7 things bringing me joy right now

1. vessels  And they’re turning up everywhere, in my paintings, the stitchbook and as ceramics.

little ceramic bottles - one with a pinted windmill scene the other white with little handles

I’ve been taking classes at the Guilford Art Center since I landed in Connecticut and have lately gotten obsessed with vessels. Mostly little ones. There are lots more in progress. The little group below is pre-firing.

2. the stitchbook I’m very surprised and happy at how many people are participating! And it continues to be a fruitful practice for me. I go on and on about that here.

*This post contains affiliate links – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link.

3.the cardboard house I’ve been imagining the pattern for the downstairs walls for a very long time. And carving the little stamps made me want to carve lots more little stamps.

blue pattern being stamped on doll house walls

The old linen napkin I was offloading ink onto made me want to block print some fabric. I love the pattern, I see tea towels in the future…


I’ll get into more detail about the process in an upcoming cardboard house progress post. If you’d like to try making stamps you can *get a kit here – this is an affiliate link – I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the link.

4. packages Making sweet packages makes shipping orders way more fun. Brown paper, stickers, stamps bakers twine and little extras are all magic to me. Also there are  a couple new cards for spring.

packages wrapped in brown paper with stickers, stamps, cards and twine

5. twinkle lights  Most things can be improved by twinkle lights. And I’ve had one long string for many, many years that is particularly awesome. It’s the mini kind – wire with tiny lights, the light is warm and it has a plug rather than batteries. It finally died about a month ago. I tried a bunch of replacements that did not sing to me until this one arrived. It’s just right – warm light, nice and long and it plugs in. *You can get it here – and fyi this is also an affiliate link – meaning I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the link.

little art studio with twinkle lights

6. The tiny garden and  imminent lilacs. So much joy. I am so ready for the garden. I’ve got some herbs, flowers and lettuce I started from seeds in March (that feels so adult), the beets have appeared and it’s looking like my repurposed cedar chest planter is going to give me another year.

Also I’m sure it’s a good omen that a mystery plant has appeared. You gotta admire its chutzpah just showing up like that so it stays. I am gonna move it so it does not dominate the tiny space and has something to climb since it looks pretty climby.

7.  House plants make life better. Freshly repotted, happy plants. The little jade has been with me for 25 years.

Are you a plant person? What’s bringing you joy this spring? Let us know in the comments.

stitchbook : day 83 update – we are in the homestretch

fabric book pages appliqued and stitched

fabric book pages appliqued and stitched

Today is day 83 in the hundred day stitchbook project. Page 17 is the current page. I can’t wait to assemble the book. Some stuff has to be figured out first, most importantly:

Will the pages be chronological?

When I began I thought I would assemble the book with the pages in the order I stitched them. Now I’m leaning toward my pages not being in chronological order, instead arranging them  in whatever order I like. Some of the pages seem to belong together and I like the idea of seeing them side by side when the book is spread open. That decision lead me to the next decision about designing a cover and back.

day 82

There are only 4 pages left to stitch – 17 is in progress now. I’ve decided to make it the cover page and it’s going to be super simple. A couple appliques and then 100 marks/stitches.
One of the other remaining pages will be the back cover. I haven’t decided on a design yet but it will also probably be pretty spare and simple and use the same background fabric as the cover.

The  remaining pages will be approached as the first 16 pages were – experimental, improvisational.

A large part of the value of this project has been getting somewhere I did not plan to go. That’s the huge benefit of a daily art practice. Stuff turns up.

 

There are tons of people stitching pages (I’m super surprised and pleased and excited about that!) and I’ve shared a few below.

1. @lobostitched

2. @prairiewomanarts

3. @teresacass

4. @harpdollz59

5

5. @artcat237

A special over achiever award goes to @shmataboro – she has stitched 60 pages! And they are fabulous.

60 stitched pages

You can find tons more on instagram by searching #annwoodstitchbook. There is so much great work and I’ll share lots more when we wrap this project up in a couple weeks. If you’d like to email me a photo you can send it to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com.

Are you stitching along? Are your pages going to be chronological?  Please let us know in the comments.

onward!

ann

a sneak peek at miss thistle’s house and tips for building with cardboard

cardboard doll house in progress

cardboard doll house in progress

 It’s flexible, free and easy to work with, I’m a fan of cardboard and it’s the perfect material for a house for miss thistle.   The house was begun a year – or two? ago and then stayed stuck. Stuck in over thinking, indecision and architectural correctness. It needs the right spirit and that spirit kept slipping away in the effort. 

A couple days ago I put a deadline on it – there had to be a finished structure by the end of the week.  The time limit was motivating and got my wheels turning, I stumbled into a secret ingredient that solved lots of problems – gummed paper tape.  

brown tape over cardboard house edges

*this post contains an affiliate link

It’s a thick brown paper tape with adhesive on the back that you moisten to activate. I used it to cover edges and seams – it adds strength and stability to my quick, messy build and fills in pretty big gaps. I ended up putting it over every gap, seam and edge.  I’ve used this tape before for tacking down watercolor paper but never in this way.  It is awesome. *You can get it here (This is an affiliate link – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link).

A couple tips for working with it – use a sponge to dampen the adhesive – don’t dip the tape in water. And if you’re pushing it into a corner seam, crease it first. I also used it to cover the edges of some of the windows and door opening. This was kind of a pain so I switched to masking tape for the little areas.

The main downside to working with cardboard is it warps and gets soggy when painted. I’ve got a few suggestions for avoiding that:

Use wood glue. It sets up quickly and has a nice grab almost right away. I used tons. Hot glue works too but I’m pretty over burning myself.

Cover the raw edges of the corrugated board. Use the aforementioned paper tape or masking tape. The paper tape has a nicer surface.

Laminate. It makes a huge difference. Laminating two pieces together makes a much sturdier and warp resistant structure.  Wood glue is perfect for sticking them together. I laminated the front and floors. I wish I had done the sides too but I think it will be ok.

Paint in thin coats and don’t add water. I’m using latex paint and dry brushing on a super thin layer as a primer. When the whole thing is covered in that I’ll start adding color, decoration, etc. Always in thin layers. Plus I want to retain the “cardboardness” for this house.

lifting out the removable floor

And a building tip – I used clothespins to support the second floor. I wanted it to be removable to make decorating easier. The clothespins are taken apart and wood glued to the walls. They are adorable miss thistle size beams.

I’m on fire for the little house now. So excited to do the fun decoraty stuff. I tested out a few of the tiny things inside and it all feels just right.

house on my table - ready to paint

Are you building a tiny doll world? There are lots of tutorials for furniture and accessories on the miss thistle society page, including the hearth, rug, stove and pot above.

Stay tuned for more cardboard house updates!

 

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.


customer and reader project gallery

This year we are celebrating the 16th!! anniversary of ann wood handmade with the charming, magical and imaginative work by customers and readers. I’ve added links to the maker wherever possible – check them out –  there are tons of links and you will find a pinterest level of rabbit hole fun exploring them. The mushroom below (little mushroom pattern) and gorgeous photo are by Trish.

projects made by customers and readers

You can find all the patterns for the projects below in the shop or on the free pattern page.

Crows by Gillian and Anni the wing details are fantastic!

Songbirds by Gabi, blue bird by Alexandra and colorful songbirds by Sue.

mushrooms by Sarah and Michelle

elegant rag dolls by Marilina

Frogs (find it on the free pattern page) by Barb and Cris.

Read More

on fire for captain charmley

The heavy lifting is done and I’m at the perfecting stage. Making lots of tiny adjustments, in the zone. This is the fun part, the woodshedding.

