Sewing again…UFOs and tips

I’m back in the groove of sewing once more… finally! I’m working on kid clothes and things for myself but after a couple more projects Ill be tackling the doll UFOs once more and adding patterns. I take the bus to work and have found that I now have 2 hours to fill and staring out the window is boring after a while especially when it’s foggy and you can’t even see across a divided highway! With my friend Lindsay as the driving force we made a list of all the projects and pieces of fabric, notions and trims I had… I’ve since found more but it was a start! Here’s my tip for the day or more likely tips:

  1. make a list of everything you have and when you bring home more add to the list… it does NOT have to be a fancy relational database or even a spreadsheet it can simply be a notebook with a list. Just keep it updated!
  2. clear plastic envelopes are MARVELOUS for holding patterns and stray pattern pieces and file and stand up better than Ziplocks in a tote or box for storage
  3. go through and finish UFOs before kids outgrow things that are cut out! Now dolls don’t grow but most of us have at least someone in our lives we sew for that grows, a fur pal, neighbor or family kid, volunteer work or ourselves. Finish UFOs before it’s too late!
  4. finishing UFOs clears space for MORE fabric and provides a sense of accomplishment in addition to saving money by actually using the fabric collection you have

Back to finishing up a UFO!

Basic Man’s T-Shirt Tutorial for 1″ Scale Dolls

T-shirt Diagram

T-shirt Diagram

Body Length
Measure from center front waist to center back waist over shoulder to get length then add ½”for a hem.

Body Width
Measure from under arm to under arm across the broadest part of the chest and add 1/8” for ease Neck

Fold in 1/4 and cut a small circle. Enlarge the circle until it goes over the doll’s head with a little resistance if using paper towel to make your pattern

Measure from the shoulder to the start of the porcelain arm or desired sleeve length then measure around the man’s arm and add 1/4” total

Computer Drafting

It is created with basic rectangles and an oval which any graphics program can do the trick is to center the neck hole. To do the neck on this pattern by computer I measured the head width from ear to ear holding the tape measure over the top of his head and then measured from nose to back of the head and drew an oval those dimensions. I also eliminated the seam allowance necessity by butting the sleeves against the body.

The Ladder Stitch

I will start this off with a short story. My younger sister Jennifer is responsible for this simple way of explaining the ladder or invisible stitch. At the time she was 6 and learning to sew under big sister’s (me) tutelage. Keep in mind that I, up to this point even had trouble with the stitch that our mom had tried multiple times to teach me. It was Jennifer who managed to understand it and then simplify it.

I’ll explain it as my sister did to her first grade class many years ago as it was a *very good* way to explain it (Don’t take that as an insult it’s just how old she was when we taught her to sew and how quick she picked up how to do things and how she simplified it so that her peers could understand!)

She said to imagine the two folded edges of your project as river banks with the space in between as a river. Your stitches need to follow the river’s edge (fabric fold) and then make a straight bridge across the river (space between), travel along the opposite bank (inside the fold of the fabric) and make another bridge back to the other side, repeating this all the way down the river (space you are closing up). Every few stitches (2-3) you pull and make the bridges pull the river together. At age 6 this was a good analogy and worked to teach her first grade and second grad classes how to sew.

My mom was a camera nut and helped during that day in the classroom and got this on tape so I got to see a replay of it after I got home from school. At the time I was the one teaching her to sew. My sister is now 26 and sews in half-inch scale. Below is a diagram from one of my other patterns that illustrates to help with visualization.

Ladder Stitch DiagramPlease let me know if you have any comments or questions on this tutorial!

Finally feel like drafting….

Over the last 3 years I’ve been swamped with work, kids and college. At the start of summer this year I graduated college and all summer just did not have the energy to sew, draft or design much. I’ve had a couple e-mails lately about Ken, Model Muse and Boy Bratz patterns…. I’m now staring at the first new dolls I’ve had in about 3 years! I also have a partial draft for an outfit for Kitty Collier staring at me so I am going to finish the rework of the website and start on some new drafts! How long this will take depends on how much energy I have each day after work and on weekends still but hopefully I’ll start posting some new patterns later this year or early next year!

I’m off to measure my new ladies and gentlemen and work on some other items!

Alaska State Fair 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005


This year I decided it was time to start entering the Alaska State Fair. I’ve entered multiple County and local fairs for handcrafted items over the years growing up but not at the state level. It was time and my hard work paid off this year in the form of a first place ribbon on one of my nicest items I’ve done yet… Little Bo Peep and her Sheep otherwise known as Kitty Collier and Tiny Betsy.

When I find some time I’ll post the photos of them at the fair with their ribbon. The judge’s comment on my form was “cute sheep girl” and I do have to admit Betsy is cute!

Both patterns appeared in the Halloween Issue of International Doll Magazine (No longer published).

On dolls and scales and magazines….

One of the focuses of my business is dollhouse miniatures… to answer the questions on scale.

