Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my followers. May today be a day of peace, love and goodwill.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 is on it's way.

This is the time of year when I start thinking about New Year's resolutions and reviewing the old year. Some resolutions I will make again, even knowing the same ones made every year are broken within days, but maybe 2011 will be the successful year! 

For the magic of New Year's resolutions to work though, I have to get everything tidy from the current year, so it is a time of pulling out old projects and finishing them - not the dollshouse, much to my husband's disappointment, but some of the unfinished furnishings came from their takeaway containers to be worked on.

With the larder still waiting for materials, the kitchen table was the obvious piece to pull out. It is semi based on our real life kitchen table. I have always loved the square turned legs on it and used to puzzle over how they were made. A needle file and half a dozen emery boards later and I now know. Possibly the real life craftsman 100 years ago used different tools.

 I've always wanted a drawer in our table so could add one here instead and I love the cutlery which were a pack of jewellery charms - a complete set for 50 cents on a sale table! With the rings filed off and the knife handles painted cream, they were just what I wanted. Even though the drawer will generally be kept closed, I like knowing they are there.

Pip, the eldest boy in my dollshouse family, finally got a desk, maybe one day he will have a bedroom to put it in!  After the war materials were in short supply and a 1947 'Hobbies Weekly' magazine recommends using cardboard or black linen (blackout fabric?) to back a tallboy until ply became available. I can't imagine that in our time when materials of all kinds are so readily available. 

With that in mind, I decided a piece of furniture which looked 'repurposed' with a slap of post war brown paint would be perfect. The authenticity was increased when the cat knocked the drying piece off the desk and rather than replace the resulting broken leg, it seemed right to splint and paint it. Maybe it had been a broken washstand stored in the attic from an era when nothing was thrown away? I think when it is finally in place I will give him a crystal radio set to work on and I had to smile after doing the inkstains, when I realised that Pip must be left handed. How often these dolls houses take on their own life and build their own stories!

Last was Pip's toy chest, from an old blind slat and my first attempt at 'joining'. It is pretty rough (it was a very hard blind slat!), but I like the effect and as I imagine it as a chest used to bring treasures back from Istanbul/Constantinople where his father was on a dig before the war, it doesn't need to be a craftsman piece ...fortunately!

Pip's mat was done a while ago and was so much easier than the plaited methods I had been playing with. Crochet a chain of variegated thick wool and start winding into an oval. As you go, either ladder stitch it into shape across the bumps on the back or glue it to a piece of card, then press with a hot steamy iron and liberal amounts of spray starch until it is flattened.

A couple more bits to finish and I can start concentrating on Christmas!

Welcome to my new followers. As always it is lovely to see new faces and I hope you enjoy visiting.

From my last post is Patrisan and of course I remembered her after visiting another blog, as she has the most wonderful giveaway of teeny shoes! These are incredible! I don't often go in giveaways, but my name was down in Patrisan's post as soon as I saw her gorgeous offer. I have used the google translate link, so I hope it works, but if you visit her before the 18th, look for her giveaway post which she will be closing on that date. (if it doesn't work...that's more chances for me to win, hehehe) Congratulations Patrisan on your tiny new niece as well.

Drora Hed, Lady Jane and Beth Laverty aren't showing up with blogs, so please DO contact me if you have one we can share.

Edit - Lady Jane  left a comment on my last blog post, so I was able to track down her two blogs from there. I haven't had a chance for a full read yet, but have enjoyed what I have seen so far - another talented and creative homemaker.

Mandy  is another who wasn't showing up with a blog when I posted, then it clicked and I realised she is DHE friend. She is reasonably new to mini ing (I think) but has a wealth of talent from various crafts she has mastered,  before mini life, to draw upon.  

I noticed Lucky Little Fringer is following Mandy as well, still apparently blogless. As they were one of my first followers as well, I was intrigued. If you ever want to come from your quiet following corner, please let us know.

Another follower from my 'no picture' list is the Karen and Kevin team. I'm sorry I didn't notice you hidden away there. Karen and Kevin are building the most amazing Tudor dollshouse. I have to be careful when I call by and visit in case I come back full of discontent. The detail is amazing and it is truly a grand house, and enormous, even at 1:12 scale.