Captain Charmley has been through some changes since his first appearance here. The original soldier dolls sprang out of  this experiment and were much smaller. I do want him to be a companion to the elegant rag doll so his size and proportions were all re-worked. This is also known as pretty much starting over.

soldier rag doll and elegant lady doll in progress in ann wood's hand

legs and boots stitched form cotton in ann wood's hand

Through all his iterations I’ve waffled on a couple details. Expressive feet and sideburns mainly. It comes down to a balance between effort, complication and effect. Is a tiny detail worth adding steps to the pattern. I’ve decided that the sideburns and expressive feet are definitely worth it.

The other big hurdle is his lined jacket. The mechanics have been worked out and I’m super happy with the process. You’re gonna love it. PS – the fabric was a gift from artist indira johnosn  and marketplaceindia – i love it.

The Captain Charmley pattern will be available later this spring. Stay tuned.

stitchbook progress

15 minutes a day is magic. One of the big lessons of this process for me is not getting too attached to previous work, not falling in love to early. Composition is king.
I post each day on instagram and here. I’ve included a 5 day page cycle below.

Are you stitching with me? Checkout out lots of reader stitchbook pages here.

PS – Happy almost daylight savings time! I sure do love March.

PPS – I usually stitch features on dolls after I sew and stuff them – how about you – before or after? Let us know in the comments.

textile book tutorial part one – organizing and assembling

*This tutorial is divided into two parts. This is part 1, part 2 is here. Please read both completely before beginning (start here with part 1).

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

The easiest way to understand how this little textile book is constructed is to watch the video of the last step –  assembling it –  first.   After that we can talk about creating the pages etc.

Don’t see the video? – find it here.

I’m using the book as a 100 day stitch book project – my first two pages are above. If you are stitching along with me stitch your pages before you assemble the book. I’m sharing the assembly tutorial now so you know where we are headed. Plus it’s a really cool way to make a textile book that you could use for all sorts of things.

Learn more about the stitchbook project here 

To create your pages you need 20 rectangles – 7 X 5.5 inches – you can use the page template download below to make them.  Ignore the other marks on the pattern for now – just cut the rectangles. I’m using cotton and linen for the pages

Stitch whatever you like on your rectangles, embroidery, collage, mess around, try stuff, meander. Leave about 1/2 inch margin all around the edge to make book assembly easy.

To make the book  you will need these  templates:

download the page template here

download the page chart here

Before assembling the book finish stitching on each of your 20 rectangles however you like – (I’m using plain fabric rectangles for the demonstration book today).

Clearly mark the  – right side –  of each of the 20 finished pages with its number using masking tape and a sharpie marker.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

Use the page chart to layout the sections.  For example The first section (a slot section) would look like this.

Use pages 6 and 1 for the front and 2 and 5 for the back of section one.  We are looking at the right sides of the fabric.

And here it is assembled – front and back – page 5 is on the back of page 6 and page 2 is behind one. Use the chart and it all works out.

Below is section 2 – a tab section.

Lay out your 20 numbered pages in 5 sections following the chart and then use the instructions here to sew the slot and tab sections.

With all your sections sewn assemble the book.

assembling the book

Get set up by laying out out your pages just like the left hand column of the chart. Then follow along with the video at the top of this post.

PS – the designer of the slot tab method of binding books is Michael Budiansky – checkout the handmade books blog for more– it’s a cool site.

textile book tutorial part two – making the sections

*  The tutorial is divided into 2 parts. Please read both parts entirely before beginning. Seriously, it helps. Start here.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

This tutorial demonstrates how to construct the two kinds of sections in the book – slot and tab. Before you begin to sew the sections please read this post on how to create and organize the pages.

