Monday, 30 September 2013

The Young Widow - Work In Progress

So most of this post is in pictures as I wanted to show you as best I can how many layers go into my dolls when I dress them. She's still not finished and I have more to add, but my Young Widow is starting to look like herself.
This doll is one of my largest dolls, one of my very detailed dolls, and when she's done she'll have a gravestone with her with a grave bell. A grave bell was used by those worried that they would be buried alive so that they could ring for help. But was the Husband the one that was worried, or is the Widow the one that wants to make sure he's gone?

Meet my Young Widow - She looks quite innocent at the moment, but I'm not too sure...
Here you can see her in her shift and drawers.
It doesn't seem quite right to me that she's decided to wear frilly lacy be-ribboned drawers. Who does she think will see them? Or who does she hope?
Now in her corset and petticoats she's looking a little more respectable.
Many of the older women are very jealous of her tiny waist.
She has been following the rules. Well those she can't get away with not following :S
She's ditched her crinoline for old-fashioned layers, so she wears 4 petticoats.
The first of plain white cotton, then one of rough stiff calico with a wide ruffle at the hem to add the bulk to her skirts, next one plain in fine cream cotton, then another in the same fabric trimmed with fine lace.
After all the white bright layers my Widow now has on her underskirt and the start of her bodice and sleeves.
Her underskirt has layers of ruffles sewn onto a dark red cotton as she knows how to use fine fabrics well to minimise wastage. The red won't show once her dress is finished.
This ladies bodice is very plain at the moment, but will have a silky layer and lace added to make it more fashionable. Her sleeves are fitted with puff shoulders trimmed with silky ruffles at the wrist and under the puff.
Next on the list for this lady is her split ruffled over-skirt and all of the detailing that she needs. Then I'll be on to hair and accessories, including her husbands gravestone and bell.
Hope your having fun :)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Tenby and A New Doll While I Wait

My Cris flying a toy plane at Tenby Beach - Photo taken by J Pilgrim
It feels like I've been away from home for ages, but it was only a few short days I spent away over this weekend with all of my best friends. I've not laughed so hard in years as I have this 3 days. And it's been so good to catch up with everyone.
The apartment we stayed at was at the site of a tunnel once used by Henry Tudor to escape to France. A great big Georgian town house which we had the top two floors of. The views from the windows looking out over the small harbour and the sea beyond. A great big table for us all to eat at and a lovely homely feel.
View From the Window - Photo taken by J Pilgrim
Even at this time of the year Tenby is such a pretty place. The colours on the water and mists rolling in making it all feel very mysterious and giving every view a special feel.
Sarah, Becky and Me all dressed up to celebrate Sarah's 40th Birthday :)
As always I'm still waiting for things to arrive so that I can work on my dolls that are sitting waiting for me. Nelferch still needs her golden comb which I ordered from the other side of the world. And my Lucrezia still needs her accessories as well as my special project which I'm waiting for fabric for.

Of course I'm no good at waiting and just have to have sewing to do. So with Halloween coming fast I got an idea to finally make a doll with a grave bell (used so that a buried person could ring for attention if they found themselves buried alive). This very young widow in her weeds will stand dutifully next to her husbands stone and bell. But I'm not convinced that she's as good and pure as she looks. You should see the frilly fancy coloured drawers!

I'm saving her photos just at the moment so that I can add them in a step by step in a later post.




Monday, 16 September 2013

May June and July Peg Dolls

So working on dolls this week has been pretty messed up again, but I’m starting to get back on top of things and back into my system. I’m still waiting on some bits and pieces for Nelferch and Lucrezia which should teach me to be more organised and not expect things I order from Asia to arrive within a week. And I’m still on the lookout for the perfect fabric for my Lady of Shalott, although things are occurring which should lead me to just the right thing J

I was shocked and surprised last night when my lovely Hubby said from no-where that he wouldn’t mind taking me into Swansea (where he hates to go) if I wanted to go to the fabric shop Lee Mills. Now this store is packed full to the rafters with every kind of fabric in every colour and weight, bolts stacked up in racks and leaning against walls making narrow walkways and towering walls of treasure. Cris himself finds the place claustrophobic, but I just love it there. And I’m gonna make sure I take him up on his offer very soon so I can find myself some lovely fabrics for future dolls.

I’ve been working on three of the peg dolls for the set I’m making my friend Sarah for her Christmas Tree.
She wants a doll for every month of the year and I sort of got stuck on May and needed to catch up. May was difficult as Sarah asked me to make a peggy of her little baby Travis, who I’m sad to say I never met. The poor little boy passed away at 10 days old  after a huge fight for his life. Leaving the family devastated with only a few photos to remember his short time with us by. As you can imagine the thought of making him as a peg doll filled me with dread and I had no idea where to start. I couldn’t leave him until later. That would just be putting it off and Sarah deserved for me not to do that. But where to start???

In the end I grabbed some fabrics and the doll with the gentlest expression I could manage and sat myself down promising not to move until he was dressed. And in the end he turned out to just happen by himself. Between us we choose a baby blue romper for him which I sewed form soft flannel and embroidered a start on the chest. Sarah chose soft blue marabou for his hair, cut short, and I added a pair of transparent cicada wings making him as an angel watching over his family. I’d like to try a bigger version of Travis so that I can add more details and include more memories.

June I was told to make myself as my birthday is in June. So what could be better than a 50’s red spotted dress with a matching hair bow. I so need to find myself a dress like this in my size, or even make one. I’m not sure if she actually looks like me but she certainly loons cute lol J

Of course making Me for June meant I needed to make our lovely friend Becky for July, so I dressed he in a smart black dress timed with gold lace and added her striking red hair and a necklace made from turquoise seed beads and a faceted glass bead in the centre.

