Saturday, January 23, 2016

Just a Quick Blurb

Hey! So this is just a quick blurb about a present for my mom. One day in mid-December, I looked on Ebay for Vintage Chatty Cathy dolls. I don't even know why I looked; I just wondered what they looked like and what they generally sold for, I guess. Well, I saw one in what looked like pretty good condition (aside from not being able to chat anymore) for 19.99 (much less than any of the other listings). There were only three hours left to bid on it, and no previous bids. For anyone who doesn't know Ebay very well, that means I had a pretty darn good chance of getting the doll without the price going up. Well, I decided to check with my husband (I don't like making impulse buys without getting a second opinion), and by the time I actually got around to it, there were maybe two minutes left on the auction, and still no bids! So I made my bid, won the doll, and made plans.

This is the only "Before" picture
I have: the one that accompanied
the Ebay listing.

Once upon a time, when she was a little girl, my mother had a Chatty Cathy doll, but the doll didn't make it to adulthood with her. She mentioned on more than one occasion during my own childhood that she wished she still had it-- it was one of her favorite toys. Well, now I had one coming to my house, and my mom's birthday was in about a month. Perfect!

Waiting was rough, but finally Chatty Cathy arrived. Her hair had lost its curl over the years, and the face had faded to a sickly greenish-gray. I spent a good bit of time on Google, figuring out how to fix her up. For anyone who wants to know, the fading on the face can be cured using over-the-counter acne cream; just make sure the cream contains 10% benzoyl peroxide. It took three or four weeks for the cream to do its work, but sunlight seems to speed the process up some. I wiped off and reapplied it each week so I could check its progress. Chatty Cathy hair can be washed and conditioned just like human hair, and any wet-set curling method can be used for styling. I used vintage perm rods borrowed from my mother, which certainly aroused her curiosity, especially since I wouldn't tell her why I wanted them.

My mom got a sneak peek at the doll before she was finished, since the benzoyl peroxide hadn't finished its job by the big day, but she started getting excited. I brought the doll back when her face was finished and put her hair in curlers at my mom's house, then left her there so my mom could brush her hair out once it was dry. The next time I was there for a visit, I was as excited as my mom to see her all finished and decked out, and if you've made it this far into this post, I bet you are too! So here are the "After" pictures:

Doesn't she look pretty? The dress and shoes belonged to my mom's
childhood Chatty Cathy.

Close up

This photo hasn't been retouched, so the color's a bit off...
The coat also belonged to my mom's childhood doll.

So there you have it! This is my second foray into doll restoration... pretty fun stuff, taking a sad, beat-up dolly and making her beautiful again. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stuff I Just Did; Stuff I Will Do

Hey, all! I got to do a lot of sewing over the holidays, so I thought I'd sum up here. I'll start with Thanksgiving. I started with this:

Sketch and fabrics for Elinor's Thanksgiving dress.

Those became a blouse, bloomers, and dress set. It was an adventure-- I'm still learning to budget my time with a baby in the mix, and I didn't make a mock up of the pattern I drafted. The blouse ended up too short, but I figured out a fix that wouldn't show. Elinor wore the ensemble for Thanksgiving, and looked absolutely darling!

So cute!

Showing off the sleeves and bloomers.

A pretty good view of the front.

The back.

So there's that. Then I started working on Christmas projects. I had quite a few of those: a pair of stuffed dogs for my nephews, a baby's first Christmas ornament, a stocking, and a Christmas dress for Elinor, and (this one was unplanned, but lots of fun) a stocking for my younger nephew. That last one is actually the first one I finished:

It's hard to see, but the little white spot is an elephant.

My sister-in-law had the cool idea of using one of her son's old pajamas as trim for the stocking. My mom partnered with me. I made the pattern, which, admittedly, didn't turn out quite as I envisioned; I didn't add seam allowance, so it turned out narrower than I'd planned. I cut and sewed all the trim on and did the embroidery, and my mom did the actual construction. It turned out pretty cute!

I started the puppies before the stocking, but didn't finish them till afterward.

The pattern in front was for the Thanksgiving dress.

The finished dog above is my younger nephew's. I forgot to get pictures of both before I gave them to the boys for Christmas; hopefully soon I'll be able to update with pictures of both.

I couldn't find any baby's first Christmas ornaments that I liked for my baby, so I got some Sculpey clay instead! Here's what I made:

The actual ornament is about three inches tall.

I was pretty proud of how it turned out-- even cuter than what Hallmark had to offer this year!

Elinor's dress and stocking were the biggest project. Here's how I started:

Sketch and fabrics

After working on my nephew's stocking, I decided it would be cool to make Elinor's stocking out of the same fabric as her dress, if I had enough. It turns out that I did! The dress could use a tiny bit of reworking (I ran out of time to do the back seam as well as I wanted), but it's really pretty! Here are pictures:

Dress and stocking!