You will need:

  • your 20 pages/rectangles
  • chopstick or similar
  • a basic sewing kit
  • embroidery thread

make a slot section

1. To make a slot page take two rectangles and lay them out with the right sides facing you.

2. Place one over the other – right sides together.

3. Draw a half inch margin down the right hand side of the top piece.

4. Clip the short lines on your page pattern. Fold the center section back.

5. Place it over the rectangles and mark the short horizontal lines.

6. Sew the half inch seam above and below those marks.

Read More

the fourth annual international scrap festival – 10 ideas for your fabric scraps

small fabric projects on a table - made from scraps of cotton and linen and text in the center -scrap festival 2022

small fabric projects on a table - made from scraps of cotton and linen and text in the center -scrap festival 2022

Welcome to the fourth annual scrap festival! That magical time of year when we celebrate scraps a little extra. I’ve scoured the interwebs for some awesome tutorials  and created a new fabric book DIY that’s perfect for scraps.

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

It’s also perfect for the 100 day project if you feel like trying that. Fun and very manageable – you could do 15 minutes a day.  I’m participating using the book as my project. My daily progress post will be in the @annwood instagram stories and on a page here too. If you’d like to sew along with me use #annwoodstitchbook and #annwoodpattern on instagram.  You don’t have to commit to the hundred days to sew along but If you would like to more details are here.

Next week  On February 23rd I’ll post a full tutorial for making the book. For now let’s talk about how to get started on a couple pages:

*Download the template and cut 2 rectangles – these will be 2 pages.

template and two fabric rectangles - each 7 X 5.5 one is borwn one is black

Ignore the other marks on the pattern for now – just cut the rectangles. I’m using cotton and linen for the pages – the brown is from a worn out duvet and the black was a little jacket.

Stitch whatever you like on your rectangles, embroidery, collage, mess around, try stuff, meander. Leave about 1/2 inch margin all around the edge to make book assembly easy. Need some inspiration? You might find this post helpful. I test drove the 15 minutes a day idea and this is what I came up with.

fabric rectangle with 15 minutes of experimental stitching and patching

I used a timer and everything. It was a focused 15 minutes and felt good. The time limit eliminates paralysis and overthinking and invites happenstance. I love the idea of each day building on the previous.

For the one hundred day project my suggestion is 15 minutes per day. The book has 20 pages including the front and back covers so each page is stitched for 5 days, 15 minutes per day. So do-able! Over achievers feel free to do more. As I’m stitching and sharing I’ll include some simple prompts and suggestions in case you’re feeling stuck.

Why do it? It’s a little window of time to listen to yourself, try stuff, make marks, experiment. A place for ideas to turn up. And a perfect place to celebrate your most precious scraps!

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

You don’t have to do the 100 days to sew along but if you are, start stitching on Sunday 2/13- 15 minutes per day. After 5 days, move on to the second page. Meet me back here on February 23rd for the full book tutorial (you’re gonna love it, super easy to make and the binding is clever).

I hope you make stitch books! Don’t forget to use #annwoodstitchbook and #annwoodpattern  on instagram. And if you’re doing the hundred days also use #The100DayProject

UPDATE 2/13 – find day 1 here!

9 more scrap projects!

tiny pouch mad from scraps

1.  A sweet bucket pouch from honeyfolkclothing.  The pfd is free through the end of this month only and you can find it here. And checkout @honeyfolkclothing (heidi) on on iinstagram for lots of inspiration. She is a scrap hero!

2. string quilt – Lots and lots of skinny fabric strips stitched together and can be arranged in intriguing ways. Simple, meditative and built for scraps. Find the tutorial here.

3. Something for little folks by sewmariana –  a fabric memory game – find the tutorial for the game squares here.

4, And use your bigger scraps or pieced scraps (like hexies or the afore mentioned string piecing) to make a sweet fabric container to keep them in with this DIY.

There are tons of scrap friendly projects in the free pattern library here – a couple favorites are:

small stuffed cats in two sizes - sewing diy

5. happy cats

bunny doll in dancing pose with lace collar held in hand - other bunnies in background

6.  and the newest – dancing hares

7. Improv with X. I love the idea of experimenting with a simple shape.  Checkout the X quilt improv blocks here.  And tons more inspiration from shecanquilt on Flickr here.

little pyramid shaped charms made form scraps on a white table

8. Something for your littlest scraps, These charms are super sweet. I love how mini they are and  they could be stuffed with lemon verbena or lavender. Such a sweet little gift. Find the tutorial here.

