Friday, July 03, 2009

The Winner & A Day in the Life...

Thank you to everyone who entered my Blog's 3rd Birthday Giveaway. The winner of the prize above (chosen by a random number generator) is .....

Number 111....which is...
Isabel of Maison Douce.
Congratulations to you Isabel! Your prize will be on its way to you soon!
Moving on...I am often asked how long it takes me to make one of my rag dolls.
The simple answer, recording the actual physical work, is usually one full day. However, I am always on the lookout for vintage fabrics, trims and embellishments, which get neatly (sometimes ;-)) squirreled away in my workroom until such time as the perfect selection of items come together with an idea for a doll. I often find myself thinking about how I would like the next doll to look, usually when I'm working at the tedious body-stuffing stage of another!
I usually start with what I would like the jacket to be made from. I generally limit myself to French C19th white linen, Scottish mohair scarves, or pure wool blankets, so as to narrow my choice and fabric supplies. This stage is the most important, as if I get the selection of fabrics wrong, the doll won't be of a pleasing design and may be unsellable. But having said that, I am never entirely sure what the finished doll will look like, until all the clothes are put on her and I add any embellishments.
For a change recently, I thought I'd use the lovely soft green velvet that I bought at the flea market. Having that as my starting point, I carefully gathered together a selection of vintage and antique fabrics. The floral fabric, top right in the photo below, is one of my Scheurer panels. Yes, I am being very brave parting with it! I had to trim it a little; the sample size panels are just slightly too long for a doll's skirt. So yes, brave, mark II, was to take the scissors to it!
To coordinate, I also chose a Sanderson floral upholstery fabric, C19th French ticking and some cotton lace. I don't use pattern template pieces for my doll's clothes. I like to be dictated to by the design of the fabrics, placing the patterned area in a suitable position within the size of panel I feel is suitable. Sometimes too, I may only have enough of a vintage fabric to make a certain item of clothing - for example, the top or bloomers need less fabric than the skirts, dresses or petticoats, which I like to be generous with.
One of the reasons that I chose to stop supplying a shop in Bath, was that the owner began to regularly ask me to make dolls in a red or blue Vichy check dress and linen jacket. After making these for several years, I began to feel like a production line and the creative edge of my craft was lost.
I stopped making them completely for a while, before I found my way again, making solely for my on-line shop later on, with each doll being unique.

Once all the pieces of fabric are cut to the required shape, I sew them all together on the machine, adding any lace or trims I feel necessary as I go.

Necklines and waists are finished by hand, something I usually sit and do whilst waiting for photos to upload onto my blog(!), or whilst watching the TV in an evening- thinking at the same time about what my next project will be! - We women are so good at multi-tasking, aren't we?! ;-))

I often finish coats and jacket edges by hand too, with a decorative running/hem stitch, adding vintage buttons that I carefully choose from my collections.

The stage of making a rag doll that I least enjoy is the body. As you can imagine, I have made vast quantities of these and they are tedious! The stuffing of them causes me RSI problems too, as I like my girls to be firm and well rounded!
Once all the sewing is finished, the more enjoyable task of putting the finished doll together can begin.

Firstly, I hand paint the boots onto the dolls feet, then I press all the clothes.

Fluffy mohair tops trim the boots, along with vintage buttons. Here I've use old mother-of-pearl shirt buttons.
Then she starts to be made decent, first with a pretty French floral top and then a pair of ankle length bloomers, followed by a lace trimmed petticoat.

The fabulous floral skirt and velvet coat completes the outfit. She then gets her wig.

Which is prettied-up with a fabric rag ribbon bow.

I then decide if I think she would benefit from some accessories. This time I chose a handmade bobbin lace collar and added a vintage floral costume brooch which unites all the colours of her outfit.

After giving her, her facial features, (always a bit nerve racking, in case I make a boo-boo!) - I then decide what name I think suits. At first I was going to call her Jade, with her velvet coat being such a pretty shade, but it reminded me more of crisp Golden Delicious apples, so I've named this lady Pomona; taken from the Latin meaning 'apple'.

And here she is....
I shall be taking Pomona with me to the next V&H fair in November. She will be packed away safely for a little rest until then!

Oh, she just said to me, before she gets packed away, 'could she please just show you her lovely layers beneath her Scheurer fabric skirt?' don't mind taking a peek do you?...

Have a great weekend, won't you?!
Niki x
(And Pomona!)


