All posts by annwood

what’s on my worktable : mending, rag dolls and other loose ends

mending a linen smock

mending a linen smock

Mending never ends. The contemporary holly hobby look requires constant maintenance and if I let it get ahead of me I have nothing to wear. I currently have nothing to wear except yoga pants so I’ve officially declared November wardrobe maintenance month. Plus I like to do it, I love the meandering stitches, patches on patches and unexpected color combinations. It chills me out and invites the universe in. Once I sink in I can spend lost hours stitching, percolating ideas and talking to the plants.

mending a linen smock

(Find the free pattern for the awesome pin cushion here)

Hexies sneak into everything, I love the way the look, just popping up once in a while in non-hexie situations and they are also super handy for tight spots with angles, like near a zipper or seam corner and little pull holes near pockets or straps.

I’m working on patterns too – the crow is coming, seriously it is, there was a technical debacle but I’m still shooting for this year. Also patterns for the soldier doll, more clothes for the elegant rag doll  and a new botanical are in the works.

textile owls and birds in progress

And finishing other almost done stuff feels like a good way to end this weird year. For me that starts with making piles and gathering the supplies I need to finish. Also known as tricking myself into starting. The tiny bit of progress gets my wheels turning.

rag doll parts on my worktable

There was a big box of elegant rag doll parts and semi-done samples made for shooting the pattern. Naked and not naked ladies are emerging. I’ll start putting them (and anything else that makes it across the finish line) in the shop soon.

elegant and nude rag dolls

 What are you stitching this November? Are you mending? Making holiday stuff? I’ve got some gift an ornament stuff going too and  I’ll show you next week.  And check out this raccoon!  It’s genius! Made by @erinpcf from the very nice mice pattern with very clever modifications. I love him.

tiny felt raccoon made form the very nice mice pattern

shop news:

tiny rag doll sewing kit

Tiny rag doll and mr. socks kits are back in stock. And the stitch paintings are available again too including two new designs!

embroidery - blue rooster stitch painting

embroidery - bird stitch painting

8 ideas for your scraps : the autumn scrap festival and swap

scrap sewing projects

scrap sewing projects

It’s officially cozy season and I’m comin’ in hot, in full Autumnal mode. I’ve got a spooky book, scraps in warm fall shades for hexies, wool and felt to bundle up littles and another brand new free pattern for you, it’s perfect for scraps. Plus I’ve scoured the internet for a few more awesome scrap projects for you.

*This post contains an affiliate link marked with an asterisk –  I get a small commission  if you purchase through the link.

And a swap! By popular demand we are having an autumn scrap swap – the rules and details are pretty much the same as the spring.

Find the rules, signup link and the “don’t make me turn this car around” speech right here.

*The swap is full and signups are closed

 

burnt offerings by Robert Marasco

Let’s talk about the *spooky book – a classic haunted house situation. It was recommended by a friend with excellent taste last year and I finally got around to it this year. I’m enjoying it immensely (about ¾ of the way through). Besides being spooky it’s set in the 70’s in New York which I love.

Back to the scraps:

There are tons of scrap appropriate projects in my free pattern collection the most recent being:

1. the minimalist chicken

2. slow stitch fish

3.  Another favorite for this time of year are the trees – I’m working on  a little group now.

stuffed pine tree sewing pattern

A few more awesome scrap projects for you:

hand stitched merit badges diy

4. merit badges – who doesn’t need a charming acknowledgment of their accomplishments  – big and small. I can think of all sorts of interesting contemporary categories like – great job putting on pants today…

5. reversible patchwork bag – it’s adorable and the tutorial is great. I’m a big fan of project bags and patchwork so it’s a double winner for me – plus you could keep scraps in it.

6. For your bigger scraps – a sweet multi pocket apron.  You can never have enough pockets.

nostagi christmas light ornament diy

7. nostalgic christmas lights – It’s not too early!  Especially if you’re making stuff for gifts. Man these are sweet and nostalgic. The tutorial is great and they are super easy to make.

