craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, Uncategorized

Spa day

The first thing that hint you as you scurry into my apartment from the cold is the scent of Flair.

Each bottle of fabric softener smells like a garden crime scene in which roses have been massacred. Such carnage. Much Flair. So ow my eyes and senses.

I avoid scented products…but doll wigs and doll hair have brought fabric softeners to my kitchen and the scent might never leave.

Currently the doorway to my dance room is the doll drying and triage center.

Chubby Moana is now starting her new life as a wee goth child.

Ariel’s hair was easily combed and lightly washed and conditioned. I’m not sure what I’ll make her into yet, but I’ve popped her into one of the dresses I’d made for Snow. I don’t need a bunch of naked baby dolls staring at me apartment decor.

Belle, Thinner Moana and Lilo have gone through rounds of fabric softener, combing, and curses.

Between jobs today I put Lilo’s hair in 100¥ shop curlers. I really needed more clips but all my bobby pins are currently hiding. They are waiting for me to buy more at which point they’ll flood my floors and pockets.

I attempted a boil perm (dipping her curlered hair into boiled water for 30 seconds) and now must leave her to dry for days.

I’m 42 years old and my ikea drying rack has become a doll day spa.

craft, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, Uncategorized

First Disney Repaint.

I’ve got dolls, they’re multiplying. And I’m losing control.

Well. I have more than one Disney doll now.

Before Craftsmas an online friend contacted me about two Disney Animators dolls (Belle and Lilo ) she picked up for about 5 USD each. She’s planning to send them to me, but some holiday called Christmas has delayed her.

One of those dolls I have serious plans for.

I figured I needed to actually do some test repaints to learn the craft better, as it’s not coming easy for me and I can’t expect my first Disney repaint to go super smoothly.

Repaints I’ve done so far:

Secret Barbie (in time I shall share)


That’s not many.

Japanese resale shops don’t have a great selection of cheap dolls. People either keep the boxes and get the dolls back to very good condition (and then charge near-new prices or higher than new for dolls only a few years old) or just junk them.

Browsing Yahoo Auctions Japan, I found a Tiana “My First Princess Toddler” doll for 900¥ . In America these seem to be around 9 to 11USD new but in Japan I see them new in Toys R Us for about 2,800¥.

The toddlers are slightly smaller than the Animator dolls with less range of motion on joints and head and no visible eye shape once the makeup is removed. They’re not as nice or sturdy.

In the future I’d like to give a doll a boil perm to create tightly curled hair, but it looked like no child had tried to comb out Tiana’s hair so it still retained good curls for her two hair puffs. The Ariel and Cinderella doll I saw for sale by the same lister..half-combed out messes. Did not want.

The first step in these doll repaints is to remove all the face with acetone. Then, cover the body and hair in some sort of protective wrap. Finally prep the face surface with a light coating of sealant to create a slight tooth/texture on the face for media the adhere to. This is what Archie taught me.

Mr.Super Clear seems to be the brand of choice and it’s Japanese in origin. Repainting supplies, if not the dolls themselves, are cheaper and easier to score here. Japan LOVES making models.

Then I worked with a variety of chalk pastels, colored pencils, and acrylics

I’m having the most difficulty getting a really good eye white, as you can see.

I think in the future I will contour with chalk pastels, spray fix, slowly built up the whole whites of the eyes with thin layers of white acrylic, spray fix, and then use a variety of chalk pastels, water color pencils (w and w/out added water) then do a spray before adding liquified lacquer to the lips and eyes.

These are the stages Tiana went through.

And finally she and Snow are sporting the two bathrobes I made. Tiana will require slightly smaller patterns than Snow but the nightgown and robe are generally one size fits both.

craft, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, Uncategorized

XXIII:Mary’s Flannel Petticoat

Excerpts From
The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people
Fryer, Jane Eayre, 1876


Don’t you want to go with Grandma to-day?” asked her grandmother of Mary Frances.

“Where, Nanny?” inquired the little girl.

”Well,” said Grandma, “I’m going to take a trolley ride through the park.”

“Where the monkeys are?” inquired Mary Frances.

“Yes,” said Grandma. “I thought you’d like to share my ‘afternoon out.’ “

“I dearly love monkeys,” said Mary Frances. “They crinkle up their faces so!”

