After my post about Vintage lace Easter Dresses, I received some questions about the lace rose hair accessories I made to go along with the dresses.
I knew what I wanted my flower barrettes and headbands to look like, but was surprised to find very little by way of tutorials for DIY lace roses online when I went looking.  Lots of paper flowers, felt flowers, super cute stuff - but nothing with the vintage look I wanted.
So, by trial and error, I just figured it out myself based mostly on instructions to make fabric flowers to add to sashes on dresses.
Here is my tutorial to make vintage inspired roses that can be used for hair, or attached to clothing, or whatever creative ideas you can come up with.  I find them enchantingly sweet!
1- Run a gathering stitch along edge of lace (I used a 40 inch length for the flower in this tutorial - about a yard is average, longer for larger roses, shorter for tiny lace)
2- Use the thread from the gathering stitch to thread your needle
3- Gather lace piece.  Doesn't need to be exact, you'll adjust as you go - it just gets it started
4- Weave needle in and out along one cut edge of lace to create a gathering stitch
5- Pull thread tight to gather and loop thread around and pass needle back through
6- Pull loop tight into a knot, tying off the rough edge into a teardrop shape
7- To form the center of the rose, hold the knot and wrap gathered lace around once.
8-Turn over onto the back side and pass the needle through all layers several times.
9 - To form the part of the rose that stands up around the center like the bud of the rose, wrap tightly gathered lace around the center about three times.
10- Pass the needle and thread through all layers several times until it feels pretty solid.
11- Arrange the gathers of the remaining lace to be more loose.  Wrap around the center "bud" in a flat fan-like circle.
12- Pass needle and thread through outside layer toward the very center.
13- Continue all around the circle, sewing outside layers toward the center and finally folding the end flap over and sewing down into the center.  Knot the thread and clip any dangling strings.
14- Once the rose is finished, sew or glue (I was lazy and just used fabric glue) a fabric base to the back of the lace rose, and then sew or glue the barrette, clip, or headband.  They would look prettier if I had covered the alligator clips with ribbon, but they tend to stay in my girls' hair better without, so...
These smaller flowers are made with tiny lace then joined on one shared fabric base and an alligator clip.  The pearl centers are both glued and sewn in place.

A dollar-store headband, covered in fabric, then covered in a beautiful antique lace, has two roses sewn on.  The rose from the tutorial is the one on this headband.  I opted for no pearls or gems in the centers on these roses, as the lace formed such lovely bud shapes that they were gorgeous all on their own. 
This biggest of the roses used a 45 inch piece of lace and three pearls sewn (and glued - I'm uptight sometimes) into the center.  Notice how the three sections of the rose form its shape - the center "nest", the "bud" section with the lace standing up, then the outside surrounding "bloom" laying flat.

St. Patrick's Day is a rather fun day at our house, since I love all things Celtic. My kids' favorite tradition is also one near and dear to the hearts of blarney-loving Irish everywhere - a good story, well told. And my kids are doubly-pleased because around St. Patrick's I'm seized with an uncontrollable urge to speak with my horrible high-school-drama-class brogue. 
And nowhere is this impulse more prominent than in reading fantastic Irish folktales to my kids! So around the week of St. Patty's, we check out our favorites from the library to join with a couple that we luckily own already, I whip out my best terrible accent, and I read to the lads and lassies till joy fills their wee little hearts.  Here are our absolute favorites, organized in categories based on the traditional story pattern or theme:

Trickster Tales: 
Wits win the day!

 Fiona restores Ireland's luck by beating the Leprechaun King.  This story has all the classic elements of cleverness and resourcefulness that Irish folktales prize, and it's fun that the hero is a girl - and that she wins by being smart!  This one is my youngest daughter's top pick and very favorite.  It's adorable to hear her little voice repeating, "you've no luck at all!"
This one MIGHT be my personal favorite.  It's hard to say though because I like them all so much!  O'Sullivan Stew combines so many elements of Irish traditional folk tales - the importance of generosity and helpfulness, the value of a tale well told, wit & ingenuity wins the day, and all that wrapped up with a spirit of adventure and magic! Kate O'Sullivan is a brilliant character who goes out on a limb over and over for the sake of others, and it's her great wit and big heart that make her such a success.  No leprechauns here, but a great Irish tale!
Fin M'Coul's wife, Oonagh, helps him outwit his arch rival, Cucullin. Fin M'Coul is to Ireland what Paul Bunyan is to America - there are many tales of how his undertakings shaped the mountains, rivers and lakes of Ireland and Scotland.
Though I read somewhere that this is actually a Scottish tale, it is officially CELTIC, so I'm counting it!  Especially because it is just so amazingly delightful.  It is basically Rumpelstiltskin, but the illustrations, as you can see from the cover, are whimsically beautiful, and the language is musical.  I defy anyone to read it without slipping into a brogue or a burr!  Just a sample: "I dinna wish to hear old news and idle gossip, goodwife," responded the woman.  "I know ye've lost your goodman - the fingers o'hard times pinch us all now and again."

It takes a lot to outwit leprechauns, but when Finn O'Finnegan comes home to find his town weary of the constant shoemaking of a band of the wee folk, he undertakes to solve the problem.  My kids liked the tiny shoes, and were fascinated by the trick Finn plays on the leprechauns.  Cute book - lots of fun leprechaun details - but not one of my favorites.

