Beautiful Women

Beautiful Women. That is life for men. Every moment of our lives are filled with beautiful women. I believe that this is why men are still here and exist as we do today. Not because without women we would not be able to procreate, but for the shear fact the men adore beautiful women. As we walk down the street, as we drive down the road, as we dine in a restaurant or as we shop at a grocery store they are there. We pear down isles, lurch over the road, and change the path of our intended routes in order to catch a glimpse of a woman whom is unsuspecting. I do sometimes feel guilty about this but unfortunately this is something that I do not think men can help. We are drawn to a beautiful face in anticipation of that moment when the pace of our hearts quicken and the color from our face drains away. I can not accurately explain the feeling I get from seeing a beautiful lady, but since you may not understand (e.g. women), the feeling is as if everything around you stops and you and her are the only two people there. This may sound corny and kind of silly, but the feeling is truly genuine and many guys can attest to this fact. Take this for example. I was driving home from work one day, when unbeknownst to me, I was going to encounter an absolutely breath taken woman a couple miles ahead. I was taking my normal route home from work at about 5:06 PM on a Tuesday night. Being a typical male driver, I was speeding along weaving in and out of cars glancing into car windows as I sped past. This went on for about 5 miles when I happened to speed past a blue Honda Civic, a favorite of beautiful women, and during my usual passing glance I spotted a gorgeous woman. This inspired me to slow down my car, switch lanes from the fast lane to the slow lane and to decrease the speed of my car from the illegal speed of 85 to about 55. I assume that she did not notice my drastic change in speed. All this was in the effort of seeing her once more. This may seem odd to a woman, that a man can be drawn to physical appearance such as this. If it does seem odd, then be prepared, it got much worse. I drove beside of her for a while, passing my exit on the highway, and the next, and the next, until I had gone considerably further than my intended destination required. All this just to allow my prying eyes to leer at her physical appearance. By the time she had exited the highway toward her destination, I felt like I knew her already, and I actually missed her. This may seem weird, or even kind of freaky but, I can not help myself. It may seem worse when you think of my thoughts running wild. I was not thinking of what most women think men think of when they are ogling. I am not sure of most guys but when a woman like that catches me, I think of more permanent thoughts. I think about being with that person doing normal couple things, vacationing, holding hands, and every once in a while thinking about her fitting right into my current life as if she was there all along. This is all done without her consent or even her approval. I am sure that I am not the only man who can attest to these feelings and experiences. What a wonder world we have.

"Fly Aweigh" with us to a land of "Splendor"!

We are “sew” in love with the Fly Aweigh and Splendor collections from Riley Blake Designs, available in our store! Made of 100 percent cotton, the Splendor collection (designed by Lila Tueller) is fun and feminine, while the Fly Aweigh collection (designed by Samantha Walker) is great for boy’s clothes, home decor or even accessories. Below, we’ve gathered together a few project ideas for you using these fabrics:

Fly Aweigh Lobster

Fly Aweigh Flags

Fly Aweigh Boats
With tiny red lobsters on a white background, this design is perfect for summer! Use it to stitch up a Betsey Apron, placemats, napkins or potholders. It would also look cute on this Reversible Romper for a child, or on a decorative pillow or beach bag.

Add a whimsical splash of color to your projects with this fabric. Featuring little flag designs on a blue background, it can be used to stitch up these "Easy Fit Pants" for a Child or Adult. Or, create a comfy travel pillow for your favorite person on-the-go.

This design has “little boy” written all over it, doesn’t it? With various boat designs speckled on a blue background, this fabric would look great on these Louey Boxers or this Child’s Bowling Shirt. It would also look precious on a baby bubble or romper, or even window curtains or pillows for a nautical-themed bedroom.

These three fabrics also pair together perfectly. Mix and match them on this Tailored Tote to use as a sewing bag or diaper bag. Or, try them on this Boxy Bag to use as a travel tote or makeup bag. The coordination possibilities are endless!

There is so much you can do with these two floral fabrics – one a fun paisley, the other a “ceramic tile” flower design. They would look precious on little girl’s dresses, such as Sew Beautiful classics like Frannie or Summer Separates, or Sis Boom favorites like the Maddie Top/Dress, Molly Peasant or Sophie Tunic. Try one on the Sis Boom Baby Bubble, or make a stylish pair of women’s shorts using the Tommy Boxer Shorts pattern. These also may be used to make fashionable accessories or home décor items and are fabulous for mixing and matching!

