I don’t need much of an excuse to pull out my old box of doll house treasures and I was curious if my tiny rag dolls are in the same doll house scale as my furniture. They are, they accidentally or maybe by a subconscious direction, are a perfect fit. And just like that Miss Petunia is fully outfitted. She has everything a tiny doll needs.
The box of doll house things – the doll house that was the center of my creative life for much of my little-ness is full of wonders. It only resurfaced a few years ago and this was the first time I fully explored all the little treasures.
Including one of Miss Petunia’s earliest ancestors – this funny girl I made to live in my house. And a tiny book for her to read. Holding and examining these things I made 40 plus years ago has a very strange sensation about it that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Miss Petunia is surrendering to the thick hot city day and lying around in her underwear reading.
It sounds like a good idea. Are you reading something great? I recently re-read In Cold Blood – Truman Capote is such a master and currently I have two going – A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway and A Path With A Heart – Jack Kornfield. Also, one of my most favorite books, and I think a fabulous summer read, is Main St. – Sinclair Lewis. If you feel like sharing your favorites please do – just leave it in the comments to this post.
I’ve been experimenting with new botanical shapes (all of these are in the shop right now). The flower below is the rare cloaked Bishop Lilly – it only blooms at night. If the moon is full. Once every ten years. And only for an hour…..
There are also seedpods, toadstools and another rare specimen the Royal Cone Flower – valued for the rich crimson bloom as well as it’s medicinal properties – it’s petals make a potent sleeping potion – it is found only in the Black Forest and is nearly extinct.
I love the mystery and strangeness of flowers and I’m exploring them further – playing with the idea of translucency and things gone to seed. I especially love the foresty parts of the botanical gardens here in Brooklyn and I’ve been finding inspiration in antique botanical prints too – for my invented species as well as the photographs of them – I’m thinking of a postcard set of strange new specimens – what do you think? Also – In addition to the tiny rag doll pattern I’m working on a botanical pattern for a seed pod with a root system – that will probably be next out. Have a lovely weekend,
You can find the sewing pattern for the little toadstool above right here – I printed the pattern at 50% for this little guy.
And among all the strange flowers – tiny rag doll #4 – miss lilac is in the shop too.
There are lots of cake topper birds on my worktable right now. It’s been 10 years since I made the first set and I guess-timate that I’ve made more than two thousand pairs. That’s a lot of dressed up birds. Today I’m going to show you how to make my frothy little gown for a cake topper bird or any other formal bird occasion. The bird is made from my little bird sewing pattern but I think you could use the same technique on other birds – just adjust the size of the lace. I think it’s helpful to read through all the steps before beginning and you can click the images for a larger view. You will need a basic sewing kit and some lace scraps – something soft and not to stiff or heavy is best – I’m using cotton tulle.
1. Cut a piece of lace or tulle – a rectangle that is 7 and 1/2 inches by 3 and 1/2 inches.
2. Place the lace on the bird so there is a long and a short side – you want one third on one side and two thirds on the other. Fold the raw edge under and pin the lace to the back seam of the bird neck.
3. Starting with the short side turn the raw edge under and pin into the seam at the side of the neck and then again – right on the seam – about half way down the from of the bird body.
4. Repeat on the longer side – pin once at the neck and then bring the lace across the body – folding the raw edge under and meeting the pin on the other side – use that pin to hold both sides in place.
5. Begin stitching the gown to the body where the sides meet – make a couple tiny stitches here and knot once – keep the thread attached.
6. Using tiny whip stitches stitch all the way around the neck twice. It’s important to go around twice to make sure the neckline stays in place.
7. Pin the short side of the lace back out of your way and pull the long side around the body. To make the fancy ruched front gather the top 3/4 of an inch or so with your fingers into little folds – pin in place with one or two pins and sew the folds in place along the seam ( these stitches won’t show).
8. Use your finger to pull the long side of the lace around the body ( you may need to take out the pin holding the short side) and stitch the rest of the lace to the seam, stitching towards the tail – again these stitches will not show.
9. Stop stitching where the body meets the tail and trim the lace – just leaving a small edge. Stop trimming about one half inch below top (where the little folds are) and leave a long piece of lace. (save your little scraps – we’ll use them later).
10. Pin the long piece you left out of the way and pull the short side of lace across the body. While holding the lace across the body stitch in the same place as the previous side, right on top. Read More
The body pattern for the tiny rag doll is worked out as well as the assembly and directions for the little details – like her shoes and hair. I’ve moved on to patterns for her wardrobe. The original tiny doll had attached fancy underthings that made assembling her difficult and I love the idea of everything being removable so I devoted a big chunk of time to experimenting with tiny lingerie construction. I came up with bloomers and 2 camisoles for the little doll above – miss dahlia. I also made her a pinafore – that might be my favorite thing of all – in fact I want miss dahlia’s whole outfit for myself.
Here she is with miss lilac – all dressed. I’m moving on to outerwear tomorrow – a winter coat and a satchel and then the tiny rag doll will be very well equipped for all her tiny doll adventures.
