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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy Christmas tide, welcome Aussie girls and best wishes for 2010

I've had little time for blogging in the past 2 weeks, as every night before Christmas Day I've been sewing more Barbie clothes and another ice skating outfit for my cousin's daughter's third Gotz doll she acquired for her birthday some months ago.  Christmas Eve was spent frantically wrapping my own two daughter's presents whilst fighting off extreme tiredness, and I wasn't able to actually finish the skating outfit until the evening of Christmas Day!

Christmas afternoon my daughters eventually unwrapped their new Austalian Girl dolls, the first to arrive in England I believe.  We always spread presents out over the day, and had gone to Church in the morning, so the large boxes waited beneath the tree until after we'd had Christmas dinner, been for a walk with the dog and eaten Christmas pudding!  It prolongs the excitement to spread the presents over the day.  Welcome Belle and Matilda - my girls are happy to have you.  My younger daughter also got two Gotz deck chairs, a swimming costume and a paddling pool with accessories, so these were used to make the new girls from Australia feel at home despite the fact we still had the previous Monday's snow on the ground outside.

Peter is transfixed by Matilda's beautiful hair and forgets to tie his shoe laces!

Anna and Belle get to know each other 'Aussie style' despite snow on the ground outside

Harriet and Samantha showing off their new Kimonos from Hong Kong

Jayne models Lacey's new skating dress

On Boxing day we took the handmade Barbie clothes etc amongst other presents to my cousin's house and later that afternoon had the pleasure of watching them being unwrapped.  The long blue dress and matching felt handbag was a definite hit and went on one of her many Barbies straight away.  Prince Charming who had arrived for her on Christmas day was given some casual clothes (Bermuda shorts and Tshirt) and there were another couple of casual sets for her Barbies (she has about 10) too.

My daughter's Barbie showing off the handmade outfits just before they were wrapped

Prince Charming's casual outfit
She was absolutely delighted with the new skating dress, silver skates, silver shoes for off the ice and knitted bag I had found at a sale and changed Lacey into the dress immediately.  We had taken ALL our Gotz girls and boy, my girls insisted that even my Anna doll had to be there, so we ended up with 8 Gotz dolls and 2 Australian Girl dolls whilst with my cousin!  The men in the household were remarkably understanding.

The whole line up l-r: Sarah*, Jayne, Mia*, Matilda, Peter, Belle, Harriet, Samantha, Lacey* and Anna

Sarah*, Jayne, Mia*, Matilda and Peter

Belle, Harriet, Samantha, Lacey* and Anna

* Sarah, Mia and Lacey are my cousin's daughter's dolls
And now it is New Year's Eve, we are watching DVDs, eating popcorn and lazing at home whilst waiting for midnight, so I'm taking the opportunity to blog at the same time to wish every one a very happy continued Christmas tide (not over until the 5th January) and peaceful and prosperous 2010.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Barbie clothes for Christmas

It has been another very busy week, especially with the lead up to Christmas: the children and myself involved in seasonal music making and the great card signing exercise before the postal deadline. However at last I have been able to return to the sewing machine for the next part of the countdown - to make Barbie doll clothes for my younger daughter's friend.

A few weeks ago I bought Burda pattern 8576, which features a variety of different outfits for Barbies and Ken dolls. On Wednesday evening I cut out most of the pieces and ironed out the folds.

I made a start on the long dress on Thursday night, but then found that despite cutting to the pattern, the doll's backside was too big to allow the dress to meet properly at the back! This was very frustrating as I had done quite a lot to the dress but was also struggling with the material, which is very slippery and would slide sideways in the sewing machine. So I recut the dress to allow for an additional seam allowance (these had been included in the pattern, so don't know why it didn't work first time, maybe it was meant to be for stretch material.)

The simple evening dress which took so long to make

Ironing the dress was also tricky once I had sewn the back seam, as it needed a cool iron for the fabric, but I also needed to get the centre front crease out. I ended up rolling up a tube of white felt and stuffing it up the dress, then ironing it bit by bit. This worked well. The dress is simple, it has a slit up the back of the skirt, a slit at the back for the fastening (I used a press stud, not horrible velcro as suggested) and a ribbon looped through the front top which pulls the top of the dress to a simple gather, tying the ribbon behind the neck. I sewed the ribbon in place at the centre front and hid the stitching with a decoration.

The dress seemed to take ages to make, but was worth the effort (my elder girl saw it and was impressed).

The jeans took about 30 minutes to make from cutting to finishing - they were incredibly quick, simple and effective to make. They have fold up bottoms, turning them into crop jeans.

The little top took a bit longer than the jeans. I cut two identical pieces of the material, sewed them together around the side and bottom edges then turned them the right side out, and sewed down the top folded over to the back. I trimmed it with green ribbon which doubled up as the shoulder straps which attach at the back. This little top is also fastened with a press stud.

The jeans and top

I shall be making these outfits again for my cousin's daughter.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Rag dolls

I spent a fair bit of last weekend cleaning and tidying the house as it had got in a real state recently.  Whilst my elder daughter was out at a choir rehearsal I finished off the job of tidying up that she had started in her bedroom, and took the opportunity to photograph her rag dolls and the patchwork cushion I had made for her some time ago. 
Meet Brownie Guide, Trudie, Betty, Charlotte, Thomas and Madeleine the rag doll.
Brownie Guide, Trudy and Betty
The Brownie was knitted by a colleague of mine for her daughter some years ago, but was passed to my elder girl when she became a Brownie Guide.  My step mother brought Trudy to us - she is a South African rag doll and her clothes are made from denim trimmed with the Moravian blue and white indigo print cloth which was made into dresses by English missionaries in the 19th century for Xhosa women to wear -  it is called "Chwe-Chwe" (shweshwe) and was absorbed into Xhosa culture in time.  Trudy's shirt is a print of the patterns found on traditional mud huts in the Eastern Cape.  Betty was a 'guess the name of the doll' prize for my girls at a church fete a couple of years ago (they guessed Elizabeth, it was the closest guess).
Charlotte and Thomas
Charlotte is a Zapf creations doll (West Germany), she is soft bodied and quite chunky compared to the Gotz girls, though she is about the same height.  She is a toddler doll.  She was given to my elder daughter when aged 3 for Christmas and is wearing a cardigan I knitted for her which matched one her owner possessed.  Thomas is a baby doll from John Lewis which was given to my big girl just before her little sister was born nearly 6 years ago.
Madeleine the rag doll
We love Bagpuss, and I made this Madeleine for my big girl when she was 2 1/2.  I don't think she had seen Bagpuss though at the time, the doll acquired the name later.  Madeleine is made from a pattern I cut out of the newspaper in 1975.  In fact I was lucky enough to have two copies of the paper, which meant that when I finally made up the doll from the pattern more than 30 years later, I was able to cut out the pattern without having to trace it.
The doll in the newspaper pattern
The uncut version of the pattern
The cut version of the pattern
I made the cushion cover from hexagonal patchwork pieces of cloth that was left over from various dresses - cloth from the rag bag.  I had made my daughter a log cabin patterned duvet cover from the same selection of material, and it is still a favourite, more than 10 years later.

Brownie, Trudy, Betty, Charlotte, Thomas and Madeleine
sit on the hexagonal patchwork cushion