What would you make with these fabrics? Let us know in the comments! :)

Splendor Paisley (left) and Splendor Ceramic

The Basics of Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Silk ribbon embroidery is one of the most unique and elegant forms of needlework. Great for embroidering garments, linens, trinkets and more, this age-old art adds romantic and vintage charm to any heirloom project. Below, we'd like to share a couple of ribbon work tutorials from one of the world's true masters of embroidery: Gloria McKinnon.

Gloria is the owner of Anne's Glory Box in Newcastle, Australia and the author of numerous books. She's shared her handwork talents at sewing seminars around the globe, including the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion, as well as on several of our Sew Beautiful instructional DVDs.

NOTE: Silk ribbon widths may be chosen according to size flower or leaf desired. Calico Braided Rug Needles (medium and large) and Mary Arden Leather Needles (sizes 3 to 7) are used for the silk ribbon and thread work embellishment.

Ribbon Stitch

Ribbon Stitch (Japanese Ribbon Stitch)
(4mm, 7mm, and 13mm silk ribbon)
Probably one of the most common silk ribbon stitches, this stitch is simply a straight stitch with a curl at one end.

1. Bring the needle to the front at point A. Lay the ribbon flat against the fabric. Without twisting the ribbon, pierce the ribbon at point B at the desired length of the stitch (figure 1).

2. Pull the needle through to the back until the ribbon begins to curl at the end (figure 2). Keep the tension loose.


(13mm silk ribbon)
This stunning flower takes approximately two yards of silk ribbon. It is made using a ribbon stitch.

1. Stitch one layer of overlapping ribbon stitches (figure 1).

2. Stitch the second layer of ribbon stitches slightly shorter than the first (figure 2).

3. The center may be filled with seed beads or French knots (see figure 2).

The French Sewing Box

Learn more about silk ribbon embroidery and needlework on our newest DVD, The French Sewing Box with Gloria McKinnon. This DVD will show you how to sew a beautiful set of sewing accessories for yourself or a friend as you master gorgeous stitches like silk ribbon fuchsia, chrysanthemums, daisies, asters, lilies, roses and more.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

How to Sew Entredeux to Fabric

This tutorial from Sue Stewart was featured in our Favorite Heirloom Sewing Designs edition.

Summertime is nearly upon us, and that means it's time for sunny days and plenty of light-and-breezy sewing projects. In heirloom sewing, there are a handful of basic techniques we use time and time again, project after project. We've been sharing tutorials for some of these periodically to help those of you new to heirloom sewing. This week, we'd like to continue that series with a how-to for sewing entredeux to fabric.

Before you begin, keep in mind that the stitch settings given are not absolutes. Different machines stitch out differently. Use the settings given as starting points, adjust up or down as needed and use what works best for you. Also, the fabric should almost always be starched and pressed before it is sewn.

1. Do not trim the entredeux. Place the entredeux and fabric right sides together, with raw edges even.

Photo 1

2. With the entredeux on top, use a straight stitch (L=2.0) to stitch in the ditch right along the "ladder" of the entredeux (see photo 1).

Photo 2

3. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch. Roll and whip this seam allowance by zigzagging (L=1.0; W=4.5) so that one needle swing goes into the fabric right along the previous straight stitching, and the other needle swing goes off the edge of the fabric, rolling the seam allowance (photo 2). HINT: I usually do this roll-and-whip stitching with the entredeux on the bottom.

4. Press the rolled hem away from the entredeux. Stitch a tiny zigzag (L and W=1.0) from the right side so that one needle swing goes into the "ditch" right next to the "ladder" of the entredeux, and the other needle swing just catches the fold of the fabric. Starch and press one more time.

