Patchwork Penny, Minus the Patchwork

It’s true! And it’s worth text overlays because it’s the first thing I’ve sewn that isn’t a pillow cover (of which I have only sewn two at that) since getting my Singer like, three? years ago (yikes). Ultimately I would really like to make a doll of my own design, but I’ve obviously got to learn the basics of sewing and construction first, so I got a copy of Hillary Lang’s Wee Wonderfuls from the library. I’ve had my eye on the book for nearly as long as I’ve had a machine and, after the recent closet cleaning I spoke of left me with a pile of shirts I still loved, but couldn’t wear and couldn’t donate (they’re rife with small mystery holes. But that’s an exciting story for another time), I decided that instead of throwing them away or making a bunch of pillowcases I have no use for, I would finally make a doll that I have no use for!

I used Hillary Lang’s “Patchwork Penny” pattern, with a couple omissions. The idea is that you make a small patchwork quilt that matches the quilted squares on the front of ol’ Penny’s frock. It definitely makes a cute little package, but as I just wanted to get my doll practice on, I skipped all that. I was certain I could at least manage to sew fabric squares together, so I also skipped the detail on the dress. I should probably try another pattern before I form too strong an opinion of the book, but one doll done I have to say I dig it and I’d definitely like to own a copy now. There are a few instructions that are vaguer than a novice like me hopes for. For example, there might be two or three different steps described, including specific stitches for each, each followed by a note in parenthesis to “see diagram” for further instruction. Three different steps all pointing to the same single illustration. Kind of a head scratcher. “I’m supposed to get all of that from that?” I thought on more than one occasion. “Seeing diagram” is what led me to stitch Penny’s arms inside her body the first go around. To be fair though, I very carefully read the Ikea instructions before putting my bed frame together, and still found a way to put the whole thing together backwards. Twice. Soo… probably my bad, Hillary. There is sizable chunk of text for each step (it’s meant for beginnings and truly, if I can figure it out, anyone can), the diagrams are crisp and clean (if a bit sparse), and the design of the whole book, including photographs by Jen Gotch, is really appealing; well shot, well organized, and there really is a lot of variety in the 24 doll patterns provided. I’m itching to make “Katie Kitty” and a topsy-turvy doll, but I figure I need a bit more practice on the “Penny” pattern before I try one with twice as many heads.

So this is how she turned out. Even though I managed to get her arms on the outside of her body where they belong, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Before I started this project I had only ever had cause to sew in straight lines, so the curves in Penny’s feet took me somewhere between 5 and 10 tries to do decently. Not particularly well, mind you, but round-ish enough to pass for doll limbs. And of course I know I shouldn’t have used black thread, but I’m so new at this, and I knew this would just be a practice doll, I didn’t want to waste time or frustrate myself with bobbin switches (and inevitably mishaps), so I stuck with black on the machine, and switched to green and brown when hand stiching the dress shut and hair on. Next time around I’ll definitely secure her arms and legs with multiple pins before stitching. They were aligned and centered when I pinned them. Not so much by the time I got done stitching, though.

Hedwig seems to like her, anyway.


4 thoughts on “Patchwork Penny, Minus the Patchwork

  1. I love the colors you picked for your Penny. She’s very cute and well done. I hope I can make one that sweet.

  2. Thanks, Beth! I’m a SUPER novice sewer, so if I can do it, anyone can. The book itself uses really great fabric and color schemes that might inspire you. There’s a definite retro vibe in Hillary Lang’s fabric choices that make it eye candy just to flip through.

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