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Saturday, 29 December 2012

Welcome Laura

The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed in my previous post that there was some red hair and blue velvet in the right of the photo of all the Sasha family and their Secret Santa gifts.

Ever since attending the Sasha Doll Festival in June 2012, my younger daughter has longed for a red-headed Sasha girl.  However finding one is hard because not so many of these lovely girls were made compared to the blond and brunette girls.  I watched some come and go on ebay for more than I could afford, looked longingly at several on Shelly's site which were also well out of my price range (aren't those early no philtrum red head girls absolutely stunning) and saw a couple I would have liked go very quickly from Shelly's site as they were snapped up by other lucky people.  However one girl stayed there for a while and her problem was probably the reason why.  I showed her photo to my younger daughter and explained the problem, but despite this my little girl was keen on her and kept asking to be shown her picture on Shelly's site.  Eventually I contacted Shelly and asked more about the problem (she sent me a photo) and how to hopefully cure it, made an offer which was accepted and the beautiful 80s red head with glossy hair arrived a day after being shipped.
Shelly's photo of the 80s red head girl, redressed

Her problem?  She had been redressed in a beautiful Russian coat, hat and boot outfit made from fluffy fur fabric, the seams of which had unfortunately stained her legs, tops of her arms and a little of her torso with almost black marks.  Baby wipes had not removed the stains which had soaked into the vinyl however Shelly was certain that daily doses of Oxy10 and patience would remove the stains eventually.  The active ingredient in Oxy10 spot treatment is Benzoyl Peroxide, however as I discovered, this product is no longer for sale over the counter in any UK pharmacy (unless you have a prescription).  Other spot treatments for skin problems do not contain this all important ingredient, so although I tried Clearasil for several days, it didn't appear to make much difference.  I found a UK-based seller on eBay who sent me a small tube of Oxy10 and I started twice daily treatment as it was only a few days before Christmas by this time.  After a couple of days I compared the photo Shelly had sent me with progress and could just start to see a small fading of the intensity of the stains and no damage to the vinyl which was very encouraging, so the treatment continued.
Shelly's photo of the stains

I washed the Russian outfit carefully and lots of dye came out in the water, eventually after several rinses the water ran clear, so hopefully all the potential to stain again has been removed.  The red head was originally an 80s white dress girl, but none of her original outfit had come with her.  I wanted to make a new dress for her, and will make a white dress of her own in due course, however I had long planned a blue velvet and satin dress for my younger daughter for Christmas and thought a matching outfit for the Sasha doll would be a good gift. 

Only a few days before Christmas I cut out the fabric for the child sized dress (I was sewing other gifts before this), followed by adapting a pattern and cutting out fabric for the doll dress.  Why do I always seem to do 11th hour sewing for Christmas gifts?!!  The child dress was complete 2 days before Christmas, and the Sasha doll dress completed at 2:45 am on Christmas morning (Santa arrived as I sewed on press studs!)

On Christmas morning I gave my daughter the dress to wear to church and she was thrilled with it.  The sleeveless bodice is blue satin (lined with the same fabric) with a long skirt of blue velvet, the outfit is completed with a long sleeved bolero of blue velvet, tied at the front.  My sewing machine hated the blue velvet but my daughter loves it.  During the afternoon, after she had opened several other presents (we spread gift opening through the day rather than doing it all in a rush at once), I gave her the exciting box to open and her reaction was perfect - she immediately hugged her new doll and wouldn't put her down.  I showed her the work in progress on stain removal and explained that brushing her hair must be done gently and only occasionally (she wants to keep it glossy and soft). 

After reading through the 'baby names book', she decided that 'Laura' will be the name of her new Sasha doll.
Opening the box

Oh wow! Look her outfit matches mine.

My little girl with her Sasha 'Laura' on Christmas day

Secret Santa swap gifts received

Having blogged about the gifts I sent to New Zealand, this blog post explains what I received.

I had sent Lorraine the following message for my Secret Santa:

My Sasha family have consulted with each other and decided that as baby Mabel didn't get a gift last Christmas she should have first choice, though my Gregor sport Nicholas James would love a cricket jersey as he wants to learn cricket.  Mabel would like a sleepsuit in girl colours (not velour) with matching hat and she would also like some plain tights, either white or pale pink or red.  A pair of hiking boots would also be welcomed by the bigger Sashas who say they will take it in turns to go for walks.

They had wished for walking boots, because as any doll collector will know, you can never have enough pairs of shoes, and this is something I haven't attempted to make yet myself. 