8. A super simple and charming quilt. I love this and have started cutting rectangles. I’m not sure if I’ll quilt and bind it or use it as a duvet. I love the way the rectangles look and the simplicity of construction – strips of varying width but the same length.

Do you have a favorite scrap project, awesome spooky book  or a seasonal indulgence to share? Please leave it in the comments!

Till soon,

ann

the somewhat weekly newsletter

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scrap project ideas

chicken ornament : free sewing pattern

fabric scrap chicken ornaments

fabric scrap chicken ornaments

Let’s make minimalist chickens. They are quick and easy and the sort of thing you can make in batches. I bet you know at least a dozen people who need a chicken ornament. Stuff them with wool or something that smells good, they are a sweet and silly surprise either way.

The idea for them turned up in my sketchbook and then bounced back and forth between drawing and sewing as many things do for me in the percolation phase. As the design became increasingly simple I was more and more happy with it. The little legs especially make them expressive and animated. I used laundry starch to stiffen them so I could get just what I wanted.
You just need scraps (stay tuned for scrap swap news later this week) and a few other things to get started.

**download the pattern**

You will also need:

  • fabric scraps – light cotton or linen
  • felt (I like wool felt)
  • embroidery thread
  • glue stick
  • stuffing
  • a basic sewing kit
  • pencil

1. Pin the body pattern to 2 layers of fabric with the right sides together. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil. Cut out the three small parts from felt. Pin the body pieces – right sides together – near the tail end.

2. Fold back the front of the top body piece.

3. Add a tiny bit of glue to the edge of the beak and waddle felt pieces and place on the body fabric exactly as shown – note that there is a little empty space above the beak.

4. Fold the top body piece back down and pin in place. Stitch just the bottom curved seam. Place the felt comb piece as shown above the body.

inserting the felt comb

5. Insert the felt comb between the layers – placing it exactly as shown – note the little triangle of space between the comb and beak.

6. Stitch the top seams leaving the center open.

7. Clip little triangle notches around the curved seam and clip  off seam allowance  the corners. Be careful not to clip the seam.

8. Use your chopstick to turn the chicken right side out.

9. Stuff the body.

10. Make a loop with embroidery thread and knot.

11. Fold the edges of the body opening in and begin to whipstitch closed. As you are closing the opening insert the loop tails with the knot just inside the folded edges and stitch it in place.

embroidering details

12. You might find this method for hiding your knots helpful for embroidering the details. I added an X on each side for eyes.  Small buttons would be sweet too. Make a few stitches for the wings on each side. For the tail I stitched through both sides with straight stitches.

13. For the legs make a knot about two inches from the end of a length of embroidery thread. Make a tiny stitch in the seam about 2 and 1/2 inches from the point of the tail and pull until the knot catches.

14. Put the needle back in and come out about 1/2 inch away in the seam towards the head.  Make a tiny knot.

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lucky fish : slow stitch project

slow stitch scrap fish diy

slow stitch scrap fish diy

Who doesn’t need some luck? Plus these very simple fish are pulling me out of slushy, stubborn stuckness.

One thing leads to another, if you let it, but first you need to start. Where I really started was ironing, ironing scraps. It went on my to do list because it was an easy win (I felt like doing it). And I had saved a couple bundles of scraps, each sent by a friend, to sort and iron pre-move.

slow stitch fabric fish diy

As I ironed and sorted by color the wheels started to turn and I felt a strong and persistent spiritual directive to slow stitch some fish.

Maybe you feel like stitching some fish too. Let it be a meandering process, try stuff. Let one thing lead to another.

** DOWNLOAD THE FISH TEMPLATE **

You will also need:

  • fabric scraps – light cotton or linen
  • little scraps, buttons lace for embellishing
  • stuffing
  • a basic sewing kit
  • pencil

cutting out fabric fish shape

1. Pin the pattern to 2 layers of light cotton fabric – right sides of the fabric together – and cut out. Be sure to clip out the little triangle notches.

2. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil.

3. Stitch the seam by hand or machine, leaving open between the notches. Find hand sewing tips here. 

4.  Clip notches around the curves and clip off the points at the nose and tail. Be careful not to clip the seam.

5. Use a chopstick to turn the fish right side out.

6.  Pro tip: use a plastic mechanical pencil to push out the corners – retract the lead first.

7. Stuff your fish.

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hand sewing tips

As chill and relaxing as hand sewing can be, something not turning out right or completely falling apart after hours and hours of work sure is frustrating. I asked the somewhat weekly newsletter subscribers a question last week – are you a beginner and if so what sorts of questions do you have? The most common answer was about basic stitching. From non beginners too. In fact most people who responded were not beginners. It has also been a question at every single workshop I’ve ever taught.

I have a strong opinion on hand sewing: small is the way to go. Really small, between 1/16th and 1/8th inch stitch length. Definitely no bigger than 1/8th. The gaps between the stitches too – smaller than 1/8th. I hope we’re still friends…

A few other tips to set yourself up for success:

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase though the link. Affiliate links are marked with as asterisk.

Don’t be in a hurry – take a meditative approach. And practice helps a lot.

Have adequate light.

Mark your seam line – lightly in pencil or with a disappearing marker.

Use a good needle. I like size 9 -11 for basic sewing. *John James is a good brand and easy to find.

Thread – historically I’ve been kind of a slob about it – whatever’s around.  I think cotton is best and recently I tried  *Aurifil and it is fantastic.  And don’t use a super long length of thread – it’s tempting to avoid having to stop and rethread but it will tangle and slow you down.

Secure knots are important – more on that below.

Let’s practice on a simple shape

I’m using the heart from the free needle book pattern.  Use any simple shape you like. We will also turn and stuff the heart to demonstrate a couple more tips.

fabric heart with seam line drawn on

Before you start sewing mark the seam line clearly on your fabric, It helps immensely. Especially when you are sewing small items – the margin of error is small. Also besides large and loose stitches wandering away from the seam line is the biggest reason for hand stitching failing explosively and who wants an explosive failure?

making the knot

Solid knots are key to success! So is the thread length. Cut a length of about 16 inches. Longer thread will tangle.

1. Thread your needle and double the end of the thread.

2. Tie a knot in the doubled end.

3. Pull the ends down and clip  most of the ends – leaving just a little.

4. Bring the needle up through the fabric.  To make extra sure your stitches don’t pull out knot the first stitch – make a very tiny stitch and put your needle through the loop before you tighten it.

5. Tighten the knot. Put the needle in about 1/16th inch away to begin the next stitch.

6. Notice that I’m bringing the needle through the fabric from the top.

7. And then back up from the bottom.

multiple stitches at the same time on the needle

8. As opposed to weaving the needle through to take multiple stitches at once. This is a controversial point. The multiple stitches method goes faster. A lot faster. But the result is, in my opinion, looser and less consistent. I use it for decorative stitching but never when I’m joining layers of fabric.

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scrap fabric project : flower garland

scrap flower garland diy

scrap flower tutorial

*Many of you have asked about the wood thread winders – they are awesome! And you can find them at French General.

These garlands are an experiment in color, working with fabric scraps in green, lots of berry shades and  a little bit of very hot pink. I love the combination of the cooler organic shades with this one super bright (almost neon) shade. This is a project I brought to a workshop this past spring, you know, one million years ago. The idea was to provide an invitation to play and some constraints – in this case time (it was the end of the workshop) and color.

Buttons and wood beads add interest and a little weight so it hangs nicely and you’ll nee a little  stuffing for an extra special touch – more on that in a minute.

You could use ribbon, string, twill tape etc. for the base or make a fabric strip yourself. There are directions for that below but let’s make the scrap flowers first.

make a flower garland from scraps
You will need

  • fabric scraps
  • buttons
  • embroidery thread
  • wood or glass beads
  • stuffing
  • basic sewing kit
  • sewing machine – for making the strip

making the flowers

easy scrap flower tutorial

1. Start by cutting a bunch of shapes from your scraps. Don’t think too much or edit yourself at this point, just give yourself a bunch of shapes to play with – a variety of circles and leaves. Part of the value in this exercise for me is that I end up putting things together that I might not have if I made a plan first. Note – the shapes do not need to be perfect.

 scrap flower garland DIY

2. Layer the leaf and flower shapes and stitch them together with embroidery thread. I cut some circles into pinwheel shapes. Some are just layered and stitched, some edges are frayed. Try stuff. Make more flowers than you need, choices are good.

The puffy flowers in the necklace at the top of the post were added by one of the awesome workshops students – Michele Muska. They are a fantastic addition. She also added some charms and little fabric tails. I love the necklace.

3. The puffy flowers are super easy to make. Stitch around the edge of a circle – this one is about 3 inches across. Leave the needle and thread attached.

4. Gather until it’s almost closed. Add a little stuffing.

5. Pull tight and knot.

6. Bring the needle up through the center.

7. Loop around the edge and insert the needle in the bottom center. Bring the needle through the top center and pull tight.

8. Repeat this stitch around, evenly spaced, as many times as you like and then knot on the bottom. Add a button to the center if you like.

scrap flower pincushion tutorial

These flowers also make a sweet mini pin cushion. I liked it so much I interrupted my flower making to make a little needle book to add it to.

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miniature paper hens : free tutorial

dollhouse hen diy

miniature hen tutorial

Let’s make tiny chickens! So little and just the right size for tiny rag doll world. They are quick and easy to make and it’s fun to work on a bunch at once. I’m using crepe paper from a roll. Streamers work too but I think crepe paper from rolls and sheets is easier to work with. 

The hens are truly tiny, only about 2 inches from tail to beak. If you require a bigger little chicken I think it would be easy to scale them up.

lets’s make tiny paper hens!

miniature chicken tutorial

*This post contains affiliate links – meaning I get a small commission of you purchase though the links. The affiliate links are marked with an asterisk.

download the template here

You will also need:

  • one inch *styrofoam ball
  • *crepe paper – sheets or streamers – sheets are easy to work with I think
  • glue stick – I love the *uhu stick for paper
  • scissors
  • optional – manicure scissors – super helpful for making little cuts
  • acrylic paint and brushes
  • white glue – elmer’s is good
  • a fine tip black marker

1. Cut out and trace the two tiny template pieces onto cardboard.

2. Cut two triangles into the flat top of the head to make the comb.

3. Push the pointed bottom of the head piece into the ball.

4. Push it in until the bottom corners are inside the ball.

5. On the opposite side of the ball push the pointed bottom of the tail into the ball.

6. Push it in until the corners are inside the ball. Your piece should look like this. Paint a little white glue along the edge where the cardboard meets the ball. Let this dry.

7. Paint the cardboard the same color as your crepe paper.  After the base paint is dry paint the comb area with red and the beak with yellow. It’s already pretty chickeny isn’t it.

8. Stretch your crepe paper – streamers aren’t that stretchy but sheets and rolls of crepe paper are. Cut two strips – one inch wide and about nine inches long each.

9. Fold each strip matching up the edges – the folded piece should be about two inches long.

10. Clip into one side with your scissors creating pointy fringe.

11. Unfold the strips and cut off a two inch piece.

crepe paper hen tutorial

12. Apply glue stick to the tail and wrap the two inch fringe piece around it. Use a little more glue to tack down the end of the paper.

13. Let that dry for a few minutes. While it’s drying cut 8 one inch pieces and 6 half inch pieces.

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july is tiny rag doll month and sweet things made by customers

tiny rag doll sewing patterns

Pack up a few supplies, find a shady spot and spend a peaceful afternoon sewing. You will also need some lemonade and blueberries. Maybe bring some picnic bugs too, just to be nice.

tiny rag doll sewing patterns

Tiny rag dolls are great little projects to take with you.  And there are tons of free patterns and tutorials for her in The Miss Thistle Society. It’s such a deal – for example get the digital doll and wardrobe pattern and you’ve got  a doll, bloomers, a reversible pinafore, dress and camisole plus all the free patterns too. Hours and hours of fun.

The super sweet tiny dolls below are made by customers.  You can checkout lots more on instagram and share yours using #missthistlesociety and #annwoodpattern – there are tons of great ideas.

Links to the makers:

paper hen

PS – I hear you and a tiny chicken tutorial is coming soon – it’s super easy to make.

so long new york city

ann wood's brooklyn apartment

ann wood's brooklyn apartment

After 24 years I’ve said goodbye to New York City and my creaky old place. And because of the current situation I didn’t even see the new place until I arrived with movers and all my worldly possessions. It was an extra big adventure.

guilford town green

The last few weeks have been consumed with all the moving chores and writing giant checks. So not fun. Yesterday I took a break and made my Inaugural Guilford Connecticut pot of soup (spring vegetable) and took a walk around my new neighborhood, it has awesome old trees. I especially love the giant droopy old pines – they have been appearing in my paintings for  the last year or so. Prophetic maybe.

guilford ct

I’d only ever been here once for about 15 minutes. Apparently it made an impression. I did have a truly excellent artisanal donut that day so there’s that. Ever since the move my thinker has been being a stinker. Can’t focus and I spin my wheels a lot. And it is also the longest I have gone without making something or even stitching in 10 plus years. Over the holiday weekend I sat by a friend’s pool and mended and made hexies.

mending jeans and sewing hexies

I think it helped, I guess hexies really are necessary to my mental health #hexiesforsanity. Also as I sift through the chaos here and get unpacked more of the fog lifts. I hope to be smart again by August.

garden

And I’ve got a tiny garden. A life long dream realized. So simple and happy. It’s kind of a haphazard mess but I love it. I’ll share more as it develops but the big news today is my beets have sprouted. The universe truly is magic.

doll overalls : a free sewing pattern

doll overalls free sewing pattern

doll overalls free sewing pattern

Of course the tiny rag doll need overalls. And they come in mr. socks size too cause I’m nice like that. They’re easy and quick to make and you could scale the pattern up for larger dolls. Sew them completely by hand or some seams can be done on machine if you like.

doll overalls free sewing pattern

You will need :

the template – get the doll overalls template here and the mr. socks overalls template here.

light weight cotton fabric

a basic sewing kit

and optional – tiny buttons and little scraps for patches

doll overalls free sewing pattern

1. Pin the strap fabric to single piece of fabric. Pin the overalls pattern to a doubled piece with the right sides together.  Pin the lining to a single piece of fabric – you can use a contrasting fabric or the same as the overalls.

Note – I’m using a print from the French General new lawn cottons. The prints are all super sweet and great for small dolls.

2. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil on the wrong side of the lining piece and both overall pieces.  It’s also helpful to mark the front and back on the overall pieces as indicated on the pattern.

3. With the right sides of the fabric together sew just the front seam of the overalls  as shown in red above – stopping at the end of the curve.

4. Clip a couple little notches in the seam allowance at the curve. Be careful not to clip the seam.

5. Press the straight part of the seam open.

6. Press the top seam allowance over – wrong sides together – on the lining and overalls.

7. Place the lining on the overalls with the right sides together and pin. Stitch only the curved seams as shown above.  Clip little notches into the seam allowance.

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the new plan for scraps : filed by color

sorting quilting scraps by color

sorting quilting scraps by color

The organizing was a huge idea generator. It shifted something – seeing everything grouped that way, it was somehow thrilling and I got tons of new ideas. There was also a big editing process, I just kept the stuff I loved.

