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.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Converting a beautiful Wedding Gown into a Christening Gown

You can imagine how very excited I was when I was requested to convert a breath-taking wedding gown into a little boy's Christening Gown!  At first glance, I confess, I had a lot of mixed feelings.  What?  Take apart all of that beautiful work?  It must have taken an expert seamstress hours upon hours of fine stitching to get this work of art just right for a beautiful bride!

But then I met the little boy who would benefit from this thoughtful gesture from his mom and I got excited beyond words to be a part of something very special!  Picking out the right style for the Christening gown was not too difficult.  Would it be traditional heirloom with lace?  How about smocking?  How long should it be?  Can it be used for a girl at another time?

How fortunate that Sew Beautiful Magazine had just issued their special Heirloom Sewing Issue which featured a combination of a bubble with a detachable skirt!  A perfect choice for this occasion!  Complete article details and instructions are actually in a previous Sew Beautiful issue, #91, 2003, "Twice as Nice," by Marianne Schubbe, of Smocked Treasures!

Because my little customer was growing by leaps and bounds in a matter of days, sizing was a concern, so we opted to use the banded bubble Pattern #107 by Creations by Michie, which went up to 24 mo.

To make sure the fit would work, I made up a mock sample in a size 18 mo.  Turned out to be the perfect size at first try!

I could tell very quickly this was going to be a perfect marriage between traditional heirloom and uncomplicated contemporary beauty.  The sample shows traditional tucks on the front right side and decorative serger tucks on the left side.  The final version had decorative tucks.

Making that first cut into the wedding gown was really nerve-wracking!!

The buttons on the gown were so pretty, I had to find a way to incorporate them into the Christening gown! Bridal buttons are fabric covered decorative buttons for the most part, so I wasn't able to use them for buttoning the entire Christening gown.  However, they were a perfect addition to secure the silk ribbon ties in the back of the detachable skirt!

I love beautiful Mother of Pearl Buttons!

One of the nicest features of this combination gown is that the bubble can be customized in baby girl, baby boy, or neutral colors.  Upon request, I prepare samples of embroidery and fabric color choices like this.

A touch of baby blue was a perfect addition to this particular occasion.  You can see the decorative tucks better in this closeup.  

And here is the final touch that will make this a family heirloom in years to come!  

With much appreciation to the Tayloe family for sharing this wonderful occasion!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Happiness is a Cool, Crisp October Day!

So I finally accepted the fact that 3/4th of this year has passed us by and it's time to clean the yard and turn over a new leaf, so to speak, in my sewing room as well as our entire home!  Lord knows I have neglected both and the numerous cobwebs need to go!  

I do love Fall as the season in preparation for warm family get-togethers around the holiday table.  My family is very small so I treasure every minute we have together!  This is one of my favorite Fall 4-generation, un-prepared and un-staged Kodak moments!  I continue to count the blessings I have in each of my family members and can't wait to take a new girls 4-generation picture for the holidays this year!

We are celebrating Lola's 2nd Birthday today, October 16!!  Here she is, fluffy and sweet, along with my favorite son and grand-daughter.  Don't be mislead by her charm.  She is always looking for mischief!  She was a very special delivery, Christmas eve, 2011, and is due for a Birthday spa treatment and manicure this afternoon!

I've been quite busy in the sewing room as well.  Not as much smocking, but working on a beautiful Christening gown for a special little boy's October Baptism, made out of his mom's wedding gown.  The two-piece outfit is an inspiration from Sew Beautiful Magazine's special Heirloom Sewing Issue.

So isn't this wedding gown gorgeous?  I was so stressed out making that first cut into it's beautiful fabric!!

Here is a trial run of the Christening bubble.  Oh so exciting!

I've also been busy with applique work and machine embroidery for some sweet sisters, all the way in the UK!  Don't you just love the colors?  The adorable embroidery designs and font are available at Oma's Place!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time Flies in the Sewing Room

Oh My, How Time Flies When You're Having Fun in the Sewing Room!

