Archive for the ‘hand sewing’ Category

Remember Valentine’s Day and My Free Patterns

February 2nd, 2014

Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. If you are looking for an easy Valentine’s project, don’t forget all the free patterns on Florabunda’s Page on this website. Here is the cat I made for Valentine’s Day last year.

Heart CatThe original pattern used wiggle eyes and a pompom for the nose, but for my Valentine cat I used heart shaped buttons.

The cat sews up in a hurry. There is plenty of time to make it before Valentine’s Day. To download the cat pattern and other easy patterns, click Florabunda’s Page.

Free Patterns, hand sewing

Introducing Florabunda’s Page

February 5th, 2013

Today tech support (husband) has uploaded Florabunda’s page to the website. Everything on this page is free. You will find new beginning hand sewing patterns, craft ideas, and my Florabunda stories on the new page. We decided that this was a good spot for the free global pincushion pattern. The free sundress pattern, the free quilt patterns, and the Tools, Tips, and Techniques download are still on the pattern page.

To go to Florabunda’s page, click the button at the top of the page, or “Florabunda’s Page” in the box to the left of this post. Or you can click here.

The new page has required a few changes on the patterns page. All the website pages have a new button at the top. Please check out the changes, especially Florabunda’s page. I hope that you will share Flo’s page with any children that you think will enjoy it. Thank you!

Free Children's Stories, hand sewing, learning to sew

Coming Soon

January 6th, 2013

Tech support (husband) and I are working on a new page for my website. It is designed to be kid friendly, with beginning hand sewing projects, craft projects, stories, and lots and lots of entertaining “Easter eggs” courtesy of tech support. Everything on the page will be free.

Here is Florabunda with animals made from some of the patterns.

The miniature bears are just the right size for dolls

I made the kitties in honor of Kitty, my newest cloth doll pattern.

The elephant pattern contains three sizes of elephants. The costumes for Florabunda and the elephant are not available. I made them up as I went along.

We hope to have the new page up and running in a month or two.

blog, hand sewing, learning to sew ,

A Cruel Crewel Needle

July 3rd, 2011

A few weeks ago my husband and I attended an annual family reunion. These reunions are always fun. I love all the visiting and catching up with everyone’s life, but I tend to fidget unless I have something to do with my hands. I usually take an embroidery project to work on while I’m talking.
I had received Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray for Christmas and selected a rose motif from the book to embroider. The motif is very dainty. With help from technical support (husband) I made several copies of the rose on a fabric sheet. We divided the designs into quilt blocks. I hope to put the completed blocks into yet another miniature quilt.
Such a small design needs only a single strand of embroidery thread and the smallest size crewel needle, a number 10 crewel needle, to make the small stitches. I don’t always use a needle threader, but I use one when I need a number 10 needle.
I carefully packed up my fancy work before we left. I remembered everything I needed, including my needle threader. I have the traditional type of threader with a piece of light metal holding a thin bent wire to use for threading.
I didn’t expect the tiny needle eye to pull the wire out of its holder the second time I tried to use the threader. I couldn’t easily replace my broken tool. Many times a hotel can provide unprepared travelers with a tooth brush or sewing kit, but the sewing kit’s needles come prethreaded.  It does not contain a needle threader. I guess that needle threaders are old-fashioned. For the rest of the weekend I had to thread my needle without any help. I managed to thread it every time, but I didn’t get as much embroidery done as I had planned, because so much time was taken up threading needles. I’m looking for sturdier needle threaders, but haven’t found any that work well yet.
The moral of my story is: If you are traveling with a needle threader, travel with several.
I will show you my miniature rose quilt when I have completed it. Here are the blocks that I have embroidered  so far.

Coming next week: A free download of the miniature Dutch Doll quilt blocks featured in my June nineteenth blog.
Coming in August: A chance to win the PDF of your choice from my pattern selections.

hand sewing, quilts

Overcasting Stitch

March 6th, 2011

Using overcasting to close a body back stuffing opening

Start sewing at the top of the stuffing opening on the left side of the opening. Hide the thread knot by inserting the needle into the top of the stuffing opening and bringing it out on the left side.
Make a stitch straight across the opening to the right side.
Make the second stitch going right to left slightly slanted. The second stitch in each pair will be inside the closing, so that the visible stitches go straight across the stuffing opening.
Continue back and forth  keeping the outside stitching straight
Pull the stitches tight as you sew. The figure below shows loose stitches to illustrate thread placement.



Using overcasting to close an arm or leg

Finish stuffing each piece.
Tuck the raw edges of the stuffing opening inside the arm or leg.
Hold the edges of the stuffing opening together as you sew.
Sew both sides of the opening together with each stitch.
Keep the stitches small and close together.

hand sewing, sewing tips

The Ladder Stitch

February 27th, 2011

In doll patterns and doll crafting magazines the invisible hand stitch used in doll construction is called the ladder stitch. In embroidery books the ladder stitch is a decorative stitch that looks like a ladder. The doll maker’s ladder stitch is similar to the slip-stitch, but it is done on the outside of the doll.

Using the ladder stitch to connect the doll’s head to the body

The doll’s head should be stuffed. I like to stuff the body after I have connected the two pieces, but I have been successful sewing a stuffed head to a stuffed body.

Position the doll head on the doll body.

Use a few pins, if you like, to hold the two parts together. I usually just hold the two together as I sew.

Take a small stitch in the head.

Pull all the thread through each stitch as you take it.

Take the second stitch in the neck.

Go back to the head for the next stitch and make it very close to the first stitch.

Continue back and forth.

Take only one stitch at a time. Pull the thread completely through each stitch as you take it.

Keep the stitches very close together. You should take between fifteen and twenty stitches per inch.The illustration is courtesy of Dover Publications from Easy to make Story Book Dolls by Sherralyn St. Clair

Using the ladder stitch to sewing arm and leg stuffing openings closed

Finish stuffing each piece.

Tuck the raw edges of the stuffing opening inside the arm or leg.

Hold the edges of the stuffing opening together as you sew.

Do not overlap the edges as you sew.

Take a small stitch on one side of the opening.

Pull all the thread through each stitch as you take it.

Take the second stitch on the other side of the opening.

Go back to first side for the next stitch and make it very close to the beginning stitch.

Continue back and forth. Keep the stitches very close together. You should take between fifteen and twenty stitches per inch.

Next week I will blog about using the overcasting stitch.

hand sewing, sewing tips

Some Basic Hand Stitches

February 20th, 2011

This week I am going to write about some very basic hand stitches. Next week I will write about some slightly more complicated hand stitches that are very useful for doll making.

One stitch is defined as the needle going into and coming out of the fabric.
Running stitch
Several stitches are made with the needle before the thread is pulled through the fabric.

Basting stitches
Basting stitches are running stitches used to hold fabric together so that it can be sewn with a machine stitch.
Hand Gathering
Hand gathering stitches are running stitches that are pulled so that the fabric is gathered over the thread.
A slip-stitch is an almost invisible stitch. It is a good stitch to use when putting in a hem.
Finish the raw edge of the garment to be hemmed.
Press in the hem. For these small doll patterns the hem is usually half inch.
Use a few pins to hold the hem in place.
Check the length on the doll before continuing.
Fold the finished edge back about one eighth inch.

Take about an one eighth inch stitch through the folded back edge. Pull the thread through the fabric.
Catch two or three threads and take a small stitch on the part of the hem that will be visible on the dress.
Take the next stitch in the folded back edge. For these small hems the visible stitches should about one quarter inch apart.

hand sewing, sewing tips

An Easy Project

January 9th, 2011


I usually keep my needles in a strawberry emery. I learned years ago never to put my needles in a large tomato pin cushion. The needles will either vanish forever or work themselves out and surprise me with a prick when I’m trying to pin something together. Last week when I was writing about basic sewing tools, I cut a rectangle of black felt and arranged a selection of needles and a needle threader on it.

After the photo session, as I was putting the tools away, I found that I liked the black felt for needles. I decided to make a needle book.

My needle book is a bit thicker than most needle books, because I am going to try to keep most of my needles sorted in it.

I cut three rectangles of black felt and one rectangle of red felt for the cover. The cover is larger that the black rectangles. I placed the cover on the bottom and stacked the three black rectangles on top. I sewed a machine stitch down the middle of the stack to make a spine for the needle book.

I folded my felt stack on its spine of machine stitching to make a book. I glued appliques from my collection on the cover.

I sorted my needles by page. I put the needles that I use most often, size 8 embroidery needles, on the first page. I like that size for most hand sewing as well as most embroidery.


Sharps are on the next page. They have a smaller eye, so I put my needle threader on that page as well.

Longer needles have their own page. Large eyed tapestry needles for ribbon embroidery and other interesting things take up two pages. The last page is reserved for unusual needles like my curved upholstery needles. I don’t sew furniture. I like to sew little things, but I find a use for the curved needles occasionally.

My needles are all organized for the new year. Now all I need to do is refold all my fabric stacks.

getting organized, hand sewing


May 30th, 2010


I learned to sew before I learned to write. My mother never thought that I held my pencil correctly, but she approved of the way I used a needle. I still sew the way I was taught by my grandmother and use a thimble on the middle finger of my right hand. I have been surprised to learn that some very good seamstresses don’t bother with a thimble. At this point in my life, I don’t think that I could manage without one.

My mother-in-law gave me these lovely thimbles when her poor vision made it impossible for her to continue sewing. The two smaller thimbles are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The larger one is sterling silver. I use them all the time. I think of them as sewing jewelry.

hand sewing ,

Using a Seam Sealant

February 22nd, 2009


If you would like to try sewing small doll dresses by hand, but do not want to spend the time overcasting the seams to finish them, try using a seam sealant. I use Fray Check because it is so readily available. Too much sealant makes the fabric edges stiff and difficult to sew. When I use Fray Check, I lay the cut fabric pieces that I want to treat on a sheet of wax paper. I have tried applying the sealant directly to the fabric, but I always ended up with too much on the edges. Now I squeeze a few drops on to the wax paper. Then I use a toothpick to apply a small amount to the outside edges of my fabric pieces. After the sealant has dried, I soak the treated pieces on a bowl of waterfor a few minutes and then remove them and allow them to dry. I  then press the pieces. The fabric is soft and easy to sew.

hand sewing ,