Always on the lookout for inspiration

I’ve thought about digging through literature for some doll inspiration for a while now. Last year, I made my daughter a Ladybug Girl doll for her birthday but due to copyright restrictions, I couldn’t sell them. But there are lots of books out there in the public domain with little girls for heroines and the first one that came to mind was Anne of Green Gables. Of course, trying to imagine a favorite character as a doll is somewhat difficult- everyone has their own idea of what she really looked like. But I figured the red hair- the gray/ green eyes- the puffed sleeves- I should be able to at least come up with an approximation.

So here’s what I came up with. And I photographed her outside amidst the flowers, since that seemed suitable for someone like Anne.

I tried to give her a nice, dreamy, imaginative expression but there’s only so much you can do with a needle and thread.

Her clothing was a lot of fun- plenty of pinafores and pleats and of course, puffed sleeves!

But as I was sewing her, I couldn’t help thinking she needed her bosom friend by her side, so I went ahead and tried to imagine out Diana Barry with the black hair, rosy cheeks and enviable dimples. Here’s what emerged.

I just loved this tiny, flowered, pink calico. And since Anne was always forbidden to wear pink, I thought I would let Diana wear it. With a lacy, linen pinafore to cover it and keep it clean, of course.

I am selling these dolls individually on my shop or as a set. I thought it would be fun to do some doll duos (or quartets? Little Women anyone?) Here’s a few pics of them together, being kindred spirits.

Check them out here!

Just a lovely girl

I don’t have a lot to say about this little dolly. There are some dolls that seem to fight me during their creation. They insist that I redo their eyes several times. Their mouth seems to be off center or their eyebrows simply refuse to line up. But this girl came into being without much fuss, – just quietly, without much ado. Her eyes didn’t cross, she had a good hair day from the first and her sweet, lacy clothing fit to a tee.

All she seemed to ask of me is to acknowledge how pretty she was and to please find her a home here. ☺️

Increasing my stock

Doll making is slow this time of year. But then, demand is low as well (most people buy dolls at Christmas) so I feel like I can take my time, sewing when I can and posting whenever I am ready. The last thing I want with this little side business of mine is to feel stressed. ☺️

The next two or three dolls I have been working on are more ethnic in nature. I can tell you, working with the same ‘cream’ tone of Kona cotton ( my favorite fabric for doll skin) can get really old after a while. Thankfully, they sell many different shades that work well for dollies. (I’ve been working with some ‘latte’ and ‘mocha’ this week. Makes me wanna sew in a coffee shop.)

I’ve sold a fair number of Asian dolls in the past so I wanted to get one up on my shop again.

I’m particularly pleased with this girl’s ensemble. I opted against a frilly dress this time and went for some super girly floral trousers with button fastenings, a loose, summery blouse and a sweet, blanket stitched, suede jacket to cover all.

I’ve been enjoying doing more tiny details on these dolls as well, such as the little, hand-embroidered floral motif on her blouse. 😍

So there she is! She’s on the shop. Also posted is this girl, who is fast becoming a favorite. She’s just so colorful and pretty with her contrasting darker skin and bright eyes.

Floral skirt with tulle are just about my favorite, especially when accompanied by pleated, bell-sleeved, floral-embroidered blouses.

And her hair. Well, I never get tired of playing with their hair.

I had hoped to get my other dolly included in this photo shoot but my light ran out, so she’ll just have to have her own blog post. Check out my shop for more information! Thanks!

A few more introductions

Hello again! Thank you for your warm reception of the little dolly I introduced a few days ago. She was pretty lonely on my shop so I have her a few companions- these ladies also inspired by the coming spring- dressed in lovely florals and lace.

Blue eyes and dark hair have always been one of my favorite combinations. So I took the blue eyes and made it the motif for this girl. (I also did a photo shoot with some of my favorite books because they were just sitting there and coordinated so nicely.)

Red hair is also a favorite of mine as I may have mentioned a time or two. And red hair means green eyes (for me at least). So green highlights were called for here.

And last but not least, for tonight at any rate, this sweet, dreamy little girl in pink and lace with a dainty hat. I just love her big brown eyes.

I had a lot of fun outlining this delicate little floral design on her blouse and you guys- she even has pink leather shoes. I didn’t used to like pink but it has really grown on me in the past couple of years, which is good because it’s really her color, don’t you think?

These ladies are all on my shop tonight- looking for a good home!

What’s a year long absence among friends?

Well friends, I’m back. At least for today. After a crazy start to 2018, I find myself with a week off of work and figured it would be as good a time as any to try and push my poor neglected Etsy shop a bit. I thought I might as well do a blog post on these latest dolls of mine, since I so enjoyed making them and would like to introduce them properly, instead of just a quick Facebook pic.

I have seven dolls ready to ship although it might take me a while to get them properly photographed and up onto my shop. But I thought I would get this girly up now because she just says ‘Easter’ to me (might have something to do with the seersucker. 😉). and believe it or not, Easter is in just a few days!

She was so pink and, well, pastelly that I couldn’t resist a photo shoot in my daughter’s doll house. Here she is!

And here is her ‘house.’ (Not included with purchase 😁)

I have more and more fun designing the clothes for these little ladies. It might be spring but we all know how changeable spring weather can be so I felt she needed a little pink trench coat, just in case.

