Of all the embroidery and hand-stitches, ladder stitch is the one I use the most. It's how I close up all of my soft toys, dolls and soft sculpture, sew on extremities like ears and tails and attach tiny sleeves to doll dresses.
I recommend ladder stitch in all of my soft toy sewing patterns and, as I am often asked how to sew a ladder stitch, I thought it was time I filmed a little demonstration for you.
Please excuse the poor quality, my less than lovely gardening nails and the sound of macadamia nuts being harvested on the farm across the road!
If the seam turns out a little puckered (as it has in my demo), you can go back over it with a second row of ladder stitch to smooth it out, or just make your stitches a bit closer together.
I also drew a diagram (below)...
I hope that helps!
Here are some recent pictures of my work table this past month or so... doll making can be a messy business but also provides me with some surprisingly funny little scenes, when I walk into my sewing room / cabin of a morning.
After a few requests, I thought I'd demonstrate an easy technique for turning out very narrow sewn shapes for stuffing, with a short video demonstration (below), If you have ever tried to sew and stuff really tiny doll legs, arms or the stalks in my mushroom sewing pattern, you will know how tricky and seemingly impossible it is.
I've found a brilliant technique for doing this with ease, using a drinking straw and something long, small and pointy - like a small crochet / knitting needle or skewer.
I'm spending this lovely rainy day sewing clothing for my new collection of cloth art dolls. The dress I'm currently working on is Victorian inspired, and I've found that to get that lovely Victorian dress shape, the dolls really need to wear a petticoat and bustle underneath.
This next group of dolls should be finished and available to purchase via my online store by the end of November. To see some of my dolls, take a look at my gallery page or have a look back through the Willowynn artworks category on my blog.
My new dolphin soft toy sewing pattern is now available to download via my online store. My boys and I really love marine creatures and I was inspired to make this one after our regular sightings of pods of dolphins swimming in the sea at our local beach.
This sewing project is nice and simple and works really well with old denim or cotton sheeting. Enjoy!
At work, stuffing fabric snails while warming up in the sun.
My workroom gets the winter sun and is the best place to be when it's cold. I've opened up all the windows to let in the fresh air, as it's been really wet here lately. I'll be closing them and lighting the fire soon though... once the sun disappears behind the trees.
I found an old, torn linen cushion cover. I'm keeping the zipper and making giant snails from it. I was going to try to mend it. to use it as a cushion cover but it has a massive hole which is very frayed. Also, I think this linen is the perfect fabric for making snail shells.
I use second hand fabric for almost everything I sew - old woolen blankets, scraps and remnants. With so much fabric and old clothing going to landfill, I don't like to buy new. Also, I think things like linen and wool are so much nicer when a little worn.
Giant linen snails coming to my online store very soon.
The clothing sewing patterns for my stuffed animal dolls are now available to download and print! Hooray! Now you can make little overalls, pants, coats and dresses designed to perfectly fit your Willowynn animal dolls.
These little clothes are simple to sew and are the perfect project to use your special scraps of fabric. I particularly like using remnants of old woollen pants or skirts for the little coats and old denim or corduroy for the overalls (dungarees) and pants. And little squares of cotton print fabric are perfect for the dresses.
The coats (or jackets) can be made with a hood or a collar and can even be made reversible. There are three different dress styles to make - gathered, A-line and an apron style (also reversible). My boys now have a whole wardrobe of clothes for their stuffed animals which, they discovered, fit some of their smaller non-Willowynn toys.
I'm really happy with the way these have turned out and I hope you like them. Let me know what you think. How is the fit? What did you make?
I've been busy designing some little clothing pieces for my Willowynn stuffed animal dolls. So far I've made a jacket (with or without hood), overalls, pants and some little dresses.
I hope to have the sewing patterns / templates for these clothes available for you to download and print in a couple of weeks. I can't wait to see the clothes you make for your Willowynn stuffed animal dolls!
An alternative (or an addition) to the chocolate eggs for Easter... and a little present that can be handmade by you. My bunny and bear soft toy sewing pattern is available to download via my online shop. Plenty of time to sew this before Easter!
This little bunny rabbit softie would be an adorable companion for a baby or small child. Designed to be endlessly carried around and looks so sweet nestled in amongst a child's pillows. I think this is the perfect project to upcycled that piece of fabric you’ve been saving for something special, like an old baby blanket or soft flannelette sheet.
To make the bunnies you see here, I used an old woollen blanket and soft pieces of grey and pink flannelette from baby bed sheets.
Lovely rainy afternoon here in my workroom, stitching tiny things.
I haven't shared any of my textile work here for a little while but rest assured, I'm still at it. I started the year a bit lacking in motivation, inspiration and confidence... so I've been occupying myself with other things, hoping it would all come back... and it has!
New dolls coming soon... then lots of creatures.
I'm running a special mushroom-making workshop in the beautiful old Federal hall, in the Byron Bay hinterland on Sunday the 10th December. We will spend the morning making some little fabric mushroom ornaments... just in time for Christmas.
In this workshop you will learn some soft sculpture techniques as well as various stitches for hand-sewing and embroidery.
This class is most suitable for adults with some machine and hand sewing experience.
For more information, or to make a booking, please visit my online store.
So delighted to find this lovely article written by Janai Velez featuring my workroom in the November issue of Homespun magazine. It really is beautifully written and I love the way Janai has described my dolls. I always draw a blank when asked to describe my work so it's really helpful to hear someone else's words.
Homespun is a treasure of a magazine, if sewing is your thing, and is packed full of inspiring projects, tips and interviews.
The magazine is available from Australian newsagents throughout November and is also available as a digital copy online at www.zinio.com.
