Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Estate Sale and More Finished Quilts!

Today I went to the estate sale of a 95 year old woman who had recently entered a nursing home.  She had been an avid seamstress, and I was invited in for a preview sale, along with a few other members of my doll club.
Just look at this basket of deliciousness that came home with me!
11 different fabrics and many, many packs of vintage rick rack and bias tape
Most of the prints are vintage repro fabrics
Vintage rick rack galore!
Five different rick rack brands represented here, from jumbo to teeny-tiny size.  When's the last time you saw rick rack for 15 cents???
Four different bias tape manufacturers
And one package of twill tape.  I love this stuff.
The fabric was $1 per yard, and rick rack/bias binding were 25 cents each.  What a deal!  I really don't NEED any more fabric, but for that price, who could pass up this deal?
I spent all day up in my sewing room yesterday, and finally finished up my son's quilt.  I posted pictures of the pieced front before, but if you remember, my sewing machine BROKE right before I could quilt the layers together.  So I showed it to him at Christmas and promised him that he would receive it just as soon as my machine was up and running again.  Well, guess what?  After four, long weeks of waiting, the repair man finally called me with the bad news...the circuit board had fried and there was no fixing it.  Ugghhh!  But now, the good news:  My wonderful husband knows how important my sewing is to me, so he suggested we go out right away and start looking for a new one.  I was hesitant to spend the money, but I was curious to see what might be out there.  After doing a bit of research and talking to the repair man, I settled on a Pfaff Ambition.  I love it!
One of its best features, I think, is the built-in walking foot!  It works perfectly. 
So here's another picture of my son's quilt, this time all bound and quilted:
And here's a picture of my daughter-in-law's quilt which was finished when I gave it to her, except for some extra quilting around each square:
I just love the colors in this one!  Pinks and yellows together are my favorite.
Close up:
For now, I just do simple, geometric quilting.  My desire, however, is to learn how to do free-motion quilting.
The estate sale today also had about a million quilting magazines which they were begging us to take away for free.  Well, maybe not a million, but at least several hundred.  I grabbed a few.  So now I am off to browse through some issues, and maybe get some inspiration for a future project.  Have a nice evening!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Baby Quilts

This week was productive...I made two baby quilts for two, precious, baby girls due to be born soon.

The first is a fairly simple pattern, because I waited until the last minute and needed to crank it out in one evening.  I think it took me longer to pick out the fabrics and figure out which one would go where than it did to actually piece the front together!
I've had the main print, Kitty Cucumber on a yellow background, in my stash for YEARS.  I just think it's so cute, I have a hard time cutting into it.  Does anybody else have this problem?
The cozy, flannel backing:
The second quilt took me MUCH longer to assemble, as it has so many more pieces than the first quilt.
I happened to browse through a quilt magazine in the check out aisle the other day, and I saw a quilt pattern just like this.  I made a mental note of the layout, and then came home and figured it out.  I just love the vintage feel to it.  The mother receiving this is decorating her nursery in pinks and lavenders, so I needed to incorporate these colors.
I've had the main print of this quilt in my stash for years, also.  Another favorite that I have trouble cutting into!  I think it's a Michael Miller print, if I remember correctly.  Those little babies perched in cute is that?
Another flannel backing
I pride myself in knowing that every single piece of fabric, batting, and backing came from my stash!  I attended one baby shower today, and will go to the next one tomorrow.  I used to attend baby showers for my I'm going to the showers of my friend's grandbabies!  Life just speeds right along, doesn't it?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Show and Tell: American Character TINY TEARS

