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Dollmaker's Journey

August 2009 Issue 93

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Dream ~ Imagine ~ Create ~ Grow ~ Believe ~ Magic
At we help your creative dreams come true.

August 2009 Issue 93

Copyright 2009 by Dollmaker’s Journey

Dollmaker’s Journey Customer Connection newsletter is a free e-mail newsletter. Tell your friends, family and fellow dollmakers about us, and feel free to forward this newsletter to those who might be interested. You can visit our companion website at:

You can read all the past issues online. Go to:
The archives include an easy to follow index to all the past issues.

Dear Dollmaking Friends,

Apparently a lot of you enjoyed the Spam question last month. Just a few facts to clarify the origin of the word Spam. Spam is a canned meat product introduced by Hormel Food Corporation, Austin, Minnesota in 1937. Monty Python borrowed the term from the Hormel product. The show did not invent the word. Spam is a pork product. Rumor is that consumers believe it is made from many parts of the pig. Thus there is the connotation of many unwanted things! Spam was a very important product during the World War II. This may be why the British are so familiar with the product. Evidently the word has had a domino effect in use and the meaning keeps on changing, but Hormel also keeps on making Spam. There is even a Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota where the product is still made. is full of facts! Currently SPAM also denotes unwanted emails, which I explained in the July newsletter.

We had a wonderful visit with some good friends and amazing doll artists when we drove to New York City on the 15th to attend Day with Dolls. In this online world, we are always thrilled when we can meet our customers in person! Bonnie did a demonstration on how to make wigs using the different products we sell at Dollmaker's Journey. We created a wonderful handout for the class which we hope to make available to the rest of you later. In the meantime, enjoy this time of year. Here in the United States school begins soon, and for those with children, hopefully you will have more time to play with dolls while your children attend classes.

Bonnie and Mary Ann


We have been busy over the past several months adding a variety of vintage and rag doll style patterns for your enjoyment. Now that we have a nice collection we'd like for you to enjoy a 20% discount on
them. For our AUGUST SALE we have three categories for you to select from - RAGGEDIES, STORYBOOK AND VINTAGE. If you haven't before, why not explore this style of doll making!

Remember, visit our website at at the beginning of each month to see what our new sale will be. That way you won't have to wait for a newsletter.


Q: Where in the world can you see the sun RISE over the Pacific Ocean and SET over the Atlantic Ocean? (This question was suggested by my lawyer son, who is also a geography aficionado.)

A: The Isthmus of Panama. If you look at a map of the world, this is the only place where when you face east you see the Pacific Ocean and when you face west you see the Atlantic Ocean. I got many creative answers, including the North Pole, the Moon, over the Middle East, Cape of Good Hope in Africa (close, but it rises in the Indian Ocean, not the Pacific), and Tierra de Fuego, but the correct answer is Panama.

Congratulations to Sandy Whittley from San Angelo, Texas. Your name was selected at random from all of the correct quiz entries, and you will receive a $10 gift certificate from Dollmaker’s Journey. Watch for your name in a coming month!


Q: Does an ear of corn have an even or odd number of rows? HINT: These rows run lengthwise along the ear of corn. How many strands of corn silk are there on each ear of corn?

Everyone who emails in the correct answers by September 15th will be entered into a drawing for a $10 gift certificate to Dollmaker’s Journey. The winner will be announced in the next newsletter. Email your answers to Bonnie at Put August Quiz in subject box. Please include your full name and where you live (state/country) in your email. NOTE: Several times in the past a winner was drawn with no name or state/country included. When that happens we have to draw again. So please, make sure you include this information with your answer.


Do you have lonely dolls waiting for a good home? Here is a suggestion from Cora A. Flispart. "All Salvation Army locations will accept dressed dolls for their Christmas giveaway. I have made collections of clothes for dolls and given them to them in the past. Pick up a cheap good doll at yard sales or 2nd hand stores and make new clothes for them."


Since our question this month concerns corn, I wanted to share my favorite Caramel Popcorn Recipe.

Caramel Popcorn (Bonnie Lewis)
(Tastes like Cracker Jacks - family favorite)

1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white Karo corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat, stir, bring to boil. Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and add:1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Mix with 6 quarts popped corn (remove any unpopped kernels first). If at all sticky, pile it on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 275° F. for 10-15 minutes which will help crisp it.


