There is nothing like a credible threat to get you moving. The unmovable, fixed date of the Squam Art Fair last Saturday was the perfect motivation to push the songbird print pattern across the elusive finish line. Get up a little earlier, work a little later, beg the printer (local and awesome). Make it happen. It was painful. And I’m so glad I did it, the booklet is in the shop now.
I need deadlines. For everything. Even stuff I love doing.
I knew that before but I thought of it as a shortcoming. A bad thing about me I need to change instead of acknowledging how I’m wired and working with that reality. Figure out what I need, identify what motivates me and arrange my life as optimally as possible to support that. Just like time, focus, energy and attention motivation needs to be managed.
I love the booklet, and I love that it is done! It is more than 20 pages and illustrated with over 100 black and white photos. Checkout some lovely birds made from the pattern below and if you like you can send images to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com or use #annwodhandmade on instagram.
P S- By the way I’m thinking of offering wool stuffing in the shop this fall – what do you think?
Labor Day Weekend, the unofficial start of the holiday season. Just kidding. Mostly. It does have a shifting feel to it though, everything starting back up again. It’s going to be a sewing weekend for me. Fun sewing, amulets and mushrooms and Monday devoted entirely to experimenting. I’ll give you the full report on that next week.
I’m still having a good time making amulets, small thoughts, and they are generating all sorts of color and composition ideas for larger or more involved things. They have become morning work for me, hand sewing with coffee before I’m quite awake yet. I love having a little stack ready to go and waiting for me.
Do you pick up handwork first thing? What are you making? Can you give yourself a day or an hour or 20 minutes to play and experiment this weekend?
These are the things I want to know.
The songbird PDF pattern is in the shop today! It has more than 100 color photos and detailed instructions. You need basic sewing skills and some patience if you are a beginner.
And to celebrate the instructions for making a realistic bird leg are below. I hope you make songbirds!
How to make a realistic bird leg with wire:
You can use any gauge wire you like, I think that 19 gauge soft annealed wire is the easiest to work with and provides enough stability for the legs. You can build up the thickness of the legs and feet by adding additional layers of floral tape.
1. Gather the wire, floral tape, hammer, pliers and cutters, ruler and a surface to hammer on, I’m using a little anvil but any very hard surface will do.
Cut 2 – 12 inch lengths of wire.
2. Hold the wire with the pliers 1 and 1/2 inches from one end.
3. Bend the wire forming a loop.
4. Hold the loop just past where the wire crosses with the pliers. Bend the long end of the wire so it is perpendicular to the loop.
5. Wrap the long end of the wire around the short end behind the loop. Wrap as tightly as you can, keeping you fingers very close to the wrapping.
6. Place the wire on a hard surface and tap firmly with the hammer to flatten the wire wrapping. This will help the wrap hold in the next step.
7. Use wire cutters to snip the loop in the middle.
Enchanted mushrooms made from little bits of fabric and other supplies you probably already have. I’ve just added the new mushroom print pattern and kit! to the shop. And in celebration of the 12th anniversary of ann wood handmade all patterns and kits are 25% off through Monday.
If you make mushrooms I’d love to see! You can use #annwoodhandmade on instagram or email me a photo at info at ann wood handmade dot com.
Patched and mended, a little worse for wear, but good and happy sheep, sheep who persevere. I made mr. and mrs. lamb from the mr. socks pattern with just a couple little modifications. Their outfits and the satchel are made from the tiny rag doll clothing and wardrobe patterns with modifications detailed here.
The only changes are to the head. I made ears – gray on one side and black on the other – stitched with the right sides together. I left the last half inch open for turning right side out.
I closed the opening, whip stitched around the seam and then stitched the ears to the head. I cut a little circular head cover instead of the pointy mr. socks head cover.
I pinned the head cover in place and stitched over the ears and across the front. I added a tiny bit of stuffing before closing the back so his head would be smooth.
Here they are all sheepified – mrs. has got some seriously happy ears.
Mr. L’s tiny trousers are my favorite part – made from the tiny rag doll bloomers – I added about 1/4 inch to the pattern and they just fit.
Mr. L sports the always risky pants and scarf but no shirt look.
He is off to wander among the woebegone pines. Find the free pattern for the trees right here. I’m working on some photographs for the holidays so I’m making a bunch right now.
Mr. socks is in print! My second print pattern is in the shop. It’s a 12 page booklet with 47 hand drawn illustrations. I’m starting another print pattern this evening while the mechanics of putting it all together are all still fresh in my mind. And while my drawing muscle feels strong. I love the little booklets – they are a giant amount of work but I love making them.
Maybe you’ll make a mischievous cat. Maybe he will have an adventure. I’m rolling around the idea of a photo contest for later this summer – more on that soon.
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.
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)
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 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.