I’m still missing Aug, but Sarah’s son Thom needs to decide on that one as it’s his choice. And I’ve made a larger doll for Sept as it’s Sarah’s 40th birthday and she asked for a doll she could use as a cake topper. I made a doll with lovely dark brown eyes and dressed it first in lace undies before I started her layered peach cotton and lace dress. Making it sort of Vintage 60’s styles and finishing her off with chocolate brown marabou hair.
I’m happy with them as long as Sarah is happy with them. And she says she is so that’s alright J

Over the last few days I’ve gone back to working on my Cerridwen doll for Linda, embroidering a Celtic Tree of Life in black thread on the back of her black cloak. No Witch can be complete without a cloak and hat and broom, so Cerrid needs one she can hang from the nail on her cabinet and wear on cold nights spent flying across the moon.

Sewing black on black isn’t easy, but it was well worth the effort to get this pattern included in her wardrobe. It really does suit her so well, and I’ll be adding tiny jet beads to highlight the design.
Thinking ahead to what’s to come I’ve also worked up a pair of drawers and a shift for a new large doll I’ve been thinking of for a long time.
This young lady is a widow in her weeds, but as her drawers are pink with fancy lace trim I’m not too sure she’s as innocent and chaste as she first appears.
She’s very worried about being buried alive (or maybe she just wants to make sure her husband in his grave is truly dead) as she stands next to the headstone in which she’s had set a grave bell. It’s a popular invention in her time, and made so that a rope is attached around the wrist of the dear departed so if they move the bell will ring. I mean, it’s not unheard of for people walking through graveyards to here the moans and knocking from new graves as the unfortunate woken corpse tries to call attention to his plight

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

From My Nest On The Sofa

From my nest on the sofa, hiding from the world and recovering from a nasty icky bug, I thought you might like to see what I was working on before the germs hit me.

My little Nelferch is just waiting on a golden comb to hang from her waist and for me to go out into the garden to harvest some of the seed pods and herbs for her medicine bag.
Hand beaded with real pearls, vintage opal glass beads,
and 24 caret gold lined seed beads.

Who Am I? This poor lady can’t answer her own question and even the Doctor doesn’t know.
Her memory is lost and gone and nowhere to be found. Where she comes from or where she’s been is a mystery and she’d love nothing better than to find out something; Even if it’s just her own name. Besides all that she’s very happy and a very sweet lady, she likes to sing and can be cheeky and a little naughty. She wants to travel and make new friends in the hope that someone will be able to help her remember Who She Is.

Who wears cream cotton underwear trimmed with lace and a well fitted corset under her green and black stripped gown. Her dress is trimmed with black lace and satin ribbon and has ruffled lace cuffs. She has a jet bead necklace.
Who? is available now at my Etsy store -

Monday, 2 September 2013

Unfinished Doll Business

The Sunset Last Night Over The Valley
It's not usual for me to have more than one or two unfinished projects around me at one time, but I've found myself surrounded by dolls in various states of undress, waiting for hair, accessories and general fussing with to get them ready to be shown and listed in my store.
A Victorian Chimney Sweep
I've spent this weekend getting to grips with things and trying to pick up the pieces of my organisation again. After making up lists of things to do I realised I had 6 dolls waiting for me - My Chimney Sweep, Lucrizia Borgia, Nelferch, Lady of the Lake, a doll names Who Am I?, and my Lady of Shalott, along with a special project I've been working on for a little while. I've managed to get my little Sweep here all finished and listed in my store - He'd make a wonderfully unusual wedding gift as it's considered lucky to get a kiss for a sweep on your wedding day so should bring luck to any new couple.
Nelferch - Sleeves trimmed with ivory silk velvet.
I couldn't decide at first if I would make my Nelferch, Lady of the Lake in line with the Arther legends or in line with the old Welsh Fairy Tale of the young man that fell in love and married Nelferch, only to loose her. In the end I decided to go with the old Welsh version as I really love the book by W Jenkyn Thomas. It's full of wonderful old stories and many that most people find familiar. And I plan to include an old copy of the book that's in good condition with this doll once she's finished.
Rich lace decorated with 24caret gold lined seed beads, rice pearls and vintage glass opals
After using the stunning 24caret gold lined seed beads given to me by Linda of DragonsWire on our joint doll project I couldn't resist trying to find more to use on Nelferch. These tiny little beads are like working with tiny points of light, and they work just perfectly for Nelferch as they look just like glints on the shimmering surface of a lake. I was so happy when they arrived yesterday and I could add them. With these tiny gold lined beads I've used Small rice pearls and vintage opal glass beads to decorate the lace that decorates her skirts and to trim her bodice. I need just the right colour of marabou for her hair so will have to wait until they arrive. And I've also ordered her a tiny golden comb to hang from her waist as is mentioned in the tale. I love her already and am so pleased with how she's coming out. I can't wait to get her final pieces added and to see her come to life. And I might even try out a Juliet cap for her.
I'm now working on Who Am I? to give her a gown in a lovely striped green and black fabric I found for the petticoats of my special project and designs for the beading I want to add to Lucrizia's gown to add richness and detail to her trims. I have little bits and pieces of fabric and trimmings  on order for all of these dolls and am working on what I can while I wait for them to arrive.
My Special Project in silk underwear - Drawers, shift and corset.
Showing off her lavender drawers
A silk under-petticoat and purple satin covered crinoline
Looking cheeky in her lacy frills
Showing off her stripy petticoat under her fine petticoat with a wide box pleated hem