Saved From the Scrap Pile

She looks just like a Scottish twin, doesn't she? :-)

Again, here's a picture of the 1974 McCall's pattern:

In my last post about this doll, I was seriously thinking about scrapping things and starting over. I went ahead and embroidered the eyes/facial features, yet even after trying out various hairstyles, I still wasn't happy with things.

Problem solved! I ended up permanently sewing on this hood/capelet. It masks the funny head shape. Kind of. And then I discovered this Euro corduroy in my stash (I love finding forgotten fabric!). Since she's so small (9.5 inches), I hardly used any corduroy at all, and it seemed to coordinate nicely with the faux-sherpa fleece hood thing.

Other than working a bit more on her shoes, she's done and has been claimed by my youngest (she "helped" me sew the shoes last night). This project definitely inspired me and I have lots of ideas swirling around in my head...but more on that later. For now, I need to turn my attention back to my regular dolls and some sewing for my daughters.


Oh, the possibilities!

This makes me so excited.

My middle daughter is 4 1/2 and she has been eager to start learning to sew. Today, she drew a heart on a small scrap of muslin. I threaded the needle, guided her through her first few stitches, and she went off and finished it on her own. I think she did a great job! She's very excited and wants to make a pillow out of the square above. Maybe I'll show her how to use the sewing machine.

Up until now, I've only worked on sewing a bit here and there with my oldest daughter. But I think her younger sister is ready to learn and may just be a natural.


"Q" is for Quilts

Q is for Quilt
Originally uploaded by jcecil08
My older sister had this great, yet simple suggestion for my youngest daughter's birthday - make her an alphabet photo album. I loved the idea! Better than making more felt food.

On Friday, I went to Michael's, intending to walk out with just a plain 4 x 6 photo album. My original plans were to hand-sew a wool felt cover for it; on the left side of the inside page(s), there would be the uppercase/lowercase letters and on the right side(s), a personal picture that corresponded to the letter.

I never walk out of Michael's with only what I intended to walk in there to buy. Never. I have no problem with JoAnn's, perhaps because I buy the bulk of my fabric on-line. But Michaels...it's my downfall.

I ended up buying a small bright pink scrapbook that holds ten 8 x 8 pages. I also bought several Martha Stewart scrapbook items, like a paper pad of pastel insert pages, animal stickers, alphabet stickers, and some other little, fun, decorative items.

I have tried my best to keep this project simple. Since my daughter's birthday was yesterday, I've already presented her with the album, but I am actually still working on it - filling in the words under/next to the pictures. Needless to say, she LOVES it. Loves it! And it has been really fun looking through pictures and trying to match them up with a particular letter. For all the family we have, many of the "ABC's" were easy, but there were still a few letters that I was stuck on.

Like "Q".

But then my oldest daughter suggested "quilts"!!! My mother makes beautiful quilts and has filled our tiny house with them over the years. So yesterday I snapped a picture of the birthday girl, wrapped in two of her favorite quilts from Grandma G. The picture at the top of this post is the picture that is now on the "Q" page. Perfect.

I also had to include this one. Such a happy kid!


Pass and Fail (x2)

I'll start with the fails.

1. The "simple doll" is not so simple. Yes, the pattern is easy enough, but I'm not liking how it's turning out and can't decide what to do. After sewing and prior to stuffing, I could tell instantly that I didn't like the shape of the head. It's too small and short, but also a bit wide for my tastes. Here is a close-up of the pattern cover.

You can't really tell, but I think it's the hair that makes the head look a little "taller" in these pictures. This is compounded by the fact that I drew the eyes much too big. Maybe that's the real problem. I can't decide whether I should scrap it or just finish it to the best of my ability. I can learn from it, right?

2. My second "fail" is not having anything made yet for my youngest daughter's 2nd birthday on Sunday. I have a bit of time still, but nothing planned. As the youngest of 3 girls, she has so much. And I just gave her a knitted doll for Christmas, so I don't want to give her another doll just yet. I think I'll just make some felt food. I better get started on it ASAP.

And my pass...

I reworked the eyes a bit on the doll I showed on my first blog post. My husband literally laughed out loud when I showed it to him, not seeing the "difference" at all between the before and after. But to me, the eyes look decent enough for me to move forward and finish this doll. They're not perfect (and seeing this picture makes me want to go back and work on them a little bit more), but they are good enough. Plus, I already sewed the ears back on. Time to move on.


and after

She'll be getting little blond curls.


A Special Delivery

My younger sister is due to have a baby boy this week! It will be a first on my side of the family; a good new thing for all of us. I, for one, will have to venture into "boy" fabrics and sewing boy clothes. At least I'll have a wonderful reason to buy more fabric.

