Thursday 28 June 2012

Scrap bag dollies - FREE sewing pattern

After the recent invasion of my sewing room by the rascally playroom pals I returned the fabric scraps to their bags and then considered what could be made from bits and pieces in my stash. Of course my 'makes' had to be doll related!

Creating these little girls has kept me smiling from start to finish. They measure just 10cm (4in) so make perfect hangers for door knobs, bags etc. As decorations on the Christmas tree they'd certainly bring a few festive smiles, or how about popping a dolly into a party bag as an extra surprise.

Maybe stitch a doll to a ribbon to make a bookmark or pendant necklace and a safety pin securely attached to the back would create a cute little brooch.

Scrap bag dollies require only tiny pieces of fabric, buttons, beads and any other forgotten odds and ends that have been squirrelled away. Simply gather up a few colourful bits and pieces and start stitching. A perfectly neat finish was not my priority. I've used pinking shears to avoid turning raw edges (alternatively you could use a 'fray stop' product). All stitching is done by hand (running stitch and back stitch). . . . . So let's make a scrap bag dolly.

Knowing that all little girls love pink I thought we'd see how to make this happy little character.

You will need:
Small amount of flesh coloured (or white) fabric for the head (see later description).
Patterned fabric for the body and hat.
A short length of lace.
3 small buttons (2 hands and 1 for decoration)
2 larger buttons (feet).
Drinking straw
Short length of pink yarn for plaits (or use embroidery floss).
Stuffing - If you don't have any stuffing you could fill with tiny pieces of light coloured fabric or how about using a small ball of unused knitting yarn.
Black thread or floss for eyes and pink for mouth plus extra for legs and arms.
Sewing thread for stitching doll parts.
Red or pink crayon to colour cheeks.
Scissors and pinking sheers if available
Sewing needle

Using the shapes and measurements below, cut two pattern templates from thick paper or thin card.

Head and hat template
Body template

Fabric for head -
I have an old peachy/cream pillow case that I use for small dolls. Use white fabric if you have nothing else (an old handkerchief perhaps). You could try making flesh coloured fabric by dipping the white fabric into black coffee. Try a small test piece as the longer you leave it in the coffee the darker it will become. Remember however that it will be a bit lighter when dry. Alternatively you could use tee shirt fabric but as it stretches you might have to cut a smaller circle or the head will be too large.

1). Cut one circle of fabric for the head and gather round the outside about 8mm (just over 1/4 in) from the edge. I would normally use a matching thread but have chosen a contrasting one so that you can see the stiches.

2). Draw up the circle to make a bag shape and fill with stuffing.


3). Tightly draw up the head to close the opening (no need to turn the raw edges in). The finished head should be flattened from front to back and not round like a ball. Remove some of the stuffing if your doll's head is not flat enough.

4). Over-sew to secure the gathers and fasten off (below left). Viewed from the front the head is unlikely to look smooth and round but that is part of the scrap bag appeal.

Fabric for body
5). Choose a suitable fabric for the body and cut two identical pieces. Alternatively you could make the back and front from different fabrics. Place the two pieces together with wrong sides facing out. Starting at the bottom corner of the body, back-sew right round to the opposite corner. Stitch 8mm (just over 1/4 in) from the edge. (A sewing machine can be used for this if available).

6). Turn the body so that right sides are facing out. Turn up 1cm (1/2 in) along the bottom raw edge and press with an iron or score with your finger nail to make a crease. Fill the top of the body with a small amount of stuffing and push a pin through the body, as shown below, to prevent the stuffing falling out.

Legs - approximately 4cm (1.5 ins)
7). I have used two matching buttons for feet and cut four 12mm (1/2 in) lengths from a drinking straw for the legs. As the bottom of the body is still open you can attach the legs to the turned up hem as it will eventually be concealed inside. Use very strong sewing thread (or floss as I have done) and starting at the top, pass the thread through 2 pieces of drinking straw and a button then return through the button and straws back to the top and fasten off. Repeat for the second leg.

8). Attach a button for decoration if required and then oversew the base of the body to close (stitch along the creased fold line made earlier).

