Tag Archives: Wee Care

Preemie Cloth Doll Sewing

It’s boxing day (what we called it in Canada) and I certainly won’t be shopping anywhere today!  So, for anyone else staying inside, I thought I’d provide some reading material.  😛

img_0061This was one project that I wanted to complete before the year end.  While at the SAGA Convention, I spotted a tiny, preemie doll.  The doll belonged to Wanda, the SAGA Wee Care co-ordinator.  I already owned the pattern, but had not taken the time to sew it.  Seeing the tiny doll was incentive for me to find time to make one.  I believe that it is always helpful for other to “see” just how tiny some of these preemies are and perhaps give them the extra push to get a few Wee Care gowns sewn.

Having a few spare minutes, I decided to head out and find supplies – 2 days before Christmas!!!  What was I thinking??? That was no small task! Traffic was horrible and the crowds in the store – oy!!!  Somehow, I foolishly thought that I could get everything at one store.  Wrong!!!  After visiting 4 stores, I had everything needed for the doll – knit fabric, fleece, plastic pellets, etc..  Just FYI – the plastic pellets used for stuffing the doll were found at Hobby Lobby.  Other craft stores didn’t carry them or they only carried them online.  On to the pattern.

The preemie pattern is from The Cloth Doll Market.  I was unable to find any reviews of the doll.  The pattern makes up so nicely and quite accurately on sizing/shape of preemie babies.  Included is a master pattern which you have to copy and shrink it by percentages to get the smaller sizes.  I did this.

You should be aware that this method of adjusting sizes does cause some problems. When you shrink a pattern that has a 1/4″ seam allowance, your seam allowance also shrinks, so I ended up with a generous 1/8″ seam allowances to make the 2 lb. size doll.

Be aware that the pattern is hand drawn and has very little in the way of markings/guides (aka: no notches) on the pattern pieces to aid the seamstress in matching up pieces before stitching.  I followed the directions, but because there are no illustrations, some directions were challenging.  I had to read through some of the instructions multiple times to “get” what the instruction was.  I am more of a visual learner, so no pictures is challenging.  Because of this, I would sat that this probably isn’t a pattern for a beginner.

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The instructions say to use a knit fabric that doesn’t have too much stretch.  That is rather vague.  I think that giving some fabric types to look for may have been more helpful.  The only fabric that I could find with our lack of fabric stores was a knit jersey.  While it worked, I wasn’t a fan and won’t use it again.

Each piece of the doll is cut out of both the skin colored knit fabric as well as another piece cut in white fleece.  The fleece is then inserted into the skin fabric.  This is a good plan because it helps with the plastic beads that are used for the filling – it keeps the “skin” softer and works out much nicer than stuffing the doll with stuffing.  It does take a bit of forceful pushing to get the fleece pieces inside the knit pieces and I found that the jersey began to run in a few places (like pantyhose type of runs).  I put fray check on the runs and hopefully that will keep the runs in check.

After some research, I found that many cloth doll makers use a knit doeskin, which is a suede type of knit fabric.  I’ll have to order some of that if I decide to make another doll, though I’m seriously thinking about making the doll from Kona cotton if I try it again.  I have seen a picture of the doll made by another FB friend and it was in a woven fabric.

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The facial features were supposed to be painted on with acrylic paint.  I don’t paint!  🙁  So, a Sharpie had to do.  The knit wanted to stretch as I “drew” the features.  Ugh!  I was pleased to find that when the doll was finished, the 1 – 2 lb. Wee Care gown fit very well.  It’s nice to see how well these are proportioned.

Once the doll was finished, I had to get rid of the blue wash-out maker that I used to mark the darts and to draw in the fingers, etc.  Obviously, you don’t want to soak the doll after it’s finished.  That was a lengthy process.  It took many, many spritzing to get all the marks out.  I would think that they were gone, and when the spritzed area dried, they were back again.  Ugh!  Next time I’ll use one of the air-erasable markers and be sure to stitch the same day!  I did find that dotting along the stitching line worked better on the knit fabric.   Trying to draw in the lines caused the knit to stretch.

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Because of the way that the arms and legs are attached, they are somewhat posable, which is  a nice feature.

The little diapers pictured on the doll are from the Teeny Tears group.  They make diapers and donate them to hospitals for tiny babies that don’t make it.  The larger size diaper fits the 2 lb. sized doll.  I made the stockinette cap from a toddler size 5-6 sock.  I cut the cuff off the sock right above the heel and tied a ribbon in it.  It’s a snug fit, but it works.

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I did learn a few things making this little doll.  I definitely need to work on my hand sewing technique.  😂  The doll head is hand stitched to the doll body – not an easy feat between the stretchy knit and the head flopping around.  Maybe I’ll be better at this the next time.   LOL!  Pulling out the fingers after stitching was a super challenging task on the 2 lb. size doll.  I immediately decided that I’d never make the smaller sizes with fingers.  Others have told me that they make the hand with only a thumb and then a mitten style for the other fingers.  This would be much easier and is a technique I’ve used on other cloth dolls!  She does suggest this method for the tiniest sizes.