I'll see you all next time, stay safe and calm over this time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Needlefelting - my new love

This week has been one of those frustrating weeks you know has to come around occasionally to remind you how good life normally is. Nearly every project I have wanted to do has needed something I have to buy online (or have lost and know that as soon as I buy another it will appear - aaarrrgghh) my laptop has lost yet another faculty and wont recognise USB sticks or SD cards, I have been confined to the house with a revolting 'childhood' illness and the only ones loving me at the moment are the cats...and I suspect their love is because with a temperature I am so cosy to cuddle up to in this wet weather we have been having. Oh woe is me!

So with nothing going right, it was a thrill to have some felting needles I had bought on ebay arrive and with some  rovings I had from a craft find at the local op shop, I only needed the tutorial in the December Dolls House Magazine to get started. Needless to say the magazine was not to be found ...definitely one of those weeks!

3 cm Teddy

 Determined to keep going I figured a dollshouse scale teddy bear with its round basic shapes couldn't be too hard, and if it was a disaster...well, it could be a well loved teddy.

Nowhere I had read how therapeutic sitting and continuously stabbing at a piece of wool is, giving the evil eye to anyone who came near. I am surprised all those witchy types blogging away had never mentioned it, but maybe that is a witches secret. Some of my family were convinced they were being voodooed and all of a sudden I had offers of tea and icecream and a bit of much needed spoiling.

Teddy needed a friend and  I wanted a dolly of the old fashioned stuffed toy variety but only had  teddy brown, so attacked some ancient wool/polyester crepe yarn (left over from a jumper knitted 17 years ago - never throw anything away!) with a 'nit' comb and it was even easier to felt than the proper materials!
Dolls house scaling failed so she was given to Dolly for her own little dolly.
Dolly and dolly

Several Christmassy projects followed along with a broken needle (don't try to manipulate the wool and poke at the same time) and some pricked fingers  (it is better to felt against the foam, not while holding the piece) and morale was much restored with a new craft learned, albeit at a very basic level.
2cm Nativity

to my new followers:

Linda with such a variety of houses from shabby chic to witchy (an entire community)! All so wonderfully realistic, and well...perfect! Her twin Beacon Hills deserve their own blog and have it so call by there as well because these mansions are worth studying.

Chelle who is an online dollshouse friend but currently occupied with her daughter's approaching wedding. Her dollshouse work is gorgeous and I can imagine her daughters wedding will be wonderful given Chelles crafty abilities. (I did enjoy seeing her messy craft room before pic- hehehe)

There is another follower I can't access at the moment - the computer has already turned itself off once this session - thank goodness for autosave! I'll look forward to catching up next post and also with some of the mystery followers I was puzzling about, which Susan so nicely solved for me.

I hope you enjoy following and I am already enjoying the blogs you have to share.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food Glorious Food!

I couldn't blog about an Enid Blyton styled cottage without mentioning food. Her books are full of mouthwatering descriptions of food, which is always fresh from the farm and plentiful, even ordinary tinned foods are made to sound exotic and adventurous. Sardines at a midnight feast! Dick's eyes gleam when they raid Aunt Fanny's store cupboard in Five Run Away Together "Soup -tins of meat - tins of fruit - tinned milk - sardines - tinned butter - biscuits - tinned vegetables! There's everything we want here!" 
In between meals there are icecreams, lemonade, ginger beer and macaroons to be eaten on the beach or in teashops as well as bars of chocolate in back pockets with bags of sweets. Truly a child's heaven.

poke me for more detail

So with all these things in mind I knew that food would be plentiful in Hollyhock Cottage... until I began to research and learned about strict war time rationing. Before the war 70% of Britain's food was imported, mostly by shipping which immediately made it vulnerable to attack. Labour was down as men went to fight for their country and soldiers had to be fed so rationing was introduced to ensure that all would have food. This continued for years becoming stricter after the war with foods such as bread and potatoes being added to the rationed list. Publishing was down too, due to paper restrictions, yet, like the food in her stories, Enid Blyton seemed unaffected, publishing nearly 100 books during the war years. 


My main goal was to get some more building done this week, but alas, to go further I have to finish the larder which will be impossible to reach once the walls go up, so with food in mind I pulled out the Sculpey and set to. Fortunately I had made a number of items such as carrots, potatoes and honey pot a while ago plus tinned goods from some of the free printable sites found online and jars using the resin and pencil eraser method. Sorry, I didn't know to save links then. 