For more heirloom sewing inspiration, check out our new Heavenly Bliss Round Yoke Gown, Booties and Slip Kit. The kit includes everything you need to create the lovely "Heavenly Bliss" daygown set featured in our book Precious Baby Daygowns - Round Yoke Collection.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia

Add Detail With Pin Stitching

When we talk about heirloom embroidery techniques, no discussion would be complete without the famous pin stitch. Also known as "point de Paris," this decorative stitch is designed to add detail along the edges of lace and appliqué. It's a gorgeous addition to garments and linens alike, and it can be stitched by hand or machine. If you've never tried pin stitching by hand, or if you simply want to brush up on your technique, follow our tutorial below. Once you've mastered it, this stitch is one you'll want to use often!

NOTE: Use lightweight thread. This hand stitch is used along the edges of lace and appliqué in place of a machine pin stitch. The drawings shown are enlarged for better viewing. The stitch is actually very small.

Figure 1
1. Work on the right side of the fabric from right to left. Bring the needle to the surface of the fabric at point A close to the lace or appliqué edge. Make a backstitch to point B. Slant the needle under the fabric and come up at point C in the lace or appliqué piece directly under point A (fig. 1). Pull the thread through.

Figure 2

2. Return to point A and insert the needle back down in the same hole previously made. Bring the needle tip up through point D (fig. 2) and pull the thread through.

Figure 3

3. Once again, go back down at point A through the same hole. Slant the needle under the fabric and come up at point E in the lace or appliqué directly under point D (fig. 3). Pull the thread through.

For more heirloom inspiration, check out our Baby's Breath Dress Kit! This kit comes with everything you need to create a beautiful ballet-inspired dress in sizes 2-12.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia

Tips & Tricks for Hooped Appliqué

This "Anchors Away" dress featured in our June / July 2014 edition was designed by Monica Bellard.
The appliqué design is from Designs by JuJu.

Appliqué is the perfect way to add character to a sewing project or to a ready-made item. It's always cute on children's clothing, and in some cases it allows you to sew an intricate design on a garment that would not ordinarily support this type of embroidery - such as a sweater or a golf shirt. Although the term "appliqué" can apply to any motif that is created and then applied to another surface, the type of appliqué we would like to talk about today is appliqué created in-the-hoop on your embroidery machine.

Before embroidering, we suggest washing and drying your fabrics. Shrinkage problems will be minimized, as well as other potential problems such as color bleeding. For best results, both the decorative fabric and the garment should have the same care instructions for laundering. You should prepare your appliqué fabric by applying a paper-backed fusible webbing (such as Wonder Under or Aleene's) to the back of your appliqué fabric.

"Edward's Sailor Bubble" and sailboat appliqué are featured in our book, Sewing for a Royal Baby.

How to Embroider:
1. Hoop fabric and begin embroidering.

2. When you see thread color change that has a description of appliqué guide stitches (description found in your design instructions on or in packaging), embroider this thread as a template to show placement for appliqué fabric.

3. Place your appliqué fabric on top of thread template that was just sewn, making sure fusible side is down against your hooped fabric. Begin embroidering appliqué securing stitches with desired color, making sure that appliqué fabric is smooth.

4. Take hoop out of machine, being careful not to disturb fabric in hoop. Gently cut away fabric from outside edges of appliqué securing stitches. Place hoop back in machine and continue embroidering your design. 

5. When design is done, remove fabric from hoop and press according to your paper-backed fusible webbing manufacturer's instructions.

Helpful Hints: 
• Practice first before trying on a garment.
• Pay attention to precision cutting.
• Be sure to press the paper-backed fusible webbing properly and according to manufacturer's direction.

If you're looking for some great appliqué designs for baby and children's clothing, be sure to check out these designs from our 2012 Internet Embroidery Club! All previous year collections (2001 to 2013) are available to purchase on our Internet Embroidery Club site.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia 

Add Piping to a Tucked Shirt

Belle Heir shirt and button-on pants constructed by Amelia Johanson.

We just love seeing photos of little Prince George dressed up in all of his fashionable baby attire. From the sailboat-smocked rompers and button-bar shoes to the cardigan sweaters and pull-on shorts he donned during the royals' recent tour of Australia and New Zealand, it's evident the 9-month-old is a trendsetter in children's clothing much like his father Prince William was at a young age. In honor of the tiny style icon, we'd like to share a technique with you from the Belle Heir shirt featured in our Royal Baby book.

