Just in time for Halloween

I’m not really a big fan of Halloween. I mean, I enjoy dressing up in costumes on occasion and I won’t say no to the occasional Twix or snickers, but usually, in my mind, Halloween is the holiday we have to get over before we can get to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Be that as it may, I have a bit of a Halloween themed doll to introduce you to. Of course, Harry Potter is not only about pumpkins and spooky things but it certainly came to mind with this doll.

I didn’t set out to make a Hermione Granger doll, but as I was pinning her bushy brown hair in place, the boys were listening to a Harry Potter audio book in the background and the idea came to me. Hermione is definitely my favorite character in the books. I always identified with her a bit- not because I’m really brainy or particularly bold (I’m 99% certain I’m a Hufflepuff) but I was always kind of a teachers pet and enjoyed raising my hand in class almost as much as Hermione. (With not nearly as many right answers, mind you.)

Laying that aside, we all know that Harry wouldn’t have gotten very far without Hermione. So I decided to base a doll off of her, figuring that there might be a few other Hermione fans out there.

Her Hogwarts uniform is pretty self explanatory. A pleated, gray, wool skirt, crisp collared white blouse, a soft knit vest and knee high socks with sweet, buckled Mary Janes.

Then, of course, she proudly wears her Gryffindor colors in a tie around her neck, as well as lining her soft black cloak. And let’s not forget her wand. She has a tiny loop in her hand to enable her to hold it, as well as in her cloak- for safe storage when she’s not out saving the wizarding world.

So there she is! Yes I’m aware that this reveals a nerdier side of myself, but I don’t really care. I hope you like her as much as I do. She’s on my shop tonight!

Now please excuse me- I’m off to carve some pumpkins. Happy Halloween!

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Marta!

It’s so fun, naming dolls. I haven’t really done it in the past, figuring that most people like to name their own dolls. But there’s something about these sculpted waldorf dolls. Something about all the labor that goes into them- the starting with a simple wool sphere and somehow sculpting a face out of it with no pattern. It makes the creative process seem, well, more creative! Each face slowly emerges under your fingertips and is so individual, you just have to name it!

I chose the name Marta because it reminds me of things soft and sweet and loveable and this girl is just that- all pinks and pastels and it brown eyes and soft, fluffy clothing. I’m just gonna leave a photo dump here and you can let me know what you think!

She’s on my shop now!

A first

Last week, I took the plunge and started on a dollmaking method I’ve been curious about and admired from a distance for a while. Waldorf dolls have been around for a long time and the idea behind them is to keep things simple- facial features minimalistic so as to promote imagination and make sure all materials are from natural sources. I have made a few basic waldorf dolls but what I’ve really been itching to try are their more labor intensive relatives- natural fiber art dolls.

These dolls are daunting to attempt. They involve a curious method of sculpting a three dimensional face using nothing but a pile of soft wool and a special needle. This method ends up looking something like this.

Yes, this took a while. But it was so much fun. And I was a little amazed that I was able to make a recognizable face out of it on my first try!

Then this sculpted face is covered with a ‘skin’ of soft, stretchy fabric. In this case, I used my favorite unbleached organic cotton jersey. Then a couple simple eyes are stitched and the fun nose and 3D mouth emerge.

I didn’t have a pattern for her- I was just waiting to see how big her head turned out before I added limbs. And those were sketched out and went on pretty easily. The really nice art dolls use fine quality mohair for the doll hair. This stuff costs a fortune and adds quite a bit of value to these dolls. I wasn’t ready to fork over that kind of money until I knew I could actually make one of these. So I stuck to my good old cotton jersey yarn, which I really like. And it makes these less of a collectors item and keeps them suitable for children to play with, which is what I want for my dolls.

Then, of course, there was the clothing. I had a lot of fun designing this ensemble. The blue, linen fabric for the dress came from my stash of remnants, leftover from one my old dresses. The darling (if I say so myself) eyelet coat came from a skirt my sister donated. The shoes I made from velvet with ribbons, because when you’re a doll, you can get away with stuff like that.

Oh. And I gave her ears. That’s a first, but probably not a last.

So here she is. I’m calling her Natalie because she might represent the birth of something new. We’ll see. I love my other dollies too. But who says I can’t do both?

She’s on my shop tonight!

