OC | Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique


Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique 3313 Hyland Drive Costa Mesa, CA 92626


smock·ing |  ˈsmäkiNG/  | noun : smocking
  1. decoration on a garment created by gathering a section of the material into tight pleats and holding them together with parallel stitches in an ornamental pattern.

“Smocking is an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch. Before elastic, smocking was commonly used in cuffs, bodices, and necklines in garments where buttons were undesirable. Smocking developed in England and has been practised since the Middle Ages and is unusual among embroidery methods in that it was often worn by laborers. Other major embroidery styles are purely decorative and represented status symbols. Smocking was practical for garments to be both form fitting and flexible, hence its name derives from smock — a farmer’s work shirt.[1] Smocking was used most extensively in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.” [Wikipedia]


08 February 2014

February 8, 2014—  Continued…

As we circled through the maze of The OC Mix, we walked past the glass sliding doors of the whimsical curated shop called Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique.  My eyes were instantly gratified at the vibrant chartreuse/neon green patches of moss laid out upon the grey concrete floor.  Stones are scattered amongst the metal base and feet of jersey covered children’s dress forms, with arms cuddling adorable stuffed animals.  Everything captured Evie’s eyes, or should I say, caught her fingertips.  Inside, lovely clothes sewn in her favorite patterns climb across a white trellis, housing darling shabby chic furniture made specially for a little one.  Evie found a seat on a pale pink and white rocking bench– where she beckoned me to come over, then elaborated on why we desperately needed to bring it home.

Let me back-track about a year ago.  My dear friends, Megan and Brittan, brought Evie and I to The OC Mix for the first time.  After a cup of coffee at Portola, we walked around the corner and discovered a baby boutique.  We were delightfully greeted and invited into the shop by the owner (whom at the time I didn’t know) of Smocking Bird’s, Becky Pierce.  Noticeably, Smocking Bird’s have expanded both in interior and assortment.  Becky’s handmade smocked day gowns, bonnets, etc… are the most darling baby clothes I’ve ever seen; made to be heirlooms.  An admirable collection of Children’s books are displayed as birds on sturdy branches of a tree bookshelf built against the entrance wall.  Furthermore, this boutique invites featured authors to engage with children for story time and book signing.  I would love to attend a book signing to also meet illustrators of children’s books!


A stunning Spring mint dress for an Easter Sunday!


An elegant victorian child-sized mirror


Evie cannot resist hugging a stuffed animal


A few days ago I pondered the thought of learning correctly how to sew pleats, gathers, and other details into my sewing projects.  Some may say it is coincidence, but I acknowledge that God orchestrates days as these that reveal how much He hears our thoughts.  A chalkboard propped outside of the Smocking Bird’s studio read, “FREE Smocking Demo!”  Coincidence?  I think not.

Two women were already seated across the table from Becky.  Samples of her smocked bonnets, bibs, and bodices of unfinished day gowns were laid out across a rustic table.  Evie and I pulled up a chair beside her after she waved us over to take a seat.  She demonstrated how a smocking pleater works.  It was the first time I’ve seen one.   This small machine is an essential part of smocking; invented in the 1950’s by the Read Company of South Africa.  Becky demonstrated how to feed the fabric into the pleater from the back– by turning the handle on the side, it pushed the fabric through grooved rollers onto specially designed needles; creating perfect pleats.  After that step was done, she [quickly] showed us the tedious and patient art of stitching decorative motifs over the smocking.  If I lived in Costa Mesa, I’d likely be caught at this table every Saturday morning, learning this fine sewing technique.  What a great opportunity to learn from a professional, in an environment designed for creative people.


Little Dancer


Due to lunch plans, we couldn’t stay for the full demonstration.  However, I am now a loyal fan of Smocking Bird’s Baby Boutique.  An article written in the Orange County Register featured Becky’s shop with a headline titled:  “Shop owners… sell with class.”  I couldn’t say it any better.
+ photos courtesy of Jaymi Britten

OC | Where We Meet Again

Portola Coffee Lab | 3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Portola Coffee Lab 3313 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

February 08, 2014She ordered a mocha, and I ordered a latte. I ordered Evie a buttered croissant [de lune] which she devoured instantly. We had been awake since 5 a.m. and was on the road from San Diego [as far south as the 8] for nearly an hour and a half.  My husband’s call time for a soundcheck in Costa Mesa was 7 a.m. Although it was too early for me, I would not miss the opportunity to witness a beautiful dawn. The twinkling gems in the sky slowly disappeared into the light of the day, just as my mental check-points and landmarks (Del Mar, Oceanside, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Irvine Spectrum’s ferris wheel, John Wayne Airport), which made the hours go by quicker.

The air was a chill to my bones, and it took me back to vague memories of when I used to live in Orange County– a city with undeniably no lack of luster and continues to grow in art and design. The OC from the television screen is almost similar to the OC in real life. However, I have a nostalgic acute sense of its familiarity of white concrete business buildings hidden amongst tall trees, freeways overlapping, the distance to the ocean and every bothersome traffic light in between that makes it even less exciting to get there, and routes to all of my favorite places. I recall the John Wayne Airport off of the 405– the place that transported me home in the summer and over holidays, the dreadful commute at 5 a.m. to downtown L.A. to get to a class by 8 a.m. and the constant ache of longing to move back to San Diego where I’ve always felt at home in California. I hold a fond memory of my past living in the OC. It marks the time in my life when God revealed Himself and showed me that His ways are not my ways.

09 February 2014 OC MIX in Orange County

09 February 2014 OC MIX in Orange County

This day was a surprise for Evie. I told her that we would wait patiently inside of the car until my “friend” arrived, to which she continued asking questions whom it might be: “Is it a boy or is it a girl?” “Have I met her before?” When this “friend” of ours appeared at the driver’s seat window where she sat with the chair reclined, she was ecstatic. Evie usually morphs into a wolf and claws at anything within reach, howling in glee, but this time she remained semi-composed.



At 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning, we finally met up with my only doppelgänger, speaking in its contemporary vernacular, face-to-face. Between my sister and I, we are opposites in taste of style and pursuits, but we always need each other to execute dreams into the world [whenever that may be]. I need a photographer, and she needs an artist.  So again we meet, every conversation with a cup of jo on the table, and exchange of inspiration to connect the dots to collaborate. She goes by the name, Jaymi Britten, my twin sister who is older by one minute and will never surrender her elder title. She is a very talented photographer and photo editor, who should have already been taken under the wing of Annie Leibovitz, Peter Beard, or Raphael Mazzucco many moons ago.



As we sat on a silver round table outside of Portola Coffee Lab at The OC Mix, Evie drew pictures with her foot in her hand-me-down ruby red glittered mary-janes and scraped the gravel on the ground. She wanted to gather sticks and pick flowers off the landscape, but I warned her not to do that.  We had cold hands wrapped around lime green Portola Coffee cups with lovely espresso art stirred on the foam surface of frothed milk.  I asked Jaymi if I could share her photos on my blog over the length of time she will be residing in Huntington Beach, which is over the next 6 months.  She permanently lives on Oahu (Hawaii).   I’m sure everyone else who knows her would delight in her candid and documentary photos as I do.  So while Jaymi will be capturing stories with her lens, I will be writing stories with my words…


+ photos courtesy of Jaymi Britten