Monday, February 22, 2016

How to Make a Fabric Card: Color Dolly

"Creativity is intelligence having fun" ~ Albert Einstein
My Inspiration

My inspiration to make this lovely card came from two places.

First, my sweet furiend Dolly The Boston Buddha, Pooch Editor-in-Chief at asked me if I would be willing to take part in her (at that time) new interactive art space for kids, young and old.  Since I love art, I was excited to do a project for her.  

But that was over a year ago. Sweet Dolly has been patiently waiting while I continue on my journey as a cancer survivor. 

Being a cancer survivor can be hard, and the past eighteen months have been trying while I have been coping with the same side-effects I've had since I was 26, except now I am just a few weeks shy of 59 -- (wow that looks scary on the screen...yikes ... ) and the 'ol bod ain't what it used to be, but I am a Baby Boomer and I grew up with Mickey Mouse and Cinderella so that means, at least inside, I get to be a kid forever!  

The second reason that I did the project was not physical but relational. I was in a very tough place with a loved one and needed a distraction. Been there? 

Life throws us curves just about every single day and some of those curves we can manage or change, but more often than not, there is absolutely nothing that we can do about the situation.  And I've found out that accepting that fact, is very liberating.  So I redirected my thoughts, and channeled my energy into the art project. And it worked!
Art has the power to heal and uplift you into a world of imagination, beauty, and creation, and is the very reason that I named this blog Color Me Well.  

So...while Dolly waited patiently on my contribution to her art gallery, two wonderful things happened.

  1. The fabric card turned out so beautiful, way beyond my expectations, and I've never made a fabric card in my life.  I guess my creativity genes were "mulching" during those unproductive months, think?
  2. Mentally diving into this project saved my mind.
Why did I use fabric?  Because I can't paint! I'm certified in interior design so I naturally went to what I was familiar with. I love fabric and am familiar with it's personality and how it behaves. 

I documented the project with photos, and below you can see a box of colored markers. I couldn't use them because they were dried up. I just stared at the box for a while with glazed over eyes wondering what to do.

My pens were dried up. Time for Plan B eyes turned to my fabric box.  I opened it up and immediately had a light-bulb moment. My mind started thinking in 'pixels'.  I wasn't seeing the print on the fabric anymore, I was seeing swirls and motion and curves and dots.  

You will see that I used two pieces of substantial cardboard. I originally punched holes in them because in my mind I was going to make a card that would open and close, but I covered the holes up when I decided to go with fabric. It sort of evolved on its own and I just went with what idea came next, and, I'll admit a few things did not work, so I had to undo and start over. That is how the creative process works. Don't be afraid to admit something doesn't work because usually another idea will come to you that works better. Keep moving forward.

      This pretty pink harlequin fabric remnant is from Jasmine's memory box. Jasmine was my Malti-Poo. You can read my tribute to her entitled 'Mine' on Dolly's site in the PawCircle section. 

The finished card is only 5" x 9" (about the size of a journal) which means all of the objects on it are quite small.  Dolly by herself is made up of at least 50 very small pieces, and there are over 15 pieces just in her face and ears.

Contributions in fabric mostly came from:
  • Best In Show (cream background) by P. Kaufmann. Available at or
  • 3 of Jasmine's (1992-2010) bandannas
  • vintage fabric I inherited from my grandmother and great aunt
  • every piece used was from what I had on hand
Below you will see one page from a coloring book that can be downloaded from her site.  

I chose the picture below from the Color Dolly coloring book for my project because I like the treasure chest and the way Dolly is looking at you.  Her expression really got my imagination going. What do you see? 

photo: Copyright Tao of Dolly

It appears summer is over and Dolly has carefully packed all her special toys in her treasure chest. 

Dolly is in her bedroom looking in her chest of drawers. She has just received an invitation to a masquerade pawty, and I think she is ready to get all dolled up, but I wonder what she will wear? 

Guess what? She's going to be disguised as her mom Suzanne! Her furiends will never know it is her. "Look out, here comes Glamour! (with a big slice of trickster) Dolly can't wait! Look at that face...

As you can see, I replaced the chest of drawers with a pretty stool. It was easier for me to pull off, and the colors blended beautifully. The stool was one piece, cut from the fabric Best In Show. Best In Show is an elegant fabric showing vignettes of different types of small dogs sitting on stools, chairs and beds.  It is available in a light blue and china red.  