“Come, then,” said Grandma, “get your hat!”

Monkeys that live in parks are never nice monkeys. 

It’s nothing against monkeys. Monkeys by themselves are fine, delightful even. Monkeys in parks have had multiple interactions with humans. We are horrible. We are a bad influence.

My monkey experiences are skewed by the fact I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. You may not think of Madison as being famous for monkeys. Unfortunately in our zoo we had a collection of monkeys that were descendants of Madison’s famous rhesus macaque laboratory monkeys from Harry Harlow’s behavioural research. Ya know, wire-mother/terrycloth-mother, fear-test monkeys, and infant isolation chambers. Those descendants were not ok and were worse than your average monkeys who have had to deal with humans on the regular.

I live in Japan now. Asian park monkeys are known for robbing people and stores of their edible souvenirs and being generally ornery and aggressive. I have had to try and distract a monkey so it would drop a bag belonging to my friend that held candy AND her wallet.

We never get to learn about Mary’s local park monkeys. Mary runs up to grab her hat but stops to listen in at the door of the sewing room, where she hears the Thimble People excitedly chattering about the next project, a ‘flannel pet’.

“The dear things!” thought Mary Frances, “and I was going to run away! What can a flannel pet be? Is it a flannel cat, or rabbit, or dog?”

“Mary Frances!” called Grandma.

“Listen, Nanny,” said the little girl leaning over the banister, “will you feel much disappointed, dear Nanny, if I don’t go? I— I—”

“Why, no, my child!” said Grandma. Mrs. Bennett is going with me, so I’ll have company, but I thought you’d be lonely. Good-bye, dear,—take a nap if you feel like it.”

Mary, you weren’t going to ‘run away’. You were going to have social interactions outside!

I can’t be too harsh though, I have canceled human interactions for craft time. I have some social anxiety issues. I might also pass on monkey-laden parks if offered the chance.

Of course Mary soon learns that she’ll be making a petticoat, not a flannel animal. Actually, this chapter is all about making an underwaist of flannel, not the flannel petticoat which comes in the next chapter…a fact that confused me to no end.


The Underwaist is our first garment that doesn’t use the T shaped shoulders. HUZZAH!

Of course I wasn’t going to make a bland under-garment. I was going to bust out the patterned fabric and make a dress.

The skirt doesn’t use a pattern. It’s just a measured rectangle that gets hemmed, joined with a felled seam, and is gathered at the top edge before being joined to the underwaist top.

Tutorial for felled seams at Colette.

I used two rows of machine stitching to better gather the seams this time, lesson learned, and I finished the edge with a decorative feather stitch as suggested by the book.

The top is lined to protect/hide unfinished seams. I opted for snaps instead of buttons.

if this seems like a rushed description, WP ate a chunk of my text earlier.

Mostly finished but no snaps.



But I actually wasn’t finished. I wanted cleaner shoulders so I started draping my doll and consulting a tutorial for drafting your doll’s bodice.



My new bodice pattern in progress.

And I started using YET MORE of my Star Trek fabric.


I even felled a FEW seams because i didn’t have a long enough scrap for the skirt.

Check out that pattern matching! The skirt was temporarily machine bias hemmed and then finished by hand.





I figure I can play around with this bodice and raise the waist and hem and such for a variety of cute skirts.

I’ve also learned where I draw the line.


I’ve been working on a secret project and lemme tell you…Barbie clothing, even at it’s most simple, is too fussy for me.

craft, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, Uncategorized

Chapter XXII: A Ruined Dress.

Let us all bow our heads, Craftsmas had come to a close. No longer are my days for all the crafts. I am back to my jobs. Now is the time for manageable smaller projects.


The last days of Craftsmas were spent finishing off another scrap quilt, it had remained 2/3’s finished after last Craftsmas. Now it needs batting and backing and I need a three day weekend and an audio book.


It’s also time to crack open the books and get back to Mary Frances!

Excerpts From: Fryer, Jane Eayre, 1876-. “The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people.”

I’ve already made the Morning Dress from this chapter, twice, so today we shall focus on the plot.


