Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Amity" pattern sale!

Today I started updating my Amity pattern, adding photos and details with the intention of converting and adding it to my e-pattern selection. That means the dozen or so original Amity patterns I have left will be discounted while supplies last. This pattern has been selling for $10 plus postage, but the discounted price is $7 plus postage (which is, or was - who knows what the rate is now) 84 cents to ship to US addresses). Here's a link to my pattern page, which will have the discounted price built into the PayPal button there. Just scroll down until you see this yellow pattern cover.

Amity is one of my earlier patterns, copyright 2003. She's about 21 inches tall, and is suitable for all skill levels. This is also a doll that would be appropriate for gentle play. Her clothing (dress, bloomers) are removable. She holds a little dolly, which is also included in this pattern. Here's a link to my Amity page on my website.

Revamping the pattern probably means I'll need to start another of these dolls today so I can photograph some steps in the process. That's ok, because I've wanted to make another of these dolls for quite some time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Snowman for Debbie

We had a wonderful Christmas celebration yesterday, the first time we have hosted the family dinner and gift exchange in Astoria.

It's been a busy sewing month for me, so while I put up the tree, I left the rest of the holiday decorations in the attic (probably for the best, as some are fragile and tempting to toddlers).
I managed to finish my sister's snowman about 10:30 p.m. Christmas Eve. The pattern/kit is one by Gail Wilson. I bought several of her patterns last year, and the is the first one I've made. I haven't finished my brother and sis-in-law's project, but as they're skiing in central Oregon, I have a few more days.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very happy holiday season.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice Blessings

Today is Winter Solstice, something I've never observed, but I really like the idea. The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. But our clocks say different times. This year, the December solstice takes place on Wednesday, December 21 at 11:30 p.m. CST.

What is a solstice? The earliest humans knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. They built monuments, such as Stonehenge, to follow the sun’s yearly progress.

I did a little reading today, and this site talked about the multicultural aspects of this day:

Winter Solstice also known as Yule, Christmas, and Saturnalia, occurs in mid December. It celebrates the birth of the new Solar year and the beginning of Winter. The Goddess manifests as the Great Mother and the God as the Sun Child. The God also appears as Santa Claus and Old Man Winter. Colors are Red, Green, and White. This is a festival of inner renewal.

Strengthen bonds with family and friends by visiting and/or exchanging gifts and greetings. Decorate your home with lights, greens, and holiday colors. Bless your home with a Yule wreath on your front door and sprigs of mistletoe inside. Take up a collection of food and/or clothing at your Yule gathering and give what you collected to a social service agency to distribute to the needy. Place sunflower seeds outside for wild birds to feast upon. Greet the Sun at dawn on Solstice morning by ringing bells. Do magic for a more peaceful planet.

Solstice Sun, Shining Bright!
Shortest Day & Longest Night.
Solstice Wish of Hope & Cheer:
Peace on Earth, throughout the Year!

Here's a LINK to Yule Crafts. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Play Day

I had a wonderful day today, making felt ornaments with a couple of friends. This is something we've been talking about for a couple years, but just couldn't fit it into our schedules. Here is Julie (left), getting ready to work her blanket stitch mojo on her deer ornament.

I've been collecting felt/ornament ideas for a couple years, printing them and sticking them in a folder on my desk. It was very relaxing, cutting and stitching while listening to Christmas music. Here is Danielle (right), very focused on cutting out a freezer paper pattern piece. She made the lovely tree ornament. She's a wonderful quilter and dollmaker. I made the owl, and we each made a mitten ornie as well. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Frankensanta Finished

I finally finished Frankensanta this evening. Repairing his face with paperclay worked quite well, and I'm glad I tried it. I don't think he'd survive another trauma, though.

He's got a vest I need to place on him and fasten closed, and he needs a spot of glue or two in various places to hold down his cap. I don't really like his bland expression, but I'm going to have to live with it. Oh, wait ~ I guess I don't have to live with it - Barb (the doll's owner) does!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Father Christmas & Sled

Here is this year's Santa doll, made for the ER Christmas Party & Auction. "Father Christmas & Sled" is designed by Dana Thompson (Country Harvest), copyright 1998.

I reduced the pattern to 83%, so he's about 20 inches tall. Not only did I prefer that smaller size, but it I also wanted to use a  sled I had on hand and needed the doll to be of a more appropriate scale.

His coat is made from a wool blend felt. His beard, hair, and mustache are Tibetan lamb. I used Timeless Treasures woven fabric for his body.

I like how he turned out, and hope the winner of the auction does, too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

First Quilted Project

I'm very excited to have just finished my first quilting attempt - a table runner for my mother-in-law for Christmas, made from one charm pack ("Curio," made by basicgrey for Moda). As basic as this project is, I'm still pleased with how it turned out. Most of my points match, and the overall piece lays flat.

This was also the first time I used my walking foot. I need a little more practice with that.

My mother-in-law doesn't have a computer, but no one tell her what she's getting!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A little more progress on Frankensanta

I've been adding bits of paperclay to the damaged Santa head, and finally got to the point I could do a little sanding today.