Here is a photo of a pillow I made in the cream color some years ago and I love it.

Here's the back: That's Bo! How did they know I would one day have him? If you look closely to the left you'll see the teddy bear I used beside the treasure chest. 

Dolly's fur, and Suzanne's hair also came from Best In Show, where a Pomeranian, Shih-Tzu, and Pekingese gave their all for this art project (there is no limit to a dog's love).

In so many ways, the Best In Show fabric truly pulled all of this together. 

And, of course, I had to finish it.  Here's the back of the card. 

I added one of my fabric labels to the back to give it a HallmarkTM look! That label is at least 30 years old.  I used to sew a lot when I was younger. 


Dolly's mama Suzanne loved the card so much I sent it to her from Alabama to Montreal, Canada! It took ten days, and we sat on pins and needles while it made it through Customs. It made it there without a hitch, and we were all so happy.

I was grateful to the Lord for watching over the artwork while it went on its way. It is obvious that his hand was on the project the entire time.

Be sure to catch the next blog which will be mostly photos with my commentary of the project in process.

The card is featured in Dolly Art Galleryso be sure to go over and check out her awesome site!  

If you like pets, animals, love and human compassion for all living things, you will fall in love with Dolly. She is one of mine and Bo Shih-Tzu's favorite furever furiends. (Bo is secretly in love with her.  He calls her "Pwincess"). 

Dolly says I'm "sweeter'n buttermilk biscuits dipped in honey!"
~ Bo

and he really, really was.
New Years Eve 2009 I stopped two lanes of traffic to rescue Bo. It was dark, freezing rain with thunder and lightning. I thought he was a deer, until I saw those Shih-Tzu eyes. The vet said he was around 5 years old, but, we don't truly know.  

In loving Memory
my precious boy


Run free with Jazzie now Bo!
I miss you so...
Love, Mom

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Color Dolly: Fabric Card In-Process Photos

"Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

~ William Blake

This is a photo post with comments, and a continuation of my last post where I introduce my fabric art project for Color Dolly and Dolly Art Gallery at

Just click back one post here, and take a look if you haven't seen the first one yet. It is called: How To Make a Fabric Card: Color Dolly.

Believe it or not this is where the fun was for me. 

I had no idea where I was headed but each turn gave me an exhilarating idea, or a challenge that moved me up another level in creativity. 

Photo collage #1 - I begin

The brown fabric is a wood floor, and the cream is the wall to Dolly's bedroom. Remember, the card is only 5" X 9", so I had to scale down the stool to make room for Dolly. I put a pleat in the middle then quilted and embellished it. Notice the start of the mask.  I used Elmer's-type glue (sparingly and gently) on everything. While one side dried, I began the treasure chest. It was like a paint-by-numbers, except here, it was cut and paste. 

Photo collage #2

Teddy bear is from Best In Show and works nicely, and I quilted it as well. The monkey's head, face, and body are all made from 1" vintage fabric samples from a brochure I found in my grandmother's sewing stool (ca.1954) three years before I was born. 

Three of Jasmine's bandannas were used for the chest including the plaid bottom and the cute frog (you can see him in the photo of the finished treasure chest). 

The baseball cap came from my old jeans, in four small gores, plus the cap bill, where I added thin cardboard underneath and bent it a little, to mimic a real baseball cap. The ballet shoes I crafted from satin that also came from my grandmother's fabric card. 

Photo collage #3
Here you can see where it gets messy! 

Clockwise, in the top two photos you can see Jasmine's bandannas. In the lower left photo are two of the scissors I used the most. The small ones are called "snips" and are used by professional seamstresses in the industry. They are for close clips to get a clean finish. The black handled scissors were my mothers and are quite old, however, they were very sharp, so I used them a lot (with a bundle of gentleness) as it is unwise to use large tools on such small projects. Keep your scissors sharp! 

Photo collage #4

I crafted Dolly first, and although it was very difficult, I've never been more challenged mentally, or felt more exhilarated emotionally. It was amazing how it all started falling into place. 

I quilted her, then cut her out (sounds painful doesn't it!) then placed her beside the stool. This is when it got exciting because I had to move her close to the inside and when I did, her feet fit exactly in line with the stool! It was spine-tingling. 

