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!

craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing

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.