Wednesday, May 6, 2009


(Click on the photo above to learn more about this dress)

Now how adorable is that dress! Fit for a princess! That is just one of the many adorable, hand-smocked, hand-embroidered dresses created by Judy of RABBIT WHISKERS on Etsy. You really must vist RABBIT WHISKERS and see her other charming designs. She has such delightful descriptions of each of the scenes on the dresses.

What led you to start creating your art/craft?

For as long as I can remember I have loved looking at baby clothes; particularly girls. I especially loved seeing little handsmocked dresses. I looked forward to the day when hopefully, I would have my own little girl to dress in the kinds of beautiful clothing that I liked looking at. I was so excited when my daughter was born, but I had a real problem. We had no money to buy any of the beautiful clothes that I had been looking at for years. I knew nothing about sewing outside of what I learned in my required high school sewing class, where I made a gathered skirt and decided that I hated sewing, and I knew nothing about smocking except that I loved the way it looked and I had to have some smocked dresses for my baby. I bought a pattern for the same basic dress as I make now. It came with iron-on dots that made a very simple design when they were connected, and had excellent instructions on how to connect the dots. Determined to dress my baby in smocked dresses, I set about teaching myself, from that one pattern, how to smock. That was 33 years ago, and I haven't stopped yet. The smocked dress that I made then, was not at all what they are today, but it was smocked, and it was a good beginning!

How did you decide what medium you wanted to work with?

I have always loved art and drawing, but never considered that I could possibly have a career in art. I also love writing, so I majored in English in college. When I started making the dresses for my daughter, I hadn't realized the artistic motivation that lured me into creating with fabric and thread, but it is that artistic motivation that has lured and captivated me all of these years.

What aspect of creating your art/craft do you find the most enjoyable?

That's an easy one to answer! I still basically don't like to sew and outside of making my smocked dresses, I don't sew. I absolutely love creating the scenes, or little vignettes, that I stitch into the dress yokes, and I also love smocking, although my favorite, is creating the scene. I like to think of a dress front as my canvas and the embroidery floss, my paint. Over the years, I have created my own style which combines smocking and embroidery to create whatever seems to present itself at the time. Smocking is wonderful, especially for creating design, but once the various stitches were learned , I began to want more than design. I wanted to actually "paint" pictures on dress fronts. I know many people smock pictures into their dresses and I have seen many dresses with wonderful smocked pictures. I have also always loved the idea of "mini" things and things that are detailed. I am always intrigued by detail. For those reasons, I chose embroidery. With embroidery I am able to capture lots of detail that I would never be able to get, were I simply smocking. I also like that embroidery can add a third dimension to a picture. The pictures that I stitch using my own technique of combining smocking and embroidery create an entirely different product than dresses that have smocked pictures on them. They really shouldn't be compared, because they are two different things and both are nice for what they are. My dresses can't really be called smocked dresses, nor can they be called embroidered dresses. Ironically, they are neither, because they are both! In conclusion, I absolutely, 100% love creating the smocking/embroidery part of the dress. Because of that, I don't mind sewing the dress together, in fact, I almost like it, because it is necessary to have the finished dress to see the picture completed. The picture is not complete until it has the framework of the dress.

A Few of My Favorite Things - Size 4

(Click on the above photo to learn more about this dress.)

If you had to choose a fruit OR a vegetable to describe your art/craft, what would that be and why?

That is such an interesting question! Hmm---- after giving this some thought, I have to say that the only thing that comes to mind is a flower- not a fruit or a vegetable, - but perhaps the flower that makes them! The reason a flower comes to mind is that most of the time when I begin a dress I don't have anything close to a finished picture in my mind. Sometimes I don't even have a little "seed-" I will start smocking and hope for something to suggest itself; to just flow from my fingers like magic. Much of the time when I begin a scene all that I have is a little "seed". I start with that seed, which, for example in the last dress I finished, "A Few of My Favorite Things," was a rabbit. As I worked on the rabbit, ideas, like flowers, began to blossom, and bit by bit a scene emerged, like petals building a flower.

If you had to choose one other medium in which to display your "creativity", what would that be and why?

Oh, I think it's impossible to pick just one! I love writing, especially poetry. I love classical music and grew up playing the violin , and I'm just discovering how much I love photography - I have always wanted to learn about and try painting, and now I'm seeing wonderful digital paintings and wishing that I could do that, too - and that's just my short list! I think I would need many lives to do all of the creative things that I would love to do.

What message, if any, do you want to convey with your art/craft?

I never think of conveying a message, I just want to "let out" what is urging to be created.

What advice do you have for other artists/crafters?

My advice is to do what you love doing. Don't let anyone dissuade you from doing what you love. Always listen to yourself and use that inner voice for guidance. Nobody knows better than you , what your passion is.

Judy, I'm sure you will never run out of ways to use your wonderful creativity! Thanks for sharing your exquisite "scenes", dresses and thoughts with all of us.

Be sure to visit RABBIT WHISKERS! You may also learn more about Judy and her art by visiting her other links below.





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