Ryan and Lael wedding dolls

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Ryan and Lael will be getting married next month in Woods Hole, so I made them a pair of dolls as a wedding present. They met here as children, when they were Woods Hole summer kids.  And this wedding will join two families that have been coming every summer for generations.  I’ve always been a bit jealous of the summer people, who seem to appreciate their time in Woods Hole more than we year-rounders. For them, it’s special and magical, like summer camp, where you play and socialize, without the regular responsibilities associated with your “winter” home.

It was clear that a conventional white gown and tuxedo would not represent this couple’s theatrical leanings and spirit of adventure. Since the bride and groom have more than a passing interest in medieval history, I dressed them in period attire. Their costumes were so much fun to research and figure out how to make.

As with the Glen and Susan dolls, these figures use some techniques, such as wig-making, that will be included in the new edition of Felt Wee Folk. Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures will be coming out in the spring of 2015.

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Glen and Susan tie the knot

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Glen and Susan surprised everyone when they got married in a small private ceremony last December. They are a special couple, who are happy to have found each other at this stage in their lives. Now, they are planning to celebrate their union with their friends and family at their home in June.  I thought that they could use a pair of portrait dolls for the occasion, perhaps as cake toppers. I delivered the dolls a few days ago and you should have seen the look on their faces!

How do you like their eye glasses? It’s the first time I’ve tried making them and now I want to experiment with more ways of bending wire. And how about this photograph? I am so lucky to have my husband Rob document my work at a moment’s notice. We set them up outside in the periwinkle patch and took their photograph at different times of day, with natural lighting. I really like the way this one came out–it shows the dolls in a scene, but you can see the details, too. These dolls use some new techniques, like wig making (not the eyeglasses-they were made after the manuscript was handed in) and clothing, which will be included in my new book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures (Spring 2015). Until then, the original edition, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects is still available from my Etsy Shop here.

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2 new baby jackets

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Within my sphere of friends, two new baby boys have recently been born. So, I made them each a little jacket, which is my go-to baby gift. I love going through my stash and picking out fabric to use for the outside, lining and bias edging. I’ve used the same Simplicity pattern 9647 for about 30 years, adapting it with cotton quilt batting padding, so it’s warm. Their names are chained stitched on the front. Welcome to the world, Eli and Kieran!

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Eli’s jacket

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Eli was born a few weeks ago to a librarian friend. It  was a good reason to get out the sewing machine and find some suitable fabric in my stash for a baby jacket. What satisfaction to complete a project in an afternoon! I’ve been making this style jacket for about 30 years and have recently taken to embroidering their name on the front. Welcome to the world, Eli!

Last year my friend Terry and I made a quilt for baby Teo, which you can see here.

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baby Teo’s quilt

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Terry and I finished the last details of the baby quilt on Saturday, May 25th at around 12:30 pm on Saturday. We later found out that little Teo was born at almost exactly the same time we declared the quilt ready to go. We haven’t met him yet, but we hope to deliver the quilt some time soon. See closeups of the quilt squares here.

We’ve had a wonderful time working on this quilt. Over the past 4 months, it’s flown across the country and back again, easily fitting on my lap as I chain-stitched on the plane and in airport waiting areas. Curious stewardesses wanted to know all about it. And, when our plane was low on cabin pressure and had to land at the nearest airport, I held onto it as we quickly descended. It was a safe landing and we were able to get home on another plane.

And baby Teo has also landed safely. Welcome to this world, Prince of Bees! Teosquilt

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baby quilt in process

My friend Terry and I are at it again! We’ve collaborated many times over the years and our recent projects include the Woods Hole Village Quilt, nursery rhyme cookies and a wonderful wedding cake. Now we’re making a baby quilt for a friend who’s due to have her baby boy any day. Terry pieced and sewed together a trapezoidal grid of bright cotton fabric and I embroidered designs that had a connection to the baby’s parents. There’s their red truck towing their boat and their chickens and honey bees, along with other fun images that a baby can identify. The chain-stitched objects are from 1 to 2 inches in size. For the past month, I’ve been posting a new embroidery from this quilt every day on my Facebook page. Most of the quilt was embroidered in airport waiting rooms and aboard airplanes during our recent trip to California. When Terry puts the layers together, we’ll figure out how we’re going to quilt it. I’ll show the completed project when we’re finished. I hope that we get it done before he goes to college!

penguin pot holders

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Our trip to Antarctica has produced penguin fever! Luckily the local fabric shop had some penguin fabric to make pot holders, which I traditionally give for  Christmas. See a tutorial about making my style of pot holder here. I picked fabric scraps from my stash that reminded me of the Antarctic landscape, including a dark purple and blue Mari Mekko design I’ve had forever.

