Just in time for your holiday weekend stitching – the rutabaga pattern is here. It’s a relatively quick project – depending on how long you linger in the details. I taught it at a workshop recently and fabulous turnips and rutabagas were created in under 4 hours.
Personally – I like to linger in the details of these – especially the appliqué. It’s repetitive, easy, relaxing work that requires just enough attention to make it the perfect activity for percolating ideas. I make it my job to have ideas – lot’s of ideas – and I love the sensation of letting an idea percolate, letting my subconscious have a crack at it. I drift into pleasant, soft focus daydreamy work and behind the scenes problems get solved, perspective shifts and connections are made. A brisk walk works too but then I don’t get a lovely rutabaga out of the deal.
I also like the appliqué portion of the program because it goes against my grain a little (a lot). I’m sometimes afraid of raw edges in a way that inhibits me creatively – I can get too obsessed with being neat and buttoning things up and lose the essence of the thing. I’ve been experimenting with pretty traditional appliqué (I’ll show you soon) and would like to get a little free-er in my designs.
Besides the meditative benefits there are so many reasons to make a rutabaga (or turnip) – they are, I think, the most beautiful of the root vegetables. No one is ever expecting a stitched turnip so they make wonderful gifts. And these rutabagas have a secret ingredient that makes them balance in a dynamic, root vegetable-lish way.
I add a little weighted fill – 1mm glass bead fill is my favorite. I put 2-4 spoonfuls in the toe of an old pair of tights to keep it in one spot and insert it into the bottom. The result is a rutabaga that perches at a jaunty angle instead of just lying on its side.
I hope you make rutabagas (or turnips)! And if you do I’d love to see – you can email photos to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com.
Have a beautiful weekend,
Meet Mrs. Spots – a dear old friend of Mr. Socks. There have been a number of questions lately – and – I have wondered myself – if the tiny rag doll’s wardrobe could work for the Mr. Socks doll pattern. I spent some time experimenting with that and – with some adjustments – it can. And that is how I arrived at Mrs. Spots.
Beginning with the dress (the dress is from the tiny rag doll pattern) – it needs to be a little larger, Mrs. Spots is taller than the tiny rag doll and has considerable girth around the middle. There are two easy ways to do it – you can add a quarter inch to the dress pattern – the cut line becomes the stitch line with the exception of the back center seam – don’t add extra there.
Or just enlarge the pattern to 115% ( I have not tried this with the pinafore apron yet but I suspect enlarging it to 115% would work – if you give it a try I’d love to see).
For the coat – so easy – you can use the pattern at it’s original size but skip the hood and do not sew the back seam (step 3 in the pattern) – leave the full width. The little satchel works as is too. (The coat and satchel are both from the coat, bag and hat pattern).
And finally the free hat pattern – for days when a coat is just too much. I enlarged it to fit and you can download the larger size here.
And some small art news:
I’ll be adding the first of the small art series 2 pieces to the shop soon – either tomorrow or over the weekend (sorry that’s not more specific – I have a couple tech things to work out). I’m planning on adding about 24 little paintings. If you are on the artwork list you will get an email notification (not sure if you are? email me – happy to help) and I’ll also update this post and instagram.
Of course she needs a sensible coat! And it’s reversible! I’m pretty excited about the reversibleness of the coat – and the nifty way it goes together – it feels like kind of a magic trick ( I included a video link for that part). I also love that the coat is built from just two pieces and demonstrates an awesome system for making reversible doll garments – you could modify the pattern and use the same easy technique to create all sorts of lined or reversible little clothes.
I also made a little lined flat bottomed satchel for her foraging and a hat too. She is ready for adventure.
Find sample pages from the pattern here and here.
The winter wardrobe pattern is in the shop now and I’m including the little hat pattern in this post too – download the template here and instructions are below – it’s very simple, easy and quick – you can make one in under twenty minutes.
For the tiny hat you will need a little wool, felt or flannel and contrasting embroidery thread. Pin the hat pattern to the fabric and cut out.
Whip stitch all around the bottom edge with a strand or two of embroidery thread.
Fold the hat in half and whip stitch the back seam from the bottom towards the tip.
Knot just before the tip and fray the tip. And finally tie little lengths of embroidery thread to the ear flaps and knot.
She is fully outfitted for her travels. A couple other notes on the pattern- the coat and satchel will fit mr. socks too and you could scale it for other dolls. I have not tried the hat on mr. socks – but I think it would work if you enlarge it a little.
If you make a tiny wardrobe I’d love to see – you can email photos to info at ann wood handmade dot com.
Mr. Socks is going to sea in his very own ship. I made it using my free paper mache boat pattern with a couple changes. If you’d like to make your own follow the original boat instructions but to make it just right for Socks use:
(a note on sail making – there are instructions here if you need them)
Socks is the kind of cat that does just what he wants so he is off to Paris for a holiday in his brand new ship.
au revoir mr. socks!