This pleated-front shirt is an antique reproduction designed with a V-shaped yoke and the added interest of piping set into every tuck. We made our reproduction with short sleeves and paired it with classic button-on shorts for a little boy, but pair the sleeveless option with a button-on skirt and the ensemble will have little girl written all over it. 

Piped tucks

Below, you'll find instructions for recreating the shirt's unique piped tucks. Patterns and complete instructions for constructing the Belle Heir shirt and button-on shorts can be found in Sewing for a Royal Baby.

1. Create enough piping to accommodate all six tucks. Trim piping seam allowance to 1/4 inch (6 mm) (a DARR piping ruler is perfect for this task). Cut six 4-1/2-inch (11 cm) long strips of piping.

2. Fold along the first tuck line; press. Place the fold to the straight line and press the tuck all the way down.

Figure 1

3. Open the tuck and run a line of basting glue from the top edge to the marked dot. Position a piece of piping on the glue so that the stitching line of the piping is aligned to the straight line marked on the shirt. Begin at the marked dot and work upward; leave the excess piping extended at the top edge, which will be trimmed after stitching. For a clean end, cut the end of the piping piece at an angle and bend the raw end to the inside of the tuck so that the curved end touches the marked dot (fig. 1). Finger press to secure the glue to the piping.

Figure 2

4. Flip the shirt over the piping so that the right sides are together and the piping is sandwiched between the fold. Stitch the tuck line, catching the piping seam allowance inside; stop at the marked dot, securing the end of the tuck and the end of the piping at the same time. Skip a distance and start stitching on second mark and continue to the bottom of the front shirt (fig. 2). Repeat for all six tucks. When complete, trim off the piping strips even with top edge.

For more projects fit for your little prince or princess, be sure to check out Sewing for a Royal Baby. The book features 22 royal-inspired designs complete with patterns, smocking plates, step-by-step instructions, technique tutorials and much more! 

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia

Project How-To: Pretty Storage Pockets

This fabric hanger cover provides plenty of pockets to store accessories.

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday, May 11. If you're looking for a project to sew for a special mother in your life - whether your mom, sister, daughter, aunt or friend - we have a great idea to share. This pretty cover designed by Rosina Cassam for our sister magazine Stitch Craft Create's gift edition transforms an ordinary clothes hanger into a practical storage unit. It takes no time at all to make, and it's a perfect present for ladies of all ages who can use it to keep all their favorite fashion accessories at hand.

What you need: 
• Patterned fabric 
• Plain fabric 
• Coordinating thread 
• Wire hanger 
• Pencil 
• Paper 
• Ruler 
• Scissors 
• Sewing machine 
• Iron

How to create:
NOTE: Seam allowances are 3/8 inch.

1. To make hanger cover pattern, trace around top of wire hanger and lengthen bottom line to about 12 inches. Add a 3/8-inch seam allowance around perimeter. To make pocket pattern, fold over top part of hanger cover pattern and use lower part only (about 8 inches deep).

2. From patterned fabric, cut two main hanger cover pieces and one pocket piece.

3. From plain fabric, use main hanger cover pattern to cut two lining pieces and one pocket piece.

4. Place pocket pieces right sides together and sew along top edge. Turn through to right side and press flat.

5. Place one of main hanger cover pieces right side up on your work surface and lay pocket on top with lining facing down, aligning raw edges along bottom edge. Sew along pocket sides and bottom edge.

6. Measure 5 inches in from sides to mark pocket divisions and machine stitch to make three pockets.

7. Place hanger cover lining on top of pocket with front right sides facing, and machine sew along bottom edge only. Press; fold open along seam edge and press. Repeat with remaining fabric pieces to make hanger cover back.

8. Pin linings to hanger cover pieces and sew around top edges.

9. Place lined back and front together, right sides facing, and sew along top edge, leaving a 2-inch gap. Turn right side out and press flat along seams.

10. Insert hanger through gap.

Shop the Mother's Day Sale in our Martha Pullen Online Store for more great gift ideas!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

How to Add a Center Panel to a Basic Bodice Dress

Blue Italian Organdy Dress

A center panel can add such a lovely and unique design element to a garment. In this how-to from our March/April 2012 issue, Pat Goldman and Susan Newberry of Chadwick Heirlooms will show you how you can adapt any basic bodice dress pattern to include a center panel. The concept is easy - you simply need to remove the middle section of the bodice pattern and replace it with a long rectangle cut from straight grain fabric.

