Talk to me… Saturday

This is a video I recorded on Tuesday earlier this week when I received a package in the mail from Mara of Secretly Stitching! I’m trying to get decent pictures of what she sent to me, but so far my attempts to photograph the pouch haven’t turned out very well.

Here is the fabric, threads, and chocolate:


I may have eaten some of the chocolate since…

I don’t think I ever showed pictures of what I sent to Mara when she won a giveaway from me, but I think I must not have taken any – I can’t find any in my files. Anyway, I think I probably showed the strawberry pouches in plenty of TTMT videos in the past.

Here are some photos of the things I sent out in that dumpling pouch swap:

Dumpling Pouch
Dumpling Pouch
Dumpling Pouch swap
Dumpling Pouch Swap

Finish: The Doctor and River Song Matryoshki

The Doctor and River Song by clumsy chord

The Doctor and River Song, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

These should be my last dolls for the year and also my last Finishes for the year. (I still owe myself two more blog entries, though – one for a set of scarves I made but never posted about and one for a run-down of what all I accomplished in 2011.) They’ve been done since December 18, but somehow I kept putting off writing this entry in favour of travel, no internet, Christmas, Boxing Day shopping, and then having (alas) to go back to work.

I think these dolls might be the cutest things I made all year. Well,.. all my doll ornaments were pretty damn cute, but these are more fun because they’re fandom based, and that’s not an area I often dabble in with my crafts. (Fandom-wise, I have made, over the course if 5+ years: 1 messenger bag with a Harry Potter lightning bolt appliqué, 5 Harry Potter pillows with the Hogwarts’ house animals appliquéd on them – two for Gryffindor because I messed up the lion the first time, 3 Severus Snape fabric postcards, and 1 Doctor Who fabric postcard featuring my favourite, the tenth Doctor.) I think most of my readers are fans of Doctor Who, but just in case you’re not… these two Matryoshka dolls are based on characters from the new series of Doctor Who.

On the left is Ms River Song, known for her wildly curly hair and her Tardis-styled diary of ‘spoilers’, as well as her cheeky demeanour and hallucinogenic lipstick. Well, I’d hoped to give her a winking eye, but wasn’t happy enough with my attempts at an open eye, and red lips looked too ridiculous for words. So I didn’t quite get there, but I think most fans would recognize her just on the basis of the book, which I thought turned out quite well (despite my crooked stitching). You can’t see it in the photos, but I threaded the needle with two strands of white and one strand of a yellowish off-white to give the pages of the book a slightly aged look (which I am inordinately pleased by).

On the right is the Doctor himself. I haven’t seen all of the most recent episodes of DW, but what I think of, when I think of Eleven, is the bow-tie, the fez, and his floppy hair. Matt Smith, the actor who plays Eleven, has some prodigiously floppy hair, so I was really hoping to replicate that, even a little. I very nearly gave him a squarer than square jaw, but left off in favour of letting the fez and bow-tie speak for themselves.

The Doctor and River Song

I made these two dolls at the behest of Craftylilthing, the winner of an auction I was participating in to raise money for a cat, Lily, who was adopted by the sister of an online friend, Ofenjen. (Confusing sentence much?) This poor kitty had been shot in the leg and then abandoned, so Ofenjen set up an online auction to help raise funds for the necessary surgery and medications to keep Lily alive and healthy. I offered up two dolls, designed any which way the winner pleased, and this is what Craftylilthing requested.

It was a lot of fun working on something like this, trying to distill the essence of a television character into simple images that could be easily rendered in felt and embroidery floss. I love how they turned out, and I’ve got a real urge to keep making more. (And, well,.. I have sketches for two more fandom-based Matryoshki. But we’ll see if I get them made or not…)

Finished Project: Matryoshka Dolls

This may be the dorkiest photo I’ll ever take, with my handmade Matryoshki mixed in with a bunch of the real deal. We’ve got bucketloads of them in the house, so I couldn’t NOT use them in a photo.

My sister and her husband had a few dolls already from his parents (who live in Russia) and when J and A travelled there earlier this year, they brought back more, including two of these which they bought for me. The tall red one on the left is mine as well as the shorter black one also on the left. (The only one I left out of the photo is one my sister bought which was painted to feature various members of the Calgary Flames hockey team.)

Anyway, there are 7 handmade felt Matryoshki in there, which are all just a tiny bit different, but are mostly the same. I had loosely planned to use different patterns on each of the bellies of the “girl” dolls, but I don’t have good software anymore on my computer for editing photos and I couldn’t seem to get anything the right size to fit (and I’m not very good at drawing by hand), so they’re all matching.

And I couldn’t decide what to put on the bellies of the boy dolls at all – you just don’t see male Matryoshka that often, and most of what I have seem have been political rather than folk art style – so they only got to have ties. (Which is a little funny, since neither my dad nor my brother in law wear ties with any regularity. Of course, none of the women in my house wear aprons either, even while cooking, and arguably that’s what those white patches are.)

A family of Matryoshka dolls

The embroidery on these was very simple, I did everything in a split stitch except for a few French knots in the flowers and for the cheeks. (I did one set of cheeks using a satin stitch, but found it pretty difficult to achieve a decent circle, so I went with three French knots for all the rest.)