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Old cotton mattress pads work well for the padding.

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Striped sear sucker fabric cut on the bias finishes the outside edge.

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It’s time to wrap them in the penguin wrapping paper I found at the super market. Merry Christmas!

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Wedding Banner: Kat & Devin

Last Sunday, we had the pleasure of attending Kat and Devin’s wedding.The bride’s family and my family have been closely connected through several generations. Kat’s grandparents and my grandparents were next door neighbors in Woods Hole in the 1940′s and our families have shared our love of folk dancing, folk music, sailing, and art ever since. Kat is an artist and her husband seems to be a free spirit. Here’s a picture of the dancing wedding couple.

As usual,  I made them a wedding banner for a gift. I really lucked out with the felt  colors I chose, since the wedding’s predominant color was purple/lavender.  I bent wire into the letters of their names and then picked out some decorative objects and beads. The pinkish square object in the center, between their names is a cool leather button I bought years ago.

I then wrapped the wire letters with embroidery floss and stitched the square wavy edged name panel with variegated pima cotton.

I sewed the wire letters and objects to the felt piece.

Then I stitched around the outside edge of the felt  banner piece and sewed the square panel in place. I added some fun “dalmatian” stone beads in a zig zag pattern.

I added some bead  and shell embellishments to the scalloped bottom edge and sewed the wrapped wire wedding date to the felt.

I picked some metal beads from India that I thought would bring an interesting texture to the hanging part of the banner.

A section of a strangled bittersweet vine serves as a hanger. I screwed in tiny metal eyes and hung the banner. I hope Kat and Devin like the banner. It was a lovely wedding and I wish the bride and groom many years of happiness!

Baby Banner (Eliza Jane)

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My cousin John and his wife Mariana had a baby girl on March 1st, so I had to drop everything and make a baby banner for Eliza Jane. I took photos along the way, which give an idea of my process. It’s like the wedding banners I’ve been making for a few years. You can see all of them here.

I first made a simple pattern, with her name, birth date and weight written out. Then I cut out a smaller felt square and bent wire to form the letters and numbers.

I wrapped the wire with 2 strands of variegated embroidery floss, hiding the knots behind the curled ends. In this case, wire had to overlap to make the Z. I tried making the fancier lower case script Z, but it was hard to read, so I went with the simpler zigzag style. Below you can see how I made an orange stripe with another thread on top of the embroidery floss in JANE.

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I like using variegated thread to edge the felt.

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I made a narrow panel for a sheep button and some leaf beads.

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Glass leaf beads and a chain stitched vine fill the space between the words.

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I’ve had this ceramic sheep button for about 30 years. It’s so satisfying to put it to use in just the right place.

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I braided some Greek leather that I bought at a bead show and made a strap to hang the banner. Working with the leather reminded me of making gimp projects at camp. Remember gimp? What a weird material!

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Welcome to the world Eliza Jane!

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Piano Pin

An old friend asked me to make a pin for his wife. Even though I don’t usually do commissions, I couldn’t say no to this request.  

David Wiesner (the amazing children’s book illustrator) and I were in the same class at RISD (1978) and he bought some of my pins back then. See posts about my pins here. He gave them to his future wife, Kim Kahng, who was a student at Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia during that time. At RISD, David and I were lucky enough to have David McCaulay as a teacher. See the pyramid pin I gave him here. Several years ago, David and Kim’s apartment was destroyed by a fire and everything was lost, including the pins.  Years passed and David was reminded of the pins when we recently got back in touch. He thought it would be nice for Kim to have a new pin. I found out that she is a pianist and since I had just returned from visiting Istanbul, where carpets are sold at every street corner, I made a piano flying on a carpet. The pin is about 1 1/4″ x 2″. As you can see I made use of hooks and eyes. David reports that Kim is wearing the pin every day! I’m amazed at how the pins I made 35 years ago still hold memories.