Q: I love to make old fashioned rag dolls from vintage patterns. Many of these old patterns call for "crinoline" fabric to use for the petticoats. And that's my question - what the heck is crinoline and where can I get it? I've been using tulle or plain batiste, giving up the lift a stiffer petticoat would give the skirt. If crinoline is no longer available, what could I use instead?

A: Crinoline is a type of women's undergarment, originally made from a material of the same name. Crinoline was originally a mixture of linen and horsehair marketed for its strength and stiffness. As the material began to be used exclusively in the creation of stiff petticoats, the petticoats themselves came to be known as crinolines, to distinguish them from softer silk and taffeta petticoats. The crinoline reached its height as a fashion item in the early 1800s, and almost disappeared entirely by the late 1800s. On Wikipedia they show pictures of women having trouble sitting with 6 foot wide crinolines. They were also dangerous, because women working in factories couldn't tell where the edge of their skirts were, and often got caught in machinery or got too close to the fireplace.
Crinolines are still worn today. They are usually part of a formal outfit, such as an evening gown or a wedding dress. The volume of the skirt is not as great as during the Victorian era, so modern crinolines are most often constructed of several layers of stiff net, with flounces to extend the skirt. If there is a hoop in the crinoline, it will probably be made of plastic or nylon, which are low in cost, lightweight and flexible.
With the recent trend towards lavish weddings and grandiose bridal attire, the crinoline has started making a comeback. For more information, along with pictures of past crinolines, go to:

For doll crinolines, I have used stiff net (NOT TULLE - too soft). In the bridal section of most fabric stores you can find suitable stiffer net. I have also found stiffened tulle at some stores. Add a ruffle of net on the bottom for more fullness. You can also create a petticoat with a softer fabric. Put a casing on the bottom into which you slide a piece of plastic or boning to create fullness. Some crinolines were just a series of elastic or tapes connected to steel rings. For a doll use 1/4" twill tape and plastic strips or boning for the rings.

Q: Are old fashioned vintage dolls really a thing of the past? I really love them more than the art dolls I see everywhere these days. I'm 54 years old and love dolls that are huggable. I have no grandkids and I confess, I hug every doll I make without even being conscious of it!
It doesn't appear to me that the art dolls like the ones in Cloth Doll Making by Patti Medaris Culea, and other artists are "playable". They seem too fragile for that. Don't get me wrong, these dolls are beautiful! But are they too beautiful for a child to hug or take along on an outing? I'm sorry, I just feel terribly alone because I don't see more of the kinds of dolls I make out there.

A: I agree. Some art dolls are for display only. For Vintage dolls, have you checked our new Vintage section in our pattern category search engine? Also check out the babies/children section for more playable dolls. As an added bonus, the Vintage, Raggedies, and Storybook doll patterns are all on sale this month.

Most designers develop fabric preferences and as you will read below Gloria “Mimi” Winer has very strong feelings about her favorite Southern Belle Muslin. We always suggest that you try a variety of fabrics both woven and knit to learn about the various properties of the fabrics and the effect the fabric will have on the dolls you are making. You will very likely develop your own favorites.

About Southern Belle Muslin (Calico to the ladies from OZ, and Brits too)
By Gloria "Mimi" Winer

I have been hearing from Bonnie and Mary Ann that many of their customers are dissatisfied with Southern Belle Muslin. They are complaining that the fabric is too thin, that it frays and their seams pop and tear. They are thinking about discontinuing Southern Belle and are selling PimaTex, by Robert Simmons. I would be devastated if they do discontinue carrying Southern Belle, Where would my students, especially the foreign ones, find it?

I used to sell that beautiful PimaTex when I had a business called Mimi's Books and Supplies for the serious Dollmaker. It is a beautiful fabric. It is 300 thread count (300 threads per inch) which makes it not as strong as a 240 count fabric. The more threads per inch, the thinner each thread must be. This makes for a lovely silky fabric. Barbara Willis and Noni Cely, among many others, use Pima cotton for their beautiful dolls, but they don't stuff as firmly as I do. When I used it years ago, the fabric would split, and not at the seams, but rather like a felt or ultra-suede or other non-woven, non-knit fabrics will.

