Shirley Bligh - A Pattern Shared

If you've thought of finishing a pin cushion doll, Shirley Bligh of Australia has generously shared her own design for the pin cushion skirt with all of us.  You can size it down or up depending on what you need for the half doll you're finishing.  It's so nice as the top of the skirt has been designed to better take the bulk away from the tiny waists.  Click on this link( to download two pages which give you the pattern and easy instructions.

The following photo is Shirley's creation that she made some time ago using her skirt pattern.  This pin cushion doll is one of the prettiest I've seen. Her blog is
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This photo is of a new half doll that I finished using Shirley's pattern.  This matronly lady was made by the Mundial Company of Belgium.  She is so different I couldn't resist her.  A butterfly is sitting on her arm.
In the photos below, I thought I'd show you an antique half doll and a reproduction of the same doll.  Here is the antique that reminded me of the movie "Thoroughly Modern Millie" with her cloche hat.  This one hasn't had her hair bobbed yet!  Flappers and other 1920s gals are pretty common in the half doll realm.
So many of the gifted doll artists I've been buying from are in Australia.  I'm starting to think there must be something in the water there!!  This little beauty was made by Carole V. Lyons.  She has reproduced the antique with her own spin with added decals and tiny handmade flowers.   I actually prefer her over the antique because she is so delicate looking.  Tidbit:  Reproductions are about 20% smaller than the antique as the porcelain shrinks during firing. 

Since I'm talking about 1920's style half dolls, here are a couple more of my favorites.  The first is an antique.  She has a lusterware blouse which is a metallic glaze that appears iridescent.  So pretty.  Don't you love the ermine stand-up collar and the color combination the painter used?
This stunning lady is new and, again, a product of the Mundial Company in Belgium.

McKenna Ryan Art Quilts

It's been an off year for me and that applies to my crazy quilting as well.  I don't intend to give it up totally but have been putting some of my time elsewhere.  Last year I started a Christmas "art quilt" designed by McKenna Ryan which I purchased in kit form from Batiks Plus (  This quilt is called "Heaven and Nature Sing."  I finished it recently and will be giving it to my daughter on Thanksgiving as a Christmas gift.  I love McKenna's designs so it's been a pleasure doing this.
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I've started another of her kits "In Full Bloom" so will show you each section of the progress on it as I go along this time.  These kits are easy in some ways but are very time consuming and you do have to pay very close attention on how you add the pieces.  Her charts are nicely done and she's put a lot of time in making the patterns and instructions user friendly.  Since I'm not a very good machine quilter, I've learned how to add the pieces in layers and stitch a scant 1/16" from the edges of each piece as I go.  I'll take it to a long arm quilter to finish it for me.


Exploring New Ways to Display Half Dolls

As you can probably guess from my most recent posts, I have become enamored with half dolls.  My collection is growing and I'm anxious to come up with alternative ways to display them.  The pin cushion skirts take up so much space and finding flat surface space will soon become a problem.  Besides, a line up of pin cushion dolls loses something overall and you fail to notice the beautiful faces.

This is my first effort at making a half doll wall hanging.  It was hard to get a great photo as it is so monochromatic.  This doll is an antique so no glue was used on her and she is held secure by being wedged into layered cardboard and Timtex.  Now that I've done one this way, I think I'll try foam board the next time.  I know you've probably seen mysteries on TV that show a hollowed out book to hide a gun or another item.  This is basically what I did to handle the fact that the half doll is not flat on the back.  This wall hanging took several days to make so can't be classified anywhere near "easy."

Half Doll Hanging (sm)

Starting with this post I will share some photos of half dolls that are in my collection.  Maybe they'll be made whole at a future date, but there's not enough hours to finish them all.  I look for nicely painted faces, reasonable prices, and overall appeal.

This first photo is of an antique German half doll.  Arms away are more difficult to make as more molds are required, but this feature makes the half doll more desirable to collectors.  German half dolls are more desirable than those made in Japan.  Quality shows!

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The following photo is of a reproduction "wahini" made by the Mundial Company in Belgium.  Their dolls are beautiful but, because they are so nicely done, people who sell them almost always try to pass them off as antique by not committing themselves to saying outright that they are new.  I bought several because I know I'll never have the funds for the antique versions and researching before I bought was simple to do online.

