Plant dyeing workshop

I spotted this plant dyeing workshop held in Bristol with Ria Burns a while ago. I’ve had a little foray into plant dyeing a while back, not altogether successful, but I think doing this course has given me some confidence to try again. I’ve been imagining the dolls dressed in linens, cottons and silks in those lovely subtle colours you only get with plant dyes.

In the introduction Ria talked about when to mordant your fabric/yarn and how. There are three types of plant dyes,

1 . Substantive such as walnuts, pomegranate skins and tree bark, which have there own natural tannins and you do not need to mordant the fabric/yarn.

2. Adjective such as avocado, madder, onion skins and weld which require you to mordant the fabric/yarn

3. Fugitive such as red cabbage, beetroot and berries, basically don’t bother the colour will not last whatever you do!

We were given an array of mini skeins of yarn, all British breeds ranging from a super chunky roving Cheviot wool to a 4 ply lambswool a mixture of Shetland and Romney grey.

Four pots of dyes were gently simmering, and we chose which yarn we wanted in each pot. There were a couple of variations you could, you could leave the yarn half out the pot or you could knot the yarn, both gave a final variegated result. The fresh weld was literally picked in the morning by Ria before the class. The avocado stones can be used again and again until they disintegrate. Top tip – store them in your freezer until you need them.

An added twist to the dyeing process was to add soda crystals part way through the simmering process. This changed the pH to more alkaline and changed the dye colour instantly. Most noticeable were the avocado stones which went pinker. As a group we decided all the pots except madder should go alkaline. Once they’d simmered for an hour or so we then drained them. How fabulous do they look now?

We took our precious bundles home to dry, then wash and make into wonderful things.

From left to right madder, avocado, rhubarb root, weld.

There are so many variables in this process and Ria kept note books of her ‘recipes’, they were lovely to read.

My plans for plant dyeing as I don’t have a garden include madder, as you can get it in powder form, avocado stones as I eat these, onion skins because, well that should be easy and anything else I can forage.

Summer in the city

On a weekend trip to London I took time to take some photos of Agnes out in the Summer sun in my mum’s garden. Here in the rockery smelling the wild flowers and searching for bugs. To be honest the bugs found Agnes more than she found them, I had to gently blow them off her!

Among the ferns and a little pond there are plenty more wild flowers to discover, blue, pink and yellow.

Just past the rockery is the garden shed and the kitchen garden, now much overgrown, but great places for adventures.

If you would like to give Agnes a home please visit my Etsy shop

Old style and new style

I did decapitate Agnes and gave her a larger body, legs and arms to to with her too big head. She now stands 38cm tall, and yes she really can stand. Here is the before and after pants shots to compare. She also has her own hair made with alpaca wool which I made into wefts. I gave her a centre parting using the method shown by Mozekyto it’s the first time I’ve done that and it worked well.

At the same time I have been making Edith a custom order, she is a friend for Tahira her mum wanted a doll like Wilhelmina. I’m reluctant to try to duplicate dolls as inevitably they look quite different, however this time I nearly cloned her. Edith is a little more smiley than Wilhelmina. Her hair is dyed using walnuts and I think it gives a lovely natural colour, the first time I’ve used this Highland Colours and I was impressed.

Edith has a couple of outfits, a dusky rose gingham dress and some dungarees in denim and Liberty print. Edith is my ‘old style’ doll, and although here she looks like she can stand, don’t be fooled, she’s just balanced.

If you are interested in giving Agnes a home you can find her in my Etsy shop.

Look who can stand

I’ve had it in my mind for a while to make a doll that can stand independently. One of the ways to make this happen is to joint the leg to the torso with a button at the hip. I modified my torso pattern to incorporate hip slots but still made the legs as I would usually. I did however round the top of the thighs in the hopes that they would fit snugly in the ‘sockets’.

I used the method of attaching the legs that I found on Pinterest, the diagram was self explanatory. I also found a very detailed tutorial on covering the buttons by Agosia Arts. When I attached the legs it looked okay(ish) from the front, I did think the torso looked too long in comparison with the legs. The back was really not good, she didn’t have a bottom, and a doll needs a decent bottom.

Next step was to insert 2 bottom darts and shorten the torso, easier said than done. I really wish I hadn’t attached the head and arms to my first new style torso, I had to do a lot of unpicking. Here is the torso version 2, I debated whether to show them…..they don’t look any different, however you can see the dart and how the buttons look better covered. The real problem however is that I think the head is too large, in fact I’m certain the head is too large. I’m going to decapitate her and make her a new bigger body (and her body a new smaller head!)

