Saturday, September 30, 2006

Painting With Thread

Here's a wonderful painting technique I love to use, for a unique look: use thread to paint a random pattern on fabric. You can do this either on a doll after it has been stuffed, or right onto the fabric you'll be using before you even begin tracing, cutting and sewing your doll pattern. If you are into quilting, this is also something extremely interesting and worth a try.

It's very simple to do, and very fun and gratifying. Here's how:

1. Cut a piece of quilter's thread, about a foot long.

2. Hold the thread at one end, suspending it in your hand. Using a paintbrush, paint the thread with paint. Use paint that is good for use on fabric.

3. Place the painted string onto the surface you are painting. Let it go as you lower the string down. It will create an interesting pattern.

4. Pat the string down with the blunt end of a needle just to make sure the paint makes contact with the fabric.

5. Lift off the string.

This example is done with a doll which is being painted along the way- after it has been stuffed.

Here's a swatch of pre-painted fabric... Isn't it beautiful?
I hope you'll try this, it's very fun!
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Friday, September 29, 2006

Treasures of the Gypsy Challenge

Please meet Fuschia, my entry for the Treasures of the Gypsy challenge. TOG is a wonderful annual exhibition in Houston. I was working on the doll for several weeks- in fact I've been so preoccupied with her that I have been very neglectful in posting!

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Arley Berryhill's La Femme pattern

Please meet Shula, created with Arley Berryhill's wonderful pattern, La Femme. I very much admire Arley Berryhill's work. I saw some chatter about this pattern here and there over the past few years, and Judi Wellinitz posted comments about it on her blog some time ago, telling us all how much fun her whole doll group was having working with the pattern. I realized I just HAD to try it. It is a wonderful pattern indeed.

Shula is a funny character. She has an older face- she's in her 50's but she is wild and wants to be young and have some fun. She wears whatever she wants, and can even fit into it! Shula has a figure I could only wish for at age 36!

The pattern is for the doll only- not the clothing. The body itself is so well done, it's just great. I learned a lot by making Arley's pattern. MORE!!!!

I designed the clothing myself, and the embellishments. The shoes were created with polymer clay and step-by-step instructions can be found on my website.
The sleeves and headpiece were made with angelina fibers and bits of fabric scraps.

Here are some details:

I sent this picture out to an online doll club that I belong to, to show off the fun I had creating this doll. A comment was made that some people had forgotten to give credit to the pattern designers. There were several dolls there, and nobody had mentioned any patterns, so it really does appear that they are all original designs. I know that I was among the guilty parties, and I should have known better. That is the main reason why I decided to post about Shula today. I usually do make my own patterns and don't buy patterns as often as I would like,so I plumb forgot to give Arley credit. I want to make up for it.


Pattern designers spend countless hours making patterns. In many cases a doll has to first be sculpted in clay in order to have a basis for the beginnings of a paper pattern. I don't know what process Arley uses but no doubt he did not create it by waving a magic wand!

I know that I can spend 8 hours straight for several days working on a pattern. That's before I even start the process of "finishing" it. Drawing it, redrawing it, sewing and resewing, stuffing and resewing and stuffing again- it's very hard work. The pants and top alone took me an entire day to create- getting the darts to fit just right for Arley's pattern. It's great fun, but an arduous task nonetheless.

My point is, please remember to always give credit to the designer. Even if you alter the pattern, you should still mention that you started with a certain design if it wasn't your own. That is etiquette in the doll making world. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, which is natural. It doesn't help me from feeling embarrassed that I forgot to do something so obviously important! I sincerely believe that doll folk are very nurturing and supportive of one another. What better way to live up to that belief than to give credit where it is due, and to be proud to share and learn from one another.

Thank you Arley for a wonderful pattern. And whoever reads this, I do hope you will try it! You will love it.

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Turning Slippery Fingers

Today I was trying to create "gloves" for a doll, with fabric that is really smooth and slippery. Essentially, I wanted to make hands as usual, but extend them halfway up the arms so they look like gloves.

This proved to be extremely challenging because the fabric is so slippery, it's impossible to sew two pieces together without the fabric shifting- let alone with tiny stitches around fingers. One mistake and my seam ripper would be useless.

Here is how I solved the dilemma:

1.  Iron a "glove" template of freezer paper onto the wrong side of the fabric (I'll talk more about freezer paper another day)
2.  Double the fabric RST as usual.
3.  On the side opposite the side with the freezer paper, lay down a piece of tear-away stabilizer.
4.  Baste it all together to help hold it just a bit

** Have your iron handy for all of the above steps, just in case you need to press.

5.  Flip it over and sew hands along the outline of the freezer paper template. There should be no shifting at all.

6.  Carefully remove the freezer paper.

7.  Cut the hand out, close to the seams.

Now is the tricky part....
How to tear the stabilizer off without ruining the hands?

Apply fray check on both sides.
While still wet, go ahead and tear the stabilizer off gently.
Look the picture... can you see the fuzzy stuff around the edges?

8.   Allow it to dry and turn the fingers as usual.

Stay tuned to see the completed gloves another day!

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gifts for My Daughter Sury

These are some pretty gifts I made for my daughter Sury. She's 9 years old. I made her a dolly and a quilt with embroidered dolls on it.

The center block of the quilt is a nostalgic handkerchief from Europe. I thought it was so interesting, it inspired me to make something with it.

I used my embroidery unit on my sewing machine to copy the image and stitch it out. The embroidered blocks are in each corner of the quilt.

The dolly is made in a vintage type style. Her face is colored with paint and colored pencils, and sealed with textile medium.

Sury gave her dolly a sweet name... Dinah. I love it!

Close-ups of Handkerchief and Embroidery
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