Has it really been 5 months since I last posted an update?  Shame on me, because I have sew much to share!

First of all, did I tell you how very much in love I am with this custom Waldorf Dolly made especially for my grand-daughter by my good sewing friend and fellow Virginian, Catherine Carmichael?  Check out her amazing dolls at Pink Petunia Cottage Dolls.  There is so much to learn about these wonderful dolls and it's worth exploring further here.  Thank you Catherine for a most heart-warming little friend and addition to our family!

Lost in my busy schedule this summer and recent writers' block, I also forgot to mention another wonderful mention below, but please stay tuned, there is so much more I have to share in an upcoming post about sewing and smocking for the tiniest of babies!

Adorable Heirlooms
Hello Stitchers,

Well Spring has finally shown her very shy face here in Michigan.  Just the other day I noticed that I have Tulips, Daffodils and even some Day Lilies peeking up through the ground. It's very exciting!  What excites you most about Spring?
Just to remind us that we too, can create a garden in full bloom, I'm bringing you a book filled with gorgeous silk embroidered alphabet letters!  Embroidered Alphabets by, Di Van Niekerk, has great monograms for that special purse, wall hanging or christening gown.  This book will definitely give you the itch to stitch and create a one-of-a-kind beautiful work of art!  Wonderful photographs, great instructions and gorgeous color combinations, make this book a must-have for your silk ribbon embroidery library.

 For more Spring time inspiration see below!

Shoulder Closing Bishop
by Tiger Swallow Tales
for Adorable Heirlooms
This beautiful *shoulder closing bishop, was made with our Spechler-Vogel Imperial Batiste.
Imperial Batiste is perfect for babies because it's gentle on their tender skin.  It's great for Moms on the go too, because it's washes up great, gives long-lasting wear and requires only a little touch-up pressing!
Available in 60" widths in White and Ecru here, and 45" in all of our other 8 colors, here.  Check out which color would look best on your growing princess, here!
*appeared 3 times in Creative Needle  and was originally designed by Trudy Horne.

Baby Boy Romper
by Tiger Swallow Tales
for Adorable Heirlooms

This darling romper was made using our *Swiss Sheen Sateen.  It's perfect as a or Dedication, Blessing or Christening suit. This lovely fabric is a bit heavier than batiste, but lighter than broadcloth.  It's perfect for baby wear because of it's ultra soft hand and delicate sheen.   Because it's 100% Swiss pima cotton, it's perfect for keeping baby cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And as we all know...when babies are comfortable, they're happy and when they're happy, you're happy!  So have a happy baby and stitch something up in this luscious cloth!


*Pattern by Michie' Mooney #132, Sunsuit/Sundress.
Contact Information
Laurie Brock
Adorable Heirlooms
6245 Golfview Drive
Burton, MI  48509


To become a member of SAGA or to find out how to start a SAGA chapter, click here.              

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Find us on Facebook and join the fun!  We have challenges, stitch-alongs and mystery smocks, but mostly we just enjoy sharing our projects and our passion for sewing and smocking.  We'd love to have you, so "Like Us" up today!


This email was sent to egrantva@aol.com by info@adorableheirlooms.com  

Adorable Heirlooms | 6245 Golfview Drive | Burton | MI | 48509

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Delightful Easter

Happy Easter, everyone!

Thank goodness the dreary and cold days of winter are behind us!  At long last, the beauty of Spring has arrived and daffodils are in full bloom in my garden.  I will spend this special day cherishing the true meaning of Easter - forgiveness, renewal, love, family, friendship, and otherwise counting many blessings I so often take for granted.  I must confess, I will also miss Easter days gone by, when my own children woke early this day, at sunrise, racing outside with great anticipation, sure to find colorful eggs and other surprises the Easter Bunny may have left behind for them among colorful tulips and daffodils blooming in my old garden.  Holidays are simply not the same without children and Easter is no exception to that rule.  You can imagine then, how delighted I was when I was contacted yesterday with this very special Spring photo presentation of a little girl in the lavender monogram bishop featured previously in this blog.  Easter simply does not get any better than this!   Thank you, Sara Gordon, from Sara Gordon Photography, and much appreciation to little Sophia's mom, Meme, for sharing this precious moment with us.