The center panel pictured here on the Blue Italian Organdy Dress has six 1/4-inch tucks edged with 1/4-inch lace edging. Once you determine the finished width of the center panel for the size you are making, add 1 inch for seam allowance and 1/2 inch for every tuck you wish to stitch (3 inches in this case). Allow at least 1/4 inch at the top and bottom edges for attaching entredeux. TIP: You may want to give yourself a couple of inches extra length, as you can always trim to fit later.

Basic Construction:
• The back of this dress remains unchanged from the pattern. Follow pattern as directed for back.

• Prepare center panel: Sew tucks, lace and embroidery to center panel. Finish top edge with entredeux and set aside.

• Sew new side bodice piece to back bodice pieces at shoulder seams.

• Prepare sleeves with lace edging and sew to bodice arm curve before stitching side seams.

• Stitch side seams of bodice and sleeves.

• You should have two front skirt pieces. Sew a front to each side of single back skirt piece. Sew a placket in center back skirt. Run gathering threads in top of skirt on each side of placket.

• Gather skirt to fit bottom edge of bodice (side front/back bodice). Stitch and finish seam. Sew entredeux to neck edge, and down entire front bodice and skirt on both sides where center panel will be inserted.

• Make sashes (cut approximately 5 by 35 inches): Stitch gathered lace edging to one end of each sash. Roll and whip a tiny rolled hem on each long edge of each sash.

• Pleat ends of sash and either baste to front side seam of dress over waist seam before center panel is inserted, or hand stitch under last tuck after center panel is inserted.

• Sew center panel to entredeux on front of dress.

• Remember to mark where the panel should end at neck in same spot on both sides so that it ends up perfectly straight across the top.

• Sew lace edging to entredeux along neck and across top of center panel, mitering front corners.

• Trim center panel even with skirt along bottom edge. Sew entredeux to bottom edge.

• Create a fancy band of two lace insertions and a lace edging, then attach to entredeux to finish skirt.

• Sew buttons and buttonholes to back bodice.

For more sewing ideas, check out our new 2012 Sew Beautiful Collection CD. This CD includes all seven issues of Sew Beautiful magazine from 2012 - the six standard issues plus our special 25th Anniversary Edition. These issues are complete with printable patterns, project templates, sewing tips, technique tutorials and endless inspiration!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia

How to Use a French Curve

French curve template

Do you know how to use a French curve template for drafting or altering patterns? We ran across the following tutorial in the February/March 2014 edition of our sister magazine, Sew News, and just had to share! Written by Marla Stefanelli, the article appeared in Sew News' May 2003 edition, and was republished as part of the magazine's new "Best of the Basics" column in which tried and true sewing advice is salvaged from past issues.

French curves are used in drafting patterns or making pattern alterations. Invented in the late 1880s, the French curve is used by mathematicians, engineers and sewists alike. Technically a French curve is a drafting tool used to connect points in a smooth curve. It's used for garment pattern drafting and alterations, especially for necks and armscyes when trueing and blending seamlines.

Drafting 101
Trueing a line is the process of straightening seamlines to establish correct seam lengths. Blending is the smoothing, shaping and rounding of angular lines for a smooth transition from one point to another. Trueing and blending are often done at the same time.

Easy Alterations
For most home sewing, the fashion curve is used mainly for pattern alterations when fitting, changing or adding new design lines. Choose a fashion curve to make the following four pattern alterations:

When cutting out and lowering a dart and lowering to match your bust point, the sideseam becomes uneven. Use the ruler edge that closely resembles the pattern line to draw a new, or "true," cutting line (Fig. 1).

Use a slash-and-spread method to add width to a pattern piece, using the long curved edge to draw the new cutting line at the outer edge (Fig. 2).

When your body curves where a pattern line is straight, add a curve to the pattern. Measure your body and mark the corresponding point on the pattern. Then use the curved edge to connect the points (Fig. 3).

To lower the neckline, mark the desired depth on the pattern. Then place the ruler so it intersects the original shoulder cutting line and aligns with the new mark; trace the resulting curve (Fig. 4).

TIP: When drafting an especially long line, flip the ruler over to draw a line evenly from both sides of the seam to achieve a smooth symmetrical line.

