Welcome to the world of Tiger Swallow Tales, where everything is hand-made with special care and attention for special occasions, outings, and play. Please visit my Etsy shop to place a custom order or browse through the specific links to view projects already completed. Thank you for celebrating your special occasions with TST.

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Serge a Perfect Angle Tip with a Rolled Hem

I'm thoroughly enjoying all the sewing and patterns designs going on in Face Book Groups.  It's really wonderful to see amazing talent everywhere and great questions from new sewers worth writing about.  So here's hoping this will be helpful in serging a perfect angle with a rolled hem.  The pictures are self explanatory.  Happy sewing!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Amazing Sewing Circles and Pattern Groups

Ever wonder how much work goes into designing patterns so sewers everywhere can enjoy sewing to their heart's content without spending enormous amounts of time and effort figuring out all the math and physics that goes into pattern design?  

Image courtesy of  http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/63400/63436/63436_sewingcircle.htm
Check out an abundance of sewing groups on FaceBook and you will be amazed at the hours of work and careful attention that goes into every good sewing circle!  Join some fabulous pattern groups as well while you're at it.  They all have the most helpful and inspiring members, such as Ellie Inspired Pattern Group, where a great number of new smockers were inspired to learn how to smock from scratch and also finish a complete outfit in record time! Pretty amazing feat to accomplish!  Sew Classic for Children is an all-time favorite if you have questions or want to learn fine sewing techniques used with Children's Corner Patterns and  Tie Dye Diva Sewing Patterns has just announced the release of a new set of adorable summer designs.  All of them offer matching doll patterns.  Sew Exciting!!
For Heirloom sewers and smockers, be sure to check out the Heirloom Sewing and Smocking group created by Laurie Anderson of Southern Stitches and Brer Rabbit Designs. You will find in that group the very best tutoring and inspiration available from the most exceptionally gifted and talented instructors on earth!  Seriously!  Another reason you'd love to get to know these unique designers is that their contributions to sewing is always from the heart; and what an enormous gift that is to all humans around the world!
While many of us have recently mourned the loss of three amazing heirloom sewing and smocking magazines (Creative Needle, Australian Smocking and Embroidery, and Sew Beautiful Magazine), we are still very fortunate that the Smocking Arts Guild of America is planning a most amazing "Sewcation" this year and continues to promote smocking and fine needlework through programs such as their Artisan and Wee Care programs!


So we are definitely going through a very exciting yet challenging time in this new sewing and pattern era. Many seamstresses still love paper printed patterns, neatly folded in pretty envelopes and filed away in a drawer or pretty basket.   I have a number of them tucked away in an old dresser.  

The up-and-coming generation is more likely to love convenient and instant-downloadable PDF patters where one can print what's needed and reduce paper filing to a minimum.  I am part of the "sandwich generation" so I like both old and new.  My pattern library is filled with many favorite patterns from amazing pattern designers so my filing is kept under tight control, lol.   I keep most of my sewing instructions in 3-ring binders, like these from Gail Doane and Michie Mooney.

Slowly, but surely, I am also adapting to the new PDF world!  

My PDF pattern files are first downloaded to my trusty computer.  I file in 3-ring binders the patterns I have printed out once I start using them.  But most definitely, I also save design files in a separate hard drive, in case my trusty computer takes a hike to nowherecyberland!  How often do you BACK UP your sewing files and embroidery designs?  I sure hope you do, as it will save a lot of heartache down the cyber road and your pattern designers will surely love you for it too!  :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

How to make Smocked Baby Shoes - As Seen in Classic Sewing Magazine, Spring 2017

Babies and booties are simply meant for each other.  Ever wonder how little smocked shoes are made? Well, it's not all too complicated at all.  It's a bit tough to stitch together with the sewing machine so it's best to hand stitch everything, which does require a little bit of patience, but oh so worth the final outcome!!

Begin with a pattern that has good instructions.  I followed Diane F. Butcher's "Baby Booties"  pattern instructions for the little girl booties and the little boy's version is from Australian Smocking & Embroidery "Special Gifts" .

For the front, pleat and smock a piece of Batiste, 45" by 2 or 2.5" (depending on size 0-6 mo or a little wider for 6-12 mo), then block by using your pattern template.  Gather pleats in the top middle area as snug as you can.  

Make enough bias binding to cover the top and bottom edge of the smocked piece and also around the sole.  Cut bias strips 1", fold them in half and then fold each edge to the middle, or, use your Simplicity Bias Binding Maker with the 1/2" tip to do the work for you super fast.  I absolute looooooove this magic machine!  Be sure to starch the bias fabric really well for even and crisp results!

Once you have all pieces cut and the top smocked, hand stitch the two ends of the smocked piece together (back seam), carefully matching up the smocked design.  Do not remove the pleating threads yet.  Stitch top lining at back seam, then hand-baste lining to the back of the smocked piece.  Hand-stitch bias binding to the top edge of the smocked piece (from front middle out to the back for each side). 

