Sunday, December 30, 2012

Belated Christmas

Today we're celebrating our Christmas since we worked the holiday. Sometimes it's nice to have an extra couple days to get things done.

While my goal this year was to make hand-crafted gifts for most of the family, I only accomplished two projects. The first was a set of six quilted Christmas placemats for my mom. I started these earlier in the year when I signed up for a Craftsy class (Quilting Quickly by Jenny Doan). It was also my first attempt at free-motion quilting, too. Boy, that takes some practice!

The second project was a Santa doll for my brother and sister-in-law. I used Gail Wilson's "Linsey-Woolsey Santa pattern. He's about 13 1/2 inches tall. For his robe, cape and hood, I found some fabric scraps (from curtains, I believe.) It frayed quite a bit, but I like the texture and pattern. I made the cord for his belt, using a gadget called the Diva Cord Maker.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone. I'm working today, and hope everyone has the sense to stay home and enjoy family. Still, there's never been a holiday without illness or injury, so we'll be there should the need arise!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Auction Santa

As this blog entry posts, my annual Santa is probably being auctioned off at our Emergency Department Christmas Party / Charity Auction (no sneak peaks were allowed, so I post-dated my post). This guy was made from my own "Sleepytime Santa" pattern (available as a traditional paper pattern or e-pattern on my website).
Our party is always a favorite. We've held an auction for many years now, and the proceeds go to needy patients and families we identify through our daily work in the ER.

This year, my husband and I along with another friend are playing music - acoustic instruments this year instead of the whole rock band (it's just too hard to get everyone together to rehearse). Of course, I've been battling some sort of respiratory crud, so I hope I can lose the frog in my throat!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Snow People

Looking for a fast and easy project for the season? How about some Snow People made from Warm & Natural cotton batting? This free pattern has been on my blog for a couple years. Click HERE for the pattern and instructions.
snowman_janis.jpg (143124 bytes)snowman_elaine.jpg (106590 bytes)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving. 
We have so much for which to be thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm back... least until the big storm hits later today, and we potentially lose power. I'm taking the opportunity to get some sewing done in the next couple hours. I have to get a start on my annual Christmas Party / charity auction Santa while I can use my sewing machine. I can't disclose which Santa pattern I'll be using (it's always a surprise), but I will post a photo after the December 7th party.

I really hope we don't lose power. I've got so much to do, and so little time.

Update, 11/20/12
Well, we did lose power ~ for about 12 hours. I'm finally back online this morning, but have to head off to work. At least the today should go more smoothly as we won't be on generator power only. Really, why would a hospital who uses so much technology put the server in the building without the generator? Silly. Hope some changes can come about as a result of yesterday's challenges.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you all a festive Halloween ~ be safe!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

AFICC - Registration is in the Mail

Well, I did it. Took the plunge and registered for Artistic Figures in Cloth & Clay. The conference will be held in Columbus, Ohio, April 2013. It was difficult choosing which classes to take. It helped that I eliminated classes requiring a sewing machine, since I will be traveling such a long way and don't want to haul one with me.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Three Sally Dolls (coming along)

I've been working steadily (assembly-line style) on three commissioned Suffragette Sally dolls, and I've been waiting for a block of several hours so I could gesso, paint, and sew the faces to the stuffed heads. Wait too long, and the paint has set/hardened to the point that it's extremely difficult to get a needle through.

I've only painted one coat of skin-tone acrylic paint to these faces, so I'll be adding a second coat (and maybe mix a slightly darker shade) later today. 

All that remains is the facial features, stuffing and jointing the arms and legs, painting the shoes, adding hair, sewing the hats, and making their signs. Sounds like a lot, but the most time-consuming stuff is already done (the dolls are sewn, the dresses, chemises and belts are sewn, the faces are baked, covered with knit fabric, gessoed, painted and sewn to the stuffed heads. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What am I, Crazy?

So I've been stressing a little about the many concurrent projects I've been working on - some with deadlines, some a little more open-ended. So what do I do? I signed up for another!

Here's how I rationalized it: 
1) I can use up some of my vast fabric stash. 
2) It's for a good cause - a fundraiser. 
3) It's not a huge quilt, so it should go fairly quickly. 
4) If it turns out, maybe it can become someone's Christmas gift.