The tiny rag doll pattern was not something I planned on or saw coming but I’m so glad I followed the impulse – it has been and continues to be a very happy thing. A happy thing for me to make and a happy thing to share. I think it strikes a cord – a point of connection so many of you that show up here have in common with me and each other. It’s the kind of sewing I grew up doing – slow hand stitching. There is sweetness, simplicity and nostalgia about it. I came across this thought from Dawn – a tiny rag doll maker – she puts it perfectly:
I love the quiet peacefulness of stitching by hand, using a thimble, putting the tiny pieces together just so. I feel a connection to countless other hand stitchers who came before me. I think it comes through in the dolls.
The doll above – forward looking and ready for adventure is by Dawn ( as well as the next 3) and below I’ll share some other wonderful tiny rag doll work by customers. You can find more and add your own to the ann wood handmade by you Flickr group – there are lovely things happening there – all sorts of ideas and details and variations being shared (including adorable crocheted wigs – a pattern from another fabulous tiny doll maker Beth – scroll all the way to the bottom of her page for the link).
I think it’s the perfect moment for a tiny doll revolution – the world needs more tiny handmade rag dolls – an army of hand stitched little ladies who mean business.
P.S. If you’ve made a tiny rag doll and have details, variations or tips you’d like to share please do in the comments or email me and I’ll add it to the post.
Below – tiny rag dolls by Karen:
Find the pattern here. And she has a tiny wardrobe : dress, reversible pinafore apron, bloomers and a camisole – there are full instructions for all. It’s a huge pattern with more than 80 color photos and tips to make small sewing easy and beautiful – like turning tiny pieces and hiding your knots.
How about those little clothespins? You can get your own here. They might be the best thing in the world.
And she has perfect tiny hair – the pattern shows you step by step how to create it easily – and the technique would work for other dolls too. The sample page below ( page 17 in the pattern) is the end of the hair section and beginning of the feature section.I hope you make tiny rag dolls and lots of outfits for them ( a winter wardrobe will be available later this year). If you do I’d love to see – send photos to info at ann wood handmade dot com.
If you’re not inclined to make your own I’ll have some more tiny rag dolls in the shop next week – sign up here to be notified when new things are available – there all all sorts of new things coming up in the next few weeks,
When I first started making ships I was doing little handkerchief rolled hems on the sails. They were pretty but drove me crazy and took forever. When I put together the paper mache ship pattern I wanted something easier and I found it. It’s super simple and has other benefits too.
I cut two pieces of fabric for each sail (not usually the same fabric – I like the front and back to be different – even just subtly), pin them right sides together and stitch around – leaving one little section open. Trim the excess off the corners, turn it right side out, press and stitch closed. I add a whip or blanket stitch around the edge and layers of patches and lace. You can click here to download the sail pattern below if you’d like to give it a try.
This method is much quicker than the tiny hems and makes a very tidy sail. Also the double fabric helps the sails hold their shape when you fill them with wind.
I’m making an owl to captain the ship I’m working on and used my favorite piece of antique ticking for his front. Putting a horizontal stripe on an owl transforms him instantly into a gentleman sailor. The owl below is the medium size from the little owl pattern.
And ticking stripes are nice for sailing mice 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 Sailboat pattern is here! Charming boats to sew. They twirl in the breeze and cast lovely shadows. The boats are a great way to use fabrics that are special to you – make a little memory vessel – there is lots of opportunity to personalize and embellish and create an heirloom. I also love to make them from old quilt tops that I pick up at fleamarkets and sometimes on Ebay. The pattern is in the shop now as well as a sample sale of some of the boats I made along the way and some french hens.
I hope you make sailboats!
Suddenly a chicken appeared! Or more specifically a hen, a french hen. It occurred to me that maybe the merry wobbler sewing pattern could be modified to make a hen – and it can! Of course they need nesting boxes too and I created a little template and tutorial on how to make the box and modify the wobbler. Both are super simple – find the template and instructions below after lots of hen pictures – I couldn’t help it – I love them.
You can download the template for the nest box and hen parts here.
And you will also need the merry wobbler sewing pattern or, if you like, come up with your own bird to chickenize.
Other supplies are: felt for hen parts and the nest, a glue stick, cardboard and embroidery thread- I’m using dmc 8.
Beginning with the nest box – cut out 2 of the felt shapes for the nest and one cardboard bottom – cereal box weight cardboard. Read More
One of the many unexpected benefits of designing craft and sewing patterns is that I end up questioning why I do things the way I do and pushing for better, clearer, simpler and cleaner solutions. The exercise of explaining a process to someone else, breaking it down into steps, highlights all sorts of imperfections, inefficiencies and details that complicate and don’t enhance significantly.
The little fabric boats had a detail like that – a detail I was very attached to, a detail that was difficult and time consuming to execute with consistency. I love these little boats and I’ve made tons of them over the years – it was nutty of me to put up with that sticky point for as long as I did.