For the sole, you will have a top piece, a lining piece and light cotton quilt batting in the middle (felt would work too).  Baste those three together, then hand-stitch bias binding around each sole.

Be sure to add 5/8" silk ribbon at bottom of smocked piece BEFORE adding the bias binding (yes, you can see in the picture above that I did not do that and had to carefully undo the bias stitches where the ribbon needed to be placed first).  Add bias binding carefully to the bottom of the smocked piece, paying close attention to even distribution of pleats and smocking.   Remove all pleating threads. 

Hand-stitch sole to the top with tiny, evenly distributed stitches.  I love doing this with Coats & Clark Fine Thread almost invisibly.  It's super fine but quite strong at the same time.  Secure the silk ribbon carefully at the top.  I secured them with a tiny bullion rose bud, or you can secure them with a tiny button.

Add a finishing touch in the front if you like.  This can be done easier before assembling the shoe, but I sort of like to see how embellishments look proportionately on the finished project and, most importantly, I like to leave the best for last!
Place rolled wrapping tissue paper in each shoe and steam very carefully while shaping each shoe.
Do not press down on any part of the shoes or ribbon!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I've been Published in Sew Beautiful Magazine!

It's hard to believe that my journey in heirloom sewing and smocking has culminated so wonderfully five years since I first re-discovered my love of needlework. No matter how much I have learned throughout the years (and that would be well over 1/2 a century), I still learn new things every day. You can imagine, therefore, how thrilled I am and how honored I feel to have one of my little bishops featured in Sew Beautiful Magazine's Spring 2014 Issue, #154. Nothing, nothing at all could have made my heart sing more than seeing this adorable little model wearing a piece of my work!

What an infectious smile!!

Those gorgeous eye-lashes!!!

On a very sad note, however, Sew Beautiful Magazine will no longer be issued after the Fall issue this year. Back issues are still available and I can't emphasize enough what a wealth of information they all contain for fine sewers and embroiders everywhere.  Please pick up a copy at your local news-stand or craft store and let the publishers know how valuable their work in heirloom sewing and smocking would be for future generations to come!  

For additional information and education in smocking, please visit the Smocking Arts Guild of America.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Colors of Spring!

Happy Easter wishes to all.  
May new beginnings of this beautiful season bring you renewed hope and joy!

Thank you, Sara Gordon Photography, and mothers of these beautiful little girls,
for helping us welcome Spring at the Dallas Arboretum!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Miracle of Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love .... 
You simply can't buy it in a store or find it in a catalog  
It can't be ordered, manufactured, forced or controlled  
It just happens ... 
to those fortunate enough or blessed enough to receive it 
and only when all the stars line up just right to make such miracle possible!  

A wall quilt inspired by Sofia's love for Dottie
Not too long ago, I was very fortunate to meet an amazing mom to a very special little girl, Sofia.  Her mom speaks often of the miracle Sofia has been since the day she was born.  Of course you can understand immediately why they also love horses!  After all, they live in one of the breath-taking corners of our great nation best known for equine stories that stir human hearts and move an equal amount of human souls.  I believe Sofia will be writing many such equine stories when she grows up, that I'm sure of, for she knows first-hand what it's like to be in good company with the best of equine kindred spirits, special horses that seem to understand their calling of service to humans, often nothing short of a miracle.  Sofia also knows what it's like to be the recipient of love in it's purest form.  No doubt, she has already acquired many of the best ingredients necessary to write amazing stories that will teach us many valuable lessons down the road ... overcoming obstacles, nurturing confidence, healing through hard work, kindness, patience and, most of all, unconditional love!

Sofia's first and most beloved horse recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  In her beautiful tribute to Dottie and Sofia, Sofia's mother, Kelley Custer Whealton, writes: 

            Miss Dottie West, better known as "Dottie" was my daughters first horse. Even though she didn't 
            actually belong to us, she owned a piece of our hearts. My daughter rode her every week at least 
            once from the time she was 3 until she was almost 8. She wasn't talking when she started riding
            and also had behavior and balance problems due to a Chromosome 18 deletion. I always credit 
            Dottie with her excellent speech and confidence she has today. She was the kindest animal I
            ever knew , with a heart of gold..my daughter learned so much from her..She has sparked a 
            love of horses and changed our lives forever...Thank you Dottie..you will live forever in our hearts..
            we love you!

My heart aches for Sofia and those who loved this beautiful creature.  Rest in peace sweet Dottie.  Your unconditional love was heaven-sent and will be sorely missed by many who loved you here on earth.

Learn more about Chromosome 18 Deletion

Learn more about the history of Equine Therapy

Learn more about Equine Therapy for Kids

Meet Sofia's Coach at Johnson Equestrian

Learn more about Queen Hive Farm