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Thank you for visiting.  I'd like to hear what you think so please comment and let me know you've been here.  I'll be back!!

TOUCHING BASE and Another Half Doll made Whole

Summer has come and gone and I've been less than good about posting to my blog.  I haven't been doing a lot of stitching but, if it counts, I think about it a lot!  I'm hoping this winter will be more productive, but no promises especially to myself.

My latest fixation has been half dolls.  I have quite a little collection going of both antique and new.  This first photo is one you've seen but I added a little embellishment to her skirt.


Next is a new one made by Judith at Chessington Dolls in Australia (  Check out the beautiful beaded skirts when you visit her website.  The little handmade roses were the first thing to draw me to this doll, but the face is always the final feature of any half doll that helps me decide if I will purchase her or not.

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Her skirt is made using ecru silk under Swiss embroidered cotton netting.  She was starting to look too bridal so I added a green silk overskirt topped with an antique motif that luckily also served as a pretty bustle.  The skirt was not made over a pin cushion but I used a wooden stand made just for half dolls.  Too expensive for my taste so I'll be making my own stands or pin cushions in the future. 

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I'll be back!

Making a Half Doll Whole – Reen’s Way

Having just finished a half doll, I decided that for this one I will try to show you how to make one my versions of a pin cushion doll.  Since I never expect to use pins in mine, I will use only Polyfil as the stuffing.  Please be sure to use a stuffing that is kind to your pins and needles should you decide to use it as a true pin cushion.  I also do not intend to make this firmly stuffed as I’d like the skirt to hang more loosely.  To make it stiff enough to hold up, I added a dowel up the center (see this in the pin cushion portion of the instructions.)  An actual pin cushion should be as firmly stuffed as possible and will not require a dowel.

Here is the antique half doll I’ll be dressing.


Before beginning, adjust your mind to thinking “cut the bulk!”  The waist on the one I’m going to finish has a diameter of 3/4” which is really tiny.

Lots of people who dress these dolls now use fabric glue in places.  Often, glue is the answer.  I try to stitch when I can and I would never put glue directly on the glaze of an antique half doll. 

First you want to decide what the final height should be.  I’ve found that measuring the half doll from the top of the head (not including piled on hair, etc.) to the waist (not the bottom of the half doll) is ~1/3 of your final doll with the skirt.  This one is 2 1/4” so her skirt will be in the neighborhood of 4-5” and I will adjust it for the most pleasing proportions at the pin cushion stage. 

Before I begin dressing her, I’ve sewn some narrow, doubled over strips of twill tape at the hole areas in the base.  I prefer this to actually sewing the half doll to the pin cushion through the holes as it’s awkward to handle.  I can then spread the twill tape out over the pin cushion and secure it easier and more securely.  You can also run the twill tape through the holes but I like the former technique.



Most half dolls have the top of the dress already molded on and painted.  Many even have hats.  You can skip this portion of the tutorial if that’s the case.  Since this one is nude, I had to make a fabric bodice. 

There are also some really beautiful reproductions out there.  Be sure they are painted nicely!

I’ve decided to dress this half doll using silk ribbon and antique lace.  I have used 1 1/4” silk ribbon for the under bodice and will fit lace overtop to dress it up.  The ribbon is just wide enough to cover her bosom down to her waist and I cut it long enough to fit around the doll’s body.  Fold under one back edge and use a little piece of scotch tape in the center front to hold it in place.  It needs to be stitched quite tightly down the back especially at the top so that her bosom holds it up.  I didn’t worry about making this stitching neat as it’s going to be covered with lace.

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The overtop lace is sewn the same way with the pretty edge of the lace up toward the neck.  I then stitched a length of silk buds and bows that embellishes the neckline and goes down the back of the dress to cover the stitching there.  Any narrow trim or lace will work a gathering line along one edge as straight edge trims will not follow the top of the bodice without puckering.

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You will need a stiff circle to act as the bottom for your pin cushion doll regardless of whether you stuff firmly or use a dowel as in the following paragraph.  I used a 1/8” thick cardboard circle with a diameter of 3 1/2” for the size head I am using.  You can glue several layers of a thinner cardboard together to make it stiff enough.

