Sunday, 28 June 2020

Windmills and Tulips

Before Easter 2020 in the early weeks of pandemic lockdown in the UK, I bought a few fat quarters of floral fabric with the aim of making some Easter themed dresses for the dolls, however I was too busy with work (at home since mid March), studying, feeding the family and essential gardening. However at last, in late June, I've allowed myself some sewing time, a break from long hours at the computer screen.

My Sasha family have been hidden behind the two pieces of Indonesian print fabric I bought in Yangon last November when I was there for a work project: my working at home office is my sewing room and having a dolls house and dolls as a backdrop for video conference work meetings didn't seem sensible, especially as some people are not keen on dolls. The fabric often gets positive comments at the start of meetings.

Two years ago we had a memorable few days in The Netherlands and I had been keeping an eye open for some Dutch inspired small print fabric, so the 'Tulip fields pattern by Lewis & Irene jumped out at me when I was searching for fabric to include in a baby quilt.

Because the repeats in Tulip fields mean that some of the design would not show up well on a gathered, smocked dress for a 16 inch doll, I decided that the style of dress to use was the late Ted Menten's pinafore dress pattern, which I have sewn several times before (most recently for the Raffle prize I made for the Sasha Celebration Weekend 2019). I adjusted the pattern very slightly to ensure that the windmills beside the side seams wouldn't have their sails clipped by the seams, which means the dress is a fraction wider than originally designed. As usual, I stitched the dress with a lining, so it was sewn inside out then turned about. This meant that the back needed to have a seam up the centre rather than be all one panel. I managed to pattern match the over shoulder straps as well, carefully positioning the mice and the tulips when cutting the fabric.

Shoulder straps pattern matching
(could be re-positioned a bit by moving the snap fasteners)
Some weeks ago in Sewing Bee (UK TV programme) the contestants were asked to machine smock a child's dress. In a Sasha Doll group on social media there was a flurry of discussion comparing machine smocking unfavourably with the exquisite detail of hand smocked dresses made for Sasha dolls, and suggesting that one of the Sewing Bee challenges could be sewing clothes for 16 inch dolls - a tougher challenge than sewing for young children!

My cousin gave me two Sewing Bee inspired birthday gifts recently - four pattern weights and a small handheld travel iron for pressing tiny clothes. I made good use of both when cutting out and making the Windmills and Tulips dress for Florence.
Using the pattern weights just before
cutting the lining fabric from the stitched together patterned fabric
On Sewing Bee a recurring reminder from the judges is to make sure that pattern matches are carefully handled on seams to make sure the resulting garment looks right, it is amazing how a misaligned design in the pattern across seams really jumps out and spoils the look of an otherwise well made item. On a small scale this problem is even more acute, so I did my best with the side and back seams, the back seam is almost perfect until the very top and the sides came out okay.

Windmills on either side of the side seam

The other side seam with matching windmills

The centre back seam almost perfectly pattern matched
The finished dress worked well over a light blue t-shirt I had bought at the Chat 'n Snap in October 2019 (Dollydoodles), the shoes were made by Rosemarie Shortell. I used a wide hair ribbon for a headband. Florence is standing with the Tulips and clogs I brought back from Delft (not Amsterdam which we had visited the day before) in 2018 and the Windmill and canal scene built using Nano blocks by my younger daughter. The three pots of tulips are displayed on a decoupage box decorated and given to me in 2017 by Alison, one of my earliest school friends (whose grandmother knitted me a doll and several outfits for my 6th birthday, sadly a doll I don't have any more).
Florence in her Tulips and Windmills dress
with tulips and clogs from Delft, and the Nano blocks windmill
It was good to do a bit of doll sewing again.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Llama jacket for Maciak and Kruseling dolls

I enjoy doing miniature knitting. I've previously designed a miniature sweater/cardigan and hat for my Heather Maciak dolls Jenny and Lexie and shared the patterns on Ravelry (sweater and hat).

