Thursday, October 30, 2014

Smocking Across America is starting to take off.

I have heard from Cardinal Chapter in Richmond, Virginia who smocked in public on October 23 at a local Panera Bread. The group received some interest in both smocking and their chapter.

Left to right: Judy Price, Lindy Wright and Kaethe Pittman
(Carleen Fink took the photo).
Meanwhile, Eunice Hayes in Ohio has been teaching smocking at a local library. She is teaching smocking to mothers while their children enjoy story time!
Where are you smocking and who are you teaching-email me details at and include photos too!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Estate Sale Finds!

Lori Popelka, SAGA Region III Representative has some great tips on hunting for vintage linens and related items. Lori shares some of her tips and tricks with us.

To find local estate sales, you can register your zip code with and they will send you information about sales in your area.  The photos are generally very good and give you an idea of the sale being worth your time. 
I like the church based thrift stores for linens also.  They are generally run by volunteers and are neat, organized and friendly. 
When I shop on ebay I like to find things with weird descriptions, so I always search through the “related” field under the search box.  I have found many neat things this way.  I find January and February are good months for finding nice things that fewer people are bidding on  because they are still paying for Christmas. 
I spend time in the higher end antique shows and flea markets so I know what to look for when I am in thrift stores, estate sales and even garage sales, when I have the time.  This way, you know when you have found a bargain or not!

                                                            Some of Lori's recent finds.

Thanks, Lori and I am glad we live in different places as I know we'd be competing for the bargains!

Do you have any tips, tricks or great finds to share with us? Email me at and you might be featured on the blog!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where is Wes?

Wes has been busy traveling this week and showing his Smock Across America card.

Firstly he has been to Brooklyn, New York to be seen by passengers leaving the Queen Mary 2 when it docked from it's crossing the Atlantic from England.

                         Wes says "Sorry for the bad selfie-it was raining!"

Next he has been to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

"It's a very big museum for a little bear"
And then it was on to Hershey where he took the Chocolate Factory Tour.

"Where's the chocolate?"
Where will Wes go next and more importantly, where will you be Smocking Across America?

Can you spot Wes?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mystery Ornament Smock-Along Blog Post


Welcome to our Mystery Ornament Smock-Along! You can find a complete list of materials needed for our Smock-Along at This post will take you step by step through pleating your fabric so you are all ready to start smocking when our first clue is posted on November 3rd!  I also have some suggestions if you don’t have a pleater.  Don’t forget to head on over and join our facebook group < > I will be monitoring the group and will try and answer any questions. Your fellow smockers will also be able to give you some advice.  Come show us your fabric and thread choices and be part of the fun! You can also check back here for step by step photos on completing the different stitches as we go through the Smock-Along. So let’s get started!

I have gathered all my supplies and am ready to start. You can use any color fabric you would like. My crimson fabric is plain 100% Kona cotton that you should be able to pick up at any fabric or quilt shop. If you would like online sources, go to our website and check out our business members, they will be happy to assist you with your fabric choice.  The easiest fabric to pleat if you are a beginner is a good quality 100% cotton such as this Kona cotton, or Imperial Broadcloth which is 65% cotton and 35% polyester.


I have ironed and spray starched my fabric. Before putting the fabric through my pleater, I have used a purple disappearing marker to draw a long vertical line down the center of my 5 ½ inch piece of fabric. I will be pleating 11 rows and will line up this vertical line with the 6th needle on my pleater. I have also drawn 3 horizontal lines on my fabric at various points along the fabric. It isn’t important where the lines are drawn. The purpose is that as I am pleating the fabric, the horizontal line should go into the pleater evenly. This tells me that I am on grain. If one side of the line is approaching the pleater quicker than another, then I need to make slight adjustments, placing tension on one side to slow it down and let the other catch up.

I have pulled my thread out of one side of the fabric to form a seam allowance and tied off my pleats, two by two (and one three) and have pushed my pleats up against the tied off side. I want to block my piece of fabric at 9 inches which is what I need to go around my 3 inch ball. Before I pull out pleats to form the other seam allowance and tie off, I want to count my pleats. I did this by pushing a pin into the valley between every 20 pleats. Our directions specify that the design will be a 16 pleat repeat. I have 144 pleats (16 x 9) which is perfect. If you have less than 144 pleats, you can drop down to 128. The goal is a 9 inch piece of pleated fabric with the pleats nicely spaced and a total that is a multiple of 16. I have tied off my piece, given it a quick shot of spray starch and will let it sit overnight to set those pleats.

Troubleshooting: So maybe things didn’t go as smoothly with you and your pleater as it did for me. What do you do if you are off grain? Well that all depends…did I mention that this is an ornament, that it will go on the tree, and that there are no smocking police? The idea is to have fun. This isn’t a dress that has to drape. It is an ornament and its back side will be against the tree. So my advice is that unless your pleating is so bad that you will be fighting it as you smock, or it is going to keep you up nights, that you should leave it be. Having said that, if you do have lots of split pleats, and you are going to be fighting it as you try to smock, take out the pleating threads, give it a good spray with water, iron and starch it, and try again.

