Category: owls

tiny dolls, captain charmley, mister skimpole and other new things

rag dolls : finishing touches

owl made from wool and owl sewing pattern

Houndstooth is always a bold statement and the scale is daring for an owl of his stature. I think he pulls it off though and he should, Mr. Skimpole is concerned only with appearances and pleasure.

sinclair : hand stitched owl

His associate Sinclair, a far more somber owl, is made from Edwardian and Victorian garments and has shoe button eyes.

a sewing pattern for a dastardly owl

Get the sewing pattern to make your own dastardly owl.

For the last couple days I’ve been adding finishing touches and last minute details to almost finished dolls and creatures. I love a worktable covered with lots of things that only need the fun part done, a little edge stitching or an expression tweaked. One after another they cross the finish line and I feel like an over achiever for a little while.

rag dolls : finishing touches

tiny doll pinafore

emaline : rag doll

captain charmley : rag doll

tiny rag doll

Tonight I’ll begin a new group of things. Mostly ships and boats. I love waking up to a freshly dried layer of paper mache.

Have a lovely weekend and holiday,


PS –  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.

a creepy retrospective

the haunted house and other spooky poems

When I was small there was a record I loved. A collection of creepy poems read aloud in creepy voices. I have thought of it often but never expected to hear it again. I did this April. I guess just about everything is on the internet now. I have intense memories of these poems and the sensation of hearing them again is hard to describe. They terrified me as a child and I could not get enough. Now when I hear them I see the old record player, the worn carpet and the dusty, dappled light in the front room of the shady little house. It stirs up all my ghosts.

the haunted house and other spooky poems

If you’d like to hear it’s all there, on youtube. My favorites are The Erlking and Dust. I still love the recording and I wish more of the world could be delivered to me in rhythmically crackling record with old-timey voice format.

Happy Halloween and in honor of the spooky day a creepy retrospective.


spooky cardboard castle

once I loved a spider

dastardly owls


“A woman drew her long black hair out tight
And fiddled whisper music on those strings
And bats with baby faces in the violet light
Whistled, and beat their wings’ – T.S.Eliot

songbird work, treasures from sri and all sorts of new things in the shop

And just like that I’m a finishing machine.

textile art : birds

textile art bird

ephraim : hand made owl

matilde : handmade doll

I haven’t felt this much momentum in a long time. I’m even finishing stuff that was already finished – a little extra.  A few days after crossing improvisational doll Matilde off my to do list it was clear she was missing something  so I made her an underskirt from an antique wedding dress and added the button bustle and black stitch detail at the last minute – I love the combination of black and ivory.

I finished so much stuff I’m allowed to start new things and I have lots of ideas. Many of those ideas sprang out of a lovely package form Sri Threads that appeared with the usual serendipity – unexpectedly and at a perfect moment. Such inspiring old cloth.

sri threads textiles

sri threads textiles

sri threads textiles

I have more songbirds in progress and I feel like there is a pigeon here somewhere too.

rag doll #2 and chuzzlewit

rag doll : camille

rag doll : camille

This is rag doll # 2 – Camille.  I had not intended to name the rag dolls but as I worked on her that name kept occurring to me so she must want it.  She has a very nice life – she just sits around looking serene and  thinking about things. Sometimes just in her underwear…..

rag doll : camille

ragdoll shoes

Besides her name she also wanted fancy shoes and pantaloons. She is in the shop today along with the fellow below – an owl made from Mrs. Brown’s skirt – Chuzzlewit.

owl : chuzzlewit

owl : chuzzlewit


He seems  a little suspicious of you.

a scoundrel and an edwardian bird

Last year I focused on creating my first patterns and a couple other large projects and made very little of my own stitch work – the slow sewing I love to do, the creatures I love to make. I’m determined to do more of that this year and to get them into my shop. To build some momentum,  for the remainder of January, and starting today, I’m committing to adding something new to the shop every Thursday. Maybe one thing, maybe several, the usual suspects and some surprises and experiments too. If you’d like an email when new pieces are available you can sign up here.  Two of today’s new pieces are below, a dark bird and haggis ( a scoundrel)  – both made from Edwardian garments.