Even more fortunately given my limited Sculpey skills, a lot of my food won't be very visible, but I like to know it is there. 

There are always sausages in the stories, the dog usually under suspicion when they disappear, so they were a must. A meat pie and a tart were necessary too as well as the jug of creamy cold milk. As I haven't been able to source liquid Sculpey I had to improvise, so waterbased varnish mixed with paint made nice gravy and cherries were once sago, coloured with food colouring and soaked in cochineal tinted varnish. I loved the chalk artists pastels for colouring and they made the 6 Sculpey colours I have - green, translucent, white, yellow, black and red  more flexible, although my swedes have a definite peach look about them. My first 2 loaves of bread would have fed the 5000 with no problem so these were the second attempt - I have to keep scale in mind! Actually bread is a problem with me - my very first loaves using the flour/salt recipe were casualties of my 'flood' and my breadbin, made using the same method as my bucket, ran when I applied the nail varnish - obviously permanent marker isn't nail polish proof!

I have cannisters and odds and ends waiting to go onto the shelves when they are installed and think a ham hanging from a ceiling hook might be nice too...and maybe a pudding in a bowl... 

We'll see!

 In time for the feasting are my 2 new followers!

Carey at Chicory Nits who is preparing for Christmas (in pink!) both in her real house and in mini - scroll back to admire her gorgeous little Christmas house.
and Dee who I can't find a blog for yet, so please contact me Dee with a link.

Every now and then the numbers go up but no new pictures are added, so I sometimes wonder if people are following privately and would prefer not to be introduced to the rest of the gathering?  I love seeing you here and love visiting in return. It is amazing how much talent and imagination is out there!

Once again, thank you all for calling by.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giveaway Draw

Thank you to all who entered my first giveaway. It was lovely to see old faces who have been with me from the beginning as well as newer faces and so many of my favourite people.

So with help from 2 of my sewing room dollies here we go!
All the names: folded, mixed and inspected ...

...and the winner is...

 If you can contact me with your address Janice, I will be thrilled to send the Phoenix farm set to you and I hope that you will be pleased with it.

Thank you again to all who entered. 


Welcome to my newest follower, Sandra, a fellow Australian! Sandra has 2 blogs Snippets from my studio where she is working on a gorgeous small scale village - the most recent building being a half-timbered Dickensian bookshop. She manages to build these houses and keep up with other crafts while touring Australia in a caravan. (Sandra from Sydney)

PS did anyone notice that I cleaned my desk up from several posts ago! That was worth a photo shoot in itself because it may not happen again for a while...

Friday, November 12, 2010


Sometimes when I am writing a blog post, especially about toys and dollshouses, it seems as if I went around as a child envying every other child their toys! While there would have been the occasional pang, generally it was accepted that they had that and I had this (in my case books) and I think most people my age and definitely those older would remember times when it wasn't expected that you would have everything you wanted. Maybe that is why so many of us are enjoying a second childhood and catching up :~D.

Meccano wasn't a part of my childhood, although I can remember being shown the pride and joy Meccano set of the son of friends of my parents. The Meccano was nice, but the box it came in...Wow! Drawers and compartments galore - that was something to covet - every piece arranged in it's own section. I love order even though I have trouble practising it myself.

Meccano was however part of my husband's life so naturally our sons had Meccano sets as well and it became a part of my adulthood. As I think my boy in the 40s would have had a basic Meccano set, the research started. There is so much information and nostalgia about Meccano (introduced in 1901) out there in cyberspace! I could picture hundreds of men pouring carefully over catalogues and old advertisements sharing what they had found in sites and blogs and reliving their boyhoods with enthusiasm and delight. It touched me.

 I was pleased that post war the classic red and green was correct as the colours changed periodically and even the shades of those colours varied. Slotted bolts went to hex bolts, plastic came in and models were updated with space travel and the changes in technology. Even with the company changing ownership and computer games threatening to wipe out classic toys, Meccano moved with the times!

I won't bore you with the vast amount I now know about Meccano (although I hope I can use it at a trivia night before it all slips from memory) however I will share this site which contains full editions of Meccano magazines dating back to 1916 when Meccano technology was helping with the war effort. Meccano magazine

Plus I have 2 new followers! 

