For a Sweet Little Girl

When I first saw a picture of this vintage card in Jenny B. Harris's Allsorts blog, I felt so inspired. Look how adorable.

Photos courtesy of Jenny b. Harris

So I bought a vintage red doll trunk off ebay. Luckily, it's in great condition and it was very inexpensive.

I made a doll for my 5 1/2 year old and the doll fits perfectly inside.

My daughter asked for braided loops and glittery red shoes. She also requested a black velvet dress. As I mentioned in a previous post, her name is Noelle.

This will be the doll that my middle daughter will learn to sew for, just like my older daughter's Marie doll. The trunk will be able to hold the clothes and Noelle.

I can't wait to see my daughter's expression on Christmas morning. I think she'll be pleased.


High on a Hill Was a Lonely Goatherd

Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo

(Mystery project solved!)

My childhood was not full of traditions. It just wasn't how we were raised.

But one of the few family traditions we did have was watching the annual TV airing of The Sound of Music.* My parents, sisters and I loved/love that movie. I think even my brother likes it more than he cares to admit.

Like many fans, my absolute favorite scene and song in the movie was/is "The Lonely Goatherd". Who can resist singing along? What child didn't dream of being one of the von Trapp family children, maneuvering the marionettes with Maria, singing and yodeling away? Those amazing puppets! That fantastic set! Brilliant!

Not surprisingly, my girls love the movie, the soundtrack, and "The Lonely Goatherd", too. They go nuts when the song comes on, interlocking elbows and swinging each other around. They sing and yodel words that oftentimes mimic the actual lyrics.

I thought what better present for my girls than a few marionettes of their own so that they can re-enact that scene over and over again here at home?

Obviously, there is no way I could ever come close to recreating the masterpieces created by Bil Baird. Not in this lifetime. So, I went with very simple and used some cloth, wool and bits of string and came up with these two little ones.

I aimed for "resemble" rather than replicate. Much easier that way. My "little girl in a pale pink coat" also looks less curvy, more young...modest :)

I am so excited about this project because this is JUST THE BEGINNING. Think of all the things the girls and I can make! A collapsible stage made out of a tri-fold display board (cover it with paper or paint? fabric or felt? adorn it with trims?)! Background scenery drawn by the girls using pastels and butcher paper! Playsilks for the curtains! More puppets! A few more marionettes! My brain is on overdrive!

I have a different cloth doll body in mind for making the "Mama" (a more floppy version so that one can control her head). Perhaps we'll make the "Men on a road with a load to tote" hand puppets out of wool felt. Maybe my husband can stand in for the "Men drinking beer with the foam afloat".

And I've been having fun playing with these little marionettes in the meantime, making them dance around the floor (I had to make sure they work!), testing out which control would work best for the girls (they are temporarily stringed up right now as my husband and I fine-tune/sand the real controls). I've been joined by my youngest who has been also testing out an inexpensive goat marionette I bought for Christmas so there are three marionettes to start with (no fighting! everyone gets one!). My older two daughters have no idea about this project.

Still, even the goat is a placeholder, until I/we can make the goat marionettes, too. Knowing my girls, they'll want to start with the baby goat...who wouldn't.

I am so excited about this project. Seriously excited. I think it will be something to pull out on a rainy day, something we can revisit year after year. I know the girls will have fun. I just know it.

(Her eyes don't glow and aren't as bright as these pictures depict.They are a deep turquoise/blue...not bright/blinding aqua :(. One of my New Year's resolutions will be to improve my photography skills! I wish you could see her in person.)

*For several years, my parents conned us kids into believing that the movie ended when the children went to bed (after singing "So Long, Farewell"). I was stunned...absolutely stunned when I discovered that the movie kept going for long after that scene.

Summary of Clues 1 - 6

Here is a summary of the clues and a few additional hints.

1. I used this fabric for part of her outfit.

2. I used this felt to make a little hat.

3. I used this yarn for hair. Hint: for both.

4. Here is the hat. Hint: for him.

5. She has little black flats and he has little tan shoes.

6. I made her a pale pink coat.

Hope that helps!


Clue #6

I meant to post the next clue yesterday. Unfortunately, we were without internet access due to home renovations. So sorry! Here is Clue #6.

Yesterday, while our new floor was being installed in our family room, I finally completed sewing the last bit of clothing for her. I made a coat.

