Experiments in natural dyeing for doll clothes

I like my crafting experiments to be low risk. Dying fabric with natural ingredients fits that bill. I’m not going to accidentally stain my counters, no gloves needed, I can use my regular cookware for most of it. And I don’t need dramatic results or for my fabric to be colorfast. I never wash doll clothes because my samples are not getting played with and if it fades thats ok. There’s really no risk of the dyed fabric coming off on my cloth doll bodies, so far. So I love it! It’s fun and random (the way I’m doing it) and very pioneery which I love.

So far I’ve tried dried marigolds and avocado pit. This is the dried marigolds below simmering in the pot. I dyed a bath of fabric but didn’t love the results, too just tan so I dyed them again. I used less heat, kept it on super low and I pretreated the fabric by soaking it in aluminum acetate to be the mordant and wow, that brought the yellow. (before pic is below and after pic is at top) I also did a piece of Monaco cross stitch fabric and a piece of white wool (no mordant) and they came out a really pretty light yellow. The prints and the linen top came out dark yellow and I really like the result. Except on that plaid, it was a bust.

Dying with an avocado pit was super easy and I have no idea what I did, other than leave it soaking/simmering for hours. I used this vintage floral fabric and it turned a lovely light warm pink.

I made this sweet dress for Chloe from the fabric. I also dyed some Monaco with the avocado and love how it turned out as well.

Next I’m going to try onion skins and then madder root. If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear them. Or a good book on the subject?

New/Updated Kit, Chloe and Louise Pattern

Kit, Chloe and Louise are refreshed and ready to go for 2020. I made this pattern back in 2008 and I’ve always loved these spunky girls. They were originally offered as a printed pattern booklet and I had a bio questionnaire listed for each of them on the cover. My favorite question was what WB heroine do you most relate with, Louise’s was Rory Gilmore, Chloe’s Veronica Mars and Kit’s was Buffy! 😂They were aged 9-10 and were sort of my spin on a current day, handmade American Girl type doll. The Make-Along dolls fit better in that spot now so for the update I’ve reimagined Kit, Chloe and Louise as younger girls, 5-6 and made them a new wardrobe of super cute little girls fashions. They are a little more squishy and huggable and have more of a waldorf baby doll vibe going.

I hope you like them. I’m crying inside a little that Phoebe is nearly a teen and I can’t tuck them in under the blankets with her, but I’m so happy to be sending these cuties out into the world. I just love the new outfits. Again, crying a little when I see cute little girl clothes that I have no reason to buy so I channeled that into these new additions. I think my favorite is the playsuit.

Or maybe the pinafore! Shoot I like them all. The gingham top is modeled after a top I made Phoebe when she was a toddler. As is Chloe’s hair 🥰

Other changes to the pattern are updates to the diagrams, some fun illustrations, and I added a little more hair to Chloe’s curly bob. If you have the Kit, Chloe and Louise pattern already and would like to just buy the outfits, I have that separated out and can send you a link to buy it for $10. Just email me at hillarylang@gmail.com.

Body fabric for Kit, Chloe and Louise dolls

I love to make my Kit, Chloe and Louise dolls squishy and soft. I think of them as my baby dolls. They’re chubby and toddler like with wide cheerful faces and they give great hugs. The stiffer, more tightly woven your fabric is the less it will give and it will give more structure to your shapes. And that will totally work for this doll design too. It will make the dolls a little easier to dress and a little less squishy. I’ve found this fabric is great if you want to give your doll a little more squish. It’s from Joanns and it’s called Sew Classics Linen Like Hopsack fabric. It is 55% linen ad 45% rayon. It has a textured nubby appearance which I love. It stuffs really easily, I never have any lumps. (Here’s a link in my amazon shop to stuffing I use.)

The keyword in that fabric name is Hopsack. They have other fabric in the Linen & Linen Look collection that are 100% linen, not the blends and those would still be great for doll bodies but is not the fabric I’m using here.

Potting Soil on right, Natural in middle, Papyrus on right

So what I’ve sussed out is that it is pretty much always available, at least in last couple years, but they have different colors available. So right now they have Papyrus (sort of a neutral tan), Natural (very light ivory) and Potting Soil (dark brown). The dolls above are Natural and a brown that they don’t have in the store right now, maybe it was called Nutmeg?? It is lighter than the Potting Soil. I will update post when I see it back in the store. If anyone sees anything different at their Joanns let me know in the comments.

