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Thursday, 31 December 2020

Betsy's New Year's Eve party

Betsy (my only Schoenhut doll) decided to send 2020 out the door with a party to cheer everyone up. 

She invited her Sasha and Gregor friends and prepared the food. Everyone dressed up for the party. Betsy provided some games to keep her younger friends occupied.

Betsy dressed in tartan for New Year's Eve

Betsy with her party food

"Welcome to my party, get yourselves a drink, play games"

Reuben, Florence and Melanie found the drinks table 

There was a choice of orange juice or water in a jug

The games corner was busy

Miranda was playing a game with Louisa, with Clemence bear nearby

Nicholas James and Timothy were explaining to Edmund how to spin tops

Trendon Elliott and Laura were eyeing the cakes, sandwiches and other food

Reuben didn't want to be the first person to take food from the table

Betsy wanted everyone to have a good time

There was plenty of food

"Help yourself" said Betsy to Reuben

Betsy encouraged Reuben and Trendon Elliott to make a start on the food and went to talk to Laura, Florence and Melanie

"Have a sandwich" said Betsy to the girls

Trendon Elliott, Reuben, Laura, Melanie and Florence started tucking into the party food

"Sandwiches anyone?" Betsy asked Miranda and Louisa

At the word "Cake" the games players forgot to play and looked eagerly at Betsy with her plate

Edmund was keen have a choc chip muffin. "Thank you Betsy for a lovely party" he said.

2020 has been a difficult and different year for many of us as we cope with the ongoing global pandemic. I haven't had much time for the dolls because of my full-time job (working at home) and studying, so Lorraine's prompt in the Schoenhut doll group to post something for a New Year's Eve party was the spur and our last chance to do something doll related in 2020. It also gave me one of the first opportunities to use our new pan and tilt camera head on a new tripod which we bought as an early all family Christmas gift for ourselves (we needed to use it before Christmas for recording our street organ for some YouTube videos). It now means it is much easier to switch from landscape to portrait photos in doll photo shoots.

We hope you all have a healthy and happy 2021. 

Monday, 28 December 2020

Portable sewing kits for Christmas

In my study break since the end of September I've been in a sewing spree. Once the Advent Calendar and all its contents were complete, I made a couple of sewing accessory storage bags for my elder daughter as a Christmas gift. 

I had bought a fat quarter of Lewis & Irene fabric with dogs on it (she loves dogs) and decided that a useful gift would be a bag which she could use for storing and carrying her sewing/embroidery projects (she had started making some badges with embroidery thread on canvas). I bought a small plastic storage box for embroidery threads, an embroidery thread winder, some embroidery hoops, needles and small scissors. I designed the bag to be able to hold projects in progress on the one side (where I placed the embroidery hoops in two large pockets), then on the other side I made a deep pocket for the thread box which had shallow pockets in the dog fabric for storing things like packets of needles, a pocket for holding the thread winder, a needle case with felt flaps for the needles and a detachable case for holding the embroidery scissors. This little scissors case has felt stitched into the inside of the tip for protecting the scissor points and can clip onto a strap in the bag.

The embroidery project storage bag opened out

The embroidery project storage bag opened out, with the thread winder in its pocket

The embroidery project storage bag with the needle case flapped open

The embroidery thread storage box emerging from its pocket

The embroidery hoops emerging from the project storage pockets

The embroidery storage bag closed before the button flaps were fastened

The embroidery storage bag closed with the button flaps and snap fastenings closed

I subsequently decided that a sewing roll for holding all her accessories would be a useful gift so I found a fat quarter of sewing inspired fabric (another Lewis & Irene design), searched for as many different examples of portable fabric sewing kits as possible for design and layout inspiration then started sketching out layouts and made a list of accessories she was likely to want to store in the kit. I bought some accessories I knew she didn't already have (the steel rule, rotary cutter, scissors sharpener, tweezers, snap fasteners and also bought a packet of sewing needles though I knew she had some already.

The sewing roll opened out

The sewing roll opened out with the needle case open
and the pocket for pins or a small pin cushion

Storage pockets for a rotary cutter, 6 inch steel rule, measuring tape and tweezers

The scissors storage pocket in between thread reel storage
(my sewing scissors were inserted for the photo)

storage pockets for scissors sharpener, snap fasteners and spare needles with thread reel storage

The outer flaps folded in

The roll closed but not tied with the ribbons

The closed up sewing roll tied up

My elder daughter was very pleased with these sewing storage bags when she opened her gifts on Christmas evening after singing for 3 services in York Minster during the day. She has subsequently spent time winding embroidery threads, arranging her accessories in the pockets and putting needles in the needle cases. She also added two additional cords for thread reel storage into the sewing roll as she had several thread reels in addition to those I had provided.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Advent Calendar Day 24

The pocket for Day 24 of my elder daughter's Advent Calendar contained the angel for the top of the Christmas tree. So the pocket picture of Father Christmas gave no clue.

Day 24 pocket

I made the angel from an old brown t-shirt, it has pipe cleaners in its arms and legs and between the head and body, so is somewhat posable. The dress is golden fabric (the same fabric I once used to make an ice skating dress for a Gotz doll) overlaid with tulle which is flecked with gold. The wings are made from short pieces of gold ribbon which came off crackers one year, I stitched them with golden thread onto a doubled over pipe cleaner.

The hair was black wool knitted, dampened, ironed then unravelled to make it wavy. The headband is a scrap of fabric left over from my wedding dress and both the Christening gowns of my daughters (which I made) plus some beads which came from an old hair tie my elder daughter used to wear. She recognised it immediately.

The angel Gabriel

The angel's face

Close up of the angel

The angel's wings

Back view of the angel's head

Back view of the angel

Back of the angel dress, showing the opened fastening

Back of the dress showing the wings stitched to the dress

Undressed angel, wearing the headband

She had guessed that the final pocket would contain something for the top of the tree, The package was too big to fit the pocket so was one of those which had a numbered card. She examined all the details of the angel then carefully placed it on the top of the tree.

The angel at the top of the tree

The tree was shared with her landlord and landlady, so also has some of their decorations on it, including the former Archbishops of York (++John Sentamu) and Canterbury (++Rowan Williams).

The angel at the top, above the choral scholar with the two archbishops

The fully decorated Christmas tree topped with the angel from day 24 pocket

So the Advent Calendar is empty and Christmas 2020 has arrived. This project, first planned in September 2020, has been a helpful way of getting our family through a prolonged separation in a year of turmoil and anxiety for many people whose lives have been changed and disrupted by the global pandemic. The planning and secret making of many new pleasant surprises has helped me and my younger daughter channel our anxieties and love into some tangible lasting gifts, while our nightly video calls to watch the next pocket gift be opened has helped all four of us connect, discuss, laugh, cry, and cherish our time together. 

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Advent Calendar Day 23

The pocket for Day 23 of my elder daughter's Advent Calendar contained a scandinavian folded fabric star I had made. The picture on the pocket is a Christmas tree with stars.

Day 23 pocket

I used a YouTube video to show me how to make the star from four strips of fabric, folded (no seams).

Folded Scandinavian star decoration made of fabric

One side of the folded fabric star

The other side of the folded fabric star

The Scandinavian fabric star on her Christmas tree

She was intrigued by the star and kept saying 'how' (meaning how had I made it) before putting it on her tree.