Old shop, new chapter 

Hello dear friends!  I’m blogging! Is that still a thing people do? Do people still   take the time to click on a link that takes them to another site and away from their news feed? I don’t know. Nor do I know if a blog is still a good way to advertise one’s product.  I suspect it’s not.  But I am going to do it anyway, just as a means to update those of you who might be interested in my Etsy shop. But I think from this point I will be doing most of my advertising via social media.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram at all, you know I have been contemplating opening my shop again after a looong hiatus.  I’ve debated the pros and cons, told myself I have too much on my plate to tackle sewing right now and generally hesitated to jump back in.

But three things convinced me-

-several people asking if I would please reopen

-the fact that I am always sewing anyway so I might as well try to make some money on it

– and, well, money. Spare cash is always acceptable.

Of course I am busy. I have five kids. I homeschool. I work part time for my church and our house is still in process of remodeling.  But I figured if I had a few spare minutes, I would just sew what I had time for, have some fun and not stress about it.

There are some things I learned from the last time I was selling dolls etc.  Most people aren’t going to shell out money for an expensive doll unless its Christmas or some other really special occasion which always made the Christmas season more than a bit overwhelming.  Custom orders and last minute Christmas dolls will have to be minimal.  When I have something to sell, I will post it.    And I am reopening in February- not because it is a great time to sell dolls but to slowly build up a stock of inventory so that when/if a Christmas rush does come, I will be better prepared.

All that to say- I have spent the last couple months trying out some new things. My dolls haven’t changed much- the biggest changes being I finally figured out a way to do 3D noses and I am now using yarn for hair. What’s been really fun is learning how to design stuffed animals.  My old horse will always be a standby but I started in on unicorns and then figured, the skies the limit once you have the basic idea down.

I designed a zebra, an elephant, a sheep, even a dragon!  That led me to develop a new section of my shop- The doll and rider.

My horse and doll combo was always a good seller so I decided to make more combos, just for kicks.  I am selling them as pairs or individually on my shop but I will introduce them here.

My original combo, as I said was a horse and doll.  This is Susannah, my pioneer girl and her horse, Henry.


I love her sweet face and her curly hair which I achieved merely by using the crinkly end of a skein of yarn!

From there I moved on to another animal in the horse family- a zebra named Zeke who naturally needed an African girl named Zara to ride him. 


 

What other horses are there? Why magical ones with horns of course who are best friends with medieval girls named Cecily.  I’m still debating a good Unicorn name. Ursula?


Then it was time to break out of the horse world.  Why not elephants? And since I already had an African girl, it was time to go with Indian.  This is Elliot and Ananda.

Now that I was going with different countries and because I love red hair, I had to do a Scottish lass named Bonnie. I had a hard time thinking of an animal for her to befriend and I’m not entirely sure that riding a ram is feasible but I love my little highland sheep just the same. 

And last but not least, we reenter the magical realm, where sweet Scandinavian girls named Brigitte ride gentle flying dragons named Dexter or Drake.  Which do you prefer?


 I would also like to do a little Chinese girl with a red dragon but I haven’t gotten that far yet. 

Phew! So that’s a start.  I’m hoping to get back to doing a greater variety of just dolls but for now, this is what I have.  

I have been able to collect quite a bit of feedback over these two years and have seen several specimens of these dolls that have really held up well. These dolls may look like delicate China dolls and I know several people who were afraid to purchase them for their younger girls but they really are very sturdy and can withstand a fair amount of abuse. Per the request of several, I am stitching the shoes and underclothing onto the doll so they don’t get lost but the stitches are easily clipped if you want removable shoes etc.  

 Pricing these things is always tricky of course.  Clearly they take me several hours to make, not to mention cost of materials and hope of some profit.  But I always want them to be affordable and don’t like charging friends and family an arm and a leg.  So the prices I have put on them are more of a test price. They may go up or down depending on sales.   And as always, questions and feedback are welcome.  

Here’s a link to my shop just in case. And feel free to share! 

I just can’t help myself

Just one more plug for my shop before Valentine’s day.  I know, I keep trying to go in new directions, but I just keep ending up going back to the dolls.  I’ve sold a couple of my new ballerina dolls, so I thought I would make a Valentine-y one just for kicks and see if I could get one sold.  This time she’s a brunette- in pink.  I think she should be called Rose.