Aunt Maria has just left, taking her backhanded scolding with her, and the Thimble Folk rejoice as the Sewing Bird sleeps. They banter in what must have been HIGH humor in 1915.

“Oh the Old Grunt had to go home,” said Scissors Shears, standing on one pointed toe. ”Why?” asked Tommy Pin Cushion.

“I don’t care a tinkle,” exclaimed Silver Thimble, ”why she went—I’m only glad we’re to have the little Miss to ourselves once more!”

“Humph!” exclaimed Ma Chine, “if Sewing Bird were awake, little you’d speak in so cutting a way about an old lady, Scissors!”

“Click! CHck! Chckety-click! Rip-her-up-the-back!” snapped Scissors Shears, making across the table.

“You old Thread Chewer, you!” he exclaimed, “everybody knows you have wheels in your head! You old Thread Chewer! You—! You! I double dare you to—”

“Zunmi! Zumm! Zumm!” Ma Chine began to whirl.

I lied about the humor. There is nothing deliberately funny in these pages.

Little girls were not allowed near humor in 1915 for fear they’d develop ‘a sharp tongue’ that would alienate gentleman callers down the road. They were instead encouraged to engage in the worst of wordplay to actively demonstrate how they posed no intellectual threat to menfolk.


Once more, Silver Thimble exhibits his red flags. If your thimble is jealous of the time you spend with family members and friends and actively isolates you from the company of others, please seek help.

I forgo the use of thimbles most of the time. Sure, it gives me the sort of rough hands that tip-off gentlemen callers that I am not as high-born as I pretend…but my sharp tongue already dooms me so who cares about my calloused fingers?

As the Thimble Folk trade words Mary is standing just outside the room, listening and hoping no harm will come from this spat. Mary, still passive AF.

Suddenly Scissors Shears stumbled and fell flat on the table, his feet being all entangled in the folds of some pink lawn.


This apparently is the downside to letting temperamental Thimble Folks prep and finish your work. Sometimes they stumble and SLASH your DRY GOODS into ribbons.

There on the sewing table was Scissors Shears looking woefully upon a pretty little doll’s dress carefully cut out and pinned together. All over it were gashes and slashes where his sharp feet had cut into the material.

“What shall I do/’ began Scissors Shears, ”oh, Sewing Bird, what shall I do?—There’s no other goods! I took such care to make that so perfect,—ready for the little lady’s lesson to-day!”


Now, if I were Mary I’d be livid…probably.

There are risks to having unpaid labor do your prepping and finishing and a few lost fabrics is nothing in comparison to a revolution. I don’t think Mary is properly compensating ANY of the anthropomorphic folks who help her. She never questions all this free labor and education.

At the least I’d make sure to craft a cosy for Scissors Shears… like a quilted straight jacket.

Oh! That reminds me. Ever since I wrote about the Sewing Bird I’ve started keeping a Pintrest page of lovely sewing objects.

But Mary puts Scissor Shear’s feelings first, suppresses her own, and acts ignorant.

“Come!” said Mary Frances to herself. “That’s enough! Poor old Scissors Shears!—I’ll pretend not to notice it.

Good-afternoon!” she said going into the sewing room, “I’ve changed my mind, dear Sewing Bird Lady—I think I’d like to use some other goods rather than that I left on the table for this lesson. I’ll just throw this aside in a little bundle,”—pushing the ruined dress aside,—”and may I use this pretty pink cham-bray gingham to-day?”

“The very thing!” exclaimed Fairy Lady, “much better than lawn, for a morning dress.”

Damnit, Fairy Lady. You know what she’s doing. It’s ok for Mary to be angry or to discuss her disappointment…

What’s that you say, Fairy Lady?

Not if she’s going to survive a 1920’s marriage?

Thimble Folks, sometimes I really hate you all.

Yeah. I know. Gentlemen don’t appreciate sharp tongued spinsters like me and Aunt Maria.

Anywhoozlebee…Mary pretends everything is fine and they set to work on the morning dress.

“That’s your week’s work,” said Fairy Lady, ”if you finish it for the next lesson, I’ll be so proud.”

“And so will I!” laughed Mary Frances, resolving to work hard. “Good-day, dear Thimble People.”

The Chapter ends with Scissor Shears continuing to be in his own feelings.