Towards the end of November a parcel arrived from the USA.  It was in a clear plastic bag because unfortunately it had got damp in transit (I half wondered if Hurricane Sandy had anything to do with this) and had come apart so Royal Mail had done their best to get it to me intact, however I don't think anything was missing, though some of the little packages had started to come undone.  Fortunately nothing inside them was damaged and I decided I would keep the parcels to open on Christmas day.  In the event they were the last thing we opened from under the tree on the 25th December, which was a lovely way to end the day, with all the Sasha family present.

This is what we received:

  • a gift for Mabel - a lovely sleep suit with matching hat which she changed into straight away, and she was lucky enough to have her own fluffy Christmas stocking with some toys inside it too
Baby Mabel with her wonderful gifts

  • a gift for Nicholas James - a pair of black lace up walking boots and a Christmas t-shirt
Nicholas James's Christmas t-shirt, and the game

  • a gift for Miranda - a pair of dark red lace up walking boots and a Christmas t-shirt - this means they can go hiking together!
Miranda's Christmas t-shirt

  • a miniature version of Friends of Sasha
Friends of Sasha

  • A velcro ball and bat game for Miranda, Florence and Nicholas James (being held in the photo below by NJ and Florence)
Miranda, Mabel, NJ and Florence with their Secret Santa gifts
Miranda and NJ didn't try their new t-shirts and boots on straight away for these photos which unfortunately I took in rather a hurry because we were about to go away for a couple of days and I was meant to be packing.  Now we are home again I'll get them changed into their new Christmas clothes while we're still in the 12 days.
Red boots and black boots for hiking

The name and address on the parcel showed that our Secret Santa was Dorisanne Osborn - thank you for our lovely gifts Dorisanne, we hope you received something just as good as you sent to us.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Secret Santa Swap gifts

I participated in Lorraine's Secret Santa Swap again this year and was sent the following message at the beginning of November:

Dear Secret Santa,
Christmas again - isn't it fun?!
 May I wish for three of the following gifts, please...
1.  Olympic 2012 souvenirs for Sasha or Gregor.
2.  Nightwear in lightweight Christmas fabric (for summer wear!) for Sasha, Gregor, toddler or baby.
3.  Any sewn clothes (I don't like to sew!) for any of the family...
4.  Surprises!  (I love lollies!)
5.  Toys for Sasha baby...
Thank you for reading this, Santa!

I already had some lightweight Christmas fabric, so did a repeat of the A-line dress nightdress I had made for the Sasha Festival Children's Fund Auction, and I made some matching knickers. I also made a Christmas stocking from this fabric and put in a candy cane and chocolate lolly.
Secret Santa gift 2012 - for Erica

During August I had made some union flag table napkins as a gift, and had some fabric leftover, enough to make a dress, matching knickers and headband.  I chose to make the pleated skirt version of the dress I had sewn earlier in the year for Florence, and with the sailor collar.  My children immediately demanded that I make the exact dress again in that fabric as they loved it so much, I think I might have enough fabric to do this. 
Front view of the dresses for Erica
Back view of the dresses for Erica

Showing the matching knickers

I searched eBay for some doll sized Olympic souvenirs - a miniature metal badge and some postage stamps (I believe Erica collects stamps).

Olympic souvenirs

Florence and Miranda were happy to model the outfits for my photos, then I stitched the outfits to card mounts for posting to New Zealand.
Christmas nightdress and knickers
British Olympic inspired dress, knickers and headband
Secret Santa gift 2012 - for Erica

About a week or so after posting the package, Lorraine forwarded the following message to me:

To my Secret Santa and family -
I wish that you had been here to see the excitement when your parcel arrived!  You could not know that I had Jacqui, a waif waiting for a wig and new outfit... and there were *two* stunning outfits, *and* the lovely pin and stamps as well as the Christmas goodies!  Your sewing is exquisite, and I love the fabric and trim - so appropriate!  Even more so, as we (almost locally) have a paralympic gold medallist!!  Wonderful surprises from our Secret Santa - thank you so very much!  You couldn't have pleased us more! (especially Jacqui!!, who is now posing prettily in her lovely Union Jack outfit, and pretending that she knew about it all along!!).
Our best wishes for your own Christmas - I hope that it will be as happy as you have made ours!
Erica and the Sashas

Next, I will blog about the wonderful gifts I received.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dress for Hattie

This is another 'catch up' post - recent months have been unbelievably busy, so I've had little time for photo editing and my blog.

