Monday, 10 December 2007

Rita's co-star....

Did I say that I made two of these new sirens. Here's the other one:

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Thursday, 6 December 2007

Remember Rita? Siren of the silver screen...

I made two of these for the craft fair too. And nobody bought them either!

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I wanted to try out a new body pattern. I felt that my mermaids should be a bit more 'voluptuous', more in the siren luring sailors mould. I made the body in flesh coloured polyester suede, rather than colouring it. The tail is handpainted white polyester suede. First I roller'd it with a sponge roller loaded with a wash of pigment powder. Then I stencilled a design on with fabric pens. When it came to the face and hair, I was thinking 1940s screen idols. I wanted a sort of 'come hither' look. Not sure I managed that. I fastened the tail with covered button joints for a neater appearance. The bodice, skirt and headdress are silk and organza scraps run through the needle punch machine and decorated with beads. The seaweed is scraps of an embroidered silk gauze sari, also run through the needlepunch machine, cut out and stitched on. More beads for a bit of glitz and glitter and she was done!

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This version is quite big, she measures 2ft (60cm) from top of head to tip of tail.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

It's my bruvver..............

I meant to post this earlier. After I made my version of Raggedy Annie, I made an Andy too!

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Saturday, 1 December 2007

Simple Stanley grows up, and a disappointing day..

I called my simple doll a Stanley after the small person I made it for. Now I've designed a doll for when he grows up a bit, a Sitting Stanley.

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This doll has legs, a painted, lightly needle sculpted face and the hair is knitted from fluffier yarn.

And as it is near Christmas, I designed a Special Seasonal Sitting Stanley:

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I was asked to take a table at a local Christmas Craft Fayre, so I made a dozen of these and took them along with a dozen Simple Stanleys. Lots of people stopped to look and commented on their cute faces, but I was there all day, and I didn't sell a single one! And I only sold two Simple Stanleys. Maybe Craft Fairs aren't my thing!!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

New kids on the block!

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I really had fun with these!

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I made a matching set of crochet bag and espadrilles for this one.

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And this surfer wears flipflops and the obligatory beads and friendship bracelets.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Raggedy Ann - my version

The Copper Mouse made a raggedy annie doll in her own inimitable style. She did it, she said, because she thought that every dollmaker should make their own version of Raggedy Ann. Here's mine:

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I don't really do 'primitive', so mine's more of a Sprog in a Raggedy Annie costume.
She hasn't got shoes or stripey socks because I like her little fat toes too much to cover them up!

Monday, 5 November 2007

New shoes...........................

Ginger got a new leg and a pair of shoes.

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I think it's an improvement. She can stand now, even though her legs are not wired, but she still has some 'attitude'. The shoes are made in detached buttonhole.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Happy Halloween!

I was inspired by the doll I made my granddaughter (you can see her in the previous post) to make a 'grown up' version. Unfortunately, I haven't quite finished in time for Halloween - but here's my progress so far:

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Say 'Hello' to Glampire and her best friend and nest mate Vampolicella.

Glampire, as her name and appearance would suggest, is concerned with her looks. She has a regular weekly late night appointment at the tanning salon for a respray - for of course, she cannot use the sunbeds - and she has her teeth filed and whitened at the 'Tooth Fairy Salon' every six months.

Her nest mate, Vampolicella, on the other hand, has more basic and earthly concerns, namely sustenance. If she cannot get her favourite AB negative, she will make do with any other, even O pos, and she always likes to top up with a few glasses of good Italian red!

Monday, 29 October 2007


This is Viridienne, vampire princess. I made her for my granddaughter, so I tried to make her a little less scary than I otherwise might have done.

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She's made of odds and ends and some of those bits that went wrong that we all have and never throw away just in case.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Bad hair day

Here are the dolls I was working on in the last post. It's wig choosing time!

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My workroom

I haven't got much to show right now. I've had a busy time. The Boss had two months off work and as if that wasn't enough of a disruption, he put a new hot water cylinder in - guess where? Everything had to be moved out of my workroom, then the airing cupboard had to be demolished and rebuilt around a huge, white, Heath-Robinson cum Wallace and Grommit contraption with pipes and dials and heaven know what else! I shouldn't complain though, because now we have enough hot water to fill the bath and I got new worktops and cupboards!

So, in lieu of work, here's where I play:

and just to prove that there IS something happening:

Friday, 24 August 2007

Nice Matters, it really does!

Thanks to Shashi, Sewing with Moonbeams and Connie, Cloth Matters for this award.

I should nominate five more recipients, but I really can't, there are just too many. So I want to say thank you to all you bloggers out there for reading my blog and for inspiring me by publishing yours.

My first mermaid...........

I live near the sea, so I really thought I ought!