One of the many things I love about this project is that I was able to recycle various scraps of clothing, felt, and bits of yarn. Yesterday, I was able to reuse the sleeve of a soft, pale pink sleeper that my girls' all wore in their infancy. I had it stored away, trying to decide what to do with it and then this project came along. I love when that happens.

Anyways, I keep waiting for bright sunshine to take a few pictures. It only seems sunny when the kids are around (and I don't want them to see their gifts!). Right now, the sky is dark, the house is darker...which of course means I'll be all alone for one hour and I have the perfect chance to snap some photos. I'll have to give it a try. This may be my only chance!


Clue #5

I just completed hand-sewing a pair of black shoes out of wool felt for her. They are ordinary little flats. Nothing fancy.

I also finished up a pair of plain, tan shoes for him.

I'll be back on Monday with another Clue...if needed :^)


My Creative Space - A Christmas Doll

Meet Noelle. She was almost a "Clara", but my daughter settled on Noelle. She is a Christmas doll that I am finishing up for my 5-year old.

I'll take more photos of her once the rain and dark clouds have left the Bay Area. Right now, our house is so dark!

Next time I take photos, I'll remove her lined hooded cape to show her cute little hairstyle. It was requested by my daughter (the hairstyle), as was the black velvet dress and red sparkly shoes.

Note to self...sewing with velvet is not fun. At all! I ended up doing a lot of hand-sewing because the lint factor was driving me nuts.

My daughter is so excited about this doll. Of course, she hasn't seen her yet, but she asks about her daily. And everytime "The First Noel" comes on the radio, she screams, "Mom, just like my Christmas doll!"

I'll post more photos of Noelle later this week/early next week.

And I'll reveal the next clue by Friday!!! I'm putting together a little box of treats for the first person to guess correctly. Keep guessing!


Clue #4 and a Scary Tree

We're all moved into our new house! It will take weeks (months!) to really settle in here, but I have my sewing space set up so its functional, allowing me to finish up several Christmas presents. Once the holidays are over, I'll work on that space a little more.

The picture above is Clue #4. It's the hat. I need to clean up the edges a litle, but its otherwise done.

I'm working hard on this project and should have a few more clues later this week. Hopefully, I'll be all done with this gift by early next week (Monday/Tuesday) for the grand reveal :). Stay tuned and keep guessing!

On a totally different note, look at this Christmas tree!

Yes, those are blue LED lights. My husband took the younger girls on an errand run yesterday and they picked up a new strand of lights for our Christmas tree. We're going with a small tree this year and its currently perched up on the entertainment center in the darkest corner of the room (we desperately need more lights in this house!). He said the girls wanted blue lights so he bought them. However, they turn the tree BLACK! It looks absolutely dreadful in person. He tried to sell it to the kids ("The tree looks RAD!") but they don't like it. At all. We left it up last night just to laugh at it but I'm about to head to the store to buy some white lights. And then we'll actually decorate the tree.


Clue #3

Thank you to all of those who are playing along with my "Guess What I'm Making Game". I love reading all the responses. So many clever and interesting ideas!

Here is Clue #3: I'm using the yarn pictured for hair.

All my projects, make that all our belongings, are being packed away. We recently purchased a house nearby and are in the process of moving. I'll be so excited once we're all settled in. The first room I want to set up is my sewing space! I'll be sharing part of my youngest daughter's bedroom. I don't think she'll mind for another year or two. We'll figure out a way to make it work in the meantime :).


Great Guess/Idea and Clue #2

Someone emailed me last night, and took a guess at what I am making: a Milly-Molly-Mandy doll! It's not the correct answer, but isn't it a fabulous idea? I told her I thought it was. And of course, the pink and white striped fabric in my last post would be perfect for her outfit.

Ever since then I have been thinking I *need* to make a Milly-Molly-Mandy inspired doll at some point. My girls have the book already, so maybe it will be a gift (the doll + the books) for another little girl someday. Hmmm.

And moments ago, while searching around Amazon for an image of the book, I found this gift set. How sweet !

You can buy this gift set on Amazon here.

Still, I plan to make one. I think I have to :-P.

Anyways, here is Clue #2:

I plan on using this felt to make a little hat.

Any ideas?


Take a Guess...

I have one little Christmas present I'm working on that I'm really excited about. It's something I would have loved to have had as a child. I know my sisters and I would have had fun. And knowing my girls, they'll love this present, too.

I'll offer up some clues over the next few weeks (if it takes that long!). If you guess correctly, I'll send a little something your way.

These hints will be vague at first, but I'll get more specific over time.

