Dolls for Christmas

dolls sittingThis is my very first finished project of 2013. Never mind that I started it way back last year. I really wanted to make some dolls for my girls for Christmas. Last Christmas they got a some dolls from their abuela that they loved to pieces, literally. Like, the legs fell off of one, and the head fell off of the other. I wish I was kidding. And after watching my poor baby walking around cuddling, cooing, and shooshing a headless doll for a couple months, I decided I needed to take some action. So I made these (hopefully) sturdier dolls.

girls smiling

Now, this could have been a simple project. There are tons and tons and tons of thorough tutorials, books, and patterns for beautiful dolls out there. I even took advantage of the the wonderful public library system to check out some books on doll making techniques. But when it came down to it, I decided that I wanted to make my own pattern for my doll. And I wanted to stuff it with wool. And I wanted to do some of that cool, Waldorf-doll style hair. Like I said, this could have been a simple project. isa playing with hair

doll  2

But as my husband often reminds me, if it isn’t difficult, I won’t do it. Sometimes I think he’s right. So, I used some of the very, very helpful information on one of my favorite blogs, While She Naps, to draft a basic doll pattern. And then another one. And then a third one. After three prototypes (thankfully done in muslin) I decided I’d had enough and would have to go with it. If I ever make more dolls, I’ll definitely want to refine it a bit. It was a great learning experience, though.

And, of course, I decided to purchase a raw wool fleece from ebay to stuff the dolls with. Hmm, I think I’ll just breeze through this whole phase of the doll preparation phase, but lets just say there was so much washing, and culling plant and fecal matter from the fleece, and then drying, and then more sorting, and then combing/fluffing. Bottom line, buying prepared wool is probably worth the extra cost.

After assembling the doll bodies, I had to decide on the faces. Several sketches were thrown out before I decided to kind of wing it as I stitched. I fairly well like how the faces came out. I did the pink lip face first, then the smile face. I had intended to go back and redo the pink lips as a smile, but my four-year-old saw the pink lip doll and wouldn’t let me change it.

all together

When it came to the clothes, I did a very simple dress, but I got a little fancy with the decorative stitching on the hem. First time, and it felt good.
close up dress

more close ups

For the hair, I used some lovely organic cotton yarn which is super soft, but a little fragile, so I had to tell my girls not to try combing the dolls hair. They were a little disappointed with that, but they like having me do braids and other hairstyles on their dolls (since they won’t let me do it on them).

faces

dolls by trees

underwear

Oh, and I stitched on a pair of underwear for both dolls, so there wouldn’t be any doll indecency should they choose to climb a tree or swing on the swings.

doll love

twoSo far the working names are Tully and Sally, but we’ll see if that changes.

If you have any questions about the process, I’d love to share my beginner’s perspective with you. Does anyone else have any first-time doll-making experiences to share? I’d love to hear.

Have a great day!

Linen Lockets

Have you ever had a project in mind for a long, long time. Something new that you’ve been wanting to try, but for whatever reason, you just can’t get yourself to sit down and do it. And so you think about it and think about it, refining the idea, imagining dozens of variations on the original idea. Then you edit your idea down again, incorporate some changes, and keep thinking about it. But this whole process is all in your head. You haven’t done a thing yet. And the idea sits and sits. For me, these ideas usually just sit and sit and eventually gets replaced by a new idea. Only the strongest ideas hold on there, demanding to be made. Insisting.

This was one of those ideas. I couldn’t get it out of my head. And so, one fine day, I finally started testing it out. It was simple, really; some linen, some felt, a little hand-stitching, and voile, a locket. Simple in conception, a lot more complicated in execution. There were a lot of little details that, in all my thinking and rethinking, I hadn’t thought about. It was one of those projects that made me just so mad and frustrated. I would put it away, giving up completely, only to start again a few days later, determined that I had solved the problem, only to discover a new one. Or two new ones. Ha. The creative process is like that, I guess.

So here you go, after oh so long. The finished results.

close lockets

Some lovely linen lockets. They are about the size of a quarter. I quite like them. Which is nice, since it was a long struggle to get to this point.

lockets lockets open open locket pink open close up

These three are available in my shop right now, and I think I’ll be adding more colors soon.

Have you ever made something that took a long, long time to figure out? What was the experience like for you?

Have a wonderful Tuesday.

 

Felt Frames, Embroidery Patterns, and Christmas Fun

Hey everyone, sorry I’ve been away so long. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but things just seem to get away from me sometimes. I have been busy with lots and lots of little things off-screen, and that, combined with really limited internet time, makes for a bad blogger, at least for me.

But, I do have something to share. It’s just a little thing for now, with more to come later. I’ve started actually making things for my Etsy shop. Really. I’ve re-listed my two embroidery patterns, the Nativity Set and the Car Set, if you’re interested. Also, I’ll be adding some hand-made items a few at a time. The first is this set of three wool felt pictures frames.

So check it out if you’re interested. I hope to have more to share by the end of the week.

Have you started Christmas crafting? I’ve been in the thick of it for a while now, but I love it. I probably won’t be showing much ’til after Christmas, since the people I craft for read this blog, but I’m excited. What projects are you working on? Do you have any must-make kids projects (not that I need to add more to my list)?

Thanks for sticking with me. Have a great evening!

 

A Few Little Things

Christmas and New Years flew by in a blur, and now I’m battling a nasty stomach bug, so I’m not feeling up to much. I just thought I would share a few little things with you. First, Christmas. It was small, on my part, very small. I whipped up a couple of little felt lovelies for my daughters. With life and our future living situation still up in the air, and living out of suitcases for the last month, I didn’t want to add too much to the toy load, but I did want to give them a little something to make this Christmas special. First, my older daughter is OBSESSED with horses.

So a little felt horse finger puppet was an easy choice.

My younger daughter’s tastes are a little more simple, so I went with a nice little felt ball. It’s fun to chew on and to throw.

With the year before me a complete unknown, I decided to ground myself with a few goals (resolutions) that I want to make happen. I even wrote them down, in a nice little word-collage, but of course, I forgot to photograph it, and now it’s dark, so I decided to let the post go without a picture. My goals are mostly small, but after all, it’s the “small” things that make life wonderful.

Anyways, I hope you all have a wonderful week. Hopefully I’ll be feeling up to posting something for real next week!

A Book for Liz

Here’s another book I made this last weekend. I actually made it at the same time I was making the red book, but I couldn’t show it until after she got it because it was a surprise.

It was a really last-minute project, so I’m glad it turned out so well, and I hope she likes it.

A little back story: My littlest sister is OBSESSED with Ireland, and she’s taking a trip to England in a few weeks (yes, I know not Ireland, but a lot closer to it than where she is right now), so I wanted to make a little book for her to take with her and record all the fun she’s having.

The four-leaf clover was my other sister’s idea. And of course it had to be green. Very Irish, right?

I had to have a quick love-holding-a-finished-book moment before I sent it off.

Have fun on your trip Liz!

Binding Books

Before I had little S (is this an acceptable way to give her some privacy? That would make my toddler little I, which might get confusing), I had a long long list of things I wanted to finish before her birth day, much longer than I expected to be able to complete. However, since little S took a lot longer to get here than I anticipated, I found myself checking more things off my list than I had thought possible.

A couple of these projects were some handmade books for some special people in my life. I made two journals, one for my brother, Justin, and one for my sister-in-law, María José. Both of them are serving proselyting missions for our church. My brother is in the Morristown, New Jersey Mission, and María José is serving in the Cali, Colombia Mission.

I also made a baby book for little S. I was so happy to have it finished before she was born, since it took me about 3 months to finish my first baby’s book. This is not a baby book in the cutesy, scrapbooky, ribbons and buttons sense you may be thinking of. This is simply a blank handmade book in which I write memories and milestones of my girls’ early years. Very minimalist, see:

(The one on top is the baby book—I still need to get a picture for that blank spot in the cover—and the one on bottom is the journal for María José; I had already sent my brother’s when I took these pictures.)

Don’t know what it is about it, but I love handmade books more than just about any other handmade thing. I love the way the high quality paper looks and feels,  I love the sewn end bands, and I love holding a newly finished book in my hand.

So nice.

A Year in the Making: The Color Book

Okay, you probably never thought this day would come. In fact, you probably forgot you were even waiting for this day to come. But here it is, the finished project that I mentioned working on way back here at the beginning of my blogging career:


This project originated from my desire to have some books for my baby girl that had Spanish and English in them. I might have already mentioned this, but we are trying to raise our child (soon to be plural) bilingual, despite the fact that I am woefully monolingual. So this was a great learning experience for me too. Anyways, instead going out and buying some Spanish books, I decided to make my own, thinking it was just a little project. Well, it quickly ballooned into a huge project, and here I am, a year later, just finishing it up. Here’s a look at all the pages:

The process for making the paste paper is found here, and I used the tutorials found here and here to put the book together.

I have no tutorial for the part in between making the paste paper and putting the finished pages together, but I can tell you that it was long and involved. First I made a list of items for each color (this was the hardest part sometimes; how many inherently purple things can you think of?). Then I sketched out each item, and traced them on the back of my paste paper (all the words had to be written backwards). Then, I cut every piece, right down to the tildes and dots on the “i”s, out of paste paper by hand (honestly, very time-consuming and hand-cramping work; I would love to try using one of these to make a book sometime). Then I used paste to glue down each of those little pieces, often fitting them together like a little puzzle (see the bear, chocolate, and turtle for examples of this). Oh, and I forgot to mention having my handsome husband help me translate the words. That was an important part, too, because you can’t trust Google translate 100% of the time.

Even though the whole thing took countless hours of work, in the end, the whole project was worth it. I love the end result, and so does my darling little one.

Because it’s kind of a priceless item, I can’t really let the little one look at it unsupervised, so I scanned each page and I’m planning on printing out some copies. I’m wondering if anyone would be interested in purchasing a copy. I’m not sure how exactly I would do it yet, so I don’t know the how much a copy would cost, but if you’re interested, leave a comment or e-mail me and I’ll get back to you with the details when I know them.

Well, I’m glad to have this project done, but really the only reason I had time to do it was because my new little one is taking longer to get here than I thought. I’ve gotten even more projects done while I wait, and I guess it’s good to keep busy, but I do hope she decides to come soon, because I’m starting to feel quite impatient to meet her.

Oh, and I’m linking this project up here:
and here: