Entirely nude, but for a threadbare whisper of a nightgown.
The gown is made from the sleeve of an Edwardian lawn gown – so simple to make. I just hemmed the top edge – gathered across the front side and added ribbon ties that go around her neck – halter style.
She is offered in the shop – along with a few other new things – as promised I’ve been adding at least one new thing every day and will continue to for as long as seems reasonable. For now she is happy here, she sits serenely, in her nightgown, silently judging that little ant who admires himself so constantly.
And something new on my worktable – an evolving rag doll creature. The texture thing is pretty ambitious and I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, it’s labor intensive even by my standards. But I do like the effect on him.
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:
Briefly – as there is much to cover today – the very first print pattern is in the shop. I’ve turned the tiny rag doll sewing pattern into a 16 page hand illustrated booklet accompanied by three pattern sheets. To celebrate this (for me) huge milestone – the first 25 purchasers will get some bonus items with their pattern.
It’s the first day of fall – it doesn’t feel like it but it will by Sunday and I’m looking forward to it – it’s been an airless summer in NY. I got an excellent dose of forest, air and space at The Squam Art Retreat and so did mr. socks. I also came back with lots of creative energy – I love watching people move through their process and getting glimpses into their imaginations. I taught two experimenting with dolls workshops and was impressed by the willingness to truly experiment and try things – to pick up a thread and follow it. It certainly isn’t easy but can take you to interesting and unexpected places. I’m deeply grateful to everyone who participated for their willingness to be open and vulnerable – I loved being part of it. I’ve shared many dolls below and some were still being worked on – I hope to show you those soon- good things were happening…..
Sondra’s enchanted fish
Tif’s (dottie angel) gentleman moth –
“my name is Cedric Randolf. i am a moth, I fought in the Boar War. i am quite wise and quite old. in one eye i have a cataract, with my other eye i see only goodness”
Rabbit Girl (in process) by Tricia
The moon – and all her phases…. by Jaime (fancy tiger crafts)
Vanessa’s Edwardian lady
(lots more photos after the jump)
Except for her jewelry and 18th century silk slippers – she is unabashedly and completely nude. And just when you think she couldn’t be any more scandalous she even drops her diaphanous wrap.
Please meet Esmé – my first naked lady – a recent doll experiment.
I put the sketchbook practice on vacation for a couple weeks to free up time to experiment with dolls – in preparation for my Squam class next week. I have had a blast. I wanted to practice some things I’d like to demonstrate, come up with some templates and practice pattern making on the fly – quick and messy. I also wanted to try to get a sense of what this class will feel like to participants and look for ways to help people feel free and playful.
I’ve made a bunch of things I’ll show you in a couple weeks – spontaneous things. I sit down with a little pile of material and try stuff. The bad wolf above was an exercise in quick pattern making – making a super rough sketch and turning it into pattern pieces in about 30 minutes. I sewed up the parts and it had all sorts of problems but I accidentally landed on some things I like too. Now I’m sculpting from the outside and adding details.
The quick experimenting has been good for me – given me a million ideas. If you are attending the workshop you are getting a doll maker on fire. And some of the things I’ve been working on will eventually become sewing patterns (the mr. socks – one of my other quick experiments- pattern is in the works). So looking forward to the class and the whole retreat next week – I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.
P. S. I’ve been collecting lots of inspiring doll images on pinterest you check out here if you like.
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,
Sometimes it’s hard to shift out of production work and into true experimenting – really letting go of outcome. Production work is predictable – there is a definite beginning and end and the repetition and familiarity can be kind of comforting. I love to play and experiment, I love the adventure of something new but it takes effort, patience and practice to be able to get my head in that place when I need to. Part of it is the anxiety of all that isn’t done – it interferes with the meandering quality of experimenting. The anxious part of my mind protest the gentle open ended nature of the experimenting.
My sketchbook practice helps – I try to spend my sketchbook time in that place – sometimes I get there and sometimes I don’t but it is always good practice to try – especially in a very unideal moment. I gain more skill all the time at quieting the call of pressing tasks and worries that will absolutely always be there – the perfect moment for experimenting will not ever appear.
A lot of my experimenting lately is around dolls and figures – preparing for my workshop at Squam this September. I want to bring a few things that demonstrate different techniques – like building from the inside out. I began without much of a plan – I had a vague idea of maybe trying to make something similar to an odd figure I like that appeared in last week’s sketchbook.
I started playing and trying things, building a little shape by winding batting over a simple wire form and then stitching fabric on top. I love the spontaneity of this method – one thought builds on another and interesting things happen.
By the time the shape was halfway covered I had shifted direction – the little shape had it’s own idea what it wanted to be and mr. socks began to appear. He is not what I planned on at all – I think my tiny rag doll brain crept in – but I was happy to meet him.
Hello Mr. Socks!
And his posterior. I’ve also been making lots of tiny rag dolls and seedpods while working on sewing patterns for each ( at least one of those patterns will be out next week) and I put a couple tiny rag dolls and seedpods in the shop today.
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.
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.
Made of lovely old cloth from Sri Threads. I had such a good time making her – got lost for hours and hours – that’s the prize. Doll making is like riding a bicycle – both make me feel like I’m 11 again. I’ve already started rag doll # 2 – I have so many doll ideas – it is such a good place to experiment.
P. S. if you like you can join me next September at The Squam Art Retreat for a doll making workshop.
I have lots of ideas for dolls ….. traditional, contemporary, maybe something mysterious or dark and ideas endeavoring in experimental directions. I’m excited about all those ideas but as soon as I started to play with the idea of dolls there was a very insistent desire to make a doll my 11 year old self would have loved. A doll with layers of fancy unmentionables under her gown, to have the fun of dressing her, to indulge in tinyness, detail, sweetness, minutia, sentiment and nostalgia. I got wonderfully lost in it, all the while feeling – more of this please. I love her like you love a doll, an odd little doll.