An Introduction...

Welcome to my new blogspot...and to start, a little about my journey here...

I have a background in costume design and I have been making dolls for many years. My recent creations have been cloth dolls inspired by antique dolls and my family history (another of my favourite pastimes). I also love creating anything with fabric and I'm enjoying experimenting with different styles and designing unique items.

In this blog I will share doll info, tips and tricks that I have learnt over the years and also pics and even a few patterns, so please check back often to see what's new....

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A bee in my bonnet!

I made quite a few of these bonnets for the Pudsey fair, thinking how nice they would look on the wooden peg dolls...and sold most of them to teddy bear artists..turned out they looked lovely on the little antique style bears too!

All the fun of the fair...

I had a lovely day at the recent Pudsey Doll and Teddy Fair, I received lots of lovely comments and had several very interesting conversations. This repro parian doll was probably the most remarked upon, though I found myself unable to part with her and ended up putting a sold sign on her so I could bring her home...think I need a little work on my sales techniques!!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

How exciting...

I have just launched my new blog , where I can concentrate solely on my costume making (while keeping my dolls here, of course). I intend to keep adding to both blogs as I am planning to continue with the doll making as well as launching my costume business...I can see it's going to be a very busy time...

Friday, 13 August 2010

a fashion first....

Well, I'm a bit rusty, but my first attempt at new designs didn't turn out too bad! I finished these figures in watercolours, (my favoured medium). This is my first commission (though it's a 'freebie' so I can test my new pattern software) for a salsa style evening dress for my daughter...I have already printed the pattern, so it just needs making up!...but I can already feel myself being pulled along the paper doll route....oh,oh...

Thursday, 22 July 2010


I've recently discovered FOLKSY a UK site that runs along the same lines as ETSY (where I have my other online store). You can find all manner of wonderful hand crafted items there, including my new shop!! You can find me at:
Please pay me a visit when you can.

chasing rainbows...

Well...after a terrible few weeks where I have found out I'm losing my job in a couple of weeks time...and then got turned down for a university course...I was about ready to just give up!!
But after a good while feeling sorry for myself, I've picked myself up and I'm going to 'bite the bullet' and turn my hobbies into a full time business!!
I'm planning to start a costume design service as well as general dressmaking and, of course, my dolls will be a big part of it too. I used to make dance and stage costumes (like the one in the picture)and spent time doing bridal alterations before the dolls came along so it shouldn't be too difficult to 'start again' here's to a new beginning!!

Saturday, 3 July 2010


.....and here she is!! My beautiful ragdoll kitten. You can't really see the pale blue colour of her eyes in photos. We have called her 'Tia', she is a real sweetie!!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The cat's out of the bag....

I've had to confess to hubby what I'm planning to do with my money from selling the miniatures...I have to say he took it quite well.....although when I said I wanted to buy a rag doll, he just assumed it was a doll. I think he was just a bit surprised when I mentioned that it happened to be a breed of cat!! But, he's got used to the idea (only took a few days of persuading)...which is good really, as I'd already found 'the one' ! She's a beautiful blue point ragdoll kitten...and I'm going to meet her tomorrow...and I'm sooo excited! She won't be ready to come home with me for a few weeks yet, so I'll just have to be patient (not one of my strong points!)...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Don't You Just Hate It When...

It's happened AGAIN!...Someone (who shall remain nameless) is passing off my goods as her own on Etsy!!! I even gave her the benefit of the doubt by asking her where she found the items and she claimed to have made them herself!! I really don't have a problem with people making and selling my designs so long as they don't try to pass them off as their own, but it's even worse when they are selling my actual products and claiming to have made them....this has happened to me several times and I sometimes wonder why I bother....perhaps I should give up sharing my designs?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Pale and interesting...

I don't come across many dolls heads made in the UK, but both of these heads are marked 'House of Nisbet fine bone china 1980 made in England' (the House of Nisbet was founded by Peggy Nisbet in 1952, she died in 1995). They are unusual in that their colouring is very pale, (the china is almost white like the original china heads), I think they were probably originally sold in kit form.


This head was another of my 'impulse' buys. She looks rather surprised with her high eyebrows and round eyes, though at least it looks like a pleasant surprise...she has just the hint of a smile! I'm planning to make her in the style of a French fashion doll complete with full trousseau.

Impulse guilty are you?