Agnes however kindly offered to model PJs for Luis/Yonas before she underwent major surgery, and the vinyl Sasha doll models Ava/Izara’s sweater and jeans.

A bit of upcycling

A while back I embroidered a pocket, it was not what the new mama envisaged, so I carefully removed it, embroidered another and everyone was happy. Now the pocket has got a new place on Felicity’s dungarees, a special place for her treasures. Here are Felicity’s two outfits, the orange gingham dress with matching embroidered bonnet, and duck egg blue linen dungarees with that very special pocket.

Felicity may have a new home already but if she doesn’t she will be in my Esty shop upload on 1st Feb


I’ve been busy on various projects, one of them was to make a smaller doll and also learn how to do button jointing. I started experimenting back in December, and started a blog post about it, however, I ground to a halt and decided to go back to what I know to get my confidence up. So here is Felicity who is lively, bubbly and generally mischievous and known to her friends as Fizzy. She is 12 inches of freckles and curls, and is going to have an orange gingham dress. Here’s another picture of Fizzy, she is unceremoniously balanced in a mug as she still doesn’t have legs!

I also make clothes for 16 inch plastic dolls and someone has suggested that I make a tiny Waldorf doll for her doll. She sent me a photo of one she has, and I was definitely inspired to have a go. The doll’s doll is only 10cm tall, but I think it would be great fun to do micro knitting or crocheting for a dress. The maker of the little doll is unknown at the moment but I’ll update this post if I find them.

Old school satchel

To complete Ava’s wizard school outfit she needed a school bag. There were a couple of options, try to match Hermione’s school bag or go for the ‘old school’ style satchel. I knew which I preferred, and so did her mama. She didn’t feel that Ava would be able to carry the ‘Hermione’ bag, and I agreed.

I was going to use the same leather as Ava’s shoes, so I had to modify the satchel pattern, less pockets as the leather is quite firm. With the aid of my Cricut I cut out the pieces, the leather was pretty tough to sew but I did it. Here’s all the parts laid out. Notice the rivet on the handle? I hit it with the hammer at the wrong angle, I’ve since replaced it, it really bugged me.

Final touches were putting in her name, I’m glad she Ava has such a short name! and also I made a little Marauder’s map (Karte der Rumtreiber) that I have popped in her bag. I found one in German to print…..however it’s so small you’d never know it was in German!

Farewell Tahira

She’s now ready to go home, there was a slight delay as I waited for some ribbon to tie her bonnet with, it had to been maroon, I had no maroon! As you can see the final outfit is the mustard linen. I embroidered the pockets in deep purples, blues and orange and matched it with the bonnet. I’ve used this bonnet pattern before it’s lovely, so simple yet so sweet. The dungarees are the Hey Barrie Hawthorn dungarees I think it is my most used pattern.

Multi- tasking

I’ve been working on two commissions in tandem, making Tahira and her outfits and also a Christmas present outfit for Ava (formerly known as Izara). This is because Tahira and Ava are the same size, and Tahira is an excellent model. Ava wanted a Hogwarts’s school uniform, Gryffindor to be precise, so grey jumper with orange and maroon stripes. She also needed a new pair of school shoes and some socks. Here are the shoes, I made the T bar longer as her other shoes kept falling off, hope these stay on. She also has the option of tights or socks whichever helps the shoes to fit best. The socks are thicker so the fit will be more snug. The leather is quite firm and I can get those neat cut-outs by using my Cricut.

The jumper is based on my cable knit pattern (without the cables!) it gave me a blue print for the raglan increases and where to separate the sleeves. The skirt is just a simple pleated wrap made from some cotton that I’m making a dress for myself with.

Nearly ready for Hogwarts trainee wizard.

Last custom doll of 2020

When you order a custom doll you get to choose their name, basically because I’m lazy and running out of names! This doll is based on a girl from Suriname so until her mama names her she is going to be Tahira. Part of the custom order process involves picking outfits and colour palette. Tahira is to have a blouse and wrap pinafore, and here were the colour options.

……..and here is what has been chosen, the lovely dusky pink Liberty chambray blouse and a maroon fabric for the pinafore, which I think is a wool suiting but I can’t be completely sure.

Now onto outfit number two, I leave you with the colour options I gave and you can try and guess which fabric has been chosen for some dungarees.