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Knitting, crocheting, and sewing

This is a cat doll-sized sweater I have been knitting. I might try to crochet on a collar. I adapted the pattern from a Fuzzy Mitten cardigan pattern. Barbara Prime has so many adorable knit animal toy patterns. My knitting skills are very basic, and so I also got myself a helpful book, 200 Knitting Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets by Betty Barden.

I had a couple of knitting and needlework books that just had drawings in them, and some of the techniques just weren’t clicking for me. The photos in this book helped me compare what I was doing to what I was supposed to be doing.

My Grandma G. was an avid crocheter. I had wanted to learn how to knit and crochet when I was younger, but I was too shy to ask her to show me. That’s her above with my dad and my aunt. You can see she had her hands full with them back then.

Grandma G. used to crochet, and possibly knit (I’m not even sure), ponchos for me, like these two. That’s me above in a ship my dad made for me from a refrigerator box. I’m searching for land with my kaleidoscope-telescope. My mom made the hat.

One time when Grandma G. was babysitting me, she secretly took several of my dolls who had lost their outfits. The next time she came over, she replaced them on their shelf wearing all new crocheted dresses, while I wasn’t looking. She never said a word about it either. I just discovered them there.

These are both of my grandmothers at Christmas time. When my Grandma F., on the right, used to babysit for me at her house, we would sew. I learned to sew from my mom mostly, and a little from Grandma F. too. Grandma F. and I would make doll clothes together.

She would use her sewing machine, and I would try to sew on her tiny antique Singer sewing machine. It didn’t work very well, and I would usually end up sewing my doll clothes by hand. She gave it to me before I moved here. I just unwrapped it to photograph it and it still smells just like her attic, where we used to sew.

This is Grandma F. with my grandpa. Grandma F. is still doing pretty well. She’s become more lucid since she’s moved to the home, where they can regulate her diet for type 2 diabetes. My grandparents had all been incorrigible sugar fiends. Grandma and Grandpa F. would eat like little birds at meals, and then they’d snack on cake and brownies with gingerale. Grandma G. would keep a bag of candy in her purse.

Anyway, Grandma F. is doing better. Last week, while talking to me on the phone, she asked me how Liz was. She had just confused me with my mom who had just talked to her, but I felt good that she was asking about me. She says it’s nothing special where she is, but she has friends to talk to and she is doing well. I have been trying to get someone to make the trip to see her with me by car for a very long time now, and I am still hopeful that I will make it up there some time soon. I had a little hope a few months ago when the guy I was dating was going to a college reunion across the river from where my grandma is. He took a scrapbook I made to her, and he took some photos, but, unfortunately, he didn’t want to take me. I’ve been trying to talk my mom into driving (she doesn’t) so we could spell each other. It’s just something I’d like to do with some company.
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Handmade gifts, a retrospective

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and that you are enjoying your holiday weekend. All this talk of shopping got me thinking about holidays past, and I thought it might be fun to share some of the gifts I made and gave to friends and family over the years. In most cases, the patterns I used are old and discontinued, but many can be found through eBay, or similar patterns can be found and substituted. I’ll suggest alternatives where I can. I almost always made the gifts I gave, finding what I could use in my fabric stash, sometimes adding something new.

Doll dresses, like the one above adapted from Vogue 9641 and designed by Linda Carr, are always great fun to make for little girls. Linda Carr designed many wonderful doll and toy patterns for Vogue Patterns. She also had a book, Classic Cloth Dolls, that had an 18 inch doll pattern and clothing. It can still be found on eBay too. The clothes fit the popular American Girl series of dolls as well.

Vogue still has a couple of similar doll dress styles in their Vogue 7564, 18″ (46cm) Doll Prairie Clothing Package . I also would highly recommend Brown House Dolls both for doll dress patterns of all types and sizes, and for cloth doll patterns. Bev Brown does a fantastic job making her patterns, and there are so many designs to choose from. The doll patterns in her international cloth doll series, which can be found under “Cloth Doll Patterns” on her site, come in an 18 inch size. They are a good alternative for anyone wishing to make a cloth doll like the Vogue dolls shown here.

I made this doll back in 1996 from Vogue 8336, also a Linda Carr design. Vogue’s currently available 7418, 18″ (46cm) Rag Doll & Clothes could easily be substituted for the pattern I used.

I hand painted this doll’s face with acrylic paint, using my own drawing. I believe I made her dress from a skirt I once had! I attached fabric flowers to her bonnet.

And I made lots and lots of teddy bears over the years. I made the baby bears below in 2001 from Vogue 9643, another Linda Carr design. Simplicity currently has two similar patterns for clothed teddy bears that are very cute. Check out Simplicity 5247, Vintage 15 and 18 Inch Stuffed Bears, and Simplicity 5461, Classic 18 and 22 Inch Stuffed Bears with Clothes.

I made these cuddly guys from baby blue chenille and white flannel. Boy did that gunk up my machine! Be sure to clean out the lint, from your bobbin case area especially, when you are sewing with chenille and other fuzzy fabrics. Fake fur does the same thing. I used Velcro to close their diapers. I hand embroidered their recipients’ names on their bibs using a chain stitch and some pearl cotton floss.

This ma and pa bear set below was huge! I don’t think I realized just how big they were going to be when I read the pattern envelope. I made them back in 1989 from Vogue 640 and they were 32 and 40 inches tall! Yikes.

I made them from fake fur which I had trimmed, using a pair of scissors, around their muzzles, paw pads, and inner ears. The Simplicity patterns I mentioned above could be made up in fake fur, or, if you’d like a more classic teddy, Vogue currently has another Linda Carr bear design, Vogue 7534, Teddy Bears With Anniversary Medallion Package.

I used plastic safety eyes which are actually very easy to attach. Again, I used pearl cotton for their noses and mouths.

There are just so many teddy bear patterns out there, it’s hard to pick just one or two to show you. Any one of them can be made from a variety of materials for a totally different look. I can easily see the Simplicity bears I mentioned above in the random calicos I combined for these bears below, back in 1993.

These bears were made from McCall’s 6814. This is probably the pattern from which I learned to machine sew. I made every animal on it, the bears, the dog, the cat, the seals, as far back as the seventh grade at least. Before that I had experimented with Barbie and other doll clothes, but I think this was the pattern where I learned accuracy on the sewing machine.

These were made from scraps of calico cottons I had in my stash. It amazed me how many parts I could fit on my tiny scraps. They were a great deal of fun. I just love that feeling of “making something from nothing”, just like scrap quilting.

I made covered buttons for their eyes and noses.

I gave them lace collars.

Below, you can catch a glimpse of the famous Red Bear, made from this same pattern back in 1984. Babies are intrigued by bright colors, as you can see. Red Bear was kindly donated by this little boy to his baby sister when he had grown up a bit and it seemed she would appreciate him more.

This sweet bunny was made from Simplicity 7718, back in 1993. McCall’s currently available M5078, Country Rabbits would easily do as a substitute. I made my bunny from wool I had left over from a pair of pants. Her eyes are black plastic safety eyes, and her nose is appliquéd on by hand. I made her entirely from scraps from my stash.

As you can see, there is no end to what you can make, often just using what you have already. Sometimes it is a very satisfying challenge to make something using what you already have. It sparks your creativity.

Other gifts I used to enjoy making were handmade holiday cards. I went overboard in high school, trying to give all my friends cards that I printed and then hand colored with colored pencils. I didn’t want to leave anyone out, and it got out of control. I couldn’t get them all done, and mailed some out uncolored. It led to a few awkward moments, especially when a couple of the boys thought maybe I made a card only for them and mailed it out special. Oh dear. Well, what fun is it if you don’t get in over your head once in a while?

One more gift that may not be handmade, but always makes a hit is a pot of catnip for kitties! Not all cats respond to it, but as you can see, many do!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and happy crafting!
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Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max Bailey

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileySnowbelle is a lovely white Turkish Angora kitty whose favorite time of year has finally arrived.

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileyShe sits by the window and waits for the magical snowflakes to begin falling from the sky.

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max Bailey

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileySnowbelle loves the way the snow glistens when the moon is full and all the stars sparkle in the night sky. She loves it too when there’s a snow moon, and the snowflakes swirl softly all around her. She painted little scenes on her sled so she can remember how it feels all year long.

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max Bailey

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileyWhen the ground is white, Snowbelle will call her friend Hedda, and the two will take the sled and head for the downhill slope behind the barn. At the bottom of the hill they will lie on their backs and swish their paws in the snow to make kitty snow angels. Then they’ll roll the snow into giant balls to make kitty snowmen.

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max Bailey

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileySnowbelle is an original one-of-a-kind work of art, created from my own design and pattern and is meant for display only. She is made from 100% cotton fabric which is sewn, stuffed, and completely hand painted with acrylic paints. She is 13 inches tall.

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max Bailey

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileyI sculpted Snowbelle’s face from paperclay, which I smoothed into her fabric head. Her pearl cotton whiskers were threaded through the paperclay before it dried.

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileySnowbelle’s arms are button-jointed with gold antique-looking buttons, so she can be easily posed, and her paws are needle-sculpted. Her white tail supports her very nicely, so that she can sit up all by herself on a shelf, or a table, or in a cabinet. She will also happily sit in a chair, or stand with a doll stand. (Chair and doll stand not included.)

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileyI created Snowbelle’s pretty dress from blue cotton fabric that has a delicate pattern of snowflakes, and added white lace at the neckline. She has painted ivory bloomers that match her cute little high-button shoes with gold buttons. Her kitty legs are covered with tights that are striped in two shades of blue. They match her wooden sled.

Snowbelle, Original One-of-a-kind White Turkish Angora Folk Art Cat Doll by Max BaileySnowbelle is signed and dated, and sealed with matte varnish for protection and preservation. She comes with a hang tag, a certificate of authenticity, and a copy of her story.

Snowbelle and her hand-painted sled are available for $650.00, plus shipping. Please inquire to ruffings@ruffings.com or find her in our Ruffing’s Etsy shop by clicking here.

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Kitty Cat Dolls

I had a long sewing day the other day. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t hold Max up with our new folk art cat doll project, which we’ll put in our online doll gallery when she is finished. It was just a checkup. I was feeling fine. But, wouldn’t you know, I hurt my back while I was there, just picked something up the wrong way I guess, and I came out a crooked person. So ridiculous to hurt yourself at the doctor’s. Anyway, I am still a crooked person today, and am trying to find things I can do without moving around too much.

This is my other kitty doll, the real kind, fast asleep in his bed. Now that we have chilly weather, he has rediscovered his cat bed and is putting it to a lot of use. He purred himself to sleep while I was sewing.