I don't think that I have ever sworn so much at fabric in my life than the first time I tried to sew doll clothes.
Here is my short list on sewing for dolls:
- Use relatively tightly woven cloth. Don't use loose or low density cloth. You want cloth that won't unravel as you handle it. Broadcloth, poplin, these are good. Bulky knits = swear words.
- Starch and iron everything before you cut. The smaller the patterns, the more disproportionate the damage if the edges start to fray, wrinkle, or fold. Heavy starch and iron before you cut.
- Forget trying to turn hems and other "normal" steps on such little pieces, just stitch it to a lining and turn right side out.
- If it's a piece with tight curves (and you really can't pick a different piece), I will grimace and mark my sewing line. The reason that I do this is because using the edge of the fabric isn't always the most accurate when turning small tight curves.
- Velcro or snaps are my go-to. But unless it has short hair I usually use snaps. The reason is because velcro can totally destroy doll hair. And just say no to buttonholes or zippers.
- Inform others you are making doll clothes, otherwise they may start to wond about your sanity.
Over the years I learned that it is so much easier to use a washable glue stick to stick the seams of the fabric together before you cut.
I stopped using pins on doll clothes and I were you I would try and avod them. Just use a glue stick for the absolute edges of the 2 pattern pieces and put a book on it and wait something like ten minutes (on mine) for it to dry, then I just start to sew like I normally would for human clothes.
Once I am finished I peel the pieces apart and keep sewing and the dry glue stick residue then becomes a weak startch that keeps the seams together, this is incredibly helpful for making doll clothes.
When you are finished remove the glue and then wash the completed piece like normal.
P.S. When all else fails I often give up and just hand stitch the troublesome pieces together since they will not be put under the same amount of stress that a normal garmet would be.
When you sew, you will get a lot of requests from people wanting you to make them things. It is after all only natural that you are their go to person for arts and crafts. But while this can be flattering, it might also feel like you are being used. And that is what I want to address today.
A couple of years ago I was approached by some women from my church, they wanted me to "help" them with some projects because our church was planning to host a crafts sale with the proceeds going to a local charity.
When they spoke of help, what it actually turned out to be was a form of slave labor. They wanted me to sew a hundred sets of place mats, napkins, and table runners in less than a week. They had had over a month to get busy on it but they hadn't even cut their patterns to size. I didn't know how to go on with it and my husband called the main woman up and asked her why she had procrastinated since it was obviously her project. They canceled their contribution after that and I got back to work on my own project. I sewed twenty throw pillow cases which turned out to be a big hit!
That is when things move in the wrong direction.
They wanted me to essentially do the work they had agreed to, and with four of them that should not have been a problem. Could I have done it? Probably had they cut everything to size, but as it were I would not have had time to do my own sewing and I would have been left standing their empty handed while people praised them for their contribution.
I am not at all against helping people.
And that is why when my sister asked me to help her with a bridal shower she was hosting I was thrilled.
I had a lot of work both at home and in the office to do but I didn't get the feeling like I was being used. I was asked if I would like to help with the bridal shower, not if I could take some of the work off of her hands.
And though that is what happened I actually looked forward to the work and tried my best to get it done. Even though I actually didn't get everything finished. It was still fun and everybody was happy. I wrote about the bridal shower in another post.
Those are the two sides of same coin, the positive and the negative aspects of being able to sew.
Just try and enjoy it and do what you want, not what people expect of you.
I didn't really start quilting until I was in my thirties. I was established and had a little time. Sure I had played with it in my teens and twenties, but I never commited to the hobby. Money was one aspect that kept me from going all in.
But does it really have to be an expensive hobby?
The answer is no.
But when you quilt you may run into the attitude, which it often encountered, of "if you do it affordably you are doing it wrong, you must spend more money or you won't get a good quilt" when it comes to quilting. And this is simply nonsense. Thankfully I over heard that at one of the quilting workshops I was at. It was a sweet yong woman who just had her first child and wanted to make them a quilt.
