it’s a boy!

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I’m afraid that I’ll be going off at something of a tangent in the coming year, and adding a new category to my blog.  I’ll still be cross stitching, patchworking, sewing, knitting & crocheting . . . but I’ll also be making things in “new born” sizes.  Not because I’m about to become a grandma (which would be the logical reason), but because I’ve suddenly become all fired up over . . . baby dolls. 

I blame it on the internet.  The other month, I was, in fact, searching for ideas related to clothes & accessories for BJDs (ball-jointed dolls) – okay, yes, also dolls, but not baby dolls.  My daughter and I have quite a collection of BJDs, but they’ve been stuck in their boxes since our last house move in 2014.  Anyway, I digress . . . while searching for BJD ideas, I came across “reborns”. 

An example (for those who don’t know) can be seen on Cocochello’s blog here.  Some people will find these very life-like dolls “creepy” but I think they are absolutely gorgeous.  Unfortunately, a finished doll to the standard of Cocochello’s creations, is very expensive.  And I don’t have the talent to attempt making my own from scratch. 

However, I then came across the following video   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO6EC452SKM where LaDonna Briggs shows how to reborn a shop bought vinyl doll (Berengeur dolls).  I watched over and over again . . . totally captivated by the process . . . and then went searching for a second hand Berengeur doll.  Unfortunately (again) the entire reborning community must be looking for Berengeur dolls too because prices on ebay for a second hand doll are barely cheaper than for a brand new doll. 

Undeterred, I continued my search . . . and I found this little chap, complete with his original outfit.

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He’s one of the Berengeur new borns.  Measures 36cm in length, and for the bargain sum of 13€ (including p&p) he is all mine lol.

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Little feet and chubby legs just in the right position for modesty’s sake (I wouldn’t want to be accused of doll porn). 

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For the moment, all I’ve had time to make him so far is . . . a little nappy.

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What I hope to do, in the coming year, is copy LaDonna Briggs, the lady of the video.  I’ve bookmarked a couple of on-line shops in France which sell supplies (cloth bodies, weighting materials etc) and plan to give him a cloth body and a more realistic baby weight, which in turn will make him more poseable, before actually making him any new clothes.  I won’t be attempting any painting.  I think he looks lovely just the way he is. 

And, because I’m the mad woman who gives names to everything, including her hens . . . yes, this little cutie does have a name already lol.  It’s Noah. 

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wall-hanging – step by step

A step-by-step following a request by restingwhippet . . . I hope it might be useful to a few other people too.  A “how to” make a wall-hanging, which I always find is a nifty way to finish off some of those small cross stitch projects we finish and stuff in a drawer.

I give no specific measurements, and I have assumed you have some basic knowledge of sewing.  Measurements will depend on the size of your project.  You’ll need a couple of fabrics that blend or contrast nicely with your cross stitch, some wadding/batting, cutting tools, sewing maching, sewing threads , some kind of wooden rod (I’ve used a Chinese chopstitck) and your faithful iron.

The first most important thing (and this is going to sound silly, but it isn’t) is to wash & iron your cross stitch piece to get rid of all creases, then slice it to size.  I leave a 3/4” border so that when sewn, my central panel with have a 1/2” border (it hasn’t been cut down to size in the first photo).  Then I always take time to place on possible fabrics and stand back, because you want to set off the cross stitch, without it being over-powered by the fabric.

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I was originally going to use the dark turquoise (lower left) as my main fabric, but it seemed to dominate too much

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So, as you’ll see, I went with a lighter one. 

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First step is to cut two bands for the sides.  Mine are 3” wide because my central panel is only about 6” square.  Lining up edges, right sides together, you sew a seam using a 1/4” foot (if you have one).

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I forgot to take a photo of next stage (oops) but . . . you press out both sides then cut 2 bands as long as your new width for top & bottom.  Again, you line up edges, right sides together and sew using a 1/4” seam.  Then press.

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Here’s mine, so far, just lying on fabrics ready to choose binding & backing fabric.  You’ll notice I have used a 3” band on the top, but a lot wider on the bottom.  The width of your fabric bands depends entirely on what you want, and also on how much fabric you have.  I was using a long quarter and needed to keep my pattern going the same way, so I cut 3” for the top and added 7” to the bottom.

I chose the solid turquoise for my backing fabric. So next stage is to cut a piece of backing fabric & wadding the same size as the front panel.  Make a sandwich: front panel (right side up), wadding, backing fabric (right side down).  Pin your sandwich if you need to, to keep layers from slipping, and back to the sewing machine. 

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I use my walking foot and sew a border, about 1/4” inside, onto my cross stitch fabric.  Cross stitch fabric is usually heavier and more rigid than patchwork cotton, so this just keeps the central square nice and flat before the quilting part.  You can miss out the quilting part, if your wall-hanging is only small, but it does give it a more “finished” look.  Still with walking foot, therefore, some simple quilting (but avoiding the cross stitched piece).

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And then you square up your piece.  You can keep your top with 90° corners, like this, or you can decide to alter the shape slightly.  I decided to slice off bottom corners for a pointy finish.

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And kept one of the triangles, sliced in half again for the back.  Now it’s time for binding.  I always make my own, but you can use shop bought binding.  For my binding, I cut a long band 2 and 1/4” wide, (length needed is going to depend on the size of your quilted piece) and pressed in half to have a length 1 and 1/8” wide.  I added a short strip of this binding along the long side of both triangles.  Then pinned into place.

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Then, turning my hanging over, I sew the binding (raw edges lined up with raw edges) onto the front of my piece, taking care to fold and turn at each angle.  I go back to my 1/4” foot for this but some people prefer to use the walking foot or the normal sewing foot.

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Front & back views after machine sewing the binding.  And then it’s time for some hand-sewing, folding the binding towards the back.

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The advantage of these little pockets on the back . . . it makes for an easy hanging system.  I have slid a wooden chop stick into place.  It will stop the hanging from drooping in the centre. 

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You can then add a little loop of ribbon, to hang.  And, if you want to add  a tassle for embellishment . . .

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Voilà! 

another finish #November

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Such a Spring-like happy dance in the house today, with a brand new finished project – yay.  You’ll remember this small butterfly design I showed you not long ago (a very easy kit by Dimensions).  I bought it because my sister loves butterflies and I thought it would be excellent as a gift for Christmas. 

When I first finished it, I had a cursory rifle through my fabric stash and was originally going to use a much darker fabric

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Here is the butterfly stitching just lying on a large piece.  It looked very effective, I must say, but after further rummaging, I found this piece

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Where the green in print just happened to match the green threads of the cross stitch, so that is what I chose to use for my borders.  Now, when I said I’d be making a wall-hanging, I had a few comments from people interested to see how I go about that . . . so I’ll be posting a step-by-step account of that tomorrow to show you in more detail.  For today though, I just wanted to share.  Back view, of the little hanging (in case you’re wondering how it will hang), looks like this.

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I usually make loops which are visible from the front through which to slide a wooden rod. On this one I’ve made triangular pockets which can take any thickness of rod (here a wooden chop stitck) and will keep the top of the hanging nice and rigid, so it doesn’t gape when hung.

Anyway, stay tuned . . . step-by-step coming tomorrow.

tissue pouch – step-by-step

I said I’d do a step-by-step article, to show those interested how to make a very quick & easy fabric tissue pouch cover.  One that looks like the following.

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I made mine using a 1/4” seam allowance (that’s the patchworker in me) if you plan on using a wider seam allowance, then you’ll need to adjust measurements in order for pouch to fit a standard packet of tissues.  Here’s what you’ll need.

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Two rectangles of lining fabric: 18cm x 9cm;  two rectangles of outer fabric, also 18 x 9cm; one piece of outer fabric approx 6cm x 9cm; one metal clasp and one pair of plastic poppers (you can also use velcro, sew-on poppers or a button & button hole if you prefer).

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Begin by placing your 4 larger rectangles one on top of the other to make a sandwich placing on the work surface (in order) print right side up, lining fabric right side down, lining fabric right side up, print right side down.

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Using a paper template with corners snipped off (as above) place the template on the 4 thicknesses of fabric and slice off angles.

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Separate the fabric so you have 2 matching pairs of print & lining and make sure the print is right side facing (right side of )lining.

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You’re going to sew a 1/4” seam ONLY along the top edges: angle, across the centre and second angle.  Do the same on both sets of fabric.

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You then turn that pointy end out, using your finger (or something not too pointy) to press out the tip as neatly as possible.  And press seams flat.   While the iron is hot, with the small rectangle of fabric, you make the “loop strap” by pressing in half  (keeping the 9cm length), then pressing in edges to the crease (see photo at the end of this post), and sewing 2 seams along the edges.

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For the assembly part . . . place your 2 pouch pieces one on top of the other (right sides together) so you can only see lining fabric on both sides.  Your loop and clasp will need to put in place at this point.  Slip the strip of fabric into the ring of clasp, fold in half.  Then place it inside the sandwich of your 2 pouch sides, with the clasp inside and the edges of strip just visible on the edge.

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You then sew around 3 sides of the pouch (not the opening), with a 1/4” seam.  I reinforced stitches at edges of the opening and across the loop fabric.  And forgot to take a photo of my seams.

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Once those seams are sewn, slice off the edges of loop to avoid excess bulk and turn your pouch the right way out.  I gave mine a quick press, at this stage, before adding the plastic popper.

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That way, I aligned the edges of opening, and used the point of my thread ripper to make a very small puncture hole.

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Simply sticking the point through both layers on both sides of the pouch – that way I am certain the poppers will line up.  You then insert the popper pieces like you would a pair of stud earrings and squeeze with the pliers.

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With the measurements given, and 1/4” seam this should give you a pouch that is a good fit for a standard packet of 10 paper tissues.  You could probably get away with fabric being slightly shorter length ways, but the 9cm for width is as snug as you can go.

Final photo of a quick sketch (to clarify any questions you might have).

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Not to scale, but to show you the basic shape you want for the body of the pouch.  And to show the crease lines you want to iron onto the small rectangle to make the loop strip.

“Warning”–finish one a month #November

Earlier this month I showed you a sneak preview of a finished cross stitch & quilting project . . . showing only a full photo of the back.  I can now show you the front!

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This is an original design by Lindashee and the chart is now available to buy as a pdf download in her etsy shop LindasheesStitches

She has also designed a warning sign for cat lovers.  So dog-lovers and cat-lovers, hop over to have a look.

I stitched on 20 count aida, in 1 thread, because I wanted to keep the cross stitch panel small enough to have fun with contrasting fabrics and make a 16” cushion cover. But the design can be stitched on any type of aida/evenweave and is perfect for beginners because there are only full stitches and no backstitch.

When I first started the patchworking, to make my cushion cover, I originally made it like this.

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However the outer fabric kept making me go cross-eyed because of the white on black, so I ripped apart and added a softer grey instead.

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a tissue anyone?

When I get a bee in my bonnet, I simply don’t stop!  I showed you a batch of tissue pouches I made (for unbirthday gifts and thinking of small xmas gifts) . . . and I’ve been busy making a whole lot more.

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A total of 30 – yep, once I start sewing, I don’t seem to be able to stop lol.  Why stop at 30, I hear you wonder?  Quite simply because I bought in 3 x 10 more metal clasps for the occasion, and because 30 sounded like a nice round number.

These latest pouches have been made with a fund-raiser in mind on 13th December.  My youngest niece goes to a special centre for mentally handicapped children, and every year the centre holds a Christmas fête with stalls, selling items made by the children.  I offered to make the above to sell too.  Proceeds will go to the centre, to help subsidise certain things (outings, supplies etc) so I’m hoping my little tissue pouches will be a big hit.  Each one is different, even those where I’ve made doppelgangers using the same fabrics, as I’ve played around with different coloured poppers or different shaped openings.  There are a few with rather Christmas themed fabrics, but on the whole, I’ve tried to just use a variety of prints, since we need tissues all year round, not just at Christmas, right?

If you fancy giving this kind of project a go . . . I’ll be posting a step-by-step “how to” very soon.  They really are very easy to make . . . remember my 7 year old neighbour, Cléo, who comes for sewing lessons?  Well she made one too.

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They really are very easy.

happy un-birthdays in November

unbirthday November

Autumn is with us, wet & windy . . . Winter isn’t far off . . . and with it, all those germs and runny noses.  Which explains the idea behind recent sewing and a few un-birthday gifts that were sent to 3 ladies in France.  From left to right, these little pouches were sent to Monique, Lynn and Ghislaine . . . the idea: to pop a packet of standard size paper tissues inside.  Each pouch has a metal clip, so it can be clipped to a jeans belt-loop or to the house/car keys.

A very fun sewing session.  Having fun with my new plastic poppers, using different pretty fabrics, and also messing around trying different shapes of openings.

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And, of course, I didn’t stop there since I was on a roll . . .

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I made quite a few!  Thinking these will make lovely xmas gifts for my neighbours too.  I seem to have made a lot of pinkish ones with this batch, mainly because I pulled out quite a large piece of pink cotton to use as lining.  However I have already cut out some other fabrics (trying to use scraps where possible) in a more blue colourway, because not everyone likes pink.  More fun sewing sessions in store.