The beautiful Sophia Anne turned 9 months and we met at the Dallas Arboretum to capture her Highness.  Consider this a sneak peek of the amazing session we had at the Dallas Arboretum with Sophia and her parents.  Her precious smocked dress was made by Esther C. Grant of tiger swallow tales boutique.  More to come!  Thank you Meme and Evan for letting be your family’s photographer.  I love working with you!  =)

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Quite often, I feel truly blessed to be a visual person.  No matter how much I read and how many times I read the same thing over, words and letters never resound in my memory as crisply and vividly as do images, colors, and sound.  I have always been able to remember time periods and places with color codes etched in my mind and I always seem to find things in the biggest piles of mess, as long as I know what color I'm looking for.  I LOVE colors and how well they pair up with each other ... or not, and I simply can't imagine life without color, especially during times of renewal and the coming of Spring seasons!  This is one of the main reasons I await, with great anticipation, each new episode of Downton Abbey!  Not only are the characters and story lines riveting, but what a feast for sore eyes when one sees the details in costumes, home decor, and the impeccable taste embedded in every pixel on the screen!  

Of particular note to me, in the most recent episode, was the beautiful Lavender or Antique Violet dresses the ladies wore at baby Sybil's Christening.  Quite coincidentally, while I was watching the show, I was also custom-smocking this little dress, in the exact same color combination, for a little girl's upcoming dedication. I love working on custom orders where customer's choose color and offer their own ideas in the creation process and I was particularly excited to work on this one.

As in everything Downton Abbey, there is so much to learn from the history behind every scene and I was very curious why the Dowager was still wearing black during a period of mourning, while the other ladies wore Lavender for "light mourning" and still, Lady Crawley, was wearing a deep blue.  You can read all about it and enjoy the great details here:   The Culture Concept Circle

Sunday, February 3, 2013


"The purpose of the Smocking Arts Guild of America is to preserve and foster the art of smocking and related needlework for future generations through education, service, communication and quality workmanship."

It's hard to believe February is already here.  Why, it seems only yesterday I was scurrying around to finish smocking orders for Christmas and my schedule is already full of orders for Easter and June weddings.  February is a very special month in my life, in more ways than one.  Celebrating my birthday the first day in February marks a day where I feel one step further from winter chills and one step closer to renewal during Spring.  With each crocus or daffodil bulb that starts peeking from the ground outside in February and much excitement in force-blooming bulbs indoors, I rejoice with the hope of all things new and fresh coming into the new year.  February is a sure month to chase away winter blues, and, to top it all off, February also brings my work to light.  It is, after all, the month designated as National Smocking Month!

As a self-taught smocker, for the most part, I could never have mastered everything that is involved in smocking without all of the embroidery and sewing skills I learned from my mother (something worth writing about separately).  But, in great part, it was looking into the Smocking Arts Guild of America and becoming a member of my local Chapter that made me fall in love with this beautiful art form all over again and it continues to bring me inspiration beyond anything I ever imagined.  I am quite excited and proud, therefore, to be a part of SAGA's mission and grateful for the friendships I gained in that process.  

If you are in the Charlottesville, Virginia, area, please check in with me here and join my fellow SAGA members in a fun-filled and informative meeting, technique demos/classes, and a sit and sew to see what's behind this beautiful art form and the makings of these beautiful little gowns and bonnets (something worth writing more about in upcoming posts, so make sure you check back next month!)