It took forever and was hugely fun and satisfying to do. I haven’t figured out how to store them yet plus I love looking at them so for now they’ll stay where they are, just hanging out on a table.

sorting quilting scraps by color

The idea was to organize some little groups of scraps for my hexie quilt project. It snowballed into sorting through every single little cotton quilting weight scrap I have and organizing them by color. How do you sort your fabric scraps? Historically my scraps have been sorted mostly by project – owl scraps, doll scraps etc. but the hexie project uses all the scraps plus I’m experimenting with color transitions.

sorting quilting scraps by color

I found little scrap treasures I’d forgotten, and the original miss thistle turned up too – she’s been missing for years (her dress is still missing).

original tiny rag doll

hexie quilt made from scraps

It’s perfect for the hexie quilt – I’m working from the pale neutral pile now. And it does help immensely to have things pre-sorted by color. All the sorting and organizing led to more sorting and organizing, you know how that goes, and I think my plan for the remainder of this odd spring will be to organize and edit all my possessions.

How do you store your scraps? Have you tried sorting by color? Share in the comments if you like and check out out lots of awesome #hexiesforsanity projects here.

how to make salt clay

making dolls and mini dishes from salt clay

salt clay diy

It’s also called Victorian Salt Clay, I even love the sound of it. The question was “ What if you want to make tiny dishes but don’t have paper clay?” I wondered if a homemade, air-dry clay could work and the answer is yes. It was a fun experiment plus I love the way it smells – I was immediately 11 again.

Salt is the main ingredient. It produces a clay that is a little more textured than paper clay. It takes a while to dry – a day or two. You shouldn’t bake it but you can put it someplace warm to speed up the process. My oven has a pilot so it’s always a little warm and I put my pieces in it overnight. The small things were dry but the larger pieces needed another day. It’s very hard when dry and can be sanded and painted – I have tips for that below. First let’s make the clay.

You will need:

1 cup of salt
⅓ cup water
½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

!. Mix 1 cup of table salt with ⅓ cup of water. Heat in a small pan over medium heat, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat.

2. Quickly stir the ½ cup cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. It’s very important that you sprinkle the cornstarch a little at a time stirring constantly or it won’t mix properly.

3. Put the salt mixture back on low heat and add the cornstarch mixture stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken. Keep stirring until it becomes dough like – this happens pretty quickly.

4. Scoop it out onto a plate and let it cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, knead it into a smooth ball. It’s ready to use – you can roll it like cookie dough or sculpt it. Left over clay can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. I did find it a little crumbly when I took it out of the fridge the next day but after I kneaded it again it was sculpt-able.

making dolls and mini dishes from salt clay

salt clay miniature teacup

I tried making some plates and cups from the tiny dish tutorial and got good results. When I formed it over things it was looser than the paper clay but it still worked. And in the plate tutorial I recommend letting it dry about halfway before cutting the shapes. With the salt clay you can’t do that – it becomes too brittle. It’s a pretty stiff clay though so easy to cut.

dollhouse dish tutorial

 

Over-all I was pleased with the results – not as fine as the paper clay but still charming and I definitely value heart over perfection in tiny dish making.

Plus it’s fun to make the clay!

 

 

I sanded the pieces and painted with watercolor, acrylic craft paint and finished some with nail-polish. Use quick multiple coats of paint. I found if I overworked the paint it would lift.

miniature cast iron pan

The handle on the tiny cast iron frying pan broke when I sanded it but I glued it back on and painted it with black nail polish. The teacup got painted with black nail polish too. The soup kettle was made by forming the clay over a handle – similar to the process for creating the teacup in the dish tutorial.

salt clay diy - pots and pans

salt clay diy

mini doll parts made form salt clay

Parts for a little doll experiment showed up too. Such a funny little lady, I love her. I’ll post a photo when she’s finished.

magic stones made form victorian salt clay

And magic stones.

I made them, that’s how I know for sure they’re magic. They are painted with watercolor and acrylic and finished with a layer of nail polish. The clay and stones would be a fun project to do with little folks and a magic rock in your pocket can’t hurt.

I hope you make victorian salt clay!

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.