9. Sweet for spring  – carrot treat bags to sew – plus find fabric eggs and  more spring ideas here.

A couple bonus ideas from the blog

Long pin cushions are a perfect scrap project and super handy to have. And imperial cats are great to experiment with.

Do you have a favorite scrap project? Will you join me in sewing a fabric book? Let us know in the comments and happy scrap festival 2022!

dancing hares : sewing tutorial

4 stiched and stuffed cotton bunnies in a cancing pose on a wooden tablel

4 stiched and stuffed cotton bunnies in a cancing pose on a wooden tablel

Recently I received a strong spiritual directive from the universe: There should be bunnies and they should be dancing. You can’t fight this sort of thing so I’ve made a sewing pattern. It’s very easy and the result is charming, especially in a group. Plus I’ve included a few tips on getting smooth curves and stuffing along the way.

bunny doll in dancing pose with lace collar held in hand - other bunnies in background

The thought appeared in my paintings first, I love the idea of a little troupe dancing through the forest. There’s room to play and embellish with details like buttons and ribbons and scraps of lace. You definitely have some tiny scrap of something that is destined for these bunnies.

embroidering a simple face with black thread

Before we make the body let’s talk about the details.  The features are super simple. You can trace the features on the right side of the fabric before you sew, marking with a pencil or disappearing marker. I used backstitch and 2 strands of embroidery thread.  You will find this tip for hiding your knots helpful. The paws just have three little stitches on each.

deawing black slippers on the stuffed bunny with a sharpie marker.

The slippers are sharpie marker. Why not… You could embroider them if you like too. Add scraps and buttons and patches.  A pink colored pencil is great for rosy cheeks or stitch on little pink patches. So many possibilities.

If you’d like to hang your bunnies make a large stitch on the back of the neck with embroidery thread. I hung my bunnies.

table with vintage sewing machine and stitch projects hung on wall behind in groups

making the body

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

download the pattern

you will also need:

  • light cotton fabric
  • basic sewing kit
  • chopstick or similar
  • stuffing (I like wool)
  • embroidery thread
  • scraps, buttons, lace etc.

1. Cut out the pattern and pin it on your doubled fabric -right sides together – and cut out. If you’d like to trace the face on do that now – on the right side of the fabric.

2.  Carefully mark the 1/4 inch seam line on one piece – on the wrong side of on fabric.

3. Pin with right sides together and sew the seam by hand or machine. Leave open as indicated on the pattern.

4. Clip the curves as shown, being careful not to clip the seams.  Also snip at each end of the opening. – indicated in red.

Read More

the big 2021 review and plan for the new year

mini wood stove made form and egg carton held in hand

2021 is kind of a mushy blur from here. But a couple projects stand out. If I had to pick a favorite it would be this little stove. Something about it. And the runner up is the campsite.
Or maybe that’s tied with imperial cats.

Each was the kind of project that time disappears in. Happy, focused, present.

a few more highlights

 

sewing pattern for a realistic crow

There was one new sewing pattern – the crow

And 7 new tutorials:

For the second time in less than two years I moved. A small move, upstairs in the same building, but still. The place is great, the kind of thing you couldn’t invent and the fit is perfect. It’s a creaky old carriage house with a distinctly 70’s feeling renovation that I’m leaning into.

There is space and light and a generally good spirit to the place. The plants are happy and so am I.
You can check out a couple domestic projects: the sewing room here and the painting room here.

work table with art supplies and prints

Year 3 of daily paintings was accomplished and year 4 is underway. The daily thing is hard. And, I so recommend it. Committing to a do-able assignment and applying small consistent effort is as close to a magic formula as there is for growing creatively and getting unstuck.

