Saturday, April 14, 2007

Baby Love Going to Pieces

I am in the process of taking Baby Love apart. Here's what she looks like right now, the back with bodices, collars, and piping:

Here's the two front pieces.

I offer up a challenge--compare those two photos and see if you can determine why I am taking Baby Love apart.

La la la la la la la la la la LAAAAA la la la la la......... (hummed to the tune of Jeopardy)

While you're trying to figure that out, here's a closeup of one front piece that I'm now removing the smocking from (if that's not a great hint to the underlying probem, I don't know what is):

I made the following photo in response to a question by Candle, who wanted more clarification about the long embroidery threads hanging off the sides of the work:

If you click on the photo, you can see where I did little running stitches into the seamlines on each side.

When I smock a piece, the first thing I do is count the pleats. Then I mark the center pleat with a piece of thread. I begin smocking at the center pleat, always, and work to the right side seam. Then I turn the whole shebang upside down and go back to the center and work to the side seam.

By doing it this way, the smocking design is automatically centered on the piece. That's why every smocking plate has the center pleat marked, so you know where to begin.

Another benefit is that I never run out of embroidery thread in the middle of the row. I start with a nice long piece of thread, (stranded, of course), go into the center pleat, then make sure that I am beginning at the midpoint of the embroidery thread. This way, I have half the length of thread to work one side, and half the length of thread to work the other side.

So when I get to the end of a row, I take short running stitches into the seam allowance and let the ends just hang there. If I need to make an adjustment to the row later, it's easy to accomplish since I haven't cut the thread off.

After I finish a row I sometimes find that I've made a mistake in smocking. My personal rule is that if the mistake is 2 inches or closer to the edge I will unpick it and restitch it with the same thread. If it's farther than 2 inches from the edge, I take out the entire row and redo it with new thread.

Why? Because pulling the thread through pleats thins it and it gets worn. If you reuse it you will see a big difference in the actual smocking stitches. I learned this by experience. So I'd rather take it out and start with new thread (which means I've smocked the row twice), instead of reusing the thread, being unhappy with the results, taking it out and redoing it (which means I've smocked the row three times).

Back to the original question. Everybody give up? Here's the correct arrangement of the two front pieces:

Compare that to what I had before and you will see that I have smocked the SIDES of the darn thing!

I am such an idiot.

I had forewarning that a serious problem was about to happen, but I was overcome by Baby Love excitement and ignored it.

My warning? When I counted my pleats, before I did any smocking AT ALL, I had fewer pleats than I was supposed to.

I pondered that for 3 seconds. Then I assured myself that it was due to the difference in the pleater brands (you know, maybe theirs made more pleats than mine, or some other such nonsense), marked my center, and smocked away.

Yall have all seen how far I had gotten on this project. When I realized what I had done, my first impulse was to throw the whole thing out through the window and into the yard.

And I would have let it lie there until one of the children retrieved it, or better yet, a neighborhood dog carted it away.

(A warning here to all my offspring and their friends--if any mention is made in the comments about the Tea Pitcher Incident, you will be disinherited.)

I discovered the problem when the front button bands wouldn't fit on the fronts. Once I realized what I had done, I ran to the window with it, clutching it like a baseball---yes, I was ready to fling it to the great out of doors.......

Then I thought of my readers. And I felt a RESPONSIBILITY to you all. To show FORTITUDE. And to exemplify PERSERVERANCE. And to ENCOURAGE others when something like this Happens To Them.

So, because of you, dear readers, I am taking it apart. I will pleat it and smock it AGAIN. And I will sew it together.

Yall have made me a better person. I thank you.


CandlebyNight said...

I don't know what to say. I was laughing, learning and feeling your shock, horror and pain. This is the best blog entry you've done so far. I learned a lot about the details of smocking. I've never counted pleats or marked it or smocked one half first then turned it upside down and did the other half. WOW. Thank you for posting all that.

And thank you for your perserverance! Can't wait to see it finished.

Erin said...

hehehe... the Tea Pitcher Incident... quite the affair. =)

But this wonderful niece won't reveal a THING... BUT! hehehe I'm sure everyone knows about your Sweet Tea Fanacism

P.S. I do read this every morning at work and I really need to call you with an EBay warning... if i continue to forget about this, call me instead =)

bkm said...

Man, I want someone to be brave enough to explain the Tea Pitcher Incident!

Chelsea said...

Just linked into your blog from dressaday. Best of luck with the re-smocking. Man, I can almost feel that hollow, shuddery feeling when you've put so much work into something, only to realize you have to start over and do it all again.
Best of luck!