As most women know, this is a time when money is tight and you can't afford to spend a lot on y hobby. But with quilting you don't need to. And I set her down and tried to put things into more perspective. I hope the woman that gave her that nasty bit of advice was also listening because she really shouldn't be spreading things like that, it is ungrounded.
It also shows that she has no grasp on the hobby she choose for herself.
We have to remember; quilting started out as a cheap way to make blankets. This means that fabric that couldn't be used for other things like curtains and clothing was used. They even used old rags as the batting, which were washed first of course. It's the ultimate demonstration in frugality in my oppinion. And one that makes for the perfect frugal hobby.
Here are some things that I do when making my traditional quilts: I upcycle clothing to use as fabric, which has made for some fun and unexpected results. I will purchase from the scrap bin at my local store, and I will use sheets for both patches and backing.
I will even used to heat 'n bond to fuse the extra scrap chunks of batting together. But have since learned that if I just overlap my batting scraps a half inch or so it is just as good if not better since I don't like the feel of the heat'n bond seams. And with this method the quilting holds it down and you can't tell the difference. One of my friends will zigzag her batting scraps, which also works pretty good.
I think that every hobby has an element of snobbery which doesn't help things and it is one that you see more of today than a couple of years ago.
I will relate a story that may help put this into more perspective. My mother also has a sister, she is five years younger than my mother and never took much interest in sewing. Untill a couple of years ago she never even held a needle. Yet, today she is the "best" in the family and she is always telling us we're doing it wrong. She knows better because she is always going to workshops and taking part in her local community. It was actually at one of her local workshops that I met the nice young woman and tried to help her understand what quilting was about.
Though I was surrounded by the "pros". One thing I learned is that I will never go to another workshop.
Even the woman that ran it wasn't half as good as my grandmother. And everywoman there threw more money at their one quilt than I would at a dozen of mine.
So if you get discouraged, please, please, remember:
Quilting once stood for something practical, it was there for making beautiful blankets from old clothes, scraps, and bits of fabric that no longer fit their original purpose.
Some people will prefer to spend a large amount of money on the most expensive fabric and batting around. Sure they could get as good or better for just a fraction of the price. But I am actually glad that they do it.
You may wonder about this "good for them," attitude. But it is simple, when novice enter the market they tend to waste a lot of money and that helps to keep fabric stores in business. So what if it makes them feel like they have the bragging rights to a quilt that cost $500 in materials, $200 labor, and in the end looks like they bought it from an upscale shop. Most people can't afford to pay those prices, nor would they want to.
The result is usually the same – a beautiful fully functional quilt – though you and I will actually probably use ours.
The most exciting things happen when you least expect them to happen. At least that is the feeling that I always get.
I mean, I guess it is logical that it is like that. But for example I have always wanted to host a bridal shower, something about it just seemed like a lot of fun, and I would have the chance to shower my friend(s) with some love. As time went by and my friends got married over the years I realized that this wasn't going to be the case. Other girls were asked to help, they were closer friends with the bride I guess, or they were related and I just got passed over. It wasn't a big deal. I had more than enough to do, and I can remember thinking a couple of times that I was glad that I didn't have to plan for a shower at that particular point in time. So as things went it worked out.
But there was always that hope and desire there that some day I would be able to get to be the one in charge.
Being the hostess isn't something that I find hard, I have done it a number of times for different occasions. I have always felt that if I plan enough ahead, make enough preparations, that everything would go smoothly, and for the most part that is exactly what happened every time, so unlike the stressed hostess that is glad when the last guest has gone, I think that I would be more than pleased and capable to handle it all.
And I was not disappointed. In fact I was more than pleased when my dream finally came true, in part at least.
My sister is a couple of years younger than I am and she was asked to host her best friends bridal shower.
They have been friends since their senior year of high school, and they went to the same college so they have had the chance to stay pretty close. Well, my sister is like me. Super organized and always ready to help. But she had a problem. She was busy.
