Saturday, January 23, 2010

so - a needle pulling thread

I come from a family of extremely talented women. Women who can sew, crochet, quilt, and embroider like champs.

I have some priceless memories of my grandmother teaching me to hand stitch quilt pieces when I was a girl. I've been intrigued and inspired by women who have the ability to create beauty out of simple fabric ever since.

With that in mind, you can imagine how excited I was when my mother-in-law gave me a sewing machine last Christmas. Excited...and completely overwhelmed. So overwhelmed, in fact, that I didn't touch my machine for the first 6 months that I owned it.

One day last summer, I got fed up with my whimpy-ness and decided to do something about it. With the help of some very patient friends, I managed to make this nursing cover:

...and I didn't touch the machine again for another 6 months.

Finally, one random day in November, I got an amazing idea: a stroke of genius. I decided that I would make dolls for Avery and Charlie for Christmas. Dolls like my Great-grandmother made for me when I was a little girl...sweet, pretty, handmade dolls.

What better way to learn to sew than by making something that your children could enjoy for years to come, right?

I could just picture Avery ripping open the wrapping paper to reveal her lovingly hand-made doll. Her big brown eyes would well up with tears, she would wrap her sweet little arms around my neck and whisper, "Oh thank you, Mothah... It's the loveliest doll I've ever seen. I am the luckiest girl in the whole, wide, world."

It was going to be awesome.
I wasn't quite sure how I was going to make the dolls happen, but they were definitely happening.

I found Bit of Whimsy Dolls on etsy - the dolls were adorable and just perfect for my little guys, and each pattern came with step by step directions.

I took my doll patterns, my tiny sewing machine, and my delusions of grandeur to Craft Club for some tutorage from my more experienced girlfriends.

That night, I made half of a doll.
In 5 hours.
If you're doing the math, that's some seriously slow sewing.
Some seriously slow, seriously pitiful sewing.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that I ripped more seams than I actually sewed that night.

My doll looked like Flat Stanley after a fight with Edward Scissorhands.
Not pretty and definitely not whimsical.

I took my little Mutant doll and went home feeling a little tired and slightly disillusioned.

That's when I realized that my expectations may have been a little high.

But here's the deal: If there's one thing I am it's stubborn.
The dolls were happening.
They may be horribly disfigured, but the dolls were happening. Period.

So I tried again.
And again.

It started to get a little easier.

Until I got to the legs.
Then the doll looked like this for a week.

That's when I started to think that maybe the dolls weren't happening.

It took a pep talk or two from friends, but eventually, I got back to work.

After way longer than any doll in history was ever taken to create, Avery's doll turned out like this:

She was unclothed, but she was finished.

After I finished Avery's doll, I started feeling confident... and if I'm honest, pretty darn proud of myself.
But pride goes before the fall, people...and I have the photo to prove it.

While making Charlie's doll, I sewed THROUGH MY FINGER. Don't ask me how it happened...'cause I have no idea.

What I do know is that jamming a needle through your finger hurts.
A lot.
Thankfully, my pal Scooby Doo helped me avoid hemmoraging to death.

I have to say, the image of my finger with the needle going in one side and out the other is one that I may carry with me to the grave.
It haunts me.

Dispite my horrifying needle experience, I managed to finish Charlie's doll just in time for Christmas (I told you I was stubborn).

Giving Avery her doll turned out to be a little different than I thought it would be. It went something like this:
"Oh. My Doll. She has bony tails (a.k.a. pony tails)".

Then she put it down.
That's right, SHE PUT IT DOWN.
And went on playing with her other toys.

Isn't that just about right?

I did manage to get a picture of her pretending to love it for the camera. She named it "Princess Daisy" and insisted on wearing her own "bony tail" for the photo session.

Little Charlie loves his doll and has from the moment I placed it in his arms.
He hugs and pats his baby regularly and with vigor.
A fact that makes stabbing my finger almost worth it.

Since Avery's baby dolls live happily in a mini nudist colony located in the corner of her playroom, I probably could have avoided making a dress for "Princess Daisy". But this week, I bought Bit of Whimsy's peasant dress pattern and made a little dress for her.

Thankfully, making the dress was much easier than making the doll itself. 

Could I have bought a doll and saved myself a lot of blood, sweat, and tears?
But I did it.
I may do it again, too.
In like 20 years.


Wendi@Every Day Miracles said...

Oh my goodness. I am still just freakin' out over the sewing over your finger thing. Thank God for scooby doo bandaids. For real.

The dolls are amazing. They are beautiful. I would not have had the perseverance that you demonstrated on this sewing adventure. GO you!!! :)

Gina said...


Brittany said...

Those dolls are adorable!!!
I could NEVER have sewn anything so precious!

And, is it just me, or does Charlie's doll kind of look like him?! So cute!

The Felkins said...

They really are so cute! I'm just learning how to use the sewing machine we have. It was my grandmother's and is from the 1930's and it intimidates me!

Bit of Whimsy Dolls said...

They turned out great! You sound like me when I first learned how to sew. Good thing I was stubborn too! ;)

Tiffany said...

Oh, sewing is an adventure every time! I only have really ever done pillows. I'm too scared to attempt anything else.

This post cracked me up because I just took a picture of my finger with a Hello Kitty band-aid on my pinky finger (it will probably show up on my blog at some point). I did not actually sew through but scraped it somehow on the machine as it was running and took some skin off the finger. It hurt. I feel for ya. The things we do...

Okay, but my real point in this comment is to tell you that those dolls are so stinkin' adorable! I am totally impressed! LOVE them. They are too cute. The little dress is precious for Avery's doll and Charlie's doll is perfect too. I want one! : ) Nice job. That picture of Charlie with his doll is definitely worth sewing through a finger if you ask me!

p.s. we are definitely too broke for cable so we live on pbs. also, believe me if my in-laws lived close, we would definitely eat at their house as often as they would let us! : )

Rach@In His Hands said...

Go girl! Those dolls are A-mazing.

Hopefully you showed your kiddos the battle wound you got!! "See how much mama loves you, kids?" ;-)

beth said...

They are awesome! And Meyers needs one next Christmas, so get ready to guide me!! Avery and Charlie look precious holding the dolls!

TBonesMom said...

Hi Jennifer...I'm Tiffany at's sister Beth. I think your dolls are precious! No matter how long it took, you can be proud of those dolls! Keep that picture of your kids holding them close to your sewing machine as a reminder! And as a mother of a 16 year old, I can honestly say you will cry and bleed more for your kids before it's all said and done. But it is worth it. It's definitely worth it.

SarahHub said...

:shudder: about your finger.

But, Jennifer - the dolls are so cute! And Avery will treasure hers when she's older.

I also received a sewing machine last Christmas. I have used it once. But maybe you've inspired me to get it back out... Just maybe...

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