Ruth: A Two Sided Doll

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On Reid’s birthday post, I mentioned I’d just received the beautiful book Wee Wonderfuls for my birthday. I jumped right into using it, sewing him Lumpy the Dragon and the Doxie Dog for a friend. But as I was choosing those projects, I fell head over heels for the vintage two sided doll, called Margot in the book. I knew I’d be making one for Grace for her birthday.

Asleep - braids and lace

Because my sewing stuff was already packed and shipped to our new home, I decided that she would be the perfect car project as we drove well over 1000 miles. She is nearly entirely hand sewn – the only thing done by machine is the white cotton body. Originally that was hand sewn too but the vintage pillow case I’d used ripped to shreds. I tried again with plain quilters cotton after we unpacked.

Awake - apron and buns

This is the most hand sewing I’ve done in a long time. I think I like it, though. Hand work is easier to pick up and set down than machine work, which always feels like if I can’t sew for an hour it isn’t worth my time. There is something gratifying about grabbing handwork for five minutes here and there. It feels so productive!

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All the fabric was scraps from my stash. I love seeing them used again. The apron is a dress of Grace’s; the chambray is always around; the green is from a new Sorbetto tank of mine; the lace was on Grace’s Christmas dress the years she was 3 and 4. The only thing I needed to purchase was a skein of yarn for the hair. For some reason all I have is neon or dishcloth yarn.

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Grace thinks this doll is pretty cool – she named her Ruth right away. Grace has a crib full of other dolls but Ruth is definitely unique. The others are all babies; Ruth is, according to Grace, 14.  She’s a big girl for my rapidly growing girl. She wears and apron and “loves to help work.” When all the work is done she goes to sleep in her beautiful night gown. (The original pattern has one side plain and  one fancy, but awake and asleep seemed better to me.)

Braided bun

I’m very pleased with how Ruth turned out. I’m even more pleased with watching Grace play with her – Ruth seems to be the perfect channel for all the Little House on the Prairie books we’ve been reading lately. It is an exciting season to be Grace’s mommy as she grows and becomes ever more complex. And now she has a doll suited for this next stage of playing.

Lumpy the Dragon

A year ago, the most incredible thing happened: I got to become mommy to another tiny human, this time a boy. Now, I’ve absolutely loved being a girl mommy. We snuggle and read and cook together and she picks pretty floral fabric to turn into dresses. I’ll be honest, I was a wee bit nervous when we found out #2 was a boy. But as he grows and starts showing me who he is, I’m learning that I’m going to really, really like being a boy mommy just as much.

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When Reid was about 6 months old, he declared war on the Tupperware cabinet. He is violent – no two lids will remain stacked together; no piece of plastic is to be within touching distance of the shelf. We started joking that the Tupperware cabinet was like a cave and he was hunting a dragon deep inside. And just like that, he became our Reidy the Dragon-Slayer. So it was only necessary that I make him a dragon for his birthday!

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This pattern is “Koji” found inside the new Wee Wonderfuls book by Hillary Lang. She’s got an adorable rag doll blog and Etsy shop; this book has a collection of 24 projects in her style to make yourself. I got it for my birthday and have poured over the beautiful photographs of charming creatures basically every day since then. I love the variety of shapes, sizes, and techniques included in the book. I could make a house full of dolls each completely unique. But first, a dragon.

She describes “koji” as both cute and creepy at the same time; I think I’d agree.

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The Dragon Slayer had to defend his city from the monstrous beast!

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The pattern is a little awkward with shaping, but sewed together alright with generous use of pins and patience. The bottom piece is too small though so I had to gather the back onto it. I also had a heck of a time stuffing the little arms and legs – I’m pretty sure that’s my own fault. The extremities fall a little flat and he can’t sit up without being propped. But as she says in the book, sometimes the imperfections of a toy are what makes us love it.

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My only modification was to embroider the mouth instead of use felt. The only other color felt I had was pink and that’s just not very boy like! This mouth is inspired by the Yeti project in the book Stitch Love (which I made my husband for Christmas).

Reid loves it. I love it. And I’m quite certain I’ll be back to this book repeatedly – in fact, Grace’s birthday present is another Wee Wonderful already in process! And thankfully, that one is almost entirely hand sewn which will come in handy (ahem…) during our cross country move. I’ve still got birthday outfits to finish and post but that might not happen until after; I do, after all, have to pack everything and get us there!

Toddler Ruffle Tote [Tutorial]

When there’s 5″ of snow on the ground and an upcoming birthday party, my first thought is “What can I make with what’s already in the house?” After a quick poll of some internet friends, the obvious choice was a pretty little bag. Every little girl I’ve met loves sorting through purses, dragging them behind her and filling them with oodles of treasures. Here’s what I came up with:

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My rendition is dark denim for the base plus an Amy Butler cut for ruffles and a purple sparkle for one ruffle and the lining. But I can picture this is so many different designs! Denim with stripes and polka dots… white eyelet… or even ombre (super trendy!). You can also expand the bag to make it bigger – it’s currently only 6x7x2.

Here’s what you need to replicate the look:

1. Cut all your pieces – 2 9″ squares of body fabric, 2 9″ squares of lining, 2 5×12″ strips for handles, and your ruffle strips – 3″ wide by however ruffly you want them to be. Mine are 22″ long and I would have been happier with more, tho this definitely has some nice ruffle to it.

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2. This is when you pull away from the other tutorial – you need to embellish the bag before sewing the bottom. Sew two opposite sides of the body right sides together to make a tube. Finish the edges of your ruffle strips however you want (I used a narrow edge foot. Other choices are turn and top stitch, a decorative stitch, pinking shears, zigzag… anything!) then sew them into tubes.

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I love my narrow edge foot!

3. Lengthen your stitch as far as it can go and stitch a line of long stitches about 1/2″ from one edge of your ruffles. This is for gathering. You can gather them all at once if you want, but it’s important to sew them onto the bag one by one from the bottom up. Mark the body of the bag for ruffle placement – I marked at the top edge which as you’ll see is NOT the sewing line. Mark 4″, 5.5″, and 7″ from an open end. Slip the first ruffle onto the bag and line it up with the 4″ marks. Gather as needed by pulling the bobbin thread of the line you sewed. Stitch right next to your gathering line.

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(If you’re wondering, I like that little 1/2″ edge on the ruffles a lot. It helps the ones above it stand out from the bag and gives a pretty look on the top ruffle. You can try more or less of an edge if you want a different look.)

4. Repeat with the middle ruffle (5.5″ marks) and then the top ruffle (7″). Once your ruffles are all attached, close up the bottom and pick up with Step 4 on the Shiny Happy World tutorial (making the bottom).

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5. This is the fun step: Find a super cute toddler to model for you!

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Super quick, super easy, super cute! I can’t wait to give it to our little friend at her birthday today! And then home to make another, because Grace didn’t want to give it up 😀

Happy Sewing!