Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

I can't remember the last time we had a warm sunny day on Easter.  Usually, it rains.  At least, in our neck of the woods, anyway.  We had our egg/basket hunt, went to church (our service is in the afternoon), and then invited friends back home with us for dinner and socializing.  We had a lovely evening.  But now I'm tired and ready for bed.  I had fully intended on starting another sewing project this evening while watching the season premiere of "Call the Midwife", but I think I'll head to bed instead.  I've stayed up way too late for the past several nights, and it's starting to catch up with me.  Have you seen "Call the Midwife"?  If you like watching things about babies and childbirth and the 1950's, then you'd love this show.  The first season is out on dvd.  Get it.  Rent it.  Borrow it.  It's that good.  It runs a very close second to my favorite show, "Downton Abbey".  Seriously, that show is the BEST.  The problem with these British television series, though, is that they only run about 7 episodes--just enough to get you hooked and drooling for more--and then you have to wait about 3/4 of a year for the new season to start up again.  But definitely worth the wait! 
Anyway, I'll be starting on a doll dress tomorrow.  I've been commissioned to make a reproduction dress for a Patty Play Pal doll from 1959.  I've got the fabric and the pattern--just need to start sewing!  Hope you had a wonderful Easter Sunday.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Happy Ric-Rac Dress


Well, I do believe I'm on a roll...a second dress cranked out in less than a week!
I call this the "Happy Ric-Rac Dress" because everything about it just made me smile...especially the ric-rac!
This is McCall's pattern #5793 again, but I think it looks so different from the Easter dress I created from it in the last post.
This time, I made the sleeveless version, and I pieced together a hem band for the skirt.  There's a narrow ruffle above the hem band, along with a line of ric-rac above the ruffle.  I also added fabric ruffles and more ric-rac along the contrast bodice pieces.
I created the attached  overskirt to look like an apron by sewing a front waistband to the lower bodice edge, and adding ties.  I love the little apron!  It is also edged with ric-rac.
I used an invisible zipper to close the back, and it went in so easily and without any problems at all.  All seams lined up perfectly. (And that doesn't always happen on the first try!)  I used to be so afraid of zippers...I avoided them like the plague.  But invisible zippers...they're so easy!  If you've never tried one, find a tutorial online.  I promise you, it's not hard, and you will love the results.
I think this one of my favorite dresses I've made so far.  The color combinations make me happy, and the ric-rac just makes me smile.  I've never used ric-rac much in the past--I didn' know what I was missing.  But it certainly does add a touch of whimsy.
Again, "twirl-a-bility" is a major selling point for Sophie's dresses.  She tests every one, just to make sure.
I've been thinking about making a few more of this style of dress and maybe opening an Etsy account.  It would be fun to make money doing something I love, but there are already so many wonderful seamstresses there offering beautiful, boutique style dresses, that I wonder if it would be difficult to sell mine?  I guess I won't know until I try.
Tomorrow is Easter.  Not only is it NOT supposed to rain, but it's also supposed to be unseasonably warm and sunny!   We will dye some eggs, hide some baskets, and have an egg hunt.  And through it all, I will be forever grateful that we serve a risen Lord.  I wish you all a wonderful day, hopefully spent with people you love.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Dress...Completed!

I finished the Easter Dress!
And I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.
I loved everything about this pattern (McCalls 5793), and it went together quickly and without a hitch.
It has simple, puffy sleeves.  All little girls should have a dress with puffed sleeves.
It has "twirl-a-bility".
I didn't have to make any alterations to the pattern.  Sophie is four years old.  I cut out a size four.  And it fit.  Perfectly.
One of the changes I made to the pattern was using buttons instead of a zipper.  It's just such a classic, little girl's dress, I felt that buttons looked better.
I wanted the look of a pinafore without having to actually make one separate from the dress.  So I simply sewed a panel to the front and back bodice, edged with cotton lace.  Since the overskirt matches the "pinafore" bib, it gives the look of a complete pinafore.  The overskirt hem is also trimmed with vintage, cotton lace.  Instead of using ribbons for sash ties like the pattern calls for, I made fabric ties.
Nothing says "Spring" like daffodils, does it?
And bunny ears.
Stay tuned for version #2 of this pattern.  I think it will look totally different.  I'm excited!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two Sewing Projects

Okay, I couldn't help myself...I bought more fabric, even though I have who-knows-how-many-yards stashed away in my closet.  But can you blame me?  Just look at this cuteness:
It's called "Little Red Riding Hood" by Riley Blake Designs.  I have been pretty picky about buying any new fabric lately; it either has to meet a current need OR be super cute.  Guess which category this one falls into?
In all fairness to me, I had actually spotted it on previous shopping trip last week.  But I resisted.  Yes.  I walked out of my favorite fabric store without it.  My best friend (who didn't accompany me that day) would have been so proud.  Or not.  On second thought, she probably would have talked me into it.  But that's not the point.  I went home without it, telling myself I didn't really need it, that it would simply be another project staring me in the face.  But I couldn't get it out of my head!  So I waited three whole days before breaking down and rushing back to the store, eagerly anticipating the pattern I was going to use, the fabrics I would coordinate together, etc.  And then, horror of wasn't there!
I couldn't believe that somebody else had snapped it up, that the beautiful design I had planned out in my head would never come to fruition.  Just when I was coming to terms with the fact that it wasn't meant to be, I discovered that the entire line had been moved to another part of the store.  I grabbed those bolts just as quickly as possible and did a happy dance inside my head.  It was meant to be, after all!
Here is the pattern I'm going to use as a starting point.  I say that because I don't think I've ever followed a pattern exactly.  I like view A, which has the contrast, upper bodice.  It will be sleeveless, and there will be an attached petticoat with ruffle peaking out from underneath.  I am going to add a hem band on the dress skirt made up of several different fabrics, and an attached apron trimmed with rick rack.  It will be adorable, that I can promise!
I think I've decided on the light green rick rack...I couldn't find a blue to match, and white didn't have enough contrast...
And while we're at it, here is the fabric that I have set aside for Sophie's Easter dress.  I will use the same pattern mentioned above.  The main dress will be from the pink gingham, and the print will be an attached pinafore.  Isn't that print just adorable?  It is called 1 is One by Tasha Tudor for RJR Fabrics.  I had admired it for many months but never quite knew what to do with it, so I resisted purchasing it until I happened upon the last bolt that the fabric store had on clearance.  I quickly bought two yards, found the pink gingham, and instantly knew it was going to become an Easter dress.
Tasha Tudor is one of my favorite children's author/illustrators.  Her illustrations are just so soft and innocent and old-fashioned.  This fabric originally came in a blue colorway also (which I would have preferred) but I think the green is pretty, too.  In any case, I'm just glad to have been able to acquire some, since I don't think it's being manufactured anymore.
Okay, enough blabbing about fabrics...time to start sewing!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Got chicks???

Meet the new little ladies in our house:  Helen, Stella, Susan, Jackie, Penelope, and Nicholai.  Don't ask me who is who...I can't tell them apart except for the little dark one who's giving us a good view of her hind end in this picture.  That's Jackie.
Aren't they just the cutest little balls of fluff you've ever seen?  Three are Rhode Island Reds, and the other three are a breed that my husband can't seem to remember the name of.  He was the one who took the kids to the feed store last weekend while I was away at a doll show, and like a typical man, the details just aren't that important to him.  Hey, they're chickens, right?  That's the important thing.  And hopefully, they're all of the female variety, because we can't have any roosters living in suburbia.
Right now, they're temporarily residing in a Rubbermaid box with a heat lamp out in our garage.  But I figure they'll outgrow that pretty quickly, so we are in the process of converting our unused side yard into a chicken pen.  There's lots of grass and weeds and blackberry vines for them to munch on, so I think they'll be pretty happy.  And happy chickens lay eggs.  Which is the goal.
I was just informed by my 4 year old that this chick is Stella.  Hmmm.  Not sure how she can be so sure, but I'll take her word for it.  And just in case you're curious about the poor, little chick named "Nicholai", well, that's what happens when you let your teenage son name one.  He thought it was pretty amusing to name a chick a cross between his middle name, Nicholas, and the disease, E coli.  Just watch, this one WILL turn out to be a rooster, and then what ever will we do?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Dolls and Ebay listings

