Sunday, 21 December 2008

Here Come the Girls

and their birds!

Here come the girls, and their birds!

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I've been experimenting with the stump dolls, and enjoying playing with Nellie's birds. I thought I would try a different kind of 'hair' so used a novelty knitting yarn, it looks as if it is made by wrapping 'slubs' of unspun fibre with a much thinner yarn of the same stuff, bit like a machine wrapped cord. I 'rooted' it in with a felting needle. I think I prefer the hand knitted wigs!

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I'm using these as Christmas ornaments, because I like the bright coloured sparkliness!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

My Second Stump Doll

Well, you know what they say, 'Once is never enough'. I thought this one would make a good Christmas Ornament.

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Here's the side view:

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and here's a closeup of the embellishment:

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The 'stump' is covered in black muslin (scrim) needlepunched with green and red dyed wool fleece (roving), then machine quilted to a piece of synthetic felted cloth with pre-programmed machine stitches in red and green thread. The overskirt is commercially produced machine embroidered tulle with a holly pattern. The ruffle around the waist is a red tulle frill and a piece of gathered red nylon lace. Not enough for me, I added some green sequin leaves and red beads. The 'bodice' of the dress was hand needlepunched onto the body, then embellished with novelty knitting yarn, hand embroidery and beads. The usual hand knitted wig and painted face, a little bit more 'bling' and she was done!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Seasonal Stanley

Based on my Simple Stanley, but with a painted face. I've worked out these two for the Christmas season. I have a Craft Fair in two weeks time, so I thought I would make a few "Stanleys" in seasonal costume. These are the first.

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Fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

and while I was hiding from the builders...

I made this one too:

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The bolero and waist decoration are made from scraps of silk and fleece needlepunched in a 'soluble fabric sandwich', machine quilted with preprogrammed stitches and rinsed. The trousers are chiffon, needlepunched with wisps of fleece from the back to add a little bit of colour and lots of texture, and again machine quilted with preprogrammed stitches. Both sets of garments were embellished with sequins, beads and buttonhole stitch in multicoloured stranded cotton. The shoes were made from scraps left over from the trousers.

Here's a side view:

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My first stump doll

We had builders in last week so I had to stay indoors. I hid upstairs, played with my machines and made my first 'Stump Doll'. This is a doll with a 'solid' base, rather than legs and feet. I'm not sure it's a very nice name to describe these dolls, but it is the 'technical term'!

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The head, arms and body are made from my usual polyester suede. The 'skirt' is made from scraps of sari silk and other odds and ends needlepunched by machine onto a felt-like synthetic dish cloth then machine quilted with preprogrammed stitches. The frill was made by running the needlepunch machine along the raw edges of a folded silk strip. I stitched it on with knitting yarn in herringbone stitch. The top of the dress was made by wrapping the body with pieces of wool fleece echoing the colours in the skirt and fastening down with seeding stitch and padded knitting ribbon stitched down with buttonhole stitch. I added more buttonhole stitching and some beads for texture. Here's a closeup:

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She has a lightly needlesculpted, hand painted face and a knitted wig. This is what she looks like from the back:

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These type of dolls make such a good canvas for showing off handmade fabrics with lots of embroidery and embellishment. I don't suppose this will be the last one I make. I stuffed this first attempt with my usual polyester stuffing and gave it a thick cardboard base, so that it stands up without being weighted.

Friday, 26 September 2008

60 Minute Makeover..................

well, OK it took a bit longer than that.

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I wasn't entirely happy with this one. I liked the overall look of her, but I just felt the finish wasn't good enough. Now she has a new wig, I've altered the top of her dress, tidied up her undies and given her new wings.

Here's the back view:

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I've got totally discouraged trying to sell my dolls around here, I've started to set up an Etsy Shop, it's in the SideBar. I haven't got very far yet, I need to sort out Shop Policies and Shipping and polish up the product descriptions, but it's on the way!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

No sale!

My table at the Llammas Fair was cancelled. The weather took a turn for the worse and the tent blew down during the evening!

Next on the calendar was a last minute invitation to our Creative Co-op to fill six stalls with arts and crafts at the annual Lifeboat Regatta. I made some of these, 'Sailor Stanleys', for the occasion. I thought people would appreciate something with a nautical theme.

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I priced them at £9.50 each and I sold just two! (Unfortunately, I made a dozen - six sailors and six matelots).
I also took the 'Merbabes' and I know I priced them low at £15, bearing in mind the collaged quilted fabric, hand embroidery and embellishment. I didn't sell a single one. My daughter says I am charging too much and surely I just want to sell them.
My Creative Co-op colleagues berate me, saying I am not charging enough.................... beats me!

Lots of people stopped to look at my dolls, ask questions and talk about them, but no-one wanted to buy................I don't think changing the price either way would have made any difference.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Inspired by Angela!

I was practising drawing small faces for the on-line course I'm taking (Windows with Angela Jarecki, check it out, it's fun) and I got carried away with inspiration and made the faces up into tags and pindolls. I drew around a large cotton reel, coloured the faces then cut them out with pinking shears. Then inspiration struck and I applied them to scraps of collage and embellisher fabric from the 'might come in useful' bin. Some wadding, backing fabric and a few stitches and beads and here's the result:

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I'm hoping to sell some of these at our Llammas Fair this weekend.