But the coat is fully removable (as are the rest of her clothing) and washable as well! So if she gets hot (or muddy) she can always take it off.

I always like to remind my customers that these dolls might seem really delicate but I design them to be played with- a lot. I remember the first really beautiful doll I ever owned- a china doll from my mother. But it was fairly fragile (duh) and one of its feet broke the first week I had her. We had to amputate. I played with her still, but it was more out of pity than anything and I was always nervous that the rest of her would break.

So when I grew up, I determined to make a doll that was as pretty as a china doll but sturdy enough for even little hands to play with. She can even be tossed in the wash if need be.

You may have noticed that I changed her hair for this second set of pics, which brings me to my second reminder.

These wigs are a special design of my own. I have never really liked acrylic yarn hair and the real wool stuff is expensive and hard to play with without it getting ratty really fast. So I make my own ‘yarn’ out of long, thin strips of cotton jersey which is soft and stretchy and doesn’t tangle. Because it’s so long and stretchable, there are a myriad of different ways to style it. This is another result of doll disappointment as a child. I never could seem to get a doll with hair long enough to really play with or one with hair that didn’t turn into a matted mess soon after purchase. And so the cotton jersey wig was born.

So that’s that. As I said, she’s on my shop, hopefully to be followed by others. I plan on selling this outfit individually as well for those who are looking for a wardrobe upgrade for previously purchased dolls.

Let me know what you think. And Happy Easter!

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! 

When push comes to shove

Dear people,

I’m sitting here in my quiet living room, with the sunshine streaming through my sparkling new windows, taking a breather after a seriously intense couple of weeks.  I’m exhausted but I’m also deeply joyful, grateful, satisfied.  

I know in theory that God’s timing is always perfect but I’ve never quite felt the truth of that fact so strongly.  This fall has been busy.  I always think that we are busy but things kicked up yet another notch in October and we were busier still. And through all the busyness loomed the nagging reminder that this house of ours that has come so far was still not ready to handle winter.  But the weather kept lulling us into a false sense of security- it was just.so.warm.  We were comfortable, the sun was shining, the temperature hovering around 80 degrees.  

But then the first cold struck and it was time to do a little panicking.  At least, I did.  We had the heating systems in place but still, due to all the myriad little things that always seem to accompany final inspections, we had not been granted permission to actually turn on the gas.  We prayed, we worked, we worked a little more, we prayed and finally all systems were a go.  The heat began to blow.  That night, the temperature dropped to thirty degrees. I breathed a sigh of relief- but just a little one.

We had heat now, but not much to actually keep it in the house.  Plywood and plastic can only do so much.  We had managed to install most of the windows in the two bedrooms upstairs, so we were comfortable up there but the downstairs was just so cold.  So every evening after work, the hubby and I bundled up and headed down to work.  Not only were we in a race to beat the bitter cold, but we had also made the slightly risky decision to host our first Thanksgiving here this year.  It was now or never.

I am continually amazed at the human psyche- how it can go from thinking a project impossibly big and never ending to a weary resignation that the task must be done to a grim determination that ‘as God as my witness’ (and helper) we will get this job done and in record time. And so we did.  The process went something like this-

-Pull one of the empty, half painted window frames into the workroom and put it on the table.

-scrape any paint residue off the interior and prime the wood with clear primer. Let it dry.

-apply the first coat of glazing. (For those who don’t know, glazing is kind of like clay- pressed into the inner edges of a window frame, helping to insulate and hold the pane of glass in place) 

-cut glass to size (after hunting around town for salvaged windows, prying the glass from the old frames and cleaning it) 

-carefully tape all panes to 1/16th of an inch from the edge for easier painting later. (Each window had an average of eight panes)

-install glass and staple it in place, praying that it won’t crack and need to be replaced. (This happened with about one out of every eight panes)

– apply second coat of glazing, scraping and smoothing it as straight as possible with the special technique your hubby tries to teach you.  This step usually took about two hours.

-scrape and remove any excess glazing from both sides of the window.

– allow to dry at least three days and then sand it.

-prime and paint again.

– carefully remove tape and clean the entire window.

– finally install.

-repeat 28 times

With three days left before Thanksgiving, we really went into overdrive, working late into the nights, getting up early, trying to clean and prepare for guests and getting what cooking done that we could. Wednesday night, while the turkey brined and as I prepped stuffing and sweet potatoes, the hubby and his brother installed the final window for the front of the house.  It was an amazing feeling folks. And the next morning, coming down into the blindingly bright rooms below, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.  Happy Thanksgiving indeed.  

Now I wish I could say that this is the end of the window saga. The windows we completed were only the original ones we had refurbished from the front of the house.  There are still some to be made from scratch for the back of the house. But the biggest hurdle has been jumped and those remaining ten will come and now I will know how to help when they are ready. For now, they are insulated against the cold and we are toasty warm, incredibly tired but looking forward to a joyous Christmas season in our increasingly beautiful home.  

When I think back to where we were last year, I can hardly believe that things have come this far and I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart for the faithful love, prayers and support you have extended during this time.  We can’t say it enough. God bless.  Now here’s a photo dump for ya.