Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I have been a fan of the art of KC Willis for years – ever since I first saw her wonderful collages in Somerset magazine. I always wanted to take a class with her and was delighted to discover that she was offering her “Collage Camp” on DVD. What fun! Just give me some fabric, paper, thread and glue and I’m happy as a little pig in poop…

Below is my first collage using what I learned from the DVD. The transferred image is of my sister as May Queen along with her court. She was in the eighth grade, I’m guessing circa 1956 or 1957. The pearl buttons aren't as bright as they appear in the picture. They are really subtle, in shades of brown. This is going to be a little extra Christmas present for Susie. Been singing “Stairway to Heaven” as I’ve been working on this…

“If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen.”

Friday, December 02, 2011

Large Victorian Santa Wreath Finished

I finished my large Victorian Santa wreath and listed it on Etsy. I found a great source for wreath shipping boxes, The Container Store. They are plain corrugated cardboard, sturdy enough for shipping, and perfect for storage. I ordered them online and picked them up at the nearest franchise.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Santa Wreath

I made a small Santa last year (blogged here) inspired by an article in Art Doll Quarterly magazine and he's been languishing in a box ever since. The other day, I decided to try wiring him into a wreath. I found some flowers and greenery that coordinated with him in my floral supply stash. I'm really happy with how this turned out - and will be adding the wreath to my Etsy store, soon.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Another Santa…

I finished another Santa, yesterday. I dressed him in turquoise taffeta and plan to add him to a Victorian-themed Christmas wreath. I found a couple of gorgeous floral sprays with peacock feathers (that I had forgotten I had!) and will try to work them into the wreath, too.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

From My Work Table…

I’ve been happily working on a couple of Santa dolls in between lots of other stuff. Christmas is coming!!! Here’s a nautical guy I just finished that I’m calling “The Jolly Old Man and the Sea,” (with apologies to Hemingway!). Although he’s a Santa doll, I deliberately understated the Christmas theme, by using neutral colors and just adding a little gold twig star to his wreath. This way, he can be comfortably displayed year round with other marine collectibles.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pieces of the Past…

Here is the first machine appliqué piece I ever tried. The pattern for this tea cozy was in a craft magazine – from the late 70s, I think. I did the appliqué and embroidery and my mom sewed it all together – a collaborative effort! Check out the back view! I wish I could remember the designer’s name.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Binky's Garden"

I finally finished "Binky’s Garden," the little memorial quilt to a neighbor’s cat I began working on a couple of years ago. Binky used to spend most of his time in our yard. He liked to sleep on our car (or in it!) whenever he had the chance. He was especially fond of our garden and always took time to stop and eat the flowers. And if our front door was open, he’d just sashay right in and visit for a while. DH and I absolutely adored him and he knew it. The neighbors never took proper care of him (and we couldn’t keep him because, technically, he belonged to one of their younger children). Binky disappeared one night after a big snowstorm. We were heartbroken… A few years later, we named one of our kittens after him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Love Potion #9" (Work in Progress)

I just wanted to post a quick update of my contour drawing embroidery piece. So far, I've added a backing and an inner border of couched novelty yarn and gold beads. The outside border is beaded but I still need to add beaded fringe to the bottom. To me, it has a kind of Gypsy/Bohemian vibe to it and so the working title is “Love Potion #9.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Mini Art Quilt Finished...

I finally finished this little painted and embroidered piece I started last year. I had intended to finish it as a postcard but decided to add a binding and make it into a small art quilt, instead. So, the other day, with my Ott-Lite magnifying lamp powered by the generator (we lost electricity for about 12 hours), I hand stitched a piece of vintage double fold seam binding (from my mom’s old stash) to the edges. I buttonhole stitched around a tiny nylon washer (from the hardware store) and attached it for an unobtrusive hanger and added a signed and dated label to the back.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Work in Progress...

I’ve been happily stitchin’ away – but still have miles to go! Then I’ll need to decide if I’m adding beads. (I’m pretty sure it’s screaming for beads!) I didn’t realize I was using two different shades of white thread until it was too late (D’oh!), so I will either have to pretend that I meant to do that or unpick and restitch a couple of areas. I’m really trying to talk myself into the first option! Anyway, I’m pleased with the graphic nature of this and it has given me ideas on how to finish a couple of other UFOs.

Meantime, we’re battening down the hatches here near the Jersey shore. Stay safe, everyone!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I'm currently taking Susan Sorrell's fun Sketchn'Contour Embroidery mini class at Joggles. She always comes up with the most intriguing ideas! And since this month's Sketchbook Challenge is "Everyday Objects," I decided to sketch some of the skincare and cosmetic containers in my bathroom closet. Drawing these things made me chuckle and think of Joni Mitchell's song "Sweet Bird."

"Sweet bird you are
Briefer than a falling star
All these vain promises on beauty jars
Somewhere with your wings on time
You must be laughing"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Another Dress for Ellowyne

Here's another dress from a vintage pattern. Again, the instructions didn't call for a lining, but I lined it in tulle, including the skirt. Easy!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Everything Old is New Again...

I made these two outfits from vintage Revlon doll patterns. I love how they fit Ellowyne – and I figure the vintage look suits her storyline as a girl who thrifts her wardrobe. Many of these patterns don’t call for linings but I decided to try adding a tulle lining to the midriff top. It worked out great – and it’s a lot easier than fussing with pressing ¼” seams on curved neck and arm openings. And, of course, the inside is a lot neater. Plus, it’s a time-saver because separate darts don’t need to be made for the lining. Instead, the darts are sewn into the tulle and fashion fabric together.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Few More Dolls from My Gene Marshall Collection...

Still messing around in the "Redneck Photo Studio!" The dolls are "Iced Coffee," "Crème de Cassis" and "Breathless."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Simple Summer Dress for Madra...

I whipped up this little number to help poor Madra beat the heat... We've had some relief from the humidity in the past couple of days but next week we are supposed to be heading right back into the soup...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Redneck Photo Studio

DH recently installed shop lights (with Philips daylight bulbs) in his tractor shed and was curious to see what kind of photographic lighting effects he could achieve with a simple setup and just those overhead lights. As you can see from the photo of Madra Lord (Gene Marshall’s nemesis), the light is actually pretty soft. And DH is well pleased with what he calls his “redneck photo studio.”

The name of the doll outfit is “Catwalk.” I paid $25.00 for it, brand new, on eBay. The (bald) Madra doll was around $8.00, if I remember correctly.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Repro Toni Doll

This is my “Sew for Me Toni” doll, a reproduction (by Robert Tonner) of the original Toni from the fifties. She came with a chemise and underwear, socks and two pairs of shoes. I made her a crisp little summer dress of cotton chintz. She is a joy to sew for…

My sister purchased the original P90 Toni for me at an estate sale. Her condition is a little rough, but I love having both the vintage and repro dolls in my collection.

Hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sweatshirt Cardi for Ellowyne

Recently, I found an old sweatshirt in the back of my closet that had never been worn. I had purchased it to embellish (quite a few years ago) and just never got around to doing it. I was tempted to just toss it and then had an idea to repurpose it to make doll clothes. Here is my first project: a funky little cardi for Ellowyne that she can just throw on over anything.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Nature Journal: Dog Rose

Lately, I have been getting error messages when I try to publish new posts to this blog. I have been using Explorer for years but I just discovered if I publish in Firefox everything works like a charm! I have absolutely no idea why…

Anyhoo, I made this little drawing in the beginning of June when the fragrant white flowers of the dog rose were in bloom.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

May's Sketchbook Challenge

The Sketchbook Challenge for this month is “Can’t Resist.” Well, I can’t resist new spring leaves and splashing around in watercolors! I gathered a few varieties of leaves from the yard, sketched them and cut them out to use as stencils for this fun little exercise from Ann K. Lindsay’s book, WATERCOLOR: A NEW BEGINNING. Starting in the foreground, successive rows of overlapping leaf shapes have watercolor glazes added around them, pushing them further into the background. The stencils act as a kind of “resist” to the paint.

This was done on heavy watercolor paper because the paper has to be wet for the initial wash. I will glue it into my sketchbook.

French Kitty's New Outfit

Here is my French Kitty doll, all dolled up in a new dress and fascinator.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Vermicelli Stitch Practice on Paper Towel

Here is an example of one ply of paper toweling (used to clean up paint) fused to a piece of felt and then free-motion stitched. This very sturdy and highly textured piece of fabric paper will probably end up as a collage background. I learned about stitching on painted paper towels from this very inspiring blog: A Little Imagination and a Pile of Junk.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mirror's New Corset

I sewed a doll corset from plain old muslin using a cute pattern by Gracefaerie Designs. It’s a solid little foundation piece, interfaced and lined. I had only intended to try it out for fit, but was so happy with the result that I went ahead and trimmed it with organza ribbon, lace, embroidery stitches and seed beads. Definitely need to make more of these! This one closes in the back with hooks and eyes, but the pattern also includes a variation that laces up the front.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A New Dress for Gene...

I made this dress yesterday from the very first Gene doll pattern I ever purchased a few years ago. It was designed by Gerry Broerman and inspired by a vintage Vogue pattern. Don’t know why it took me so long to get to it! It was easy to sew and fits her beautifully. The fabric I used was vintage handkerchief linen (from my mom’s old stash). The belt was made from a strip of bonded leather pulled through a doll-sized buckle. I love how it accents Gene’s tiny waist.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Sketchbook Challenge

The theme this month is “Branching Out" – but I seem to have only sprouted…

Below is the same sketch with the photocopy filter applied in Photoshop. It gives it kind of an old world look. I may print this on fabric for further embellishment. This could be a way to leverage plain pencil sketches and studies.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fun and Fast Recycling Project

In the process of weeding out my bookcases, I found a hardback book that I no longer wanted to keep. Not wanting to toss it out, entirely (well, books are sort of sacrosanct!), I decided to remove the pages and re-cover it, inspired by an article on bookmaking by Dede Warren in Somerset’s Sew magazine (Summer 2009). I followed her instructions except that I used a piece of original fabric paper for the cover (instead of scrapbook paper). I also used a single piece of heavy paper for the inside, including the spine. Using “Yes” glue and my fingers, I carefully glued my fabric paper to the outside first and then glued the inside paper to hide the raw edges. As per the instructions, I clamped the papers to the book, refolded the book back into its original position and left it to dry. A signature was made of 3 folded sheets of heavy watercolor paper and added to the book by using an awl to punch two corresponding holes through the center of the folded pages and the book’s spine and tied in with vintage seam tape.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Miniature Baltimore Album Quilt: Block One

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is my intention to attempt to make a miniature Baltimore Album quilt. I thought it would make a nice backdrop for photographing my 18” dolls. I had planned to learn how to use needleturn appliqué to stitch the motifs so I practiced on an oak leaf design with lots of tiny concave curves. I’m not even going to show you what an unmitigated disaster that was! I was just not able to turn those curves accurately. After a couple of fruitlessly frustrating hours, I tried tracing my pattern onto a used dryer sheet (in the spirit of recycling!), placing it on the right side of the appliqué fabric, taking tiny handstitches all around the marked lines, cutting a scant ¼” around the stitching and carefully clipping curves, then making a slit in the dryer sheet to pull the appliqué fabric through to the right side. I used my trusty hemostat to push out the edges. And pushed right through the tiny curves! ARGHH! Reluctantly, I decided to just use a lightweight fusible web and add decorative embroidery stitches. I’m actually kind of pleased with the resulting dimensionality. I have eleven more motifs to appliqué – plus border designs so I’m sure this little project is going to take a month of Sundays but, at least, I’ve made a start. I'm using old cotton fabric from my stash as much as possible for this project.

The patterns I’m using for my 4”square blocks are from the wonderful Better Homes and Gardens book, 501 Quilt Blocks, A Treasury of Patterns for Patchwork & Applique.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sketchbook Challenge: "Spilling Over"

When the theme for this month’s Sketchbook Challenge, “Spilling Over,” was first announced, I was really stumped as to how I would illustrate it. Couldn’t think of a visual to save my life, but I did wax poetic:

Spilling over, overflowing;
Don’t have a clue where I am going.
Ideas for this theme elude,
My sketchbook sighs in solitude,
And wonders when
My Pitt Art pen
Will once again
Its ink exude.

Then, the other day, we had temperatures in the glorious mid-70s and I was walking around the house and noticed how the ivy spills over itself as it climbs the foundation. I decided to sit outside for a while and sketch it. Forgive my messy smudges – occupational hazard of being left-handed…

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mixed Time Periods...

I recently bought a bolt of muslin primarily to make Santa bodies but I also wanted to be able to use it to test-drive commercial clothing patterns for my dolls before committing to fashion fabric. First up is a little number I sewed for my beautiful American Girl doll, Elizabeth Cole. Although she is supposed to be a nine-year-old from 1774 Williamsburg, I think this dress style places her squarely in the early 1800s. I found the floral applique in my stash of lace and hand stitched it to the bodice. Beneath her feet, are the pieced blocks and borders for the miniature Baltimore album quilt I hope to make (pieced from recycled sheet). Baltimore Album quilts were not popular until the 1840s, way after Elizabeth’s time!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


This is something I meant to blog about earlier but it kind of got lost in the shuffle, here. Last year, the cats were roughhousing in bed and put a big tear in a very nice sheet (bad, bad kitties!). I couldn’t bear to throw it out, so I decided to repurpose it. First, I cut squares to use as practice for the free-motion embroidery course I took last fall.

Then, I decided to try out my AccuQuilt Go fabric cutter to cut strips and squares for a miniature Baltimore Album quilt I want to make for my dolls (someday, soon, I hope!). Finally, I found these cool instructions (inspired by Judy Coates Perez) on Jane LaFazio's blog for using teabags for drawing and collage. With the leftover tea, I dyed the rest of the fabric. Now, at least, I feel as though I got my money’s worth out of the sheet. The photo below shows the fabric cut for the little quilt, some tea-dyed fabric and a few sheets of teabag paper (made from iced tea teabags).

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I Especially Heart Black Cats...

February’s Sketchbook Challenge is “Opposites.” I knew right away that I wanted to try making a cut paper collage using the Japanese positive and negative design concept of Notan. This was so much fun – kinda like cutting out Valentine hearts as a kid. For this simple, symmetrical design, I used a 3½“ piece of black paper folded in half diagonally, then cut the cat and heart shapes on one side. It’s amazing how much space a 3½” square takes up when all the cutout pieces are glued into their correct positions. And it’s interesting to see the design that’s revealed by the negative space. The second image is the design repeated and flipped in Photoshop. I think it has an Art Nouveau look to it. I will definitely be revisiting this process.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Help! I Need a Clone!

Real life (business) has gotten in the way these past few weeks - even more than usual! Been tempted to give up the blog altogether; after all, it’s been nearly six years! That’s a pretty good run. But, to be honest, I have truly missed it (and my readers – hope you are still out there!) and would like to get back into the online swing of things a little bit, as time permits.

I’m in the middle of so many projects and commitments, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate in the Sketchbook Challenge. The theme this month, "Highly Prized," was so broad; I found it difficult to narrow down my choices. Of course, DH is most highly prized – and his sweet visage can be found in every Santa doll I make. (Everyone who knows him says so!) My little cats are highly prized and I certainly prize my doll collection (got a few new ones for Christmas, including three American Girl dolls!) as well as a few favorite pieces of antique lace and porcelain. But I just couldn’t decide what to illustrate. I had nearly given up, when I set about the bittersweet task of taking down the Christmas tree two weeks ago. I think I’ve mentioned before that the Christmas tree has many ornaments made by my mom over the years. Well, the choice for the highly prized theme hit me like a ton of bricks! I decided to draw a couple of my cherished ornaments! The sketchbook I’m using is Canson’s Mixed Media. It is spiral bound with perforated pages and will accept both wet and dry media. I’m very happy with it. A bargain at $8.99 each, I bought two (sport that I am!). I’m using the other one for my nature journaling.