I just completed some 0-3 month clothes for him and I hope to get this all in the mail tomorrow, along with some other gifts. The outfits are from the NCBE pattern. I've used the pattern a few times in the past, but it's the first time I have also made the hats and bottoms. What a great pattern! So easy and fun to make. The fabric is all Chez Ami, except for the tiny cars.

I did take some shortcuts (no top-stitching!), but I have a feeling he won't be going out too much these next few months anyways. Next time I'll pay a bit more attention to detail/finishing.

Since I don't have any size tags or labels, I used a bit of Japanese linen trim to mark the back of the pants. It's so hard to tell front from back on these little pants sometimes! That's a tiny sewing machine on the "label". It's sort of hard to see in this picture.

I also made a little sleep sack and a coordinating nightgown for his big sister. The sleep sack is made from the softest fabric ever and lined in a 100% cotton ribknit, both by Chez Ami. Looks like I should have taken the time to press these two pieces before taking a picture. :)

I can't wait to get the phone call that he's here!


A Simple Doll

While I love the dolls I have been working on lately, I've been itching to sew a simpler doll, one that isn't so labor-intensive. Last night, while searching through my doll pattern stash, I found an old 1974 McCall's pattern for a small, flat doll. Actually, it is for "Scottish Twins", but I'll make a regular doll. Nothing too fancy. What excites me is that there are only two pattern pieces. Two! I've been busy sketching out facial features, hairstyles, and clothing options, while also clicking around etsy and flickr for inspiration.

I have to say, there are so many adorable handmade dolls out there. Really. Every time I think I have some unique idea (how to do the face, etc.), I stumble upon someone who is doing something very similar. Why is that? This seems to happen to me a lot. Maybe creative minds think alike. Perhaps I'm not all that creative to begin with. Who knows! Either way, I love seeing what others are creating. I spend much of my on-line time these days scrolling through photosets on flickr, admiring what others have sewn, painted, made.

I guess there are only so many ways to make a simple, flat doll. I see several people using the Black Apple pattern, Bit of Whimsy patterns, or variations of them. Many have designed their own doll patterns. Lots of artists are using felt for hair. Wool felt offers possibilities...a simple, expedient hairstyle that can withstand lots of love at the hands of a child. And I see many dolls with felt circle eyes. I have used that technique myself in the past. Like this Spaceboy from a Wee Wonderfuls pattern. I believe this was from 2007.

Or this one from another Wee Wonderfuls pattern.

These days, I prefer to hand-embroider eyes. Even though I lightly sketch before I start sewing, I have no idea how the face will really appear until the doll is complete.

So, I look at these pieces of fabric and still don't know what they will become. Yarn or felt for hair? Eye color? Facial expression? We'll see when she's finished.


Holiday Hangover

I have so many projects in mind for the coming months and weeks, and yet here I sit - paralyzed, due in part to my unfinished Christmas gifts. It is January 7th and I really haven't completed or, to be quite honest, worked on much (besides a lot of cleaning/purging around the house) since the day after Christmas.

Unlike most recent years, the amount of unfinished work isn't overwhelming. Too often, I've left those UFOs to sit far too long and many remain unfinished to this day.

But this year, there are really only three projects I should complete: 1) a sweater for my second daughter's "Rose Doll"; 2) finish the hair on a knitted doll for daughter #3; and, 3) finish a sweater for the knitted doll. Ooh, and #4) hand-sew the lining (better) on third daughter's Christmas stocking. But actually, I don't mind if #4 waits until next Nov/Dec.

In the meantime, I have this basket of fabric calling to me.

I have a new nephew who is due to be born later this month and I'm hoping to send my younger sister some layette clothing for him, made from some of the fabric to the right. There is also some Valentine's Day fabric in there. Pajamas? Dresses? Plus, my youngest daughter's birthday is later this month and I'd like to make her a few things...an apron? felt play food?

And then there is this fabric awaiting to become some doll dresses.

What should I work on first? Perhaps I'll cut out some patterns and fabric tonight. Maybe if I tackle one Christmas UFO a month, that will help move me along with my projects.

Because right now, I just want to work on something new :).


A New Face

This doll was sewn several months ago, but I have yet to finish her. I'm thinking she needs her eyes touched up, specifically the one to the left (in the photo). It's a bit too small...and her eyes overall need more work. I don't like that left "highlight". Hmmm, that will involve removing her ears (where I hide embroidery knots) and the highlight/pupil, etc. for both eyes. Probably a solid hour of hand-sewing.

But then again, she definitely has an expression...kind of like she's smirking.

Should I leave her alone? Should I go back and try again? I'm thinking I should try again...

We'll see. A new face could make a difference.