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Monday, June 17, 2019

Brief Hiatus

I am taking a short break to explore creative avenues!😉 
 Please come back soon to see what I have been up to.  
In the meantime, follow 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Double the Fun Bunnies

Years ago, I made a cute little Easter centerpiece using a small red clay pot, a little felt, and a few fluffy pom-poms purchased at the craft store. I know you have seen them....the felt and pom-poms are glued to the side of the clay pot to make it look like the bunny is head first into whatever you are displaying....candy or flowers. 

I recently came across a picture of one posted online, and it inspired me to make Easter cards with bunnies in pots.  I had no other projects in the works, and thought it might be a good time to experiment.   I added mylar, fluffy yarn, chalk, and a water color pad to my normal routine.  

I had not originally intended to blog about the Funny Bunny Easter cards, so there are only a few in-progress pictures.  Hopefully, it will be a light on words and heavy on inspiration!  

Mylar and Chalk Accents

I have been playing around stitching mylar. It is a common practice when using a machine embroidery module.  Until recently, I had never tried it with free-motion.  My favorite mylar is a transparent opalescent.  I could not find it locally, so purchased a single sheet from Etsy shop StitchednFaith.  It seemed expensive, but it turned out to be well worth the price.  I have made several cards and still have quite a bit left, so you will be seeing it in future posts.  

For the thread-sketched Easter cards, I used a combination of gold and the opalescent.  The gold is opaque and requires a little more handling, as demonstrated here.  

After drawing the image on my sketch pad, and transferring the image to water-soluble stabilizer, I cut a small piece of mylar to fit where the large candy Kiss would be stitched.   I added the gold mylar first.  It is opaque making it impossible to use the stitched lines as a guide.  

I will mention here that this bunny was originally drawn on my regular sketch pad.  I eventually drew it again on the water color pad for the painted bunny.  More about that later.

The candy Kiss was stitched first.  Before stitching anything else, the excess mylar was removed so it would not interfere with surrounding objects.

I carefully lifted the water soluble stabilizer, removed the excess mylar, and continued stitching the rest of the image.  
After transferring the outline to the canvas, I filled in with colorful thread.  A bit of the opalescent mylar decorates the Easter egg.  Fluffy yarn was stitched to the head and tail. After stitching was completed, a small paint brush was used to add a little pink chalk to the ears and face, and yellow chalk to tulips.  

As with all my cards, the canvas and card stock border are affixed to 4-1/2 x 6 inch folded greeting card.  The stitched card is done, but the fun is not over!

Water Color Paper

When I first started free-motion thread sketching, I used scratch printer paper to sketch, or in some cases, trace the images.  As I became more comfortable with drawing, I switched to sketch pads, now filled with hundreds of images that I will probably not use again.  I recently purchased a water color pad at our local Blick store and decided this would be a good time to give it a try.  Double the fun regardless of how well they turn out!  If it works out, more cards and fewer sketches cluttering my sewing room!

There were some gotcha's for me.  First, I use a lot of eraser on my sketches.  The erased lines and damaged paper do not affect the end product when I am transferring the image to stabilizer.  However, my sketches need a lighter hand and very little eraser to keep the water color paper in-tact for paint. 

This sketch was made on the water color pad.  Even though I tried to keep the pencil light, there were areas where I got carried away.  Because I like to draw over the pencil in ink, the dark lines do not matter as long as I do not erase. 

I currently have only water color pencils because that is what I like to use on my canvas thread sketches.  However, It was my experience that the water color pencils took a toll on the water color paper.  Perhaps, again, it was my heavy hand.  Although happy with these first efforts, I am anxious to try regular water colors.  

Since fraying is not an issue with the water color paper, a clean, simple stitch works to adhere the card to the border card stock.

Here is the same sketch stitched in thread with a little chalk accent.

For each sketch, two cards and a lot more fun!  

There are four water color cards available on my Urban Stitcher Etsy Shop!  A video featuring the cards can be viewed on my YouTube channel.  

Thank you for visiting!

Happy Easter!  

Monday, February 18, 2019


Pearl is my latest muse.  She occupied my time for four weeks.  Her journey is much different than my other paper clay dolls.  Rather than beaded joints, she has a wire armature that allows her to hold a pose.  Instead of Creative Paper Clay, I used ACTIVA La Doll Premier Natural Air Dry Stone Clay.  I will share pictures and a few words describing my experience with the wire armature, clothing, and finally, the new clay.

Pearl is 16 inches tall.  Her body, upper legs and upper arms are fabric. Her head, lower legs, feet, forearms and hands are paper clay.


