Monday, 26 May 2014

Gwyneth - A Traditional Welsh Lady

Gwyneth is the first doll I’ve made in a traditional welsh costume, which is odd as I’m a Welsh girl through and through, living and working in a beautiful part of Wales. I’ve named her Gwyneth after my mother, and I’m very attached to her. She came out just as I pictured her in my mind, and I know I’ll have to make more dolls in my countries traditional costume.

I gave her a traditional Betgwn style dress, the traditional Welsh dress, made in fabric that’s very similar to what my own costume was made from when I was little and getting dressed up for St David’s Day. She can be displayed sitting on a shelf or with her legs tucked under her, or standing with the aid of a doll stand as she has jointed arms and legs.
To anyone that remembers wearing a traditional outfit, or all those with Welsh ancestry, she’d make a lovely friend to bring back memories and heritage. There’s nothing so sweet as seeing all the little girls dressed up in their Welsh costumes and on their way to school or events on 1st March each year. I’m going to have to keep my eye open for an old tall Cwcwll Tal hat and shawl for myself 

My Gweneth wears a traditional Welsh costume. Over her drawers and shift she has two petticoats, the outer one embroidered at the hem with blackwork flowers. Her red pin-tucked petticoat or under-skirt shows between the openings of her red checked Betgwn, which is held open at the sides and back with tiny bronzy buttons to keep it out of the way as she walks and works in her garden.
Around her shoulders she has a clean white cotton wrap tucked into the bodice of her gown, as well as a shawl of pretty red paisley. Her sparkling clean white pin-tucked apron has lace insertion, and she wears her hat tied securely beneath her chin. Gwyneth is very proud of her sewing skills and has made her smart outfit to show off what she can do.

She weighs approx. 180g, and she is 38cm tall in her hat. And is available now at my Etsy shop -

Monday, 19 May 2014

Lady Madeline Spring - Unique Art Doll

The Lady Madeline Spring Art Doll

I made Lady Madeline after seeing the first fresh green gently pushing aside the rich dark earth to reach the sun. I’ve been saving this wonderful Liberty fabric until just the right idea came along, and as soon as Madeline came to mind I knew it had to be hers. After having such a miserable windy wet winter here in Wales the sights and sounds and colors of spring have brought so much freshness and happiness to me. With birds singing in the trees and my strawberries flowering in their pots along the patio I could only think of Madeline with her gentle smile and wistful looks.

I gave Madeline a traditional Betgwn style dress, the traditional Welsh dress, but made in a fabric that would never have been used by the Valley Ladies of old. I wanted to bring the shape a more modern feel while still being Celtic in origin. She’s a large doll, and has a lovely weight to hold. She’d like nothing better than a warm sunny spot in your home to bring smiles and joy to you and those you love, and she can be displayed sitting on a shelf or with her legs tucked under her, or standing with the aid of a doll stand as she has jointed arms and legs.

My Lady Madeline has cotton drawers, a shift and layers of petticoats, one embroidered with a Celtic knot design around the hem. Her green cotton lawn underskirt has row after row of pin-tucks, and her floral green gown is open at the front and folded back to show the white lining, attached with tiny buttons to hold it in place. Around her shoulders she has a silk wrap tucked into her gown, and in her hands and hair she has flowers fresh picked from the garden. Over her gown she wears her pretty white apron with more pin-tucks, lace insertion and a frill at the edge.

She weighs approx. 400g, and she is 53cm tall.

Madeline is now available at my Etsy Shop -

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Madeline And Finishing Projects

A week of sewing Pin-tucks for Madeline and her petticoat is finally done and fitted.

I've also managed to add a pretty piece of silk mousseline around her shoulders before I fitted her gown sleeves and bodice.

I just love this Liberty Tana Lawn fabric I'm using for her Betgwn gown. The colours are strong and well matched, and the fabric is so fine and soft that I can finally see why Liberty fabrics are so expensive. I've always thought before that they weren't worth the money, but I was wrong. The weave of it is very fine and almost feels like silk. And I already have my eye on the next piece I want to buy for a future doll :)

As you can see here the rows of pin-tucks on her petticoat / under-skirt are grouped together so that the number decreases the further up the skirt they go. The Betgwn skirts will be split at the front and slightly at the back so that  a part of this under-skirt will show underneath. They do take a while to sew when you do things by hand. But the effect is just what I wanted for my Madeline.

I added a tiny cuff to the sleeves of Madeline's gown to try and tie the colours together and make them look like all part of one outfit. As well as adding a tiny border at the top of her bodice.

I'm hoping tomorrow to get more done to her outfit once I've done some more work to get some of my poor unfinished dolls ready for the world.
I still need to finish off my poor Storyteller and add the final detail to her outfit and make her her beloved books so that she's ready to go out and tell her tales to any that want to listen to them. And I've also got my little Welsh lady Gwyneth to sort out as well. After months of waiting for her fabric I've had confirmation that it should be here very soon, and I'm really looking forward to getting her all dressed up with her hat and shawl in place.