Stitched Names

I stitched the name of the recipient on the back of each doll using… a back stitch? or a running stitch? I forget what it’s called, except on Alex and my dad’s where I used a split stitch. My own doesn’t stand out very much, somehow the white doesn’t pop against that lime green. Maybe I should redo it in black. Hmm. Anyway, they all look a bit like they were written by a child, but I found it incredibly difficult to draw names onto the felt with a chalk pencil. Any sort of curved letter came out a little more wonky than I’d hoped, but I sort of like the look anyway.

There’s a part of me that wants to try making dolls that are a little more like the real thing, with a different coloured head scarf above the dress and more involved patterns on the bellies. Or maybe make a series of different sized ones, starting larger and ending up smaller, with the kind of design variation you usually see on the different dolls in the nest. But I’m trying to let the idea go before I run out of people to make and give these to!

Anyway, these seven dolls are all made with 100% wool felt and DMC emroidery floss. They’re all about 5 inches high and about 3 inches wide across the widest part of the belly. The pattern came from this tutorial at My Sparkle. I used my own pattern for hair for the male dolls, and the ties.

Talk to Me Tuesday: One little,.. two little,.. three little Matryoshki

In which I make a small update on my Curio quilt, show off 8 Matryoshka doll felt ornaments, and show several tiny cross-stitches my sister made.

Places/Things Mentioned
Sew, Mama, Sew
SMS blog
SMS’s Handmade Holidays

Matryoshka doll pattern at My Sparkle

Photos of my Matryoshki

WIP Wednesday: Seven Matryoshka Dolls

This shouldn’t be a surprise after yesterday’s photo, but here are the dolls for the family. (Or their front halves, anyway. I didn’t cut out the backing pieces yet.) Mom, Dad, sister, brother-in-law, younger sister, self, and Grandma. I’m still waiting on felt for the hair. (It should arrive this week. Fingers crossed.)

The next step will be stitching on the faces. On my practise version, I used a small circle of pink felt for the cheeks, but I think I’m going to satin stitch circles instead of using felt. It’s HARD to cut out an accurate circle when it’s so tiny.

Things to do:
– stitch on the eyes, mouth, cheeks
– cut out and stitch on the hair (once it arrives)
– stitch the faces onto the bodies
– cut out and stitch patterns onto the bellies
– stitch bellies onto the bodies
– cut out the backing pieces, stitch together with fronts, and stuff

I’m quite torn about what to do on the male dolls. I think the pink cheeks and eyelashes would make them look too feminine, but I’m not sure how the eyes would look without eye lashes. (I guess I can but try.) And I’m planning to give them a tie (rather than a patterned apron), but that does feel a little… boring. I’ll have to keep thinking about what to do for them, I guess.

As I said yesterday, there’s not really any sense in doing a status update on the Curio quilt right now. It’s currently sitting under a stack of felt, but I haven’t really advanced very far beyond my previous update. Once I get these dolls done, then I’ll come back to it. Hopefully I’ll manage all seven dolls this weekend. (I’m supposed to have it off – first weekend off in over a month!)

Skull and Crossbones Matryoshka

I’ve been working a lot lately, followed up by getting kind of sick (probably because of working so much), and so I haven’t had the time or energy to work on a lot of crafting lately. I did a bit of sewing on my curio quilt, but not enough to make a status update. (I’ve sewn half the beige sashing onto 14 of the 42 four-patches. I haven’t even pressed them yet.) Today I took a sick day from work, to try to catch up on sleep a bit, but I’ve got such a bad sinus cold that sleeping is proving very difficult. (Hard to sleep when you can’t breathe.) But in-between bouts of sleeping or attempting to sleep, I cut out and stitched together this matryoshka doll.

I have hopes of making one of these dolls for each of my family members by Christmas this year. The ones for my family will be a lot more traditional, with birds or flowers on the bellies of the ornaments for my female family members and little ties for each of the men. (I do know there are actual matryoshka dolls with men on them, but I haven’t been able to find enough pictures of them to get an idea of what’s traditionally painted on them. So many of the photos I’ve found have been of Russian political figures or popes/priests.)

So this doll was both a test run (since I’m not too familiar with felt as a material and since I’m always in need of practise with my embroidery) and a bit of a joke. In one of my Talk to Me Tuesday videos (which I may not have posted here), I talked about having bought all this beautiful felt to make these dolls, but having forgotten to buy any the colour of hair. (Nothing black, brown, yellow, gold, etc.) One of the people who commented suggested that I make a punk doll, with pink hair, since I hadn’t remembered “normal” hair colours. This is my version of that.

I probably should have given her spiked hair, though that wouldn’t have fit under her veil really, but instead she got purple hair with lighter purple “streaks” and an apron with a skull and cross-bones on it. I drew out the skull and cross-bones freehand on paper while looking at photos on Google, but I wound up stitching it freehand as well because it’s so awkward trying to draw patterns on felt. It came out a little bit wonky, and sort of looks like an alien skull rather than a human one, but I sort of like it anyway.

Anyway, it took me far too long, but I think I’ll go ahead with making these for my family. It’ll probably speed up when I’m not feeling so horrible and am a little more capable of focussing on what I’m doing.

Interested in making your own Matryoshka dolls? Here is the tutorial I used, from My Sparkle, which is a blog with several interesting tutorials.