Clue #1:
I'm using this fabric below for part of her outfit.

And the answer isn't just a "doll". Stay tuned...


Several dolls in progress

Here is one that I think is ready for her ears and limbs to be attached. After that, she'll get some hair - a super cool hairstyle for a very special kid.

Right now, I'm waiting for the air erasable marker to disappear while I intermittently gaze at her face, making sure I don't want to work on her features any more.

I think she's ready for her ears...


Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King's horses and all the King's men...

Couldn't put Humpty together again.

My two older daughters took a look at these photos moments ago and have several issues with them/me. "Why isn't his head cracked on top? He fell on his head, Mom! Why is he still smiling? Why did his hat stay on?"

Okay, okay. Now go to school, girls.

I finished up this little guy over the weekend. He was inspired by a picture I had seen several months ago on flickr of what I originally thought was a wooden Humpty Dumpty. I sketched the face quickly in my book and decided to make a little cloth Humpty at some point.

It wasn't until recently that I realized the wooden Humpty was actually part of a common vintage nursery lamp (many are listed on etsy.com). Coincidentally, I also just saw the lamp in Alicia Paulson's Stitched in Time book while I was flipping through it on Sunday night.

My little Humpty doll was really easy to draft and make. His body is cloth stuffed with wool and the rest of him is made from wool felt. I put pipe cleaners inside his legs (at the last minute) so I can bend his knees/legs.

His hat is a copy of a little hat on a pig that I bought a few months back from OhMaFelt, minus the pom-pom at the end. (Check out that etsy store. Cute stuff!).

Despite their critique of the pictures above, the girls like him and call him my "shelf elf". The reference is apparently from some book at their school library. I haven't read it. I hope shelf elves are good.

He fits in up there, though.


Five Things I'm Excited About

Image from Etsy Shop A Little Sweetness

#1. I received this fabric a few days ago in the mail from Tasha at A Little Sweetness. (Thank you, Tasha!) Isn't her fabric lovely? I won this half-yard in a giveaway and I have been dreaming up what to make with it ever since. I thought at first that I'd incorporate it into some doll-quilts for the girls, but I also think it would work well as *something* around my sewing space. I just haven't decided what that something should be. The fabric is adorable in person. Check out her etsy shop - so many cute things!

#2. The girls and I had a successful, creative weekend. Crammed in between potlucks, soccer games, birthday parties, and baseball watching, my oldest daughter finished Project #7 in the Mary Frances Sewing Book. It is a Dressing Sack made of some fabric I purchased several months ago from Bessie Mary. She used the sewing machine for all sewing. I only had to use the seam-ripper once :).

Last night I finished off the nightclothes wardrobe for her with some little bunny slippers I made out of some extra-thick wool felt.

(A close-up, in case you have any doubt that a 7 year-old made this :) ).

Next up in the Mary Frances wardrobe is a pinafore!

#3. I also spent some quality time with my middle daughter in the sewing/office/guest room. She drew a doll that she'd like me to make. I'm going to try and recreate it for her - either out of wool felt or embroidery or print it out on some fabric. I haven't decided yet.

She and I also worked on knitting. She perched on my lap and held the needles with me and we did the knit stitch over and over and over again, all the while she chanted, "In through the front door, around the back, out through the window and off jumps Jack." We're working on a basic garter stitch scarf.

#4. AND...I'm super excited because I made something based off one of my many sketches and it turned out PERFECT! I'll show it here at some point. But I was so happy things came together. The end product is really cute. At least to me :). It's sitting up on a shelf right now and makes me smile whenever I look at it.

#5. I'm also making progress on several other projects. I have another doll almost stuffed, one ready to sew, and today I'm preparing a smaller version of my doll as well as a few other variations.

Busy week ahead! Hope it's a good week for everyone.


Mary Frances Kimono and WIP

Project #6 from the Mary Frances Sewing Book is complete. My daughter picked out this Baby Nay floral print which I think was perfect for the project. Instead of using ribbon, we used bias tape.

She has used my sewing machine just a handful of times in the past (usually, just sitting on my lap), but this was her first time using it on her own since starting our lessons.

And after all that hand-sewing that she has done over the past several months, she thinks the sewing machine is the GREATEST INVENTION EVER. She's eager to finish up the dressing sack now (Project #7) and plow through the remaining patterns.

In the meantime, I have this doll above that I'm still stuffing. I'm timing myself...and so far, this doll has taken 2 hours to stuff. Of course, I was watching some fluff on TV, but still. Perhaps I'm just a big slowpoke.