Hope this is helpful! Let me know below if you have any questions.

craft room re-org

Happy Saturday people. How are your Saturdays? Mine are a little stressful honestly. I am a “it’s the weekend let’s get things done” person and the rest of my Langs are “it’s the weekend what’s the least productive thing I can do” people. Hm. Sigh. Eyeroll. I shall ignore them and persist with my list. First thing up, a little bit more craft room reorganization. I’ve decided to tackle one area at a time. It’s sorta working. I still hit a wall when I have to decide do I save those supplies for when/if I ever need them or do I clear it out.

I had success this week clearing out my fabric shelves. Now I’ve done this a gazillion times before but this time I had one question in mind… would I make something with this today? Normally I keep everything out in case I’ll need it for a pillow project or a quilt or gosh knows what honestly at this point. I’m not sewing clothes for me or the kids. All of my fabric is 1/2″ yd or smaller pieces so it isn’t going to work for quilting. It’s really all for doll clothes and pincushions and project bags – small projects. So I put everything I wouldn’t sew with right now into bins and put them in the basement. I love organizing things, clears up the clutter in my brain and helps so much when I’m trying to make creative decisions. Do I want to use this mod vintage repro print I bought in 2005? Nope, I’m not into that right now, bin. Then I don’t have to discount it when I’m pulling fabrics. Also I binned almost everything large scale. So much stuff left over from when I would sew for Oscar and Phoebe, novelty prints, big colorful vintage stuff. Not what I’m using now, so, bin.

I really really want to buy a ton of new fabric. My dream would be to overhaul everything. Switch out everything I have for something new. Which obviously I can’t do so instead most of my new fabric comes from the thrift store. Won’t these two make such cute doll clothes!

Project Bags for Cross Stitch

Filed under things I didn’t know I needed but are absolutely essential: project bags for cross stitch. I have, for years, had one small tote bag with all my cross stitch stuff in it – a few patterns, small hoops and some pieces of linen. Recently Phoebe and I both got started on projects and it became clear we outgrew sharing the one cross stitch bag, so project bags! Project bags seem like they can get pretty fancy with handles and quilted backs but I just took the key parts, zippers and a vinyl front. Mine are super basic but for me, keeping them simple makes them fun to make and I can whip them out for each new project. And they are doing the trick! I love how tidy and organized it is to have everything in one place.

Here’s how I made mine. Supplies: to keep them sturdy and not floppy I use stiff interfacing (Peltex 70 Ultra Firm Stabilizer, or whatever they have at the fabric store that seems like stiff craft felt), vinyl which is sold by the yard on a roll over with the home decorating fabrics, fabric for the binding (or you could use premade binding), fabric for the back and the front (I used canvas fabric to make it more heavy duty and a zipper (this one is a 12″ and I used 14″ on the other bags I made). Your bag needs to be wide enough to fit your printed pattern in, so making it at least letter size is a safe bet. This project bag is 12.5″ wide by 10.5″ tall.

Cut the interfacing and the two prints to the full size, 12.5″ wide by 10.5″ tall. Cut another piece of the front fabric to be above the zipper the same width 12.5″ and then however tall you want it, mine is about 3″. Cut the vinyl to same width and then whatever height is left so I cut mine 12.5″ wide by 8″ leaving extra height that will be trimmed off when I sandwich it all up.

Pink one edge of the top piece press under 1/4″ seam and then sew down on top edge of zipper.

And sew the vinyl to the bottom edge of the zipper. I just lay the zipper over the vinyl and sew it in place. So on my front the bottom edge of the zipper fabric is just laying there exposed. This doesn’t bother me but if you’d like to add another strip of fabric to the bottom of the zipper and then sew the vinyl to that fabric you’ll have a more finished look.

Here are the pieces all sandwiched: orange lamb fabric is on the bottom, right side facing down, then the interfacing, then the full sized bee fabric piece with right side facing up, then the top piece with the vinyl and the zipper. I pin it all together and trim the zipper edges and any overlapping vinyl.

