what I’ve been working on

I have been wanting to get back to making some girl dolls for quite a while. There always seems to be something else that makes it to the top of the “what’s next” list though. Back last winter, I pulled out various patterns of mine and experimented with making some in cotton. I came up with nothing that satisfied me and everything went into a shopping bag and got stuck in a corner.

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I recently emptied that bag back onto my work table and have gone back to work, this time using wool. Much better!

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I am working on tweaking my original girl pattern and also making a little girl design. These are the 2 I am currently moving forward on.

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Next, as I sorted through my fabrics for a variety of skin shades, I found I was low on the peachy colors. I had a range of pinks, but they were too pinky-pink for my taste. So, time for the dye pots.

I had 4 shades of pink that I was aiming to tone down and/or get closer to a peach flesh color-

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I pulled out my dyes and picked a variety. I usually use Cushing Dye for wool but I also did 2 tests with Rit. This was what I got out of a morning’s work-

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The bottom row, second from the left is the 4 original, un-dyed fabrics. I experimented with- Cushing Apricot, Aqualon Yellow, Tan, Nugget Gold, Maize, Orange (2 times since one was too bright), Lemon, and Rit Tan and Taupe. From my samples, I was able to make some educated guesses about what would work. I was very happy with the results! I put a swatch of the original color with the new, over-dyed color.

9-26-dyes - 1 (1)The one that says 3 (left most) is the subtlest. I used Rit Taupe and it just toned the color down a bit. #2 was Cushing Aqualon Yellow. #1 and #4 Cushing Maize. I am really pleased with my results! I had an excellent dyeing day; well, except when the towel caught on fire… but yeah, not too much damage ;-)

Now, time to start cutting out some girls!

work in progress- men

I have finished making up most of the backlog of partially finished dolls. So, time to start making new ones! I am starting in on a group of tattooed men. The first step to making the tattooed people is dyeing the toile. I decided to try something new this time. Instead of dyeing whole pieces of fabric, I decided to try cutting out the pieces first and dyeing these smaller pieces of fabric. It worked really well!

I have had trouble getting the larger fabric pieces to dye consistently- in other words, I’d end up with a lot of blotchy fabric. (I’m really not all that good at the dyeing part.) This time I cut out all the toile pieces for each doll and also the parts of the doll that are made of plain fabric- the head, hands, and ears. I safety-pinned the parts together at an edge. I did a test group and they turned out well enough to give me the confidence to cut out a whole lot more. I now have 20 men cut out! That photo is a pile of parts, dyed, washed and dried and still pinned together.

Next, I unpinned them and ironed each piece flat, then marked the pattern onto the back sides. I keep the individual doll pieces together in zip lock bags.

I now have a lot of fabric that looks like this-

And I still have to make the pants/tights and boots for the fellows. I’ve pulled out all the fabric possibilities.

I seem to be in the mood for cutting. I’m not sure if I will go forward with sewing these guys or keep cutting out more dolls and piling up the zip lock bags!


weekend puttering

Actually, weekends don’t really mean much around here since neither of us goes out to work. But, this is what I did yesterday-

I am working on flesh tones for cotton. I had a recipe that I liked, using Rit Dyes, but they discontinued one of the colors (Peach) and so now I am figuring it all out again. This is frustrating- not like when I don’t really care what color I get, as long as it is clear and bright. I will do some of that sort of dyeing soon- it is great fun!

I started a new rabbit. It is made of a felted alpaca sweater- which clearly still has a lot of stretch. I can’t believe the difference between the woven wool and the knitted alpaca! Yes, they are cut from the same pattern.


Ben is away and the house is quiet.

I am enjoying the morning light in the new studio room. And playing with fall colors.



After another trip to the thrift store that failed to produce any more wool in the right color for doll skin, I decided it was time to try dyeing some. Have you ever noticed that if you go to the thrift store, looking for something in particular, you can never find it. I try for the open-minded approach but at this point, most of the great bargains are just going to cause storage problems when I get home. I look for wool skin tones and stripes. I don’t find them but somehow still come home with a bag… ahem, see above.

So, time to do some dyeing. I love it when all the dye goes into the fabric and the water turns clear- there is something very satisfying about that somehow. Lookin’ good!


July update

geesh, it’s July already. How did that happen?

Scheduled for this month-

7/6- 7/17 I will be spending every afternoon taking a class in Adobe Suite– stay tuned for vast improvements or total meltdown in my web presence.

7/11- Boston Handmade Marketplace in Union Square, Somerville. Click through for all the info.

7/26- 7/31- I will be in Orlando, Florida at the CHA show, helping my sister-in-law. I have no idea what this will be like. I may not have a minute to spare, or then again, maybe I will. Suggestions for interesting places and possible meet-ups would be great.

I seem to have misplaced my creative juice, muse, mojo, juju, whatever you want to call it. I have one doll finished that I haven’t photographed yet- I will sometime when it stops raining.

I’ve been working on the room-

It moves forward. My daughter is coming home for a visit at the end of July and that needs to be my deadline- hmm, I seem to  make these deadlines all the time- otherwise, I am not sure where she will sleep. I have covered up any possible sleeping surfaces with stuff out of this room.

I have also been doing some dyeing and over-dyeing, hoping to get inspired again.

It has been fun. And positive in several ways- mostly it fills the need to create and so keeps me from the funk that I fall into when I do not. It keeps me from going to the thrift shop and buying more woolies- which is not so bad except that since I am going to be moving my studio, I shouldn’t be bringing more stuff into it right now. And, I am taking fabrics that I won’t use-ie yuck colors or previous dyeing mistakes or just boring- and turning them into something terrific. And, that red on the left- I used some old dye that I picked up somewhere… did someone give it to me or was it from an estate sale? The box cost 15 cents and the illustration style makes me think 40’s at the latest. Maybe later I will post pictures. Anyway, such fun using up the old stuff.