Sunday, March 3, 2013

Out With the Old....

Fourteen years ago, when Teen #2 was my sweet little Doll Baby, I decided it would be fun to make her some dress up clothes.  I learned how smock,
 

I made several very tedious buttonholes,
 

and I sewed up more than a few lengths of french seams. When all was said and done my Doll Baby had a new dress that was almost as sweet as she was. And me, well I had a new passion!
 

I became obsessed with smocking.
I joined a SAGA group, I subscribed to magazines, and I acquired this amazing machine, the Amanda-Jane Smocking Pleater. With it I was able to pleat up oodles of fabrics to embellish with trellis stitches, bouillons, and french knots.
 

For several years I had my fun....Christmas dresses, birthday frocks, playtime rompers....every occasion became an excuse for another creation.
 
And then my Doll Baby turned four and a half.
   
 Easter Sunday, 2001 did not go well. Doll Baby had wanted a shocking pink velour number with silver sequins but instead got a homemade gingham pinafore. I in turn received a truly terrifying preview of adolescent rebellion. I'll skip the gory details but  needless to say that was the last smocked anything I made for her. I have not budged but then again neither has she. Now, as a Sweet Sixteener her fashion tastes remain within the realms of velour and sequins...a combination that just so happens to be par for the course at her favorite shopping haunts Pink and Juicy Couture.

 Baring the occasional baby gift here and there, my pleater has for years been empty of fabric. Not much fun for the pleater or for me. So in the spirit of embracing all things "FUN" this year I've decided to do something about it. Amanda-Jane is headed to the Etsy shop and hopefully some new adventures in sewing.
 
And what about me?
It just may be that I've got some new doll baby adventures right around the corner.
 


26 comments:

  1. Oh dear! My heart breaks. Why do they grow up. If only she's been a teenager in the 60s she'd have been begging you to make her dresses with smocked yoke and cuffs (Mary Quant etc wore them). Then came pretty Laura Ashley dresses in the 70s. How long will it be before the pretty 'little girl look' returns? Love your smocked creations Natalie Jo. My Mum made them endlessly but ironed on smocking dots and drew it all up by hand. Aah! Those were the days. Eli x

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    1. Hello, Hello Eli! I fear for the pretty "little girl look" as well. I see even the wee ones going to school now are dressed as up like teenie boppers. Maybe by the time I'm a grammie and have someone to smock for again it will be back in fashion....but then again without my pleater I'll be ironing away at those dots!!! natalie jo

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  2. Your smocking is just beautiful! I love those little dresses.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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    1. Thanks so much Liz. They were lots of fun to make at the time!

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  3. I absolutely adore smocking. Always have. At sixteen I begged my mom to make me a white, smocked Easter Dress. Hmmm. Different age, maybe, different style. I have always been quite vintage-y. I can't wait to see what you cook up. Possibly anything for grown-ups? Do I understand correctly that you are putting that little doll in your shop? I LOVE her. I love her little dotty skirt.

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    1. How about Gunne Sax...do you remember those? They had that same vintage-y feel. I actually saved the two I had in case my dear daughter had an interest....she merely thinks I'm insane.

      That little doll in the shop...sadly no. But fingers crossed something similar!!!! (dotty skirt included!)

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  4. Love Smocking. The yolk of the dress (mini) I met my husband in was smocked - still have it. The bodice of my wedding dress was shirred with smocked cuffs and flouncy bit on the end. Pretty days. Always been interested in smocking but have never gotten around to it. The little dresses are lovely.

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    1. I love that you still have the dress you met your husband in Del.Smocking always does seem to add a bit of romance to a dress!

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  5. NOOO!! Are you sure you want to part with your pleater? What if....? The dresses you made are BEAUTIFUL! Why not continue making them for your Etsy shop? There's got to be SOMETHING you can do with your machine?!!
    By the way, I've missed seeing your blog posts and was tickled to see one today!
    Suzanne

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    1. Oh Suzanne you are far to kind! I am far from accurate enough in my large scale sewing to do so for others to buy. Someday I'll show you my button holes...tragic! And the last time I tried to wrangle a zipper we battled it out for hours and in the end the zipper won!!!

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    2. Both the smocking and the french seams left me envious. I can do button holes and zippers. Perhaps a partnership?! You just have to start small (which you are already at) and SLOWLY work your way up bigger and bigger. Before you know it, you'll be an expert....whatever the size!!!

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    3. Yes you are a zipper master for sure! I am amazed at you daily...each and every time I use my sweet little zipper bag! Did you know I use it as my "sew-on-the-go" bag? It's the best!!!

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    4. aww, shucks (and I'm embarrassed to say that wasn't one of my better zippers). Don't get too amazed by me, you do far more in a day than I could EVER get done in a month!!!! Take for example the pink and white quilt?!!! Maybe someday.....
      we need to go out for lunch soon!!!!! Before school ends!!!!

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    5. Right now I've got my fingers crossed that they stop having snow days so school can end sometime before summer does!!!

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    6. at least the seniors don't have to make up any snow days ;)

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  6. Oh no. You do beautiful smocking and think of grandchildren in your beautiful outfits. All the clothes were lovely

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Sandy. Someday maybe I'll smock again but I figure I can always gather the pleats by the dot method if I'm so inspired...just like the good ole days!

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  7. Dear Natalie Jo I can see by your posting it was close to 2AM when you left off the other night......I can just see your grandkids poking around in your attic and coming across the pleater and saying "what do you think it is?" "must be some kind of antique". Hopefully you will have fun with some doll babies in the future namely grandkids....then I'll be the old greatgrandma like little grammie.

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    1. It was nearly that time and as I signed off for the evening I was thinking that you must be the only other person I know that would also be awake at that hour!!!

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  8. Natalie Jo, your talents always amaze! Such beautiful smocking; like so many others have said, are you SURE you want to part with this machine??? Your work is exquisite, and there is surely a demand for the lovely vintage look that smocking imparts.

    Don't despair of the 'sweet girl' look becoming extinct. It seems that all things have a season, and return, just like spring.

    Beth

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  9. I'm really sure about this...I've decided to reevaluate my possessions by the William Morris philosophy, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." By doing so I hope to clear a path into which new adventures (creative and otherwise) can come!

    Considering I haven't used the poor pleater in more than ten years useful could hardly describe it's relationship with me and as far as beauty goes....I have enough dolls and dishes to fill my shelves with! I'd love to have it find a new home in which it does more than collect dust and I'm sure it would agree. It's a very good little machine and is sure to put a smile on someone's face. Which reminds me....

    ...I'm always thankful for you kindness and thoughtful comments. When I see your name pop up it certainly puts a smile on mine!!!

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  10. Hi Natalie . . .

    I was just thinking about you this morning !! . . . what a cute little machine . . . I'm with everyone else here . . . KEEP IT !!! . . . but if not, especially keep those beautiful little dresses . . . you might get to use them someday on a grandchild . . . styles always come back eventually !!

    see you soon, my friend,
    ME . . .

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  11. smocking is so beautiful. Like you I have hand done smocking in the past but sadly it is no longer admired. When my older brothers were little boys the top (shoulder areas) of their little shirts were even smocked. Those were the days. I love your work. Perfection. Best wishes, Carol :)

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    1. At one time I thought I might be able to smock for my youngest who happens to be a boy. He, however, was one for messes....paint, mud, ketchup...you name it. Needless to say I decided to dress him from the bargain row instead!

      Many thanks for popping in Carol and for your kind words!
      natalie jo

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