Welcome to Keli at iseecerulean  Her house is alive and busy. I love the bits she shows which look so loved and lived in and am staggered at the speed with which she posts and works but still with such great results.

Also welcome to minisdecris I would love to visit you in return but your settings are showing up as private! 

 Meanwhile there are a couple of days left to enter my first giveaway for a boxed farm set as shown below this post. Leave a comment on the  giveaway post  to enter. 

I'm sorry about any confusion when I tucked the giveaway offer on the end of a post, as I think some have found it vague what the gift was. I now know that giveaways are better as a post by themselves  and (I hope) will be more expert next time! (I was a bit nervous about having a giveaway but wanted to as I really enjoy the support and camaraderie in blogland)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Phoenix kits, boy's toys and a giveaway

After all last month's work came playtime, both in the dollshouse and in real life. With the exchange rate so good for Australia at the moment, the time was right for some internet shopping...

So off to Phoenix model developments  which I had been introduced to early in my mini journey by an online friend. I love the detail in their kits and being made of metal, they have a solid charm reminiscent of vintage toys . My first Phoenix kits were easy kitchen pieces bought from this Australian seller, Eastwick Dollhouse,  (have a look at her crochet patterns and doileys as well) and I progressed to the gramophone which sat for months half painted after the cat decided it would be a nice thing to bat around while the paint was still wet. The records were a gift from my Phoenix loving friend who knew I had bought the gramophone. 

The farm came next. It is one of the things which has thrilled me most. I loved my plastic farm animals as a child and was besotted with another friend's vintage Britain's farm set as an adult. This set fills the longing at half the cost of one Britains animal. 

In Enid Blyton stories, trains are an essential for boys, preferably a big set that can spread through the house...which means extra pieces such as a station and points ... and maybe one day more track...  Meanwhile I have been happily making boxes for the sets which are becoming authentically scuffed as I get them out to play trains.

With the paintbrush still soaking I turned to the Monopoly set and the racecar caught a coat of paint in gay yellow and green, along with some charms, phoenix opera glasses, golf clubs and ball and a gorgeous little London bus. The battleship was waiting in turn until I saw a lead toy battleship from this era on ebay. Maybe it will stay metal.

Cricket is quintessentially post war English, so a cricket bat and ball was a must along with paper boats and planes. I considered a slingshot, but decided the nicer characters in Enid Blyton books wouldn't have one. 

Most necessary of all were marbles and the indescribably gorgeous glass ones from marble monkey were perfect. 

Finishing this collection was the tadpole jar from this online tutorial, miniatureprojects tadpole jar now with authentically rusty wire handle from my wetting and a billycart also authentically aged and battered. 

Hello to my new followers! It is lovely to see new faces and visit your blogs.

Kim at  my fairytale cottage is a painter and creator and refurbisher. She does it all and with lovely results. She likes antiques and thrift stores too. Don't you sometimes wish we could all get together in real life and chat and share and chat some more! 

 Irene popped over from the DHE. I have been following her 3  properties for a while now over there and can say they are truly inspirational, a point Miniaturias must have agreed with when they featured her Hambleton Hall recently.

Carolienbooms, Mandy and Annie aren't showing up with blogs, so please leave a comment so I can find you.

Gillian I discovered today while 'blog surfing. Oh my goodness, I was speechless when I saw her tiny patchwork with real patchwork fabric rather than hankies. I can't imagine how she does it and the other miniature bits she makes. Inspirational and cheerful if you can have such a mix.

My newest follower is another double blogger, cambiosentuvida to make you think and miniaturista-minis for frivolous dolls housing, except  that there is nothing frivolous about this dolls houser's minis. They are exquisitely made and perfectly scaled. 

Now for the giveaway! I had intended to have a giveaway at 100 followers, but that magic number slipped by, then 120 but oops again, so I will celebrate my 21st post and my coming of blogging age! Thank you to all those who have been following and encouraging me and if you would like to be included in the draw and are among the first 125 followers, please leave a comment on this post and I will draw a name on the 16th November.

The gift is a Phoenix farm set painted and boxed by myself, with enjoyment and enthusiasm, which will fit nicely into any nursery setting. 

 Thank you for making it to the bottom of the page!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cleaning ...

Hip hip, Hurrah! I now have 3 full plus 2 half days on either side off!!!!