Click on the pink flower to visit Heather's website for more information about this project. The Mystery Quilt project is offered twice per year. A Facebook group allows many of the participants to share their fabric selections and progress photos.
I honestly have no idea where I saw the original link that pointed me to this project. Maybe it was on a blog post somewhere, maybe Facebook. But wherever it was, it took me to an Heather Spence's Etsy page, where for $15 I could sign up for the project:

Heather's program is a fundraiser to help cancer patients pay their medical bills. This fall she is offering one quilt in a 'beginner' or 'advanced' style. The first of five "clues" will be sent via email on October 5th. Each clue includes steps to finish the quilt. The quilt is in the modern style, using only squares and rectangles made up of three fabrics. The beginner quilt finishes at 62 X 62 inches and the advanced quilt finishes at 63 X 63. The advanced quilt is a variation of the beginner quilt.

The name of the quilt is "Jack of Hearts" named after our little recipient, Jack (who just turned 5). A very large tumor was found in his brain in April of 2012. Jack had surgery in May to remove the tumor, which was found to be benign. He is undergoing therapies to help bring back motor function. More info in Jack can be found at  

The first fabrics I chose were entirely from my stash. I'd kind of hoped for a slightly darker tan, but this should do. I've done the cutting, and have started sewing as the clue directed.
It went pretty fast so I decided to pick more fabrics from my stashm except that I didn't have a "dark" color that went with the floral and the yellow, so I had to buy a bit more. And a new cutting mat. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Brave Girl Art School

I've been busy these past two weeks ~ working, babysitting the grands, quilting, playing music at a summer's end party, barbecuing with friends, AND catching up on my Brave Girl Art School projects (though I'm still a little behind). This has been such a fun class, and the other women taking the class have been so encouraging and supportive of each other. This is the last week to sign up for the class, and it's one I highly recommend (click on the link above to check it out).

Here's my Funky Flowers collage project. I started with an 11 X 14 inch wall canvas. I wanted to experiment with several materials to make the flowers, so I Mod Podged fabric petals, wallpaper and silk flowers onto the canvas. I also used modeling paste and stencils to make several flowers, painting those with acrylic paints. I also used Melody Ross's bead technique for the big orange flower, and used yellow split peas to add texture as well. If I'd been thinking, I would have painted the background before adding the flowers. Live and learn!

Here are my Truth Cards. These are about 4 X 4 inches and are made from chipboard coasters, onto which I collaged fancy papers and fabric flowers. The phrases are part of the course curriculum. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

BOM ~ October

I just finshed the last two blocks for the Craftsy Block of the Month course. These blocks taught us how to paper piece (I've also been working on a quilt for granddaughter Fiona, which uses paper piecing) - what a great way to make precise blocks!

This first block is called the "Friendship Circle" block. 

This block is called the "Circle of Geese."

I used a very bright and happy fat quarter bundle called "Fresh Flowers" by Deb Strain for Moda. I think next month (November) we'll probably be learning how to sash our blocks and assemble the quilt. I really want to finish this project, but I think the tough part is still coming (the quilting part).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

BOM ~ September

It took me some time to get started on the September's blocks for the Craftsy Block-of-the-Month course, as I had to order a Drunkard's Path template. These blocks were a bit more labor-intensive than some of the others, because of the curved piecing.

The first block was the chain block. I didn't really have any trouble sewing the curves, and I attribute that to making cloth dolls (lots of curves there!).

The second block was to be Cleopatra's Puzzle, but I chose to make this variation, which is basically Cleo's block with the center four squares rearranged a bit. Of course, after I took the photo I noticed some misalignment of the circle in the center. I have since unpicked that section and fixed the eye-sore.

Only two more blocks to go!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Funky Flowers

I was so surprised and pleased to have won Brave Girl Art School tuition a couple weeks ago. I'm a little behind on my assignments because I needed to gather a few crucial supplies, but have been catching up.

I just finished my Week 2 assignment: Truth Cards:
I Mod Podged some fancy papers to plain chipboard coasters I bought last year. Then I cut some flower medallions from quilting fabric I had on hand and Mod Podged them to the covered chipboard. I painted and embellished, and added the phrases from the course materials.