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She's made from hand coloured polyester suede fabric with a knitted wig and her 'clothes' and fin are made from silk run through the embellisher. She has a needle-sculpted flat face. Her 'clothes' are decorated with resin shell beads and she wears a 'coral' bracelet and a necklace of 'coral' beads. She's quite poseable, but contains no wire. In the first photo she is sitting with her 'knees' bent.

Here, her tail is stretched out behind her:

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and here it is stretched out in front:

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I didn't want to wire that tail because my little grandaughter will want to play with this one, but I had the devil's own job getting that tail the way I wanted it. I made three or four before I got it right, but it was worth it, because now I have another pattern and it's easy when you know how!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Trying out a new pattern.

I wanted to make some older child dolls, so I have adapted the pattern I made for the 'twins'.

Here's a quick pic.

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A boy and a girl. I tried two different hands, and two different legs.

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I like both hand patterns, these legs and these feet.

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The girl's legs are a bit too thin, but that's OK because the fabric has a slight oneway stretch, so instead of drawing a new pattern, I can just turn it around on the fabric. And I will use the 'separate toe' template I have made for the feet.

I changed the faces, but I wanted them to still have a similar look to the 'twins'. I've spent a lot of time at the beach over the last week because The Boss is on holiday and I'm thinking of dressing the boy in 'surfer' gear. The girl will have to have leggings, to make her legs look a bit less skinny.

I would like to try making these with stiffer legs so that they can stand, but I don't want to use wire, because they are for children to play with and if I use the teddy bear joints, will they both stand and sit...............


Monday, 30 July 2007

Spring is bursting out all over......

Here she is wearing her flowered headdress

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Her bodice has beads, her skirt has butterflies and she is wearing bracelets:

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Saturday, 28 July 2007

Spring Greens!

Here's Spring in her new clothes. A top and skirt, ready and waiting for a bit of embellishment!

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The background fabric is calico (muslin) dyed with dilute silk paints. The decoration is strips of dyed muslin (scrim) cut with pinking shears and machine stitched on with a zigzag stitch. There is also some fancy machine embroidery yarn zigzagged onto the top and around the edges of the top I have laced the machine top-stitching with stranded cotton.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Spring's on the way

This is my second go at patterns from Patti Culea's book 'Creative Cloth Doll Making'.

A spring sprite to go with 'Autumn not so Sprightly'.

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I used the second, intermediate body and head patterns from the book, and the straight leg and the arm I made for the 'Ginger' doll. I also used the ears from the book.

I got a much better nose this time, but I'm still not satisfied with it.

Here's a close-up of her face:

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I wanted her to look much younger than 'Autumn.....' so although I shaded her face, I tried to keep that 'bloom of youth'.

She's going to be wearing cotton clothes in light, fresh spring colours, with pretty bead flowers in her hair and at her wrists.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

New simple doll..........................

I made some mistakes with the simple doll. The seam was weakened where the legs joined because it had to be cut close to the stitching to make it turn out properly. I used polyester and cotton fabric because it was finer and easier to turn and stuff, but it wasn't strong enough. I used a small stitch to sew the pieces together, I thought it would make the seam stronger, but because of the fabric I used, it 'cut' or 'perforated' it, making the weak spot where the legs joined together even weaker.

Lessons learned!!!! Here's the new improved version. The legs are in one piece, then stitched in the middle.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Update on simple doll.

My six month old grandson loved his simple doll and played with it happily for a week. Then his six year old brother suddenly decided to see if it could do the splits, grabbed both feet, pulled and split it like a wishbone.

I've made the little chap a new one in stretch fabric, but I can't bear the thought of a baby eating that stuffing, so its back to the drawing board.

Sunday, 15 July 2007


I didn't waste all those "baby" faces I was experimenting with. They looked much more like older children than babies so I enhanced them a little, added extra stuffing and needlesculpting and here's what I've been doing with one of them.

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I moved on from the Patti Cularis pattern and branched out on my own! (Well, all except for that bent leg.

I'm very pleased with Ginger. She looks cheeky and she's got attitude! And look! She's got separate thumb and little finger. Her skirt is a piece from the bottom of a sari remnant and her crop top is made from a piece of hand dyed silk from my reject bin. The standing foot needs refining a bit for later models, but for now, shoes will cover it. She's all ready for some embellishment!

Friday, 13 July 2007

Simple doll revised - knew I'd get there in the end!

It's been a long process, getting this right. I thought about it and decided that for very small babies, with all that chewing, teething and dribbling, a painted face maybe wasn't such a good idea. This is the final version, ready for my smallest grandson when he comes to visit tomorrow!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Making faces

I've found it difficult to reproduce the painted faces on
  • my little doll that wouldn't come out

  • and
  • the twins

  • I tend to gradually make the features bigger and bigger and then I lose that 'baby' look. I've tried a few out and drawn up the ones I like best. I want to produce a face that makes you want to smile back. Also, I thought it would be nice to have two or three different expressions.