I have been thinking about this for several days and I think I know why Southern Belle is fraying and seems thinner. I think the problem is:

Bonnie said that the "old" natural color was thicker (heavier) than the new "Creme" color. The reason for that is that when the "old" natural was discontinued we learned that it was not actually natural at all but had been dyed the "natural" color we were used to. I actually assumed it was natural and was surprised to learn that it had been dyed.

The "NEW" natural was actually natural, and was much heavier but contained plant matter which added to the weight of the fabric. This is fine for home dec and other projects; the little slubbies can be attractive and adds texture. It is not good at all for doll skins. The new Product Manager decided that they would no longer dye the "natural" Southern Belle.

When we ordered the Natural we got the New stuff and were very surprised at the plant matter and called to complain about it. We were told why and that we could get it in white or the New natural. We would have to order three thousand yards to have it dyed to order.

After several months of many conversations Bonnie had with Checkers, a large sewing supply distributor in Chicago agreed to order 3,000 yards and have it dyed "Creme" for dollmakers. I and most of my students have been using it happily ever since.

Cotton and other woven fabrics do fray. That's why we leave large seam allowances. 1/4" (6mm) are standard for dolls and manufactured garments. Home sewers and couture garment makers use 5/8" (15.8mm) as standard seam allowances.

The first thing I do when beginning one of my classes is to check the seam allowances on the students' homework. Most have trimmed their seams far to close and we have to "treat" the seams to prevent blow-outs as we stuff the bodies and limbs. Most dollmakers cannot or do not eye-ball a quarter-inch. Most seem to think that 1/8 inch or even smaller is what I asked for....

I believe this is because instead of using the dream-seamer tool to accurately draw a perfect quarter-inch cutting line, (the tool is in the kit they all received), they use the old "freezer paper" method for sewing their doll skins. When they cut out each piece they do not measure but eye-ball how far from the stitching they cut, making a very slender seam allowance.

AND, if the body part has to be stitched to another part i.e., front torso to back torso, the seam allowances may not match and then it's the designers fault!

If the student has trimmed too close to the stitching I show them how to "treat" or "Grrrip glue" the seam. No other glue does this quite as well. I tried the Crafter's Choice during the period when Grrrip was not available. It was fine for the short term but it gets very thick very fast. This can be a problem for instance when using it to strengthen seams before turning fingers, if the excess glue is not wiped away it is difficult if not impossible, to turn the fingers. When the excess glue is removed by wiping it off with your fingers away from the seams the seams remain flexible and will turn more easily. The Grrrip keeps the fabric from fraying and strengthens the seams.

I apply the Grrrip to both sides of the seam allowance only, then wait for a moment or two then wipe off the excess. The glue will coat the stitching but try not to let it get all over the rest of the fabric. It may not take color if you use dyes instead of paint and it may stain hand dyed fabric. Put the fabric aside while rolling the glue off your hands, then pick up the fabric and spread the seam open but keep the seam allowance all on the same side. Do not open the seam. Do not to allow it to glue itself together. If you wait too long it will form a ridge at the seam which will be unsightly when stuffed. Just pull it apart.

I have never popped a seam that I have treated with Grrrip glue using the applicator to apply it only to the seam allowances.

I have written many times about how to repair blown fingers with Grrrip glue. When "healed" it is often hard to find the tear. I think that article is in a back issue of this newsletter. (You can find this information at


"I don't think you should let your age stop anything you want to do. Don't put an age limit on your dreams." 41-year-old Dara Torres, the only swimmer to medal in five Olympics, and author of Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life
(courtesy of Guidepost Magazine, August 2009)


Baby Doll Contest Winners
See them all at

2009 Hoffman Challenge Winners
1st place - Arley Berryhill "Troll Queen"
2nd place - Deanna Hogan "Bella"
3rd place - Wendy Oxman-Whittmore "Adele"
Honorable Mention - Veronica Philion "Madame la Pompadour"
Curator's Choice - Doris Moore "Princess Padideh's Flying Carpet"
Most Humorous - Barbara Lee Tomczak "I Wish I were a Fish"
Stephanie Novatski won Third Place in the Best Use of Sulky category with her "Morning Serenade" doll
See the winners at:
To see close-up pictures of the winner, Arley Berryhill's Troll Queen, with how she was created, go to:

2009 All Dolled Up: Beaded Art Doll Competition
Due date: August 31, 2009
Theme: Earthen Mother
Official rules posted here:

September 4-7, 2009 – DragonCon Art Show and Convention
Atlanta, Georgia
To enter the juried show with dolls that are SciFi or fantasy themed, apply by April 15.
Information and applications for the show can be found here

September 30, 2009 – Mimi's Child Interactive Pattern for entry forms and instructions
Download free pattern from her website
NOTE FROM GLORIA: "If you printed the free pattern, please correct as follows. On both the human and elf heads the chin area is marked "OPEN". This is WRONG! The chin is to be stitched. However, in this case only, DO NOT stitch all the way off the fabric, but stop at the quarter inch seam allowance. When the head front is attached to the head back this quarter-inch opening will be at the neck and since the back of the head is also open at the neck there is enough room to stuff. Be aware that all my patterns are templates and seam allowances must be added."

October 15-18, 2009 – Treasures of the Gypsy Challenge
Houston, Texas
The theme this year is "The Enchanted Gypsy." Send $20 to Pamela Armas to receive your challenge packet of “Gypsy” fabric and trims. This includes the entry fee and shipping. All dolls to be exhibited at the Houston Quilt Festival!
For more info:
For packet send $20 to: Treasures of the Gypsy PO Box 748 Mountainair, NM 87036


Judi Ward writes: If you like dolls of all kinds, cloth to porcelain, and everything between go to and plan to spend hours! At the first page you click on the doll face in the "lane" of items, then you can select By Material and click on cloth or whatever and enjoy! There are 150 pages of dolls in mostly cloth!!!! It is an education to be sure. And if you want the pictures of a particular doll, (which is what I was looking for when I fell into the place,) you can click on the first picture in a line with a particular doll and it will come up large, then do print and every picture in that line for that doll will print large and one after another. I was looking for more pictures of Babyland Rag dolls for the museum display doll I am doing. Got 3 different ones in the first 8 pages! It is an amazing resource."


June 17 – September 13, 2009 – Sandy Spring Museum Art Show
17901 Bentley Road, Sandy Spring, MD 20860
Featuring Paula Starr's "Soft Sculptures"
For more information call 301-774-0022

***Mary Ann and Jim visited the museum last weekend and were thrilled to see Paula’s wonderful interpretation of some our best loved patterns. Best of all, each doll had a charming, whimsical verse with it that guaranteed a smile every time. If you are any where in the DC area, do treat yourself to this lovely display.

September 8-13, 2009 - NIADA (National Institute of American Doll Artists) National Convention
Arromont, Tennessee
For more information go to

September 16-19, 2009 – Dimensions in Dollmaking 2009
Contemporary Cloth Doll Exhibit at the San Diego Quilt Show
Sponsored by the Imitation of Life Construction Company (IOLCC). The theme this year is “Make Me Laugh.” Contact Lois Bouncer at or 760-438-3431 for the details and forms.

September 25-26, 2009 – California Regional Doll Festival
Millbrae, California (by San Francisco Airport)
For more information contact the Lowmans at or call (831) 438-5349

October 8-12, 2009 – The East Coast Art Retreat
Crowne Plaza, Cromwell, Connecticut

To save yourself time and energy, get all the details on upcoming doll related events at


You've got to check out the fabulous SOLVY TUTORIAL that STEPHANIE NOVATSKI has so kindly shared with us. It is sure to inspire you. Stephanie's hint for beginners: "If you are going to try it for the first time, I highly recommend using a tulle base. This will ensure your piece will hold together and you can always melt away the visible tulle." Her doll came in third in the Sulky Embroidery Challenge. In the tutorial she shares ideas used to create her winning doll.

CAROLYN ERBSLAND has given us a terrific FREE PATTERN for a Corsett Sachet that will make amazing gifts. You won't be able to stop at one!

