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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Florence in her spring outfit

I've been knitting and sewing recently for Florence.  A couple of weeks ago my local wool shop yielded the wool which was used by Petrana for those socks I won (Wendy Happy 2511 Saggitarius) and I downloaded the raglan cardigan pattern from Ravelry (by Lauri Bolland).  The cardigan took a week of evenings to make - it is knitted from the neck down, with no seams up the arms or down the sides and I really like the pattern - it works very well.  The wool has an eventual repeat amongst the shades, but having knitting the body and picking up the stitches for knitting the sleeves in the round I realised that the repeat would need to be adjusted by shortening the different shades of wool at various points because there weren't as many stitches in a sleeve as across the body.  So ultimately this was the only sewing I had to do - sewing in the restarted threads.  My daughters were in raptures about the cardigan - the wool is lovely and silky soft to knit and the pattern and colours are amazing.  I have knitted an 'Alice' band for her hair to match the cardigan.

At the weekend I cut out the pattern pieces for sewing my first Sasha dress.  This was from 'Grandmas Patterns for Sasha - 3 pretty dresses' and I chose the drop waist dress with a full gathered skirt.  The material was a remnant I had found some months ago at John Lewis (I love rummaging through the remnants box) and is a lovely fine flower print, perfect scale for dolls clothes.  At the same time I cut out another dress from the same set of patterns for my Palitoy Susie - her body size is very similar in slimness to Sasha though her upper arms are a little wider.  I've finished the dress for Florence first and this evening she modelled her new clothes in the garden with the spring flowers.  She is wearing new black boots made by Lisa Hartley (who re-rooted Susie's hair 3 years ago).

Florence enjoying the evening Spring sunshine

Florence wearing her new dress, cardigan and hair band

Florence in her new spring dress

Look how the pattern matches on my cardigan

I must go and sew for Susie - she needs her spring dress.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Felt doll pattern review

Before Christmas my younger daughter and I were in Hobbycraft, looking for a Christmas gift for her friend.  We came across some felt doll kits, and decided to buy one for her friend.  During February we ventured back (always dangerous - I could buy loads of things in there if money and time to make things allowed) and discovered that the felt dolls were in the sale - for £2.99 each!  Bargain.  My daughter chose one and brought it home.  She made a very good start, with me helping along the way with assembling the doll and showing her how to do back stitch and blanket stitch, then she was ill for a few days (high temp) and then we had a couple of busy weekends, so it was only Saturday afternoon, when I'd finished cleaning the house, that she decided it was time to complete the doll.  She had done the majority of the doll sewing by then, and I showed her how to stuff it, which resulted in some pulled stitches, so she sewed the clothes while I finished stuffing the doll.

Sweet felt doll kit and the completed doll
 The felt pieces come with stitching holes ready punched.  The thread is quite thick, more like thin chord than sewing cotton, but for a beginner sewer this is a good option as it makes the thread easy to see.  The plastic needle supplied just about stood up to the job (though could not be used for putting cotton through the eye beads).  Stuffing the doll needs to be done with care otherwise burst seams can be the result, and at one point I had to use a proper metal needle to restitch a seam to make different holes because the original holes burst around the stuffing opening.  The backside of the doll is filled with small beads to add a bit of weight for sitting, however on Sunday I had to use cotton thread to stitch an additional row inside the original stitches as the beads were able to escape between the stitches.  My daughter had stitched fairly evenly and firmly, so it wasn't because the stitches were too loose.

The little dress ties at the back with a neck tie and a waist tie, so the skirt doesn't quite meet at the back, however for a simple dress it is quite effective and very simple to stitch, and while she was sewing the skirt to the bib for the dress she exclaimed that she was having a lot of fun and said now she knew I how made dolls clothes!  So this kit was manageable for an average 8 year old, with some help from an experienced sewer and although it has some minor deficiencies in design, I recommend it as a good introduction to sewing a complete article for a child who has tried using a needle before and completed a seam.

She was very proud to take the doll to a local event the same night to show to friends, to church the next day and to Mothering Sunday lunch at a local pub.  She has a kit of a soft toy pony to sew which she received for her birthday and a knitting kit, so I'm looking forward to weekends and Easter holidays when I can spend time helping and teaching her.

My daughter's felt doll which she stitched herself

Monday, 19 March 2012

Mabel's Angel top

The first item I've made from Venus Dodge's 'The Dolls Dressmaker' is the knitted Angel top for my baby Sasha (Mabel).  According to the photo in the book it should have come out quite a bit longer than it did - but the pattern in the book said only 20 rows after the picot edge before the yoke and that is what I did.  However it goes well with the knitted knickers I made some months ago, and the little socks I made recently.  I think when I make it again in a different colour I shall make it longer into a proper little dress, I'm not sure I'll knit the leggings to go with it.