I’m pleased with how the doll turned out.  It is only going to be used as a visual aide at workshops where the smocked Wee Care gowns are being made.  Our guild is doing the next workshop in the community room at a retirement village.  I’ll have the doll out for the residents to view along with some of the finished gowns.  I suspect that we’ll have different ladies drop in to check out what we’re doing.  The doll will be a nice addition and maybe even promote some interest for some new seamstresses to join us!

My overall review of the pattern makes up really well and is an accurate representation of the size/shape of a preemie baby, but the instructions are lacking in the way of diagrams/pictures of any of the sewing techniques.  There are only 2 diagrams total and there is an assumption of sewing knowledge, so some techniques aren’t described (ie.  “sculpt the toes”).

The designer of the pattern does seem to have some first hand knowledge of preemie sizes and proportions.  That is what makes the pattern of value.  Instructions are also given if you want to make the doll a weighted doll (accurate weight for the age/size), which some do want.  This doll looks very much like the preemies that I saw in the NICU when our granddaughter was there.  There’s not another proportionally correct preemie doll pattern that I’m aware of.  So, for this reason it is a great pattern if you want proportionally correct preemie dolls.

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Perhaps today I’ll stitch the 1 lb. size (with no fingers!) out of Kona cotton and see how that works.  I’ll keep you posted!

I hope you enjoy some stitching today!

More Tiny Sewing

I’ve been busy the past few weeks trying to complete my charity sewing.  After finishing up some Wee Care gowns for our SAGA group, I moved on to sewing diapers to match the gowns.  I signed up to work in conjunction with Teeny Tears – another organization that provides tiny diapers to hospitals all over the country.  They send the diapers in pairs so that there is one for the baby to wear and another for a keepsake.  The little diapers are darling!

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I completed 20 sets of these diapers to co-ordinate with the SAGA gowns that we were sending to Camp LeJeune!!!  These are fun to make and don’t take much time or fabric.  If you’re interested in an easy ministry to be involved in, I’d highly recommend Teeny Tears.  If you don’t sew but still want to participate, they accept donations as well.  🙂

Being on the Teeny Tears Facebook page, I saw how pretty so many of the ladies package their items to send to the hospitals and I immediately brought my suggestion to our local Dogwood chapter to improve our presentation.  All members agreed, so we purchased organza bags for the gowns/diapers and I repackaged all of our gowns from their ziplock bags to the organza ones.  Now families will receive this pretty package of handmade items.

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As I worked on all of these SAGA things and reorganized them, I discovered that the SAGA gown also comes in a very tiny size – under 1 lb.! How have I not realized in all these years that there is a tiny size???  I’ve been sewing these gowns for more years than I can count, but have never noted or smocked the tiny size.  So, I immediately had to try it out.  It is as sweet as ever!

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Having made this extremely tiny smocked gown, I have decided that I will make more of these, but I won’t be smocking those tiny sleeves again!!!  LOL!

With that big project behind me, I moved on to sewing for Caleb Ministries.  I had been given several beautiful knit blankets, booties & bonnets and they needed a special gown to go with them.  The larger gowns will get flannel blankets since the knit ones would be too large to fit into the gift box that Caleb Ministry provides for the families.  This is another wonderful Christian organization that provides a needed service for women.  They also accept donations if you would like to support this type of ministry and don’t sew or knit.

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So, what’s next???  Well, next week is the SAGA national convention and I plan to go as a student this year!  I’m busy packing and making sure that I have every supply needed for all the different classes.  I’m looking forward to a fun sewing week!!!  When I return, I think it will be time to start some fall and Christmas sewing for the little ones.  🙂

I hope to see some of you at the convention!!!

Some Simple Sewing Projects

This past week I’ve been doing some simple sewing projects.  Having found a completed top as well as a partially completed top, both which would fit one of the little girls right now, I thought I should finish some pants or capris to wear with the tops.

This first top was partially completed.  It was rather plain, so I added some hand embroidery to it.  I thought it was sweet, but Ella – well, she wasn’t sure about it.  We’ll see.  LOL!

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The second top was sewn many years ago when I sold children’s clothing online.  This wasn’t sold due to the initial.  I was thrilled when I went stash diving and found the polka dot pique that was a perfect match to the top!  Of course, this is for Livvy (Olivia).

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Then I also finished up a couple sweet Wee Care gowns.  The white one is simple and will work for a boy or girl, but I loved smocking the tiny rocking horse on the second one!  I know it will be sweet for a precious little boy.

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The smocking design for the horse is Tiny Rocking Horses by Ellen McCarn.

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In addition to some of the enjoyable sewing, I’ve had fun with the grandkids this past week, having some “sleep-overs” with some of them!  That trumps sewing any day!

I’ve been busy sewing other things as well, but those have yet to be photographed.  I’ll save that for the next post.

I hope you’re enjoying some relaxing sewing these days as well!

Birthday Sewing and More!!!

I’ve sadly neglected my blog!  For the last couple months, I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home, so not much sewing (or blogging) has happened.  However, I’ve been home now for over a week – yippee!!! – and have been able to sew some things again.  It’s been great to get back to sewing.