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I’m rather pleased with how the hair turned out on this one.  A kind lady I know gave me a large bag of yarn she was never going to use, and this one has a nice ruddy tint to it.  It is also kinda curly, which I love.

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I felt that Rose needed a few roses in her wavy locks.

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Dainty ballerina feet and fluffy tulle- just because.

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I was dissatisfied with this first little tutu I made, so I decided to add another tutu as an overlay.  It ties on with a satin ribbon and can be removed if desired.

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You’ll notice that I put a few little red rose “petals” in the layers of the tulle because, well, “Rose” and also because, well, Valentine’s day.

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Oh, and don’t forget she has a wire framed body, which would help her pose in a display case if perhaps you are an adult and want an excuse to buy a doll for yourself.  (pssst, you wouldn’t be the first)

See, she is looking pensive now, wondering if she will ever find a new home.  (My daughter has taken a fancy to her and has already tried to eat her several times) So she wouldn’t mind being adopted…..

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Variations on a theme

For a long time now, I have been looking for something to put on my shop that would be a little more, how shall I say, affordable? I also would like something to make that is a little less time consuming for me, and something that I could vary according to the season  I am having little success in this respect with my dolls, since each one seems to be more elaborate than the last, and they almost only sell at Christmas time.

But when I was at my folks house last fall, I found lots of reminders of simpler projects that I had made for various family members at one time or another, in particular, embroidered napkins.  For Christmas one year, I embroidered a dozen monogrammed napkins for each of my family members.  I enjoyed it so much that I went on to do the same thing for quite a while as a gift for newlyweds that I knew.  But I grew tired of it after a while, and stopped.  The idea popped into my head the other day as I was flipping through pinterest, looking for Valentine’s day ideas.

So I decided to combine a few new methods I have learned from Alabama Chanin along with my own designs, on a cotton jersey napkin.  I decided not to use upcycled jersey for this project, mostly since I wouldn’t have been able to find enough to make several matching items.  And I was super excited to find a new website that sells high quality, organic cotton jersey at an affordable price, especially since my local fabric store decided to stop selling their best jersey.

This is just a first attempt, and I decided to make them Valentine-y, since we are just a few weeks away.

I call it  X’s and O’s- Variations on a Theme.

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You will see that these are deliberately a little rustic looking with unfinished edges and slightly crooked lines.  But when you are working with jersey, that is kind of the way it is.  It took me a long time to adjust to the idea of not hemming edges, but once I got over it, my life has been so much easier!  🙂

Here are some up close looks.  These napkins are 16 by 12 inches when unfolded.

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You will also notice that I used some mixed media here- there is inking as well as hand embroidery.

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Here they are unfolded, The X’s and O’s by themselves-

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And then combined with a few hearts-

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Once again, I appreciate feed back!  And if you are interested, there isn’t much time left before Valentine’s day, so let me know.  ( I can of course sell them in larger numbers.)

P.S. I hope to experiment with monograms next.

Expanding our borders (ever so slightly)

Well, I know I’ve been posting a lot about my shop lately, but I wanted to get this out before the holiday weekend- you know, the weekend that starts the shopping mayhem for the next month.

Up ’til now, I haven’t done much with promoting my shop on designated online shopping days, or even Black Friday.  But apparently, this Saturday is ‘Small Business Saturday’ and I was invited to join a real, live, local Etsy market to show some of my wares.

It’s at the downtown Chattanooga library, and I have no idea what to expect.  Supposedly about 30 other vendors will be there, and as to numbers of customers- that’s anyone’s guess.  But I thought, since it was free, that I might as well give it a try and get my stuff out there using a different venue.  

So come on down and take a look if you are so inclined.  And if you’ve been on the fence about buying my stuff, it will save you shipping : ).

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In other news, I posted something on my Facebook page a while back- something I couldn’t reveal on public media for disclosure reasons.  I had received a rush order for three of my horses about two days before our big trip out west, and because of the generous amount this person was willing to pay, both to make them and ship them overnight, I went ahead and filled the order.

I am now at liberty to reveal what they were for.  They were shipped out to Hollywood, CA for a little commercial.  They really only needed one for the commercial, but ordered three to see which one looked better on set.  It’s just a brief, horsey cameo, but I’m tickled pink about it.   Take a look!