Monday, July 25, 2011

Mia's new kimono doll

Mia is at that stage where everything goes straight into her mouth. I've been wanting to make her a doll for some time, but wanted to avoid making one that would have to sit on a shelf for 2 more years until it was safe for her to play with it. After making my first doll a few weeks ago for a friend's baby, I got to thinking how it might be fun to combine a cloth doll with the clothes I'd been making, as well as tackle the problem of making a doll that's safe for a 9 month old to play with. Enter the kimono doll...

I altered the pattern I made for my friend's doll - mostly just changing the face shape. First time around I forgot that I hadn't factored in seam allowances to the original pattern and ended up with a pieces for a doll that would have been rather thin. Oops. Second time round was more successful.

Thinking that the hair is really the major problem for a younger baby, I decided on using fixed cloth hair... the sewing equivalent of lego hair. It took a little bit of trial and error to work out the right shape. The first attempt looked like a Darth Vader helmet.

As far as clothes for the doll, I decided to make the juban and the kimono, plus an obi. I could have made a petticoat, but minimizing the clothes made sense for a doll that's meant for a younger baby. The main reason I made the juban was so that I could experiment with the kimono pattern on some plain fabric first.

The juban turned out well and so I added in 0.5 - 1cm on each of the seams for the kimono so that it would fit nicely over the top. For my next doll, I'll cut a wider lining for the kimono and allow at least 1cm more on each side of the front to give more of a crossover on the front of the kimono. I chose to use the same fabric that I made Mia's kimono dress from as I had some leftovers. I still had some binding leftover from that too, so just sewed two open pieces together along the long sides to form the obi.

On went the face, just simple triangular eyes and a curved mouth using embroidery threads, and a sakura decoration on the hair. Am very happy with the finished product, as was Mia this morning when she met her new doll.

I thought geta (sandals) might be something to add, but I haven't yet decided how to embroider them on so they actually look like geta. I'm also thinking of sewing the obi down at the back so that it doesn't come open when Mia discovers it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Miscellaneous projects

With my Etsy shop getting stocked and Mia kitted out with some very cute dresses for the upcoming months, I decided to do some gift-making.

First, a baby shower gift. I found this lovely soft cotton with colourful elephants and thought it would be perfect. I was very happy with how it turned out. The diaper change pad rolls up nice and small for the baby bag, and the diaper and wipes case is the perfect size. I used just a bib of Mia's to cut out the pattern for these bibs and they turned out perfectly.

Then, a gift for a 7 year-old soon to embark on a long plane trip. I wanted to make the stationery bag as compact as possible, so none of the existing patterns for fold-out stationery organizers were really appropriate. I cut out four long rectangles on the fold and sewed around each of them separately, before putting them together and sewing around all four of them together. With some home-made binding, I enclosed all the rough edges and added a zipper to keep everything in. On one of the layers, I sewed a pocket, in this case to hold a pencil sharpener.

Next, a cute doll for a friend's new baby, although with the hair and dress, she won't be able to play with it until she's quite a bit bigger. I found a doll pattern and tutorial on and thought she looked very cute.

Finally, another baby present. This chicken comes from

I've made extras of the stationery bag and baby shower gift and these can be viewed in my Etsy shop:

Next? To combine some ideas and come up with a new project! Stay tuned...

Straying away from the theme a little

By the time I made the kimonos for my Etsy store, I was ready for a new project. While not kimono-style, I stayed with the Japanese theme and found a couple of cute prints.

This purple Hello Kitty dress is made as a pillowcase-style dress and should fit Mia by summer.

I bought this Yui Kokeshi Doll fabric and went for an A-line style dress gathered at the neck and with buttons. I was really happy with how it turned out and being a slightly smaller make than the other dress, it already fits Mia. It should look very cute with long sleeves and a pair of leggings underneath.

I made extras of both of these dresses. These can be viewed at my Etsy shop:

The theme of kimonos

I thought that following a kimono theme might be interesting and I found this excellent online pattern and tutorial for kimono-style clothes for children:

I made a few variations to the pattern - making the sleeves shorter and more square, altering the length and adding a belt to the dress.

This kimono jacket and shorts I made for a friend's baby shower gift. I added the shoes, found at I stuck to cottons and used some cute fabric I'd bought on a trip to Japan a few years ago.

I made this outfit for my little Mia from cottons found in the quilting section of my fabric store. Cute!

Then I purchased some gorgeous Japanese cottons from an Etsy seller and made a few other sets which can be found now in my Etsy store:

The beginning...

This last month or so has seen the beginning of a "sewing frenzy", as my partner Richard likes to call it. I've always been into crafts and always sewn a little (it's in my blood), but as my now 8-month old Mia and I fall into a more and more comfortable rhythm, I find myself with more time to spare. As a lot of crafty mums who go on maternity leave do, I've entertained the idea of finding that one perfect idea that would mean I wouldn't have to go back to work when my 12 months of leave are up. I haven't yet found that idea, but I haven't given up on it either.

I think there were some additional factors that have led to the sewing frenzy. We moved house and suddenly had a whole room to dedicate to a shared office and sewing room. And I sadly packed away my almost 60-year old Singer machine and bought a new Janome.

With the Singer I had learnt to sew, and made a few nice pieces of clothing (see pictures below). But as one by one, things began to go wrong with the machine, I knew it was time to replace it. And so began a new sewing era, one where I no longer had to wind on the bobbin by hand and where I could actually lift the machine myself.