I'm here at the Farmer's Market at a yellow-topped table, surrounded by Christmas shoppers, having a hot chocolate with just the tiniest bit of whipped cream. Last Sunday, Sallie came over to work on Raggedy Ann and today, she's coming back so we can finish the dress and start on some Christmas gifts. Sallie wrestled with Annie as she sewed on the bundles of hair. It took a couple of hours and afterwards, we walked to my favorite fabric store, International Silks and Woolens, to choose material and ribbon for Annie's dress.
After a long break, which included a spaghetti dinner, we started the dress. Sallie cut out the skirt and then machine-basted two long rows for the gathering. I cut out the top and the sleeves, we "gathered" them and I attached one sleeve before she left. Today, we'll start by attaching the other sleeve.
In the meantime, back in Puerto Viejo, Sophie is working on a group of munequitas and one larger doll with a coffee sack for a body that has a very Picasso-ish look. I can't wait to see the finished products!
Today, while Sallie works on Annie's dress, I plan to make skirts and blouses for the small dolls. Then, we may go back to ISW for some green, sparkly material to make Christmas pillows and mermaid tails!
I hope you are able to take some time to explore your creative side this holiday season. It's more fun than shopping and costs a lot less!
In the meantime, Happy Holidays and have a great week!
Last Sunday, Sallie came over for a sewing day and we had a tea party in the 90-degree heat with our new crop of small dolls, which we call "Muñequitas." Sallie set up the dolls in the "garden" with a tiny tea set from the Farmer's Market, which matches the tea set made by my sister, Kath at MUDDSLINGER POTS, (aka "Veronica").
After "La Fete dans le Jardin," which was Sallie's delightful French translation of our "tea party," we retired to our sewing table under the breeze of a fan and had ice cold lemonade and cookies while we worked. Sophie's job was to draw two more doll faces to embroider and Sallie's was to draw and embroider the face for her Raggedy Ann, who is to be a buddy to the Raggedy Andy we made last fall. Peering out of Sophie's basket where Sallie had scooped them up, a jumble of Muñequitas watched us and chattered amongst themselves.
As you can see, Las Muñequitas are in various stages of completion. Sophie had some fun this week taking group photos and some solo shots of Mirabel, who is back from her extended visit to Marina Del Rey. Our one boy doll, Eduardo, is looking forward to getting a new suit of clothes and a haircut in the next few days. We will post updated photos of the dolls as they are completed.
Other sewing news: Sophie got a new sewing machine and we are learning how to use it. Also, I finally finished Sophie's summer sundress, which has a black bodice and a vintage, yellow and black, Parisienne-imaged full skirt with pockets. It is the first dress for my new project of making patterns from vintage dresses, which I call "Pale Pink Patterns for a Perfect Fit!"
Well, it's Friday at 6:00 p.m. and I type this from my day job, so it's high time to go home. We've asked Sallie to be our guest blogger this month, so look for her byline soon!
In the meantime, have a great week!
_Last week, I told you about seeing the Joffrey Ballet's "Nutcracker" with my nieces, Sallie and Colleen. Since then, I've been fascinated by nutcrackers. My Los Angeles sewing partner, Evette, and I were in Joann's Fabrics in Studio City, stocking up on doll- making supplies last week when Evette stopped in her tracks, and I, being right behind her, bumped into her! "Look at that!" she exclaimed. There was a nutcracker display with all items 60% off! As we looked, we were tempted, because, after all, what is a nutcracker but a wooden doll? But then she saw a tailor, holding a bag of spools of thread in one hand and a pair of golden scissors in the other. On his head, instead of the black beefeater pompom, was a red pincushion, complete with pins. It was love at first sight and Mr. Tailor was in Evette's cart before you could say "Sugar Plum Fairy!"
Then I spied the seamstress. (In case you hadn't noticed, female nutcrackers are hard to
find.) I knew when I saw her, at 60% off, that she was mine. She has a silver thimble
skirt, a spool of red thread for a hat, and an old-fashioned, painted face. Sallie, who came over on Saturday to make dolls, told me that she got a nutcracker, too. After politely admiring Samantha the Seamstress and the tree, and lining up all the dolls on the bed in the sewing room as if they were on a toboggan about to slide down a snowy hill, we set up shop for our day of doll making. Out came the cutting board, the bowl of thread, the box of fabric, the jar of art pencils and markers, and the sewing machine. Sallie wanted to make a small doll, a la Mirabel (see the Doll Gallery), and was hoping to finish in one day.
_We started by choosing from a selection of homemade patterns. This one was copied from a vintage Guatemalan doll bought at a thrift store a few years ago. She is handmade and you can see the stitches where the legs are attached. The clothes are intricate and
colorful and sewn to her body. Next, Sallie traced the head on a piece on paper and drew the face, which was a classic doll face that looked a little bit like Samantha. Then she pinned the pattern to the fabric and cut out the head, using café au lait muslin for the face and black for the back of the head. The next step was to trace the face onto the fabric through the paper with a very sharp pencil. Then we had to make a tactical decision: To embroider the face or to draw it? As it was already 2:30, Sallie decided to depart from tradition and draw the face with permanent markers.
_After a practicing on a piece of fabric (I told her to keep it because it was so pretty!), Sallie drew the face in minutes, as compared to the hour or so it would have taken to embroider. Next, we pinned right sides together and stitched the head. After that, Sallie turned the head inside out and stuffed it. The turning and stuffing is time-consuming and takes some practice, but Sallie got it done to her satisfaction. Doll heads made this way tend to be a little imperfect and can look misshapen, but this is where a great hairdo comes in. I had a little doll wig already cut from the sleeve of a black tee shirt which fit the bill and after pinning it on, fashioning two braids and tying the ends with blue embroidery thread, Sallie's doll was coming to life!
_We took a break for hot dogs and fries and a walk to the fabric store, (sewing is tiring!), and then were back at work. Now it was time to cut out the body, arms and legs, all from different fabric, chosen by Sallie. After pinning the pieces, right sides together, Sallie and I took turns sewing them on to the body. Sallie next turned and stuffed one arm while I did the other. We then attached the arms to the unstuffed body, after which Sallie stuffed the body and I attached the legs. We were almost done, but it was almost time for Sallie to go home! (Sallie's mom and dad had come over in the meantime and brought some delicious mac and cheese for dinner, so we took another break.)
_With her Mom's permission, we were granted an hour to finish. I opened up the top of the body, took out some stuffing and stuffed the neck in, then pinned the head in place and quickly sewed it them together. Then I sewed on the hair with a few stitches and Sallie's first small doll was done! But because we had finished in a hurry, there are some things we may want to fix, such as reattaching the legs so the doll can stand on her own and re- sewing her head on so you can't see the stitching. Then we can sew on the blue sparkly necklace Sallie chose, and even the tiniest stitches won't show. Last but not least, Sallie wants to make her a brown dress, inspired by "Chocolate," the Spanish dancer from the "Nutcracker." So we need to have another sewing session soon!
_Sophie and I continue to brainstorm about dollsbysasha.com and how we can make dolls
and contribute to the world we live in at the same time. We've decided to ask Sallie to
help with some ideas and maybe even write her own doll blog. Meanwhile, Sophie has
been experimenting with a new format for the website, has started writing a children's
book about Suki in Costa Rica and has come up with some amazing drawings. Malakei
Lucian is starting to contribute some ideas too, so we'll have lots to talk about next time. We'd love your input too, so please feel free to leave comments!
More next time… And don't forget to enjoy the holiday season!
_Since the last post, Big Raggedy Ann got a new blonde bob and a blue dress with cornflowers with sprigs of green leaves. The back of the dress ties with three sets of light blue satin ribbons. This was an idea of my other doll-making partner, Evette. (Thank you Evette!) Most of the dolls we make have dresses that tie this way because it's easy and beautiful. Evette also taught me how to sear the edge of each ribbon tie with a match to keep it from raveling. Evette and I love to get together to sew and make dolls. She has created some beautiful dolls and has a great etsy site which you can find at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/AllAboutEvette.
_As usual, while making Blonde Annie, I heard some music which got Annie up and dancing. We were watching "Luxury Liner" with Jane Powell and Xavier Cougat. It's the scene where Jane gets all "dolled" up (pun intended!) for dinner and dancing in the main dining room on the ship. Xavier Cougat's band performs a wonderful Brazilian
instrumental number and Annie started shaking and flipping her hair around in time to the music. Who would have thought she would be such a good dancer? My goal is to post her performance on Youtube, but for now, you can see pictures of Annie here.
_My latest doll is Winnifred's twin, Federica. Here are some pictures of her in progress as well as the finished doll. Winnifred lives in Missoula, Montana, with Kath, who made the beautiful tea set in last month's blog. Check out her etsy site at http://www.etsy.com/shop/muddslingerpotz
_Sophie has been working hard on the dollsbysasha website, experimenting with a new format and trying to organize the pictures, which are mounting by the day. Please feel free to comment on the site. All suggestions and input are welcome!
I am currently reworking Delphine, Delfina's big sister. Delphine is one of my earlier dolls and has a more childlike face. She is currently blond with gold highlights and will have black and white striped legs, black boots, peach colored silk arms and a red dress with green petticoats. She is going to be the holiday doll this year!
The holidays are coming and we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet. So slow down, everyone, and enjoy it. Meanwhile, I feel like Santa and his elves rolled into one. I may have to invite Evette and Sallie over to help me in the doll workshop. (I wish Sophie could be here too, but I plan to make a trip with some dolls to Costa Rica in the New Year to stock the store and we hope to celebrate the holidays again there. Pura Vida!)
Finally, I'm hoping to go to the Los Angeles Ballet's production of the Nutcracker this
year. I may just have to invite Sallie to come along. What an inspiration for dollmaking!
Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!