Mabel in her Angel top, knickers and socks with her favourite friend

Mabel on Mothering Sunday in her knitted clothes

Little Mabel is a waif, her fringe has been trimmed in the past and her limbs a little loose, but she is a delight and suits white very well.  I found some fabric on Saturday which will make a perfect little Easter dress for her, I've got several doll sewing projects planned for the coming weeks, and am really pleased that I've now got my sewing room space back, as we've finished decorating our bedroom (walls, floor, new built in wardrobe designed and made by my husband, but so far lacking sliding doors which will come later, and floor to ceiling bookcase for a large part of our library of books).  The best part for my hobbies is that because now we have ample wardrobe space for our clothes, I've been able to use my mother's chest of drawers and bureau drawers in our room for storing all my fabric collection and to have it in easy, colour coded reach - such a pleasure.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Lucky Maciak dolls

I've been very lucky recently, first winning the socks for my Sasha dolls and then a couple of weeks ago I was one of 5 winners of a private Yahoo group competition.  I was able to choose an outfit from a collection of 20 prototype outfits made personally by Rosemarie Ionker, who has designed many wonderful outfits for dolls and has written several books on the subject (I've got her book 'Fashions for small dolls').  Rosemarie had visited Heather Maciak, who designed and made the Jenny and Lexie 8" dolls, and gave her the outfits as a gift for our Yahoo group to use for competition prizes.  The theme for this competition was Valentine's day, and I sent in the photo below of Lexie and Jenny having a tea party after having fun decorating the wall with Valentine stickers.  Heather's own Jenny and Lexie conducted the draw out of a basket (they had sticky pads on their hands for the purpose) and I was thrilled to be a winner.

Lexie and Jenny's Valentine tea party
It was very difficult choosing an outfit from the wonderful array of delightful dresses and playsuits.  My daughters and Jenny and Lexie all had a viewpoint.  I was really tempted by some of the miniature smocked dresses and pinafores, but also loved the outfit we ended up choosing.

Yesterday the prize arrived in the post all the way from Canada just in time for Mothering Sunday today.  Heather's note to me explained that she had noticed that the dress and hat were a little soiled, but gentle hand washing would remove any dirt, so I carefully washed the dress and hat in a mild solution of clothes washing powder, followed by the little jacket (just in case the colour ran, which it didn't).  I laid them out on a towel near the radiator and by the evening they were dry.  I trimmed off a couple of stray threads and stitched a small section of the hemline which was falling (possibly from having been washed).  My younger daughter wanted Jenny to wear the outfit first, but I decided it had to be Lexie (because in the photo gallery I chose from it had been modelled by Jenny).

Heather's fun drawing on the envelope, and her note

This morning my daughters woke me with Mothering Sunday cards (in England we always celebrate this during Lent, which is the traditional time for this celebration of mothers day), cereal and tea, so once I'd had breakfast my younger girl helped me put Lexie in the outfit.  Tiny buttons are always difficult to fasten, but we managed it.  This evening I put Lexie on my new bedroom bookcase with the Mothering Sunday cards in front of the LM Montgomery books for some photos.  Somehow she looked very serious until I brought her best friend into the photos, then her cheekiness returned.

Lexie looks serious in the Sailor outfit
Lexie in the new outfit with the Mothering Sunday cards made by my daughters
Jenny and Lexie with my Mothering Sunday cards
A big thank you to Rosemary Ionker for this little dress, jacket and hat and to Heather Maciak for sending it to me.  I've been having a good look at 'Fashions for small dolls' today trying to decide which of the dresses to make and sorting through all my fine patterned print fabric scraps which I've collected over the years. Time to get sewing now that our bedroom is complete and I've got my sewing room back again!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

First photo of my Triang house

The first photo of my Triang house, taken when I was 3 1/2 (with white band in my hair).

Not a great photo (too dark) but it does show the wallpaper my grandfather used, and the grand piano (sadly lost).

Two delighted little girls get to know the Triang house

Saturday, 3 March 2012

My triang dollshouse

My husband is busy scanning my late mother's large collection of slides which we brought to England at the beginning of last year. He uses his laptop and a very good nikon slide scanner so can sit watching tv while doing this task. I have been spotting some gems from my early childhood and this evening the first photo of my Triang house appeared on the screen. It must have been taken just after my grandfather presented it to us because it shows our evident delight. I do actually remember this, even though I was only 3 1/2 years old at the time. I can clearly recall watching him rebuild the house in my dad's garage workshop when I peered through the window. He had brought it overseas to us flat-packed in his suitcase, having taken it apart carefully - so we inherited mum's childhood toy 6,000 miles from where she played with it.

I realise on looking at my other posts of this house that the photos I've taken are not that great, my photography skills have improved since I started this blog, so I need to take some better ones.

I will publish the slide photo as soon as I can on the blog (it is still on the laptop, to be backed up later tonight). It shows the grand piano which was later lost or broken by two small girls (my sister was not quite 2 when we got the house) and some of the doll family we had then. Just one photo but a great little record of a special gift which helped to set me on course for a lifetime hobby.