Kimberly Servello's Embroidery Blog

Kimberly Servello - Pattern Drawer and Embroideress

Sunday, August 7, 2011

C'est Bon Bib

This evening I sat down to reproduce an antique French baby's monogrammed bib I saw for sale on etsy.  The bib is for a close friend's long, long awaited grand-daughter, so it's a special occasion requiring something more than a Wal-mart bib!  Anyway, I was going to do a straight reproduction of the antique French monogrammed bib shown here, excluding the lace, because I'm not a lace kind of woman.

Then I got to thinking....

It would be so much more feminine in pink, and I have the perfect shell pink linen.  
Scratch the lace, of course, and replace it with scalloped edges on the linen.
I like the dots, but I think there are too many of them.

So I drew it up with these changes, and I didn't like the 2nd set of butterflies (closer to the neck fastener).  On the original bib, I think they used the same design, but reduced the size of the butterfly.  Nice, but maybe a bit of a boring choice. 

How about doing a side view butterfly?...... Ok,  yesterday, another friend, Elmsley Rose, sent me a link to images of a book titled Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta   - A Sixteenth-century Calligraphic Manuscript inscribed by Georg Bocskay and Illuminated by Joris Hoefnagel.  One of the images is of this cool butterfly.  I love the quirkiness of Elizabethan insects!  See how the butterfly's antennae thicken at the end into a bulbous shape?  They often have a sort of bulbous back end, too - I love that!  So I used his general shape for the outline of my 2nd set of butterflies. 

 Here's my rough draft.  Tomorrow, I'll send it off to Shirley to measure it against her grand daughter for fit (which is why I've scotch-taped the inside of the neck opening to avoid paper cuts!)

I haven't decided on the floss color yet.  My choices are to go with a color that exactly matches the linen (818)  or slightly darker (776).  These are both Coton A Broder by DMC.  The linen is the 60 ct cambric linen.  I guess I'll need to line this bib when it's done, to give it more body or back it with same linen with a batting between.  I need to look into that.

Think Pink!

The following was posted on August  24th, 2011....

The neck opening on my bib pattern had to be enlarged a bit to fit Alaina.  I also moved the neck opening down a little on the bib so the closure "tabs" will be wider.  I've decided to use 2 buttons on one tab, and a button-holed loop on the other tab as a closure.  Most of the old French bibs in my photos had a button and buttonhole, but I wanted a little more room for growth.  Alaina's grandmother, Shirley, and I have agreed that I will work the neck opening last so that she can re-measure Alaina to check for growth.  It may not get buttonhole stitch as I had planned because some of the old bibs show just a hemmed edge for the neck opening. 

Yesterday I began the embroidery.  I 'm padding the outer scalloped edge with DMC Floche in color 818.    I will use Coton a Broder  for the buttonhole stitch, but since I had plenty of the floche thread I decided to use it for the padding.  

Yesterday was also the day of the 5.9 earthquake in Virginia.  All the way up here in Pennsylvania, my house shook, as did I : )   My dog, Byron, slept through the whole thing.  Obviously,  he's not one of those dogs who can predict a quake!

 I'm still not certain how I'll fasten a lining onto the bib although I have a couple ideas.  On some of the old bibs, it looks to me like they did a buttonhole stitch right through the front and back layers.  Does anyone have experience with this?  If you do, please add a suggestion in the comments.  I'd love to hear from you!  Here's a detail of another old French bib - this one quilted - the edge has either satin stitch or buttonhole (probably the latter).  Doesn't it look like the buttonhole edge was worked over the back lining as well?

.......After looking at the photos of old French bibs (like those shown here), I decided that the monogrammed bibs didn't have a layer of batting between front and back.  The buttonhole stitch around the outside perimeter of my bib will be worked through the front and back layer, and that's what will hold the layers together, in addition to hem sewing at the neckline.

It's mid-September and I've completed all of the padding around the outside edge (here you see the padding in progress).

I've also completed monogramming one of the top view butterflies.  I'm padding the other butterflies now.  I work each motif by outlining the padded areas in back stitch, then padding them with long stitches running opposite to the final satin stitch.  The narrow parts of the wings are done in trailing stitch worked over back stitch and one thread laying on top of the back stitches.