With the Llammas Fair in mind, I also made up this batch of 'Fish-face Merbabes' (that's where some of the scraps came from!):

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Saturday, 19 July 2008

Making Faces

I've been doing an internet course at Doll Street Dreamers - Windows with Angela Jarecki. The course is to produce an embroidered 'mini-quilt' with a face showing through a 'window' in the centre. The first part concentrates on drawing the face, and I signed on in the hope that working through it would improve my portrait work. I'm currently working on the first week. The first step was to follow Angela's instructions to draw a graphite sketch of a photograph of a model, that was supplied as part of the course, so I haven't reproduced it here. The next step was to draw a face of your choice on fabric in colour, again following Angela's instructions. I decided to try mine out on paper first, here's the result:

Thursday, 5 June 2008


I wasn't really happy with the face for the Merbabies. I wanted it to be more wide-eyed and child-like, and a bit fishy! So I drafted a new face.

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These are cloth dolls with handpainted faces and knitted wigs. The head and arms are polyester suede. The fabric for the bodies is machine quilted onto a synthetic washing up cloth with a layer of sweet wrappers or shiny fabrics beneath, to give a soft sheen rather than a sparkle. The bodies are hand embroidered and embellished with beads, sequins and resin shells. I'm currently experimenting with methods for hand felting the hair to the head, because I hate sewing it on!

I really enjoyed making these...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

It's not a doll, but it is related!

I've been practising portraits, in the hope of improving my doll faces. I'm so pleased with this one that I did of Grandson Number 2, that I just wanted to share it here!

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Coloured pencil on cartridge paper.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Trying out a pattern variation

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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Little Jack Frost.................

I made this pair as part of Sharon Boggon's Take it Further Challenge.

The concept for the challenge was 'what am I old enough to remember?' and I'm old enough to remember jack frost patterns on the inside of the windows in winter. I adapted my basic simple doll pattern to make Jack Frost dolls, using body fabrics made in different ways.

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A more detailed description of making the dolls is on my embroidery blog.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Mer Baby

I've been thinking of making some kind of friendship/spirit/goddess dolls for my table at the Llammas Fair later this year. I've made a start by adapting my 'Simple Stanley' pattern to make a Mer Baby. This is the 'tester':

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For simplicity, the body and tail is in one piece. The tail fins are not stuffed. The fabric for the body of this 'tester' is a sandwich of synthetic washing up cloth and a very fine semi-sheer cotton with a woven pattern in it, filled with chocolate wrappers (Mingles!). I first of all machine stitched vertical lines of running stitch along the stripes to hold the sweet wrappers. Then I machine stitched horizontal rows of a programmed scalloped stitch to represent scales. After I had stitched the body pieces together, but before I stuffed the body, I decorated it with hand stitching to represent seaweed and added sequins and beads. The face is hand painted and the hair is knitted novelty yarn.

Here's another view:

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and the back:

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Unfortunately, I couldn't get the camera to capture the way the chocolate wrappers sparkle through the top fabric. I was after that shiny fish scale look, and she really is quite 'silvery'.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Country visitors

Here's a pair of 'Rustics' calling in on their way to the coast to buy salt. Cousins from the provinces, they stand out in their rough homespun clothes coloured with plant dyes and decorated with berries, as they pose for a family photograph.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Bizarre Copyright Violation

Sharon B, ace textile blogger, gave a link to Copyscape on her blog In a Minute Ago. There have been several posts about copyright violations recently, so I decided to try it out. You put in the URL of a page, and if the page content has been reproduced elsewhere, it gets pulled up.

This is the result I got:

3 results found for S'mockery Dolls (my cloth doll making blog): Remember Rita? Siren of the silver screen.... Click a result below to see your content highlighted.

Silver Siren deals from
... Remember Rita? Siren of the silver screen ... I felt that my mermaids should be a bit more 'voluptuous', more in the siren luring sailors mould. ...

This is MY text, directly from my blog post! I tried the URL, but was unable to get into the site, so I don't know exactly what it is, or what they are doing with my blog post. Obviously, because I can't get into the site and find out who it is, I can do nothing about it.

It seems a very strange place for my mermaid doll to end up, I must say, possibly alongside the bunny eared vibrators and rubber suits - strange bedfellows indeed.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

WIP - Sprite sprouts wings!

After the 'rebel teen sprite' characters, I thought I would make a prettier one. Her hair and wings are pinned on and she has no undies or shoes yet, but here she is:

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Her head and body are made from polyester suede, her legs are wired and fastened at the hip with button joints and she has the usual painted face and knitted wig. Her clothes are made from rescued sari silk scraps. The waistband of her skirt is embellished with beads and sequins.

This is the back view:

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The back of her skirt is embellished at the waist with a fancy, beaded 'bustle'.

Here's a closeup of the wings:

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The wings are wired. I made the very fine fabric on the needlepunch machine in colours to match her hair. She has very simple wings, because she is very young!

Friday, 11 January 2008

These boots were made for walking ..........

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and here are their owners:

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Polyester suede heads and bodies with hand painted faces and knitted wigs. The clothes are made with faux suede and scraps of sari silk from a fire salvage sale, some of it needlepunched in the machine for texture. Embellished with beads, sequins and embroidery. The boy has an embroidered jerkin and the girl has a knitted shrug.

Here's a back view to show the fancy jerkin!

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Friday, 4 January 2008

It seemed like such a simple thing....

to design a pair of fairy boots for a sprite!

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This mess represents about 6 hours trial and error - measuring, drawing, fitting...

Just in case anyone thought it was easy!