I mistakenly did not have Caroline try on the dress in May before sewing this band on and cutting the fabric. Caroline had grown almost an inch! Luckily, it didn't look too short. I had some bad dreams about it being too short. Lesson learned.

Almost done! I couldn't wait to soak that blue marker off!

I used the dress pattern to customize a slip for this dress specifically. I finished the arm and neck edges with a tiny hand-sewn French rolled seam.

I chose not to do buttons and buttonholes on the back placket. Instead, I used a vintage Victorian bar pin. It got lost in the graduation craziness. I didn't feel too sad about it because it wasn't expensive, nor was it a family heirloom. I need to get some little beauty pins.

I starched and ironed this thing 4 times before graduation! Kevin said the whole house smelled like starch. That fabric was stiff!

I couldn't be happier with the finished dress. It was a really special moment for me when Caroline put on her dress for the first time. It fit her perfectly (except for the tiny length issue) and I felt like the delicate details of the dress reflected her sweet personality. Caroline was so pleased with it and said she felt like a princess wearing it. I thought she looked absolutely beautiful!
So that's the diary of my first big heirloom sewing project. It sounds crazy, but I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Caroline got to participate in graduation this year. St. Mary's pairs graduating high school seniors with a senior kindergarten flower girl. It's a really sweet tradition. Several times throughout this spring semester Caroline got to have little dates with her senior, Hannah. They had picnic lunches and a special chapel together and frozen yogurt outings. Caroline became quite enamored with Hannah. I think they were a good match!

Both of them looked so beautiful.

I made Caroline's dress. It was so much fun! I'll show you some of the "behind the scenes" details in another post.

I spent some time doing Caroline's hair. She was thrilled to have curly hair for a day.  When she said her prayers that night, she thanked God for letting her have curly hair that day! It's the little things in life...

Caroline and Shelby have been friends from day one of JK. I look at this picture and see them taking a similar one 12 years from now (sniff, sniff). They have a really special friendship and I pray they will be friends for life.

Caroline has had the most incredible teachers this year. I am so thankful she has had these two women to guide and challenge her not only academically, but spiritually as well. It is a huge blessing to know that the Godly virtues we are striving to instill in her at home are also being reinforced at school. God has been so good to put faithful, beautiful, strong, grace-filled believers into her life outside of our home.

We are very proud of Caroline!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Field day

Caroline had field day last week at school. Peter and I were able to go and watch all the silly races. I was really impressed with Caroline's agility and coordination, especially at the tossing game. I guess taking her to all those Grizzlies games has paid off. She was channeling her inner Marc Gasol! Seems like she's just full of surprising abilities lately!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Caroline decided she wanted to give soccer a try this spring. We were impressed with how well she did. She was assertive and fast and intuitive. The biggest surprise? Her favorite position and the one where she performed the best was goalie. My quiet, introverted, book-loving homebody had such a great time playing that she wants to play again in the fall.

Kevin got to be the substitute coach for one game.


She got a trophy at the end of the season. She is so proud of her "golden" trophy. And we are really proud of her!
(Helen is cracking me up in this picture. She's plotting how she's going to get her hands on that shiny trophy. She did.)

It excites me to be a part of the process in which my children are discovering what their unique talents and abilities are. Of course, I'm not-so-secretly wanting for all three (too much?) to be musicians. Regardless, I hope and pray they embrace their talents, never take them for granted, and always use them to God's glory.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Easter outfits

I know! It's been almost a month since Easter. I just today took pictures of the girls in their dresses.

For the girls' dresses, I used a Bonnie Blue pattern called "Jenna Leigh". It's a wrap dress that buttons in the back. I've made this dress a couple of times before (my goodness - Helen was little!), but hadn't done the smocked yoke version. I'm hoping this floral print will make a good transition into the fall and winter months.

For my sweet baby boy's outfit, I made a bubble (Maja's Heirlooms). The pattern has 2 inches of smocking, which takes no time at all. I decided to mix some embroidery with my smocking and created a little bullion stitch bunny. I'm completely obsessed with how cute the bunny is. It's a Peter Rabbit for my Peter!

I had so much fun putting this boy outfit together. Isn't it adorable? I love it. I'm so happy there are more little boy outfits in my future!

And it just wouldn't be a photo shoot at our house without some drama and silliness.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Boston girls' trip

I'm a lucky girl. I just got back from a fantastic weekend trip to Boston! One of my dearest friends, Brittany, is living in Boston for a year while her husband does a fellowship. I'm doubly thankful - Brittany is such a sweet friend and a fantastic tour guide and my husband is amazing for taking care of our three kids all weekend by himself. Can't wait for the next girls' weekend!

Check out Brittany's post on our trip. She's got a few more pictures and details of our weekend.

We took the Freedom Trail tour.

We ate...
(The Beehive)
...and ate some more!
(Mike's Pastry - cannoli disappeared like some kind of magic trick after I took this pic)

We shopped at Quincy Market and found comfy and cute new shoes.
(Apropos footwear - a very interesting stop)

We saw lovely buildings and gardens.

We found the resting places of some very famous Bostonians.
(Samuel Adams actually had nothing to do with the beer other than in name.)

We became Red Sox fans by proxy.

I had a fantastic time. It was so good to hug my friend's neck and experience a little bit of her life. She was an awesome tour guide. She has really immersed herself and thrived in Boston. I'm so proud of her.

I missed my littles and was so extremely happy to see them waiting for me as I exited the airport terminal. I brought back a couple of Boston surprises.
(Need a better picture! It's so cute, but I think he'll be 5 before it fits!)

I've got to say that my husband is the greatest. He was completely unfazed by my absence. He was 100% behind this trip and I am so grateful. He and the kids even had a little adventure of their own...
(Mud Island River Park)