Category: inspiration

the first ever sew-along : make a crow (or raven)

handmade textile crow on a table with stones, cermaic vessels, plants and crystals- there is an antiquey feel

One of the great things about a sew-along is it gives you a container, some structure, for a project you might have on your someday list. It breaks it down into manageable pieces and those milestones create momentum. Plus the fun of working on something with lots of other people, the extra motivation and  inspiration that comes with that. And you get insight and tips that go beyond the pattern. We can take deeper dives into stuff like fabric choice, sewing tips and details.

handmade textile crow on a table with stones, cermaic vessels, plants and crystals- there is an antiquey feel

October is a perfect month to make a crow (or raven) and the first ever! ann wood handmade sew-along begins on Friday September 30th 2022. That gives you (and me) two whole weeks to get your stuff together.

A great way to start is the box method.  An actual container. Everything I make starts in a box and lives there until it’s done. The boxes are for organization and they are also a thinking tool. Most importantly a way to start, it is very easy to put things in a box.

In the sew-along posts I won’t be recreating every step of the pattern but I will be demonstrating some steps with further detail and tips. Also if you are participating and tagging on instagram, your progress photo might get featured.

Please use #annwoodcrowsewalong and #annwoodpattern . And – also optional -there’s a facebook group you can join here.

what you’ll need to participate:

sewing pattern for a realistic crowget the pattern button

The crow pdf sewing pattern (sorry booklets are not currently available)

Some time – the sew-along will take place over 4 weeks. I’ll give you a schedule on the kick off day (9/30) of what needs to be accomplished each week. Plan on having 2 – 4 -ish hours per week to work on your crow steps.

The pattern contains a material list but a couple notes:

Fabric – For the body a medium weight cotton is ideal. Scraps of silk and velvet work well for feathers and details. Incorporate different shades to give the feathers iridescence – very dark blues, green and purples work well.

Old or vintage clothes are great – suits, lace, prints over-dyed with black would be cool. And speaking of prints, your body fabric does not need to be solid. I used a calico print for the crow in the pattern. Most important is to have a variety of sheen, textures and tones.

textile crow on a pink table next to a pile of black scraps from victorian garments

Really old garments are interesting and inspiring to work with, lots of pleats and trims etc. Ebay is a good source and there is a helpful link in the crow pattern to a specific search category that I’ve been using for years. If you are persistent you can pick up damaged antique garments for not too much money that make great feathers.

There are resource links in the pattern for a couple supplies that are out of stock. I don’t currently have an alternative source for the paper covered wire for feet so we will use the alternative method included in the pattern and make our own. You can find the 18 gauge wire you’ll need in most hardware stores. And floral tape is available in lots of places online and in most big craft stores.

Let’s get inspired! Checkout a few crows made from the pattern.

handmade crow posed on a pink upholstered chair in a forest

Meg McElwee (sew liberated) wrote a beautiful post about her experience stitching her crow – check it out here.

And more awesome crows below – links to the makers where possible.

 

1. by Maralee, 2. by Brandi, 3.  by Amy, 4. by Donna 5. by Elizabeth

Are you feeling inspired to stitch a crow? Gather your materials and check back on September 30th for the first sew-along post. If you feel like sharing your material gathering I’d love to see -please use  #annwoodcrowsewalong and #annwoodpattern on instagram. There’s also a facebook group – you do not have to join to participate but you can if you like – find it here.

If you’re joining the crow sew-along let us know in the comments!

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.

the new place : project 1

In the new place (upstairs from the old place) there is a little room in the back with big windows, and a view of sweeping, weeping pines that crows and ravens roost in. Guilford Connecticut has a crazy amount of crows. Also my little garden is right below. It’s the first thing I look at every morning.
The first project after getting basic order shipping capabilities set up was to make that room delightful. It had been laundry/storage. There was indoor outdoor stained carpeting, dingy paint, wire shelves and great potential for charm. You can check out a before below- almost a before – I had already torn the carpet out.

Under the carpet was just a plywood subfloor. I painted a super simple gray and white check. The paint job is light for a worn in feel. Plus that was quick and easy to do and I like the softness of it. The walls are painted bright white (Benjamin Moore Snowfall White). And the curtain fabric is from India via Etsy.

The laundry closet is covered with a textile gift from a friend, a Peruvian (I think) poncho. I stitched the neck opening closed and added inexpensive rings. It is magically exactly the right size with no further alterations.

It’s a place I love to be. The light and breeze are excellent. There is room for a cardboard castle and all the other essential things. This place is for painting and sketching and some photography.

One of the many reasons for making a painting everyday is the wealth of ideas they generate. Most recently the funny little cats that wander through the many little towns in those paintings became a sewing pattern . You can find the free happy cat pattern right here.

Project 2 is the sewing room. Stay tuned for more on that. It is also currently full of potential to be delightful.

onward,

ann

imperial cats : experimenting with dolls

Somebody new turned up. Here’s how it happened:

The experimenter in me has been needing some encouragement so I planned a solid chunk of time for messing around last week. I started by looking at Pre Columbian Figures for inspiration (this is something I’ve played with before) then made a bunch of super quick charcoal sketches.

From the drawings I chose a couple shapes to use as templates. An important part of this process for me is to be quick and not linger in decisions or get stuck on overthinking. It’s a yes and process, feeling for ideas and happy accidents, not perfection. Trying stuff.

I know it’s hard to let go of out come, especially when you are sewing, so much time and energy, but what you learn in the process is valuable. One thing really does lead to another, if you let it. I did not love everything I made last last week but it did get my wheels turning.

And the experiment is ongoing (I’m still very much in the middle) and lots of fun. If you feel like trying this you can come up with your own shapes to play with or you can use my templates (I’m nice like that). I’ve got two so far. You can download the cat-ish figure here and the bird-ish shape here.

I find this guy hilarious. He ended up feeling a little bit like a ming dynasty emperor or soldier. (I love ming dynasty imperial portraits – the silhouettes, the details…). There are other shapes to explore in the charcoal sketches I started with, more sparks of ideas and curiosities to investigate but I feel like making a bunch of these right now, a little army. That’s what I’m doing today on this rainy Sunday.

What are you sewing today? How do you experiment? What get’s your wheels turning? Let us know in the comments.

 

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.


creatures and dolls stitched by readers

It’s hard to choose what to share here, there is so much. And one of the ideas I have swirling around for this year is making it easier for you to share images with me and with each other.  It’s ambitious but I think it would be lovely to have our own community, a place for sharing what you make and ideas. And I think it adds to the charm of the patterns – you all come up with such sweet variations and details.  Does that idea appeal to you? You can let me know in the comments and I’ll keep you posted as I explore possibilities for that.

Checkout the reader made items below and you’ll also find some instagram feeds that I think will be right up your alley.

Love the color and fabric combinations in this songbird in progress by @summerkiser

*you can click the thumbnails for larger images

4.

Elegant and sometimes nude dolls with lots of reader added details.  Made for the the elegant rag doll sewing pattern.

1. @rukodelie_vesnushki

2. and 3. @marilinalittlecraft

4. @angelamarry1

Sweet tiny rag dolls! Full outfitted for adventure. Made from the tiny rag doll pattern and some of the free miss thistle society patterns.

1. @little.village.time
2. @each.of.these

The last free project of the year was a big hit.  There are lots of little Rocky inspired owls in the world now. Made from the Owl Ornament Pattern

1. @cjasews

2. @catsinthecupboard

3. @paper_thread

Chickens! by @cote_jardin28 I love the garland! Made from the minimalist chicken pattern.

I Love this songbird’s attitude and body language. It’s got lots of birdness. Made by @erinsloanprints  from the Songbird Sewing Pattern.

So dastardly! These ill tempered owls are by @erinpcf using the Dastardly Owl Pattern.

Dear Mr. Socks! All bundled up. The sweet coat is made from this free pattern.

1. @everbelles

2. @terrywilsonnecco

There are so many great things to see. You can checkout #annwoodpattern and #missthistlesociety  on instagram for more.

And please let me know what you think about making a community here- is it redundant? Does it sound interesting to you?

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

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.


scrap project ideas

cats in pants and other lovely things made by customers

mr. socks pirate by melanie

mr. socks pirate by melaniemeet gustav! by Melanie

You get at least 2 levels of awesomeness from this post: links to makers I think you’ll love (click the images to find the maker) and ideas for little gifts. I love seeing what you make from my patterns, your details and your stories, I love that these things are in the world, cats in pants, woebegone pines, enchanted mushrooms etc…

cat dolls in pants by kira

The mischievous fellows above are made from the mr. socks pattern and free little pants pattern.

The trees are made from the woebegone pines pattern. I love whole the table!

realistic bird sewing pattern

And I love that they are very often gifts. Handmade gifts that surprise and delight. The songbird pattern is breaking records in that department. Also – FYI – I am a big fan of cottage industry and selling things you make from my patterns is not only OK but encouraged. If you do sell stuff I so appreciate if you let people know where you got the pattern.

bird sewing pattern

fabric bird sewing pattern

mushroom sewing pattern

mouse and mushroom sewing patterns

Find the mouse pattern here and the mushroom pattern here.

riny rag doll nation

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

 

The world’s tiny doll population grows every single day.  

And there are lots of free patterns for tiny doll accessories. checkout the miss thistle society collection for those.
clothespin doll bed diy

tiny doll sewing pattern

clothespin_doll bed

There is lots more to see – check out  #missthistlesociety and #annwoodpattern for more.