“I’ll help her if I dare,” said Scissors Shears.

“What could you do, now?” asked Tommy Pin Cushion. “You’re in disgrace!”

Little does Mary, Tommy Pin Cushion, or the Fairy Lady know…this is the least of S.Shears’ private shame and not even the secret he fears Mary will someday learn.


No…no one ever saw the Clauss Girl again.








craft, Mary Frances sewing, Uncategorized

Re-lining a Coat: part 3

When we left off I’d sewn the lining and interlining.

The next step is bagging the lining. I wish I could easily explain this. When constructing the lining you leave one section of a side seam-open so you can eventually pull the whole coat through it.

Here is a Pintrest page I made to pin “How to bag a lining” tutorials.
You keep the coat right-side out and put the in-side out lining over that, so that the right-side of the lining is against the right side of the jacket fabric.

Then you sew allll around that edge.


The bottom section is the trickiest. This I did by hand. I used the old lining to show me how far up the lining to stitching to get the right hang.


Here is that gap in the lining and an action shot of turning everything right-side out.


I attempted to sew the sleeve lining at the same time… even though that didn’t make sense to me. Indeed, I had two sleeve loops when I turned everything inside out. Fail. Unpicked the seam.

I left some areas of the hem un-stitched because I had to reach inside the coat and do some tricky anchoring of the interlining. At some points it had to attach loosely to a structural lining inside the coat. I couldn’t take a picture of this process because I did it mostly by feel, trying on, fixing. For most re-lining process this wont be an issue.

I then carefully hand-stitched the sleeve lining into place using the prior lining AND basting stitches I’d used to mark the inside of the sleeve when I’d removed the  lining.

After hand finishing things I put in all on the dress-form to double check how everything hung and  to press the lining where needed. There are some areas that aren’t perfect but..its a lining.



Now, in the process of this all I removed the fur from my jacket. Removal and replacement of the fur (with Faux instead of real) and fixing the closures comes next!

craft, Mary Frances sewing

XXII: Aunt Maria makes a visit.

“Oh, good!” said Mary Frances, “and, dear Fairy Lady, I want to tell you—I’ve a lovely surprise! My Aunt Maria is coming to see us.”

“Aunt Maria—oh, does she love sewing?”

“Indeed she does! She made a bed quilt when she was—let me see,—maybe—I think—it was when she was two years old.”

That’s Aunt Maria! Anything you can do she did much better, much earlier, and under worse conditions.

Aunt Maria had a competitive streak. She could have been something if she’d been raised in a time when women’s achievement’s were valued. Alas, she wasn’t. She never attained the one thing that gave women of her class worth…a husband. Time and inequality had made Maria hard.

At the start of this chapter she’s due to arrive at any minute…but first we learn how to sew on a button.

Then Katie announces our visitor, Aunt Maria.

“What are you doing, child, all alone this afternoon —are you often alone? You have no chance to cook here, I imagine.”

“No, Aunt Maria,” said Mary Frances. “I’m very busy, never-the-less.”

“Busy!” exclaimed Aunt Maria; “and what do you do, pray?”

“S’sh! Aunt Maria—it’s another secret!”

“How lovely!” smiled the old lady

“I’m—” standing on tip-toe to whisper into her aunt’s ear—”I’m learning to sew.”

“No?” exclaimed Aunt Maria. “Why, my dear child, how—how can you learn to sew? I know your grandma cannot see to teach you—her eyes are too weak.”

For the record, Katie is in the house while this is being said. Mary isn’t alone alone but the help doesn’t count. Katie is also the reason Mary won’t be cooking as much as she did the summer her mother was in a sanitarium (true).

I’m assuming pray is short for “pray tell” as I suspect praying is only part of Maria’s life when she’s pulling on church-strings for more public support of prohibition.

And, of course, Maria is making sure that Mary isn’t taxing Grandma’s eyesight with her needs. Girls must not be burdens.

Aunt Maria,” whispered Mary Frances, ”I’ve some little friends who know all about sewing, who teach me how—but it’s a ‘dead secret,’ and “you must never, never, never tell—hope you’ll die if you do—will you promise—skull and cross-bones?”

