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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Friday, December 20, 2013

And here at Santa's workshop

Tonight my husband asked me "why are you doing Christmas stuff, lots of time left."

This just expresses the Great Gender Divide in a nutshell.

On one side are those who cook an excellent turkey and figure Christmas has been accomplished. You know the same crew who give people the microwaveable socks they picked up at Canadian Tire at 5:30 December 24th.

On the other side are those who consider the holiday season as sort of a personal version of the invasion of Normandy, with pins in the maps, troop movements to be planned for, ambushes to be anticipated.

You know which side I am on.

With family spread around and with my idea that everyone needs at least one home made item I have been at this for months, mentally at least. 

So for the last few weeks my sewing has been confined to hopeful cutting and bagging of things I am going to do once we hit the beach head.

My sewing looks like this:

Most of the rest of my none job time has gone to doing things I don't do all that well, namely knitting and crafting.

My knitting is better than my crafting, but nowhere as good as my sewing unfortunately. Of the many projects on the go in more or less every room of the house I have a chunky wool shawl lying semi blocked on a towel in the kid's room. Hopefully it will be dry by Christmas. This is for my daughter who mentioned last winter that she wouldn't mind something to keep her warm in the evenings in the family room.

Even more of my time has been spent on the Barbie doll house project for the little girls. I have a good idea that I am not going to get the intended plastic canvas needlework living room set done in time so I have been putting together some things morphed from Value Village knick knack stuff.

I am a really horrible crafter actually. I might as well be using that glue gun with my feet and my hats off to any really crafty folks out there with both taste and manual dexterity. I am doing my best though and this is being done for the little girls who are enormously accommodating and positive.

These are of course the same characters who say things like "Babs you look like a princess" when they see me in the morning with my hair vertical and my bathrobe on before I have had my coffee. I mean kids are the best.

So after that intro here are some shots of my furniture experiments, with designer notes:

This is supposed to be a bathroom vanity. I made it out of a mini jewel box that I took the lid off of, and painted, a cardboard counter covered clumsily with marbled adhesive shelf liner and a china ramekin I got at the grocery store in the dishes section. The faucets are beads and the tap is the semi destroyed lobster claw fastener I got a Michael's in the jewelry department , all inexpertly glue gunned in (that explains all lumpy bits). I am accessorizing with a mini brush and soap dispenser and a tiny bottle of cotton balls - all part of a grab bag of Barbie junk I got on eBay for $5.00.

The bathtub is the china top of a butter dish with the stick on felt feet I would be putting under things I put on the end tables in the living room if I was a good housekeeper. Same deal with the tap and faucets. 

Here is the bed. The lid of a card board box with feet from small craft wooden spools and the headboard is a decorative picture frame also from Michaels. I made the mattress and pillows and no I didn't knit the bedspread for the bed - this was something I found at the bottom of my failed knitting project box - I thought I was going to knit a summer purse but stopped doing it when I realized that was a dumb idea. Fortunately I kept the piece and added some borders to turn it into this bedspread.

The colour scheme of the bedroom is based another jewellery box I found at Value Village that I think looks like a pretty good wardrobe. I think I got this for $3.99.

I had big ideas to fill this up with handmade Barbie doll clothes but that's not going to happen. 

BTW I have a bunch of vintage Barbie patterns I got at yard sale and looking at them I am wondering if Barbie has put on weight since then. Seems the new Barbie and Ken I have are looking a little more muscular than the ones I played with. Will I have to flat pattern measure? That sounds horrifying.

Finally here is the living room furniture - built on a set of wicker I found also at Value Village. I realized that I needed to have something in purple or the girls wouldn't think it was fancy so I painted the wicker purple and glue gunned little pillows in place.

So tomorrow we are going to work on the actual house part and I am going to attempt to Modge Podge some scapbooking paper to the walls for wall paper. I am fairly stressed about that prospect. Hope I can sleep tonight.

Stay tuned.

Now how are your own holiday preparations going?


Angela said...

What a wonderful grandmother you are! Hopefully the little girls will be inspired to create too -- a lot of the fun of these doll houses is the making of all the furnishings. Merry Christmas!

Carol in Denver said...