1″ or 1/12 scale is the most common with tons of Yahoogroups for it and other online forums including Small Stuff Digest which is where I got my start… large international list for nothing but miniatures (not just 1″ scale though)

1/2″ or 1/24 scale is smaller and has gained popularity in the last couple of years. The reason for this is the 1″ scale people are running out of space for minis! This is a niche market that has a growing base. I’m not saying 1″ scale is on it’s way out just that 1/2″ is growing in popularity due to the main body of crafters being retired or *my* elders (I’m not yet 40) and on space and money budgets that are shrinking.

1/4 scale is also popular but I’m not up on it much but I can say it is extremely tiny … if you’ve ever seen the original 80’s Poly Pockets those come close to the correct scale or a Z scale train is right. This is a dollhouse scale for inside a 1″ scale dollhouse!

On the larger end of the scale is 1/6 scale which is Barbie and the number of adult collectors wishing there were more things for her that weren’t Barbie Pink has a huge base.

Then there is the Tonner and larger 15-18″ fashion dolls that would dearly love more items including houses and such for their dolls.

As for places to learn about miniatures or dolls….. There are many doll magazines:

  • Doll Magazine
  • American Miniaturist
  • Doll Crafter
  • Miniature Collector
  • Dolls
  • Doll Costuming

and a whole host of other magazines that deal with various subjects within the doll or miniature world.

I’ve been into dolls since 1988 when my mom started her doll business. I have been seriously into collector dolls and miniatures for about the last 8 years.

I should also add in something about reborn dolls, re-painted dolls and art dolls… there are lots of those out there too.Those who redo, repaint or sculpt their own dolls that need and use props… you might just have a niche in one of these categories.

New Doll….

PatternsI am incredibly excited… for the first time in over a year I bought myself a new doll. Having a red headed Gene standing here in her undies staring at me is slowly motivating me to dig out my closets again and play with patterns & fabric and slowly start putting things back online. My Advanced Discourse class is inspiring me to write again and I am updating all my blogs and may even tackle updating some small portions of my website as time allows.

Hopefully soon… very soon I’ll have a new outfit to show off… if not for a doll then for myself as I am really itching to sew and craft once more.

Tips & Tricks

Hints Tips & Tricks


Cut out paper patterns with white space and use scotch tape to hold the pieces down. Then use a rotary cutter to cut each piece on the single layer of fabric. This requires a little more work for reversing pieces and cutting enough of each piece but the accuracy of the rotary cutter is worth it for the effects for sewing.


Use a pin to mark dart tips & ends and then use a water, air or chalk marker to mark where the pins are so that if the pins fall out before you can match them you still have the markings.


Baste darts or any seam where the fabric might slip with simple pinning. Basting saves needles and your machine along with producing better results with seams. It allows you to ‘see’ the design come together and try it up to the doll for fitting and any adjustments you deem necessary. If the fabric is very fragile basting instead of pinning will leave fewer pin marks, which on some fabrics can be hard to get out.

As I learn more I’ll post further ideas and suggestions for sewing. I am by no means a beginner but I’ve just never really thought about writing out all my ideas and things I’ve discovered over the years.

New Patterns and New Lessons

As I work here in my little studio I’ve discovered a few things…. testing in ‘real fabric’ vs muslin is an OK thing to do at least for larger dolls. My reasoning behind this is that if a pattern doesn’t turn out just right for say Kitty the same pattern with minor modifications manages nicely to fit a smaller doll like Brenda Starr. Besides that the ‘goofs’ are perfect to give to my daughter to play with as she doesn’t mind imperfections in my work that usually go with a first run through a pattern as I draft and redraft and sew and re-sew a project.

It’s funny I start with a design for one doll and eventually I have the same design or a variation of it for 2 or more others as well. I just love designing and sewing for my dolls.

New Years Goals… notice not resolutions?

I plan on updating and posting to this site far more often especially on days when things are going right… on days when things go wrong I’ll probably post that to my Lessons Learned in Business blog (removed). In fact I plan on having several blogs about projects, different dolls and things learned about them like Ken… I have an old Ken (duplicate of one I had as a child), a newer Ken (again a duplicate of the Ken I had as a teen) and then there’s the Jude Deveraux Ken I just recently bought…there’s a lot of differences in the bodies… wouldn’t think it since hey it’s Ken and he’s not the big seller Barbie is! But hey I’ve got to learn about dolls by playing… errr working with them if I’m going to draft and dress them.

Anyway, my current goals now are to teach the 101 Mini Drafting class in early January. Teach 102 after the move (from an apt to hopefully a house at the end of January) in late February. Then start development and testing of my 103, 104, and 105 classes for March, April & May thus giving me time to develop part if not all of the 200, 201 and 202 classes for summer. Now with my brother getting married in June, my sister Graduating High School in June and my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary also in June the likelihood of my actually teaching in June is next to nill at this point so I’m looking at having the 200 series start in July.

Also on the drafting table for me is the various patterns for my column in Dolls Magazine. The first one is out and was a Fantasy dress & cloak pattern in 1” scale. The next….well it has a theme of “romance” and I already mentioned one of the dolls I did a pattern for earlier so I won’t spoil the surprise yet. I have more patterns for a baby and another lady along with a child that I’ll be doing which will take me all the way to the summer issue. Therefore, it’s one of the more important things to get accomplished.

Just that short list is a lot to get done by June so as I finish I’ll update. Keep an eye out!