(optional)  Because, I am not making a true pin cushion, as I said before, I used a 3/8” dowel which fit well inside the half doll.  Slip the head on the dowel and make a pencil mark at the bottom of the half doll.  Remove head and measure down from that mark the length you want your skirt to be and cut the dowel.  I glued a wooden spool to the center of the cardboard bottom and then glued the dowel into the spool for stability.  Do not put any glue into the half doll.  She will be added later and the twill tape will secure her.  Again, you will not need to do this part if you are going to firmly stuff the pin cushion.


Cut a fabric circle a scant 1/4” larger than the circle and a strip of fabric ~2” wider than the length you want your skirt and long enough to go around the circumference of the circle with enough to turn in both edges.  Leaving the strip open on the ends, turn and press the ends to the back side about 1/4”.  With right sides together, pin the strip to your circle all the way around and overlap with the other end of the strip.  Machine stitch ~1/8” from the edge of the circle being sure to catch both layers of fabric (circle and strip) all the way around.

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Turn to right side, insert the cardboard circle with or without the dowel, hand stitch the seam where you overlapped.  Run a gather stitch along the opening.  I like to run it overlapping a folded edge.  Stuff as desired.

Spread out the twill tape previously applied to the half doll, pin to hold, and stitch firmly along the edges of the tape.

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This is where there’s not much instruction as you will have to decide what your skirt will look like based on the fabrics you have.  You can choose to build a skirt right on the pin cushion as I did or sew one and dress the doll.  There will be more bulk for you to work around if you sew a skirt before dressing her.  I actually stitched on rows of 1 1/4” ruffled silk ribbon, one over the other, for the main skirt.  Lightweight silk fabric, ribbons, and trims are great to use.  Even after on your doll, silk can be steamed and shaped to lay where you want it.  You will see in this photo that I also made two rows of stitching on the pin cushion so that I could shape the skirt better.


The following photo shows the main skirt finished.  See how far below the half doll the top of the skirt is.  This is what I meant my “cut the bulk.”  I’m still a good 1/2”-3/4” away from the tiny waist.


The lace peplums are made by cutting 2 half circles in wide lace with the pretty edge left straight.  Gather along the curved edge and put one half circle on each side of the doll.  I still have not reached the waist.



Her skirt ended up at a length of 5”.  I used the buds & bows silk trim to wrap her waist and to hide the top of the peplums.  I added a simple ribbon bustle. 

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A Vintage Peacock to Embroider


Simple stitches and a few beads were used on this design.  I chose my colors in order to have them pop on the black background and didn't worry too much whether they were correct colors for a peacock or not.  My only requirement was that there be a little turquoise involved.  All of the outlining was done using a stabbed back stitch except on the gold area around the eyes where I used an outline stitch and straight stitches at the bottom curves.  The ribbon embroidery flowers and leaves are done using 1/8" ribbon and straight stitches.  Easy Peasy!!  I don't enjoy working on anything too involved...quick and dirty does it for me.

I'm not too sure what I'm going to do with this.  The mood just struck to embroider a peacock.  I think I'll do a few motifs individually and then join them somehow to make a crazy quilt wall hanging.  Black background fabrics throughout, of course!

I have provided a full size design for you to use – just click on image to enlarge for printing.  There is also another peacock in my design section if you're new to my blog.

Peacock Pattern

One Treasure Found

This little half doll pin cushion was in absolute distress when I found her this past Saturday at an antique show.  Only $10 made her mine and a couple of hours work made her over!  Her original wool filled pin cushion skirt is still intact for the antique purists out there but it is now camouflaged with a new skirt topped with a strip of antique ribbon work.  I can now enjoy looking at her and I won't be putting any pins in her anytime soon.

Pin Cushion

Challenge Square


This square was an entry for the annual HGTV CQ Challenge hosted by Nickilee Seavey.  I won Best Overall.  For a fee, we each received the same kit of supplies that we had to use on the square.  It was a lot of fun but somewhat disappointing as only a handful (7 or 8) of the 25 who signed up actually finished.  Those who did finish had some lovely squares when the challenge was met. Here are some close up pictures.


Go Hawks!

I'm far from a football fan but I'll cheer for the Hawks for my Seattle granddaughter, Ava!!  I hope you all enjoy the Super Bowl regardless of team!

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