A better photo of the dress

Sleeve detail

Bodice detail

My dollbaby opening her stocking on Christmas eve.

So, that's what I've been working on. The next few projects on my roster are for Elinor's birthday. The first is a fluffly ruffly birthday dress:

Sketch, fabrics, and trims.

I also want to make her a teddy bear. I'm deciding between two patterns:

I wouldn't add the patches, and would probably
make the eyes bigger. Plus I'd use the same
fabric for the muzzle and the main body.

I might try to add foot pads, and would omit the
stitch that they seem to have put in the belly.

If anyone has feedback on which pattern I should use, let me know in the comments!

Once those are done, I have several ongoing projects, plus I'll be trying something new. I've been inspired by my cousin Rebecca, who has a small crochet business (Crocheted by Rebecca on Facebook-- check it out; she's awesome), and I want to start a business of my own: Rhymes with Finesse Needle Arts. I'll start by selling small keepsake stuffed animals, made using outgrown babies'/children's clothes (or any other sentimental fabrics customers send me), and if that goes well, I might expand from there. So be looking for that starting in April or May!

So that's what's up! Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Recap

Wow... 2015 is over... and what a year it has been! Let's sum up... with pictures!


After living in my generous and gracious grandparents' house for two months, Handsomeface got a full time job with a local construction company. After 2 years and some of working part time jobs with irregular hours, this was a huge blessing. We moved into my generous and gracious parents' house while Michael started working and I looked for housing and got ready for Elinor to arrive. We even got to welcome a new nephew into the world!

Michael at Work

Getting Ready for Elinor!


February was a flurry of getting ready for Elinor. We found an apartment and started looking for a car. Not much else happened, other than getting news that our apartment wouldn't be ready till the middle of March... and Elinor's due date was the 25th! We'd be cutting it close...

Elinor and Me


We didn't even know how close... We went to the apartment the very day they said we could sign the lease and it was not ready... My mom and I spent the next two days cleaning and the day after that we all attended the wedding of two of my dearest friends. I made the mistake of dancing cotton-eyed joe and a polka. I thought it was fine, but... well, you'll see. The next day was moving day! We drove up to my grandparents' house where all our stuff was... Handsomeface and my dad went to get the moving truck, and my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and I went in and started sorting piled-up mail... and then my water broke! Less than seven hours later, we were definitely not moved in, but we finally got to see this little wonder face to face!

Look how beautiful! Can you believe it?
Later that month, we moved into our own apartment and bought a minivan. I could hardly believe how complete life seemed.


In April, Michael and I settled into life as parents. Michael had a birthday, Elinor celebrated numerous firsts (first holiday, first pigtails, first long trip, and many more), and I enjoyed being a full-time mom, despite the crazy sleep deprivation.

Elinor's First Easter


May was full of ups and downs. Our car broke down, but generous family helped us get it fixed. Elinor had trouble sleeping, but she started smiling regularly. I had a birthday and my first mother's day! It was a good month.

Elinor giving me breakfast in bed for my very first mother's day. :)


Elinor started learning like crazy this month! She started getting fascinated by things around her, and learned to roll over. She had her first solid food, which she loved, and started what we hope will be a lifetime of culinary adventures. She started getting better at sleeping, too. Michael got to celebrate his first father's day. (So many firsts this year!)

Elinor and Handsomeface


This month was marked by a visit from faraway family (Michael's sister, to be exact), and Elinor's first trip to the vacation spot of my childhood, Lake MI. Fun and family galore!

First time in the Lake MI Channel!


This month was pretty much defined by teaching Elinor to sleep. So many ups and downs with teaching babies to sleep! But she also started interacting more, both with Michael and me and with her environment. It is just so cool to watch babies learn on a daily basis.

Me and my Ellie.


This month, Elinor learned to say Mama. She played by herself more and more. Michael enjoyed his job and I enjoyed being a mommy. Not very remarkable, but very good.

Yummy feets!


Michael and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary this month, Elinor made mimicking Michael and me a full-time hobby, and we all dressed up for her first Halloween!

Happy Halloween!


I actually got to do a sewing project this month! I feel like this is the month when I really started feeling a routine start to form, as far as motherhood goes. I started accomplishing more than just childcare basics on a regular basis, and started to feel like I could sit back and enjoy watching Elinor learn and seeing Michael be a fantastic daddy. We all enjoyed family time at Thanksgiving, and started gearing up for Christmas!

Elinor wearing my November sewing project.


December was a flurry of getting ready for Christmas. Sewing projects, decorating, baking, shopping... and a glorious flurry of visiting family, both close by and halfway across the country. Watching Elinor experience her first Christmas was a joy to both of us.

Our Christmas Bush

Elinor getting the hang of it.

So that was pretty much our year! Thanks for reading, and may God bless you in 2016!

Lots of love from all of us!