Okay, so hands up all those who are guilty of buying on impulse...then wondering why? Yes, I'm just as guilty as everyone else (we've all done that at some point, haven't we?) only have to look at this head to see it was a spur of the moment thing!! I can't use any of my usual excuses like...'felt sorry for it'.....or 'couldn't resist it' would be more like...'it was cheap, no one else wanted it' or maybe...'oops, look what I bought'!! So I'll have to dig deep to create a character around this one...I'm already thinking along the lines of a drag queen, complete with sparkly dress and big red hair....Then, perhaps at the next fair someone will come along and on impulse.....

Gypsy Caravan...

Well, my miniatures 'cull' is well and truly underway with lots for sale on ebay (and a few in Etsy too)...but this is one miniature (plus the few dozen I've managed to squeeze inside!!) that won't be going anywhere soon. I built it from a kit and it was a true labour of love with all of the rose pattern transfers added took me quite a while to complete. I may let you have a peek inside it at some point...when it looks like I can't get any more in it....and I'm satisfied that it's 'finished' the future...maybe

Monday, 7 June 2010

Parting is such sweet sorrow....

Well, I finally decided to part with my dolls houses and miniatures collection(which has got a little out of hand), so I started the long (and a little painful) process of sorting them out and deciding which to put on ebay or sell in my etsy shop! It was a difficult decision, but I felt the need to spend more time concentrating on my dolls and less being distracted by so many other projects...I think hubby is secretly delighted...but not for long when he finds out what I'm planning to do with the money!!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

New Faces......Freebies

I have just added a few new faces to my free doll pattern list, these can be used as alternatives for Gypsy, Joel or Summer....enjoy!

Friday, 21 May 2010

New Body design

I have actually managed to finish a few bodies at all I need to do is add the heads...and clothes...I may even end up with a finished doll at this rate! This new design I have created is a much more satisfying shape for my repro china heads. I have painted and varnished the lower limbs to compliment the heads but I left the rest in it's natural calico state. For the antique heads I tend to tea stain the calico to take away it's 'new' look, but not so much that it could be mistaken as an original body.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A pretty face...

This is a bit of a change for me, but I felt so sorry for this little doll I just had to rescue her !!
She was attached to an old baby body (obviously not the correct one for her) and was intact, but in a really grubby state with what looked like quite badly scuffed bisque. After a gentle clean she has turned out to be a little beauty...the scuffs were in the dirt, not the bisque!! She is marked on the back Armand Marseilles 370 6/0 Germany and with no damage to her original teeth and original blue glass sleep eyes (that work perfectly)...I think I found a little treasure!! So my next task is to design her a suitable reproduction body..then she'll need a have I started!

To glue or not to glue?...that is the question!!

I'm often asked about attaching doll's heads to bodies and my simple answer is if you can avoid it DON'T GLUE !!
Most china heads have holes for attaching and the simplest way is to run a cotton tape (or ribbon) through the holes, pin the tapes in place on the body and sew. This way the head is secure, but doesn't have to be permanent, particularly for antique heads with reproduction bodies, sewing in place leaves the option to change the body to an antique one should it become available. This particular head (a beautiful Kobberman repro) has three sew holes front and back, though it's more common to find heads with just two holes front and back.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A fantastic find...

I went to a car boot sale on Sunday and came across this gorgeous doll sized rocking horse! Of course I couldn't possibly have gone home without it...I think it will look lovely on display with a few dolls.

Monday, 10 May 2010


I've finally got around to opening an ETSY shop (been meaning to for ages.....). For those of you that don't know about ETSY it's a fabulous online selling group dedicated to handmade and vintage goods...a wonderful place just to browse or find a special pop along and have a little look! My store can be found at hope you can come for a visit!

...and here they are in use...

My home made dress forms showing off a couple of my designs...they work really well and cost a fraction of what I would have paid for ready made ones (though they're not as pretty...)

A simple solution...

I needed a way to display some of the doll dresses I have made without having a doll in them, or going to the expense of buying small dress forms...and the solution I found was to make some simple body shapes out of some cotton ticking and attach them to some old wooden candlesticks and bobbins I had spare! I just need to make a few more different sizes and I'll have a full set... they're really great for when I'm working on costumes too!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

A couple of my smaller dolls, these are both made from painted calico with rowan wool hair. They have both found new homes...and I can't help making more because they are sooo cute...though I really need to complete some china heads...and costumes...some patterns need finishing.....