The boats originally had a curve in the back – you can see it on the green boat above. I experimented with a bunch of adjustments to try to make it easier but nothing worked. As much as I liked that curve the difficulty did seem unreasonable. These boats are so sweet and fun, perfect unexpected presents and lovely as a group so I am determined that they be easy to make. And now they are. In the end I tried a simpler piece for the back you can see on the brown boat – no bend or curve. I ended up liking the simple shape better – much better. The more complicated back was nice and clever but didn’t REALLY add any charm to the design after all – I was just attached to it.
Look for the pattern in about a week – just in time for a spring regatta. And there will be a sample sale too – I’ve made a bunch of these little boats while working it all out. If you’d like to be notified by email when the pattern and boats are in the shop you can sign up here.
I love cloth.
I always have – as a child it was something I had in abundance and I learned to think well in stitches. I especially love old cloth. Lovely old cloth. I love it for it’s simplicity, it’s commonness, it’s possibilities and meaning.
I spend happy hours considering and choosing – today I’m gathering bits of indigo for an owl. I love the textures and patinas that comes from decades or centuries of life and use and I make things that celebrate it as I find it – all it’s scars and mending apparent. And I add my own patches and mends and visible stitching – I love the sewness, the make believe. The fragility and other unexpected qualities of very old cloth send me in new directions, new ways of doing things. I used some of my most treasured scraps from Sri Threads to make these toadstools.
I love the little guy. You can find all three in the shop today.
As I was working on them I was thinking about constructing shapes in cloth and what a fascinating process that is. If you’re experimenting with that kind of sewing, especially if you’re just beginning to play with three dimensional sewing – spheres are a great place to start. When I teach a workshop I almost always give away a pattern for three and four part spheres. You can download that pattern here if you like.
And speaking of patterns – more are coming soon – fabric boats, tiny dolls and the flamingo kit. I’ve hit a lot of snags and complications putting that together, it’s been a bigger mountain to climb than I expected but it’s almost there.
And in other news:
A new podcast interview! My second ever. Find my conversation with my good friend Elizabeth Duvivier (founder and director of Squam Art Retreats) here. I loved our chat – Elizabeth is a smart cookie, a truly curious person and I love her new podacast. Two of my favorite episodes are with Suzan Mischer and Kerry Lemon. I hope you check it out.
So many nice mice! Thanks so much to everybody who made mice from my pattern and shared their photos – on instagram and Facebook etc. as well as emailing me – I can’t tell you how helpful it is and how much I enjoy it – a nice way to end the year. I love seeing what you make. Check out the fantastic mouses and houses!! by readers below – I love them – every little detail. This multi level affair is by Maura for her son – I can’t stop looking at it.
And A little house in a box by Mama with a Needle and Thread for her little girl – so freakin sweet. Good night little mouse!
Susan added little wooden bases to her dinner place card mice – it’s such a happy crew.
They survived a perilous journey across the couch – stay in a group little mice, stay in a group!
And finally from Larissa – mmmcrafts – slippers, mittens and snowballs – I love it.
I had pretty much talked myself out of a Christmas Tree – one more thing to do- that sort of thing……… And then all of a sudden talked myself right back into it. I already had a tree so why not. Last year I got a living tree – a little Norfolk Pine – and it’s still here, a much more charlie brown sort of affair than it was when I got it last December but alive and pretty well. I’m so happy it survived – they often perish post Christmas and I’ve gotten very attached to it. I got it on a whim (down the street at a deli for 30 bucks) without knowing much about Norfolks; hot, dry, semi sunny New York apartments are not ideal environments for them. When it began to struggle last year I got a tip from a reader (thanks Sally!) to give it a cool shower once in a while and that did the trick. Decoration-wise I wanted to be gentle with it so I kept it simple – mostly things I made (pattern resources are listed at the bottom of the post) and a few heirloom treasures like my Mom’s pink glass beads. It’s twinkly and festive and makes me happy. I’m so glad I did it and I hope the tree doesn’t mind to much.
ornament pattern resources:
The forest folk pattern is in the shop. Little creatures that fit in the palm of your hand and are cozy in your pocket. I’m so excited to share this pattern with you – it is a satisfying project to make and, if you are inclined, a jumping off point for making all sorts of other creatures. The pattern has full instructions for a bunny and squirrel and with little modifications to the fabric colors and tail and ear patterns you could create skunks, beavers, gophers,chipmunks! raccoons….. you get the picture. I’d love to see what you make and you can send photos to ann at ann wood handmade dot com.
The squirrels and bunnies can be hand or machine sewn – I think hand sewing is best for beginners and it can be a nice travel project- I’m making lots for gifts this year – I pack up some cut pieces and sew them on the subway. The little bunny in the center is made from a worn cotton velvet that started its life with me as a skirt when I was in my twenties. About 15 years ago it became a pillow cover and now it’s becoming a flock of little velvet bunnies because who doesn’t need a little velvet bunny? The velvet was more difficult than wool to sew but I couldn’t resist it. (These creatures and some others are in the shop now if you are not inclined to sew your own).
So long little bunny!