Pincushion doll and thimble purse – 3

Now that the cross stitched skirt of my pincushion doll is completed, I need to make the padded pincushion base itself, to wrap the skirt around.

This is the image from the front of the chart pack, so that you can see what it is I’m aiming to make:

Stitch & Frame Shop image

I found a lovely piece of Dupion silk in my stash, that I bought at a doll’s house fair about 15 years ago. It’s almost the same shade as the one on the doll in the picture. I’ve been keeping this piece of silk for ‘something special’ for years, but the piece of silk is very small and narrow, so for most things, it hasn’t been quite big enough. But for this it’s ideal.

Pincushion doll - 6

I cut the silk according to the instructions – a long piece for the sides, and a circle for the base. The skirt is supposed to be formed around a lid from a container four inches in diameter, to make a solid base for the doll. So, we’ve all got four inch jars hanging around in our cupboards, haven’t we? No? Well, I haven’t, anyway. So, I compromised, by cutting four circles of corrugated cardboard and gluing them together, and then gluing two huge washers on top, for added weight – these are about two inches diameter.

Pincushion doll - 7

Then the fun part. The instructions said to measure the circumference of your base, and then mark this length out on the long piece of silk, then fold the two short sides together and make a seam, forming a tube. OK so far. Then ‘simply’ pin one end of the tube to the edge of the circle, with a half inch seam allowance, to make a kind of bag. Hmm. Easier said than done. It was like setting in a sleeve in a very small, slippery blouse. I decided to divide the tube edges and the circle into quarters with pins first, which helped, but the fabric was very slippery, frayed easily, and the pins kept falling out. Eventually I managed to get the fabric pieces eased together, though, and then backstitched around the circumference of the circle, half an inch in, to make the base seam.

Pincushion doll - 8

The top edge is turned over next, and long running stitches are worked around it, through both layers. The long stitches are so that the thread can be gathered up tightly around the waist of the porcelain half doll, after the pink silk ‘bag’ has been stuffed tightly with wadding.

Pincushion doll - 9

The weighted base is inserted just before stuffing the bag:

Pincushion doll - 10

At this point, it all got rather complicated, and I felt a bit like an octopus, as I needed so many hands at once – so I stopped taking process photos and concentrated on getting the porcelain half doll in position and vertical, with the seam of the pink silk base at the back,  all the wadding inside the skirt, the circular base seam exactly on the edge of the cardboard base all the way round, the gathering threads pulled tight enough so that the half doll didn’t fall out……photos as well would have just been one thing too much.

But I managed it. Just. But by then it was bedtime.


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5 thoughts on “Pincushion doll and thimble purse – 3”

  1. I see what you mean but pics would have awesome. I have a half doll and a charted pattern that was designed for me but I have been holding back because I couldn’t see how I could do it. Please consider adding a pic of the finished doll. thank you and you are very brave!

  2. Janet, this is turning out to be soooooo grand. I have an old halfdoll that was my mother’s that has no skirt. She is smaller, about 2″ total, so I would like to know how I would go about making a new skirt much like your’s in the right scale. Also, what type of fabric is the needlework done on? It looks like linen in the photo.
    Rosemarie in Alaska

    1. Not sure what size you’d need to make the skirt, if your doll is smaller. The halfdoll I uaed is 3 and 1/2 inches tall. The linen I used was 35 count pure linen.

  3. My mother has a pincushion doll all the time I was little. We ended up putting a central post in to keep her upright. It really helped.

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