9). I stitched a short length of pre-gathered lace to the body to create a skirt. If you don't have this then gather a piece to fit or use contrasting fabric 2cm - 3m deep (approx 1in).

10). Starting at a top corner of the body, thread two 12mm (1/2 in) lengths of drinking straw and a small button onto strong thread or floss using the same method as for the legs. Repeat for the second arm. and fasten off.

11). Attach the head to the top of the body by over-sewing it along the front and then along the back so that the stitching done for the arms at the top of the body is concealed. Mark the postion of the eyes with pins and then try the hat on the head to check their position. (Instructions for hat below).

12). Using the circle template, mark and cut out a hat. Pinking sheers can be used for cutting if available. Gather as for the head and draw up. Put a tiny piece of stuffing into the hat to give it some height.

Check the eye position
13). Try the hat on the head and pull the gathering thread. Pin hat in place. Don't stitch it to the head just yet. Check that the eyes you have marked will be in the right the place.

14). Remove the hat and using black thread or embroidery floss (2 strands only) make two or three tiny stitches for each eye. Use two strands of pink floss for the mouth. Fastening off can be done at the back of the head where it will be concealed when the hat is in place. Colour the cheeks with pencil crayon.

15). Make two tiny plaits (braids) from pink yarn and stitch to the head ensuring stitching will be under the hat.

16). Place the hat on the head and pull the gathering thread. Position the tiny gathers evenly around the hat, pin in place and then stitch the hat to the head (stitch all round gathering line).

Stitch a long loop of cord, tape or ribbon to the top of the hat so that this little sweetheart can decorate a door knob. Alternatively, stitch a safety pin to the back so that she can be worn as a brooch.

Pink dolly's two little friends are just as easy to make. The one on the left has hair made from ric-rac braid. Her skirt is a gathered length of contrasting fabric (2cm deep). Her tiny apron matches her hat and is cut with pinking sheers. Her legs are made from old beads. The beads on the arm are threaded on a single length of string which is knotted at the bottom to prevent the beads sliding off. The dolly on the right has hair made from narrow strips of felt. Her arms are beads on string as described previously. Legs are plaited floss with a button attached to the end of each (buttons have shanks). Ric-rac braid is used for decoration and I have attached a number three to the body using iron-on fusible webbing. This doll will be made into a brooch for a little girl to wear on her third birthday.

I'm certain young girls would all love a scrap bag dolly, but they aren't designed as toys so for reasons of safety they should not be given to very young children . . . . . have fun!

Monday 25 June 2012

Sewing room fun (and possible free pattern)

Leaving the playroom door open is never a good idea as you can bet it won't be long before the house fills with 'dolly escapees'. And that is just what happened this morning. Scuffling noises coming from the sewing room alerted me to the possibility of intruders and when I peeked round the door, there were the culprits having a wonderful time playing amongst my bags of fabric off-cuts.

Little Jack, receiving a helpful push from below, was cautiously climbing the ladder to join the bigger dolls who had already taken up residence in one of the bags.

Meanwhile, three Rainbow Rascals were enjoying a game of 'let's dress up in off-cuts'.

A fourth Rascal was encouraging two fearless bunny boys to leap into my box of vintage buttons. Feet first or head first, it didn't seem to matter. One sister gave them a shove from above whilst another tried in vain to catch them. Needless to say, the bunnies bounced and no one seemed to get hurt.

Mountaineering was the order of the day in my bag of fluffy stuffing. When spilling out of the bag it tends to resemble foaming soap suds but thankfully the Jolly Tots were safe and dry and I almost wished I could join them!

I let the activities continue for a while until I noticed the 'bouncing bunnies' had bounced straight out of the button box and onto my bag of string. They were now making short work of emptying the carefully wound contents and so I called time on the various activities.

Whilst sorting and clearing away the many bits and pieces I decided it would be sensible to put some of them to good use. I'm hoping the resulting item might be a suitable subject for a 'free pattern' and be ready in time for my next blog post. It will only be a simple little item, quick and easy to make (for all ages) and will be hand stitched as opposed to knitted, so watch this space!

Back to the sorting and stitching! . . . . . .