Click here to find out how you can discover more sewing tips and tutorials from Sew News.

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia

Sewing in Red, White and Blue

June / July 2014
Dear Readers: After much analysis and discussion with our team, we at The Martha Pullen Company have made the difficult decision that Sew Beautiful magazine will publish its last issue this summer. For a generation we have provided the very best information and instruction you - our readers - demand. Due to changes in the market, and the magazine industry, and after seeing a decreasing number of subscribers over the years, it was no longer economically viable to publish the magazine. We instead will put our resources, energy and talents toward new and growing areas of The Martha Pullen Company business including the Internet Embroidery Club, our live - and new online - events, our popular Martha Pullen Company Online Store and more. (If you are a subscriber, you will receive information directly from us regarding your remaining issues.) 

We will strive to continue to inspire and instruct you in support of our shared passion, and our website, blog and community will continue to live on and be fostered. Though the magazine is closing, we'll turn our focus to offering you exclusive project kits, new products in our online store, live and online sewing education events, etc. We will also regularly provide you with new content on our website. Watch for more to come as we refocus and redouble our efforts to better serve you!

With that being said, we still have two more wonderful issues of this beloved magazine - the first of which we have a preview to share with you today. Its theme is "red, white and blue sewing." Of course in heirloom sewing, our version of red, white and blue isn't always the bold primary versions teamed with the starkness of white. For us, pastel blue, a wash of pink and an ivory hue are just as appealing as their more patriotic partners. Below, take a sneak peek at some of our favorite vintage-inspired designs this issue has to offer:

Cherry Dress & Whitework Embroidery in Blue

Cherry Dress - This pattern from Laurie Anderson is a classic. It's a button-front design with knife pleats in front and back, and piping trims the sleeves and Peter Pan collar. A clever buttonhole functions to close the dress down the front and decorates it too, with cheery sets of button cherries.

Whitework Embroidery in Blue - Traditional whitework embroidery doesn't necessarily require working with white threads. In fact, the term "whitework" refers to the stitch techniques contained in the design. In this tutorial, Wendy Schoen demonstrates a variety of whitework stitches in the perfect shade of baby blue. Follow her steps for a satiny fluidity where thread paths are practically undetectable.

Nolan's Tug Boat

Nolan's Tug Boat - Hand embroider a romper with this precious tug boat design from the 2014 Martha Pullen Internet Embroidery Club's "Heirloom Baby Designs" collection. I (Cyndi) knew I had to share a hand-stitched version of this darling motif with our readers as soon as I saw it. While machine embroidery may save time, I find there is just something so relaxing and therapeutic about handwork.

Pocket Pets Diaper Set & Grant's Vintage One-Piece Romper

Pocket Pets Diaper Set - The adorable puppy pockets on this outfit are sure to captivate tiny tots, but it's the unique couture finishes (like the bias gingham rouleau trim on the shaped yoke) that sets this design from Debbie Glenn apart.

Grant's Vintage One-Piece Romper - Our free pattern is a unique, wrap-around design Laurie Anderson reworked from an antique garment. This little classic suit is so simple to construct, you may want to make one in red, one in white and one in blue!

Visit our online store to read more about our June/July edition!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

How to Sew Spaghetti Bias Scallops

"Polly" design by Paige Pettie Alexander

Paige Pettie Alexander found inspiration for her "Polly" pattern while thumbing through the pages of Martha Pullen's The Vintage Collection book. A sweet and simple (yet very unique) romper caught her eye and inspired the remake featured in our new special edition, Sew Beautiful: Heirloom Sewing Favorites for Summer. The dress can be made at minimal cost - just the fabric and four buttons - and the romper suit design suggests all sorts of fun ideas for mixing and matching prints. Both patterns, "Polly" and "Baby Polly" are available through Paige's company, Pintucks & Pettiecoats, but the scalloped bias tubing embellishment is a great way to trim numerous sewing projects. Read below to learn how to recreate these spaghetti bias scallops on your next project:

NOTE: If you do not want to make your own spaghetti bias tubes, you can purchase it by the yard in a variety of gingham checks, prints and solid colors.

