Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Princess Designer: Suzy Peterson of Little Memories

When I learned to smock, it was with a Little Memories picture smocking plate. In retrospect, it was a bit ambitious for a smocking newbie lol. I am pleased to present our December Designer of the month: Suzy Peterson of Little Memories.
Crystal: Hi Suzy! Your smocking plates are absolute perfection. How long have you been smocking and what was the first thing you ever smocked?

Suzy: I started smocking when my daughter was 2-she is now 26 or in other words, a very long time!!! My very first project was a basic yoke dress using the Molly Jane Taylor plate that had ballet bears (can't recall the design name though.......). Most start smocking geometric designs but, I learned how to smock by stacking cables!

Crystal: What prompted you to start designing smocking plates?

Suzy: As I told you, I started picture smocking for my daughter (Jessica) from the beginning and once Jessica was 3, our ritual was to go to the local fabric store to let her pick out the plate that she wanted for a particular outfit. The only problem was that there weren't designs published that she wanted. So I started drawing out what she wanted and through trial and error figured out how to translate those drawings into cable stitches. People would ask me where they could get the designs and eventually had my first group of designs printed in 1987.

Crystal: Children are the first step down this slippery slope! What inspires you to design?

Suzy: I'm not really sure what inspires me..............Sometimes a thought, sometimes I will see something that unlocks an idea, and sometimes I the title of a design will come and the design follows after. There is no method for this. Having done this for so long, you realize that the creative "button" isn't always there to push, so when it is "engaged" I do as much as possible. Stresses in life are the biggest enemy of "creativity" and you have to use it when it is there and be patient when it isn't because it will always return at some point!

Crystal: You plate titles are so witty. Overall, I can tell that a lot of thought and love goes into these plates, not just the designs. The smocking on your plates is perfect. Do you have any tips for perfecting our picture smocking?

Suzy: The consistency of the tension in each cable stitch is crucial. I make little adjustments in almost stitch to keep the embroidery thread straight as it wraps around the pleats. I also make sure that whatever project I am working on, that I have a wide enough pleated piece so that the pleats never have to be stretched apart. The pleats should always rest against the next. This keeps the embroidery thread from having from having to travel across extra distance for neat cable stitches. Thank heavens for 50-60" wide cotton fabrics! I typically use a wider fabric on anything bigger than a size 2. You don't have to use all of the pleats in a wider insert but it is there if you need it!

Crystal: Is there any particular fabric that you favor for inserts?

Suzy: I use 54" Spechler-Vogel Broadcloth mostly. I absolutely love to smock on Cashmere Flannel. The pleats are a little fatter but it is luscious! I do smock some on Kona Cotton, it has a lot of body.

Crystal: Cashmere Flannel is yummy! What is your favorite smocking plate that you have ever designed?

Suzy: Kelsey's Collar - it was named after my scottie that passed away about 4 years ago.

Crystal: What other hobbies do you enjoy?

Suzy: I love doing home dec sewing. If it sits still long enough, I will slipcover it! Also, I am slowly developing a love for gardening. Both of my parents had a green thumb and I never understood why they spent so much time in the dirt. My mom could plant a stick and it would bloom a flower!!! I have lost them both in the last year and a half. I received 2 rose bushes after my dad passed away and in preparing the bed to plant them, I listened to the birds and watched squirrels carry on intense conversations and I suddenly realized that gardening is more than just making plants grow. It is connecting with nature and I realized it was my dad helping me to appreciate all that I have taken for granted. I am waiting for a course in language to come to our local college- specifically "squirrel" so I can be more involved in the topics of the day!

Crystal: I’m so sorry for your losses. What a special ‘inheritance’ to receive from your parents. I have a brown thumb. If it grows, I can kill it! Is there anything you would like to add, or anything else you would like our customers to know?

Suzy: Not really, except that it is my customers that give me the desire to keep designing. Without them, there would be no reason for me to do it- year after year.

Thank you Suzy for your time. We loved getting to know the "brains" behind Little Memories!

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