Pincushion doll and thimble purse – 4

Well, this didn’t take too long. It’s finished already!

This is the picture from the front of the chart pack:

Stitch & Frame Shop image

And this is my version:

Pincushion doll - 11

I’m fairly pleased with how it’s turned out, although I must be feeling grumpy or something, as I haven’t got the feeling of achievement that I usually have when I finish a project. I think that the ‘niggly’ things with this project have outweighed the positives, and spoilt it a bit.

As you can see from the two pictures, it has come out very much like the one on the packet. However, I’ve had to do a lot of problem-solving with this one (or compromising, depending on your viewpoint), and some things haven’t come out as intended. The instructions, considering the cost of this chart pack, were too brief, in my opinion. A few more diagrams in places would have helped. Some of the measurements seem to have been decided after the original doll was put together, as they don’t work. And if there’s a ‘best way’ to achieve a certain stage successfully, maybe it would have been good to explain what that is, rather than vaguely stating what the next bit is, and leaving people to work it out? Like I said, I’m feeling grumpy!

I didn’t take any photos of the assembly of the heart-shaped purse – probably due to the grumpiness creeping up on me! It needs a heart embroidered on each of two pieces of linen, then attached (I laced them across the back – the instructions said to glue them, but I don’t like using glue on my embroidery) to a piece of Skirtex, then felt glued on (I oversewed the edges of the felt to the linen) to line them. Then you oversew the two sides together up to the curved top edges, to make the bag shape. The cord I was told to make, I found, was too short, when made to the length given in the instructions. But by then it was too late to make another one, as I’d cut my last piece of thread up to make an ‘almost too short’ piece of cording, and the remainder was only two feet long, so no use at all. The cord, once slip stitched to the bag around the sides and over the top to make a strap, was barely long enough to go over the doll’s head – compare the two photos above – my bag is far higher up on the doll than the one on the packet, which annoys me! The bag is for a thimble.

I decided against sticking huge hat pins into my pincushion doll, as I think she looks finished enough as she is.

I did count the hours this project took me: the main cross stitching on the skirt took 14 and a half hours, the beading took 1 hour 20 minutes, the bars for the cording took one and a half hours, and the assembly, including making the thimble purse, took five hours. So, 22 hours and 20 minutes altogether.

I feel that I need to do a project that has more creativity in it, now. Crewel, or goldwork, or something detailed….


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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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Pincushion doll and thimble purse – 2

I’ve managed to get all of the cross stitching done on the skirt of the pincushion doll now, and while it was still on the frame it looked like this:

Pincushion doll - 3

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did find the repetitiveness a bit tedious, but it’s not as if it was a surprise to have to do it!

After completing the cross stitch, I attached the beads – these are ‘berries’ that add highlights to the leafy border, and the centre of each bow above the hearts. Then I worked the little bars that the cord will be threaded through. These were interesting to do – usually, when working any ‘bars’ for cording, they are buttonhole stitch bars, which can take a long time to stitch, and often stretch out of shape. These, I found, were more successful (and much quicker to do). They are cross stitches covering six threads by two, with gaps of eight threads between each one. But the clever bit is that each cross stitch is wrapped around twice (not going through the fabric) before going on to do the next stitch. Very clever, and very simple. I’ll have to remember that, next time I’m making a drawstring bag.

Pincushion doll - 3a

Then I lined the skirt with a piece of unbleached muslin (the instructions said to use cream silk, but I didn’t have any).

The next fun part was making the cord to go through the cross stitch bars. It’s a good thing I already knew how to do this, as the instructions just say, ‘Make the cording with a 54″ skein section of 112 Fir’. Hmm. A bit more detail would have been useful here, I think. And maybe a diagram or two, for those who haven’t made one before?

The instructions said to thread the cord through the bars, ‘non-knotted end’ first. I could only get this to work when I used a ‘sling’ of sewing cotton passed through the end of the cord, so that it was a blunt-ended needle which went through the bars first – the cord was too soft on its own.

Pincushion doll - 4

But it does look good now that it’s finished. I think the Caron Waterlilies thread is really shown off well in the bottom stripes of the skirt, here. Using plain DMC wouldn’t have looked anything like as good:

Pincushion doll - 5


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Pincushion doll and thimble purse – 1

Having spent the best part of three months stitching the Lavender and Lace Celtic Autumn, I feel like doing a project which can be completed a little bit quicker, next.

I’ve decided on this pincushion doll project, worked in cross stitch with a little bit of beading, which is produced as a chart pack by GPA (Giulia Punti Antichi, run by Giulia Manfredini of Italy). When finished, it stands about 7 inches high.

Pincushion doll - 1

I bought the chart originally from the Stitch and Frame Shop in the USA, even though I’m in the UK, partly because they were doing an offer where they included the fabric recommended by Giulia, as a ‘bundle’. Giulia has her own website, here, where she sells all her designs – and very nice they are, too! But as I say, I was tempted by the offer….so, I ordered the pack and the fabric, but when it arrived, the fabric hadn’t been included. I contacted the shop, and they sent it on – but when it arrived, I was disappointed with the quality. In the chart pack, the recommended fabric is Cream Northen Cross 35 ct linen by Norden Crafts. But I found this fabric to be almost lemon, rather than cream, and quite stiff, too, so I didn’t think it would drape well to make the skirt. So, I ordered a piece of 35 ct Floba Superfine cream fabric (quite beige, actually)  by Zweigart, from Sew and So. A fat quarter cost £9.50, and I’ve only needed about a third of it for this project, so there’s still a lot of it in my stash for something else later  🙂

The threads Giulia recommends are Caron variegated Waterlilies silk threads – 101 Cherry, which has shades of deep plum, coffee, dusty pink, etc, and 112 Fir, which has shades of pale teal, lilac blue, pale grey green, etc. Both really lovely. Giulia says you could use DMC instead, which would obviously work out a lot cheaper (Waterlilies costs about £5 per skein, whereas DMC is 72p per skein), but I think the variegations in the Waterlilies threads are necessary to make this design ‘work’. About 100 seed beads are needed altogether for this project, so although Giulia recommends Mill Hill Petite beads 42012, I used 00367 Glass Seed Beads from my stash instead – they are both a deep maroon colour.

The porcelain half doll was bought from Belle Bambole Dolls, in Australia. This particular mould is called ‘Florence’. I’ve seen several other places where this same mould is used, but the painting on the dolls from this particular website is far better than anywhere else I’ve looked.

The version of 'Florence' on the front of the chart pack booklet
The version of ‘Florence’ on the front of the chart pack booklet
This is the one I have bought from Belle Bambole Dolls - isn't she pretty?
This is the one I have bought from Belle Bambole Dolls – isn’t she pretty?

I’ve spent one weekend of stitching on this so far (and yes, I am counting the hours again!). It ‘grows’ quite quickly, but I’ve already found that I have to keep switching from one area to another so that I don’t get bored, as this design, stitching-wise, is very repetitive, although the finished item is lovely, so it is thinking of it when it is finished which is keeping me motivated!

Pincushion doll - 2


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