Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Eve of Christmas Eve!

Christmas is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. I love the sense of warmth, caring, and that warm Christmas-y feeling that you get every time you anticipate the joys of Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I often wonder how the people of early America celebrated Christmas. I'd imagine that everything from the decorations and gifts to the food were all made with the utmost care and respect for tradition and quality. Maybe one day I'll emulate this in the way I celebrate Christmas in my own home.

This plate from Godey's Lady's Book is how I like to picture a nineteenth-century Christmas. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

I am thankful for so many things, namely my family and friends. I honestly don't know where I would be without them!
These rolled cloth dolls were inspired by dolls of the early 19th century. They're so much fun to make, so I made an entire family of them!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Past Workes: Meet Clara

Meet Clara. She may have a few rips and tears here and there, but that's precisely what gives her that primitive charm. As any proper girl of the early- to mid-nineteenth century should, Clara wears a quilted sunbonnet to keep from getting sunburned. She wears her favorite brown checked dress so often that it has a bit of a tear in the back and the elbows are nearly worn through. She doesn't mind, though. When the fabric wears out in places, she can just stitch a patch on the afflicted region, as was necessary with her apron. She's quite proud of her petticoat, since it's the first garment that she stitched all on her own. She can't wait until she can let the tucks in her dress and pantalette hems down herself, given her newfound needlework prowess.
Clara was my second Gail Wilson project. I sewed her from the "A Doll for Disney" kit, and she was a delight to make! At about 16 inches tall, she's my favorite size doll to make. Gail Wilson's detailed instructions made Clara come to life without much trouble at all. I found that the antiquing methods, none of which I'd tried before, really gave Clara a unique patina. As I sanded her clothing and cut holes in her bonnet and the toes of her shoes, I wasn't destroying her, but rather, I was letting her story shine through.
I especially loved the way her hands came out. I painstakingly stitched her fingers, and they were greatly emphasized by the antiquing methods. So, I made her a little cloth bird to hold in her hands.
A few years ago, I got a fantastic doll cradle from Colonial Williamsburg. It fits Clara pretty well, so I made her a ticking pillow and quilt to go with it. Since I'm not much of a quilter, I don't have any batting at my disposal. So, the quilt just has a front and a back. I find that the lack of bulky batting makes the quilt better for a doll scale. Also, I hand stitched the quilt, so it probably would have been harder to hand stitch batting.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Past Workes: Meet Lottie

Meet Lottie. She's a petite lass of about 10 inches with a head of thick auburn hair that she just couldn't seem to get to curl properly like the other girls at school could. So, she wrangled it into braids every morning, and, soon enough, found that the style rather suited her.
Lottie was crafted from the Gail Wilson doll kit of the same name, and she was a delight to make, despite her tiny size. (I'm usually partial to dolls of 14 - 18 inches in height!)
However, I managed to botch the apron. So, to rectify the issue, I used Gail Wilson's printed apron kit as substitute. I quite like it. Despite the kit being labeled for 12 inch dolls, it fits Lottie quite nicely.
She's a firm doll, stuffed entirely with wool roving. The stuffing created a good, taut canvas for her embroidered face, which is probably some of the most detailed embroidery I've done up to date (it's sad, isn't it?). I had a hard time painting on her shoes, so I just painted her a plain pair of boots. She likes them quite a bit; she says they never hamper her adventures like fancy shoes would.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Past Workes: Meet Emily

Meet Emily. She's a sweet girl of the late nineteenth century who has a penchant for berries, sunshine, and bonnets.

Emily was made from a Feedsack Doll Kit. She was my first Gail Wilson project, and she was delightful to make! I think a lot of her charm comes from her detail. Her tiny hands and shoes seem to hearken back to the careful craftsmanship of years past.

She was the first doll that I've ever painted or dyed fabric for. Thanks to the excellent instructions provided in the kit, the process was fairly smooth. This was also the first time I ever made a "real" bonnet! It seems that every other time I made a nineteenth-century bonnet, it was on a primitive doll, since I didn't know how to make an actual bonnet!
She may have her flaws, but I think that comes with handmade things.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Past Workes: Meet Mercy

Meet Mercy. She was inspired by early seventeenth-century America, and I tried my best to make her as accurate as possible a representation of what a girl's poppet would have looked like in those days. I'd always wanted to make an historical doll with maroon and goldenrod fabrics, and what better way than with a doll inspired by the early English settlers?

