I have to hold my hands up right now and confess, 95% of the decorating I do at Christmas is for me, not my children, not my visitors, but me. I love to create a winter wonderland and my discovery of the Tilda Dolls last year took this magic to a whole new level.
Last year I made a beautiful Tilda Santa complete with traditional red velvet coat and white fur trimming. He was a joy to make, but he seemed a bit lonely. So earlier this year I made a wonderful fur polar bear from the book Tildas Winter Delights
, there are several sizes and I have already had demands for a tiny one from my girls. Then I found out that alongside the new Cottage Collection
Tilda were releasing a Patchwork Santa Kit
I couldn't resist, Patchwork AND Christmas all in one Santa? Yes please!
The kit comes with everything you need to make the Santa (except wadding and Stuffing, more on that in a minute). It has complete illustrated step by step instructions that cover the construction of the doll and the patchwork coat. You are of course free to make you own tweaks to the design and the kit comes with a generous amount of fabric so that you can add any extra accessories you may wish - miniature patchwork santa sack anyone?!
I found the doll pretty easy to make over a couple of days. There are a few fiddly tasks, like turning and stuffing the thin legs and arms, here I found the wooden stick provided in the kit very helpful. I also found holding the legs and arms in place whilst trying to sew them to the body a little awkward, but my Clover appliqué pins
were very useful. Their tiny size means you can put a few in that you just wouldn't have room for with normal pins. I also found Gutermann Hand Quilting thread
great for attaching the limbs, it has the extra strength you need to be able to put quite a lot of tension on the thread without breaking and attaches the limbs securely.
My previous Tilda doll had taught me that standard wadding like the kind I use in my quilts just won't work for the doll clothing. Despite being low loft quilters wadding it was just too dense and thick for the tiny seams and particularly the underarm area, causing puckering no matter how much clipping of the seam I did. This time I tried Vlieseline's Thin Fleece 248
which is an incredibly lightweight and low volume batting.
It was the perfect match! I am so glad I found this and I will certainly be using it for all my future Tilda Dolls, alongside the Deco-Wadding
also from Vlieseline which is my absolute favourite doll stuffing. It is so fine you don't get the lumpiness you sometimes run the risk of with cheap poly stuffing.
Because the kit came with such a generous amount of fabric I was lucky enough with some savvy cutting to have quite a bit left. I couldn't resist using the leftover 'doll skin' fabric to make a couple of cute reindeer. I used the free pattern on the Tildas World Blog
for the Tiny Egg Hares
and just added some little stick antlers. There is a pattern for large reindeer in the book Homemade and Happy
but I think these tiny ones are adorable and will look wonderful tucked away around the house at Christmas.
I didn't make many changes to the original design of the Patchwork Santa, I just added a little bell on the end of his hat and some little bows on his socks/boots.
The Kit and fabrics used were supplied by Groves Ltd and stockist enquiries can be made by contacting them at email@example.com
where they will be happy to assist you. The wide range of Vlieseline products can be found at Lady Sew and Sew
I hope I have inspired you to have a go at doll making, after all they are not just for children, or indeed just for Christmas! When they are this beautiful you want to enjoy them year round and the fabulous kits mean you can have all the supplies you need in one easy purchase. In the mean time I am off to work on another Santa that I am part way through, this time he has a lot of intricate needle turn appliqué adorning his coat....I know, I'll be able to hold the Annual Tilda Santa convention soon ;-)