I love Mod Podge.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Brave Girl Art School

Looks like a wonderful new class, offered through the Brave Girls site! I enjoyed the Brave Girls "Soul Restoration" workshops, though I'm still working on some of the projects.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


There hasn't been much free time since returning from New Orleans, but I'm chipping away at a few commissioned dolls. I'm not really fond of making dolls on commission, but at least these are from my own design (as opposed to working with someone who has an idea of a doll in mind).
For these dolls, working assembly-line style is the most efficient. It's easier to get into a rhythm, and it minimized the number of thread color changes (which is a little tedious). At this point I've sewn all the parts and have baked the faces.
I've also sewn three chemises. Actually, I've sewn five chemises, because when the commissioned dolls are done, I'll make a couple more to that to next year's UFDC Conference/ODACA Day in Washington DC.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The tough job of choosing a quilt block

I'm having the hardest time settling on a quilt design for my granddaughter Fiona's birthday quilt. As a brand new quilter, I just don't have the repertoire of blocks in my pattern stash or brain.

I saw a pillow on Craftsy made using the Simple Courthouse Steps block. The link to the pattern/template was included, so decided to audition this block to see if I liked it. I'd never tried paper piecing before, and it went together pretty well.
The fabric used is from a fat quarter bundle by Riley Blake, called "Fiona's Fancy."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Storybook Challenge - MAIDA group submission to Prims

Back in February of this year, the MAIDA (Making Antique Inspired Dolls & Accessories) online group decided to host a challenge with the intention of submitting those dolls to Prims Magazine. Our group project was featured in the most recent issue of the magazine (Autumn, 2012). The article was written by Dixie Redmond, who also has a MAIDA blog.

We decided the books/characters chosen would be old enough to be in the public domain, the dolls were to be under 17 inches in height, and no characters would be duplicated. Most of the dolls were included in the magazine feature. All of the submissions were wonderful, and really stretched our skills.

My doll is "Alice," made using my Verity pattern at 75%. Her clothing is removable. I used a vintage hankie for her pinafore (I knew all those hankies I bought on eBay would come to good use!)  Her flamingo caused me fits to make - not an easy project!

Alice (like Verity) is made from muslin. Her face is lightly needle-sculpted, then painted with a mixture of acrylic gel medium and modeling paste. Then a couple coats of gesso are applied, followed by flesh-tone acrylic paint. Her hair is Tibetan lamb. 

 Be sure to order your copy of the magazine here:
Autumn 2012 Issue of Prims Magazine

Thursday, August 2, 2012

BOM ~ August

 Just finished Crafty's August's blocks. Both went pretty fast. This one is called the Ohio Star block.
 The second block was the Double Star, which required a bit more cutting. Fun, though, and it went together pretty well. I wanted to make the most use of what fabric I have left, so I did a little piecing. I can hardly find the pieced ones!
Sixteen blocks so far, four more to go. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hoffman Winners!

I home from New Orleans, and boy, do I love being home. NO was wonderful, and I'm so glad I got to experience a little piece of it. Now we're back in the beautiful northwest, with its moderate weather - I sure don't miss the heat and humidity.

While we were out of town, the winners of the Hoffman Challenge were announced. I am pleased, but very surprised to have won the 3rd place award. Come HERE to see the doll winners, and click HERE to see the winners of all the categories.

I received photos of more Hoffman entries while I was gone, so now I'm off to update the website. Check back in a little while!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Helper Doll (raffle) for ODACA

It's 4:30 in the afternoon, and I'm getting nowhere fast. We leave for New Orleans at 2:30 a.m., and I've not yet started packing (and that includes lots of dolls for the Sales Room). Today I've been busy finishing a doll for the ODACA Luncheon raffle. The Luncheon is on Monday at the Sheraton New Orleans on Canal Street, under the umbrella of the UFDC Convention.
We've never been to New Orleans before, so the trip is pretty exciting. There should be lots to see and do. I even upgraded to First Class this morning - for at least part of the trip. Thought it would be a nice anniversary surprise for my husband Chris. I sure hope I can sell some dolls to help offset the cost of the trip.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hoffman Finished!

I finally finished my Hoffman Challenge doll this morning. Now I've just got to round up a box, complete all the paperwork, and head for the post office.