edwardian bird

edwardian bird





sewing frenzy and letting go of outcome

sewing frenzy

sewing frenzy

This is what a sewing frenzy looks like.  I’ve been working on a large ship and I began with a very specific idea of what I wanted it to be.  The ship did not cooperate and taught me a lesson about letting go of outcome. Plans are great but sometimes things need to percolate and meander.  I un-did most of my work ( painful) and pulled out just about everything – kimonos, gowns, boro – tons of stuff – and camped out for hours experimenting.  A ship is emerging – not at all what I expected and I love it.  It’s a ship that wanted to be what it wanted to be – each  thought, each scrap, building on the next, layering into something new.

ship work

Hoping to finish tomorrow and have it in the shop this week.  I’m working on a couple owls as well  – a big guy and a little guy – both dastardly and  made from Edwardian bodices.

owl work

owl work

sleepy august and a brief survey regarding the holidays

This August feels so thick and slow and sleepy, everything shimmers and that strange cicada sound – it all feels a little otherworldly to me. Even the creatures I’m making are golden and languid. August is also when I work on holiday designs.  I’m planning on some ornament patterns for the shop and I would love your opinion on a couple things. I posted a survey here – it’s super brief – just 3 questions and as a thank you you get a coupon for 30% off patterns   (the survey is closed).  I had fun with my handmade Christmas last year and you can check out that post if you’d like to get an early start – there are links to patterns and free projects and ideas. Also in the holiday department – I just saw samples of designs I made for Crate and Barrel this year and I can’t wait to show you – I’m so happy with them.

Have a lovely weekend – I’ll leave you with a couple sleepy Fortuny creatures.

sleeping  golden fox

fortuny owl louis

louis - fortuny owlLouis,  he got all dressed up for you in his summer best.

a sample sale and the alpha workshops auction

textile art owl- fortuny

Please meet Pietro – he’s mean, green and not afraid of pattern. Pietro is being auctioned to benefit The Alpha Workshops  – you can find the auction here and more about the wonderful work that The Alpha Workshops does here.

textile art owl- fortunyAnd one other bit of news – I’m having a sample sale today – these are the sleepy lambs and goats I made while creating the sewing pattern – you can find them here. Or if you’d like to make your own the sewing pattern is here.

handmade lambs

sleepy handmade goat

fortuny creatures

soft sculpture owls

I spent much of the last two weeks working on a large order for Fortuny Venice.  It was a good excuse to replenish my fancy antique button stock  and I found some wonderful stuff.

antique buttons
cat buttonsCats! I love them so much I may never be able to use them.

I brought the whole group to the spectacular New York Showroom yesterday to be packed and sent on to Venice – these creatures have exciting lives.
textile art rat
soft sculpture owls

(photos below by Meena Dimian)
soft sculpture owls
textile art

a couple related notes:
* If you’re curious –  Abby Glassenberg  and I talk about my work with Fortuny ( and lots of other stuff)  in episode 23  of her podcast.

* Stay tuned in January for a new Fortuny collaboration – I can’t wait to show you.

making things

For weeks and weeks I’ve been occupied with lots of the things necessary to keep a making things business afloat  and there hasn’t been much time for making things.  I’ve worked on web stuff, book keeping stuff, teaching stuff, designed some things and did some press stuff (some fun things coming in the spring) among other things. All good and important things but I miss my time, my hours and hours in my place making things. This week I finally got back to it and made this dastardly fellow out of one of my favorite ever Sri Threads treasures – a thick striped gray wool flannel- just enough for one bad tempered owl. gray_owl_2   Also made from Sri Textiles – a curious spider, her legs are hammered iron wire – I use a little anvil. spider coming Skittering away with her bustle in the air. spider going   sri specimens And new mushroom specimens – more of the signed and numbered edition. All these things and more will be in the shop in about a week- you can sign up for the mailing list if you’d like a notification. And I made a dress! My first ever – it’s a jumper / apron / pinafore / sort of affair. The older I get the more I dress like Holly Hobby and I’m OK with that – it’s contemporary Holly Hobby. It’s got pockets and french seams and I’m very proud of it -it was challenging and satisfying and I want to sew lots more clothes. I got the pattern here – there aren’t a lot of instructions  but I was able to figure it out and I found a tutorial on french seams here. apron dress