And this morning, I'm redrafting the doll pattern a bit. There are a few areas that I need to improve. I'm positive there are easier ways to do this (that I'm unaware of), but for me, I use string, pins, freezer paper, etc. It works! But someday, I'm sure I'll learn how much time I wasted doing it this way and how much more precise and efficient I could have been from the beginning :).


Halloween Pop-Up Cone Puppet Tutorial

After finishing up my witch doll cone puppet over the weekend, the girls were eager to make their own.

Guess what we did yesterday after school?

Here is what you'll need for this simple, fun, seasonal project:
- Paper mache cones - I found the ones we used in the Christmas section at Michael's. If you can't find the paper mache kind (don't forget to check online!), you can make your own out of poster-board.
- Wooden dowel sticks
- Styrofoam balls or wooden balls - These are for the heads. You can also make a Waldorf or cloth doll head (like I used for my puppet), or even just some stuffing, depending on the type of puppet you're making.
- White/black/green socks or tights (or orange if you're making a pumpkin!) - This is a great project for those lone socks you may have laying around. Or for tights that have a hole or snag. Just make sure the socks are large enough. Adult socks work best. FYI, we used child-sized white tights for the ghost(s) below.
- Various craft supplies/Halloween decorations - You name it...paint, pom-pom trims, ribbons, stickers, felt, glitter, etc.

Here is some of what we had on hand (minus the socks/tights and paints).

And here is what we did...
1. Saw off the end of the cone(s) to make a snug opening for the dowel and decorate! My girls wanted to paint their cones. You/your child could also use paper, fabric**, felt...whatever you'd like!

2. Glue dowel stick into Styrofoam head. If you and your child are using a wooden head, paint it first (I'll explain why below***). In the picture below, my daughter is using the dowel to hold the wooden head...nothing has been glued yet.

For the ghost and cat:
3. Cover the head with the sock (we used old white tights for the ghost(s) and a stray black sock for the cat) and tie/secure around neck.

For the witch***:
3. Insert wooden dowel into black sock and then glue to the wooden head. Make sure the hole drilled into the wooden head is large enough for the sock and dowel.

Once the glue has set, for all three puppets:
4. Fit the sock around the top of the cone, deciding on the approximate height of the puppet when fully extended. Cut the sock so that 3/4 - 1 inch remains below the top of the cone.

5. Glue the bottom edge of the sock to the upper outside ridge of the cone.

6. Glue a trim around the upper edge of the cone to partially hide the edge of the sock.

7. Keep on decorating!

8. Add faces and features! Eyes. Ears. Hair. A witch's hat. My girls helped each other with this part. Mainly, my oldest daughter helped the other two.

And there you go!

**Earlier in the day, I made this ghost pop-up cone puppet with my youngest daughter (she's 2 1/2). I wasn't sure how engaged she'd be with this project. So initially, I used fabric backed with Heat-and-Bond Lite and we glued that to the cone (over the tights) and then added the trim. My oldest later finished the ghost's face.

Simple enough!

But, it turns out, my youngest was really into painting with her sisters and wanted to do another puppet. Pink and purple paint, of course.

And she's pretty happy with the result.

Little Witch Doll Puppet

Here is a little witch doll cone puppet I finished up over the weekend. My daughters all made their own yesterday afternoon (kid tutorial coming!).

The girls (mostly my 5 year-old) really wanted this doll to have black eyes. "Black as night Mom, Black as niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!" They also wanted her to have purple hair, but I overruled them because bulky black yarn (I have no bulky purple) = quick ponytails on a teeny tiny doll head.

With black eyes and black hair and a black velvet cape, this doll was looking incredibly somber. I tried my best to make her NOT SCARY. That was my goal. But she looks so sad. So I gave her a purple hat.

Not that the hat helped at all. I just had to throw another color in there besides black.

I don't think she looks scary. In fact, I think she looks scared.

I've actually been having a lot of fun playing with this puppet. My 2 1/2 year old is mesmerized by it. The way the puppet moves, turns from side to side, up and down. My youngest giggles and smiles and laughs. I wish I had four hands so I could capture a picture of it.

I could have spent days on this project. Easily. I had originally planned to devote more time to the cone part of the puppet - a few cute Halloween wool felt appliques, maybe some cool embroidery, etc. Then my oldest daughter suggested making the cone a giant candy corn and I jumped on the idea. Excellent!