Queen Anne Cloth Doll

This is my first 'Queen Anne' design. She is made from calico, then stained and painted with needle felted pure alpaca hair. (She also has the most fabulous painted gold boots with laces!!). Her dress is made from vintage cotton prints in the traditional two layers (bodice top over underskirt) with split front, laced with ribbon and trimmed with vintage lace. Check out my FREE PATTERNS for a Queen Anne face to trace for your dolls.

My favourite doll...

This little primitive doll is my favourite of all of the cloth dolls I have created. I took her to a doll fair and discovered that I couldn't part with her and ended up telling everone she was on display only and not for sale! She now resides in my old rocking chair...

Sunday, 21 February 2010


I've been working on some new FREE DOLL PATTERNS just for you...and to make life a little easier I've added permanent links to the left of the page so you don't have to search for them (though you made need to scroll down the page to find them!!)...the usual rules apply, PLEASE only make one copy for personal use, no distribution of any kind...if you want to sell the finished dolls, please contact me first, thankyou.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

A little intrigue...

This beautiful little parian head was sold to me as an 'unsigned artist's original'. She was very grubby with a large black ink stain on the back, but after a careful clean up I found this makers mark under the ink! I haven't been able to identify it so far, but I'll keep looking...

Sunday, 31 January 2010

The smallest china head...

At just under three inches tall, this is the smallest china head I have come across so far. She is an 1890s German china head glued on to an old (probably 1950s) plastic body. I decided not to try to remove her from the body and worked with what I had instead. She looks rather nice in her tiny hand crocheted dress...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Penny wooden dolls

These are four circa 1900 'penny wooden' dolls (so called because they were originally sold for a penny usually by street vendors). They were crudely made with simple features and wooden peg joints ( so they're also known as peg dolls) and generally sold without clothes so were dressed by mothers and daughters. The two on the right (back) are in their original clothes and the other two I have redressed myself.

Wooden tuck comb doll

Among my small collection of wooden dolls is this wonderful old tuck comb doll. She measures 18 inches tall and she has a fairly crudely painted face, but really nicely carved hands and feet with painted red slippers. At some point she had earrings, there are tiny fittings still in her ears. I think she will look lovely once she is redressed.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

New Bodies..

A couple of almost completed doll bodies. The smaller one is tea stained to give more of an aged effect (I have also painted the boots as I prefer them with a boot design akin to the original china legs).
The larger body is for a reproduction parian head, so her lower limbs have been painted (they just need boot details and a coat of varnish to finish).

Blonde china head circa 1885- 1890

This lovely blonde lowbrow china head dates to about 1885-1890. She is one of the first completed dolls with a new body of tea stained calico and a pretty rose print fabric dress.
I have heard it said that for every 10 black haired china heads there was just one blonde haired china head produced, I don't know how true this is. They don't appear to be as readily available as their darker haired counterparts, but I have been lucky enough to acquire a few of differing sizes.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Reproduction China Head

This is a beautiful reproduction china head made in 1964. She has all the detailing of the 1890s lowbrow and is very good quality. I have designed her a new calico body (along with using a rather nice pair of vintage white porcelain legs), then dressed her in pretty cotton prints.

Hints and tips...

A good way to avoid damage to your dolls feet is to use an empty cotton reel, add a circle of felt to each end (this needs to be slightly larger than the cotton reel so that the reel itself does not come into contact with the feet), then thread either ribbon or cotton tape through the centre, making a loop at one end and back through the centre again so that the two free ends are at one side.Place the loop over one leg and with the cotton reel between both ankles, draw up the ribbon and tie around the other leg, this will stop the legs from bashing together.

Monday, 11 January 2010


I thought I might share these doll patterns with you, they have been available on my old blog, but as I will be concentrating my efforts here I thought they should move with me too. They are all my earliest designs from my first steps in doll making. I made these in felt, but you could use other fabrics.
I hope you enjoy them:

The waiting room...

Here are some of the reproduction heads, all waiting for bodies, many of them need a good clean and some of them are waiting identification (it's always good to know what you're working with), alas some will always remain a mystery as they have no markings at all.

It's always helpful to know the era these heads have been made to represent so that the costuming is authentic. I have the added challenge of 'guess the age', as some of them have child like features, so the body designs will need adjusting.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A little history...

I have discovered such a lot from delving into my family history, it's always a huge source of inspiration.
I found six generations of dressmakers (not surprising then that I was able to teach myself to sew) as well as shoemakers, cordwainers and weavers.
In this photo are my great grandmother, Annie Newlove (who was one of the dressmakers) and some of her children.