”Mercy! Child!” exclaimed the old lady, “what an awful vow! But I’ll not tell, and if I give my word—”

“Oh, I am sure you won’t. Aunt Maria,—and— some day I’ll be able to tell you all about it.”

“Is it a book—like the cooking lessons,—that delightful secret? I won’t tell.”

“My!” thought Mary Frances. “Wouldn’t Sauce Pan laugh!”

“Not exactly like that,” said Mary Frances aloud, “and I know you’ll never-never tell, Aunt Maria,— but it’s a very-very serious secret, for nobody knows— not even Mother.”

MARY FRANCES you are flirting with the darkness of the Never Never! You know you’re not allowed to speak of the Thimble People. DEAD SECRET Mary! Skull and Crossbones!

Does a dead secret mean nothing to you, Mary? It meant nothing to me until I encountered the term in this book…but now I’ll be adding it to my lexicon like it’s an established level of swearing.

If we’ve established one thing, Mary, it is that we don’t talk about Thimble People.

Sauce Pan was a member of the Kitchen Folk. The sewing book was the second in the Mary Frances series, after the cooking book. In the second volume the characters and situations from the first book are often referred to. It’s an awkward practice. In future volumes the only consistent thread is Mary’s Family…. the various folks she’s encountered are rarely ever spoken of again…as if the Thimble Folk were sent to the Never Never after all.

Skull and crossbones.

Mary goes to her sewing room, alone, to fetch her work for Aunt Marie’s approval. All the Thimble Folk are freaking out, asking questions of Mary, and generally rushing around.

Then Aunt Maria opens the door! She’d followed Mary up the stairs figuring there was no reason for Mary to bring the sewing down.

All the Thimble Folks dropped, motionless, where they had just stood.

The Never Never is so close and so cold.

“’Goodness!” exclaimed Aunt Maria as they went into the room. “Although I oughtn’t to say it—what an untidy room! My dear child, my dear child, everything ought to be put in place just as soon as you’ve used it. It never pays to lay anything down out of place. Here are needles and pins, scissors and needle-book, emery bag, and what not—tumbled over the table, and the work basket on its side! You’ll learn better, though, child.”

Aunt Maria is not allowed in my work space or home. Nope. I aspire to such order and fall short time and time again. I think I’m part squirrel. I’ve never asked my parents as that seems like a family scandal better left unknown.

A dead secret.

“ Never mind, we’ll look at your work. Very creditable, very creditable indeed, child! Such excellent stitches,” examining the little samplers, and finally the bath robe and kimono. ”You certainly do take after me. To think that so spoiled a child should develop into such an excellent character! ‘Blood will tell!’ I’ve often said it—’Blood will tell!’ “

As much as I want to have a smidge of sympathy for Aunt Maria, nothing good has ever come from a white woman proclaiming “Blood will tell” That’s some eugenics bullshit.

Aunt Maria opines that the fabric Mary’s mother has sent her is too nice for the likes of her.

“I am compelled to say less beautiful goods would have answered the purpose. When I was a little girl—well, never mind! Have you learned to make button-holes?”

You might remember that I tried hand-stitched buttonholes when I jumped ahead to make the Morning Dress…and I’ll do it again soon…but at that time I hadn’t paused to investigate what sort of tool button hole scissors are!

So I googled them. They are scissors, of course, with two special features:

A screw near the pivot point of the scissors (I’m not sure what to call that) between the scissor finger holes

A blade gap between the pivot point of the scissors and where the blade begins.

And when I saw them I knew I’d fiddled around with those in my maternal Grandmother’s sewing room…and never had any idea how they were used.

Grandma was a seriously sewist. Not in a passive-hobbiest way but in a “born dirt poor, the people raising her kept dying, managed to get an education, worked for the military in WW2, liked fancy clothing and to be stylish but couldn’t afford it, divorced an abusive husband at a time you didn’t do that, raised two kids by herself while working and fighting shitty conditions for teachers” kinda way you can get REAL good at making clothing and fixing clothing.

When she married her third and last (and best) husband…after making him court her for a good 7+ years because she wasn’t going to make any mistakes…she made me and my cousin Hope (5 and 6 years old) our flower girl dresses. She made many of my childhood outfits.

Anyway, the scissors. The screw is used to set how much the blades closes, in effect regulating the length of the cut.

