Category Archives: Heirloom Sewing

This category covers heirloom sewing – both hand and machine techniques.

My Grandson the Dolphin

My Grandson the DolphinNice dorsal fin and the flippers really work

After a little time off – away from my desk – traveling around the country turning my grandson into a dolphin and other such wild sewing activities, I am now back home in Virginia setting up a pretty aggressive sewing class schedule.  We will be hosting some Fabulous Free Furlough Friday Fun Festival (F6) demos beginning in July at Quilt and Sewing Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  I have set up some beginning sewing classes that should be fun for everyone.  I am also continuing my series of  Heirloom Notebook Classes and offering some heirloom projects along the way.  One of the most fun project classes is our Heirloom Christmas Stocking with a Twist.  The twist is, if you decide not to make a stocking, we will show you how to take the techniques and design whatever is your fantasy – it might be a pillow, table-runner, baby coverlet, bell-pull – you decide and we will help you design and complete it.  As an added incentive, after the 20 hours of class instruction and some home sewing on your own, we will have a special little wrapped gift for your stocking (or whatever) for everyone who finishes the project by the last class.

Our beginning sewing class schedule is filled with mini-one-day (3-4 hour) classes where you can complete the project before leaving (or with minimal sewing left to do when you get home).  We have placemats, tote bags, sachets, bell-pulls, table runners, etc. planned that will delight your creative side.  If you are in the area, drop by the shop and sign up for some of these little min-classes.

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Just Ask Rita – Swiss Nelona vs Swiss Cotton Sateen

Ellen writes:  

Rita,    I’m going to make a christening gown and I’d like to know which is heavier:  opaque, swiss nelona or swiss cotton sateen.  I have better luck smocking on a heavier fabric but I like the shinny look.  I may not be able to get both in one fabric!?  Thanks for your assistance!

Ellen, Thanks for writing.  Swiss Nelona is lighter weight than Swiss Cotton Sateen.  Nelona Batiste is 100% Pima Cotton and is made in Switzerland.  It is a soft, light, fabric with a gorgeous sheen.  It has a very soft hand and a very shiny finish.  It has a little body, but is still translucent.  It usually has about 129 threads/inch.  Martha Pullen carries a very nice quality of Swiss Nelona Batiste.  I checked several sources and they all questioned the term opaque.  They refer to the Nelona as translucent.  I’m not sure if this is the same fabric you are calling opaque.

Swiss Cotton Sateen is a heavier weight fabric – almost broadcloth weight.  It is made of 100% Swiss cotton with a slight sheen.  Either fabric would make a lovely christening gown. 

Martha Pullen is an excellent source for heirloom fabrics.  She also carries a Victorian Batiste and Martha’s Favorite Cotton Batiste.  The Victorian Batiste is a nice substitute for Swiss Cotton Batiste.  It is slightly heavier than Nelona.  Martha’s Favorite Cotton Batiste is more lightweight than the Victorian batiste and slightly heavier than the Nelona.

Hint for smocking on lightweight fabrics:  If you are using a lightweight fabric, press and lightly spray starch the fabric before pleating the fabric on the pleating machine.  This gives the fabric extra body and makes it easier to run through the pleater and also makes smocking on the lighter weight fabric easier.  I love using the Victorian batiste for my English Smocking heirlooms, however, there is definitely more sheen to the Nelona and the Swiss Cotton Sateen.  I hope this helps – good luck with your heirloom sewing.

Heirloom Sewing – by Machine

French Hand Sewing and Heirloom Sewing refer to the delicate stitching techniques of yesteryear where fine laces, entredeux, and high quality fabrics were combined to create beautiful clothing.  Martha Pullen has brought these intricate hand stitching techniques to the sewing machine with breathtaking results.  The wonderful sewing machines available today, coupled with fabulous feet and stitches, make heirloom machine sewing very exciting.  This christening gown is the one I made for my darling little granddaughter.  She looked like an angel in it.

Once a month I teach the Martha Pullen Gift of the Month demo class.  Martha sends instructions for small projects using a different technique every month.  Click on the Martha Pullen link to view her site and see the Gift of the Month projects.  In addition to the Gift of the Month class, I also teach an Heirloom sewing class each month.  Some months it is a notebook class where students learn the techniques and are provided information on how to use these techniques in their everyday sewing projects.  Other months we stitch a project using the techniques that we have learned in previous classes.  I teach at the Quilt and Sewing Center of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  If you are interested in taking these classes, visit their website or call the store to register for the Martha Pullen classes.