1. To make super skinny bias from your own fabric, cut 1-inch widths of bias strips. Do not cut strips any longer than 15 inches, as it makes it too difficult to turn. Fold each strip in half with right sides together. Pull to stretch the bias as you iron, making it even skinnier.

2. Sew a precise 1/8 inch from folded edge of fabric while gently stretching as you sew. TIP: Use a machine foot with a guide blade and set your needle position 1/8 inch from blade. Run fold edge along the blade as you stitch.

3. Trim seam allowance to a scant 1/8 inch (Photo 1).

4. Cut one end of bias tubing at an angle. Use Dritz Tube Turner to turn tubes inside out. When turning fabric tube, only pull 1- to 2 inches off end of turner at a time or it will bunch up. Press tube with seam on one edge (Photo 2).

5. Using water-soluble marker on right side of garment fabric, mark perpendicular lines 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch apart for spacing scallops. (I used 1/2-inch perpendicular lines for scallops around neckline, armscyes and shoulders, and 3/4-inch perpendicular lines for scallops around hemline.)

6. Use Dritz Wash-Away Wonder Tape to temporarily hold scallops in place. This is a 1/4-inch-wide double-sided, water-soluble tape. Apply tape directly along raw edge of fabric within seam allowance. Position bias tubing so that tube seam runs along outside curve. It will appear flatter and smoother this way. Each scallop will be an individual piece of tubing, but use a longer length of tubing than is required to shape and apply scallop onto tape. Place pieces with curves facing garment and cut edges facing raw edge of fabric shaping them within drawn sections (Photo 3).

7. After each scallop is applied to tape, cut off tubing even with raw edge of fabric (a rotary cutter and ruler makes this easy).

8. Cut bias strips 7/8 inch wide for the bias facings. Press under 1/4 inch to wrong side of one long edge of facing strips.

9. Place flat edge of facing over scallop tubes long edge of garment with right sides and raw edges even and finger press to tape to hold in place. Stitch a 1/4-inch seam allowance (Photo 4).

10. Press seam toward garment with facing and scallops extended from seam (Photo 5).

11. Pin folded edge of facing to wrong side of garment and hand blind-stitch to secure (Photo 6).

12. Turn to right side and press (Photo 7).

Be sure to check out Heirloom Sewing Favorites for Summer for more inspiration. This special issue is filled with more than 40 summer sewing ideas and five full-sized patterns!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Fun With Template-Smocked Polka Dots

"Seeing Spots" by Annette Drysdale (Issue #96)

Last week, we shared a bright and cheerful butterfly smocking plate with you; this week, we'd like to talk about a different method of smocking - template smocking. This type of smocking is an alternative to following a picture smocking graph to create a design. The shape to be smocked is traced directly onto the fabric. Follow this how-to from our friends at Australian Smocking & Embroidery to create cute template-smocked spots:

What You'll Need: 
• Circle template
• Fine tip water-soluble fabric marker
• No. 8 crewel needle
• DMC stranded cotton thread in colors of your choice

How to Smock:
NOTE: Before you begin, backsmock all rows (bodice pictured used 24 full-space rows) in mirror image cable stitch using two strands of thread. (Backsmocking helps stabilize the pleats in areas where there are no surface stitches; it involves smocking rows on the wrong side of your pleated fabric with thread the same color as your fabric.) The spots are worked using stacked cables to fill in the shape with four strands of thread. Each spot is outlined by a row of chain stitch using three strands of the same color.

1. Using a circle template and a water-soluble fabric marker, mark a circle onto the pleats.

2. Beginning at the center of the circle, work a row of cable stitches across the shape.

3. Continue filling the lower half of the circle using stacked cables.

4. Fill the second half of the circle in the same manner.

5. Bring the thread to the surface at the edge of the cables.

6. Work a row of chain stitch around the cable circle, stopping one chain from the end.

7. To finish the circle, slide the needle under the top of the first stitch as shown.

8. Completed template smocking spot.

After your first dot is finished, continue to the next! Stitch your dots in the same color, or mix it up for a bright ensemble. The garment pictured above features a white bodice covered in red, green, blue, pink, purple and yellow template-smocked dots.

Be sure to check out Australian Smocking & Embroidery magazine for more sewing fun. Each issue is filled with patterns, project ideas, techniques and endless inspiration!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi & Amelia

Stitch a Cheerful Butterfly Smocking Design

This design first appeared in SB Issue #100.