So what if you don’t have a pleater, and you want to make an ornament? Have you tried contacting your local chapter? Many of our chapters have pleaters that you can borrow. Still no luck? You can use striped fabric. Use that your purple or blue marker to draw lines every 3/8 inch across your fabric and then run gathering lines picking up the stripes every 3/8 of an inch across. This will take more time, but as you sit there waiting for the car pool, or watching the soccer game, in a few minutes you can have a row gathered. Again our business members will have an appropriate fabric.

You can also purchase iron on dots, and again you run a gathering thread picking up the dots as you go.

Finally, gather everything together and get ready to join our Smock-Along!


Friday, October 17, 2014

A Wonderful Collection!

The Ashmolean Museum, in Oxford, England recently held an exhibition of a needlework collection they received as a gift. The gift consists of one of the word’s finest collections of historic English embroideries and was given by collectors, Michéal and Elizabeth Feller. In all 61 pieces comprise the collection which spans the seventeenth century. The exhibition, The Eye of the Needle, ran until 12 October.

Donor, Elizabeth Feller says that it is thanks to her mother’s influence, sewing and embroidery has been a meaningful activity throughout her life. The collection began with pieces worked by other people and consisted of small household items such as needlepoint cushions and went on to include samplers, panels and other items. All are steeped in English history and stories of the people who embroidered them.

Michéal and Elizabeth Feller are long term residents of Oxford and own a butcher’s shop in the City’s covered market.

The following description of the embroideries is from the museum website (

The pieces which have been given to the Museum are seventeenth-century embroideries which include dramatic pictorial panels, samplers, domestic items and costume pieces. These embroideries were made during one of the most turbulent centuries in English history, when religious and political conflict split families and the country. Beyond the opportunity for demonstrating technical ability, the embroideries illustrate the themes and concerns which occupied the minds of the young women making them. They often depict biblical stories at a time when religious issues, including the use of images, aroused great controversy. Similarly, during a period of increasing urbanization the pictorial pieces show idyllic country scenes with imaginary creatures and flowers.

Exquisite objects in their own right made with colourful silks, pearls, and semi-precious stones, the embroideries also reflect the religious, political and social concerns of the English Civil War period.


Besides telling a story and history of the period, looking at some of these pieces I wonder how they were created with such fine work and wonderful colours when the embroiderer had none of the modern equipment we today take for granted. Not for them the luxury of a daylight lamp right at hand or a magnifier. No super sharp steel needles; tiny needle threaders or set of Dovo scissors. These needle workers used crude tools and worked in poor light. Think what they could have achieved with the benefit of todays tools and lighting!

The following site has a link to two books showing these works in detail

Sunday, October 12, 2014

SAGANews Volume 35 Issue 4

I am getting close to my next deadline-October 15. That deadline is the last date I can receive anything for publication in the next issue of SAGANews. This issue has a winter/holiday look to it-why not it will soon be that time of year!

Yes, my mug says "What's a Deadline"
So, do you have anything you want to submit?
 Has your chapter done something special? That would go in Chapter Chatter.
 Has your chapter hosted a teacher-write about it to encourage others to host a workshop-that too is Chapter Chatter.
 Have you made something special? That would be a Member Showcase item- always nice to see someones pretty creations!
 Have you smocked outside the box using the Stitch Games? Email a photo!

Do you have any ideas or projects to submit for a future issue? It is really easy-just send an email to outlining your design, item or project and before you know it it might be in print!

Don't forget it isn't just smocking- we need heirloom sewing items, Wee Care designs, embroidery projects-just one stipulation they must be original.

I look forward to hearing from some of you soon!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Meet Wes

Hello my name is Wes!

I plan to take part in the Smock Across America challenge and will have my photo taken wherever I happen to be with my smocking! I hope that you are going to rise to the challenge too? Let us see how many towns, cities, states (and countries) we can cover between us!

Just have your photo taken with your smocking or heirloom sewing and if you can get the Smock Across America logo in there somewhere all the better! Then email the photos to saganews@smocking .org .They will be then be posted on one of the SAGA social media sites.

Of course, it would also be wonderful if you were teaching someone to smock in the photo!

I look forward to my smocking adventures and I hope to hear about yours too!

PS Yes, I am a boy bear, but boys can sew too!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

You have to be comfortable

Have you enjoyed seeing the sewing rooms of your fellow SAGA members? I know the blog has received a lot of visits.

 Today's sewing room photos show that comfort is a key to a some of you in your sewing room- whether it is a favourite place to sit and stitch......

or somewhere to recline and ponder your next project..... 

Wherever you sit and sew I hope you have enjoyed the posts on 'Where SAGA Members Actually Sew!'

Friday, October 3, 2014

Multiple Sewing Machines

I have shared sewing rooms that take you from one extreme to another; sewing rooms with a definite theme; sewing rooms to dream about.

This post shares a few more of the photos we received and these rooms contain multiple sewing machines and/or sergers.

 It is interesting how each room is very different, but that in every case, the machines are easily accessible.

There are more photos to share, so don't forget to visit often!

If you sign up to the blog as a member, you will receive notice of any updates- it costs nothing and you never know what you may see next!