One of the dolls I have finished is my Siouxsie Banshee, ready to go on her travels to Caron.

I really enjoyed making this outfit and will be planning another kimono once I can gather together the fabrics that I'll need and decide which of the lovely ladies I've read about I'll be making.

I wasn't too sure how the bright red would work with such a strong blue for her eyes, but I thing it adds a strength to her: a fierce determination to succeed and do what was in her heart.

My Katrina, influenced by the Step-Mother character of Sleepy Hollow, and made by custom request for Ashley is also all done as far as I can work on her. And now we are only waiting on the delivery of her crochet wire headpiece to match the full sized one Ashley has made for his fashion collection and made by my lovely friend Linda to see her all finished and ready to travel to Ashley.

I'm in love with Katrina and she's not left her place on display in my living room since she's been dressed, and I'm planning to keep her there for as long as I can :) Or at least until the mask arrives and she finally has to leave me.

It was a complicated dress to make, but I managed to find the most perfect ivory silk taffeta and black net lace that I layered together to make the layers of her gown. There are thousands of tint silver and black seed beads sewn in veins over her skirts and bodice, and over a thousand tiny crystals attached to give her sparkle and make her look glamorous.

I hope your all having a lovely weekend out there. And I hope I'll have lots more to show you this time next week :)

Monday, 5 May 2014

How To: Sew Pin Tucks For Madeline

Sewing pin-tucks by hand is time consuming, and Boring!
But I just love how they look when their done.
My technique can be used either with hand sewing or machine. And I hope someone out there will find it helpful.

As I'm still waiting on my fabric for Gwyneth (5 days to go until I can complain :S) I started in on the next lady that has been waiting in my imagination. While working on Gwyn I thought how nice it would be to make the same sort of costume, with an underskirt and Betgwn style gown, all in the Spring colours that surround me here in Wales right now. This William Morris print fabric is something I've had tucked away for a while waiting until I decided what to do with it. And with it's fresh greens, blues and golden yellow shades looking so much like the Lily of The Valley I have in my garden it was just perfect for my Madeline.

I've had to really ramp up the light and contrast of these photos so that you can see everything as clearly as possible, so please excuse the quality of them. For Madeline's underskirt I decided to use this lovely fresh light green which will show through the front split of her Betgwn, which I'm planning to line in white. I wanted to add some interest and texture without the fussiness of embroidery or lace, so Pin-tucks it is :)

Step 1 - Measure out and draw lines on the wrong side of your fabric (shown on left of this photo, the front is on the right). You want to draw a line for the bottom of the tuck and another for the top so that when the lines are joined the measurement is halved. A measurement of 1cm will give you a 5mm tuck. The next line should then be no more that 5mm away so that the tucks with stack up properly and not lay with all of your sewing lines showing.
My measurements here are 6mm tuck lines which will give me 3mm tucks with a 3mm gap between. I always sew just below my line fractionally so my tucks are always a little wider and the overlay hides my stitches.

Step 2 - The larger gaps between lines you can see will be gaps between groups of tucks to make a decreasing pattern as they go up the skirt. Once all your lines are drawn on the back carefully transfer the bottom tuck line to the front of the fabric so that you have a line to sew along once your tuck is folded. You can do this by holding your fabric up on a window, by measurement, or with pins as I do. Pushing them through the fabric on the line and then turning over the fabric and using a ruler to join the pins in a line.

Step 3 - With the wrong side of the fabric towards you push a pin in from the back on the bottom line of your tuck and then back in at the top line, trying to keep the pins at 90degrees to the line so the fold will crease neatly.

Step 4 - When you turn your fabric over the pin head will be on or very close to your line drawn on the right side of the fabric. It doesn't have to be exact so long as you have something you can follow to sew along. So it can be a little away from your pin so long as you keep all your stitches that distance away from your line. All the lines will be hidden between the tucks if your not using a fabric that you can easily wash. I recommend using silk, silk cotton, cotton lawn, or similar lighter fabric for pin-tucks as it'll crease much neater once you press everything later.

Step 5 - Fold your tuck by pinching the fabric so that the pin holes line up with each other and the pin is straight through the fabric. You can turn the pin to secure the fabric more securely without taking it out.

Step 6 - Sew along your line drawn on the right side of the fabric with the already worked fabric nearest to you and that left to be sewn away from you. When all the tucks are sewn lay the fabric face down on an ironing board and with the iron set to the right temperature for the fabric gently hold the fabric slightly taught so that all your sewing lines lay evenly and press. Then turn and press from the right side of the fabric too.

You can back the pin-tucks to give them more stability or to give a neater finish to something like an apron where you will see both sides. Keep your stitches as small as possible and as straight as you can as any wobbles with make the tuck uneven.

Madeline's petticoats