Picture smocking is a great way to add both style and personality to a child's garment. From classic designs like rocking horses or sailboats to unique plates featuring storybook characters or even sport themes, smocking allows you to make your sewing projects almost as unique as the child who will wear them. Add a touch of nature to a special little girl's wardrobe with this cheery butterfly and flower smocking plate designed by Angela Atherton and stitched by Linda Richards. Work it up in bright colors as pictured on our sample, or change the palette to softer pastel hues for an alternative perfect for spring.

Floss used on sample:
• DMC Six-Strand Cotton Embroidery Floss: #498 - red, #704 - lt green, #988 - dk green, #3845 - blue, #3823 - lt yellow, #743 - yellow, #976 - tan, #3837 -dk violet, #722 - lt orange, # 970 - dk orange

"Butterfly Sparkle"

Smocking notes:
• Cut an insert 4-1/2 x 45 inches. Pleat 10 rows. First and last two pleating rows are holding rows. Mark center valley of pleated insert. Design covers 86 pleats and uses six rows.

• Backsmock 10 rows in matching yellow floss including the holding rows.

• Begin butterfly on Row 3-3/4 on second pleat left of center valley with light green. Complete body alternating light green and tan floss.

• Pay close attention to half stitches. 

• Butterfly wings require working with two needles and two floss colors alternately.

• Work upper right red flower between 16th and 33rd pleats to right of center. Work mirror image on 16th and 33rd pleats to left of center for left flower.

• Work middle right orange and yellow flower on 31st and 44th pleat to right of center. Work mirror image on 31st and 44th pleat to left of center for left flower.

• Work lower right orange flower on 20th and 32nd pleat to right of center. Work mirror image on 20th and 32nd pleat to left of center left flower.

• Use a backstitch to create antennae for butterfly and tendrils for orange flowers according to graph.

• Add HotFix™ Swarovski™ Crystals to center of the flowers and inside wings according to photo.

"Butterfly Sparkle" Smocking Plate

For more smocking inspiration, check out our Ready-to-Smock Kits! Available in sizes 3 months, 6 months, 24 months and 2T, each kit comes with five ready-to-smock garments plus DMC floss. All you'll need to do is add the smocking designs of your choice!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia

Choosing Materials for Embellishments and Trims

Flowers and trims using various types of ribbon.
Fabrics and ribbons come in a wide range of beautiful colors, textures and styles. With so many options, the seemingly simple decision of choosing materials for a trim or embellishment can turn into a daunting task! Designer Kari Mecca's new book, Whimsy Flowers & Trims, is full of helpful tips for selecting materials. For example, she says it's a good idea to look for styles that are appealing on both sides, as many embellishments feature both sides of the material. Read a few more of Kari's tips below:

Two-sided ribbons: These ribbons are finished on both sides, such as grosgrain ribbon.

Two-color ribbons: Not only are these ribbons finished on both sides, but each side of the ribbon is also a different color or design.

Wired ribbons: These ribbons have a lightweight wire woven into the edges. Look for narrow styles for the most versatility.

As seasons change, not all materials and colors are available at all times.

Metallic ribbons or fabrics: Choose a subtly colored metallic weave, or go bold with a bright metallic weave. Look for metallic ribbons that also have wired edges.

Sheer ribbons or fabrics: Try organdy or organza in solids and stripes and made from natural or synthetic fibers.

Taffeta ribbons or fabrics: Look for solid, two-tone weaves and iridescent weaves.

Bias-cut ribbon or fabric: Choose silks, satins or cottons cut into strips on the bias. Overdyed silks and satins are especially pretty.

Linen or burlap ribbon or fabric: These materials are a heavier weave and can add texture to trims and flowers.

Kari Mecca's Whimsy Flowers & Trims
Be sure to check out Whimsy Flowers & Trims for more tips and inspiration. This book includes 35 techniques that teach you unique ways to work with ribbons, rickrack, picot trim, soutache, fabric strips, spaghetti bias, lace and more. Plus, it includes three sizes of Whimsy Stick punchouts made of durable cardboard, so you can start creating your embellishments immediately!

Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,
Cyndi and Amelia