You can't tell in these photos, but the bottom part of the head remains glue and clay free so I can sew it back on the body. In theory, anyway.

I tried to maintain the shape of the original head as much as possible - goofy as it was.

I was able to apply a couple coats of flesh-colored paint, too. It's a bit lighter than the body/hands, but I think it'll be ok. After I sew the head to the body, I'll peel away the masking tape and hope what's underneath avoided any contact with clay and paint.

The cable guy comes tomorrow to replace the cable box in my studio. I always worry that strangers will think I'm weird when they enter my creative space. I wonder if it would help to tuck the headless Santa body out of site?

Sunday, December 4, 2011


A couple years ago, one of my Santas came back to me after a little run in with a dog. In need of complex plastic surgery, I put the project off for a long time. I decided to begin reconstruction procedures today, while the base of my auction Santa (previous post) dries.

After decapitation, I did my best to sew all the tears closed. Some of the fabric was in pretty bad shape, and obviously, most of the beard and mustache are missing (Tibetan lamb on the hide must have been too tempting for the doggy).

After taping the hat and hair out of the way, I painted on a good layer of white tacky glue.
Next came a base layer of paperclay. I deliberately avoided the bottom of the head where it will be sewn to the body.

Here's what this Santa looked like new. I adapted "Cyrus the Summer Santa," a pattern by Rusty Needle Originals by Two Jays:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Sneak Preview

I thought I'd add a sneak preview of this year's Santa doll. A photo of the finished doll won't go up until after the party/auction, but I will tell you which pattern I'm using. It's "Father Christmas & Sled" by Country Harvest (copyright 1998) and Dana Thompson is the designer. The pattern makes a 30-inch doll, but I reduced it so my Santa will be about 20 inches tall.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sally #3

Here's Sally #3, done except for her hat and chemise. I had to use an alternate location to photograph her, as there's a grandchild napping in the photo room. This doll's hair is made from alpaca roving - and it sure had a different feel than the camel. The overall fiber length seemed shorter, and obviously it wasn't as coarse.
She's a little washed out in the photo, but I'll take better ones when I have access to my photo room, lights and backdrop. And now that I've uploaded this photo, I can see that the angle of the camera was wrong - it makes it look like she has really long arms. They actually come to about mid-thigh, maybe a tad lower. Ok, so maybe they are a bit long.

The annual Santa doll for the ER auction is about 3/4 done. I know I'll be able to get him done this weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember all the blessings we have in our lives this day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Face in the Crowd

I spent the morning getting studded tires on my van for the winter (the hills are starting to show off a little snow and the temps are dropping) and shopping for groceries. No Thanksgiving dinner for us, as we'll all be working. It's not so bad working this particular holiday - most folks stay home and stuff themselves. It's working the day after that I dread ~ it's a consistently busy day in the ER.

When those necessary chores were done, I spent the rest of the day and evening watching movies, sewing a third Sally doll and baking faces for the class. I'll pick out one of these clay faces for this newest doll, and the rest go in the bag I've designated for class stuff. I made wire armature to include in the kits, too.

Tomorrow will be spent stuffing doll parts, painting, and assembling the doll. I've found it's so much easier to finish dolls when the costuming is done before the doll. Of course, that only applies to dolls who have costuming that isn't sewn onto their bodies.

And then it's on to the annual Santa doll for the ER Christmas Party and Auction. I probably won't get to this one until next weekend.

Addendum: For those who have experienced the drawback of using polymer clay faces due to the weight and density of the clay, don't forget to make the back a little bit concave. This occurs naturally, if you use your thumbs to firmly press the center of the clay into the pressmold. By doing this, you make sure the clay goes into the facial features of the mold, making the concave indentation, and squishing clay out along the rim - which is the perfect handle by which to grab the clay and gently work it out of the mold. Of course, you'll trim away the excess. These faces now weigh just over an ounce.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coming Soon!

I think I'm finally done with the pattern and instructions for Suffragette Sally, designed for this upcoming conference in Ohio. Personally, I'm really looking forward to meeting the other teachers and dollmakers who will be attending. I've checked out photos of Punderson Manor Resort, too, and what a gorgeous setting for the event! I'm looking forward to a field trip to an Amish community.

So far, there are about ten students signed up for my class. Exciting!

The official pattern for Sally won't be released until the conference in May. It's been kinda fun producing the pattern, though quite time consuming. While I'm in the groove, I'd like to create another - but maybe one a bit simpler.

Now I've got to think about some sort of hands-on demonstration for the conference.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Dress for Sally

I've been working on a dress for a third Sally doll for class in May, this one strictly red, white and blue.

I decided at the last moment to change the design of her arms, to (hopefully) create a more natural pose. So when this doll is done, she's at least got something to wear!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Old World Santa E-PATTERN now available!

I decided to spend a few hours today converting my Old World Santa pattern to and electronic version. This Father Christmas figure stands about 15 inches tall, and is made from a knit fabric like craft velour or doesuede. This detailed pattern is now available in PDF format for $10 HERE or on Etsy.

Selling Patterns Anonymously?

