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Tools of Trade: Washboard for Wet Felting

Remember my post about my journey with felting? I recently tought myself how to wetfelt. Most of the things I needed I had at home already. Soap, hot water, old towels, roving. What was missing was one of those cool washboards for agitating the wool.

Luckily I finally got a hold of one.


You can read the story of how I came across it here.

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Tools of the Trade: Pretty Handmade Stamps

I received a new studio shot by NaturalKids Teammate Beccijo Neff from The Enchanted Cupboard this week.

I love getting a glimpse into another artist’s studio and see what they are working on. Looks like our friend from the Enchanted Cupboard is working on some mushroom stamps.

It is always so much fun to see a project emerge…


Can you guess what Beccijo is making with these cool stamps? Please, go visit her shop to find out!

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Tools of the Trade: Thread Heaven

I told you how my husband always puts sewing related items in my stocking at Christmas. Stockingstuffer item number 2 I received this Christmas was a product called thread heaven. It’s a tiny square jar with some goopey waxlike stuff in it. You are supposed to drag your thread through this substance to keep your sewing thread from tangling.

Sounds like a lot of work to drag each piece of thread through this tiny jar. It also requires patience and nimbleness. I got it after years of training! =) I tried it out when sewing one of my little miniature dolls. I really liked it. It kept my thread from turning into a knotted mess while sewing on the tiny dollheads.


The package also promises that the product “Reduces Hand Fatigue” and that it is “acid free and Hypoallergenic.” The only problem I have with this product is that it doesn really say what it is made of.

Have you ever used thread heaven or something similar to it? I think I will contact the company to find out more. Could it be a trade secret? Maybe just a little bit of softened beeswax would do the job just as well?  I am intrigued.

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Tools of the Trade: Useless Gadget

I hope you got some good Christmas presents this year. I am very pleased with my loot for sure. Really, my husband and I don’t give each other a ton of presents. It’s mostly for the kids, right? But he always tries to find me small sewing related items to put in my stocking.

Oh my, this year I got 3 different things. Two gadgets were okay. The third item was a bit of a bust. It was called a wrist magnet by Dritz company. You are supposed to wear it strapped around your wrist while sewing.

I found this thing way too cumbersome. The magnet, though very strong, did not hold my needles very well because there is not enough surface touching, I suppose. Then there was my constant fear leaving the magnet too close to my phone or computer. It could really mess up data I am being told…So why not just use a pin cushion for your needles?

Forget it! I hung it on the frige. Maybe hubby can use it when fixing something around the house – so the kids and I don’t have to be the nail- or screw -holders during the project. LOL

I’ll tell you about the other gadgets I got another day…


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Tools of the Trade: Dollmaker’s Tool

I recently received this brand new tool in the mail. I am sad to say that I have been too busy to use it much.  My fingers are itching to make a new doll but these days I am mostly occupied with shipping and finishing off other products. Maybe in the New Year?

What is this curious looking tool that kind of looks like a little hedgehog? It actually is a miniature brush for fluffing up doll hair. Looks so cool, doesn’t it?

If you want to see some samples of dolls with fluffed mohair wigs you can find them in my shop on Etsy.



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Tools of the Trade: Upcycled is Beautiful

Our family attends a Lutheran church where we live. Sadly it’s a church that is rapidly aging and not enough young folks are joining to replace the older generation. Maybe it’s because the trend in churchgoing in the US is more towards big evangelical churches with large screens and rockmusic being performed live. It’s not my cup of tea…

I am more of an oldfashioned kind of gal. I enjoy a good hymn, and I like to be soothed by old rituals. But Church is mainly a place to reflect, relax, and hang out with family.

One of my best friends at church is an elderly lady named Dorothea. Like me she is of German descent. Dorothea is in her late 80s and talking to her on Sundays feels like being home talking to any other granny in my village back home in Germany. She always asks me about my dolls and if I am still making them. In her younger days Dorothea used to sew and craft quite a bit.

So recently this friend bestowed a wonderful gift to me. I still can’t believe that she chose to give me this amazing box filled with goodies to make doll clothes with.

Want to read the rest of the story and see more photos? Please visit my blog over here.


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Tools of the Trade: Thimbles

I didn’t know it until just this morning – I am a digitabulist. You may ask yourself: What in the world is that? A digitabulist is what you call a person who collects thimbles. Well, my collection is rather smallish. In the photo you can see all four of them. I keep the 3 useful ones in my sewing box.

The German word for thimble is Fingerhut. In translation that means  fingerhat – a hat for your finger. This is my humble collection of fingerhats.

Number one is made of leather. Number two of ceramic. Number three brass. Number four is made of plastic.