I am many things...a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister...but I'm also a doll collector.  I love dolls!  I can't remember a time ever NOT loving them.  I have been collecting them for years, so I figured maybe I should start "showing and telling" what has tickled my fancy.  Here we go:
This little sweetie is Tiny Tears, made by the American Character Doll Co. from 1950 and on.  There are still versions of Tiny Tears being made today!  The very earliest ones had hard plastic heads on jointed rubber bodies.  The next models had hard plastic heads on vinyl bodies.  After that, both the heads and bodies were made from vinyl.  My 11 1/2" example is the smallest size made (I think) and is one of the earliest versions with the all rubber body.
What made Tiny Tears unique and one of the most popular baby dolls of the 1950's was the fact that she could cry real tears and blow bubbles!  Really!  See those two holes on either side of the bridge of her nose?  A little mother simply fed her baby some water with a bottle, and then when she squeezed Tiny's tummy, tears would exit the holes!  Tiny Tears also came with a plastic pipe that one could fill with soapy water; again, if her tummy was squeezed while the pipe was in her mouth, bubbles would come out!
An early advertisement for Tiny Tears
I bought my Tiny Tears at an estate sale from the lady who had owned her as a child.  The estate sale was for her mother, who had gone to live in a nursing home because she had advanced Alzheimer's.  The daughter was trying to get rid of all of her mother's vast doll collection, and I found Tiny Tears among hundreds of Barbies.  She came with several, home made outfits, in addition to her original pink & white dress and bonnet.  Here she's wearing a little pink sweater crocheted just for her by the original owner's grandmother.  I don't think this is her original bottle, but it's definitely of her era, with a rubber nipple on a glass bottle.
Home made, flannel diaper shirt
Home made, one piece romper.  Tiny Tears sometimes came in a commercially made romper just like this, but it would have had "Tiny Tears" embroidered across the front.  After looking at other pictures online, I realize that I put this romper on backwards!  There are ribbons at the sides which I tied in the back, but they are supposed to tie in the front.  I'll get it right next time!
Another handmade item--a sweet, yellow, flannel coat and bonnet.
Isn't she adorable?  I remember talking to the original owner, and asking her why she was selling this doll, when it was obviously a favorite plaything, not to mention that her mother had made all the extra clothing.  She just shrugged and said that she had kept what she wanted, and this one needed to go.  I felt so sad!  I just don't think I could get rid of anything that my mother had made for me as a child.  Then again, maybe I'm too sentimental?  In any case, I'm glad she found her way into my collection.  She really is a cutie and I smile whenever I look at her.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A New Dress for an Old China Head

Recently, a friend from my doll club asked if I could make a dress for her antique, china head doll.  This is what she wanted me to use:
It appeared to be a vintage baby/toddler dress.  The material was a soft, loosely woven, homespun-type fabric in a delicious shade of peach that beautifully set off the doll's coloring.  I can see why my friend wanted it.  However, once I started on the project, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  Notice how the dress is sleeveless?  Cute for a baby, but not so appropriate for a late, 1800's style dress.
I placed the dress over the doll, just to get an idea of what I might need to do in order to make it fit.  I knew for sure that it would need sleeves, but how was I going to make those when I didn't have much fabric to work with?  I wanted to leave the bodice as it was, and gather the bottom of it to a waistband, which was a popular dress style for these dolls.  I started by cutting the skirt from the bodice.  Then, I removed the lace from the armhole openings and cut in armhole curves from the bodice.  I discovered that there was quite a deep hem at the bottom of the skirt, so I decided to let it out. (It ended up being 4-5 inches in width)  This still wasn't wide enough from which to cut sleeves, but I could use this extra fabric for the waistband and trim on the sleeves.  Luckily, I ended up finding some cream colored, vintage fabric in my stash that worked perfectly for the sleeves.
After several hours of picking out seams and carefully planning how I was going to make this work, here is what I came up with!  I was pretty proud of myself when it was all said and done.
I realize this photo isn't completely in focus, but it's the only one I took of the detail on the sleeves.  Since I didn't want it to look like the sleeves were an afterthought, I added a strip of the dress fabric and the lace I removed from the armholes.  I think this helps tie the sleeves to the dress.
A closer view of the bodice.  Isn't this doll just gorgeous?  I forgot to measure her, but I think she was around 28" long.  Not sure of her maker, but probably Kestner or ABG.
Back view--the buttons and buttonholes were already there, so all I had to do was add a snap at the waist.
I took this little beauty to my friend today when we met for doll club.  She was thrilled with how it had turned out.  I was sad to see her go, but someday, I hope to own a beautiful china like this, also!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How to Make a Doll Cardigan Without Actually Knitting or Crocheting!

