FINALLY I’ve got some 1:12 scale dollhouse doll wigs for my porcelain dolls

How long does it take to get wigs for dollhouse dolls made? Well, in my case, I’m ashamed to say, it takes……34 years!! Yes, you did read that right! I bought my dollhouse in 1983, and very soon after, I bought some undressed porcelain dolls for it. But they needed wigs, so I put them away, to do later. That was in 1986. Hmmm…….

So, I recently found them again, and decided it was about time that I got them finished! I tried looking in my dollhouse books, to see how to make my own, but very quickly realised this was not my thing, so I hunted around and came across Josephines Miniatures on Etsy. Josephine makes 1:12 scale wigs to order for dollhouse dolls (as well as beautiful miniature tatting).

My dollhouses are Victorian/Edwardian in style, so I looked online for some images for her to use as inspiration, and came up with these:

Dollhouse doll wigs for 1: 12 scale porcelain dolls

Dollhouse doll wigs for 1: 12 scale porcelain dolls

Dollhouse doll wigs for 1: 12 scale porcelain dolls

Dollhouse doll wigs for 1: 12 scale porcelain dolls

I sent off my dolls (so that the wigs could be made to fit properly), with detailed instructions about the hair colour that I’d like for each wig, and Josephine was amazing – a couple of weeks later, I got a little parcel back, with each wig labelled for the relevant doll, and everything packaged securely.

Here’s the dolls that needed wigging:

Dollhouse doll wigs for 1: 12 scale porcelain dolls

And here’s what Josephine made, from the images I sent her:

Dollhouse doll wigs for 1: 12 scale porcelain dolls

And here’s a view of the back of each wig:

Dollhouse doll wigs for 1: 12 scale porcelain dollsAren’t they amazing? I just need to get the time to make clothes for the dolls now. Better not leave it another 34 years!!

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Book review: Willing Hands by Betsy Morgan

I’ve had my eye on this wonderful book by Betsy Morgan called ‘Willing Hands’ ever since it was published in autumn 2019, so it was bound to end up on my Christmas wishlist! Fortunately, the ‘Christmas elf’ knew that this one had to be top of the list of books that would be under the tree. So, I thought I’d do a book review here…

Betsy Morgan has been creating very imaginative sewing sets (‘etuis’) for many years – but for most of those years, her designs have only been available to the public if you attended one of her workshops, as the designs are quite intricate, and it helped to be taught by Betsy herself so that you knew exactly how to put these together. As she lives in the USA, that meant that many people couldn’t get to meet her. In 2019, she retired from teaching workshops, and then she agreed to release some of her designs in book form. This book is the result – it’s got great instructions and photos, and it’s produced by the people who publish Inspirations magazine – the amazing Australian embroidery magazine. So, a collaboration by those two is bound to be good, isn’t it?!

Betsy Morgan Willing Hands embroidery book

It’s a book of 168 pages, filled with hundreds of pictures, both of the charts for the designs (all counted embroidery), and inspirational photos of the finished pieces. There’s also a section at the back about how to assemble each of the pieces in the book. I think it’s a good idea to have the assembly separate from the embroidery instructions themselves.

Betsy Morgan Willing Hands embroidery book

Here are the eight projects that the book covers:

Betsy Morgan Willing Hands embroidery book

All wonderful projects, and very different from each other. You could make all of these, and not get bored with either the designs themselves, or the stitches used (there’s far more than just cross stitch in this book!), or the construction methods.

There are pages and pages of stitch diagrams – you just can’t go wrong if you follow these instructions. If you’re used to Inspirations magazine’s quality, then you’ll be familiar with this layout style, with its very clear photos and good explanatory text.

Betsy Morgan Willing Hands embroidery book

I was particularly interested to see how the Toy Chest Etui was explained, as I have already stitched this one, several years ago. The materials pack that I had then came with lots of handouts of stitch charts, assembly instructions, etc. – and I was unsure as to how successfully that could be explained, without Betsy being there, in book format!!

But reading through all the instructions for this project, I thought that it was covered really well.

There was one small niggle, though. Some of the charts in the book (not just for this project, but it was very noticeable with this one) were printed very small in the book. I remember when I was actually stitching this horse motif, for instance – that the chart I had in my pack had been almost A4 size. The one in the book is printed barely a quarter of a page – almost life-size, in fact (and the design is to be stitched on 32 count evenweave, so that’s SMALL!). Now, that doesn’t have to be a problem, but I think that the publishers maybe had their eye on keeping down the total number of pages in the book to a particular number, more than they had ease of use for the reader at the forefront of their minds! So, squashing up some charts to fill pages by printing them smallish, or splitting charts over several pages to keep every page looking ‘full’ is the end result, and I do think it detracts somewhat from the book, in the end. I’d love to know what Betsy thinks!

Having said that though, it’s still not a big enough ‘downer’ to stop anyone from buying this book – the projects in it are so beautiful, a small chart is not a problem really, if you’re determined to make something  🙂   You could always enlarge the design on a photocopier, if necessary.

Here’s the Toy Chest Etui that I made, with all its wonderful contents. Some of the contents were added as ‘extras’ after the main etui was designed, so the hobby horse, paint box and jack-in-the-box aren’t in the book:

Toy chest etui Betsy Morgan
This is the etui that I love most in the book – I’ve just sent off for the Gloriana silks to make this:

Betsy Morgan Willing Hands embroidery book

It opens out like a little book, and is held closed with a  strap that has a cord pull on it with a thimble purse on the end. The etui contains scissors with a fob and tassel, a thread winder, and a needle book- so cute!

