January 2013

January-2013: Happy New Year everyone!  My husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on January 2nd.  There are years for paper, wood, diamonds, etc.  I had no idea what 35 was supposed to be but I decided I wanted to make my husband a “keepsake” type gift.  He always writes me such beautiful letters on our anniversary and I wanted this year’s gift to him to be something unique.

I enjoy playing Scrabble and Words with Friends so I got the idea of making a crossword puzzle using Scrabble tiles to spell out the names of our family members.  The first thing I did was write the letters of the alphabet to see how many tiles I needed to spell out all the names.  Then I wrote down my name, my husband’s name, our two children, their spouses, and all four grandchildren. (Even though one is 2 months away from being born, he has been named).  Then I made a tally mark as each letter was used to spell a name, then marked through that name.  After all the names were done, I counted each letter to see how many I needed of each.  Here is my worksheet:


I came to the realization that I would probable need to buy 2 sets of Scrabble tiles since each set comes with one letter J and one letter K and I would need two of each, unless I could somehow cross both names to use only one.  But, with Jake needing both, I doubted I could figure that out and it would probably make my head hurt trying.  Somebody needs to create a software program for that!  So, I went on Ebay and found several sellers selling Scrabble tiles.  You can even buy the “Deluxe” mahogany tiles if you want to really splurge!  I decided on the standard wood tiles with black letters and bought two sets so I would have all the letters I needed.

Then comes the “crossword” part.  I only had 10 names to crisscross but it was harder than I thought it would be.  My goal was to keep everything within a 11 X 14 space for the mat and frame that I planned to use.  I used a checked fabric as a guideline to make sure I lined the tiles up straight.  I didn’t take a picture of all the attempts but sometimes I would have everything spelled out and then a name that wouldn’t fit in anywhere.  Then, I would start over and try again.  I finally decided I should use the longest name and try to build off that.  Here is one attempt that worked out where all the names fit.


Afraid it would take me forever to figure this out, I took a picture and then made another attempt.  I really preferred to have the picture turned the other way, 14 inches across and 11 inches down.  Finally, I came up with this one where I was able to spell out all the names  wider than tall and also could fit “Family” across the top.


Next I decided on a green and tan plaid for my background fabric.  I cut out a piece that would cover the back cardboard piece and lined it up as straight as possible.  I glued it to the cardboard and let it dry.  Then I positioned the tiles and tried to keep the entire crossword puzzle centered.  Once I played around with moving them over and up until the entire design appeared to be centered on my board, I added the word “Family” and got it centered also.  Then, one by one, I pulled up each tile and placed a drop of glue on the back and pressed it down into the fabric.  I used something called Liquid Fusion which dries fast and clear.  Once all the tiles were in place and lined up with the plaid lines, I let it dry for about 30 minutes.  When I tilted the board up and saw that everything was secure, I placed the frame on top to see how it all looked from the front with the mat.  Here is that picture.


After turning it over, I bent all the metal prongs down on the back of the frame to hold the cardboard in place and then took this final picture.  I showed it first to my kids and they thought it was neat and that dad would like it.  He did.  Now I have to find space on my wall to hang it in just the right spot.  I have lots of leftover tiles so I need to think of the next project to use them in some way.  I’ll let you know what I come up with.


October 2012 – Asian Hair Braid

I’ve been experimenting with some Asian styled outfits and hair fashions for one of my friends who collects Himstedts.  She wanted the hair style to mimic Mithi Himstedt’s look. Mithi has has hair below her hips.  Here is a picture of my Mithi with her hair let down:

After a few years, I decided to put her hair back to its original design.  The hair was divided in half from the middle part and each side was braided in the back center down low.  Both braids were then joined together at the nape of the neck.  It was then pulled to the top of the head in back and sewn into the wig itself with strong nylon thread.  Then each braid was left free to fall on each side of the head.  Here is the back view:

You can see that it takes a long length of hair to do this specific design.  Here is a shot of the front:

The challenge was to get Mithi’s look in the front without that length of hair.  This was done by pulling all the hair to the top and then dividing it in half and braiding each side.  I did this with Tamlyn and Shilin Himstedt.  Here is Tamlyn

And here is Shilin:

My friends and customers give me such good ideas!  I also did a video to demonstrate how I did the hair.  You can click on the Video category at the top to watch it.  Thanks for stopping by to read my post.

