Saturday, July 11, 2015


This is not a doll post but I know a lot of you have cats and dogs so I thought I would let you know about Luma's latest 'adventure'.

It all started very innocently with this beautiful bunch of red lilies which my darling husband bought as a birthday present for me.  We put them in a vase on the table in our living room, not realising how dangerous they were.

Luma is a very curious cat and she likes investigating new things.  So, later in the day, she jumped up onto the table and started sniffing and smelling them and playing around the vase.  Then she bit a leaf and nibbled off the end.

Fortunately, I was watching and saw her do it.  And also fortunately, I mentioned it to my husband and asked him to check if lilies were poisonous for cats.  (I don't know why I did - I am only very thankful that there was a small voice that made me check).  He did and said (very calmly), "They are toxic to cats" - and left it at that. OK - toxic - I decided I should check it out.

I did a Google search for lilies and cats.  The first website I read was an American vet website and the second was an Australian vet website.  They both said the same thing and the American website had a list of symptoms to look for which ended with 'death'.  All lilies - oriental, peace, Christmas, Easter, tiger, daylilies - are extremely poisonous for cats and that includes all parts of the lily -stems, leaves, petals, pollen, stamens, even the water in the vase. The toxin causes kidney damage and can cause acute kidney failure which is fatal.  The websites all said to take the cat to the vet as soon as possible.  The main treatment is to flush the kidneys with lots of fluid (in a drip) to push the poison through the system as quickly as possible.

We phoned the local 24 hour vet and were told to bring her in immediately.  So we took her, in her basket, straight to the vet.

The vet kept her in her basket as she was so settled and she was put on a drip straight away for that night.  The next day we took her to our own vet (our local vets help each other out but don't poach each others' patients) who did a blood test and put her back on a drip for another 2 days.  Then she had another blood test before she was allowed to come home.  Two days later she had another blood test.  All were fine.

However, it could have been very different.  We were told that cats usually get poisoned when the pollen drops on their fur.  They clean it off and no-one knows they have been poisoned so they don't get taken to the vet until the first symptoms show and that means their kidneys are already being damaged.  They get the same treatment as Luma but because the poison is already affecting their kidneys,  their kidneys usually fail and then repair to some extent.  They are generally left with some kidney damage and the question is just how much damage.

I think we actually got Luma treated before the poison ever reached her kidneys because her kidneys never stopped working.  So our extremely lucky cat has NO kidney damage - and probably wonders what all the fuss was about.  All the vets are very happy about that although our local vets seem a bit surprised - I don't think they have ever had a cat survive with no damage before. And they are convinced that she is fine because we got her treated so quickly.  The fact that she is a young cat also helped.

They also said it was unusual for a cat to actually eat a leaf.  That is usually what dogs do.  However, these types of lilies are not toxic to dogs as they are for cats.

Luma is back to her happy, curious self

 and we have decided that only super-safe plants will now be allowed inside our house as she will probably nibble them.

Monday, March 9, 2015


The My Size Barbie has finally gone to her new home.  I hope her new little owner will enjoy playing with her.

I ended up making her two dresses.  The client had only requested one but seriously, whoever heard of a Barbie doll with only ONE dress.

The first dress was based on a 'Review' brand dress I was altering for another client.  It was a lovely shape that just suited Barbie.  When this client came to pick up her altered dress, I told her I had copied her dress and she was quite happy about that.  Then I showed her what I had done and she was enchanted, she thought it was so cute.

The fabric is an actual Mattel licensed print with Barbie written inside pink hearts.  I found it with some fabric another retiring dressmaker had given me  - a lovely unexpected present.  She was retiring and found me on the internet and rang me up to offer me her fabric.  Some months later, here it was.  The perfect fabric and the perfect amount for this little girl's present.

Just before I sent the doll off, I added a headband made from the fabric scraps.  (Sorry, no pictures of that.)

For the second dress, I used the pink satin that the client had sent me and, just as Night Owl suggested, made a princess dress.  This one is all lined and has a tulle underskirt.  I would have liked to have added another layer or two of net  underneath to make the skirt even fuller but I also didn't want to make the skirt too big so I left it at one layer.

I also made a rose and put it on a hair clip to hold back some of her hair.

I'm not sure what her original hairstyle was like but now you can see her pretty face properly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


In my non-blogging life I am a professional dressmaker and sewing teacher.  Dolls and making clothes for them are my hobbies.  But sometimes, just sometimes, my job and my hobbies come together.  I have recently had a client bring me this doll and ask me to make her a dress.

As you can see she is very tall - that is a 1 metre (40") ruler I am holding next to her.  All I know about her is that she is a 'My Size Barbie'  and she was made by Mattel.  She has a copyright symbol with '1992 Mattel, Inc. China" on her lower back but I haven't been able to find out very much more about her.  I've never seen one before and I suspect very few were sold here in Australia.  This one was bought on ebay and is to be a present for the client's granddaughter.

Can anyone tell me anything about these Barbies.  Did they come dressed?  Could you buy other clothes for them?  Can anyone identify when she was made as I know they were made over a number of years and all were slightly different.

She has a very pretty face

and is a very good model.

Over the past few weeks I have made her a basic bodice block and tested it in calico (US - muslin).

This calico was nearly right but still a bit loose in the bust .  It only needed a little tweaking to get it  right.

And I made her a skirt block as well:

although in the end I've decided not to use it.  But I've got the patterns so I can make more clothes if needed.

Also does anyone know what her original hairstyle was like?  At the moment, without her hair tied back she rather resembles Cousin It from 'The Addams Family'.

I'll show you her finished clothes in a later post.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


It's a good thing 'doll time' runs differently to 'real time' so my dolls could have their New Year Party even though we are already well into January. 

And it's also a good thing that I won the Nommy Miniatures giveaway on The Travelling Twig blog last year or they wouldn't have had any food for their party. Well, actually they would - I have two slices of toast from an early Barbie Fashion Pack - but that's really not party food.

Instead they had meatballs, noodles and fortune cookies:

They look great and appetising and my dolls are very grateful.  They are also now aware that there is dolly food available and want me to add significantly to the menu.  (Just a side comment here: I am always reminded of the differences between America and Australia when I see the meatballs in the noodle box.  In Australia, you get noodles in noodle boxes but not really anything else.  And you generally only get fortune cookies in chinese restaurants, not with takeaway. )

As you can see, one doll opted to use a plate for her meatballs
but the rest shared from the boxes.

And even our cat attended the party. She stole the cushion from the playset box as we were setting up and claimed it as her latest toy.  So far, it has survived her better than I expected.

 In case you are wondering why this is a different cat to the one who was sleeping on my computer keyboard in the last entry - that beautiful cat disappeared around the middle of last year (that was one of the reasons my comments became a bit sporadic from the middle to end of last year).  We searched and searched but have never seen or heard anything of her since.  In our searching, we contacted our local Animal Aid which takes all strays picked up in our shire, and kept an eye on their website where they list the animals they have for adoption.  After a few months, we saw this cutie who really needed a home.  She is about 18 months old and had been in the care of Animal Aid for 10 months - more than half her life.  So Luma, as we have called her, has come to live with us and I am sure you will see more of her over time as she is a real character.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone.  And I hope you will hear more from me this year than last year.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Last year was a very busy year, paticularly after June.  And there were a lot of blog posts that were drafted in my mind but that never actually got written.  There were also some unexpected obstacles to writing.

So I thought I would do a quick overview of some of the doll and doll-related things that happened last year:

In June I met Barbie.

A shopping centre (shopping mall) near us was extended and refurbished.  The new shops that opened included a Big W store and meeting Barbie there was one of the attractions of their 'Grand Opening'.  The unfortunate thing was that the 'Grand Opening' was on a Wednesday and she was there between 1pm and 3pm when all her fans were at school. But she really was lovely (and had a very faint American accent).