If you love making etui sets, and like 3D projects in particular, this book would be a wonderful addition to your stitching library.

Author: Betsy Morgan

Title: Willing Hands: the counted thread embroidery of Betsy Morgan

Publisher: Inspirations Studios Corporation Pty Ltd

http://www.inspirationsstudios.com

ISBN: 978 0 6482873 6 0

Price: 24.50 GBP in the UK (in Spring 2020)

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Making a mini quilt 2: ‘Foursquare’ by Jo Morton – completing the quilting, and comparing quilting styles

I’m making the ‘Foursquare’ mini quilt from Jo Morton’s book Jo’s Little Favorites 2  (the middle one on the cover of her book).

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I got a bit carried away with my quilting after my last blog post, and didn’t take pictures till the end – sorry!

I added wide dark brown fabric borders to the central panel of blocks, then removed all the papers from the little squares (I didn’t make a paper pattern for the wide borders). Then I ironed the quilt top, trimmed the edges completely square, then cut one piece of toning fabric for the back, using the top as a pattern. Using the top again as a guide, I cut a piece of thin wadding (a mini quilt only ever needs very thin wadding, or it would be out of scale). I cut it oversized at first, then trimmed it back as necessary, as wadding tends to ‘shift’ a bit as you pin it into position.

I cut two inch wide strips of the mustard colour print fabric, and made binding for the edges, which I hand stitched in place.

Foursquare mini quilt Jo's little Favorites 2 Jo Morton patchwork

For this quilt, I decided to give it a go and do the actual quilting by machine, which I now think was a mistake. It has come out very neatly, but a bit TOO neatly for me! It doesn’t seem to have much character to it now.

Foursquare mini quilt Jo's little Favorites 2 Jo Morton patchwork

I drew two lines in each direction with a water soluble pen on the fabric top, in each direction, to start me off, then the rest of the quilting lines I stitched by eye, once I’d got used to the amount of spacing to leave each time. I’d thought that would give it less of a ‘manufactured look’.

Foursquare mini quilt Jo's little Favorites 2 Jo Morton patchwork

It’s come out nice, but a bit bland, I think! The quilting is well-defined, but too regular for me.

Machine quilting example

In comparison, here are some other mini quilts that I’ve made previously. This one was a print of quilting squares that I made into a ‘cheater quilt’, as it’s not real patchwork – it’s just printed on! But I did hand quilt it, and it’s come up nice and ‘puffy’ now that it’s been washed.

Cheater quilt fabric

This design is called Lincoln’s Logs, and it’s the second quilt I ever made. My stitching is quite large on this one, but again it’s got a lot of character, so I like this one:

Hand quilting example

This one below is my favourite – the first one I ever made. The actual patchwork is pretty awful – you can see the tips of my triangles are cut off by the seamlines, as I stitched this one the ‘proper way’ by machine, and I kept getting my seam allowances wrong! But as far as the quilting goes, this one came out well – the stitches are small, the thread weight works, and the wadding was very thin, so it’s a flexible little quilt.

Four Fat Quarters hand quilting example

But machine quilting my mini quilts? Don’t think I’ll be trying that again.

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Making a mini quilt 1: ‘Foursquare’ by Jo Morton

Every now and then I take a break from embroidery, and doll’s houses, and make a mini quilt. They make a nice pause, in a way – quite quick to do, and portable, which I often need, as I travel quite a lot.

This quilt is one from a book that I recently bought on Amazon called  Jo’s Little Favorites 2 . Jo Morton has published several mini quilt books, and I love all of them! The quilt I’m going to make is the one in the middle on the front cover. It’s about 20 by 26 inches, when finished.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I decided to make a few changes to the design shown in the book – I’m going to make it a little bit smaller, with not as many blocks to it, and I’m going to change the colourway so that mine has more red in it, and no blue. This is my planning stage:

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I don’t stitch my quilts together on a machine – I hand piece them, as I love hand sewing. So, I work out the sizes of each block from the instructions in the book, then draw a full size paper pattern (photocopying multiples, if necessary, as that’s quicker), then cut out each block pattern from medium weight paper. Then I cut the fabric pieces – usually by hand, rather than using a quilt fabric roller cutter, as these are small quilts, and it doesn’t take long to cut each piece with scissors.

I use quilting glue (like Pritt Stick, but pink – and it dries clear) rather than tacking the fabric onto each piece, as it’s really quick and precise.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

This means that each block piece is accurately sized, and I can then decide how I want to piece them together.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I use these nifty little clips when I’m oversewing two pieces together, to hold the edges in place strongly while I stitch.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

If you get ‘proper’ branded ones, they are really expensive, but cheap versions are available on Ebay, and to me they look the same, and are about a quarter of the cost.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

When each little block is stitched together, I can then assemble them into larger blocks, making sure that the pattern works.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

This is what the back looks like – you can just about see that on some of the pattern pieces I wrote ‘light’ or ‘dark print’ for example, so that I’d know how many of each type to cut from the fabrics. I leave the papers in until right at the end.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

Small blocks are sewn together into strips:

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

…and then the strips are sewn together to make the whole central panel of the quilt.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

This shows the back, at this point:

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

So, now I’ve just got to make the wide border, then bind it, before doing the quilting.

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