I added her lovely gold collar (the ribbon came from Hobby Lobby), and you will see it just added so much to the project. 

The last frame is where I try the mask (which is actually Suzanne, Dolly's mom) on her, and it fit perfect. It is so cute! But, I had to leave all up to the imagination and place the mask separately on the card so we could be able to see Dolly's beautiful face. 

You will see where I started on her dress. The ribbon I adorned it with (along with the jester's hat) came from a rainbow of ribbons I saved from a beautifully wrapped gift. (do you save stuff like that?) I'm not a hoarder, but I save useful and beautiful things. It pays! 

Photo collage #5

Here I'm trying to figure out where I want everything. 

I added a metal hook to the top of her dress so her mom could hook it to her collar if she wanted to. She's so cute either way, but with the dress on, it would've covered up most of Dolly's body, and her cute legs with those bows!  I felt like I was playing with my Barbie dolls, I was having so much fun. 

As you can see in frame two the dress is on the stool, and Dolly with only bows on her feet.  She's so adorable, and a tad risque in an innocent kind of way! 

That idea for the ankle bows came from a floor ad in an old Traditional Home magazine, which was on a stool in my bathroom. I was going to take a photo of it to post here, but was in hospital in December and the EMS put Bo in the bathroom while they loaded me in the ambulance and he tore it to shreds! Poor Bo. It was a ballerina in fish-net hose in stilettos, standing in first-position with tulle bows around her ankles. I wish you could've seen it...I really wish you could have seen the bathroom when I got home (mattress explosion). 

Lesson: when an idea hits you, don't hesitate to act, you may miss an opportunity. Haha! That's Bo's fifteen minutes of fame. OK, back to Dolly...

In frame three you can see that I'm putting together her jester's hat.  I had this idea in my head ever since I thought of the mask idea.  I had to cut that 5/8" ribbon way down, stitch it, then twist the colorful ribbon and stitch it down.  I added a "make-believe" bell with my gold thread, then glued the hat behind Dolly's head so her head would show.  

Adding the jester's hat and adding the baby peacock feather to Suzanne's mask was another spine tingling moment, because not only did they match in color, they balanced each other out on the card.  I was ecstatic at the results. Every step seemed to have a surprise in it.  Oh, and I actually knew the peacock the feather came from, his name was Sam.  He belonged to friends I used to house-sit for. He's been gone a long time, but he's not forgotten here! The animal kingdom does it once again. 

The feather didn't do well laying flat, so I propped it up by gluing a cotton ball behind the mask. That worked well in giving a 3D effect, and also served us well in shipping to Canada! 

Photo collage #6
This is my favorite set of photos. 

In frame one, Dolly has on her cute ankle bows. Look at that pose! In frame two she has her dress on. The third frame shows the dress laying on the stool. Can you see how Dolly's arm rests across the top of the stool?  I did not plan that, it fit perfect like a puzzle piece. It still blows my mind. I think Dolly looks just like Audrey Hepburn in one of her big hats! What do you think?

The last frame is a close-up of the mask. Suzanne's lips are plastic and came from a Christmas window decoration.  They are so small...I think I should get an award for cutting those out, it's amazing, I did it first try. I used my fingernail scissors. Well, it was my second try. The fabric lips I tried fell apart they were so small, so I had to go to Plan B.  Her hair is from Best In Show and is of 5 parts, cut to shape, and then I snipped the edges like a razor cut for it to look like hair actually does.  Doesn't she look great?    

So now you know how I went from this:
To this!

Special Thank You:
I would like to give a shout-out to Stephanie at Observer Supply who helped me with browsing for masks and jester hats, photocopying size and scale. She is friendly, smart, and professional, and I couldn't have done this project without her help. 
Thank you Stephanie!
Observer Supply
Gadsden, AL

Bo and I love Dolly and appreciate all she does to promote pawsome love and compassion. Be sure and download her coloring book for your kids (or yourself). Her website is chock-full of pet stories. At Tao of Dolly the animal kingdom rules!

Dolly is also on these social networking sites:
Pinterest, G+TwitterInstagram, and Facebook
But her site is amazing all by itself. You can see all of her latest social posts just while you're there from one place. 

I hope you enjoyed my project. It was pure joy to me! 

See you next time!

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