BETH WEBER has a wonderful crochet doll tutorial. You can download it from her blog.
She also has more tutorials including doll wigs and Waldorf dolls on her Flicker:


"Patti's Stargazy Fairy Fan" - five fabulous fairies with interchangeable clothing joined together to make a fanciful fan - is a fun new project from PATTI CULEA. We sold every copy we brought with us to Dollie Day last weekend but we have lots more. You've got to check it out -

CAROLINE ERBSLAND has hit another one out of the park with her newest release "Corina!" You will love her beautiful face and intricate costuming. CAROLINE has developed a fabulous technique for adding a wire structure to the top of the head to support the hairstyle that you will want to learn.

Just in time for our August sale MAUREEN MILLS has released two more incredibly darling patterns - "Ice Scream, U Scream!" and "Monkey Business" that will surely tickle your creative fancy.

England's MADELEINE SARA MADDOCKS is one of the most thorough pattern writers out there and she continues to shine in her newest release - "Textile Teens CD" - a pattern packed with solid dollmaking techniques.

MARY TRESSLER always comes up with the most wonderful characters. We love the exuberance of her "Joyful Noise." Stop by and check it out.

If you every thought about trying to needle felt a little figure then EDWINA SUTHERLAND'S "Basil the Rat Catcher" is just the ticket.

What could make a child happier than a handmade stuffed animal or doll. "Creative Soft Toys to Sew" by Sally Milnor gives you more than 20 delightful projects to choose from. Many would be great to create
WITH a child. A very handy book for your reference library.

500 Handmade Dolls is now back in stock.


We are delighted to bring you a new product that we are just crazy about!
The Mighty Brite VUSION is a versatile LED lamp and magnifier that is lightweight and easy to take along to classes or use as you are travelling. In can clip onto hoops or your clothing or stand alone. The 2X magnifying lens makes it easy to thread your needles, read instructions and so much more. We also have the Mighty Brite CRAFT BAG LIGHTS - a 2 piece set of carabiner and key chain that both light up making it easy to find what you are looking for. Click here for all the details -


We so love learning about the fascinating lives of our customers. Elan Bogarin happens to be a movie producer and her film BIG FAN starring Patton Oswalt debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this year and will be released in 26 cites this fall. For all the details check out
Now she's off to Chicago to begin Grad School. You go, Girl!


Lots going on at Bonnie's house this month. She created wigs from Tibetan Lamb, fake fur, straight mohair, braided mohair, yarn, and curly hair to demonstrate techniques in New York. She also covered how to weft hair using a technique she learned from Noni Cely. Her son, daughter-in-law, and 2 grandchildren moved in until they find a new home. Her hot water heater broke and flooded the basement, which necessitated getting new rugs. The good news is, since she had to move 12 bookcases to make this possible, she is getting the basement painted while everything is packed. Of course, this renders half of her house uninhabitable. Her dog was attacked and killed by several very large dogs, which made everyone sad. Her 10-year old granddaughter was awake when this happened, and was very traumatized. We had to explain how Bear was now in heaven running around happily with his litter mate Squeaker, who died last June. Last, she and Mary Ann brought dozens of hats to Judi Ward's last Saturday where they taught everyone to make and decorate hats.

Mary Ann with Jim’s invaluable help spent many weeks preparing for our trip to Dollie Day in NY. Given that our products only leave her house once a year, everything has to be priced. We certainly love spending the day with so many enthusiastic and talented Dollmakers and we are happy to provide hard to find dollmaking supplies. An added bonus is spending the night with Mary Ann’s parents Paul and Marion Zetts on the way up and back. Jim is counting down the days to the start of the University of Virginia’s Football Season on September 5th – the Alma Mater of four of his five children. Mak usually dreads the first game because of the intense midday heat but this year some very wise person scheduled the kick off for 6pm. Rah, rah, rah!


Download fancy fonts for your computer for free at
There are historical fonts to match your favorite books, you can search theme fonts like fire and ice, and they are lots of fun.

We have a shop near us called A Vintage Emporium that features a lot of vintage buttons, beads, trims, lace, ribbons, etc. Best of all, you can buy everything online at:

We’d love to hear your thoughts about our Customer Connection newsletter.

Contact the editor Bonnie B. Lewis at with any comments, suggestions, etc.
Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to any of your friends. Help us spread the word about Dollmaker’s Journey! All we ask is that you forward it intact, with all the subscription information included.

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