The 100 day project is starting again on February 13th. It’s a great way to test drive the daily situation. If you decide to do it these ideas might help:

* Be realistic about time. The amount of time you commit can be very small and still have lots of benefits.
* Have a plan for the bad days, a minimal but acceptable effort. And accept the bad days. Everybody will have lots of them. I have some very bad days and post some real stinkers.
Also if instagram/social media is not your thing get yourself an accountability partner.

The daily paintings have turned into cards and soon prints. They find their way into everything. Ideas bounce back and forth from the painting to sewing projects and ceramics and back again. The ceramic work boils down gestures, the sewing simplifies shapes, each informs the other.
You can see this most recently in the first diy project for 2022 dancing hares.

small ceramic dishes decorated with mushrooms and bunnies and windmills and ships on a work table

the big goal for 2022

efficientize

I did make that word up. But that’s what I want to do – streamline, simplify, systemize. Stop wasting time on clunky processes, redundant tasks and do-overs. Make my irrational enterprise a little more rational, more thoughtful planning and less reacting. Easy to say. It will involve some dismantling and tedious rebuilding. My plan is to chunk it. Give it a little time everyday.

Have you got big plans for the year ahead? Will you try the 100 day project? did you have a favorite project last year? Let us know in the comments.

merry and bright : last minute christmas trees for me and the mice

mouse house christmas party with make do tree

mouse house christmas party with make do tree

The question of their Christmas tree has been on my mind. What would the Admiral and Mrs. Croft do? Mice borrow and improvise and repurpose. Mice work with what they’ve got. Mice make do. I identify strongly with this.

norfolk pine tree decorated with paper snowflakes

I’m improvising too. I still have not un-storaged my Christmas stuff so I made a last minute tree with what I had and just a little time, some paper and wax paper snowflakes and a few super simple paper garlands. There was a little foil, tinsel and mylar involved too.

And technically there are two Christmas trees (not counting the mice tree). The little Norfolk pine is new this summer and it got a tiny bit decorated too. Pretty festive.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas,
ann

a cozy spot and something to sew : what’s on my worktable

fabric needle case stuffed to bursting with important scraps

fabric needle case stuffed to bursting with important scraps

They get better with age and use. All sorts of important treasures are stuffed in here. The original ribbon closure blew out a while ago as the girth increased and was replaced with a red string that wraps around. I love the red string, a happy accident.

stitch experiments on my worktable

I’m working on some smaller needle books, just one or two pages, really just for needles. There were a bunch of little stitch experiments (I think the original idea was amulets) hiding in the above over stuffed book that are being incorporated into the covers. A couple are for gifts and there will be a few in the shop too (post holiday I think).

Little pin dishes will be available in January too. They are glazed and waiting to be fired right now.

and little dolls

sewing fabric hair to a tiny doll

The hairstyle on this tiny lady is a little different than the style in the pattern – it’s super easy.

1. Add about a quarter inch to the length of the hair fabric.  Other than that follow the pattern instructions until the hair is attached. Tuck in the edges of the end and gather.

2. Twist the fabric.

3. Wrap around the head, pin and whip stitch with tiny stitches to tack it to the head. So sweet.

tiny doll with fabric hair

tiny rag dolls in progress

It’s been ages since I worked on tiny dolls and wardrobes but now I’m on a roll. I’ll show you more next week-ish.

not a creature was stirring…

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tree

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tr

Except this guy.

A brand new card made from a daily painting. Also note in the background the beginnings of a Christmas tree. The Norfolk pine has been on Christmas tree duty since 2014. It was my first tree as an adult. Some years it’s fancy and some years it’s simple. I’m still on the fence about this year. So far it just has a little tinsel. It takes me around ten minutes to place a single strand of tinsel. I’m one of those people… Next week I’ll get serious about decorating and wrapping and will of course report all developments to you here.

Are you decorating? Have you made ornaments or garlands or cookies? Are you sewing gifts? How long does it take you to place a strand of tinsel? Let us know in the comments.