Friday 22 June 2012

Fairy dust and magic

I love mid-summer when evening light lingers until 11pm and there's a definite hint of magic in the air. But oh dear! The longest day was yesterday and darkness came around 9 o'clock as our summer skies were heavy with rain. So I'm glad that earlier in the week I had treated myself to some of this magical fabric. Needless to say it's become a great favourite with the playroom dolls and now everyone wants to look just like a fairy princess. And who can blame them!

Today the rain has lashed against the windows all day and spirits could have been low. But happy little Rainbow Rose raided the dressing-up box and with a crown precariously balanced on her head she proceeded to sprinkle fairy dust on several dolly volunteers. 

And then, much to everyone's delight and as if by magic, a fairy bunny suddenly appeared.

Sadly this magical moment was short-lived as the rascally bunny family joined in the fun. The fairy dust fabric was hurriedly heaped into a wool basket and wool was strewn across the floor. Quite what this game is all about no one is sure but it seems to have kept dolls and bunnies happily occupied all day and so maybe there is a bit of mid-summer magic around here after all.

Have a magical weekend wherever you are and if you are in rain-soaked Britain, do try to keep warm and dry!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

More yummy fabric and stitching

I've had another fun week making bits and pieces for the summer fair (to raise money for repairs to the local church roof). These butterfly brooches were a bit of an experiment but I was pleased with the result. I cut the butterfly shapes from patterned fabric then used iron-on fusible webbing to stick them to black felt which was about 1 cm larger.

Next I randomly machine embroidered black veins on the wings. As you can see I used ordinary scissors and pinking shears to trim the excess felt from the coloured butterfly.The black body is a rolled piece of felt, two small beads make the eyes and thin copper wire is used for the antennae. Finally I stitched a brooch pin to the back of the body.

The butterflies were made from left-overs scraps of fabric belonging to these bags. The variety of rich colours is absolutely scrumptious and mixing and matching the rainbow shades took almost as long as the bag making!

I used a Jelly Roll of 'Tropicana Batiks' by Moda and I'm happy to say there are plenty of strips remaining for future projects.

If you aren't fond of vibrant shades then you'd probably enjoy working with the mixture of Tanya Whelan fabrics below.

These bags, like the previous ones, were made from narrow strips of fabric. To line the bags I used a white cotton curtain lining which had been fused to felt interlining. This is easy to cut out, doesn't fray and makes the bags more robust. The lining is the same size as the bag and with narrow turnings on the tops of bag and lining I stitched the two together incorporating the handles as I stitched.

Another Moda Jelly Roll in my collection is the yummily named "Butterscotch and Rose". Unfortunately the visitors to the summer fair won't be finding anything made from these fabrics as it exactly matches my sitting room curtains and so it is destined to become cushions. I can't wait to start on them as I adore this combination of colours.

After my enjoyable extended sewing session with so much yummy fabric I'm hoping I'll be able to pick up my knitting needles again anytime soon but it might be difficult!

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Yummy colours

I'm still busily making items to sell at the village fair (in aid of the church roof fund). I haven't done any freestyle machine embroidery for quite a while so last week I had great fun creating these flowers and hearts to make into brooches. I want to decorate them with buttons so have scattered a mixture of sizes and colours over them to make the button choice easier . . . hmm! I think this could take quite a while.

As you can see, my sewing machine has been working overtime recently. After making the flowers and hearts I machine embroidered some little dollies onto white linen. Each little girl then became a panel in the centre of a tote bag.  

Over the past few days my machine stitching has been interrupted by the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The UK is currently awash with red, white and blue and I couldn't resist making these patriotic little mice. They are only 15cm (6in) tall and just fit inside this tiny basket. The arms and legs contain pipe cleaners (chenille stems) so positioning the little rascals is quite easy, and fun! The pattern for the mice can be found here. I altered the clothes slightly when making them and gave the girl a fabric dress rather than a knitted one.

The Diamond Jubilee celebrations are over but the many flags will remain in readiness for the Olympics in July. I'm happy to escape to the sewing room where red, white and blue is cast aside in favour of vibrant shades of every hue. As always there's no shortage of helpers!

I love working with yummy colours don't you?