The ceramic one was given to me by a friend who brought it back from a visit to the UK or Ireland. It’s really pretty but probably the most useless of the lot. It usually hangs out on my windowsill. Long before I knew about the hobby of digitabulism, I actually tried to slip the ceramic thimble on my finger to help push a needle through thick fabric. The thing slipped right off my finger and fell to the floor. Luckily it didn’t break. I suppose it was never meant to be used.

On Wikipedia you can learn many interesting facts about thimbles.

Besides learning a new big word and that this tool has been around since Roman times, approximately 1 AD,  I discovered that people didn’t just use them to push needles through fabric. Thimbles were used for some other interesting purposes – if you want to believe Wikipedia:

In the 19th century they were used to measure spirits, which brought rise to the phrase “just a thimbleful”. Prostitutes used them in the practice of thimble-knocking where they would tap on a window to announce their presence. Thimble-knocking also refers to the practice of Victorian schoolmistresses who would tap on the heads of unruly pupils with dames thimbles.

Well, maybe I’ll gift the ceramic thimble to my husband who is a teacher. He says it might help his students think a bit better in class…

You can find very cool pictures of antique thimbles via this link. Kind of puts my collection to shame.


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Tools of the Trade: Mini Vacuum

I have been doing a lot of sewing on my sewing machine lately. As we get closer to Christmas my m trusty Bernina workhorse has to run 4 hours a day on average.

I found that one of the most essential tools in keeping my sewing machine clean and running is a miniature vacuum cleaner. Instead brushing lint out or  blowing the dirt into your machine you must remove it by sucking it out. I got the idea from my husband who is using a miniature vacuum for his computer keyboard. You can find a mini vacuum at any office supply store such as Office Depot or Office Max. I think mine cost about $20. After a couple of hours of sewing I open up my machine and vacuum the inside. Then I take out all the removable parts and brush the lint off. I oil the moving parts and put them back in.

Since I own only one sewing machine it’s crucial to take good care of it. I simply can’t afford to have it fixed or serviced this time of year.

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Tools of Trade: Nature’s Architect Willodel

Did you know there was an architect on the Natural Kids team? I didn’t fully realize it until Lucinda sent me the photos of her materials. Lucinda Macy from Willodel on Etsy took the beautiful photos you see in this post. They are photos of the raw materials she uses in her craft.

Lucinda builds with: rocks, sticks, acorn caps, and many other objects found in nature.

Looking at her photos takes me back to my own childhood. Do you remember going for a walk and finding that perfect little rock that you had to take home as a keepsake? What kid doesn’t do that?

However, Lucinda’s rocks and sticks don’t end up in mom’s washing machine or on a bookshelve. Each prize from nature is carefully sorted into baskets or boxes where it waits to be turned in art.

Please make sure to visit her shop and take a peek at the wonderful items Lucinda creates with these materials found in nature. You can be sure that everything is ressourced with utmost respect to nature.

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Tools of the Trade: Wool

I guess wool is not really a tool. It belongs more in the materials section. But since I use wool for pretty much everything in my craft, it has become like a tool to me. I use it in various forms and shapes. It is beautiful to look at and touch.  It is soft and warm like a newborn puppy. I have mainly three different types of uses for it.

First of all, I use wool for stuffing my dolls. I use raw wool because it can be shaped into dollheads and bodies for waldorf dolls. I buy it in large quantities. When I open the latest shipment, it smells fresh and earthy, and a bit like the animals it came from. I like to transform the large fluffy clouds of wool into soft warm little baby dolls.  I know when a child cuddles them, they will warm up to their body temperature and reflect the warmth. Who wants to cuddle a cold plastic baby?

Secondly, I like to work with wool that has been processed into long strands of yarn. I love the soft mohair yarns with long fibers. Long fibered mohair yarn almost gives the impression of real human hair. I crochet dollwhigs with it. I am always amazed at the effect it has in handmade dolls  – making them come to life and look like real people.

Lately I have been browsing the internet for new handspun yarns. They have amazing texture and brighten the studio. Above you can see a beautiful batch of handdied and handspun yarn by artist Jossimer from Luxfish in Canada. I am afraid that soon it will become a new addiction of mine. So many pretty colors and textures…


Last there is the wool pressed into sheets of felt. I mainly use sheets of felt from Holland that are 100% wool. They come in beautiful rich colors. They are perfect for handsewn doll boots or vests. They are great for making small toys, like the little felted leafbeds I can’t seem to keep in my shop.

Wool – has become  to me what paint is to a painter. There are endless ways to utilize it and make beautiful arts and crafts with it. I hope you discover it soon for yourself if you have not done so already. Please, share with us what you make with it.
Ulla Seckler is a dollmaker who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and two kids. You can find her Notes by a German Dollmaker on her blog where she shares some great German recipes, pictures of her sweet dolls, and life lessons learned.