The first things on order for sewing were birthday outfits for Livvy and Liam.  Both have birthdays this first week in October.  Their birthday party theme is a Circus theme, so circus outfits were in order.  My daughter sent me ideas for appliqués and I had the exact appliqués in my “collection” of embroidery designs!!!  Score!  Her color scheme is aqua and red.

IMG_9617The appliqués were a combination of a couple different designs – the tent came from Embroitique, the #1 came from Planet Appliqué and the name was the circus font from 8 Claws and a Paw.  The shortfall pattern is Children’s Corner “Johnny”, slightly modified for out chunky monkey!

Making an outfit for Liam required just a little tweaking since he is a bit wider than patterns in the appropriate size.  LOL!  We also wanted to see his chubby legs, so I raised the leg on the sides.  The result was exactly as I envisioned.  His birthday was last Friday, so he arrived dressed in the outfit.  Can I just say A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E.!!!

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This was the best picture that we could get of the little guy – he’s always on the move!!!  However, the most fun of the day was watching him devour his birthday cupcake.  LOL!  He’s never had cake/icing before – let me tell you, he was a fan!  He dove into that cupcake with determination.  He started a bit timid, but quickly realized that he had a prize.

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Next up was a matching dress for Livvy.  However, I had in mind something other than gingham.  So, after teaching a class at MaryJo’s, I did some shopping.  I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so only purchased 2 fabrics.  Next stop was the quilting shop, also in Gastonia.  Oh my – what a stop that was!!!  I found several fabrics and had the clerk cutting some of them, when she (cleverly) suggested some others.  Well, the “others” were even better, so I had to have those as well.  I ended up with 8 pieces of fabric from the quilt shop.  My shopping spree for the “perfect” fabrics ended up costing $150!!!   Good thing that I love all the fabrics and will use them in other things.  Hahaha!!!

Her dress turned out so cute and I wish that I’d snapped a picture of her dancing around in it.  She was so silly and excited when she got her twirly circus dress!  Maybe I’ll have some pictures after the party.

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Obviously, the appliqué information is the same.  I didn’t think about the fact that the red letters for her name would be over red polka dots and don’t show up as well.  Hindsight.  Ugh!  Should have used yellow.  Oh well.  She loves it!  I used and OOP Children’s Corner pattern called “Libby” for the bodice pieces and just added the skirt tiers and bottom ruffle.  I’m sure it would be easy to substitute a similar pattern if someone wanted to copy the style.

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After completing the circus outfits, my SAGA News arrived in the mail.  It was the Wee Care issue and had such a cute gown that was designed by Joy Welsh of Appliqué for Kids.  I wanted to try that gown pattern – it looked very quick to make and particularly nice for boys.

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I had contacted Joy and asked her if she would be able to digitize an anchor design – I wanted it for a special little baby – and she did it that very evening!!!  What a big heart she has!!!  Thank you Joy!

I made a blanket to go with the gown.  Love the way that the gown and blanket turned out.

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If you haven’t tried out these shadow work embroidery designs, they are so quick and the end results are beautiful!!!  I could kick myself for not trying them out sooner.  I’ll definitely be using more of these.

IMG_9638This anchor was stitched on Imperial Batiste and was even stitched on the bias of the fabric on top – no puckers!  Typically poly/cotton fabrics always have puckers, but that’s not the case with her shadow work designs.

I followed that quick and easy design with a smocking design on another Wee Care gown.  It turned out sweet.  I love the way that the beads look in the design.

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I’ve submitted the smocking design to SAGA to use in a future magazine.

This week I’ve been working on fall outfits for Liam and Livvy and wanted them done for their birthday party this coming weekend.  🙂  I’m too lazy to make the shirts for under the outfits.  These were really pretty quick to make as I used purchased (Belles et Beaux) smocked inserts that we bought last year.  I made the long pants version of the Children’s Corner “Johnny” for Liam.

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The fabric for his outfit is a really great fabric – a twill from Chez Ami when they were discontinuing fabrics and clothing.  While I’m a fan of the cotton with a hint of spandex for wearing comfort, I’m not particularly a fan of sewing with it.  After pre-washing the fabric, it remained a bit off grain, so in order to get all the gingham matching at center front and back and sides, the  area just underneath the smocking is a bit off kilter.   I did try to straighten the grain and tugged for quite a while, but in the end, this was the best it got.  I don’t know if the spandex is the culprit or what.  I have several pieces of their twill with spandex.  I’ll have to see how the others do.

Livvy’s outfit is a cotton gingham – definitely liam first birthday3liam first birthday3liam first birthday3easier to sew on and get wonderful results.  For her dress I used another OOP Children’s Corner pattern for the bodices – the “Elliott”.

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I added a skirt to the bodice of this pattern.  It was an easy adjustment.  I thought about using the Mary De pattern, but wanted something that buttoned on the shoulder and was closed in the back.  I know she’ll love the twirly dress for this as well.  They are big football fans, so I hope these outfits will be a hit!

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So, as you can see, I’ve really enjoyed getting back into the sewing this past week and hope to do some more things in the next few weeks!

What have you been stitching???