Recently in a Sasha doll group on Facebook, my friend Janet challenged us to a competition to knit Rosemary Shortell's Llama jacket for Sasha dolls. I commented in the group that I really wanted to scale down the pattern for my miniature dolls and didn't have the time to knit the Sasha version for the competition deadline as I was studying. During February half term in a short trip to Belgium with my family I was able knit in the car and channel tunnel journey as my cousin did the driving, so I got started on the Llama jacket (I had scaled down the pattern, using my previous spreadsheet chart for the Maciak doll sweater to get the sizing right). The jacket and hat is knitted with 2 ply yarn and 1.5mm needles.

With a short break in between courses in March, the big change to working at home and social distancing with the global pandemic raging (resulting in cancelled examinations for my younger daughter and some evenings which we have used for family movie nights), I have taken the opportunity to do some evening knitting.

Lexie looks pleased with the result (and Chloe the Kruseling has tried it on too, the sleeve cuffs need an extra row of rib for the Kruseling dolls).

Theo (wearing a Rosie Laird sweater), Louisa (wearing a Janet Myhill-Dabbs outfit) and Lexie wearing her Llama jacket and earflap hat

Lexie wearing her Llama jacket and earflap hat

Side view of Lexie in the Llama jacket and hat

Theo, Louisa and the back view of the Llama jacket

Theo, Louisa, Lexie joined by Sofia in the sweater I knitted for Lexie in 2016

Chloe the Kruseling in the Llama jacket and hat

Chloe in the Llama jacket and hat

Chloe and Sofia the Kruselings in my miniature knitting for Lexie

Lexie in the Llama outfit

Lexie in the Llama outfit

Lexie in the Llama outfit

Back view of the Llama jacket and hat, on Lexie

The pattern is available on Ravelry at

CC BY SA NC 4.0 DollMum

This pattern may be used and adapted for non-commercial purposes only without contacting DollMum. If you wish to use it for commercial purposes (e.g. if
you wish to sell what you make from the pattern) you must contact DollMum at for permission and a fee may be charged

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Christmas in Norwich

This year we had a few days away from home over Christmas as we were visiting my elder daughter in Norwich where she is currently fulfilling a singing role. We took a potted Christmas tree, some lights and decorations to use in the Air BnB we had booked for our stay. I also took the Kruselings because they are small, portable and pose-able.

Sofia was very excited about Christmas
On Christmas Eve we attended the Christmas Procession (nine lessons & carols) service during the afternoon in Norwich Cathedral. Sofia and Michael came too. After the carol service (which was wonderful - the music was glorious), the Kruselings explored the Cathedral.

Our view of the Choir area and organ just before the Christmas Procession service on Christmas Eve
Michael and Sofia in the choir stalls

Michael and Sofia walking along the choir stalls

The Nativity scene in the nave of Norwich Cathedral on Christmas Eve

Michael and Sofia peered through the railings at the Nativity Scene

Sofia and Michael with a Christmas Floral decoration and an angel in Norwich Cathedral

The Christmas Angels were much bigger than Sofia and Michael 

The Advent wreath, Christmas trees and Nativity scene in the nave of Norwich Cathedral

The advent wreath suspended from the ceiling of the Cathedral was so pretty 
The Advent wreath was decorated with lots of beautiful baubles

In the cloisters Michael and Sofia stared up at the floodlit spire of Norwich Cathedral on Christmas Eve
At the AirBnB some Christmas tree decorating had been happening. The Kruselings family had grown somewhat(!).

The original 6 Kruselings consist of 4 girls (Luna - dark hair, Sofia - brown hair, Chloe - red hair, Joy - darker skin and curly hair and Vera - blond hair) and a blond boy (Michael). In my view there are never enough boy dolls made. It worries me that toy manufacturers perpetuate the idea that dolls are only to be played with by girls, stereotyping the types and genders of dolls produced along the lines of 'only girls will play with baby or child dolls' and the only time boys will be interested in dolls is when they play with 'action man' (the complement to Barbie or Sindy dolls), therefore most dolls made tend to be girl dolls and are sold in 'pink' aisles in toy stores. Some manufacturers are starting to realise that this creates a very unrealistic view of the world and limits the story lines which children can create with their dolls (the real world is not one gender only) so are starting to add boys to their commercial collections, but there are still are not enough boy doll characters made in proportion to the range of girl doll characters.

In a previous post I explained how I turned a Luna Kruseling into a boy for the Myanmar trip by cutting his hair.

I've gone further though - I subsequently bought the following to bring my Kruselings collection to 10 dolls of 5 girls and 5 boys:

  • a second 'Sofia' (in a different outfit) and cut the hair to a shorter style and redressed and renamed the doll (Max)
  • two 'Chloe' dolls (in different outfits) and cut the hair of one to a shorter style, then redressed and renamed the doll (Joshua)
  • two 'Joy' dolls (in different outfits) and cut the hair of one to a wild shorter style, then made the boy a special outfit to commemorate a recent important sporting achievement for South African rugby and renamed the boy (Kolisi)
  • the blond 'Vera' doll in her party dress to complement the blond haired 'Michael'

Michael and Chloe decorate the doll sized Christmas tree

Joshua and Vera decorate the doll sized Christmas tree

Joshua and Vera

Max, Joshua and Vera

Zarni San, camel and Thet Khin relaxing on Christmas Eve 
Max, Joshua, Vera, Michael, Chloe and Sofia with the Christmas tree

I had bought Joy in her baseball outfit as I liked the detail, the outfit emphasises that Kruselings are very pose-able.

When the South African rugby team won the World Cup in 2019, although I'm not especially interested in rugby, I was inspired to commemorate this milestone (the third time SA have won the Championship) by making the 2019 team outfit in miniature. So I bought a second Joy (in the casual outfit with a yellow hoodie) and cut the doll's hair.

I made the shirt (and painted the badges on with fabric paint), the shorts, a pair of knitted socks and some rugby boots (Kruselings plastic shoes don't fit over the knitted socks). I bought an SA rugby ball key ring which was the perfect size for the scale. I named the doll Kolisi, which is the surname of the SA rugby team captain (Siya Kolisi), it resembles his young son more than it does him, as it aims to epitomise and celebrate how SA rugby has moved on from the days of apartheid SA when it was a whites only game.

Kolisi in his SA rugby shirt, with painted badges on his right shoulder and chest

Kolisi in his miniature SA rugby shirt, showing the painted badges on the chest and left shoulder

Close up of Kolisi's miniature SA rugby ball

Kolisi the Kruseling in his SA rugby outfit

Kolisi and Joy - the sporty Kruselings - in Norwich at Christmas
We had a lovely Christmas in Norwich (I attended both choral services on Christmas Eve and both services on Christmas Day in Norwich Cathedral, we sang with members of the Cathedral Choir at Norwich Open Christmas at lunchtime on Christmas Day and enjoyed our own dinner in the Air BnB in the evening when we finally unwrapped our gifts after 2 days of superb music).
My ever patient younger daughter setting up the Kruselings for their photo shoot in Norwich Cathedral

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Merry Christmas everyone

Melanie, Reuben and baby Nina with their live (potted) Christmas tree.

Reuben wears the Noel sweater
Melanie wears DollyDoodles Christmas top and Petrana skirt

Melanie, Nina and Reuben with the camel from the East and their Christmas tree
Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Dubai with the Kruselings

They have come along like buses - 2 work trips overseas in close succession (first time that has happened for me) and Kruselings (an expanding family).

My two Myanmar inspired Kruselings are not the only ones. Michael and Sofia decided to come with me on a very short work trip to Dubai in early December when I presented at an education conference at a smart hotel close to the International airport in Dubai.

In my hotel room was a bowl of roses. Sofia was glad because her t-shirt says 'Stop & smell the roses'.
Michael and Sofia with the roses in the hotel room
On the second morning, Michael and Sofia discovered it had rained during the night! However the sky was clearing and by the afternoon it was warm and sunny again - winter in Dubai is considerably warmer than winter in England, though it wasn't unbearably hot when I was outdoors.

Rain in Dubai!
Michael and Sofia look out at the rain drenched pool garden in Dubai
When the conference finished later that day many of those attending had an excursion to the Dubai Global Village, via open topped buses. I took Sofia and Michael with me in the camera bag as I suspected there would be a photo opportunity for them.

The journey took an hour. It was fascinating to see the amount of construction work which is going on as Dubai, a very young city, as it continues to grow.

Dubai buildings in the distance

Construction work

Dubai buildings all vying to be the tallest and smartest

The tallest building in the world - the Burj Khalifa
The city is built on the edge of the desert on the shores of the Persian gulf.

Dubai mosque in the desert

Very manicured parks filled with palm trees between motorway junctions in Dubai

The Global Village is a giant theme park in the Dubai desert, with large buildings representing many countries and regions around the world - it is like a large movie set, with heritage village, showgrounds and a fairground. It is open for 6 months of the year, in the winter, because it would be too hot in the summer.

First sight of the Dubai Global Village

In the Dubai Global Village

World destinations sign post

The heritage village section showed what homes were like before the small pearl fishing village expanded when oil was discovered in the 1960s.

Inside a typical Dubai home pre 1970s

Wardrobe of colourful clothes in the traditional Dubai house

A doll used to show the baby in its crib, a sewing machine and a chest in the traditional Dubai house
The veranda of the traditional Dubai house - some seating is cushions on the floor

A woman was serving chai (tea) or coffee in little paper cups to anyone who wanted it as she sat and crocheted in the veranda of the house, she gave me permission to take her photo as she did her crochet (once she had drawn her veil over her head) but I've decided not to share the photo online.

The outside of the traditional Dubai house

Traditional nomad tent houses, with women working on outdoor weaving looms
One of the shows was a display of Arabian dance skill called 'Yula' - tossing rifles in the air in a dance.

'Yula' at the Dubai Global Village
Buildings from the around the world were represented side by side. In each of the country areas (pavilions) there were markets setting souvenirs and food of those countries and regions.

The Burj Khalifa replica
Russia and USA buildings side by side at the Dubai Global Village

Westminster representing the UK and the leaning tower of Pisa representing Italy

Dusk at the Dubai Global Village
Fire Fountain lake (fountains not in play at that point)
The very grand entrance to the Iran pavilion

On the side of the India building was a display of vivid fabric and dolls/puppets

The India dolls/puppets

Closer view of some of the India dolls/puppets

Thailand pavilion

The Gallopers/Carousel at the fairground with Arabian horses
There was a sign about the Arabian horses on the Gallopers/Carousel

Dubai Global Village mosque

The fairground in the distance at dusk

The America's pavilion

The United Arab Emirates pavilion at night

At the entrance to the Europe pavilion were some Irish dancers...

...and a Scottish piper at the Europe pavilion

Fire Fountain lake reflecting all the lights from the buildings

Michael and Sofia looking towards the Burj Khalifa and Sydney opera house in the distance

The lights on the buildings were changing colour all the time

Sofia and Michael at Dubal Global Village
On the way back to the hotel we went past the world's most luxurious hotel - the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.

The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah at night

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah at night, side view (it is shaped like a giant sailboat sail)

Back at the hotel Sofia and Michael admired the Christmas decorations in the large atrium at the centre of the hotel. A snow scene with polar bears, reindeer and snowmen in the heart of an Arabian hotel.

The giant Christmas tree under the dome in the atrium

The snow village in the atrium

The snow village in the atrium - earlier the tables were thronged with families having their dinner

The atrium ceiling was decorated with frescos

The reindeer and snowman in the snow village

A little Christmas tree with a sprite or fairy

The sprite/fairy

Examples of wedding cake designs in a display cabinet in the hotel atrium
Michael and Sofia peer down at the atrium decorated for Christmas

Michael and Sofia in the hotel atrium
At the airport in the early hours of the morning (my flight left at 3:10am) Michael and Sofia found a camel who decided he wanted to come home with us.

The Dubai camel who bravely travelled to rainy England in my hand luggage
Over a week later, back at home, Sasha baby Nina was introduced to the new member of the family by Sofia and Michael. Nina was wearing the Christmas outfit we won in the SCW raffle this year.

Michael, Nina and Sofia meet the camel from Dubai

Nina and Sofia greet the camel

Michael, Nina, camel and Sofia

A lovely close up of baby Nina, with Michael and the camel (I was experimenting with my macro lens)

Michael, Nina, camel and Sofia with the Advent calendar - this camel has travelled far like the camels in the calendar

A few days earlier camel posed with our SCW charity course doll in memory of my brother

Our SCW charity doll and camel with poinsettia and Table Mountain

It was fascinating visiting Myanmar and Dubai for work reasons and I'm glad I was able to bring back doll related souvenirs from each place.