In August I made a dress for Dee's Hattie Bonham Carter to thank her for the two hats we received during and after the Sasha Festival.  I wanted to make a dress which captured some of the spirit of Helena Bonham Carter's dress sense/style so had some fun looking for pictures of her and rooting through my fabric selection.  I settled for black velvet, shimmery blue green and black lace!

Florence modelled the dress for a photo on the note which my crew wrote for Hattie:

Dear Hattie and Dee,
Thank you for the lovely hats, we really like them.  We thought you might like an outfit inspired by Helena Bonham-Carter made by our mum.  Florence is modelling it in the photos and insisted on wearing the Olympic shoes, because Helena often wears unusual shoes with her clothes.  But we think you’ll wear the outfit with more attitude than Florence, who looks a bit serious (she was trying her best to keep still so the pictures wouldn’t blur!)
We don’t think mum got the gathers right on the skirt, the fabric was a bit tricky to work with, and the gloves were a challenge, but we hope you like your Hattie Bonham Carter outfit all the same.
Hope to meet up with you soon.
Florence and Miranda

I'm pleased that Hattie was happy with her new dress and matching hairband.

Florence models the dress
(alongside our Olympic Flame rose)
close up of a glove and the lace on the skirt

hair band, and lace on velvet bodice
back view

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Belated paralympic report

In August and September we were very lucky to spend 3 wonderful days at the London 2012 paralympic games.  On the third day when we visited the main athletics stadium for the second time, we took Nicholas James and Florence in their Sasha Festival outfits.  We had an amazing morning, and were lucky enough to watch Richard Whitehead win his 200m race - the start was just below us - and we watched him receive his Gold medal which was the icing on the cake (the stadium was packed and everyone was on their feet waving flags and singing the national anthem).
putting on NJ's shoes
Florence and Nicholas James wait for the games to begin
waving the flag for our athletes
Florence and Nicholas James wave the flag for Richard Whitehead
Richard Whitehead starts the 200m
Richard Whitehead receives his Gold medal, what a moment
Florence and Nicholas James cheer and sing with the crowd for Richard

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Guernsey holiday for Mabel

After the Olympics we went to Guernsey for a week to visit my Godparents.  I've been there many times since I was nine and absolutely love the island.  My younger daughter surprised me by deciding that baby Mabel had to be the doll to accompany us and this meant taking her basket carry cot and her small collection of clothes as well.  She travelled in my daughter's Olympic drawstring bag hand luggage (there is no way I would have allowed her in the aeroplane hold) along with the cloth pony and a bear my girl dressed in a home made Brownie outfit last year when Brownies had an outing to the Build a Bear shop (each child got the basic bear, we only had to pay £6 and during their subsequent Brownie meetings they made a Brownie outfit out of yellow and brown felt rather than buying clothes).

Mabel and the soft toys spent most of their holiday upstairs in the bedroom during the week, however one afternoon Mabel came out to the garden and posed with my Godmother's plants.
Mabel and her teddy in Guernsey

I must admit that if we had taken one of the other dolls it is likely he or she would have come on a cliff walk with us, or visited Sark (where we saw Carl Hester's Golden postbox).  Mabel is not quite so active though and nor did she have suitable clothes for such outings.  Of course my small Maciak and Plusczok dolls would have loved the Guernsey holiday and were small enough to pack, but we had to travel light (15kg luggage limit).

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Olympic Garden Volleyball

Ever since we went to see Olympic Volleyball on 31st July, Nicholas James (my sporty Gregor) has been clamouring for a volleyball game.  So yesterday the girls and I obliged.  We didn't have enough sports wear for 2 teams of 6 for the team volleyball we had seen, so went for 2 teams of 2, more like beach volleyball, but played on grass.  So it was Florence and Jakob playing Nicholas James and Miranda, with a great supportive crowd.

girls helping the dolls get ready for volleyball
Jakob does the first serve
while Florence gets ready to receive the ball back over the net
The Aussie girls sit on deck chairs with a tea party to watch
Miranda all ready to hit the ball
Jakob serves again
Nicholas James has a chance to serve
Florence serves
Miranda and Nicholas James do a great block near the net
Harriet, Peter and Samantha provide music to get the crowd in the mood
Volleyball spectators
Volleyball game in full swing
Nicholas James serves...
the ball comes flying over the net
Jakob hits it back again
the ball flies over the net again
Miranda gets ready to hit it back
and it goes back to the other side
In the end Jakob and Florence narrowly won the game,
so they got the medals but Miranda and Nicholas James got the cakes!
The crowd cheers the great Olympic Volleyball players on a bright summer's day!