I've added several dolls to my collection over the past few months, like this 23" papier mache beauty above.  Isn't she pretty?
She has a papier mache turned head and shoulderplate, arms, and legs.  Cloth body.   Her mohair wig is a replacement, but it suits her, I think.  Blue glass eyes.  I just love her antique dress.  No markings, but she is most likely German, and could possibly be a Schilling.  Circa late 1800's.
I just love these American cloth dolls made by Martha Chase.  Each one was hand made and hand painted from 1889 and on...hard to imagine in our current world of mass production and everything coming from China.  These dolls were meant to be played with and loved.  As a result, she shows some wear on her face, but her expression is so sweet that I had to bring her home with me! 
Oil painted features, molded cloth face, cloth body, 16" tall.
This is a 10 1/2" bisque head baby by George Borgfeldt, mold number 327.  I am drawn more and more to these small, "cabinet size" dollies. 
Brown sleep eyes, original mohair wig, composition body.
Another cabinet size baby...this is an 8 1/2" Franz Schmidt character baby with a very rare mold number--I believe it is incised 1237.  Her little dollie is a 4" Nancy Ann Storybook look-a-like baby made by K & H co.
Brown sleep eyes, open-closed molded mouth, molded hair, composition body.
And just to prove that I don't only buy antique dolls, here is the newest mini American girl doll character...Caroline!  I love the American Girl dolls, especially the mini ones.  They are exquisitely dressed, with undergarments, socks, and shoes, just like their 18" counterparts.  And if you buy them from Amazon, they'll cost you less than if you order directly from American Girl.
6 1/2" tall, cloth body, vinyl limbs and head, rooted hair.  Jointed just like the 18" American Girls.  I paid $16 for her on Amazon--great quality for the price.
Now, all these dollie purchases come with a price...I now have to sell stuff to help pay for my splurges!
Among the many things I have currently listed on Ebay is this sweet, 14" articulated doll.  She is Lark Little Lady by Helen Kish.  I bought her nude several years ago, thinking I'd sew for her, but it just never happened.  I did manage to make the one outfit she is wearing, and I think she looks so sweet in it.  It's going to be hard to part with her.
Her bodice has an inset of french laces, and the same laces trim her attached over-skirt and dress.
This is an 18" Magic Attic doll named Heather.  They are no longer made, but were produced as competition to the American Girls.  They are nice quality, with all-vinyl bodies, wigs, and stationary eyes.  I made her a simple sundress from quilter's cottons.  There is rick-rack trim over the yellow hem band which is hard to see in the photo, and a sash that ties in back.  I found that dolls sell much better on Ebay if they have clothing, so I made this dress for her right before listing her.
Another dollie that needed a dress...this is a 13" Corolle Les Cheries Camille.  Her dress is identical to the Magic Attic doll's dress above.
So, you see, I HAVE been sewing!  I also bought fabric a couple of months ago to make my little one an Easter dress, but it is still laying on my sewing table.  Seeing that Easter is only 1 1/2 weeks away, I should probably get moving on it!  I've also done a bunch of mending, but that isn't really sewing, is it?  I mean, I did use the sewing machine, but mending isn't creating something new, so I don't think it really counts.
And every few days or so, we get some marvelous, spring-y type weather, so I've been out in the yard, getting vegetable beds ready for spring planting, pulling weeds, straightening out sheds, and picking up forgotten socks, forks, cups, and other kid paraphernalia strewn about the yard.  I'd love to spend more time sewing, but living in the Pacific NW means taking advantage of the nice weather when it comes, because those days can sometimes be few and far between.
Hope to be back soon with more sewing projects completed!