The girls will be enchanted, I'm sure! In my experience, once you start furnishing a doll house, you see every thing with an eye to how it could be used for that purpose. Plaid shoestrings can be spiraled and sewn to make "braided" rugs, 2 different sizes of curtain rings can be sandwiched with a bit of fabric in between for an embroidery hoop with a work in progress, etc. (No doubt Barbie has taken a Craftsy class and has a WIP.) Speedy fingers, Ms. Santa!

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

OMG! My admiration for you just went up several hundred notches because I would have gone out and bought the house, the furniture and some clothes too! The pieces you've made are awesome though and I'll be thinking of you as you try to mod podge wallpaper...

SewCraftyChemist said...


Amazing! Can't wait to see the final doll house!

Kay said...

Ah, Barbie furniture. I remember finding the perfect mattress for my doll in the cabinet under my mother's bathroom sink. I didn't know what its actual purpose was, and I couldn't understand why she was so horrified. Some kind of ... napkin???

Remember the first few garments you sewed? They were a little 'lumpy' too, no? I think your creativity makes up for any lack of specific skills. The little girls will love the doll furniture.

MarcyF said...

Hilarious. And actually, you have created some pretty awesome stuff that will go over really well. Mission accomplished. Hope you have a lovely Christmas with your family.

Anonymous said...

Can I come play? I love it Barb! Please post the finished house.

Merry Christmas.

MarcyF said...

Hilarious. Actually, you have created some really awesome pieces that will go over really well with the recipients. Hope you have a lovely Christmas with your family.

Cactusneedle said...

Your Barbie furnishings are adorable! I know they will love them!

Jacq C said...

Oh the house is going to be wonderful - I am sure the girls will love it. I have a crochet scarf to finish - will do that in the car on the way to visit my boy, it's a 5 hour drive each way, am thinking I might need a second project! Sadly have accepted the Batman cross-stitch for my OH is not going to be finished in time - good job his birthday's in January :)

SewRuthie said...

Oh!!!! I would have LOVED this when I was a lassie. You are fab. What lucky grand daughters.

Mary said...

When I think back on the gifts I valued most as a child, it was the items that were made just for me by my mother. Doll clothes, tiny furniture (just like yours), and items for my own wardrobe. You are a Princess, Ms Barb, and those girls will love your creations.

ElleC said...

On the other side are those who consider the holiday season as sort of a personal version of the invasion of Normandy, with pins in the maps, troop movements to be planned for, ambushes to be anticipated.

OMG, this statement had me snorting tea out my eyeballs. Too funny.

Some advice. Many years ago, when I still had the eyes that my body was born with, I made Barbie clothes for my niece by the laundry basket full. No, I am not kidding. I can speak from personal experience, if you are short on time, make long capes and leggings for Barbie. I made lined wool suits, taffeta ball gowns with set in sleeves, and she liked capes and leggings the most. Of course. 8-)

Merry Christmas, may your invasion go as planned. ♥

ElleC said...

I forgot-use double sided tape for the wallpaper, way easier and less messy.

Karen in VA said...

Love the schoolhouse furnishings...I have all tried doing crafts things for the holiday and they all look they were done by a 4 year old on a sugar high....

Unknown said...

I love the doll furniture! So creative. As for Barbie she has gotten bigger, I think in the late 90s. They tried to give her a more realistic form. Good luck!

Chris said...

Cute furniture. As for the Barbie clothes, vintage patterns will not work for the modern Barbies, you need to pick a newer pattern.

Bunny said...

You are definitely in the competition for Grandmother of the Year award. My money is on you!

Cleverclogs said...

My totally unhandy dad made us a large doll's house out of a packing case when I was six. Grandparents and aunts gave miniature furniture, mostly gimcrac. My non-sewer mum cobbled some cushions and bedclothes. Four children (one of them my brother) played with the house for years, then two grandchildren enjoyed it. It went out for a hard rubbish collection and was quickly snaffled - I hope to be repaired, re-furbished and re-loved. I'm sure that as long as there are no sharp edges, the miniature furnishings will be the source of many fantasies and 'the Christmas we got the dolls house' will be recalled as a very special one.

KathyS said...

Your Barbie furniture is wonderful and yes Barbie has put on weight since the vintage patterns were made, as I found to my cost when I made a set of 50s garments for my grand-daughter. None of the waistbands were big enough. The rest of the clothes fitted, just the waists were too small.

LinB said...

What do you mean, you are not an expert crafter? These look so much lovelier than the dreck I glued together for my own child, nearly 20 years ago! Have a right merry Christmas, you and your kin.