Finally, sew your binding around the edges. Which can be tricky to do. The bit in this photo I actually tore out and redid after it was all done because it was bugging me that it shifted. I always hand sewn my binding on quilts because I hate the shifting. It’s real hard to hand sew binding through this interfacing and we want it to be quick and fun so I just do it with the machine and honestly I don’t notice the flubs when I’m using it, only in the photos.😝

Inside the project bag I like to put a little design board to catch the cut floss pieces I’m working with. This is another thing I discovered on flosstube. So design boards are used for holding quilt pieces while you work on designing and they’re being repurposed here. Here’s a tutorial with Lori Holt that I watched on how to make them. For mine I just wanted a tiny one to fit in my bag. I used 5″ x 5″ pieces of the heavy duty interfacing and cotton batting and then a larger 6″ x 6″ piece of fabric. Instead of separate binding to finish it, I folded under the edges all around and then over on top of the batting and sewed it down. The batting is on top and the pieces of floss stick to it.

And then that’s it. You put your linen, your pattern, floss, needle, floss minder in there and you’re all set to get stitching. I can see how this may lead to addictive overbuying of patterns for me. Right now we have 3 bags. Phoebe is working on a Gera design, I am working on this cute cute cute bee design 🐝and then I’m also starting on my redesign of the Storybook Girls pattern. And I have the materials coming for a design I’m going to make for my mom. It seems from watching floss tube that what the cross stitchers do is have a bunch of projects going at once so they can keep things fresh, not get too bogged down on one project, move on and keep the interest going. Not a bad idea! And of course if it leads to more planning and making, that’s a bonus. Craft prep can be as much fun as the making.

Some links: Here’s is the Fat Quarter Shop flosstube and the Real Housewives of Stitching flosstube and there are a bazillion more, just type flosstube into youtube and off you’ll go.

a new year

Back to work! The kids went back to work on Monday which was also my birthday and that was a great present, just getting back to a normal routine and starting to dig into some new projects. I spent the first half of the day writing out a bunch of ideas and plans in my bullet journal (I’m using that term very loosely – more just like a book of lists)

So the first thing on my list for 2020 is to do a stop motion video of a bunch of Make-along dolls and outfits. So I’ve been trying to finish up a few dolls and outfits and I’m almost ready to go. I made the top above from the “Spring it On” pattern. I need to make the jacket to go with it. I need an outfit for the fellow below and I made a “Holiday Sparkle” dress for blondie (below). Her hair is Cascade 128 Superwash yarn in lemon and I’m loving this yarn for doll hair, so soft! People on IG were asking me about the felted kitty that I’m using as a pincushion. She’s from a Japanese felt kit. I have another two Make-Along dolls ready for hair and face and outfits and I’ll be ready to go. Then I just need to figure out how to do a stop motion video! 😂 I know how to take photos but I’m not sure how to string it together.

I made this little guy below from my favorite brown linen that I get at Joanns and some fuzzy soft alpaca boucle yarn (Drops Alpaca). I need to make a few more boy dolls so that I can get pictures out there to show the Make-Along Sewing pattern can be used for boy and girl dolls.

The other project that I started over Christmas and am working on in the background is reviving some of my cross stitch patterns. I really like my patterns that I have in the shop, the little sets of girls, but they’re very basic so I’m redesigning them to go into larger scenes. I’m very excited about this project. I’m working on a cuckoo clock design for the Storybook girls and then I’m going to do a barn for the Farm Folk girls. I made a Christmas cross stitch for my mom for Christmas and that really sent me down the rabbit hole of cross stitch. And then my friends told me about floss tube and oh dear. I will have lots to say on that soon (with lots of links to share!). I’m happy to be spending time over there. It’s just a really calming creative space to be living in and I’m really enjoying it right now.

Here are some of the supplies I’ve got going for the cuckoo clock design.

One thing that I’ve been wanting to do and working towards since the kids went back in the school in September was to get my blog updated and running well so that I can use it again. I’m not gonna say that I don’t like Instagram but I kind of don’t love it. And I miss having a community and talking to people and having a space that is mine not owned by Mark Zuckerberg. So I’m going to try to do more blogging. And I’m hoping that by being in this space that I can drag people over here with me and we can hang out.

Pincushion Girl

New to the shop this week is the pattern for a girl you’ve probably seen around in a lot of my photos over the year. My trusty sidekick, Pincushion Girl. She’s hand sewn from wool felt and is super fun to make. You can embellish her so many different ways, with or without bun or embroidery on the skirt or even a little collar.

Stuck full of pins or just sitting around looking cute, Pincushion Girl is a fun, quick hand sewing project that makes a great gift. Share your creations with the tag #pincushiongirl to see what everyone comes up with. Here’s a fun addition, sew a tiny magnet into your bow for a needleminder.