The stranded electrical wire was purchased for a dragon I made in 2016, Sew Happy   I cannot remember the wire specs, but it was purchased by the foot at our local Ace Pearl Hardware.  I chose it over single wire for durability and safety.  A single wire would allow a more exact and stronger pose, but would not hold up as well with repeated flex and movement.  I also considered that should the wire break over time, although the joint would no longer hold a pose, it would continue to be flexible without a solid wire protruding through the clay or fabric.   

One drawback with using a one-piece wire armature vs. the beaded joints is that the doll is constructed all in one piece.  Each clay part had to be added sequentially and allowed to dry before going on to the next part.  This limited the amount of time I could spend on the doll at one time and added a number of days to the process.  

The initial plan was to use fabric for upper and lower legs.  But the fabric lower legs (shown left) looked a bit lumpy under the tights.  I decided to build the lower legs using clay (shown right).  I also added stretch fabric at the joints to provide shape under the tights.


I measured and drew a pattern for tights.  I copied the pattern to lightweight interfacing so it could be pinned to my stretch fabric.  It took a bit of trial and error to get the size right.

A silky scarf was used for the blouse and skirt lining.  I drew a guide for pin tucks using my favorite marker, a Pilot Clicker erasable marking pen.  It disappears with a little heat.  This picture shows the front of the blouse (on the left) and the two sleeves, one completed and one ready for pin tucks. 

The "fishtail" waistcoat is made of decorator fabric.  The lining and collar are made from a silk tie.  Although the waist coat is not removable, lining was the easiest way to add a collar and the gathered fishtail back.  

The silky skirt lining and a sparkling tulle fabric were cut in a square and sewn right sides together.  I cut a hole in the center of the square just large enough to fit over the hips.  The fabric was turned right side out and the circle finished with a zigzag stitch.  A few gathers were necessary to fit it to her waist.  Lace was layered over the top of the tulle and silky skirt.  A small piece of matching lace was used as an undergarment.  
Gathered fabric at the waist can become bulky, so care was taken to cut and fit the garments to limit gathers.

A crochet edge with glass bead accents was hand-sewn at the hem.  

Shoes were trickier than usual because they were added over the tights.  Her ankles swivel up and down, but do not hold a pose.  It was necessary to pay attention to how how the shoes would be added without limiting that movement.  The fabric of the tights was hardened with PaverPol where the shoe would fit.  Clay shoes were molded over the tights.  Tulle fabric was glued over the clay shoe.  A crochet and bead trim completed the shoes.  I like how they turned out, but it was pain-staking.  I will not do that again!
Pearl's head piece is hand crochet with glass bead accents. 

New Clay

Finally, the clay.  I really like the ACTIVA La Doll Premier Natural Air Dry Stone Clay.  It is about the same price as Creative Paper Clay.  I will continue to use La Doll for for several reasons.  I am slow to work the clay and often add water to keep it from drying.  Water is also a good way to smooth the surface.  The Creative clay can crack and shrink if you add too much water.  I did not have that problem with the La Doll clay.  In fact, I did not need to repair any cracks while making Pearl.  

I like the white color better than the gray Creative.  Less fuss with the color wash added for skin tone.  

I have read that La Doll is stronger than Creative and it may well be.  When making a bead-jointed doll, I add hands last because they are small and fragile.  Pearl's hands had to be built onto the armature early on.  They survived, including garment fittings, without issue.  She also experienced, without breaks or cracks, an active photo shoot for her video on Urban Stitcher® YouTube Channel.      

After four weeks, I have become attached to Pearl.  If I can bring myself to part with her, she will be listed on Etsy Urban Stitcher Shop.    

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Paper Clay Doll Ivy

Ivy is made of paper clay.
She is 16 inches tall, and jointed at shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.

I am rarely without a lineup of hobby ideas waiting for attention.  Because my work-space does not allow room for multiple projects at a time, I typically complete one project before moving on.  A thread-sketched greeting card can take about eight hours from sketchpad to completion.  A larger thread sketch may take about 40 hours.  Forsaking Christmas cards and housekeeping, I worked on Ivy for more than 100 hours in December.  I have enjoyed every minute.  Read on for pictures and explanation of how Ivy came to be, including some of the trial and error.  Here are more links for pictures without words:


After days of adding ideas. 
Initial design was sketched on a legal size sheet of paper.  I refer to the drawing many times using it to size the head and limbs.  As I go along, I try to make all notes on that single sheet of paper.

Many decisions are made as I go, but a few decisions must be made at this stage, including how the doll will be jointed.  This dictates hole placement and how the limbs will be shaped to accommodate the beads.  

Paper Clay Parts

Her head began with a bit of tin foil wrapped around the end of sturdy wire.  The wire extends down into the soft body for stability.  I add thin layers of clay over several days allowing the layers to dry before adding another.  

Legs and arms were first created without hands and feet.  Because the hands are so small, it is easier to create them separately and affix later.  The shoes take shape later only because I have trouble settling on a style.  I used a skewer to make holes where the doll would be jointed.  It is important to pay attention to hole location because it dictates the angle at which her legs and arms hang.    