I love sweaters and cardigans.  It was one of my favorite pieces of clothing to put on my babies.  It is the one clothing essential I am always on the lookout for myself when I am at the thrift shops.  So it only seems logical that I would want my dollies dressed in them also!  Well, I can knit and crochet, and while I enjoy it, I love sewing more.  There are only so many hours in a day, after all!  So I recently figured out how to "make" cardigans for my 18" crowd, without actually having to dig out my knitting needles or crochet hooks:
Voila!  Isn't this adorable?
A closer view
And the back...
So, how did I make this?  BABY sweaters, people!  I went to Value Village a couple of days ago and picked up this little size 0-3 month cardigan for $1.00.  It was regularly priced at $1.99, but it had the color tag that was 1/2 price that week.  Score!  I made a simple pattern of a front, back, and sleeves, loosely based on the measurements of Kit's Meet sweater.  I placed these pattern pieces on the baby sweater, utilizing the cuffs so that I wouldn't have to hem anything.  I also used the placket and buttonholes.  I didn't take any pictures.  But today, I made another one, and I took photos throughout the process.  So here you go, just in case you, too, want to outfit one of your dollies in a thrifted sweater cut down to just her size:
I started with this cute, striped cardigan from Baby Gap.  It cost me all of $2.00 at a local children's clothing resale shop.
I folded it in half, so that the front edges were perfectly lined up, and then I pinned on the pattern for the cardigan front.  Notice how I am incorporating both the bottom and front edges.
The front pieces, cut out.
Cutting out the back pattern piece on the fold of the back of the cardigan.  Notice again that I am using the bottom edge of the cardigan.
Next, I cut off the sleeves, folded them in half, and pinned on my pattern piece, again using the scalloped edge of the sleeves along the bottom of my pattern piece.
The cut up remnants of the baby cardigan.
All cut out and ready to be sewn...
First step:  Sew the fronts to the back at the shoulders.
Sew sleeves to the armholes, and then stitch the sides and underarm seams.  I finish all my seams with a zig zag stitch.  Be careful not to stretch out the neckline.
Next, I decided where I would need to add more buttonholes.  Sometimes, if you're lucky, the buttons might be spaced just right and you won't need to add extras.  But this hasn't been the case for me yet.  I also discovered (after making the first cardigan) that it's easier to stitch the buttonholes BEFORE you attach the neck binding because of the extra bulk there will be at the neckline after you attach the binding.  In the above photo, you can see that I added two more buttonholes:  one at the top and another between the last two buttons.
The only edge which is raw and will need to be finished somehow is the neckline.  I cut a bias strip from some pretty fabric that matched the cardigan, 1 1/2" wide by 8" long.  I folded in each short edge 1/4", and then folded the entire strip in half, lengthwise.  Press well.
Here is the binding, pinned to the neckline.
And here it is again, after I stitched it to the neckline.  I also zig-zagged the edges, though I probably didn't need to because it won't be seen.  However, I wanted to make sure this seam was nice and sturdy with no chance of unraveling in the future.
I folded the binding to the inside and hand stitched it into place.
And here is Kit, modeling her new cardigan!
I sewed the remaining two buttons from the baby cardigan into place where I had made the new buttonholes.
Back view
This was really such a quick, simple project.  I am really pleased with how well it turned out!  I am already envisioning many more cardigans--I'd like to try some with zippered fronts and maybe make a hooded version if there is enough leftover fabric.  Some other details that might be of importance:  I used a regular needle and a regular straight stitch on my machine.  I did lengthen the stitch from 2.5 to 3.0.   As stated previously, I finished all my edges with a zig zag stitch.
Wow, I almost forgot to mention...I got a NEW SEWING MACHINE!  The super-nice sewing machine repair man called last week to say that my machine had died a sad death, and there was no saving her.  Her circuit board had fried.   I almost cried.  On the plus side, it was nothing I had done to cause her untimely demise.  He stated that these new machines are only built to last about 10-15 years, (I had mine for 11) and that with as much as I sew, I had really received my money's worth.  After the initial shock that I wasn't getting her back, I asked the repair man what brand machine he recommended, and he said Pfaff.  My old machine many years ago was a Pfaff, and the machine I was currently using as a back up is also a Pfaff.  He said they are the "workhorses" of the sewing machine world.  So my wonderful husband took me in the next day to check them out, and I ended up walking out with a brand new Pfaff Ambition, 1.0.  I love it, though I still have lots to learn.  I suppose I should haul out the manual and get familiar with it!
Oh, and one more thing:  I don't think you need to limit yourself to just baby cardigans.  Adult sweaters would work just as well, as long as the cuffs aren't too wide to be out of scale for a doll, and the knit isn't too chunky.  So, there you go.  Easy cardigans for your dolls.  Now, run out to the thrift stores and try your hand at making one (or two or three!)  Besides being adorable, they're quick and easy to make, I promise!