tulle. and patience.

Alas! the tulle petticoat is still a dream.


After I had successfully cut the eight layers of tulle to the measurements, I reacquainted myself with the unique properties of this fabric. Exactly what I said last time we visited.

Lighter than air and hard to pin down.

Slippery, with a will of its own.

photo of my hands working with the fabricNearly invisible.

I set about adjusting the layers and pinning them together so that they would lie one on top of the next, like a stack of paper.

Paper would have behaved! This is like stacking spider webs.

I basted the layers together, along one long and one short side by hand. Hmmm! Imagine my excitement! I felt on top of the world! Things were going swimmingly.

(Dost thou sense it? To what dark place is the seamstress headed?)

photo of my hands pulling the gathering threads

I used the longest stitch on my machine and sewed two rows of gathering stitches.

So far, so good. The next step was to pull the threads and reduce the length of one long side to mere inches.

photo of gathered tulle

Almost there. Wait for it!

Ahhhh! The gathering held! Ready to pin and baste the skirt to the yoke (that bit of curved fabric to the right of the skirt).

Nope. With the end in sight, I discovered that success was but a dream.

One of the layers of tulle had evaded the basting thread back in step 1. There was nothing to do but take out the gathering stitches and begin again.

This time I have a new plan for the basting. It will take longer. But that is the way with tulle.




‘Life is all about how you handle Plan B.’ (Author Unknown)

xo, Nancy





eight layers of tulle

Tulle. Defined on dictionary.com as thin, fine net made of nylon, rayon, acetate, or silk.

Not included in most definitions is that it feels like whipped egg whites. I find it prone to static electricity, hard to cut straight, turns on itself, sticks to me, sticks to itself (along the cut edge), and needs protection from my iron with a press cloth.

clip art photo of bride

For those of you who recognize the term tulle, you know this frothy fabric from evening dresses, wedding veils, and fancy hats.

Not to be confused with netting. Netting has a coarser weave and stiffer hand.

photo of blue and turquoise ball gownMy commission, to create a replica of a ball gown worn by my client (the ivory and turquoise gown in the photo on the left) for a doll that is one-quarter her size,  requires an eight-layer petticoat to hold its shape. The original had eight layers of netting.

For any replica I’ve made, an important rule stands. As the size of the garment shrinks so must the scale of the fabric used. The scale for this project is 1:4, so netting is not right.

This brings me to my Sunday project, sewing eight layers of tulle to create a replica petticoat to be worn underneath the replica of the lovely, beaded ivory and turquoise gown.

Frothy, mind-of-its-own, white tulle.

My ALL DAY Sunday project!

xo, Nancy

put that in your bonnet!

I sew for dolls. I sew for babies (front bonnet in photo). I sew dolls for babies, too. My ‘work’ makes me smile. I used to shy away from telling people what I do because it seems to need a lot of explanation.

photo of 2 baby bonnets “Real babies?” friends ask. Yes, I smile. Little people. My friends may be confused because I started out costuming dolls. (That took a lot of explanation as well, all by itself. “Dolls?” people would ask.)

Well, yes. And when I meet people who get it, who get me, the greatest conversations take place. I’ve made new friends, and heard wonderful stories of dolls and grandmothers and mothers and sewing and learning to sew.

I have met other sewists, like me, who love fabric. Just to see it, touch it, and imagine what it might become.

My best friend and I both sew. We discuss sewing challenges along with life challenges, what we’re grateful for, and our families. I call her “C” and she calls me “N.” When I get stuck, I call her. She’s an amazing seamstress who works in adult size.

When we get to feeling like we want to make a trip to one of our favorite fabric shops, we confer about how to make it work with our schedules. C will make a suggestion and then add, “put that in your bonnet and let it swirl around.” Decoded, it means our decision can wait.

The idea swirled around in my bonnet for a short time to resume writing. And then I knew it was time. Time to get my thoughts out and jot them down.

Thanks for joining me!

xo, Nancy

tiny stitches. much love.

The lovely bride in the photo is my grandmother. My father’s mother. We called her Grandmother. Very proper. She, along with Nana and Mom, instructed me in proper sewing from a very early age.

photo of grandmother wilson with six bridesmaids

Every time I take up needle and thread to do handwork, Grandmother’s instruction about tiny stitches comes to me. She told me that her mother would not abide large or irregular stitches and made little Ruth Hazel remove all of them if her work was not up to standard.

I remember feeling a twinge upon hearing this story. I knew that the handwork I was able to create at the time would not have passed muster. Was I six years old? nine? O, the influence that story carried.

To this day, I feel her love. And remember stories she told that I know now carried more than just memories of her up-bringing. They helped prepare me for Life.

Each of the items I sew require some handwork. I make tiny, practiced stitches in her honor. And smile.

What skill did you learn early in life that, when you use it today, makes you smile in the memory of learning it?

xo, Nancy

inspiration. and more.

photo of momma with Nana, uncle john

My mother (the child on the right in the group photo) was my first sewing teacher. And so much more. What I know of sewing applies to life. And to prepare me for life, Mom started me off with adopting a positive attitude, perseverance, and curiosity. She also prepared me to grow spiritually. She does so to this day.

I have vivid memories of her patience with me when I was starting out. We sewed doll clothes for Barbie, troll dolls, and others.

photo of my momma

My memory includes being encouraged to use the ‘big’ sewing machine and read the patterns on my own.

I marvel now at her confidence in me when I was so young. And now I have come full circle, using my sewing skills to express myself in a way unmatched in excitement. I enjoy photography, sketching, reading. But I love to sew.

What a gift! Thank you, Momma!


xo, Nancy

inicio. beginning.

I found the Portuguese word for beginning on a blog after I fell in love with a fish.

This being my first entry for my new blog, I decided to use it. And the fish?

This was Not Just Any fish but a whimsical fish. Someone pinned a photo to Pinterest. I fell in love and decided to click back to its origin. (This process reminds me of Alice plunging down the rabbit hole. More about Alice later.)

I discovered Matilde Beldroega and found two fish. Delightful!

A month ago, my new friend, K, asked what inspires me. I thought about that. Then I started coming up with a list. Not a complete list. The possibilities for inspiration are limitless; what can limit me is my unwillingness to see.

These fish inspire me.

Image of NanaAnd the sweet doll clothes that my grandmother (my Nana, whose photo accompanies this post) made for my mother when she was a little girl. I still have them.

Heirloom details, such as tucks and lace, from old children’s clothes inspire me.

Fabric can, too. I will see a particular print or texture, and imagine right then how to use it.

The other night, I was riding BART and thinking about making cloth dolls. I became fascinated with calves and shoes and cuffs.

O! and the view of San Francisco Bay out my kitchen window inspires me with its ever-changing colors.

What inspires you?

xo, Nancy