Soft Body

After the clay body parts were shaped, I created a soft body using muslin and stuffing.  The opening is at top so the wire can be slid into the body.  Waxed thread was used to attach head and upper torso to the soft body.  The body could be made of clay.  I prefer soft body because the clothing can be sewn rather than glued to the body.

Skin and Facial Features

Although touch-ups and additional detail can be added later, it is easier to add skin color, and in Ivy's case, tattoos, before attaching arms and legs to the body.

For Ivy' skin color I used chalk and powdered eye shadow.  I like the look rather than paint, but it is a time-consuming effort.  Each layer of chalk and powder had to be buffed before adding a second layer until reaching the desired color.    Eyes and Lips were colored with acrylic paint.  

Satisfied with skin color, the tattoos were first lightly drawn with pencil.  Then, very carefully, for days and days, I drew the tattoos.  Micron pigma archival ink pens were used.  I do not have a steady hand, so this was pain-staking.  A little burgundy acrylic paint was added using tiny nail art design paint brushes.  After skin detail was complete, I used a small amount of PaverPol as a sealant.  Paverpol is a textile hardener, not expressly meant for paper clay.  I use it because I do not like brush-on varnishes nor do I have a place to spray varnish.  The Paverpol adds a layer of protection to the clay surface and is non-toxic.   Care must be taken, however, when brushing Paverpol over the chalk.  Overworking the Paverpol can lift and smear the chalk.    

The eyes are always the most difficult for me.  A steady hand is required to add so much detail in the tiny area.  Some of the paint was applied with the point of a straight pin.    


It would have been easier to mold the shoes as part of her foot, but I wanted a sandal look that I felt required building the shoes separately.  

The shoes were created in stages allowing clay parts to dry before adding a new element.  I cut a sole from clay, shaped it to her foot and let it dry separately.  After the sole dried to shape, the grosgrain ribbon across the toe was sized and secured between the sole and platform.  When that dried, the heel was added.  The shoes were painted black before securing to her feet.  The shoe back and ankle strap, made of ribbon, were added after gluing the shoe to her foot. 

Adding Limbs

Stringing the doll is an exciting time.  Each doll goes together a little differently and it seems a personality starts to emerge.  The shape of the limb at the joint dictates how the limb will move.  Ivy's elbows and knees are rounded, making the joints more loose than a blunt shape. I used 10mm beads with a 1.2mm hole size and 1mm flat waxed thread.  The thread passes through the bead hole twice.  It is a cozy fit, but it works.  I use a small gold metal decoration on each side of the bead.  I don't know what they are called...I found them in the beading department at Craft Warehouse.  

Dressing the doll requires a lot of handling.  Dangling arms and legs can hinder the process.  If the clothes allow, lower legs and arms are not attached until the end.  Because Ivy has one long sleeve, I attached the lower arms before making the clothes.  If lower arms are attached at this early stage, care must be taken to protect her fingers and hands from flopping around and banging on the work surface.  



Clothes are fun.  Although I start with clothes in mind, often it is trial and error before I find something that suits her.

I usually start with simple underwear.  I had originally planned to have several skirt layers.  I made a ruffled black organza skirt to fit under the gold, but decided against it.

The corset bodice took a little time in fitting and re-fitting.  It is a good example of why I have a closet full of bits and pieces of fabric and trim.  The smallest bit may be just the right size!  


I had an old, inexpensive doll purchased years ago when I was making American Girl doll clothes for our granddaughters.  I spent several days cutting her locks and remaking them into wefts that could be used for Ivy.  Once I had it ready for styling, it made her look totally different than I had envisioned.  So, I was back to eyelash yarn.  I purchase most all my eyelash yarn on Brokemarys Etsy shop.  She has a variety of unusual threads and yarns, and I can purchase small skeins perfect for my needs.  After experimenting, I am happy with the crocheted wig using black and burgundy eyelash yarns.   

Creating wefts
Wig cap from pantyhose

completed wig cap before adding synthetic hair

Not the look I wanted


Button earrings were fashioned with clay and paint.

I wrapped Ivy's hair in plastic wrap to protect it from glue while doing the finish work. False eyelashes were applied.  They can be trimmed, but I like the over-the-top look of the long lashes.

I decided a masquerade mask would make an unusual fascinator hat.  I drew a basic outline on transparent water soluble stabilizer.  Pinned that to gold tulle fabric and used a free-motion stitch to create a design.  A small piece of gold trim was hand-sewn around the edge.  I stiffened the mask with Paverpol so it would hold shape when sewn to her head.   

Ivy on her display board

At long last, her lower legs were sew on and she was complete.  

Thank you for visiting!