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 – 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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I’m just going to have to make this….!

The pincushion doll by Giulia Punti Antichi, as shown on her website (I’m going to make my own, honest!!)

I was surfing last night for ideas for *one of* my next stitching projects – you can never have too many, in my opinion – and I came across this amazing pincushion doll with a cross stitched skirt. The chart is by Giulia Punti Antichi, from Italy, although she has stockists in various countries, and the half doll is sold by Helen Copland of  Belle Bambole Dolls, in Australia (the actual half doll is called Florence, and is on page seven of her half doll range).

The half doll from Belle Bambole Dolls

Through the wonders of the internet, in one evening, I managed to discuss with both Giulia and Helen about how I could (a) buy the chart, (b) find a half doll EXACTLY like the one in Giulia’s picture on her website and (c) get the correct thread shades of Waterlilies variegated threads for the stitching, and (d) order the lot. I ended up wondering how I’d ever have managed all that before the invention of the internet. Not just the speed of it, but the possibility of being able to find and buy such a lovely, unusual thing from outside my own country (England).

Helen is now going to arrange to send me a half doll with the colours of the bodice matched to the thread colours I have chosen.  The other half dolls she sells are all beautiful, too – well worth a look.

Have a look at Giulia’s other items, too – several other pincushion dolls, lots of sewing etui (my passion at the moment), and other interesting sewing ‘smalls’.

One day, I’ll even post an image on here of MY stitched version of this pincushion doll!


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