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Smocking advice

 
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Smocking advice - 2/19/2012 8:22:22 AM   
Hokie Mom

 

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I have been smocking since 1979. I have given away lots of smocked outfits over the years. Most of them were not appreciated if the lack of a thank you is any indicator.

Now that I finally have a granddaughter to smock for, I wish I had never given away all those clothes!

I find it harder to thread the needle with floss. I find it hard to even thread the pleater needles and I wear 2X magnifier glasses.

Yesterday, I decided to make my little girl the garment called Little Lambs by Terry Jane Collins. I have made this at least three times since I had three sizes traced in the envelope. I found in my stash a nice lavender micro-check and a nice white for the insert. I don't know what the insert fabric was, but I broke two shorty pleater needles. Took that out of the pleater and prepped a lighter weight piece of fabric. Switched to the regular size needles. I had two different kinds of needles, some had a round hole for the eye, some had a long eye. I really didn't think the different eyes would matter but I had lots of skips. Took that piece out of the pleater after a few inches and switched back to the short needles that I could barely see to thread.

I do wish I had smocked for Grandmothers Hope Chest. I can remember Martha telling us to smock while we could still see-- how true!

So, my advice to all of you is smock even if you don't have a recipient in mind. When you get older, you will be glad you did.

Now I need to go and buy stronger glasses-- I remember Debbie Glenn uses 4x magnifiers. I will have to look for them.




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Lisa in Webster NY
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RE: Smocking advice - 2/19/2012 9:11:21 AM   
Linda in NM

 

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Lisa, I'm so sorry you don't still have your treasures for your grandbaby! I'm a true believer in making what you love, even if you don't know who is going to get it! Sewing is a hobby that blesses twice...once while you are creating, and once when you find the perfect recipient!

Just wanted to let you know that you got me started smocking. You gave me a kit several years ago that I had NO idea what to do with, so I just took it out and petted it occassionally. I finally found what to do with it, though. I gave it to my daughter, made her learn to smock (she learns from books, I have to be shown!), and then made her teach me! I'm not good, and SO SLOW but I love it.

But I didn't know there are two types of pleater needles. Is the eye the only difference?

(in reply to Hokie Mom)
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RE: Smocking advice - 2/19/2012 9:13:19 AM   
Marla


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Lisa,
Thank you for those words of wisdom! Although at 56 I'm more than past the age to have grandchildren, it's not likely in the foreseeable future. Got married late at 30. I have two children, a married 23 year old daughter who will likely not have kids of her own because of some medical issues and a son who is 20 and not married.

Perhaps my daughter will one day adopt as she says, but a ways off.

I used to make frilly little dresses for my daughter but not smocking. Wish I had learned that back then! But I am buying up patterns and now have a pleater. I've done a couple practice pieces but haven't done a little dress yet! But after reading your post I'm more determined to do that!

I hope your new reading glasses help. Nothing more frustrating than to have a passion of sewing and not being able to do it because of medical issues!

Thanks for your advice!

Marla

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Marla Cooprider
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Own Janome 15000, Janome Compulock, Juki Industrial, Janome DC 4030 and some antiques! :)
"A bad day in the sewing room is better than a good day in the office." ~Unknown

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/19/2012 12:18:38 PM   
Nananeva

 

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Have you had an examination by a good eye doctor? Cataracts are a sneaky problem that you may not be aware of. Magnifiers help, but check for other problems also. My bifocal strength is 2.50, and seems to serve me well.

It is a hard 'row to hoe', this getting older. (What am I saying, getting older? I AM older at 71.......)

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/19/2012 1:54:36 PM   
Nancy W

 

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When I was smocking my latest granddaughter's Christening gown (white on white swiss batiste), I invested in an Ott floor lamp.  It really helped me see well enough to finish the project.

