Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  

This month we are delighted to present the work of
Judy Ritter of Whiteworks Heirloom Christening Gowns

by Rita Vainius

Judy Ritter's style of embroidery and what it is specifically designed for, perfectly complements our Special Family Celebration theme for June. Her company is named "Whiteworks Heirloom Christening Gowns."

Judy has been married to the same wonderful knight in shining armor for 24 years, has 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren. Gardening provides the biggest inspiration for her embroidery designs and suggests endless ideas as to color choice and form. But Judy believes that everything can speak to you about design if you want it to: floor tiles, stained glass windows, coloring books, antique needlework, and the shapes of clouds. She emphasizes: "The more interested you are in designing your own work, the more you tend to translate anything you see into possibilities." Another favorite pastime is reading fantasy novels, especially those featuring dragons - here's where having your very own Sir Launcelot comes in handy!

Judy has engaged in sewing for over 30 years, but it wasn't until about 6 years ago that she happened to channel surf to a PBS program of Martha Pullen's which got her hooked on heirloom sewing. Judy finds it to be an especially elegant and creative outlet, where "anything goes" and results in gorgeous, long-lasting garments. That show changed her life. Judy elaborates: " Dress design is a lot of fun... I'm developing my "Ritter Kritters" pattern line, and I find that embroidery makes a big difference in the appearance of a garment. This means a lot to the final appearance of a gown, and when the work is done by someone in the family, that garment is a treasure!" Judy's primary passion is for sewing , but the embroidery work she adds once the garment is made, is the perfect embellishment and the element which gives each that extra special touch which makes it truly unique.

Judy considers her design style to be traditional and frequently uses several "trademark" stitches: Portuguese stem stitch, padded satin stitch, raised fishbone, bullions and cutwork. She adores Waterlilies, her all time favorite thread, because it's silk and leaves such a gorgeous sheen when she does any kind of satin stitch, a stitch she uses over and over on just about everything. She is also partial to Wildflowers as it works up quickly on a lot of designs and she finds Watercolours great for couching! She continues: "I tried experimenting with the whole 3 plies of Watercolours and found they couch down beautifully by machine. My husband was impressed too, and he's a tough critic. So, a new idea was formed, since I usually do all embroidery by hand. This was a treat."

Judy sells her gowns through mail order and has recently has added a website on the Internet. Hre creations have never been exhibited elsewhere before, since she was both too shy and too modest. Lucky for us, that's no longer the case! In addition to the styles of gowns offered, Judy welcomes customers who want to design their own by choosing their own combination of design elements such as fabric and thread type and color, skirt, bodice and sleeve style, choice of motifs for the embroidery, type of hem, addition of ruffles, lace trim, panels or inserts, neck edging, pintucks, puffing strips etc. The combinations are virtually endless!  

Description of Whiteworks Gowns and Bonnets:

The ecru "Pinafore" gown is Judy's own design, using the first in her line of "Ritter Kritter" patterns. Made of ecru, "linen-look" cotton batiste, it's embroidered with Opal Waterlilies thread for the lower and smaller cutwork designs, Snow White Watercolors to outline the punchwork crescents and Opal Wildflowers on the larger cutwork flower.


The "Casey" gown is made of heavy cotton satin batiste and sports a long lace-edged ruffle, machine embroidered roses, un-gathered sleeves edged with lace and lace inserts in the front bodice.

The " Michaela" gown is sewn from sheer cotton batiste and features a lace-edged ruffle, a mock portrait collar surrounded with lace-edged ruffles and embroidery on the bodice and puff sleeves.

The "Kyle" gown is a variation on Judy's most simple gown style ("Robert"), with added touches of lace on the bodice and sleeve caps, pintucks and touches of embroidery.

Bonnets shown in the grouping include a puffing bonnet, smocked bonnet, hanky bonnet, T-bonnet, pouffe French bonnet and plain cap bonnet.

For more on Judy Ritter's designs, check out her website at http://www.white-works.com or contact her at Whiteworks address: 5220 Rt 6, Rome, OH 44085 phone: (440) 474-4009 e-mail: judy@white-works.com


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