Two relief jobs coincided unplanned (why can't babies arrive when they are told?) so my month has been leaving one job to go to the other, snatching some sleep and back again. Of course there have been nice chances to do little bits of mini-ing in odd hours not long enough to do any real house work, so to ease my conscience while closing my eyes to my real life dust and cobwebs, I have been concentrating on cleaning. Anyone who reads Enid Blyton will know that her characters love cleaning. Soapy water and big sponges and polishing cloths feature highly in many stories so my little thatched cottage needed those items.

A couple of bits were made a while ago - the carpet sweeper from Jane Harrops excellent book  'Thirties and Forties: miniatures in 1:12 scale', the laundry trolley from an Australian doll magazine. The ironing board and laundry tub were bought years ago when dollshousing was still a fantasy then 'aged' when it became a reality and the Chrysnbon items (I love the soap holder!) came out to be painted along with the Dollshouse Emporium dustpan.   

  The enamel washbasin was easily made by trimming down a deodorant lid with scissors, glueing a piece of paper covered wire around the rim, then painting and the feather duster made use of the broken bits from my real life moth eaten ostrich-feather duster. The mop is from string tied to a stick and swished around in my dirty paint water and the bluebags from fabric covered dowel and a pic snagged from google images (How big is a blue bag? Does anyone know?) The Brasso label came the same way and is on a tin made from paper wrapped around a cocktail stick but my favorite items were the brooms. I spent an evening trying to insert hairs into neatly drilled holes and decided it wasn't worth the time or gluey fingers. Scratching through my wood box for something else, I noticed how bristle-like balsa is when cut with not too fine a saw and bits cut to size became the perfect broom heads!

I was pleased with the mop bucket too, which is cardboard rolled to a rough oval with small handle bits added and based with 4 thicknesses of card glued into the bottom, the wringer part being made from one of the peaks in an egg carton and set into a half oval piece of egg carton cut to fit the top. Paint the 2 separate halves, then glue and add a wire handle.
The rug beater, which started this cleaning fit, came from the September issue of 'The Dolls House Magazine'

Now that all the equipment is assembled, we will see how much fun cleaning really is!

 to my new followers. I am sorry to have ignored you for so long. 

Lauren Lau is a miniature maker and collector who also loves music, but doesn't seem to have a blog...yet. 

Antique Daisy  is one for all you shabby chic lovers ...and dollshouse lovers...and those who love tutorials and tips...everyone actually. I want a proper read of her blog but have to get over my envy at her  find of such wonderful coffee stirrers first!

Lia E Alma also appears blogless but she could be viliaminiature looking at links on other blogs?

Lisette has two blogs to visit and some gorgeous toys and other treasures to drool over.

I thought I knew who Sarah was but my detective work this time has failed me, so if you have a blog, please drop a line. I can't find a blog for Sophie Appleton or gshoney either.

Vicky is a DHE friend, constantly on the go and constantly creative. I hadn't realised she had a more personal blog (click on Vicky) but did know she has started to blog about her dollshouses - plural! Vickys houses Head over and be inspired by her Christmas room box.

Jean Tuthill is another blogger who needs 2 blogs with so much going on in her life to share! Not only does she mini, garden, quilt, cook and generally create, but she shares a chocolate shop with her daughter! How close to paradise can one be! Visit her at A Sweet Boutique as well.

Angelrib  won't google translate for me but her pictures are gorgeous. She has the sort of minis that bring delight and make you want to pick them up with exclamations of pleasure.

Another inspiring blog is at Lorraine Miniatures. I can't believe the amount of detail some people manage to get into some items and Lorraine is one of those very talented people. 

I was delighted when I opened  macrupe 's blog - it is so pretty and I love the rose cursor!She is another mini quilter and has lots of printable links to share.

Ilonka  is building a library. What a treat! She has a  blog dedicated to her cards and papercrafts to call in and see too.

Thank you all for being interested enough to follow.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The big move... and some chimneys

The deluge last week prompted me to bring the house inside where it should remain dry. I had been thinking for a while I would like to do this, but didn't think there would be room without tripping over it and all its accompanying tools and necessary (and not so necessary bits) in our very small cottage.  Lots of measuring and a visit to the local op shop produced the perfect cupboard which suddenly made it possible. Aren't the handles gorgeous! I'm not normally a retro person, but they make me smile.

It is just perfect for storing everything as well, so I'll show off the tidy insides as well.
Isn't that lovely and organised!
... on the opposite side of the room on the desk/ work area is where everything gets dumped 
I am so pleased to have it inside now and only regret I hadn't done it before Winter.

During the week previously I had been working on the chimneys which was probably a bit premature as I don't actually have a roof on most of the house, but one was needed for working the roof out, so to make sure they match I did both. Once again I used the  china doll egg carton bricking method and after looking at pictures of chimney pots on google I decided to go for an eclectic mix modified from some I had bought previously from the Dollshouse Emporium 
These were easy to work with, although they still look like painted wood. They aren't glued down yet so I might play some more with them.

The smaller chimney will be moving to main roof when I build one and hopefully should end up approximately the same height.

I found the chimneys really thrilling to make. All storybook cottages have a chimney, but most of the houses I have lived in have missed this important detail. It was a step closer to my dream home.

 On the home front, September is our family's busy birthday month so I have saved a piece of birthday cake for all my new followers (and old if you are happy to have 1:12 size serves)

Welcome to:
Natasha from the DHE forum. Natasha is new to dollshousing but a whizz at miniatures, especially polymer clay. Go and look at her tutorial for chocolate cake - you will begin salivating! (Well I do anyway)

From Italy is Francesca and her gorgeous minature cross stitches and tapestries. I love the happy colours and themes.

Casita Minis blog is a feast of photos. I suspect that she has made everything herself, although it isn't clear, which makes her one very talented lady! You need to see the tiny tiny crochet dresses.

Annemineli has several blogs. I'm still puzzling over what language to suggest to google translate so am not sure if any are associated with miniatures, but she does seem to enjoy artistic pursuits. Once again it is brought to me how the internet is joining the world in friendship. Dantel Deryasi , Yuzyazar and Annemin Eli.

Casey's minis is a blogger I found even before I started on my miniature journey. I love how she tells her stories through Tessie (or how Tessie blogs through Casey!) and am thrilled she has come to visit.

Paul Smith isn't showing up with a blog but I am 99% sure he is Afan Valley Miniatures whose blog I began following after a recommendation from Lainie.  I can only say Wow! Visit his page for the beginnings of his reproduction of Margam Castle and keep in mind that he does commissions!

Robin is another new to blogging but experienced in minis. She creates dolls with real character and you can meet them at Coombe crafts.blogspot and have the ones you fall in love with move into your own little house.

j lil roomer  sounds like she leads the same hectic life so many of us have (are the ones who appear serene really so, or are good at creating that impression, I wonder?) Her blogging has been a bit sporadic, but encouraging is that you can come back to a problem months later and solve it! And excellently at that.

Mini Maker can be found in several places, another being her website full of tips for miniaturists My Small Obsession. Both are well worth visiting for inspiration especially for those starting out (and I love her red shoes and fairy wand in her profile pic.)

Clara at  Life in Miniature has the most delightful things! I am besotted with her little books, copied from books of her childhood and reminding me of books from my childhood which I hadn't thought of for years.

I can't find links for Miniature Maid, Little Miss Kris, Nicola McCormick and Latiana (which will embarrasssing if I find later that I am actually following you on a blog and have forgotten) so if anyone can help, please leave a comment.

Thank you all for being interested enough to follow.

Edit: I may have discovered Miniature maids blog at Her profile picture is different but both obviously loving rabbits has to be too much coincidence. Well worth a visit for her needlework as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why you should never ever tidy up!

Today started off well. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and with a song in my heart I decided to tidy up my work corner in the back shed. After a couple of hours I had found the work bench and tools I had forgotten I owned and my miniatures were safely in their plastic boxes waiting to be packed back up on the shelf. A relaxed lunch was followed by chocolate and I decided to do some sewing before returning to finish. Then it was a mad panic to soak up water travelling through the house during a sudden tropical storm. It passed as suddenly as it came and all was still well after much mopping up, so I went out to my shed to admire my new tidy work space. It also had survived the storm, being a well built shed...except one spot...where I had placed my finished miniatures...The safe plastic boxes they live in were filled to the brim with water. Alas, PVA doesn't take well to being soaked for several hours and some items are irretrievable. Books (sob) and paper like water even less and even new items in their little clip lock bags weren't spared. Fabric I think will dry - albeit more rainbow coloured than it had been and after peeling the soggy tissue paper from everything else I can say that the losses could have been worse. (or so I thought until my slightly built daughter walked past and the vibrations caused more furniture to collapse!)

I won't be tidying again in a hurry!

Welcome to my 5 new followers. I will get back and introduce you properly, but for now I have things to dry, furniture to repair and washing to do.

Addit: Something which amused me was trying to work out what some flat whitish rags were? The pillows! They had been filled with salt which of course had dissolved.
Bonus was the $2 shop cupboard with crooked shelves I got as a gift from mr 13 fell apart enough that I can reglue the shelves in straight!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sidetracking to a 'new' house

When I was 9 or 10 I fell in love with a metal house in the store 'Waltons'. Every time we went shopping I would gaze at it and wish and wish that it could be mine for Christmas. Christmas came and Santa brought more Enid Blyton books and I loved those of course but was still disappointed. I can even remember that it cost $10 which was probably a lot of money around 1970 (my books were $1.55 each - Santa never removed price tags)

I saw it again 30 years later, neglected and rusty in a second hand shop and 10 times the original price and again was disappointed when it wasn't the right thing to get at the time.

Now 40 years later it has come into my possession after an impulse at a local collectable fair,  $1 for each year of waiting. I'm not sure it is exactly the same house I loved so many years ago, Mettoy stopped manufacturing these in 1965, but many of the features are the same - the black and white checked flooring, the soldiers in the nursery and the painted furniture on the walls. The chimney is missing and so are the stairs and the front door knob and when I got home and looked at it properly, I wondered what had I done! I'm not even sure if the garage is original to this house - photos show different garages and to the adult me, it is gaudy but I still can't stop grinning when I look at it.

Among the bag of plastic furniture included were two inhabitants but I think they were just props waiting for the real family to come along and they have moved safely into a box where they can remain forever elegant.

The Bendy family was waiting  patiently in that box and were thrilled to move in with their few bits of nursery furniture. The baby and dogs (black and white scotch whisky terriers) are still to come (from another box) and Mrs Bendy wants to add personal touches like flannelette blankets and toothpaste lid flowerpots but meanwhile she loves her new kitchen and Mr Bendy is proud to be master of the house on his new lounge in front of fire and  the Bendy children are safely tucked in bed sleeping....

I think it is still a childs house and I will let children play with it. Everything is sturdily made and as it still delights the 10 year old in me, I look forward to it delighting little girls to come.
If anyone knows anything about these houses, dolls or furniture, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tips for miniature hand pieced patchwork

I have had a few people ask for tips on how to make a patchwork quilt like mine, so here we go.

If you have never done English Paper Piecing before, here is a real size tutorial found on the web - thank you Lizard of Oz . I would recommend printing out all 4 pages and reading several times.

To miniaturise  first pick a simple pattern. If you haven't tried it before, start on something small using squares before you try different shapes - you can always turn it into a cot quilt or a pet blanket. 1/2 inch is a comfortable size and translates to 6 inch squares in real life.

When you are ready to move to shapes this site is excellent for your paper pieces - choose the size you want and print it out! Free printable graph paper 
Before printing make sure you are looking at it at 100%. The measurement is the length of one side, not across the entire piece.

Print out 3 or more pages - one to draw up and colour in your quilt - this will give you an idea of size, although the finished one will end up slighter bigger, and will remind you where you are going if you aren't doing a repeat pattern. Most of my hints will be directed at hexagons now.

For hexagons don't drive yourself batty trying to cut out individual hexagons - cut strips and then trim to shape.

Fabric: Use as fine a weave as possible. I found hankies from our local op shops to be perfect - soft, cheap and very tightly woven. The newer ones are coarse by comparison. Beware before you cut though - some are highly collectable and you could be hacking into something which could fund your entire dollshouse collection - check ebay first. If this doesn't worry you, hack away!
The quilt with 1/2 inch squares  uses patchwork fabric. I wouldn't use this for anything smaller.

Spray starch is now your best friend. Starch like mad until your hanky/fabric feels like stiff paper. This eliminates the need for tacking the individual hexagons when you fold it around the paper and who wants to tack a shape smaller than your little fingernail?! Finger press the folds by pinching.