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/19/2012 9:31:02 PM   
Vada43


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The strongest magnifiers no longer work for me, not strong enough, I now have prescription bi-focals and a separate pair of reading glasses and at times even with those I can't see well enough to thread some handwork needles or the ones in my pleater and have to do it by feel.

Here's a little tip, there are times when machine embroidering, a colour change is too near the side of the hoop to use the needle threader so it must be done by hand, with all the glare on the shiney presser foot it's almost impossible to see where the needle hole is. Put a tiny scrap of white fabric behind the needle but far enough toward the back so that the thread won't be pushed back out. This works well for my CV, I got this idea from my Diamond, the presser foot ankle is white and is easy to see the needle hole.

Vada

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/20/2012 5:29:55 AM   
KathyD

 

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Such wise words of advice Lisa! I've also been smocking for years (about 28). I gave away all the things (except 1 dress) of my oldest 2 girls, but since there's 12 years difference between our oldest daughter and youngest, I realized with the last one how quickly time passes!!! So, I saved all her special dresses and now our granddaughter has been able to wear many of her things. That really warms my heart to see them worn again! I continued to smock and sew even after all our kids had outgrown things and have 2 or 3 closets full of dresses ready to be worn. However, I still want to make special things for my granddaughter.

Like you, my eyes have gotten much worse over the years. What was easy to see even 6 years ago is now definitely challenging! I have prescription bifocals as well as those magnification glasses that Debbie uses - with both of those available, I can usually still smock and sew. But, I think I'm going to make a couple christening gowns while I can still see well enough to do a good job of them! Our youngest is still in college and her children are several years off (hopefully), so I need to continue to sew and get some more things in the grandmother's hope chest. I hope the new magnification will help you with your sewing and smocking projects!

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/20/2012 7:38:46 AM   
makettle

 

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Lisa, I find if I thread one piece of floss at a time it works better for me. As for threading the pleater needles, you need something white underneath so you can see the holes. I also think I want to buy those new magnifiers that I saw on tv with the lights on them. I know you have the little ott clip ons but they are a little awkard and think the glasses will put light where you need it. I have found when there are skips it is because the needle really isn't sharp enough to penetrate or they are bent.

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/20/2012 12:02:19 PM   
Nananeva

 

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Nancy W gave you great advice! I have had my Ott lights for so long I take them for granted. If you don't have one, get one. You will be amazed at the difference.

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/20/2012 4:09:06 PM   
LSUTiger

 

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I am 42 ... my oldest is 19 1/2 (no girlfriend and no where near "ready" for one) and the youngest is 11.

I've been smocking/sewing for about 4 years now for what I'm currently calling my "grandmother's HOPELESS chest" as I hope that none of mine have children ANY time soon. Give me 10 years or so ...

I work in healthcare and have thought of the things that can happen that would take my love of sewing/smocking away. My goal is to make a Christening blanket for each as well as numerous day gowns, blankets, bishops, etc.

I have 2 boys and then a girl ... SHE already appreciates these things and my teaching her to sew. I hope that my boys marry girls who will appreciate these things as well.

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/20/2012 11:37:07 PM   
caaguirre

 

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Just consider those garments as practice pieces for what you're going to now create. Now that you're experienced, your outfits will be even better than the first ones. Have fun!

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/23/2012 1:19:02 PM   
Linda S.

 

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I just wanted to add my amen to Vada's suggestion of putting something white behind your needle while trying to thread it. This is such a small thing but it is so helpful! When I start to thread a needle, I automatically look for something white I can place the needle in front of. I doubt I could thread my machine needle at all, no matter what the size, without putting a piece of white paper or fabric behind it.

My Ott light is very helpful too. The true color is great and overall I can just see much better using this light. I have a floor model which is pretty and looks much like a regular floor lamp. But the clamp that makes it adjustable does tend to slip. I've only had this lamp for a year and it's slipping badly now...so I have to be mindful of where my head is situated in relation to it, for fear the shade will slide down and brain me! Maybe these floor models are better now, but I would definitly keep my receipt and check out any floor model well before purchasing.

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/28/2012 12:04:33 PM   
Grammie


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Oh, Lisa...I wish I lived closer so I could thread those needles for you! You do such lovely work, please have those eyes checked and also get "Debbie's" glasses and, I expect you have an Ottlight. You can do it! I agree with Charlotte, sometimes it is easier to thread one strand of floss at a time - or use perl cotton to smock! I usually resort to that only for play clothes or gifts I don't think will be appreciated much...easier and less time-consuming. I still like DMC for all my own grandkids special stuff.

There are also some nifty needle-threaders out there...and I use "Thread Heaven" on all my floss - that also makes it easier to thread the needle.

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/28/2012 5:24:44 PM   
Vada43


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When threading pleater needles I use a basic needle threader, I can "feel" where the needle hole is so I just push the needle threader up and then it's easy to get the thread through the tiny wires and pull down. I have a Super Amanda Jane and the threader came with it.

Vada

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/29/2012 12:10:11 PM   
Bunnypep


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I don't have any hints for threading pleater needles. I do use a piece of paper behind. As far as the embroidery needles, I do as I learned in crewel work. Loop the thread over the needle and pull until it is tight. Pinch this with your left hand tightly. Slide the needle out of the loop. Now slide the eye down into the pinch and onto the thread. It usually works first try. This is how your thread those fibery wool threads when doing crewel work.

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RE: Smocking advice - 2/29/2012 12:47:29 PM   
fairygodmother

 

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Lisa --

It sounds like many of us are right there with you in the "aging vision" dept., including me. MPCo sells a small packet of needle threaders. I keep several in a little ziploc with my pleater stuff -- needles, etc. They work great! There is no way I would ever get any pleating done if I had to thread all of those needles myself!

Take care of those eyes -- they are precious!

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Fairygodmother

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RE: Smocking advice - 3/2/2012 8:44:43 PM   
Sparkle

 

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OTT LIGHT!!!!! And yes, I'm yelling! Lisa, and everybody else, if you don't have one you NEED one! You will never believe how much difference it can make! The technology is called 'Balanced Spectrum' and you can find knock offs for reasonable prices - also of course Joann's sales and coupons. And here's another link

As for threading - the regular cheapie needle threaders from WalMArt work just fine for floss, perle, floche, whatever!

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RE: Smocking advice - 3/12/2012 1:30:40 PM   
nanas needle

 

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Are the magnifier glasses you speak of, like the ones the surgeons wear? On the last cruise or two, there was a lady on the ship doing Hardanger work, and she had what looked like minature binoculars that she wore over her regular glasses. She said they really worked well.

My daughter died at age 39, and I have a Grandmother's Hope Chest started for her daughter who just turned 18. At 72, I may not be around when my granddaughter has a family, so this way she will have baby things that were handmade by her family. We need to have things to pass on to the next generations.

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RE: Smocking advice - 3/12/2012 8:20:23 PM   
vpenner

 

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Lisa,

I'm also sorry you don't have any "saved" clothes for your girlie, but I'm sure you'll enjoy sewing for an actual little one. After all, you have her here in the flesh and you're getting to know her little personality well, I'm sure, so you can sew just the perfect things for her Thankfully, my twerps are being nice and slow in providing me with grandbabies, so I'm getting a little headstart as well as giving some garments to deserving families. Fortunately, almost all have been well-received and appreciated so far. I DO definitely keep the ones my daughter and husband (yes, he insists I keep the BSY made with the Bunnies by the Bay print and appliqued carrot insert) decide are keepers as well as the ones I don't want to part with.

< Message edited by vpenner -- 3/12/2012 8:21:20 PM >


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RE: Smocking advice - 3/27/2012 2:39:34 PM   
reader36

 

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What are "Debbie's glasses" ?....don't see them on her website. I need them as well. Thanks, Diane

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