  1. ha ha a great name for your gorgeous rag doll Niki, I love your step by step account of how all your girls come together.

    best wishes Ginny x

  2. How wonderful to witness the birth of one of your girls! When my daughter's room is done I'm going to treat her to a doll I think from the Stone House! The big UK stone house to our little Australian stone house! Thank you so much for visiting my Blog and your comment, Niki. It was a real treat to see you there as I know how busy you are! Have a lovely weekend. xx

  3. This is facinating to see Niki. I love to see the process behind how such a treasure is made. I know I would never have the patience to create something like this. Cushions are enough for me! I'm sure Pomona will find a new home in November.

  4. Anonymous11:21 am

    What an interesting read! I love your choice of vintage fabrics for Pomona who is decked out in such beautiful colours. The velvet, Scheurer and Sanderson fabrics are perfect and she is going to be very popular at the fair! Tania

  5. YOur dolls are soo pretty! I love your choices of fabrics and trims! YOur careful selections are what make your dolls so special!
    have a great weekend!

  6. Hi Nikki, thanx for letting us see your journey in making your beautiful dolls. I am thinking of making something similar for my 4 grandaughters and 1 great grandaughter using my wedding dress which is now nearly 50 years old lol . Have a great weekend luv Janxxx

  7. Oh, Niki, I am beyond ecstatic about winning your giveaway, you have made my day!!! If there was a giveaway to be won, it was yours!!!! I will email you my address soon... Thank you sooooooo much!!

  8. What a fabulous post Niki! She is a real charmer & I'm pleased she will be a V&H Fair special!
    Stuffing is the bit I dislike most too - when I make bears I like to have them very firmly stuffed which takes a a surprising amount of stuffing. Dolls I tend to stuff a little sifter so they are cuddly.

    With bears, creating the face is the best bit & with dolls it's definitely the clothing.

    She has a lovely name but needs to learn a little decorum....fancy showing off her bloomers & petticoats in public!! ;-)


  9. She is gorgeous, I saw some of your lovely dolls at the last V&H Fair and was very tempted. I am sure I will be buying one at the next fair as an early Xmas pressie to myself ! I really admire your patience and skill, I so wish I could be so creative.

  10. Oh congrats Isabel! You were so sweet to offer such a fun giveaway! I love the clothes you make for your sweet dolls!! You do such fine work! She is a beauty!
    Hugs, Lisa

  11. Anonymous9:17 pm

    Hi Niki, I am so sad to have missed your giveaway! We have had people over for barbecues twice since we had such lovely weather and Georgia had her big school trip which we had to shop for. We all have birthdays this week so that took some planning too. Im sure you know what it is like! Anyway, congrats on the blog anniversary and thank you for the lovely comments and pics about your "prize". Wanted to ask you, have you evenr made a doll called "Georgia" or "Georgie"?

  12. What an absolutely magical post! How lovely to see a doll come to life from the very first selection of fabric to the buttons on her boots. Just beautiful. You are a master of your craft Niki! Now, about the green velvet coat - can I send you my measurements?! t.xxxx

  13. I loved seeing how you put your fabulous dolls together,

    Victoria xx

  14. oh dear, If i was a more consistant blogger I would have entered your give away, or maybe i did lol! cant remember. I'm hopeless!! Your rag dolls are just too sweet :0)

  15. Congratulations to Isabel!!
    Your dolls are lovley.

  16. Niki,
    she is just wonderfull, and so beautifull made, the colors and materials great-and I love you called her "apple"

    xo Dorthe

  17. Pomona is beautiful. I can see why making each doll unique would be important. I think it makes it more fun for the person buying your dolls too. They can choose one that 'suits' them. One that pulls at their heartstrings.

    Hugs ~

  18. She's gorgeous!

  19. Congratulations on th winner!
    Your doll is fab!
    Have a lovely weekend :)

  20. She's lovely Niki. I really enjoyed following her progress from fabric scraps to finished doll. I love to see the Scheurer's being used for something so special. They were such a big part of my life for years and I miss them but seeing them made into beautiful doll's clothes makes me very happy :-)

  21. Hi Niki

    I'm so glad you were brave and cut up a Scheurer! Now you've done it once I'm sure you'll manage to do it again. I empathise with Donna and know I'm just so lucky to be their current guardian.

    Congratulations to the winner of your giveaway.

    Pomona is gorgeous.

    Sue x

  22. What a clever and creative woman you are. Your dolls are just beautiful. One day when the garden isn't draining the purse I just might make a visit and adopt one of these lovelies.


  23. I just adore you blog, lovely lovely lovely. Many thanks for sharing this beauty with us.


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx