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

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

Chapter XX: Part two

My continued adventures bloging through the 1915 children’s sewing book “The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people.”

The next pattern to tackle was the dressing sack (lounging jacket being a much nicerterm). This was the final, 4th, outfit to be made with this single pattern.

Screenshot-2017-10-15 The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people - maryfrancessewin00frye_bw pdf

Because all four of the garments have essentially the same construction…how COULD I mess it up again?

The instructions were easy.

  • Cut out by pattern of bath robe, making it only as long as the row of pinholes marked Dressing Sack.
  •  Finish the fronts and neck, and sleeves by “pinking,” or notching closely with the scissors; or,
  •  Transfer the pattern for scallops given below. To do this—With a soft lead pencil, trace scallops through the tissue paper.Turn the tissue over, and lay the picture of scallops against the sleeves (and fronts), and trace over on the wrong side. This will leave a penciled outline on the goods.Instead of this method, the outline of the scallops may be traced through tissue and “carbon” paper.
  • With embroidery cotton, work the scallops in blanket stitch.
  • The Dressing Sack may be finished with ribbon or BANDS, in just the same way as the kimono. Embroider the ribbon or bands with Feather Stitching.


This is prior to adding the scalloped edges.

Things I did wrong:

  1. That neckline is closer to that of the nightgown (which cinched) than the robe. This means the neck hole is WAY too large.
  2. The fabric leftover from a dress I made and I added the applique leftover from another dress I made this summer.*..and it’s too thick/stiff. It’s not going to drape on the shoulders at all even if the neck hole were small enough…which it isn’t.
  3. Never checked to see how it fit. I just loved my clever jacket and went on!

On to the edges! Learning a new skill. Here’s a tutorial I used for figuring out how to do the blanket-stitch scalloped edges.




I added a pleat in the back, three button holes in the front and some buttons. Salvaged.

Then I went back and cut a lighter-weight fabric ( prepare yourself for MORE crazy patterns) correctly and assembles another light open lounging jacket.

I skipped over doing any fancy edging or embroidery because the print was crazy enough. I simply lined the opening with some left-over black lace (last seen on the skull-print morning dress).

As for the feather stitch I skipped. I have a giant crazy quilt in process and legally don’t have to do any extra embroidery if I don’t want to.


Mary uses the feather stitch to her…um..advantage to make a riddle for Sewing Bird to close out the chapter:

Good!” as Mary Frances held up the samplers. ”Here is a puzzle, riddle, or conundrum:

“Mary Marie is feather-stitched— Yet not a feather is on her.”

Mary Frances laughed,”I wonder how she’d look in feathers,” she said—

Then Sewing Bird sang:

”She’d make a fine bird, Upon my word, She’d sing a sweet song, And the only thing wrong— Her feathers and song Would be tightly glued on!”

“Oh, Sewing Bird!” laughed Mary Frances, shaking her finger, ”how did you know the voice of a ‘talking doll’ was ‘glued on’?”


I get the “conundrum” but if someone could explain to me that whole voice/glued on thing I’d be much obliged.

Coming soon: Aunt Maria the hated spinster makes a visit.


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


craft, Disney, Mary Frances sewing, sewing

Chapter XX, Ma Chine (Part one: Kimono)

This chapter begins with Presentation Party.
As far as I can tell, a presentation party involves each Thimble Person we’ve met this far performing a formal self-introduction. It’s like your first day in a new  language class…. but with forced rhymes.


“We’re going to give a party; And we will evermore be true, And everyone of us to you

Will pledge allegiance hearty.” Sewing Bird began.


Then came Silver Thimble, bowing before Sewing Bird,

“I’m Silver Thimble, Bright and nimble.”

Then Scissors Shears, bowing,

I’m Scissors Shears, With rather long ears.”

Then Tommy Pin Cushion,

“I’m Tomato Pin Cushion— (Silv, stop your pushin’!)”

Then Emery Bag….

It keeps going.

Only….they’ve forgotten to invite Ma Chine!



Ma Chine is depicted as an older woman with granny glasses. She sends them all on a one-way guilt trip.

“Forgot me,” zummed Sewing Machine. “All theze dayz, my little onez, I’ve been hearing theze lovely lezzons—but not one of you, no, not one, remembered your Ma Chine! Zum! Zum!”

“What shall we do?” whispered the Thimble People.

“Listen to what I zay, I zay! I will take part To-day, to-day!”

”I cannot bear

A thing like thiz, I wished to help

Our little Mizz, Zumm! Zumm!”

Then all the Thimble People cried together,

“Oh, Miss Ma Chine, Oh, our Ma Chine, Forgive us all— Don’t make a scene!”

The internal logic of this world again leaves me confused. Why is the most modern component of the sewing room one of the Thimble Folk elders? She can’t have been around when Grandma was hemming her wedding dress with Sewing Bird.

Also, in all the illustrations the spool shows no thread leading to the needle section of the machine.

Luckily Mary keeps the peace by saying how happy she is to meet Ma, they’ll have another party sometime, and then turning to Fairy Lady to change the subject while Ma Chine zumm zum zumbles to herself bitterly.

A Kimono for Mary Marie.

Of course, it’s not a real kimono or even a yukata. It’s what so many people mean by kimono-style: a loose, simple, wide-sleeved full-length robe….I know I now have to draft a pattern for a doll kimono after this.
The construction of the kimono is the same as for the robe but no tie/rope or closures, a wider neck, and you use French seams.


For once I’m even using the suggested fabric,  Japanese Crepe (chirimen), because…I’m in Japan and it’s at all fabric and craft stores. Sometimes I score silk chirimen at second hand kimono shops or from kimono-making remanents. Usualy, if I’m buying new, it’s rayon or polyester.

Chirimen has various texture patterns made by having the weft threads tighter than the warp threads (or is in visa versa?) during the weaving process.

I made bias tape trim again, instead of trying to fit a ribbon around curves, this time from leftover satin.

I’ve shown the kimono before (how quickly I’ve worked on projects has outpaced the speed at which I blog them, but it’s catching up) and where the scrap fabric comes from…but here’s another fabric peak. You can also see that I had such a small scrap of satin to work with that I’ve had to join the bias tape together in a few areas to get the job done. I hadn’t removed the basting stitches yet.


This is Snow, in her kimono, showing off her taste in artwork. This particular print was a gift from the artist, Phineas X Jones, and was from a run he did to raise money for Japan relief after the earthquake. I’ve got a LOT of his work in my apartment that I totally paid for…and you should too. Here is his print shop AND his Threadless shop.


As for our new Thimble Folk…Ma Chine helps Mary but there is absolutely no machine guidance given.


“Fairy Lady gave these directions very slowly, and Mary Frances followed them carefully. When she came to stitching the band, Sewing Ma Chine said,

“Little Lady Seamstress, please just put that under my foot, and it will be done in nearly no time.’

“Thank you. Ma Chine, but Mother wouldn’t let me,” said Mary Frances.

“Oh, I’ll be responsible!” said Ma Chine, and as Mary Frances set the little sleeve under the foot, she began to whirl her wheels so rapidly, Mary Frances couldn’t see them.

“Oh, thank you,” said the little girl.

Thimble Folks prepping or finish Mary’s projects is a common occurrence in the book, it’s not just the Needle-of-Don’t-Have-To-Try.  Even Scissors Sheers helps, and he’s an unstable stabby little Fourvel.

This continues to strike me as unfair. I live alone. None of my sewing items nor my hedgehog, Professor, step up and finish my work for me.


Professor hasn’t helped anyone do anything since he got tenure.

The chapter continues on to making a dressing sack but that’s a complicated story to tell as, once more, I made errors the first time I made it and thus have two finished products…and I pass on the learning to you!

Stay Tuned…

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


craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing

Chapter XIX: Her Bath Robe

Mistakes were made…by me. Then I made some new ones.
 Any Sewist knows that sometimes you just have go deeper into some mistakes to salvage the whole.


“IF only in her nightie clad, She took a cold, ‘twould be too bad — And so the dear child may not freeze, And so the dear child may not sneeze, A nice warm bath robe next will be Our lesson finished—”

Sewing Bird stopped singing.

”Brought to she,” interrupted the tinkling voice of Silver Thimble.

”Silv Thimble!” exclaimed Sewing Bird, ”when I need help, I’ll call upon you—”

Silver Thimble, don’t come for Sewing Bird, she didn’t call for you. Just shush.


The bath robe uses the same base pattern but with a smaller neck hole. The front of the robe is then slit down the front and the transition from the front opening and neck hole is smoothed out.

Screenshot-2017-10-15 The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people - maryfrancessewin00frye_bw pdf

The robe doesn’t use a french seam… which is where I made my first mistake. Instead of the French seam the fabric is stitched and the raw edges are finished with an overcast stitch or blanket stitch that acts like a serger stitch.

Nowhere in the directions does it mention if that seam is supposed to be on the inside of the garment (made with the right sides of the fabric together) or on the outside. I thought that an exposed seam might make the robe seem cuddly and rustic so I figured it must mean an exposed seam.

Then I did it and it just didn’t look right.


I looked up the very few examples of Mary Frances Sewing finished patterns online.


Nope, no exposed seams.

I decided to continue on but to make adjustments to the the robe so that it would look deliberately distressed and comfy.

The edges of the openings are supposed to be finished with a folded over ribbon. I didn’t have ribbon on hand but wouldn’t have used it anyways. You see, when it comes to fitting around the curve of the neck a ribbon wouldn’t have the flexibility of bias tape (fabric cut on the bias) and would be somewhat of a pain-in-the-arse.


So, I made bias tape from a second polar-bear printed fabric instead and used that to finish the raw edges.

I then, for the rustic look, I made bias tape of the base fabric, folded it in half with the raw edges exposed, distressed the edges and stitched it next to the lighter colored bias tape… and cross stitched over it.


The Mary Frances book then has a bunch of steps I skipped but will return to for a future fastener.

  • Hook and Eyelet. I didn’t do this because I liked the look of a wider fabric sash:


  • Making a robe closure from embroidery thread (zephyr yarn?!)..didn’t look cozy.
  • Adding hanging tags to the inside of the garment (which seemed like a lesson more about sewing human garments in general than doll garments…useful but not here):


This is how my distressed robe turned out.


Then I set about making it correctly.

I keep mentioning that these sewing patterns require fabric that doesn’t have a one-direction pattern, right? If you do use a one-directional pattern you’ll need to join two pieces together so that the back and front of the outfit have everything right-side up.

I forgot this.

I must not have noticed that the frayed-version had upside-down polar bears on the back.

Yes, on my second robe all the seams are covered and, yet, the polar bears are UPSIDE DOWN on the front. A friend comforted me by saying something like “there are no upside-down polar bears, only polar bears standing on their heads and rolling in the snow” and I’m going to go with that.



Maybe I’ll make a third robe, when no-buy November ends.

Soon to come: A Presentation Party!

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Nightgown REMAKE


Sewing Bird, today we’ll work on a variation of the Mary Frances nightgown.

My issue with the nightgown is that I’d like to be able to make outfits for the dolls of friends’ children. Ribbons seem hard to tie and easy to lose so I set forth to make an elastic-version of this nightgown.

The fabric I used was once again a double gauze. This time it had a one-directional print.


I had to join the fabric so that both sides of the nighty would have right-side up hedgehogs.

Once again I used a French seam to join the pieces together but, as you see, I’m using my machine. Then I hemmed the nighty.

I clipped the neck just as before but this time I stitched an eyelet trim in place and made a channel that I could pull elastic though. I basted the folded eyelet in place, stitched at the edge of neck and then stitched a channel. Same with the sleeves.

At the back of the neck and at the bottom of the sleeves I finished the channel so that the elastic could be threaded through.


I then stitched the elastic together and hand-stitched the edges of the channels closed. When the elastic grows old, if this nighty lives that long, the end of the channels can be opened again to replace the elastic!



To add to Snow’s look I altered the bird she came with.

I didn’t like the raw edges showing so I unpicked the stitching and turned it right sides together. I then restitched it, leaving a gap to pull it right side out. Finally I re-stuffed it and stitched the opening closed.


And that’s the first of many variations. That’s the great thing about sewing. Once you’ve completed a pattern correctly you can revisit it to make variations.





craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing

Chapter XVIII: A Nighty For Her Little Nap

“A charming thing to make Marie, will be a dainty White nightie,”- sang Sewing Bird.


“Oh, good!” exclaimed Mary Frances. ”That is just what she needs. I had to loan her Angle’s best one; and Angle’s terribly cross. You see, I fear she is a little jealous of my new dolly. I’ll not neglect Angle, but you understand, dear Sewing Bird Lady, that it is my duty to clothe this child—” anxiously— ”Isn’t that perfectly right?”


Mary, you didn’t have to lend her Angie’s BEST one, you know. You could have come up with a solution where all parties feel cared for. Mary Marie would have understood…right?

It turns out the Thimble People  have prepared a paper pattern for Mary to continue her sewing adventures  with. From now on, when I find a long forgotten pattern I ordered but never made anything from in my sewing room, I shall thank the Thimble People instead of cursing myself for being lazy.

This is the four-in-one pattern for the nightgown, bathrobe, kimono and dressing sack. The final item being far more stylish than it name suggests. Think of it as an indoor lounging jacket.

Screenshot-2017-10-15 The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people - maryfrancessewin00frye_bw pdf


  • Three-quarters of a yard of lawn, or muslin. Long-cloth is a very nice kind of muslin to use.
  • Three-quarters of a yard of lace ribbon beading.
  • One yard baby ribbon.


I didn’t know what long-cloth is, Wiki helped: cotton fabric which is of high quality, very soft, coarsely woven, and very often used to make underwear and infants’ clothing.

I went with a double-gauze fabric, not knowing much about WHAT sort of fabric it was but knowing that it had small cute patterns suitable for baby-wear.

Here’s more information from Colette patterns about double-gauze.

The important part of these patterns is to pick soft/fine cloth that drapes easily because with a stiffer fabric the harsh T shape of the pattern doesn’t drape well on a doll’s sloping shoulders. This style of pattern is GREAT for kids because it requires fewer seams but isn’t the most form-fitting for the dolls themselves.

Dainty WHITE nighty? I love prints and colors. I’m not intending to make historically correct doll clothing. White. Not. Happening.

Lace Ribbon Beading*:
*no beads involved.

This refers to a simple trim that has holes or ovals at regular intervals that one can weave ribbon through. It was easier finding it at a store than finding it online as the keywords lace & beading bring up SO many beaded laced trims.

Baby Ribbon: I parsed this as ribbon that wouldn’t fray but would be thin enough to fit through the eyelets of my trim.

This is the fabric I used (double gauze, non-directional print fabric) my trim and ribbon. If my fabric had had a one-direction print I would have had to seam it together at the top so that both the back and front of the nighty had right-side-up designs.



  • Fold the lawn crosswise.
  • Lay edge of the pattern having the two rings (oo) on the folded edge of the lawn.
  • Cut out, being careful to clip the little V-shaped notches before removing the pattern. (Note. — Always clip a small gash in the corner under arm of these kimono-style dresses.)

(Then the action is interrupted to explain the technique for french seams to be used to sew the body of the night-gown)

(Place the pieces together, wrong sides together, and proceed with french seams.)

  • Fold the two long halves together and pin the notches against each other.
  • Baste carefully along this edge, and try on dolly. Alter, if necessary.

This style of nightgown comes first because it involves no plackets or fasteners. This means you must make sure your doll can get the wide neckline down over her head (or up over her body) ..if you can’t, make the neckline a little larger or you’ll be sewing a useless object.

  • With running stitch, sew near the basting.
  • Turn to other side and baste seam carefully to enclose the first seam—a French Seam.

“Do you recognize the French Seam?”

“Indeed I do,” smiled Mary Frances.

“You may use the Needle-of-Don’t-Have-to-Try for this lesson,” said Fairy Lady, “because you’ve already learned these stitches. Doesn’t it pay to work patiently at first?”


Patiently is also a sewing term I reject. I’m sure some sewists and beading artists are patient. I. Am. Not.

I make elaborately beaded costumes and other fiddly handmade items. I am constantly being told “I don’t have the patience to make X” as if I contain patient depths of calm and that explains how I can make intricate items.


I don’t. I am not patient. I am not to be trusted with a full bag of granola. All bagged food is one serving,

Creating with my hands is the closest I get to being able clear my mind of thoughts. I am told this is why people meditate. With my anxiety and depression every attempt I’ve made to meditate has been harrowing at best. But when I’m working with my hands and three-dimensional objects to create something I can pinpoint my focus and everything falls quiet. I am not patient. I am dearly in need of quiet at times and this does is.

Back to the nighty.

“Now,” said Fairy Lady, “fold a three-quarter of an inch hem at the bottom, and baste. Then hem it.”

The hemming the Needle-of-Don’t-Have-to-Try quickly did.

Now it’s time to finish the sleeve cuffs and neck-hole with our beading lace and ribbon.


  • Clip a half dozen little slashes in the edge of the neck, and turn back to the right side of the goods one-quarter of an inch. Baste.
  • Turn back one-quarter of an inch the end of the lace beading lor ribbon, and baste it over the turned back goods, beginning in the center of the back.”
  • “Cut off the lace beading one-quarter of an inch beyond the place it meets the beginning, and finish by turning it in one-quarter of an inch. Hem beading down on lower edge.”

So now the Lace Beading should be on the outside of the nighty, around the neck, covering the clipped-appart raw edge. The sleeves are finished the same way except they can just be turned over at the edge without clipping. There’s instructions on how to add lace to the edge of the sleeve but I felt that would be too froo-froo for me.

Now it’s time to BRAIN THE BODKIN.


“’Bod Kin!” exclaimed Mary Frances, catching the last words. ”Is he a Thimble person?”

“He was!” sighed Scissors Shears, letting several tears fall.

“But,” explained Fairy Lady, “one day he refused to do as the King commanded, and would not go through the muslin—so the King changed him into a blunt-nosed needle; and he has been compelled to be good ever since, even without his own consent.”

I hope that your bodkin isn’t a needle that has been enchanted to serve without free will or the ability to consent to the actions it is to perform.

Mr. Silver Thimble, remember this when next you think to torment other Thimble People, the King COULD lobotomize you and take away your self-control. But, as a soldier you might be safe because you’re acting under orders of the King.

Smash the patriarchy.

Load your bodkin up with the ribbon and thread in through the beading lace. This will make the ribbon into a decoratively pleasing drawstring.

Then just put it on your doll, cinch it, and tie the ribbons into bows.

I think the ribbon could be tacked into place at the point furthest from the bow to help reduce the chance of it being removed and lost by a child….but my next post will cover how I made this more child-friendly (to use on dolls)





“Mary Frances looked up in surprise. Fairy Lady was gazing at Mary Marie with a sad, wistful look.

“Why, dear Fairy Lady,” exclaimed Mary Frances, “what’s the matter?”

“Nothing, my dear, so very queer,” said the Fairy Lady smiling; “only that nightgown is just my size.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Mary Frances. “So it is! You can have it, dear Fairy Lady. I’ll work and work to make Mary Marie another. Do take it!”

What kind of a midwestern passive-agressive move  is THAT Fairy Lady? And what of Angie? Fairy Lady goes on to turn down the offer but insist that it’s just praise for how well Mary treats her (new) doll and how lucky that (new) doll is…and then announces that she can hear Grandma on the stairs, which I suspect is what she always tells Mary when she wants her to shut up.

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



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Chapter XVI: A Surprise from Mother

The doorbell rings and Katie, Grandma’s servant girl, answers it and reports to the others…


”A telegram for Miss Mary Frances,” said Katie coming into the dining-room. ”A telegram! And for you, Mary Frances. What can it be!” exclaimed Grandma.

‘’Shall I sign for it, ma’am?” asked Katie. ”No,” said Grandma. ”Mary Frances better learn to sign for herself.”

“There was a little look of excitement in Grandma’s face, and a little pink spot in each cheek.”

Yeah, I’d be flushed because literature has taught me that telegrams are for very important news that can’t wait…like DEATH. You’ve got a family member of varying health and suddenly you get an urgent message? YOU FREAK OUT. Grandma, however, sends Mary STRAIGHT to signing and reading.

Miss Mary Frances:
Expect \ by \ Express \ Mary \ Marie \ and \ trunk. \ Letter \ follows. \ \ Mother.”

Quickly, a second letter comes…one meant to arrive prior to the telegram. FATHER!

“Dear Mary Frances: —

Mother bought for you to-day the prettiest doll in San Francisco, and she is going to send it by express, as soon as she gets some shopping done for the young lady. She will send a telegram when she starts Mary Marie on her journey, and will write a letter of instruction as to her health, wealth, and happiness.

Give our love to dear Grandma.

It is a delight to send the prettiest doll in San Francisco, to the darlingest little girl in the whole wide world — at least she is to her

Loving Father.”

Ok, That’s a bit of an odd way to end a letter, “You’re the best…and least >I< think so” but I’ll allow it.

We’re getting a new doll! Well, Mary is.

Yesterday I found myself wandering a Disney store looking at other dolls. I’ve been doing well with my No-Buy November but yesterday was stressful (overslept and got through a morning of classes with no coffee) so I tempted myself.

The Moana in stores is ADORABLE but I’m happy with Snow.


If I see a used or discounted Mulan or Pocahontas I’ll buy it.

Mulan looks like she is calmly side-eying the world. Pocahontas is exhausted from ALL your bullshit.

“San Francisco is so far off’ said Mary Frances; ”but, oh. Grandma, isn’t it too lovely! Will Mary Marie have light hair and blue eyes, or dark hair and brown eyes, I wonder?”

Mary is assuming it’s a white doll (spoiler: IT IS!). I’ve read the Housekeeping book and have started drafting my blog/blogs about it and I KNOW how she treats paper dolls of color (spoiler: Poorly!). She would not be happy with Moana.

Much rejoicing and excitement is had! A gift is coming. Don’t worry, this gift is essential to furthering our plot so there is NO NEED to delay gratification, by the next page it arrives,

“Oh, Miss Mary Frances, here comes the expressman carrying a box!” exclaimed Katie a few mornings later.

“Katie, Katie, go to the door,” cried Mary Frances running down stairs.


Katie brings in the wooden crate and opens it by using an axe to pry the nails out. Mary removes layers and layer of tissue paper to reveal her new doll.


There’s some great blogging over here at The Panopticon that mirrors my feelings about Katie and all the cast of characters.

Angie, doll of before, prepare to be forgotten. Mary Marie is hear to replace you. If the blog I linked to above is to be believed we shall never speak of you again. All Hail Mary Marie and her long, delicate, blond curls. Long live Mary Marie.


Mary and Mary 4EVA


Surely Mary Marie was a lovely doll. She had beautiful long curls tied with pink ribbon; and on her feet were short stockings and slippers,—but her dress was a very plain, simple, “slip” of lawn.

There was a note pinned on Mary Marie’s dress, and a little key. The note read:

Dear Mary Frances:

This is Mary Marie. Isn’t she lovely? She is the very doll I’ve been looking for, for my own dear daughter. Father has told you something about Mary Marie, but I want to add some particulars. I have nothing to say about the care of her, — for I contentedly know my little girl’s careful, neat ways so well. You may be surprised when you unpack her trunk, to find no dresses. Mother is sending you, instead, all kinds of pretty goods which you may make up into dresses and clothes for your new little daughter; and you will find all kinds of laces and ribbons, and buttons, and hooks and eyes — everything Mother could think Mary Frances or Mary Marie could possibly want.

There is a set of toilet articles, — but I’ll not tell you about the other things, for I know you are anxious to find out for yourself.

I wish I could be with you, dear, to teach you how to make the pretty things; but I will, I hope, be able to do that before so very long. Meantime, I want you to use everything just as you wish. I’ve asked Grandma to let you do exactly as you want to with these things, and I ask you not to go to her with your sewing problems: for the doctor said that Grandma must not strain her eyes with any such work. I know you understand.

Does Mother know about the Thimble People? If she doesn’t I simply cannot fathom what she’s thinking. She promised to teach Mary the basics of sewing over the summer but now can’t. Mary isn’t allowed to bother Grandma, who isn’t around anyways, and Katie doesn’t seem to be available for fine work like stitching because she’s too busy making pork chops and opening crates with axes. Somehow Mary is to outfit her doll from this stash without assistance.




I have yet to finish reading the first book of cooking but I gather Mother was sent to a sanitarium, left Mary some instruction/recipes, and the Kitchen Folk taught her. This may have given mother the impression that you just leave Mary alone with objects and she figures it out herself.

Mary doesn’t have the Internet or access to other people. Sure, she might be able to steal Angie’s clothing reverse engineer some of the dresses but even that takes some assistance or enough items to work with that you can make a few wasteful mistakes.

Was the Fairy Lady in on this? Is Thimble Land near Kitchen Folkville? Do girls of a certain class status have a network of objects that teach them when their social network fails?

I guess I’m still asking:


Mary uses the key to open her new trunk of dry goods. Let’s note, Mary now has TWO boxes with locks, take that…patriarchy.


Mary rushes to the sewing room, introduces Mary Marie to all the Thimble Folks assembled, and explains about trunk of fabrics and fixings.

We’re off the Grandma Grid. We’ve got our own fabrics now!


In the next chapter Fairy Lady teaches Mary how to stitch a tiny linen handkerchief. It’s finicky and I haven’t any linen so I will return to it in the future…with our next Mary Frances chapter installment we’ll get to stitching doll clothes…finally

As always, excerpts From: Fryer, Jane Eayre, 1876-. “The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people.”©1915