Doll Dressmaking Series: Another Tool

My definition of a "cool tool" is something that makes boring work a bit more fun.  

Sewing by machine creates lots of little threads that need to be snipped close to the fabric. Snipping quickly with larger scissors can result in the accidental over snip into fabric, plus it's hard to get up close. But, there's the perfect little tool for that—thread snips! 

 Thread snips, very low tech but useful.

Thread snips, very low tech but useful.

They are about as small, light, basic and low tech as a sewing tool can get. Mostly they are useful, they make thread cutting easy, quick, accurate and almost fun.  There beauty is in their flatness. Just squeeze gently and snip.

There are a variety of brands, on the same concept. They are usually under five dollars, so of course, you should have a couple to have ready anywhere you might sit with a sewing project.

Doll clothes, or all clothes for that matter, look much better with threads snipped.

Thread snips 21.jpg
 They can snip the tiniest of threads poking up.

They can snip the tiniest of threads poking up.

Things I love: Rowan 4 Ply Cotton Yarn

I got fixated on Rowan yarns about ten years ago, before the knitting renaissance, before Ravelry, before Quince and all of the other cool new yarn companies sprung up. Back in 2004 Rowan kind of dominated the quality yarn market. Most stores carried it and it was available online. Not only was it online, but when it arrived it looked and felt as good as you hoped. Not true of all yarns back then.

I bought more than my fair share, when my youngest, AKA, Egg, was a toddler and would still wear hand knit sweaters, if they were cotton. That's when I stumbled upon the Rowan cotton line: their 4ply Cotton, Cotton Glace and Hand Knit Cotton. My youngest daughter still prefers cotton for her sweaters, but rather they are bought at Hollister or American Eagle. Luckily I now have a doll line, because I love knitting with it.

 Four of the amazing colors Rowan 4ply cotton came in

Four of the amazing colors Rowan 4ply cotton came in

It's a fingering yarn, meaning best knit on US size two needles. I like knitting small. I guess that's why I'm in this business. Sadly, it is discontinued, but still can be found on Ravelry and Ebay. I have a good enough stash that I don't feel panicky about the end of a thing yet. Rowan Siena is a very similar yarn, also recently discontinued but easier to find on the resale market.

Why do I love this yarn? It's soft, but crisp and holds its shape and feels firms to knit with--All qualities that are hard to find in a fine cotton yarn. But mostly it comes in the most amazing colors, fun children's colors, but not too bright. The whites are pretty too. And it has the most subtle but perfect sheen, even after blocking.

 Love the color white!

Love the color white!

 My love affair with this discontinued yarn continues

My love affair with this discontinued yarn continues

 Yes, that is my new label peaking through!

Yes, that is my new label peaking through!

Things I Love: Polka Dotted Fabric

Polka dotted Fabric: It's simple, at the moment its easy to come by, and it is nothing new. But I still love it. Always have and probably always will. I have a lot of it and I use it often. Some of my favorites are discontinued, but they are always new variations of dots  on new fabrics. Over the last five years, dots are so common almost every designer has a version and every fabric store has a section.

My polka-dot obsession is apparent in my doll clothes, my own clothes and my house. My kids now choose out their own clothes and have escaped the dots.

For doll clothes dots are perfect. There's a range of scales that work and the pattern is the same horizontally and vertically, so laying out your pattern on small pieces of fabric is easier. 

Polka Dot Obsession

I own a lot of polka dot fabric. But these fabrics varie a lot once you start really looking and I'll explain why. Here are some of my favorites:

Why i Love Dotted fabric

First and most obvious is color. Often polka dots are just two colors, foreground and background and this graphic simplicity is what is appealing. Sometimes they are more than one color dots which changes the look and feel--it amps up the playfulness. The dots can be colorful, the background can be colorful, or both, which is a bit much unless the tones are similar.

 Colorful Dotted fabric

Colorful Dotted fabric

1. Sarah Jane Fabric by Michael Miller, swoon for everything she does

2. Bonnie and Camille from the Calliope Collection from Moda, most of their stuff has a retro but colorful feel

3. Amy Butler Lotus Collection, available everywhere. This dot pattern shows up all over the handmade world. I love how close together the dots are and that it is cream not white or off-white.

4. Aunt Grace by Marcus Brothers. This particular one is discontinued, but they still make a lot of retro polka dot fabric.

5. Funky Monkey Dots by Moda. Still available.

6. Calliope again. Several of you have Phoebe smocked dresses from this one.

7. American Jane fabric. These dots are discontinued but they often have dots in their newer lines.

 Not so colorful, a different look

Not so colorful, a different look

The lack of color gives a different look and feel.

1. and 3.  Michael Miller Ta Dot. Available everywhere in a zillion colors.

2 and 4 . American Jane again.

Size of dot and how close together the dots are changes the look too.

 I like big dots.

I like big dots.

1. American Jane

2. Michael Miller Ta Dot

3. Ta Dot again

4. Amy Butler Lotus

5. My new favorite (and organic) Jay-Cyn from Birch fabrics

where is the best place for cute Polka dots:

Here are a few of my favorites (clicking through will bring you straight to the dot section):

Fabric Worm

Cias Palette

Hawthorne Threads

Fabric.com (warning over 1000 but not all cute)

Coming next. Polka Dot Style--some polka dotty clothing combinations. 

PS. there is no clear explanation for why they are called "polka" dots except that the polka was popular the first time they were trending.