Monday, 20 May 2013

From Russia, via Leigh-on-sea with Love - the Matryoshka Skittle Tutorial

OK, dear reader you know that above everything I am totally honest with you... and today I publish one of six skittles to go with the Pentagon ball for tots.
So what inspired this... was it the lovely cotton Matryoshka fabric, the dolls from a Moscow market or the tweezers... you've worked it out, haven't you?
Yep, it is the tweezers.. this morning I lightly swept my hand over my chin and OMG... there was a hair, well step forward tweezers (which my OLDER, yes BIG sister stuck in my Christmas stocking) and, yes, it was my tweezers, in concert with my hairy chin that inspired this week's tute!
You will need - to make six skittles:
3/4 Yard of cotton fabric - I used Moda
Scraps of fabric (I used left over pieces from the ball
Felt - brown, cream and pink
Thread, pins, sewing needle, scissors (pinking shears would also be handy)
Ribbon - I am using Jane Means ribbon
Toy stuffing
Paper, ruler, compass and pencil
Liquer glass and champagne flute
Iron and ironing board... I use an ancient Morphy Richards and a huge John Lewis board!

We are going to start with creating the three pattern parts, draw a line 4" long at the bottom of your paper, then draw a perpendicular line 7.5" tall at the centre (at 2" in).  At 4" up the perpendicular, mark and 1.25" on either side, 6" mark a point 7/8" on either side... now join the dots up.  Place the champagne flute so that the rim sits on the top of the perpendicular line and draw around it to create the curved top.  To create the shawl, draw an horizontal line 3.5" from the top of this pattern piece, trace around it and you have your shawl piece

Next comes the base, you are going to need a combi oval / circle or indeed a circal with a 4.5" diameter widthwise and 4" height wise - to achieve this set your compass 2.25". Now draw a line 4.5" long, find the centre point and put the compass .25" above it and connect the ends of the line with a semi-circle, repeat this for the other side and thus you have your circal.

Iron your main fabric and pin the skittle sides onto it and cut four.
Now if you are cunning you will use a fabric which does not have a repeat, so you can save on the amount of fabric that you use.  Cut out one base.

Now, cut out four short tops... now this is where I made a mistake, but so you can see and also so I can demonstrate another thrifty technique I am going to share it with you.  Iron over a very small hem and sew it... you will notice that my shawls are joined together in one continuous line of sewing, this is call chain piecing and saves on the amount of thread you throw away.
Pin the shawl to the body.
Sew around as close the edge as you can... and then sew over hem you have created... bang goes my saving!  So in future just iron it rather than sewing an extra hem.
Pin two sides together and sew up to the top using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Around the curve, cut out small triangles to ease the fabric around the curves so that it will sit nicely.
Turn the body and shawl right sides out and press open the seam.  Place a small wine glass over the shawl, to ensure that it fits, now draw around it on your cream felt.  To make the hair, repeat this on the brown felt, chop it in half into two semi-circles and trim to give your doll the Anne Stallybrass hair style from the Onedin Line... Did I mention that like Helen Mirren, she also went to my school!

I satin stitched the brown felt fringe onto the face... don't sew the top of the head... I told you not to, now just do as you are told... sighs.  If you prefer, use a small blanket stitch like we used in the embroidery tutorial last year.
I used small blue buttons for the eyes but if you are risk averse, then large french knots will do the job.  For the cheeks, I tried a 5p but that was too big, so I found a smaller button to trace around for the cheeks
Sew the cheeks in place by sewing up through the centre, and down through 12 o'clock, back up through the middle and down to 6 o'clock, back up through 3 and then 9 o'clock, repeat this for the space between 12 and 3, 6 and 9, 3 and 6 and finally 9 and 12.  Finishing touch a line of back stitching to create her cheery, peasant smile.
Pin the face over the seam of the front of the doll and use cream cotton to zig zag around the face and brown to go over the hair.
 Pin the back and the front together, leave a 2" gap below the shawl and the sew down to the base, this will be our hole to turn it through and stuff it.
To cover the join between the shawl and the body use ribbon - I used about 18" and trimmed it to fit.  Start by leaving a long end just below her mouth and use a small running stitch to hold it in place and sew back round to the front.  Fasten off securely and tie a bow, trim the ends... this time I used pinking shears to trim off my Jane Means ribbons.  You have to hand sew this as the aperture is too small to fit and sew with your machine.
Get the iron out, turn the skittle inside out and press the seams open, the take the base and fold it in half lenghtwise and width wise and press those creases into the base.  Pin the crease against the seam on all four sides, the ease the fabric between the seams... you will find it easiest to have your pins horizontal than vertical as this will help with easing.  Remember easing is a battle between you and the fabric to make it fit into a curve, and you will win!

Sew the base to the skittle and then trim the excess fabric with your pinking shears, otherwise cut little triangles but do not cut through the seam... it is not unknown for this to happen, even with experienced seamstresses!

You are now on the home strait, pull the skittle through the gap in the side seam and gently fill it with your stuffing... little and often rather than big and brutal as this will give you a much softer finish.  Just like the ball last week, whip stitch the opening shut.
Now look at your amazing skittle... she is rather lovely don't you think?
If you want to just make it as an ornament, I would put some heavy interfacing on the base to stabilise it.  I had another thought that you could reduce the pattern size on a photo-copier and create a proper family of stacking dolls, how cute would that be?

Well, by the skin of my teeth, I have just made Handmade Monday... so click on through and see what this talented group have been up to during the last week.


Mimi and Cakes said...

How fab! Thanks very much for the tutorial Ros. I'm going to give it a go x

Bev Newman said...

She's beautiful Ros, I love the Russian Dolls, have a crochet one I need to finish off. the tutorial is really clear and easy to follow too :-)

threads 'n' shreds said...

lovely skittle :) amazing where inspiration pops up from!

Anonymous said...

She is really cute and with the idea of making smaller versions you have a whole game!

Lyn said...

This will make a beautiful game for a child (and mum will be pleased because she won't have to worry about the paint on the skirting boards!)

Wendy said...

I love it. A also love your tutorials, always so entertaining and informative.

Christmas Pie Crafts said...

She is brilliant and as always an excellent tutorial - many thanks. Hope you have a good week.

Gertie said...

She's so adorable. Great tutorial xx

Unknown said...

merci c est sublime biz

Josette said...

merci elle est geniale