September 2012 – The wrap dress

My posts have been lacking this year and I am trying to get back on schedule to do a post each month.  Over the summer I had two surgeries.  The first one was for an abnormal spot that showed up on my mammogram.  By having an excisional biopsy done, this area of tissue was removed and I’m glad to be rid of it.  It turned out to be atypical hyperplasia, which is a precursor to cancerous cells and can sometimes be associated with ductal carcinoma in situ.  Getting yearly mammograms is so important and I hope everyone reading this will be sure to have one. Because of the atypical hyperplasia, my risk is slightly higher now.  It was already high because of my family history.  So now, I will be having mammograms every six months.  It’s a small price to pay to have peace of mind.

The second surgery was done six weeks later when I ended up in the emergency room on a Sunday night with a gallbladder attack.  I had a similar attack about three weeks before but I though maybe it was something I ate that disagreed with me.  However, when the second one hit, I knew it was my gallbladder.  I had huge stones and my gallbladder was greatly inflamed so they kept me overnight and I had it removed the following morning.  Even though it was done laparoscopically, I was pretty helpless for a week getting in and out of bed.  I did get to lie around and watch the Olympics quite a bit.  Now I’m doing well, back to normal, trying to get some sewing done!

This post is a follow up to the post I made in May 2011.  My smocking guild learned embroidery stitches for a wrap dress in a class we took from Gail Doane.  Well, I finished the size 3 dress and my granddaughter is only 18 months old, so I am ahead on that one.  I still have a blouse and wrap skirt to finish for her, but it is about half way completed.  Here is the finished wrap dress I made for Kinsley:

I had so much fun making the dress so I decided to make a different version using yo-yos instead of that time consuming hand embroidery.  The dress below was made for a little girl at church using medium sized yo-yos in place of the embroidered flowers.  The buttons on this dress came from the little girl’s great-grandmother’s button box:

The above dresses are size 3.  I had another little girl at church(size 4) who had a birthday so I used some ladybug fabric instead of a solid.  I made smaller yo-yos using red, black, and white prints.  This one turned out pretty cute too, in my opinion.

Gail Doane sells the pattern for this wrap dress on her Etsy site and you can also see it on her website.  Now off to finish the next project….

May 2012 – Face up for my BJD

I have several Kim Lasher dolls that are ball jointed dolls (BJD).   My Lotus Lasher is MSD size and I have seen several Lotus girls who have had new “face ups” done and I decided I would like to give it a try.  There are several face up artists that have businesses repainting the face of a doll.  In fact, in one of my previous posts, you can read abut Leah Lilly who did a face up for my Angel of Dreams BJD.  This time, I decided I would like to give it a try myself.  I am not an artist but I thought perhaps I could look at a face I liked and replicate the colors and shading myself.  Here is Lotus as she came originally:

The first step, after removing the wig and scalp cap, was to remove the head from the body.  This is easily done by twisting the “O” ring or “S” ring.  The head will easily come off.

The next step was to remove all the original painting.  All the articles I read about this advised using acetone.  I didn’t happen to have any acetone in my cabinets at home but then I remembered that was the main ingredient in nail polish remover.  Sure enough, I got out my nail polish remover and saw that the ingredients listed were acetone and fragrance.  So I got a cotton ball and began gently rubbing the acetone on the resin face.  It was hard to get everything out of the cracks!

There were a few videos on You Tube that showed people doing face ups and then I read a few articles about it.  I had a BJD doll magazine that had an article about doing face ups but this required using a respirator and some high dollar acrylic paints.  Then I read where you could use pastels.  I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some non-oil nice pastels.  I got an emery board and ground up the edge of some pastels onto a plastic lid and and blended the colors together until I got it the shade I wanted.  I used a small brush and even got it a little wet and then dipped it into each color and began painting on the color.  I got so concentrated on what I was doing that I forgot to stop and take pictures step by step.  I glued the eyelashes on; lots of dexterity and patience for that task!  Then first of all I put in green eyes and a strawberry blond wig.

I’m sure it’s because I don’t know what I am doing, but I had problems getting the colors to blend.  And, I need to get a small narrow eraser to remove mistakes.  I used a Q-Tip to blend the colors on the face, but never got it all smoothed out evenly.  Here is Lotus with a dark curly red wig and blue eyes:

Next is Lotus with a blond curly wig and blue eyes:

Once you are finished and have all the colors blended, (which I haven’t gotten there yet with this one), then you spray a fixative so that the colors won’t smear.  I actually grabbed Lotus by the face because she was about to fall.  You can see on her left cheek where my finger took off color.

I need to fix up the color where I smeared it off on and spray fixative on the face to seal it.  The main thing I learned from this experience is that I am no longer afraid to attempt a face-up myself.  It gave me the confidence to buy some acrylic paints and perhaps make another attempt on Lotus with paint this time.  It’s always nice to try something new.  This removes my hesitancy to perhaps repaint another doll in the future.

January 2012 – Fun Embellishments for Girl’s Clothing

Its been about six months since I have posted anything.  Hopefully, I am back on track after a very busy 6 month period with family matters. Now that I have a little granddaughter, I get to have fun sewing cute things for her instead of the dolls. I think that one of the best parts about sewing is being able to embellish a pattern and make it personal.  You can take a pattern and a use a few tools and techniques and end up with a one of a kind outfit that you created to fit your own taste.  Here are a few tools I enjoy using to accomplish this task:

Covered buttons.  I found pretty parts of the fabric that wanted to use for the buttons.  I cut a circle and used the covered button tools to make customized buttons on the front of the dress.

Piping using a piping tool.  I think piping “outlines” your work.  It is a nice and professional finish to any neckline.  On this outfit, I used the pink dotted fabric and cut it on the bias. I love the Darr Piping Magic tool. After using your piping foot and making your piping, you can place the piping into the groove according to what seam allowance you need.  I used the quarter inch for this particular outfit.  You can also used purchased piping but you are very limited as to the colors available, so making takes a little time but is cheaper and will be made to coordinate with your project.

Plastic yo-yo  maker.  These are made by Clover and come in several sizes.  They can be purchased at your local craft or sewing store, and make yo-yo making a lot easier and more uniform than the old fashioned way.  Once you start making yo-yos, you won’t ever throw away a scrap of fabric that is large enough to make one of these.  They are fun for so many things, including little girl’s hair bands, dresses, shoes, purses, etc.  They are the perfect “take along” project that you can do in the car, in a waiting room, etc.

Rick-Rack twisted together.  I have a large collection of Rick-Rack and what fun it is to take two similar sized pieces and weave or twist them together for lots of fun possibilities in embellishing just about anything.  It makes a pretty unique trim that is easy to accomplish.

The pattern as it is shown on cover:

Here’s the dress with the added embellishments of  the covered buttons down the front, the yo-yo flower, the twisted rick-rack for the stem, and the piping that is sewn around the neck and arm openings.  To stitch the rick-rack down, I used little pink seed beads to anchor the corners of the rick-rack.

This is a wonderful pattern for little girls and also includes a “petal hat”.  I covered another button and sewed it on the top of the hat where all the petal seams meet at the top.  This little outfit won’t fit my little granddaughter for several more months and I have enough scraps left that I may just get a dress made for one of my dolls so they will have matching outfits.  I will definitely have to get a picture of that.  Don’t be afraid to take a pattern and add to it so that it will be one of a kind with your own personal touches.  Here are a few more shots of “The Petal Dress”