Contrary to popular belief, the Pilgrims did not wear all black, brown, and grey. They actually liked color quite a lot! This misconception is probably derived from portraits of the Puritans, in which they wear grim, melancholy colors. However, this was not the only kind of clothing that they wore. It's actually a poor representation of what they wore, given that they wore their best clothes for portraits. Given that it was very difficult to dye fabric a consistent, deep black, black clothing was given greater value than perhaps, say, a goldenrod apron. It was easier to dye fabric in colors other than black, so that's what the Puritans did!
Mercy is almost entirely hand-stitched. She's been stuffed with polyfil, and is a OOAK doll. SHe wears a white coif and matching headrail over a purple set of bodies with three little Xs down the front to represent the lacings. She also wears a maroon petticoat with a goldenrod apron over it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Listings on Etsy!

I've just finished listing several new items on Etsy! Among the new items are several ornaments intended for both Christmas and otherwise. Several of them are little birds; I find that they're delightful to make! Also, I've made a new colonial lady!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a Pincushion?

I adore antique and antique-style pincushions. They, much like dolls of days gone by, have a certain charm; especially the rpimitive ones. I sewed these pincushions entirely by hand a few months ago. Each one was sewn from reproduction prints and is stuffed with wool roving to keep needles and pins rust-free. It also gives them a nice weighty feel, like their antique counterparts.

The first is an orange calico bird perched atop a brown printed pincushion. It is about 4 1/2 inches from beak to tail, and the pincushion beneath it is of the same length. At its widest, it is about 3 1/4 inches wide. The bird is also stuffed with wool.
The second pincushion is a small blue print pincushion stitched to a brown print pincushion. the smaller is about 2 1/4 inches long and 2 inches wide. The larger is about 3 1/2 inches long and 3 inches wide.
Even if you're not an avid seamstress, these adorable pincushions would be lovely accents in any primitive home decor!
These pincushions are for sale on my Etsy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Crocheted Bowl Tutorial

For the past month, I've been playing the bassoon morning, noon, and night at band camp. It was a fantastic learning experience, and I feel I've definitely improved as a musician and have made friends that will last a lifetime. However, I haven't sewn a stitch since I left! I have been crocheting, though. Little crocheted bowls make great gifts for just about anyone! They can hold jewelry, spare change, and various other odds and ends; I'm sure wrapped candies would also work! They won't break if dropped, nor will they scratch the furniture on which you place it. They're also really easy to make! Here's how I usually make them:
1. Pick out a skein or two of worsted-weight acrylic yarn. It holds the bowl's shape nicely. I like to make sets in coordinating colors, too.
2. I recommend using a 3.5 mm hook, since the stitches made with this size hook are tight enough to keep the bowl's shape.
3. Make the lette "P" with the end of the yearn. Make sure that where the yarn intersects, the horizontal piece that goes off to the left is on top.
4. Insert the hook in the loop so it reaches around and grabs the horizontal part of the letter P. Drag it through and make a slip stitch.
5. Make six single stitches.
6. Bring the loose end through the loop and pull the loop shut. I learned this technique from an amigurumi book once, and it's really very handy. Once your circle gets big enough, you can weave the tail through, and there won't be any hole where you started!
7. For the first round of this continuous spiral, increase every stitch. You should have 12 stitches by the end of the round.
8. For the second round, increase every other stitch. For the round after that, increase every 2 stitches, etc.
9. The size of your circle will determine the size of the base of your bowl. When your circle is big enough, start the next round as only single stitches.
10. Once your bowl is the size you want it, finish the round you are on and make a slip stitch or two after the last single stitch in order to smoothe out the rim of the bowl.
11. If you are making a set, then you can thread the loose end on a yarn needle and use that to stitch the bowls together. I suggest making each bowl a different size and color.
*Please comment and tell me how your bowl making went! I would also love to see pictures of the finished products!*
~ Laura

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mr. Bear, a Well-Loved Old Friend

This is Mr. Bear. As you can see, he's seen many years of love. He wasn't always that color. He didn't always have patches. He also used to have a left eye. However, he recently discovered that he likes himself this way, considering that his beloved mistress made him so. This rambunctious mistress has grown up and gotten married, so he often finds himself reminiscing on the same front step upon which, years ago, many a tea party was held. His mouth used to curve up ever so slightly into a tiny smile, but the years without play have made him a little melancholy. Actually, his face used to look quite a lot like this when his mistress was young, too, except he frowned with exasperation as he was dragged through the garden time after time. Thankfully, there's a patch for that.
His mistress never meant to harm her beloved friend; however, she never seemed to realize that teddy bears don't really drink tea. Right now, Mr. Bear only wants to be loved by another little master or mistress who needs him. Considering his petite stature of about 5 inches from ear to foot, he would make a lovely friend for a doll. He's really not very suitable for actual children, considering that he's been aged considerably with a great deal of paint.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Week at the Beach

I've been at the beach for the past week, and how relaxing it was! I spent my birthday by the ocean, as I do every year, and I quite enjoy not being pale! However, I've missed my blog, and my Etsy will be out of vacation mode tomorrow. Hope everyone is enjoying summer!

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Listings on Etsy!

I'm about to list a bunch of new stuff! I made some primitive pincushions, some cotton washcloths and a pot scrubber, a patriotic doll, and a grungy little bear.
The pincushions come as a set, and the washcloths and scrubbie come as another set.
I made the doll, which is also a wall hanging, and the bear in the spirit of a primtive Fourth of July (also known as my birthday!).
Visit my Etsy for pictures!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mary, Another Girl of the Mid-1800s

This is Mary. She's a fairly proper girl who enjoys stitching and baking. She's really very proud of her samplers, but I almost wish she'd stop making them! They clutter every spare corner in the house, considering the terrible weather has kept us cooped up inside the house as of late. Being a proper lady, Mary never leaves her hair a mess. Much like in the Swedish style of the mid-1800s, she ma

kes a braid on either side of her head and pins both braids to her head in order to make buns. In order to preserve her fair complexion, she never sets foot outside the house without her brown printed sunbonnet. She also neglects to wear shoes, but this is only to preserve her only pair for church on Sundays. Most of the time, she prefers to wear pink. At the moment, she is wearing a pink dress that she made herself with a pink gingham apron over it. Mary has a nice, weighty feel, since I stuffed her with natural wool roving. So, she'll sit nicely and brighten up any room! She's available on Etsy, and comes with a little brown bird sewn from the same fabric as her bonnet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Emma, a Girl of the Mid-19th Century

Meet Emma. She's a lively girl of the mid-1800s with a penchant for sunbonnets, running barefoot, and cows. It's no use trying to tame her; she refuses to wear pantalettes or shoes! She eays that shoes would only slow her down, and no one lays down on the ground at her ankles in order to check for pantalette hems. Hence, she thinks that a petticoat will do the job of pantalettes quite nicely.

Emma loves bright flowers, and it shows in her garments. She wears a bright purple printed frock (her favorite) and a pink calico pocket that she sewed herself, which she uses for the transport of flowers. If I were to open one of her books, pressed flowers would float to the floor in droves.
In order to preserve her favorite frock, she consents to don a white batiste apron; it's really rather miraculous that she hasn't entirely ruined it by now. Forunately, she values her complexion to some degree; she never sets foot outside the house without her mustard-colored bonnet.
Emma is an entirely hand-stitched OOAK doll. She's been stuffed with natural wool roving, and her clothing is also my design. Her bonnet is not removable, and I don't recommend removing her frock, either. Emma is available on Etsy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cora, a 19th Century Reproduction Rag Doll

This is Cora, a doll that I picture as being the companion of a little girl living on the prairie in the mid-1800s. Cora is an original design and was made without a pattern. She was hand-stitched and is stuffed with natural wool roving, which gives her a nice, weighty feel. Her sweet countenance was hand-embroidered and needle sculpted. Her braids are made of English mohair that

I dyed myself. She wear

s a calico bonnet to keep the sun from burning her fair face. A sunburn would be unsightly! She also wears a green calico dress with long sleeves and a hem that reaches her ankles. Over that, she wears a simple muslin apron and a shawl. Under her dress, she wears pantalettes that she tries very hard to keep neat and clean; however, the dusty prairie makes this a trifle challenging! Her legs are made of blue and white ticking, so she has "stockings" on at all times. Also, unlike most of my other dolls, Cora wears shoes. Cora quite enjoys wearing her little boot-like shoes. She says they make her feel like she's a fancy girl from the town where her little mistress' papa brings the crops to market.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Primitive Pincushion

This pincushion was inspired by the pincushions of yesteryear. It's hand-stitched and stuffed with natural wool roving to keep your pins and needles rust-free! If you don't sew, it can also be used as a decorative piece due to its nice weight and primitive look. It's available on Etsy!

A Jane Eyre-Inspired Rag Doll

This is Jane, a rag doll inspired by the Jane Eyre miniseries. She's an original, OOAK design. Jane is entirely hand-stitched and stuffed with natural wool roving. She's wearing a bonnet that's been sewn to her head, a muslin apron and pantalettes, and a blue-checked dress. The dress was inspired by mid-19th century frocks, and it has two rows of tucks along the bottom hem. She's available on Etsy!

Laurelai Designs on Etsy!

Welcome to Laurelai Designs' Blog!

Hi, I'm Laura, the person behind Laurelai Designs. This is my first time blogging; it's something I've always wanted to try. I'm a dollmaker who loves history; especially the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries in American history. So, this blog will probably be primarily composed of the various dolls and pincushions that I sew!