I'm happy to say I was able to observe my New Year's Resolution of completing an unfinished doll before starting a new one. I've got a big basket of UFOs (UnFinished Objects), and my half-done Viola Ruth fit the bill and size requirements.

This year's challenge fabric was a really big print, so I decided to break it up a bit and try a weaving technique, though it made her pinafore a bit stiff. What a pain that was!

Viola Ruth is made using one of my patterns and pressmolds. She's 18 inches tall. Her face and the back of her head are made from polymer clay, sandwiched around a rudimentary stuffed cloth head. The gaps are filled in with paperclay. Then the head and upper chest/back are covered in a knit fabric. Her ears are fabric.

I've still got about a half dozen unfinished dolls to complete. It sure felt good to   eliminate one from the basket.

I've been hosting webpages to share others' Hoffman dolls, and have received quite a few so far. If there are more out there, please send them to me at

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heavenly Wings

I've finally managed to finish Carole's pin doll, won in a raffle at the Doll Gala. She was very nearly done within a week of returning home from the Gala, but has been awaiting a few finishing detail. Gotta get her packaged and in the mail. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 2, 2012

BOM ~ July

Yesterday I worked on and finished the July blocks for the Craftsy Block-of-the-Month class. Left is a traditional Dresden, and right is a modern version. I chose to hand sew the pieces to the background fabric, as I find it relaxing. The project would have gone much faster if I'd chosen to machine sew them.

Fourteen blocks so far. There will be 20 when the class is over. 
 I'm using a fat quarter bundle called "Fresh Flowers" by Deb Strain for Moda.

I'd intended to work on my Hoffman doll this weekend, but got sidetracked with this project. Well, I did apply some paint to my doll, so I guess I'm not a complete procrastinator. I'm planning to use one of my many unfinished dolls for the Hoffman, so that gives me a bit of a head start. 
I've also got to finish a pin doll for Carole, one of my students. That project is very nearly done - she just needs some hair and a pin back. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

BOM ~ June

June's blocks have been posted on the Craftsy website. Left is the Greek Cross and right is the Octagon block. Both are 9-patch blocks, and were pretty quick projects. I'm using a fat quarter bundle called "Fresh Flowers" by Deb Strain for Moda.

Here are all the blocks thus far. Picture them with plain white sashing between.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Portrait-Style Child Doll Tutorial by Victoria DiPietro

My friend Victoria has just finished a wonderful project, which she has made available on a CD. Her instructions are very clear and comprehensive. She's been able to incorporate a clay face using my Viola Ruth pressmold. Below is a description of her CD tutorial, which is available at Dollmaker's Journey.

Dollmaker's Journey: "Get ready to learn some amazing new skills as Victoria guides you through the sculpting of a child's face from a drawing or photo. You will receive 196 pages of comprehensive instruction along with 426 photos and drawings that will expertly guide you through every step. The CD comes with printed pattern pieces for a 17" – 19" child's body made of craft velour that can be made poseable or in a fixed position. As an added BONUS the CD includes a tutorial for EIGHT different wig designs to include wiglets, wefts and cornrows. If you don't want to make your own face DEANNA HOGAN'S "Viola Ruth" pressmold may also be used.  (Click HERE for Pressmold) Victoria's always innovative techniques are sure to provide endless hours of artistic satisfaction!"

Monday, May 28, 2012

Zip Line Fun

There's nothing like a bit of spontaneous fun to brighten your day. My friend Allison and I decided we'd try ziplining today. There's a new business just 10 minutes from home - called High Life Adventures.

After our "8-line tour" we spent the afternoon doing crafty stuff - painting glasses, vases and dishes with glass paint, followed by a barbecue.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Back to the Old Grind

I'm back home after an absolutely wonderful weekend. The Doll Party Gala was the first away-from-home conference I've ever attended. The resort was lovely, my students perfect, and the event itself was very well organized. Members of The Doll Gatherers doll club did so much work to make the conference a success. That the weather was spectacular made it even more enjoyable.

I took some photos during the conference and of my class, which I have posted on my Picturetrail site. You can find the album HERE.
Photo by Kathy Hudak, during Friday's vendor sales.

It was fun visiting with the other teachers - Lillian Alberti, Susan Barmore, Arley Berryhill, and Cyndi Mahlstadt.