Don't worry about cutting hexagons from the fabric - squares are fine, make them about 2 1/2 - 3 times as wide as your hexagon. This gives plenty of fold size and some thickness when finished. Trim off any bits that poke out.

Ideally centre your squares around a motif on your hanky - one hanky can usually be used to make numerous different pieces and angling these different ways will give you a new look as well. (see the pink stripe blocks in my quilt) This will require all your squares to be cut with scissors and the hanky will look like it has been through the censors when you have finished. You will need 6 same and 1 different squares for each flower.

Making the flowers: This part is the hardest. You have your 7 wrapped pieces in front of you and you want to be able to do it with one thread, so holding firmly, start by sewing the first outside hexagon to the centre with about 4 or 5 whip stitches. Slip your needle and thread to the top of  this outside hexagon, going  inside the fold, and attach the next outside hexagon on to the 1st outside hexagon, then onto the centre. Slip your needle and thread back to top, making sure you aren't pulling too tight, and attach the next and so on. Once all 6 are joined to the middle, break the thread off and with a new thread tack the outside in place. Put aside and make a few more flowers.
Medallion layout front
Medallion reverse

Once you have done this, you have all the skills needed to join the rest in whatever pattern you want.

When you have your quilt top assembled, undo your tacking and remove all the tiny paper pieces. Some will have already liberated themselves. Keep checking it against a lighted surface because others will remain in hiding. (I still have one tucked away inside) Iron (being careful of your edge pieces) and starch again - it will be limp from handling by now.

Applique it onto a piece of fabric allowing for 1/4 inch seams around the outside and cut a back the same size. Right sides together sew around outside like making a cushion, turn right side out and slip stitch closed.

You can bind it with fine bias binding instead.

If sewing is beyond you, starch some cotton fabric to paper stiffness or iron onto a piece of freezer paper, cut to A4, choose a quilt and run through your printer! Use pellon for padding and quilt.

Please ask questions about anything vague or left out.

 I'm not sure how well this will work but here goes:

Click for enlarged image, R-click to copy to your computer and I think you will need to play with the colour if you want to print this quilt onto fabric. It was originally saved in a high resolution, but necessarily the internet has to turn it into a downloadable size.

When printing onto fabric, I have found it better to have the colours too strong as they print a lot more faded.

I am having a hunt for the file for the pink printed quilt as well.

Welcome to my newest followers!
Teresa is an IGMA artisan and her work is amazing - I'm glad I left her introduction til this post as she has just posted the most gorgeous pink sewing machine (!) along with a sewing room of delights. Keep looking back though, some things you need to check twice to see if they are real or mini.

Caroline has 2 blogs - her dollshouse blog with 2 houses - one for her herself and one for her daughter - both gorgeous and real life Forever Vintage with her shabby chic delights and her ups and downs in life. 

Susan has popped by to return my call. When life gets you down, go and visit the chaotic lives of her dolls house residents and have a chuckle. Poor Mother Schoenhut- her family are such a trial to her!

Natalia seems blogless, so please post a comment or contact me if that isn't correct.

As usual when my internet has slowed google translate is the first to suffer, but the pictures speak for themselves at PuNo's Minis I love the detail achieved with humble (and economical) cardboard packaging that is transformed when turned into furnishings.

 Marissa has blogging, following and sharing links and such down to a fine art, as well as working on her own mini projects, so for a look at those plus keeping up todate with who is having giveaways or running tutorials, call in to visit.

Berri and Kate are others who doesn't seem to have a blog so, like Natalia, please contact me if you have a link. .

Carol is a graphic designer and her blog is full of inspiration and resources! She is working on a dollshouse but most of her blog (that I have read so far) showcases other artisans work and gives advice for things we all find useful. Thank you Carol!

Evelien  is making a gorgeous modern 'lived in' house and like me bemoans how little there is to show for the time put in! (we have the same bathroom set too but she is really making something of hers) Have a look a her crochet - I can't imagine how tiny those stitches are! No wonder it is taking more than an evening!

Rosella is my most recent follower and I haven't had time for more than a peek, but that peek has a lot of promise of an enjoyable hour of browsing.

Thank you all for following and I'll look forward to keeping up with what you are doing as well!