She had just changed employers and things were pretty hectic for her at work. That said the added responsibility of planning for the shower was almost too much for her. That is were I came in. I am not sure if she knew about my desire to host a wedding shower or not. It isn't something that comes up in conversation, nor did she help out when my husband and I got married. She was going through her finals and it would have been too much to ask. Not that I doubt for a minute she wouldn't have made every attempt to make it special.
Instead my husband and I organized a no-gifts couples shower. We sort of did the opposite of a bridal shower, instead of asking the guests to come and bring something we told them that we just wanted to spend the afternoon celebrating with them, which is what we did, though it lasted into the evening and we had more than enough food on hand to accommodate them all. It was rewarding for us and I would like to think that it was rewarding for our guests as well, though I cannot speak for them of course.
Well, anyway. Here I was with the chance to not only realize a dream, but to help my sister out of a bind as well, it was almost too good to be true.
There had already been a lot of effort placed in getting the plans made and she had put together a list of food she wanted to serve. It was going to be simpler than what my husband and I did, but it was going to be in that sense more traditional so it was also something new for me.
I actually didn't make many suggestions when it came to the plans.
I felt like:
- I didn't know the bride well enough to make plans for the shower
- It would be disrespectful for my to change my sisters vision
- Changing the plans now would be a waste of effort, which had already been invested into the celebration
That doesn't mean that I didn't give input. Usually, it was when I could make things easier. This is actually what I do every day so it was only logical for me to use it here as well. I guess that is why I have always felt that being a hostess comes almost like second nature to me.
Some of the things that we reworked were:
I love to sew, you may have noticed that by now if you have been with me for any amount of time, but what I don't like are paper crafts. For some reason I will have this grand vision of what I expect, and when I am working with a needle and thread that actually somehow materialize without a lot of effort. I suppose that is from having more than twenty years of experience with it, whereas, paper is new ground for me.
The original plan was more complicated in my opinion than it needed to be. She wanted to take a make them all - each individual one - by hand. Not just cutting and folding them, but actually writing them, all.
If there is something I had no desire doing it was that.
Thankfully, she didn't either. I think she half hoped that I would agree to do it. But without much debated we decided to make it easy on ourselves so we ordered a set of invitations which we customized to suite our theme for the bridal shower. Thankfully you can order invitations now. When my husband and I got married we went through a local printer, and even after a number of meetings he still had questions.
We chose a "Fall In Love" theme for the invitations since it matched what we wanted to achieve with the bridal shower.
They turned out beautifully.
She had actually put together a list of different games - some of them were better than others - and some were just plain silly.
There are just so very many different options out there that you really don't know where to start. I came to the idea that we should actually play them. She laughed and gave me the "sure, sure," look that I know so well.
But I was serious.
It was actually a lot of fun, and some of the games that we thought would work were a flop, and a couple that didn't seem like much turned out to be the most fun. The funny part was I had guests tell me that they loved the games. That they had never had so much fun, or laughed so hard. So it was rewarding knowing we did succeeded when it came to the party aspect of the shower.
There were a lot of other different aspects that we fined turned before we moved on but it was all time well spent. And in the end I feel like the afternoon was rewarding for everyone involved.
I have been quilting for many years. If you count the first quilt that I made I have been doing it for close to twenty years. Though, my first real attempts started some ten years ago. My first attempts were made out of simple cotton or linen squares. Things that I had on hand. And as avid quilters will tell you some of the beginners mistakes. For example I did not pre-wash the linen. And after you have done it for a while you know that you should always pre-wash else you run the risk of having them fall apart.
Sure you can go through the hassel of basting them and then binding them, but the risk isn't completely gone.
That is why today I wash and dry every bit of fabric that comes in the house, except wool.
Instead of giving my old quilts away I washed them and those that held up, well, they were still at risk of coming apart, but I felt better about them. The ones that came apart, instead of throwing them away I just cut it up and used it for other projects.
I love working with linen, but I am more careful today. But it is a fabric that comes with a risk. It is because linen shrinks more than other quilting materials, then when a quilt is washed the cotton seams will stay together while the rest of the linen square will pull away. It happens all the time. And the reason is because linen is stronger than cotton.