My OOAK Cloth Doll Birthday Making Challenge

I have set myself a challenge this year, which is to make a OOAK cloth doll for my friends and family as birthday gifts.  The plan is to blog about as each new creation as it is made and sent off to its new home.

I kick started this challenge with Elizabeth back in February and I have been busy making two more dolls; one based on a traditional Welsh doll and the other is developing into a fairy princess!  Hopefully these will be ready by the weekend.

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I would love to hear what your creative challenges are this year…

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Elizabeth: A Cloth Doll for my Auntie Carole

Introducing Elizabeth, a cloth doll for my auntie, Carole (Pitt) and author of the DI Elizabeth Jewell  murder mystery series.  She is named after Carole’s main character and is the reason she is sat on a note pad!

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Elizabeth is based the Anastasia pattern by Jan Horrox, which I dressed and adorned in a completely different way to the original.  Elizabeth is an independent, professional  woman who likes to wear simple, but smart clothes and therefore is dressed in slim fitting jeans, a black polo top and a fitted tweed jacket.

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Layered hair and fringe, wrapped in a gingham scarf complete her smart, casual look.

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I adapted the jacket pattern from Patti Medaris Culea’s Helen doll in the Creative Cloth Doll Collection book.  This was by far the most fiddly item to make out of the whole project, even more so than turning the fingers.  It was awkward to attach the sleeves to the main part of the jacket.  The instructions suggested using the sewing machine, but lack of experience and not having the correct sewing machine foot meant that it was easier to sew it by hand.

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I really enjoyed the new challenges that Elizabeth created and have already started on the next project!

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My Cloth Doll Making History So Far

I first tried cloth doll making about three years ago when I made a friend a cat doll based on one of her favourite youtube animations Meow it was incredibly fiddly but I enjoyed the process none the less.  This initial success, was followed by a miniature dachshund for Steve’s parents one Christmas and a circus cat for a friend who was moving away.

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We therefore discussed the idea of designing and making dolls, which would have printed versions that could be applied to shirts etc as apart of the Vaudeville Hippie brand.

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I attempted the doll above about a year later, however I just felt frustrated that although I could make the dolls, it was a struggle and I felt that I was not quite doing it correctly so the idea was put on hold.

Gladly things have changed and as I mentioned in my previous post ‘2015 the Year of Transformations’ I bought a couple of  doll making books: ‘An Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls’ by Jan Horrox, ‘Creative Cloth Doll Collective’  by Patti Medaris Culea and ‘Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction’ by Susanna Oroyan.

I have made two dolls from my Jan Horrox book.  The first doll shown below is based on the doll pattern called Miranda.  This is the most simple doll to make in her introductory book and teaches key methods in how to create and attach a basic head, body and limbs, with some ideas of dressing and adding detail.

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My version is very different to Jan’s, this is for two reasons: one; I did not have the colours that she used and two; I wanted to keep within a more vaudeville style.

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I also happened to have a lot of red, black and white striped and black fabric leftover from previous projects.

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Despite already having a little bit of experience, I was still really pleased with the outcome and now I completely hooked, once I realised that I was capable of creating a quality cloth doll.

The second doll, Anastasia, is much closer to the original by Jan Horrox.  I  wanted to try out some of the more advanced textile techniques used to create this doll. Plus really I loved the charming elf and fairy like character of this doll, which fits in with my other hippie theme.  She also reminds me of a Cirque Du Soleil character,

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By creating this doll, I was able to re-try some forgotten textile techniques; a simple cold wash dye for the body and clothing detail and free machine embroidery on the arms and leaf details.  I even managed to find some old curtain material that had a batik effect and fitted perfectly with the colour scheme for the legs.

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It was interesting to try out other methods of creating the hair, other than just making hair piece out of lengths of wool.

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Whilst making these dolls, it has allowed me to think about how I might go about developing my own designs and characters.  I already have some ideas and I am looking forward to revisiting drawings that can be transformed into three-dimensional cloth dolls.

Please feel free to share your love of cloth dolls below!

2015 The Year of Transformations

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January seemed to come and go without even noticing and as we are stepped well and truly into February I have taken an opportunity to reflect how the first month and a half of 2015 has gone compared to how I imagined it.

Now I am not one for massively making resolutions, however, at the turn of the new year Steve and I really got into yoga and started a 30 day challenge set by Adriene on YouTube. Sadly, once I returned to work after the Christmas period, life got in the way and I only managed a couple of weeks. But I will return to it, because I would be crazy not to.

Whilst practising yoga on daily basis, I noticed an increased level of motivation to return to my art and craft (as an art teacher I am normally so worn out nurturing other people’s creativity, that I have nothing left for myself!).  Yoga is beneficial for both mind and body and I think you have to maintain a regular practise to really feel the long term benefits because I could also feel changes happening on the inside.  On several occasions I envisaged myself transforming and therefore I decided that 2015 would be the year of personal transformation.  Yoga to transform the mind (and hopefully tone up the body) and a new lease of life when comes to creating my own work.

Despite easing off the yoga, which was definitely doing me good on so many levels.  I have maintained enthusiasm to work on my own creative projects.  For a long time, I thought that designing and making various bags was the one thing that I wanted to peruse and sell at craft stalls and online.  This notion has drastically changed since buying a couple of books about making cloth OOAK dolls with some Christmas money I had.

I plan to blog about the process I have gone through so far.  But I am addicted and have thoroughly enjoyed what I have created so far.  Making these dolls has already got me thinking about how I can develop them into my own style using drawings I have created over the last couple of years.

So thank you yoga and here’s to the year of transformation!

I would love to hear about any transformations you have experienced.

What’s in a name? The meaning of Vaudeville to me

Why ‘Vaudeville Hippie’?

When I was deciding upon a company name I wanted to choose something that naturally reflected our passion and inspiration from all things circusy. Not only is the ability to practise circus skills important to us as a hobby, but visually, the circus theme has limitless potential from the shapes, colours and patterns it provides. I have become particularly drawn to circus stripes and the colour combination of red, black and white.

Circus is also the starting point for product range and our choice to develop our own fabric poi.  As poi spinners we realised that the majority of poi on the market had very similar designs and wanted to explore other possibilities.IMG_2167

I had never heard of vaudeville until we went to an event in Bournemouth titled ‘Vaudeville Circus and Masquerade Ball’. The night had a range of acts ranging from circus, to burlesque to belly dance and we were lucky enough to see English pin-up and burlesque dancer Anna Fur Laxis and her axe throwing act.

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IMG_1380Since then, it has been a visual and creative reference point. I have particularly enjoyed exploring and collecting images using Pinterest and incorporating these ideas into my drawing and craft work. Whilst exploring images for my Pinterest boards I came across these gorgeous costumes by London based Prangsta Costumiers. I simply adore these costumes and feel that they totally sum up everything I love about the circus and cabaret style.

History of Vaudeville

Vaudeville is a style of entertainment first popularised in America in the early twentieth century. Acts would vary widely from belly dance, circus, burlesque, freak (bearded woman etc), novelty and comedy as characterised by Charlie Chaplin, all wrapped up with a strong vintage flavour.

Vaudeville Illustration

There are some great vaudeville finds on Etsy. These are a few of my favourites that capture the genre through either colour, style, costuming and Victorian aesthetic.  Each image take you directly back to the original pages on Etsy so you can explore these delights further.

flapper treasury

gypsy hats

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