Also in the little gifts department I’m making you something!  Look for a free diy and template for this little paper swan treat box next week.

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.


flea market report (french edition) and a glorious chunk of nothing

antique textiles and paper found in france

In the corner of a sweltering hot barn jammed with mountains of dusty ancient things there was a little box of crumpled tissue. First a little silver fork pokes out. Then a tiny china lid that might belong to a teapot.

box of antique miniatures found in france

A shell thin glass vase that is somehow not broken is floating in the tissue too. I stop looking because I already know I need it and the rest should be discovered slowly and savored, each thing emerging. A tiny sterling candlestick and then unbelievably it’s mate, miniature binoculars, and the lid does belong to a teapot, the little set is complete and even has a platter. Old and wonderful. Everything about it is magic and sweet and melancholy and lonesome.

daily painting in a french chateau

Vacations are not my thing. And technically this is not a vacation, I am in France to teach workshops with French General. I brought lots of projects to work on too, things to sew, writing projects, all sorts of fun things. But I did nothing. Almost nothing. My brain refused to participate. I did more of nothing than I ever have in my life. 3 weeks of nothing. Plus it was 105 degrees, making nothing the only reasonable choice anyway.

cherrie tree in the south of france

Glorious nothing, swimming and cherries from a tree for breakfast, loads of coffee and wine, fantastic cheese and bread. Feeling supremely happy wandering brocantes and vide greniers eating a jambon beurre and finding treasures. Mostly things for making things. Loads of that. And Edwardian garments and antique paper for the October workshops in LA.

antique textiles and paper found in france

lace scraps

Checkout some highlights from the France workshops and wanderings below. And if you’d like to spend time with me in France next summer signups will be open soon. Send me a message with France 2020 as the subject if you’d like more info.

needle book workshop in france

ps – have you made a needle book?  Find the tutorial here. The exquisite book above was made here in the workshop by Petra.

antique fabric scrap bundles

textile seed pods

I’m headed home tomorrow and I felt my brain come back on line today. Sad to go but ready to work and think and experiment. Ready to dive into the busyness of finishing sewing patterns, preparing for the next 3 workshops and something special for September involving old paper and the forest.

tiny rag doll picnic

And Summer is for making tiny dolls and outfitting the little ladies with summer hats and dresses and miss matched china for lawn picnics. I’ve put the miss thistle society patterns and tutorials all in one place for you and  I’d love to see what you make – use #annwoodpattern and #missthistlesociety on instagram.

floating ship in the pines, frida, a blue girl: lovely things made by customers

lovely things made from ann wood handmade patterns by customers

 I love seeing what you make with ann wood patterns, the details you invent, the stories you create and share. 

made from ann wood patterns

This enchanted paper mache ship is by Tierney Barden. I love it, the image makes me think of Narnia. And More gorgeous ships by  floratwigg and Sharon.

 

The bed and blue doll are by Melanie. She is creating a whole  world for that mysterious blue tiny doll.

From Melanie: “making this, I thought my heart was going to explode!! “

 

I so get that feeling and I  love everything about this, the joy in creating it is unmistakable and beautiful.  I’m looking forward to more of that blue doll’s tiny world. Also be sure to checkout her needle book, the brilliance of it can not be contained in a photo – the little book is filled with ideas, imagination and inspiration. Check out this video.

Find the tiny doll pattern here, and the hearth tutorial here.

Darling miniature china made by Carolyn using this paper clay  tutorial.

made with ann wood doll pattern with modifications

Bunnies and laundry!! Created by Rachel. The bodies and clothes are the tiny rag doll pattern and the bunny heads are her own.

And tiny rag doll has had a baby!! The dolls below are also by Rachel.  She used the doll and wardrobe patterns as well as the tiny hat tutorial. That baby is all her. Such beautiful work.

And more dolls with sweet details added – a little lady by @onbaycreek and a birdwatching boy by annette.

mushroom sewing pattern

Perfect little toadstools by Randeen  and Stella and Summer – made from the little mushroom pattern.

owl dewing pattern

Dastardly owls by Erin, Wendy and Joyce.

bird sewing pattern

Gorgeous birds by Suzanne and Yvonne and Deb.

Super sweet and pink! wooly squirrel by Beth  (forest folk pattern).

Hello little pirate! These are all made from the free very nice mice pattern the pirate is by Beth, the little gray mouse is by Bushra and the bunnies are made by Elizabeth – she added the long ears and fluffy tails to the mouse body.

There were so many photos of wonderful creatures and dolls it was overwhelming and difficult to choose. Please checkout  #annwoodhandmade  and  #annwoodpattern  on instagram for more sweet creatures and dolls and marvelous ideas and imaginative details added by the makers.

bundling up the tiny doll folk and imagining their world

embroidered felt doll hats and jackets

embroidered felt doll hats and jackets

When faced with a stressful situation small sewing is good medicine. This weekend we made some big tech improvements to ann wood handmade that were sort of terrifying. I’m thrilled with the result – especially the speed.

embroidered doll cap

While all the scary work was being done I lingered in the details of tiny felt jackets and hats and slow stitched talismans. Besides needing to distract myself from the website work it has been cold and snowy, all the more reason for cosy hand sewing and bundling the little dolls up. I sure do love to bundle things up.

small stitch experiments

embroidered felt doll jacket

tiny rag doll that fits in the palm of your hand

Find the free little jacket pattern here and the tiny doll hat here.

The folky little winter ensembles make me curious about tiny doll world, the details and history. I’m going to investigate that over the next few weeks. You may recall I explored the world of a family of cosmopolitan ants a couple years ago.

beaumonts christmas

ant family christmas

It was probably the most fun I ever had. I’m looking forward to imagining a world for the tiny doll folk. Stay tuned.

30 minute figures : experimenting and generating ideas

guick figure expeiments created with paper and fabric

quick figure experiments created with paper and fabric

Play generates ideas. And constraints make things interesting, they send you in new directions and bypass inhibitions. Find 30 minutes to play. Make a space, gather materials, scraps, paper, cardboard fabric, whatever is around, and tools – a glue stick, tape, paint, the basics. Make an appointment with yourself to show up and set a timer for thirty minutes.

Or even better do it with friends, everybody can contribute materials and that adds a nice element of surprise. In fact you could make it a snail mail challenge if no willing experimenters are nearby, send each other a collection of supplies. The assignment is to make a figure. Any kind of figure. Or more than one. You get extra credit for making more than one.

In idea generation volume matters.

 

This 30 minute challenge was the warm up exercise for my experimenting with dolls class at Squam in September and it was one of my favorite teaching experiences ever. Watching people engage deeply and freely with their imaginations and embrace real play is fascinating.

figures created from paper and fabric in a thirty minute challenge

Before I experiment on students I experiment on myself. I did several 30 minute figure making sessions. I found that my ideas became more interesting to me as they became less complicated. In fact the thing I liked best was made in about 10 minutes. I also found that my brain really did warm up, my focus got deeper and ideas became more fluid.

paper and fabric figure experiments

cardboard, paper and fabric cat figure experiment

This little cat was a complete surprise. I started wrapping a strip of black fabric around a piece of cardboard, not really headed anywhere and all of a sudden this mysterious little fellow turned up. I love him and I’m curious about him, where is he going? Who are those flowers for? What else is in the funny green room?

If you give it a try I’d love to see – use #30minutefigures on instagram or email a photo to info at ann wood handmade dot com.

 

hunting, gathering and percolating ideas

ephemera collection - letters

diorama experiment

I like to think about ideas and where they come from, how they grow, what sticks and what doesn’t. And I find it hugely satisfying to share what I learn. For the past several weeks I’ve been gathering things for my diorama workshop this June and playing with ideas, experimenting in a gentle, open way, thinking about when to hold onto a narrative and when to let it go, exploring the relationships between things.

diorama workshop supplies

And I’ve been working on a way to share some of the experience with people who can’t make it to a workshop or retreat. That idea has been percolating since the makerie workshop last fall. Like the diorama workshop it was very focused on experimenting, thinking and trying stuff. I began the 3 day workshop with a warm up exercise called “a mysterious box”. Students got a small box with a collection of materials and a mini assignment, the assignment was the same for everybody and it is top secret.

mysterious box collage experiments

collage expriment

I had a blast making the little boxes and the experiment was successful beyond my expectations. I’m working on the correspondence version now. Making little boxes and working out a way for people who participate to come together and share what they make.

What do you think?

huge box of old paper

And the hunting and gathering : I hit the ephemera jackpot a couple weeks ago. A huge box of old paper stuff (some of it very old), someone else’s memories and treasures. The things that were precious and carefully kept right up until they weren’t. I spend time looking through it everyday and part of me just wants to keep it all (those halloween treat bags are hugely nostalgic for me). I will not.

ephemera collection - letters

paper treasures

There are lots of newspapers and magazines from around 1880 with magnificent illustrations. Sweet bundles of letters, maps, elaborate certificates and receipts. Wonderful color, text and imagery to play with (you can see more from the box in on instagram).

yesteryear

There aren’t many photos in the box, I love this one. I think this is the one thing I’ll keep. I love the bare trees in the background, the lonely holiday garland on the window, the mood of it all. Long ago Christmas seen through a smokey, scratched lens, the wistfulness magnified by the medium.

The box is full of that feeling and I can’t get enough of it.