Leprechaun Magic:
Everyone always gets what's coming to them

This story is so sweet! Hard working, good hearted Donald O'Dell - in a recurring leprechaun tale pattern -  saves the life of a little green man, but refuses the reward of gold.  He has enough for his needs and does not desire riches.  The Leprechaun, however, will not be daunted!  He seeks a creative way to pay Donald back and we learn both that goodness is rewarded, and that there are things in life more valuable than gold.  (I admit, I'm not a huge fan of the illustrations in this book - the pictures don't thrill me the way some of the others do.  But the story is well worth the read)
Two towns compete for the St. Patrick's decoration trophy, and they take it very seriously.  When a stranger comes to both towns asking for help, which will matter more, the competition or helping out? This delightful story about service, caring and priorities actually makes me a little bit teary-eyed, silly as I feel about it.  I adore the good people of Tralee, sure and begorra!  I'm not familiar with Susan Wojciechowski, but I'm definitely going to try to find more of her writing after reading this one.  This is my oldest daughter's top pick.
For stories about Leprechauns, you can't get much better than Tim O'Toole!  These are the wisest and most delightful little fairy folk ever.  Tim, on the other hand,  is hopelessly daft, which is exactly what makes for the humor.  Top St. Patrick's pick by my boys.
In a favorite theme of generosity of spirit being rewarded, this is a  lovely tale of aging master and his haughty apprentice who resorts to spite to prove he's outpaced his teacher - but of course, lessons are learned by all through the help of the fair folk.  I liked the element of music in this one, since it music is so central to Irish culture.

Folk Tales:
Tomie DePaola is always a favorite author, but when it comes to telling cultural tales, he is an absolute master!  One of the most important element in Celtic trickster tales is timing - it's as important as it is in a good joke.  And all of the Irish tales Mr. DePaola tells get the timing perfect to capture the humor along with the story and the moral.   In this story, Jamie O'Rourke, the laziest man in Ireland gets more than he bargained for.
  Jamie O'Rourke returns and learns a lesson in laziness when his wife leaves him with the housework for a week and  he tries to get out of it with the aid of a magical pooka.

Modern Day Celebration:

One of the few more modern day St. Patrick's books, this cute story resonates most with a younger audience, since it is the story of little Jamie Donovan who, as all younger siblings, has been told he's too little.  In this case, it's he's too little to walk in the town's traditional St. Patrick's parade.  He rises early to prove them all wrong.  This is a sweet book, but I have to admit, my kids preferred the magical tales better.

Pin It Easter is coming up quickly, and with it the decisions about Easter dresses. This is a big deal for me. There is just something magical about the assembling of the Easter outfits that is like a rite of passage that allows spring to come. Kind of my own private ground-hog's day.  It's a love-hate relationship too, because while there is a thrill that I can't explain when it all comes together, there is anxiety in meeting my own expectations every year. It's not a casual thing. This year is going to be the toughest yet. I'm already trying to set myself up to be ok with that, but I'm worried. Why? Because the dresses last year were perfect. And they'll be hard to top.

 What made them perfect? For once, they turned out exactly as I envisioned them in my head. How rarely does that happen? I don't know if it has EVER happened in the history of my sewing. Mostly, it's other people who tell me the dresses are great, but I see how I compromised because of wrong fabric, lack of skill or whatever other complication. But last year the dresses were exactly right - the hair accessories were exactly right - the tights even were exactly right!  And I thought I'd share them here so you can sympathize with my plight as I struggle to come up with a vision for this year's Easter that will make me as happy!

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The idea was for a vintage look using as many different kinds of lace as possible without looking pioneer-ish.  Elegant rather than old-fashioned was the goal.  I also like to coordinate without matching exactly.  I can go to a department store and buy matching dresses in three sizes - the joy of sewing is that I can custom design each dress to be unique, yet still 'of a kind' with the others.

To that end, I found patterns that enabled me to keep my toddler sweet and babyish, with 4 tiers of circle cut ruffles, each with a different lace edging.  Let me assure you, this dress twirls very, very well - it has been put to rigorous tests :)  For my middle daughter, a high waist and three tiered skirt, again with circle cut rather than gathered ruffles, coordinated but looked a little more grown up.  And finally, for my oldest, two tiered circle skirts with a wide waist-band of antique lace complimented her height and was very elegant.  I also improvised a circle sleeve for a softer look on all three.
View B used for middle dress, View A for oldest
View B used for toddler dress

Figuring out the ordering of fabrics and laces was the most complicated part.  Must be planned out or else see-through tiers show seams or half print/half plain, which destroys the look.  Also play around with laces.  I thought all pinks and creams would work, but I was often wrong.  Some pinks were very wrong, and sometimes I was surprised by a peach or an ivory that I never would have guessed would have matched, going perfectly.
Closeup of pearl buttons and antique lace waistband
lace roses on a lace covered headband

lace flowers on a barrette

Isn't it lovely that the Easter Bunny came to visit us last year?  Honestly, I have no idea where the white rabbit came from, but it was the sweetest serendipity.

My boys may get neglected at this age - sewing neckties just isn't as fun as the little sailor suits and vests I used to make them when they were little! But I'm certain that they are OK with me not making them little matching outfits for Easter any more ;)  They still get new duds, and I still coordinate them, and they still look super-duper, if I do say so myself!

And now I put my shoulder to the wheel and get Easter 2012 underway...
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