what Claire received for Christmas #2

This is the last batch of photos, to show how spoiled I was this Christmas . . . this time by family. 


From Lindashee and Mr Lindashee:  Season 7 of my all-time favourite TV series “Call the Midwife”.  It was Lindashee who bought me the first season, a few years ago, and she’s been buying all the new seasons as they come out, for me.  Story (for those who don’t know it) begins in the late 1950s, in London, with each season dedicated to a new year (season 7 takes place in 1963), following the lives of a group of midwives/district nurses.  First class acting, lots of medical goings-ons, and all with the backdrop of London in the late 50s early 60s.  Lindashee also sent me something to keep my hands busy while enjoying some good British drama . . . so many fun ideas of mythical creatures in this book, including a Loch Ness monster which will probably be the first project I tackle.


From the Viking family, a new baby doll.  She’s a little girl doll, full vinyl, closed eyes and open mouth so she can suck her thumb.  She measures 52cm at the moment.  I’ll be pulling her to pieces sometime this year, making her a cloth body . . . and playing with my new baby doll, who I have called Phoebe.


From Eldest Son – some yarny supplies.  The pattern is a free pattern by Rowan.  And in the bag: enough King Cole Aran to knit myself this lovely turtle neck sweater. 

Continuing a new family tradition, begun only last year . . . part of Christmas Eve saw us sitting out in the kitchen, while Eldest Son stuck a needle in me over and over again lol.  And I have my second tattoo!


Another cat head in the same style as the first one.


So, that was lots of lovely gifts from our three children . . . I bet you’re wondering what I received from the Husband? 

Well, the really BIG present wasn’t actually a surprise.  It was something I saw on ebay way back in October.  The Husband gave me the green light.  The very large box was then hidden away in the cupboard when it arrived and I wasn’t allowed to look until Christmas.


It’s a very large doll.  Actually from the Masterpiece Gallery, by a German doll maker called Monika Levenig.  This is a “Chantal” doll.  She’s approx 90cm tall (can wear age 3 years clothes) and is a limited edition.  My “Chantal” is n° 11/350 of the European Edition series.

I’ve renamed her Daisy.  She’ll be keeping me company in my sewing room, where I hope to get busy and make some clothes for her.  I think she’s lovely, but everyone else seems to think she’s a bit spooky.  Not to worry.  Anyway . . . the Husband also got busy before xmas and made me a bead necklace


AND . . . .


A wooden stand for Daisy.   It’s a recyling job but completely custom-made for Daisy.  She can stand on her own but, with 3 cats charging around the house, it’ll be safer to use the stand. 



bargains last Sunday

Sunday 16th saw husband and myself up and out quite early, heading to another local “vide grenier”/boot sale.  This one was in a small village (population 723) so I knew it was likely to be quite small.  That was fine by us. 

And when we got there, it really was a small affair.  Just the locals, from the looks of things, having a good clear out with mostly clothes/shoes/toys/books and a few miscellaneous things for sale.  We didn’t even bother to split up for this one.  Or if we did, the area was so small, we kept on bumping into each other.

Husband found the most ugly cast iron soap dish with a cow on it (Fresian, if that makes it any less ugly?).  I have no idea why he bought it, but he did.  One thing is for sure – it won’t be going in the bathroom!  And I most certainly won’t subject you to a photo of his 1€ bargain.

Mine, are a lot more fun!

more brocante 01

Here’s a haul of baby toys, which cost me 3€ in total.  Two identical wooden crocodiles.  No idea why the seller had twin crocodiles, maybe they belonged to a pair of twin toddlers at some point?  They’re the old-fashioned toy you pull along by the string and they wiggle.  They don’t look as if they were played with very much. 


At 50 centimes each, I bought both, of course. Plus a set of plastic keys and 3 rattle toys.  The plastic keys have already been gifted to Rio, the parrot, who does love playing with keys.  As for the rattles

more brocante 03

I removed the soft parts on arriving home, and all plastic toys were given a wash in bleachy water.  I then sewed bunny trousers back up again, and Gibbs was well-pleased to have another soft toy to play with.  It was the rattle rings I was interested in  –  they’ll come in handy for some future craft projects.

And, just so you know I don’t only buy toys . . .

more brocante 02

I came home with a few books this time too.  You’ll probably recognise most of the authors (except for Fred Vargas, a French authoress, and I’m not sure if her books have been translated into English).  The others are:  “Chaos” by Patricia Cornwell;  “Unseen” by Karen Slaughter;  “Miss Silver Comes To Stay” by Patricia Wentworth and “I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh.  Apart from the Patricia Wentworth one (which appears to be a sort of Agatha Christie, Miss Marple type of intrigue) the others should all be blood, gore, serial killers and suspense . . . exactly what I enjoy with my hot chocolate at bed time!

And last photo . . . 

Ducky and dolls

My dolls live in a laundry basket, because I haven’t pushed madness far enough to buy a proper baby cot for them (yet).  Ducky decided there was room for one more!  I don’t know if you can see properly


but that golden brown thing Ducky is resting his head on . . . that’s Lily’s “doudou” rabbit!  She was holding it in her arms when I last saw her in the laundry basket . . . Ducky obviously thought it made a soft cat pillow. 

one man’s junk . . .

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”.  That’s something my Mum would say as we headed off for a good rummage at a local jumble sale, when I was a child.  I don’t know if the term “jumble sale” is used anymore.  The more modern term seems to be “carboot sale” (in the UK, I believe) while in France they’re called “Vide Grenier” which translates as “Emptying the Attic”.  Whatever name they go buy, I do enjoy a good rummage.  And it so happens that September is a month where there are quite a few local “vide grenier” going on.

Husband doesn’t mind a rummage either, as long as we go early, and don’t stay too long.  So, on Sunday, we were up early to go to a local “vide grenier”.  It was in a very small commune just down the road.  I was amazed, when we arrived at 7.45 to find the fields commandeered for carparking already chock-a-block with cars, and vast crowds already milling around the several hundred stalls, all out to grab a bargain.  Husband and myself have yet to agree on what is a bargain, with him looking for specific vintage tools to add to his workshop, and me looking for . . . well anything that catches my eye really lol.  Our tactic is to split up when we arrive and meet up later.  If we see anything the other might be interested in, we use our mobile phones.  But basically, we each go our separate ways, getting lost in the crowds.  Me, feeling like an 8 year old, on Christmas Eve.  Always the thrill of finding a “treasure” but not knowing what shape that treasure will take.

On Sunday, the treasure had a rather canine form. French readers might recognise him.  It’s the mascot for “Télé Z” a French weekly TV magazine.

brocante 06

When I liken myself to an 8 year old, I’m not kidding!  Awwww, I saw him and couldn’t resist.  At first, I wasn’t going to buy.  Just wanted to pick him up and have a cuddle.  The seller immediately caught my eye, and called out “50 centimes”.  She knew she’d made a sale!.  His tongue was slightly damaged (something to do with the seller’s real dog having been slightly jealous of the stuffed toy) but I soon fixed that when I got him home.  He then went in the washing machine on a gentle cycle, and after, he was allowed to meet the real pets.


Here he is, meeting Ducky.  All our cats seem to approve, and Gibbs has been told the new dog is NOT a toy . . . . or should I say, he IS a toy but he’s not a Gibbs’ toy!


He’s Claire’s new toy, and he’ll be allowed to sit with me in my sewing room.  I’ve decided his name is Maurice.

And Maurice wasn’t the only toy this 8 year old brought home . . .

brocante 03

One lady was selling her collection of “doudous” (which is a French term meaning a very soft baby toy, a sort of comforter).  She actually made me feel less “wierd” about my new reborn doll craze.  She admitted to having built up a collection of over 400 doudous, which she was selling due to lack of space and a husband who was sick of the sight of her soft toy collection.  I couldn’t walk past without grabbing a few okay, 6 .  One isn’t in the photo.  It was  adopted by Gibbs since I said he couldn’t play with Maurice but please, shhh don’t tell the seller as she would be most distraught!.  I also bought a couple of teething ring toys.  Our parrot, Rio does love this kind of toy, and special parrot toys in petshops are very expensive.  Plastic baby toys are ideal for a parrot.  Easy to grab and hold in one foot, colourful, robust, even for an Amazon beak, and they make a nice rattling noise when played with.   Again, shhh, we don’t tell the lovely lady who sold me those that they’re for a parrot.  She thinks they’re for my grandchild.

My shopping bag was filling up, but my purse was still quite full, as each item was priced at 50 centimes . . . so Maurice and all these baby toys, for only 4.50€.   With my bag full of baby things, the logical follow-up was . . . a small bundle of baby clothes.  Everything I looked at seemed to be priced at 50 centimes, so I grabbed a few bits for my dolls.  I won’t bore you with every item, but I grabbed six little items, and came home feeling very pleased with my modest spending of 7.50€.

Just one last photo


of Lily in her “new” babygrow PJs and with a bunny doudou.

And just to prove how reasonable I was . . . husband found 2 vintage tools and spent a total of 13€ on his finds . . . so if it was a competition of who brought home more junk for less money, then I won lol.

Noah’s new body or . . . if at first you don’t succeed, try again.

I said, only the other day, that I would be setting to work to (finally) give Noah a new body.  Noah being the vinyl Berenguer “newborn” premie sized doll I bought second-hand in December of last year. Who looked like this


Because of his bent legs and the way his head sits on that rigid body, he only measured 36cm (or just over 14”).  When deciding on a size for his cloth body, I didn’t want to try and go too big – idea being to keep head & limbs in proportion with the body.  I therefore cut out pattern shapes to make a 40cm (or 16”) finished doll.    My first attempt looked like this.

Noah sept 05

That seemed a good size.  Leg and arm joints appear to be about the same distance apart as on the vinyl body  but I wasn’t happy with two things.  The size of circles for joints appeared too small, so the ridges in vinyl joints were too visible.  Secondly, the arms/shoulders appeared too low, and there was too much neck.

So . . . back to the pattern. I cut out larger pieces for joints and decided to attempt a slightly larger body (using the 17” pattern) and the second attempt looks like this.  [Pattern is by Ragdoll Fairy and bought on ebay in case anyone wants to try their hand at cloth body making].


Noah new bod 01

He now looks a bit long in the body, so maybe the 16” version was best, but I’m happy with joints, and not going to make a third attempt (for the time-being).  Saying that, once he’s got clothes on, he appears quite well proprtioned.  With bent arms and legs, it’s really difficult to know exactly how long his body should be, so I’m relying on the overall effect photos, with clothes.

Noah new bod 03

Noah new bod 04

Anyway, that’s Noah “done” for now.  He measures at around 40cm, and I’ve weighted him to approx 1.500kg, so he’s a very dainty “baby”.  Here he is, wearing a 0-1 month shop bought outfit, and knitted hat by Avis. That hat is lovely and stretchy – it seems to look good on all my dolls !

He looks very small when next to Alice and Lily, but he won’t be growing any bigger.

3 together

This is how the three of them look with their new bodies.  And a shot of how they were before.

3 dolls

Alice (far right) has stayed the same size, but both Lily and Noah have grown a couple of inches. 

Anyway, I had fun.  Now that all three have new bodies and are better weighted, I’ll be able to start some proper crafting. 

playing with dolls (and spooky photos)

Following the birth of Little Viking on 19th August, I’ve been rifling through old photo albums which then led to playing with dolls.  The reason I was going through old photo albums is: Mummy & Daddy Viking wanted photos of other family members at birth to compare hair.  I think I mentioned that Little Viking came into the world with a full head of hair – not just a few wispy bits of baby hair, but REAL hair.  If she follows family tradition, this mop of hair will not fall out, but will simply continue growing, and probably change colour next summer.

I’ll spare my kids the embarressment of posting baby photos of them here, but I don’t embarress easily.


This is me, only a few days old, way back in 1964.  Well, believe it not, but Little Viking has even more hair than I did! 

After scanning baby photos so new parents could have a laugh . . . I then took another look at Alice, one of my reborn dolls, and decided she really didn’t come with enough hair!  The lady who made her did a pretty good job of implanting wispy mohair, and even had one eye slightly off centre, to give that newborn unfocussed look.  Here she is, sporting her lazy eye and a cardie, knitted lovingly by auntie, no I’d better not write that or she’ll kill me, Avis.

Alice cardie

Anyway, I had already decided I needed to redo Alice’s body since I wasn’t 100% happy with the one I made her in February.  You may remember the problem: shoulders too big & puffy.  So I had a “make Alice look better” session.  New body, more lesting, and . . . a wig!

Alice sept 01

I also set her right eye straight  – no more lazy eyes.

Alice sept 02

I am so happy with the body, which has much smaller shoulders.  Weight is up from 1.670 kg to 2.170 kg, which is still very featherweight, but it’s an improvement.  And I just love how she looks with all that hair!

I’ve been very negligent with my reborns.  The whole idea, when I started out on my baby doll phase/craze was to make baby clothes, and so far I’ve only made a few outfits.  Thanks to generous (and talented) crafting friends, they do have some hand-made clothes to wear though . . . here’s another photo of Alice sporting a lovely cardie knitted and gifted by auntie, she’ll kill me too Lynn

Alice sept 04

And, because I was rummaging around in the dolls’ clothes box . . . little Grace got dressed up too.

Gtace sept 04

Cardie and matching hat in premie size, courtesy of Avis.

Anyway . . . that’s now Alice and Lily with new bodies.  My next job is to finally set to work on Noah.  He’s the first doll I bought – second hand – he’s very small, only 36cm.  A Berenguer doll.  He’s been lying around in pieces since February but work will be starting this week to make a premie sized cloth body.  I’ve got the fabric, and the plastic joints.  Just need to get cutting and sewing!


NewLook 6970

Some sewing to share with you today!  After reassembling little Lily, I was on a roll . . . and decided to try my hand at following one of the baby patterns I bought recently (taking advantage of a 50% off sale).  I bought a couple of patterns for baby outfits, with Baby Viking in mind.  However,  I hear from Mummy Viking, that future baby already has enough clothes to kit it out for the first 6 months of life.  I will therefore be sewing in a size 1 year to make a couple of outfits for next summer.

In the meantime, I wanted to have a trial run.  I always feel the need to follow a pattern at least once, to gain in confidence, and work out exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

Being a practice piece, I cut into an old bedsheet.  I say “old”, it was actually brand new.  Came from MIL’s vast stash of brand new bedding, so it’s my way of recycling.


Anyway . . . here’s a photo of the little top and knickers I made, following NewLook 6970 for Lily.  Pattern offers 4 size options: from newborn (43 – 61cm) to large (79 – 87cm)  I followed the newborn size for the little pinafore dress but then altered the newborn size for the knickers, and made my own smaller premie size from the pattern.


Lily only measures 48cm, so is on the lower scale, even for the newborn size, which is why I cut the knickers slightly smaller.  The little dress is a nice length.  Maybe a little wide on the bodice (for Lily).   I’m not actually too fussed.  I have plenty of bedsheet left, to make a smaller version if I want.  The next sewing job for Lily will be to draw up my own pattern to try and make her a little top with short sleeves to wear underneath, to hide the cloth joints . . . and practice sewing narrower hems.

This pattern was very well-explained and I am looking forward to using it again.  The dress & knicker option were my first choice, since I was sewing for a doll, but I do like the romper suit version both with and without ruffles at the leg cuffs.  Just need to buy in some narrow bias binding more suited to baby-sized clothes (because I used something too wide for elastic casing on my trial project) and keep my eyes open for some snap tape.  Failing that, I suppose I could simply add poppers for easy nappy changing, with the romper suit.

all the king’s horses and all the king’s men . . . (part 2)

I do make myself laugh sometimes, with my eternal optimism!   It was way back in February that I posted the following photo

body parts 01

of reborn dolls in disassembled parts, showing you Alice with her new home-made body and then signing off with a “Stay tuned in the coming weeks”.  A few weeks, became 5 months!  

Anyway . . . Lily (the vinyl doll I got for Christmas) is really just a toy doll – not a specially made reborn doll or kit.  She is a modern Spanish-made doll (by Nines d’Onil).  She was made with a simple soft cotton body (see upper left in photo) and her 3/4 limbs were actually machine stitched directly onto the body.

body parts 04

As you can see, from above photo, this means her limbs didn’t have the ridges which are needed to fasten on a proper reborn body, with the plastic cable ties.  Knowing this, I had ordered in some special parts to adapt the limbs.  It was just a question of setting to work with my Stanley knife, cutting out the vinyl plugs very carefully, lesting limbs, and then gluing in the new plugs (I bought 2 x 35mm for the arms and 2 x 40mm for the legs). I didn’t think to take photos – sorry.

Anyway, after adapting the limbs, then weighting limbs and head nicely, with very fine glass beads (poured directly into limbs to fill half way) and placed inside a vinyl disposable DIY glove for the head, then filling up the rest with soft toy stuffing . . . I weighted and stuffed Alice’s old body (with 2 more vinyl gloves containing fine glass beads plus lots of soft stuffing), attached Lily’s body parts with cable ties and . . .


This is what little Lily now looks like.  I made the head quite heavy, so it flops with its own weight.  The whole point being to give Lily a newborn baby feel to her. 

Lily 02 15 07

With the lesting in limbs, she is now quite poseable.

Lily 03 15 07

And I think body/versus limb & head proportions look okay.

Lily 04 15 07

Here she is, all dressed up and looking pretty (I didn’t make the dress)

Lily 05 15 07

She has grown a little bit, with her new body, and now measures approx 48cm (instead of the original 44cm) which is a fairly realistic size for a newborn, however she’s still a featherweight, despite lesting.  She weighs in at only 1.4 kilos.  Saying that, she’s plump enough to fit a proper newborn baby nappy.

I’m really pleased with how she turned out. She’s lovely and cuddly.  Limbs & head give her a nice floppy feel, and she always looks so peaceful lol.

What she now needs are some new clothes for the summer – custom made just for her and maybe even a little hat.  I’m not going to do any clothes making for Baby Viking until after the birth when we’ll know if it’s a boy or a girl.  And even then I’m not going to bother to even try and make clothes for Baby Viking to wear this summer.  Baby isn’t due until August, and summer in the UK will probably almost be over by then.  However some summer clothes making for Lily will enable me to do a few trial runs with the patterns I bought.

I won’t say “stay tuned in the coming weeks” this time, as I’ll probably get side-tracked by something else . . . haven’t picked up my crochet hook in a while . . . although I am thinking I ought to cut and sew out a body for little Noah.  And still plan to make another body for Alice to remedy the puffy shoulder problem.

One last photo, because I can’t resist:

Lily 06 15 17