10/5/2011:   The bib is coming along swimmingly, as you can see here.  ....Swimmingly, a word I was reminded of recently whilst watching an Audrey Hepburn movie, When Paris Sizzles.  If you get a chance to watch this movie, check out the elegant embroidered sheets Audrey sleeps on.  I'd love to reproduce them!  (If you love monogrammed sheets, check out this website.  They have the most gorgeous vintage sheets I've ever seen:  Fleurdandeol  )

I finished all of the embroidery on the bib, except the scalloped edge, then removed my embroidery from the slate frame.  I cut another piece of pink linen to back the bib with.  There will be no lining.  On the large photo, you can see the basting lines where I sewed the front and back together to keep them in place while I add the satin stitch to the scallops.

I remounted the bib on my slate frame, lacing through both the front and back of the bib.  You can see that I've already added the final satin stitching to 2 scallops along the left side of the photo.  As I work the satin stitch, I've found that if I'm careful to hold the needle perpendicular to the linen as I stitch, the back piece of linen has a fairly nice satin stitched scallop as well.  Also, because I put the back on the bib after all my other embroidery was done, it can not be seen from the back.

As I said, work is progressing 'swimmingly'.....

I finished the bib on October 11th.  The photos don't give you an idea of how dainty it is; it measures 9" in diameter.  The cup & saucer, featured in the photos below, is for a small child.

  The scalloped edge went entirely as planned.  When I had finished the satin stitch around the outside edge, I cut the bib off of the slate frame.  

Next, I removed all of my basting stitches and cut out the neck opening, leaving about 3/8" seam allowance.  I hand stitched a back stitch around the opening, 1/4" in from my seam line, to keep the linen from fraying.  This had to be done by hand, to both the front and back of the bib, because the area around the fastening was too small to sew on a machine.   I made small cuts into the seam allowance (so it would lay flat when turned under) and then whipped stitched the opening closed.

If you enlarge the 2nd photo and look closely at the area around the fastening, you can see that there's a small satin stitched "bar" that runs vertically from the scalloped edge down to the neck opening.  I chose to satin stitch that short edge, rather than turn it under, because it would have been difficult to manage a turned corner and keep it from fraying as you sewed it in such a small area.  Done this way it went very smoothly.

The Back of the Bib, signed and with Alaina's birthdate
Lastly, I sewed on a vintage button and added a button-holed loop to the opposite side to function as a closure.  The button was given to me to use by my friend, Lenora, who's in my Tudor embroidery group.   This button was passed down in her family.   The baby's grandmother, Shirley, is also a member of the embroidery group.  So, I'm sure the bib will remind Shirley of the great times we have had over the years,  getting together to stitch and talk about Tudor embroidery.

Our Tudor embroidery study group is a special interest group affiliated with the EGA (Embroiderers' Guild of America).  Anyone in the Berks County, Pennsylvania area that's interested in joining us, we meet the first Saturday of every month at a local library.  Even if you're just passing through the area, or live in a surrounding county, we'd love to have you join us for a day.  If you're interested, you can contact me at

I've included a photo of the back of the bib to show the back of the satin stitching.  I wrote a note about who stitched the bib and who it's for on the back, using a micron pen.  I added this while it was still on the slate frame, and thought I was writing on the bottom center of the bib.  But it was after midnight and I guess I was partly delirious.  So, to balance it,  I plan to add a note on the opposite side, giving Alaina's birth date and full name, as soon as I verify her birth date - I want to make sure I get that right, anyway! *Smile*aina Models the 'C'est Bon Bib'

 Before I even set pencil to paper to design this bib, I extracted 2 promises from Alaina's grandmother...

First, that the bib would be used, not set aside for show only for fear of staining it. 

Second, that they send me photos of Alaina wearing the bib.  

Isn't she lovely?  Let's hope she grows up to be an embroiderer!


  1. I will never "think Pink!" but I'm glad my post was useful.

    DMC looks good - keeping in mind it will have to be washed an awful lot.

    Those two colours look pretty. Minimalisation, so it doesn't clash with whatever else she is wearing at the time...(I'll never stop being fashion conscious!)

  2. You'll certainly want to line it in some way to protect the back of the work, and make sure everything is washable!

  3. I don't think lining is necessary for embroidery - think of all the table linens and clothing that has been embroidered thru the centuries without lining. However, because this is a bib it will need to be absorbent, which is why it needs to be padded and lined. My scarves are not lined, and as long as I use DMC threads they are colorfast. They've taken to washing very well. Hand washing, of course!


Thank you for your interest in my blog. I'd love to hear from you...