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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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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