If you’d like an email when the pattern is available you can sign up here.
I’ve been experimenting with small compositions – making marks and texture with thread, exploring, observing and maybe expanding my vocabulary of stitches. Some are organic feeling marks – spilling out of the botanical things I’ve been working on and some mix with and echo the meandering stitches of mends and intricate darning I find in garments. I’m paying attention to my impulses and habits and challenging them – looking for the rules I’ve made for myself but am not always conscious of – the musts and can’ts that get in the way of being truly expressive. I’m asking myself to be responsive and un-self-conscious – to pick up a thread and follow it.
And P. S – regarding tiny rag dolls – thanks for your feedback and the pattern making is well underway – it will be available in the next week or two!
Paper mache is good for my brain and spirit. It requires just enough attention – all those little pieces of paper – It’s a very effective antidote to stress and anxiety and good for percolating ideas – my hands are busy and my mind wanders gently around. It takes me a little while to settle into it but it never fails to bring a quietness and presentness – a sense of equanimity- whatever might be swirling around me. I think its meditation sneaking up on me.
I’m building ships and boats – besides the psychological benefits I miss having them around – I’m currently ship-less. The large ship above is made using this pattern with a couple modifications to the side and back templates. I’ve started the second layer of newsprint over the first of brown paper. I don’t usually wait for one layer to dry before starting the next and 2 layers should be enough for this ship.
The very mini boat below is an experiment – I wondered if the little felt boat pattern template would also work as a paper mache armature – it does! I taped it together with lots of masking tape and added two coats of paper mache. It’s so little the paper mache part was quick – about 15 minutes per layer.
If I was starting over I would have made the little boat 10% bigger – it shrunk a bit when it dried so t’s a tight fit for the gentleman sailor mouse I made to captain it (find the free pattern here). He’s fancy – with his lace ascot and looks pretty pleased with things.
P.S. – if you’ve never tried paper mache you can find a free project here and another here – both are a good place to start.
This big pink flower woke me up last night. It’s one of the new botanical experiments I’ve been working on and it was finished but I didn’t love it- something wasn’t right. The original stem and roots felt too delicate, too fussy for the flower and out of balance – that idea would not leave me alone. My subconscious must have been working on it for me and last night I woke up abruptly knowing exactly what it needed – a bulb, a more substantial stem and very simple leaves. I love the bulb! More botanical experiments soon – there are all sorts of strange new species on my work table.
Have a lovely weekend,
Please meet miss thistle and miss laurel – tiny rag dolls #1 and #2. Little ladies in fancy underwear. They have dresses too and wool shawls for chilly nights.
They were such fun to make – I’ve been working on the design for a while – working out details like tiny dresses that can come off and on without being too fiddly. Tiny is difficult – they would be easier to make if they were larger but I particularly love their size. I’m thinking of creating a sewing pattern – what do you think? Are you for or against very tiny sewing?
Miss thistle and miss laurel are in the shop now along with lots of mini toadstool specimens and an indigo owl and large mushroom.
P.S. You can join the mailing list here if you’d like notifications when new things are available – or if you’re already a subscriber you can update your preferences – just enter the email you subscribed with an select the updates you’d like.
Meet Mr. Cups! My new helper – I found him upstate last weekend in a fabulously junky junk shop – he makes a very cheery pin holder. I love the way his details are painted – I looked him up and found out he was made in Japan in the forties and there is a Mrs. – I’m on the look out. He helped me make lots of mini toadstools – pixie size fungi made from Japaanese garment fragments (from lovely Sri Threads). They are made with the little mushroom sewing pattern – it scales up and down well – I printed the templates at 50% for these little guys.
They were fun to make in a batch and easy to travel with – just a little bag of scraps and a few supplies – a good summer project. I also added a little extra height to the top for a couple – tracing the template and adding about another 1/2 inch to the top for a pointier cap.
All nine pixie mushrooms will be in the shop next Tuesday 6/7 (1 pm-ish NY time) along with some other new things I’m working on including the large indigo toadstool and the dastardly fellow lurking in the background above.
* You can sign up here if you’d like an email when new things are in the shop.
You know – the good ones- not the messy ones overstuffed with un-filed receipts and mail and pens that don’t work (I have those too). The drawers with good messes – those are the ones I want to show you – jumbles of stuff I use everyday mixed with stuff I like to look at, the things that are part of my process and inspiration – things I love and things I’m thinking about.
For someone who is quite tight on space I am pretty frivolous with easy access storage – for example I keep my paper snowflakes in a drawer right under my sewing machine. It’s not the most practical use of that prime space but there is the significant spiritual benefit of seeing paper snow flakes cut by a friend everyday to consider. And – although it is unlikely – if there ever is some sort of paper snowflake emergency I am ready.
I like looking at peoples stuff – their treasures -what they choose – what they hold onto. If you feel like showing me what’s in your drawers – please use #whatsinmydrawers on instagram – (I’m @annwood there).