That didn’t make sense to me until I found a picture of them in use…which explained the blade gap.

The gaps allows for the edge of the fabric to remain uncut while the blade cuts the set buttonhole length.

The Mary Frances book shows cutting the buttonholes before stitching but many of the videos show cutting before OR cutting after. I’ll return to trying it both ways…probably without my own buttonhole scissors (unless I see a pair during a fabric/notions run and can’t resist treating myself)

After Aunt Maria finishes her button-hole lesson, with much chiding to Mary in regards to her posture and form:

My,” exclaimed Mary Frances, “that’s the hardest thing I’ve done yet. Am I very trying to teach?”

” Well,” said the old lady, “you might be more so— but that’s a real respectable button-hole. But really, child, I must again repeat my lesson to you about neatness. Never leave your sewing room as I found it to-day.”

“There’s Grandma!” exclaimed Mary Frances, looking out the window. “Come, Aunt Maria, let’s go down.”

As Maria and Grandma set to nattering on together about old lady things, Mary returns to find Scissors Shears bitching about ‘The Old Grunt’ (Aunt Maria) , murmuring about how close they came to The Never Never, and the button hole scissors weeping because he’d wanted to be the one to teach Mary about buttonholes.

“’She is an Old Grunt! So there! It was my work to teach you to make button-holes, and I so wanted to do it!” burst out Button-hole Scissors, excitedly.

He spread his funny little legs apart and looked up at Mary Frances most forlornly.

“Rip-her-up-the-back! Butty,” growled Scissors Shears”

Scissors Shears is never not alarming in his exclamations. I wouldn’t leave him alone with my precious fabrics, that cut-crazy bladed tool.

On to the next project, which I was not excited to tackle: a doll’s pinafore. I have no modern reference for pinafores in fashion. It seemed a dated project. With easily washable children’s clothing we don’t have the same need for fancy over-aprons. Kids smocks, sure, aprons, sometimes, but nothing that boys and girls wear day-long.

And the pattern wasn’t Alice or Dorothy enough to hit my sweet Oz/Wonderland nerve…even if I had made it in the suggested gingham.

The MF pinafore starts with the same folding and cutting pattern we’ve grown used to.

To mark where straps and pockets will go on the pinafore, the directions suggest pricking the fabric through the pattern paper and then running red basting thread through the pinholes to indicate placement.

The pinafore remains open under the arms. Instead of joining the sides together they are hemmed individually.

The neck opening is large, because it must fit over the head, and square. It’s much too large for my liking as my doll has narrow, slightly sloping, shoulders.

The corners of the neck hole are slightly clipped and the fabric turned down toward the outside of the outfit, to be covered with white linen tape.

This is where I started altering the pattern because it was still no-buy November and I didn’t have linen tape … or know what it was.

It turns out that white linen tape is linen ribbon. The instructions for finishing the edges of the neck , sides, and bottom of the outfit is to sew the linen tap to the outside of the outfit, folding over at the corners to navigate the turns.

For the neck I found some black lace ribbon leftover from a dress I’d made and followed the linen-tape folding instructions to the t.

I did some machine basting I later removed.

Then I made bias tape for the sides and used a second black lace for the arm holes (arm flaps?) and bottom hem.

The straps join the front and the back of the pinafore together at the sides. Despite the fact we’ve just been taught button holes, the pinafore buttons are decorative, although if you want to you can give the straps functioning buttonholes as long and you reinforce the wrong side of the pinafore fabric with extra fabric under the button.

(If this is done, hem a small piece of goods on the wrong side of pinafore under the places for the buttons, so that the pulling of the button will not tear the goods)

I didn’t have four matching button that looked good, so I used two only and added snaps to them.

Thefinal product, with hedgehog pin used to show my awesome pocket pattern matching.

craft, Mary Frances sewing

Preamble to chapter XXII: Aunt Maria makes a visit.

Spinster Alert!


Aunt Maria is a recurring family member.

In the cookbook she terrifies the pots and pans and is generally judgemental…but occasionally complements and helps Mary.  I may joke that Grandma is off joining the suffragettes but it’s Maria who I suspect of political ideas.

Grandma probably just drinks and gossips with women of her stature.

“Well,” said Aunt Maria, “you may turn out of some account, after all. It’s about time to call for a ref-or-ma-tion.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Mary Frances, not un-der-stand-ing the big word—”do you want me to call for it now?”

“Don’t be saucy!” snapped the old lady.

Then she set about washing the little girl’s hands and face, rubbing so hard that it made the tears come, finishing off with the towel until Mary Frances felt her face shine.

“Wonder if she thinks I’m a stove,” she thought. “Maybe she’ll black me some day by mistake! I don’t believe she knows how old I am—she treats me like a baby, for all the world sometimes, yet she thinks I ought to know more. Queer!”

Excerpt From: Jane Eayre Fryer. “The Mary Frances Cook Book; Or, Adventures Among the Kitchen People.”

In the Housekeeping Book she never physically appears but it turns out that she has given Mary Frances two paper dolls in the past. Two…Black…paper dolls that Mary ignores until her white paper dolls have a house and furniture and decide they deserve hired help.

I wish I were making that up. That book is so horrible.

In the first aid book she only is mentioned once:

She made a gesture toward Shesa Brave, who came forward, and together they lifted before the class the tiny medicine cabinet which Mary Frances’ Aunt Maria had given her for her Dolls’ Hospital.

Aunt Maria’s gifts are always dubious. I just imagine her muttering about how even dolls need to learn proper first aid because one never knows when there will be a war or a traffic collision or a horrible fireworks accident.


Legit illustration from the The Mary Frances First Aid Book

In the crochet and knitting book we finally learn about which parent she’s related to. She’s a great-aunt… and a lousy teacher.

“It seems very strange to me that you do not know anything about such work,” said her aunt. “Why, I made your father learn how to knit when he was only six years old!”

Mary Frances did not tell her Aunt Maria that her father had told her about those lessons, and how he had hated the work because, every time he made a mistake, his aunt would whack his chubby, clumsy little fingers with a ruler.

You see, Aunt Maria was Mary Frances’ great-aunt, and was the aunt of her father also. Mary Frances’ grandmother, the mother of Mary Frances’ father, died when he was a little boy and his Aunt Maria had “brought him up.”

“Mother would like to teach me,” said Mary Frances, “but——”

“Your mother was not brought up right,” her aunt snapped. “What does she know about crocheting? She doesn’t know star stitch from coffee-bean stitch, and as for knitting—I don’t suppose she knows plain knitting from purling! Very queer! A very queer way to bring up a child!”

“But, Aunt Maria, don’t you remember? Mother fell and hurt her arm when she was little and couldn’t use it for such work for years,” said Mary Frances. “Even now it hurts her arm to try to crochet. That is what I commenced to tell you.”

“Oh, yes,” said Aunt Maria, “I remember now. But your arm doesn’t hurt, and you must learn to crochet and knit, my dear niece. You are so much like me anyway that you must learn to crochet and knit well. Then you may grow up to be almost exactly like me! Now, I must go set my bread. Nothing ever interferes with my program except sickness or death. You must be like me in that, too.”

Excerpt From: Jane Eayre Fryer. “The Mary Frances Knitting & Crocheting Book; Or, Adventures Among the Knitting People.”

In case you wondered, I will not be tackling the knitting and crocheting book. I think the designs are ugly.

They also remind me of the mixed feelings I had about when my grandmother (on my father’s side) would knit clothing for my Barbie. I loved some of it, was frustrated by some of it (Barbie’s hands would always catch on the long knitted sleeves) and straight up hated some of it (KNIT UNDIES). In retrospect I know that my grandmother’s skills were technically amazing (those tiny needles) but that her aesthetics when it came to color and wool choices were horrid.

I have  knitting and crocheting skills (more knitting than crocheting) but have no desire to knit or crochet things kids would not be excited to put on their own dolls.

aunt maria

But…yes…now it’s time for Aunt Maria to visit Grandma and Mary and for more sewing to happen.


craft, Disney, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, tutorial, Uncategorized

Obi Sash Tutorial.

Now we’re going to make an obi sash for the yukata.


  •  22cm x 12cm fabric for bow
  •  3cm x 6cm fabric for bow center
  • 32cm x 15cm fabric for body.
  • Fuseable batting 28cm x 5.5cm.