    I tried to get a couple of smiley faces, a laughing face and a naughty face.

    Then made a colour map:

    Part of the problem was transferring the design onto the blank doll face. I tried drawing each one by marking a grid and lightly drawing in with a colouring pencil, but it wasn't successful because apart from the time it took, I still kept making the features too big, I was finishing up with 'scary' not 'smiley'. I solved that with the 'prick and pounce' method. I traced the faces onto card 'masks' and pricked out the features with a needle, placed it on the doll face (before stuffing it) and rubbed over with a chalk pencil, then joined up the dots. That works quite well.

    Of course, stuffing distorts the features a little and I hadn't taken that into account.

    I've tried several methods for colouring in. Because these are intended for babies they must above all be safe, and that restricts the materials I can use. Non-toxic watercolour dyes work well for colouring in the eyes, and so does non-toxic gouache mixed with a little fabric medium. Non-toxic colouring pencils produced for children to use work well too for colouring in the cheeks and noses and can be heat fixed with a light coat of fabric medium dabbed over. I thought maybe I could make it easier by using permanent pens to draw with. I tried gel pens but they bled too much. A black laundry marker is good for the pupils in the eyes. Faber-castell permanent pens only bleed a little and dry quickly but the colours come out a little too dark. I ordered some Pigma Micron pens as recommended by many doll makers, but I have found that although the colours are really good and they are permanent and waterproof they take a very long time to dry. This may be partly due to the fabric I am using, which is a kind of doe suede. The pigma pens are fine for drawing lines around the features, but not good at all for colouring in.

    It's all been a bit trying!

    I think maybe I've been trying to do something too complicated and maybe I should just use one face with very simple features and minimal needle sculpting.

    So now it's back to the original!

    Monday, 2 July 2007

    Autumn not so sprightly!

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    She's perhaps a little bit blowsy, a little bit overblown. She looks thoughtful, not sad but a little bit serious. It's because she's in the autumn of her life, a good bit past the middle, but still quite a way from the end. She has enjoyed her life up to now, so she still likes to dress in bright colours, but not as bright as she did when she was in her summer, spring now seems a long way behind. She still loves to wear necklaces and bracelets, but now the colours are muted, berries and fruits instead of summer flowers. Sometimes now, she finds she needs a light stole or a shawl to guard against the cold in the chilly autumn evenings.

    She doesn't like those crochet slippers. She still likes to wear dainty, pretty shoes and kick up her heels now and then. She has good feet and her favourite shoe colour is red. She wants me to make her another pair. (I will, when I've figured out how to do it!).

    Saturday, 30 June 2007

    She's an autumn sprite!

    and she's more or less finished:

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    The leaves for her headress and decoration for her stool were made with layers of organza bonded together and the stems are machine wrapped knitting yarn. I had the worst trouble with the shoes, I tried the pattern in the book but I couldn't make it fit, then I tried to make my own pattern but that didn't work either so in desperation I got out the yarn and hook and she has a nice comfy pair of crochet granny slippers instead of the airy fairy boots I envisaged!

    Here are the profile views:

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    and here is the finished stool:

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    Thursday, 28 June 2007

    Sitting even prettier.................

    I decided the mushroom stool looked a bit plain, so I got out the colouring pencils:

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    This is sloes and rosehips

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    and a hazel leaf.

    I don't need to do the top, because there will be leaves all around the edge and the doll will be sitting on it.

    Sitting pretty

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    I had a nightmare and couldn't get back to sleep last night, so the leaves and beads got stitched on. I managed to mangle some of them, because I tried a more complicated arrangement than the one I had previously pinned on and had to unpick it all. I should know better and always go with my first idea - also, I should remember that less is often more and simple is often best! Then, because I had to be quiet, I decided to touch up her face a bit. Finally, I decided to make a mushroom for her to sit on and made a start on that.

    Can't decide whether or not to make wings. I should really, for the practice, even if I don't use them.

    Wednesday, 27 June 2007

    Blackberries and autumn leaves

    I am really enjoying this!

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    Made the leaves from various bits of coloured organza, put through the needlepunch machine.

    Now to sew them on and add some beads and berries!

    Monday, 25 June 2007

    Blackberry doll

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    The fabric for the dress is a piece of brightly coloured silk sarong, put through the needle punch machine with a very fine layer of coloured wool tops (roving). I wanted to get those rich, bright, autumn leaf (fall) colours.

    Once I had the dress, I decided to change the hair to match! And the first bit of embellishment, a spray of blackberries and leaves for her hair.

    Sunday, 24 June 2007

    Progress on wood nymph/blackberry fairy

    Now she has hair!

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    side view:

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