 Infant gowns donated to UVA Hospital (Winter)

Infant bonnets donated to Martha Jefferson Hospital (Spring)

Saturday, January 26, 2013


It was a great pleasure to end 2012 on a high note as I completed a sweet Christmas Bishop, my first ever store sample (smocking plate by Laurie Nash Anderson of Southern Stitches; as seen in Sew Beautiful Magazine #139).  I've been asked to make samples for several stores during the last four years, but somehow or another, I had a tendency to shy away from the process.  Heirloom store owners have particularly good taste, a very keen eye for perfection and often, I can only hope to live up to their very high expectations, not to mention the difficult task of figuring out how best to achieve an agreement about creating something from scratch.  Not only do you have to know what the store owner likes and what would be stitch-inspiring to the store audience, you also have to be sensitive to what is popular in certain regions of the nation and how climate plays a role in customer's needs.  I most definitely have a problem taking on new challenges when my fear of failure gets the best of me, but, my apprehensions disappear quickly when I receive an e-mail, or Etsy order, or a kind note from a dear sewing friend across the seas, inspiring me to make something new, with their choice of fabric, colors, and touch of heirloom or whimsy.  Indeed, 2012 ended and 2013 has begun on exactly such high note.  You can only imagine how thrilled I was when I received mention in Adorable Heirlooms' new year's newsletter below.  Take a look at all the delectable heirloom fabric, notions, buttons and trims available at Laurie Brock's fabulous on-line store, located in Burton Michigan, and make sure you sign up to receive e-mail updates with many more new adorable things to come!

Dear Esther,

Happy New Year!  I can't begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for each and every one of you!  2012 was the best year since opening my online shop and this would never have been possible without you, my loyal customers and trusted friends! You are the reason why I have been so committed to stocking only the finest merchandise at the lowest prices. This new year I will be expanding our merchandise line to include a wider variety fabrics and weaves, more trims and definitely more buttons!  So be sure to stop by monthly and see what's new! 

Speaking of buttons, visit the "New Merchandise" category to see our latest acquisitions for you, hereThere are over 150 different styles and sizes that are sure to add just the "right" touch to your project! See all of our buttons here.

I've also started a new feature to my newsletter this year.  Whenever I come across a great designer, or a new book, a new seamstress I'm going to feature it in a segment called "Introducing".  I hope you enjoy my little finds and share with your friends!  This month we're featuring an exceptional seamstress!  Read more below!


New Fabric ~ 100% Cotton ~ 60" Width 

Click on the name to be taken to the shop for pricing and fabric info.
   Grape Gingham 1/16
          Floral Print Medium                 Floral Print Small                      Grape Gingham ~1/16" 

       Star Flowers                          Carnations in Blue                          Black/White Stripe 1/16"



 Esther Grant.  Esther is one of the sweetest  and hardest working women I know.  Her business is called Tiger Swallow Tales Children's Boutique.  It's an online shop for custom sewn children's clothing.   I've been following her on Facebook for a couple of years, now.  Her beautiful handmade garments have inspired and impressed many people, myself included. This past holiday season I asked Esther if she would make a Christmas Dress as a sample for the shop.  She did.  It's gorgeous and I knew it would be.  Esther is committed to a high level of quality and paying attention to detail is second nature to her. But her impecable smocking, precise stitching and professional finishing didn't surprise me.  Esther does amazing work!  What surprised and pleased me was the attention she paid to details after the dress was finished.  From the moment my  packaged arrived to the moment I opened the gift box and lifted out the tiny confection of a dress, I was delighted!  My order arrived in a gift box,  all tied up with Christmas ribbon!  The dress was carefully tucked inside layers of tissue and the sweet little bishop sleeves were "puffed" with tissue to show them off!  Simply adorable! Esther's garments even sport a "care" label so that you can properly treat your new heirloom.  If you ever need a special garment for a special occasion please call on Esther, you'll be sew happy you did. 

Below are some examples of her beautiful work.
Christmas Dress Front view
Christmas Dress Sample 
Christmas Dress 2
Close-up of Back

hri ducing Tiger Swallow Tale
Esther 4
Christmas in White
  Esther 2 Esther 1Esther 6
Sew long for now!