An online friend of mine sent me a link yesterday, for an eBay auction of one of my patterns: . The auction ends tomorrow, and I was very surprised at the price so far.

There are a few eBay sellers that sell anonymously, garnering higher prices. Sneaky, sneaky. I've been known to cruise eBay's doll pattern auctions, and will often do a search on Google if I see one I like that's going for a particularly high price. Sometimes I'm out of luck, not finding the original artist. Sometimes the pattern is old and out of print. Not the case with this one.

But this reminds me - it's November now, and it's time to get started on my annual Santa doll for our ER Christmas Party and Auction. I think I'll convert this one to an e-pattern.

You can find the paper pattern for Old World Santa (and others) HERE.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sally #2 nearly done!

I've been working most of the day on finishing Sally #2. The only thing left is her hat and sign. The pattern instructions are done up to this point as well. I also decided at the last minute to add instructions for a simple doll stand. It's not perfect, but works for the most part. I'm currently up to 20 pages. Hopefully I can keep the total number of pages at 22, plus the color insert.

This doll is 17 1/2 inches tall, including the stand. After the hat is sewn, I've got to start drawing the final pattern pieces onto printer paper. I'll have to use 8 1/2 X 14 inch paper for the dress, which is kind of a pain, but it'll be easier for folks to trace from that than tape the pieces together if printed on 8 1/2 X 11.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

18 pages and counting

I'm still working on my Suffragette Sally pattern at every opportunity - which hasn't been as much as I'd like due to my work schedule. But I have a glorious 3 day weekend starting tomorrow, so I expect great things to happen!

Today (while the grand is in preschool) I hope to get the instructions done for Sally's hair. I'd hoped to give my second doll a different hair color than the first doll (just for variety), but the camel roving I used for #1 looks better on #2 than the other colors I've got on hand. The camel roving I have is from camel (duh). The other types of roving I have are wool, and have a different feel - it's less coarse.
The brown on the left is alpaca. The orange is colonial wool. The camel roving is on the bottom right. The other two are merino.

So after the hair is done, all I've got left to do is her hat, underthings (still waiting to be designed), and Votes for Women poster. I'm including lots of photos, which adds to the overall length of the instructions. I'm at 18 pages as of last night (19 if you include the colored face painting insert).

Update, Thursday afternoon:
I got the hair done on doll #2 (plus the written instructions and photos). I also just finished a chemise for Sally #1. Since this is a draft design, I didn't photograph the steps or write instructions, but will for #2's chemise. I've got to scrounge through my lace drawer and see if I can find some sort of eyelet lace to sew around the waist of #2's chemise so I can weave a ribbon through it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sally Progress

I feel like I worked all weekend on Sally, but didn't make that much headway - like I should have been able to finish the doll over the span of two days. But in reality, I did make good progress. Writing instructions takes me a LONG time, because I don't want to miss anything. And the instructions need to be concise. And the illustrations clear. And the format easy to read. If I'd only been making the doll, she'd be done by now.

I have to admit that the arms and legs aren't actually attached yet. They're just tucked into her dress. I'll attach them for real after the face is painted - no need to have all those arms and legs getting in the way.

I'm currently working on (or about to start, rather) the instructions for painting the facial features. I will try to take lots of photos, and use a color printer for the face painting insert for the final pattern. This will be a class handout, too.

So what's left to do: face painting, doll assembly, hair, hat, sign. And maybe a stand of some sort.

I've asked my friend and co-worker Danielle to test the final pattern for me, and I trust her to let me know what needs tweaking or fixing. It's good to have friends like Danielle (thanks, Dani!).

After that, I'll make one more doll - following the pattern and instructions exactly. This third doll will follow the red, white and blue guidelines for May's class (and now that I've organized my fabrics, I should be able to find something suitable WITHOUT buying more fabric.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lots of hand sewing

I've been doing lots of hand sewing today. It's something I enjoy doing, but I'm afraid to admit I've needed to use the magnifying glass on my Ott light. I've been putting off getting my eyes checked, but it's obvious I need a new eyeglass prescription. It's rough getting old.

Now I'm getting ready to make the belt, also from the brown fabric. I bought some little buckles on eBay a few months ago. Several styles, in both gold and silver colored metal.

Since this post, I've received a couple comments about threading needles and diminishing eyesight. I recently bought a needle threader, and just used it for the first time. It's better than sliced bread!

I learned about this product through an online quilting class (that's right, I don't have nearly enough on my plate). The class is offered through, and I'm really impressed with the quality of the information being taught (not affiliated, just happy customer). I bought two needle threaders on eBay (one for me, one for my mom). The teacher of the quilting class is Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilting Co.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Slow and Tedious Progress

I've been diligently working every chance I get, sewing, stuffing, photographing and writing the pattern instructions for Suffragette Sally. It seems like it's taking forever. Particularly time consuming is editing out the background of the pattern photos (wouldn't have to do this, but it makes the body parts stand out and cuts down on toner use).

I'm currently painting the shoes on these feet, and while they dry I started working on the dress, photographing and describing each step. I still need to add the contrasting trim to the sleeves and see if I can find some tiny brown buttons. I also need to make a belt from the trim fabric.