Obi Body

  • With a 2cm margin on the sides and a 4.5cm margin from the top and bottom, fuse batting to the inside of the sash.
  • Press one wide edge in 1cm.
  • Fold unpressed wide edge over batting.
  • Fold pressed wide edge over batting.
  • Whip stitch these folds together so there are no stitches showing on the other side.
  • At each end of the sash fold over the edge one cm
  • press
  • fold again
  • machine or handstitch in place.

Obi Bow

  • Fold longer bow fabric length wise, right sides of the fabric together, and stitch the leght 1cm from the edge.
  • Press seam open.
  • turn fabric right side out and press.


  • Fold the edges of the bow so they overlap slightly at the back.
  • Baste stitch them together.
  • Using strong thread, stitch the bow so the center draws together (not shown) into a bow-shape.
  • Take the smallest piece of fabric you have left, fold the edges back and use to secure the center of the bow (also…not shown. sorry)


Hand stitch bow to the obi.


  • Try the obi on and mark the overlap. I marked with pins and then used chalk.
  • At this point sew on the fasteners of your choice.

I did my first two obi with velcro/magic tape closures and this one with hooks and eyes.

I don’t like velcro much but figured it’s a solid choice for kids with still-wobbly hand-eye co-ordination. For very young kids I’d use velcro AND whip stitch the obi to the yukata so it acts as a complete garment (with no risk of loosing the sash) . If I do that I’d use a thread color I can somewhat see from the inside of the garment so the parent could always make it two garments later and have mix+matching choices yukata/obi choices.

As a bonus here are the other obi I made with commentary.

This was my first. I added the second layer of fabric  for decorative purposes after it was completed…which is why it’s a little wobbly. I could remove the bow, straighten the extra layer of fabric, and re-stitch the bow on… it but it doesn’t bother me that much when it’s on.

On the second I added stitched pleates before the fusable batting. It also has two small darts because the wider obi (6cm) wouldn’t lay flat on Snow’s tummy without them.

Huzzah! This completes my need to make a doll kimono after making the Mary Frances “Kimono” robe.

I’m not saying there won’t be other detours but it’s back to Mary Frances and the Thimble People after this.

craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, tutorial

Doll Kimono: take two!

Ok, here’s my second take on making the yukata/kimono. First version is here.

I smoothed out the curve on the first pattern I made. I also made the area where the front joins the back (a the shoulders) a little smaller by shaving .5cm off it.

I should have added a centimeter to the bottom of the back pattern (*making it 28 cm tall not 27cm) .  I also used a slightly different sleeve (bottom of the two) because I already had cut those sleeves and didn’t have more fabric.

one back, two front, two sleeve cut on a fold.


I sewed the front pieces to the back where the shoulders meet. I think I used a 1cm seam allowance.


Cut a little bit of the fabric away for the neck hole. After this photo I serged those edges.


I opened the pattern and joined the sleeves to the body.


I serged the sides and the opening.


Then I folded it, right sides of the fabric together, and stitched the seam from the armpit to the hem.


See what I mean about needing the back to be 1cm longer?


Blue is where I hand stitched to make sure the stitching on the side meets the sleeve stitch.

img_2103Starting the sleeve stitch first by hand. I’ve basted a fold where the wrist goes through.

img_2106Then I machine stitched along the edge from where my thumb to where my finger is.

I used a zig-zag stitch afterwards to finish the edges inside the sleeve. I forgot to take a picture of this step.


Turning everything right-side out. I’ll hand stitch the sleeve opening where the hand emerge later.


Front. I’ve hemmed the opening.

img_2113.jpgNeck sash; 5cm by 36.


Pressing the edges of the neck scarf inwards.


Matching up the midpoint of the neck scarf with the middle of the neck.


Pinning the neck scarf to the opening before stitching in place.

img_2123I had a train ride ahead of me so I hand stitched the neck sash to the body of the kimono.


I folded the neck sash in and stitched it into place.


I whip stitched the sleeve holes I’d previously basted. Then I removed the basting stitch.

I hemmed the whole thing. Pressed it. The usual.


It feels a little I should have added 2cm to the length of the back and 1cm to the front panels.

There you go. Take two.

Next up: Making the obi sash(es)