At the end of July, Ikea did release their Huset doll furniture set in Australia so I gave in to peer pressure and bought one.  (And it was only $2 dearer than the American price, yay for Ikea ).

In August, I decided that if I was going to sew for American Girl dolls, I really needed an American Girl doll to make sure the clothes fitted properly.  So Megan came to live in Australia. (you will meet her properly in another blog post).

And, finally, having been taught by you all to always keep my eyes open for doll stuff in unexpected places, I found these little keyrings in Riot which is an art and craft chain here in Australia.  They contain tiny crayons in seven different colours.

 They are almost perfect scale for Barbie and were only $2.

Do you like the top Barbie is wearing in this picture?  It is one of three easy tops I promised to blog about last year.  It is very easy to make and the only sewing required is for the press stud (which you don't have to have).   Now I just have to write out the instructions so they are not too confusing.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


I haven't abandoned my blog.  I just gave myself writer's block by saying I would do top patterns and then getting too busy to take the photos and write it all up.  I've finally decided that that post/s will happen but I'm still able to write about other things in the meantime .

So a very quick post and photo from sunny Australia to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope you all enjoy your day.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I hope everyone had a happy Mother's Day (whether you have human children, animal children or doll children - it all counts).  I spent mine sewing - not for me but for the dolls.  (I'm not really complaining, I did have a happy day.)

When the dolls heard I had agreed to make another wedding dress, they chucked a wobbly.  (I'm not sure if that's an international phrase or just an Australian one but think of two year olds and temper tantrums and you'll get the idea).  They said I hadn't done any sewing for them for ages, that the amount of fabric I had to sew into doll clothes was getting bigger than Mt. Everest and they DIDN'T HAVE ANY NEW CLOTHES!
"I've got the tiara.  Now where's my dress?"

So I decided to refine a design I had at the beginning of the year.  I was trying to design some very quick and easy outfits that anyone with very little sewing time or experience could create.

And so here's my first tutorial - for this very quick and easy skirt.:

It's a variation of a pull-on tube skirt so you need to use stretch fabric.  And because you see both sides of the fabric in the finished skirt you need a stretch fabric that looks good on both sides and that stays lying flat when it is cut. (The edges of some stretch fabrics roll around themselves when they are cut - don't use them for this design,)  Here are some of my selections:

I found the following measurements where the ones that worked with a wide variety of stretch fabrics.

For Barbie,  cut a rectangle that is:
           10cms (4") wide  (this is to go around Barbies body so make sure the fabric stretches this way)
            12cms (4 3/4") long

For Monster High dolls, cut a rectangle that is:
           8cms((3 1/4") wide (again this has to be the stretchy way)
           11 cms (4 3/8") long

Fold this in half so that the two long sides are together, and the right side of the fabric is to the inside.  Pin from the top down to just over half way down to the bottom.

Using a 6mm (1/4") seam sew from the top down to the pin and back stitch. (Use a ball point or stretch needle).
Now cut through the seam allowance to your stitching line but not through it:

Now turn your tube of fabric inside out and pull the uncut part of the seam to the outside.  It should look like this:

Again using a 6mm (1/4") seam, sew from the point where you finished stitching last time to the bottom of your seam.  Make sure you tie your threads off at the top and bottom of your stitching so your seam doesn't come undone.

You've now finished sewing your skirt.  What you have to do now is turn the skirt back to the inside (the way you had it when you first started sewing).

Now roll the top part of your skirt down over the bottom part until you can't see the seam and you are happy with the length of the two layers:

If you want to, you can sew a couple of hand stitches at the sides of the skirt to keep the layers together the way you want.  Or you can leave it so you can adjust the layer length for different looks when your doll wears the skirt.  Slide your skirt onto your doll.  It should stretch to fit over her hips but then shrink again to fit close to her waist. 

No, I didn't leave them topless.  I also designed three easy tops to go with the skirts.  I'll tell you how to make them in my next post.