These embroidered star, tree and round ornaments are easy to sew, make great presents and look lovely on a Christmas tree. I've put together some simple instructions, an illustrated stitch library and templates, to help you make these at home. You can download the PDF sewing pattern here, ready for you to print at home.
I hope you enjoy making these. You'll find more Willowynn sewing patterns available to download here.
I made a little video demonstration (below), showing how to embroider French knots. I found this embroidery stitch quite tricky when I first tried it and looking at diagrams in embroidery books didn't really help me. But I've since taught myself how to sew them so thought I'd show you how I do it.
The key is to hold the thread taut with one hand while you wrap it around the needle and insert it into the fabric. Hold on to the thread until just before it is pulled all the way through the fabric (see video below).
This is an example of a singular French knot but you can make them larger by wrapping the thread around your needle twice rather than once. This video shows how I stitch the French knots onto my fabric mushroom hanging ornaments.
... and here is a little diagram showing French knots in more detail. I drew this a while ago for one of my sewing patterns. Enjoy!
I've been searching for the perfect thimble... comfortable but sturdy enough to protect my finger. Hours of hand-stitching and embroidery can result in a very sore (or even pierced) middle finger tip, but the hard thimbles always seem a bit cumbersome to me (maybe I'm not using them right?).
Anyway, a while ago I found a rubber thimblette, usually used for handling paper... I tried it out and now I never hand-sew without one on my finger. They are very comfortable, but a bit too thin to protect your finger when pushing a needle through thick fabric, so I cut a little disk of very hard leather and glue it to the inside of the thimblette, in the tip. The rubber helps to pull the needle through fabric too.
It works really well and feels so comfortable that I often leave the house with it still on. You can get them for around 70 cents each and they come in different sizes. I buy mine from my local office supply store.
I know there are a lot of different thimbles on the market that will probably do what I need. and I'd like to try them out, but these do work pretty well for me. What do you use? Can you recommend a good thimble?
Well it's taken me a lot longer than I anticipated but my platypus sewing pattern is now available for you to download.
I've really loved creating this unusual Australian animal soft toy and I hope you enjoy sewing it. It's a fairly simple tutorial, full of step by step photos, which includes machine sewing and some hand sewing. Great for advanced beginner sewers wanting to tackle a slightly more complicated soft toy project that includes darts, gussets (and some soft sculpture techniques for making the webbed feet). You can download the pattern via my website or my Etsy store.
I've spent ages trying to perfect my platypus soft toy so that I can offer a sewing pattern with instructions on how to make one. The body is pretty straight forward but the feet and bill have really challenged me. I think I've finally figured it out now and I'm really happy with the way it's turned out, so I should have the pattern ready for you to download very soon. I hope you like it. *Pattern can be purchased here.
My son needed a platypus (and this photo of me making it) for something at school. It took me several prototypes to get the shape you see here and there are still things I'd change... but I'm thinking of maybe offering it as a sewing pattern. Would you make a platypus? They're pretty fantastic creatures.
Would you like to make these little hanging fabric ornaments? I've put together a sewing pattern for them which is available here. These ornaments make great little presents, and not just for Christmas trees... enjoy!
...and my fox and wolf toy sewing pattern is also now available to download. Phew... these ones took me ages. Thanks for waiting so nicely.
So it turns out the fox soft toy sewing pattern I'm working on also makes a little wolf stuffed toy. My fox and wolf PDF sewing pattern will be ready for you to download via my online store early November 2016, along with a pattern for my fabric hanging ornaments.
Some mushroom hanging ornaments on my work table this week. I'm trying to get some sets of these ready for Christmas.
I love it when the perfect material for what I need happens to be rubbish... like the plastic from old milk bottles.
Matt and I had the beautiful task of making the arbour for my friend's wedding over the weekend. I made the flowers and he and the kids collected the branches and vines. It looked beautiful and was the most perfect day.
The flowers were really easy to make so I thought I'd share how I made them with you...
You will need:
Polyester or rayon lining fabric in cream and leaf green,
Candle and matches,
Needle and thread.
Instructions (for one flower)
From the cream fabric, cut out three circles about 10cm in diameter, and two smaller circles about 7cm in diameter. Cut one circle from the green fabric about 7cm in diameter.
With your scissors, make five cuts (evenly spaced) into each circle from the edge of the circle towards the centre but don't cut all the way into the middle. These will be the petals (or leaves in the green fabric).
Hold each circle of fabric over a candle flame without letting the fabric actually touch the flame. The heat will make the edges of your fabric curl up like a flower petal and seal the edge to prevent fraying. Turn your fabric slowly to curl all the edges. Repeat for all circles.
Arrange the layers of petals - green layer at the bottom, then the larger layers and finally the smaller ones. Make a couple of stitches in the centre of the circles, through all the layers and secure. You could leave your flowers flat and open or make a few stitches in the bottom to bring the petals up and together slightly like I've done.
I threaded a large needle with thick cotton and sewed all of my flowers onto a garland. You could sew or glue yours onto a hair clip or brooch, or use it to finish off your gift wrapping, a corsage or make them into a bouquet. Whatever you like. Enjoy!
Well it took me months and months to get this finished but finally the sewing pattern for my bunny doll (and bear) is ready for you to download. It's full of easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos and is the perfect project for the advanced beginner sewer wanting to tackle a slightly more complicated soft toy project that includes darts and gussets.
Some hand and machine sewing experience is recommended but really, I think anyone could give this one a go...and you get a cute little friend at the end of it.
I can't wait to see how you go...please just ask if you have any questions and I'd love to see photos of your finished bunnies or bears.
Hello and welcome...
My name is Margeaux Davis. I create cloth dolls, creatures and soft toy sewing patterns.