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Monday, February 28, 2011

Wondering how to age a handmade doll? It's easy! Watch My How To Video Here

Free Video and Pattern on How to Dye a Prim Doll

Hi all! My son Joey, (10 years old!) shot this video for me on how to dye a primitive doll. You know how you always see those gorgeous dolls that look vintage and aged and wonder how they got it like that? Well, now you can make dolls like that too! I used to think it was complicated and I was so jealous that other doll makers could get the results I was yearning for. Well, now I know the secret too--and today you will too!

I was reading Prims Magazine (the August 2010 issue with the cat on the cover) and it tells all about how to make a dye out of tea, coffee and some other household items. It's really easy. So watch the video and then get crafting!

The bunny pattern is my own creation and you can have it for free if you just shoot me an email at You'll get hooked on prim making. I know I have!

P.S. Here's the link where you can buy the apron I am wearing in the video. My mom makes them for Clara's Closet.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Did your Grandmother Inspire you to Create too? Take a Look at Bailey's Bruins

It seems a lot of us started sewing because of our grandmothers. I hope that tradition always continues. Take a listen to this teddy sewer's story and see if it sounds familiar. And I'd love to hear from you if you have a "Nonny" story too about your grandmother. (

Rosie Bear
I came across Bailey's Bruins on the team that I started on Etsy called We Love Softies: Dolls, Animals and Cuties. (Feel free to join us at . 

Tiffany Bailey is the creative mind behind Bailey's Bruins. She  makes the most charming bears and other characters. What I love about them is that they have such expressions on their faces! And you can just feel the love that went into crafting them.

Bailey's Bruins ( is run out of a small cottage in Bonne Terre, MO. It's easy to imagine a sweet cottage set back from the road filled with marvelous bears, bunnies, and other stuffed lovelies just waiting to go into the hands of a girl or boy who loves softies. Or perhaps even an adult like one of us!

Tiffany, the head bear maker at Bailey's Bruins says, " I have been sewing as long as I can remember because both of my grandmothers thought this was an important skill to learn. Both of them made quilts, their children's clothing and later on toys for the grandkids-I still have many of them! I have followed in the path of these great ladies by creating the animals you are about to see, some even their original creations." 

Jingle BearShe goes on to say, "Each animal is hand sewn and unique-I've never been able to make the same one twice! They are all made with faux fur or recycled clothing-anything from corduroy pants, old army fatigues or a vintage coat. They are filled with hypoallergenic stuffing or plastic beads and jointed with plastic safety joints and safety eyes unless otherwise noted. I learned to create teddy bears from a lady I met years ago and have been doing it ever since."

You can find Tiffany Bailey's creations, including these adorable bears at or at!/pages/Baileys-Bruins/115007531880138.  Stop on by and support another one of us softie lovers. And keep the stuffed ones coming.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Create an Etsy Catalog In an Instant For Free!

sitetour is so easy to use! And free!

I can't tell you how excited I am to tell you about the new feature I found on If you're a crafter with a shop on Etsy, you can now make your own catalog of your entire Etsy shop for free at

CLARA'S CLOSET CATALOG IS HERE in full! Look at what you can have too!

It will automatically list all your items, put them into the design and you can print it out! You can also link it to your blog or other web page as a pdf. It's such a great way to create a free marketing catalog to bring to craft fairs and other venues. Hand it out when you're talking with people about what you do. There are so many uses!! You simply have to try it. It requires no tech skills and you'll have it done in literally seconds. 

A free Etsy catalog of your shop? Too good to pass up! Get over there to today!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ever Been in a Bad Mood? These adorable soft crafted dolls will cheer you up

Monster Plush - Bad Mood Monster series - ''Betsy Blob aka Little Miss Bossy'' - all hand sewn felt plush monster - OOAKHow can anyone be in a bad mood once they take a look at this adorable guy? He's just part of a series of plush dolls made by a French plush doll maker. You can find the Bad Mood Monster Series of dolls at Hibou Cards at
Monster Plush - the Bad Mood Monster Series - ''Neon Bob'' felt plush toy (OOAK)
Hibou is run by French emigrant Annie-Claire Regan who now lives in Boston. She talks about her inspiration from her childhood in France:
"I love to use old materials or recycle things I have at home (all sorts of papers and fabrics, clothes...). My grandma's closets back in France in particular are full of treasures that I use in my designs. I am inspired by the world around me. New England's dramatic season changes, my art books, music and for a big part by my son's imagination, books and pretend games. My own French culture is also an endless source of creativity :) Today I'm also a happy plush maker! Creating truly makes me happy and I put all my passion in each design I create and make. I hope you will enjoy my work!"

Tiny Owl Brooch - mini owl plush as a brooch - Wearables plush series from Hibou
And how could anyone not love her work? Her entire Etsy shop is filled with colorful creations that bring delight. Stop on over at her Etsy shop and cheer her on. Say you found her here on Clara's Closet's Blog.
Hibou Cards can be found on Etsy at 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On the Art of The Possible: Try A New Technique Every Day

Try a new way of doing and looking at things to renew your crafting passion.

 I tend to want to be perfect. If I can't make the perfect craft, I won't make it at all. Sound familiar? Well, lately, I've started making some happy accidental discoveries. My mom gave me her old sewing machine--my first. And though I've always known how to hand sew, I was afraid of the sewing machine. My irrational fear? That the needle would come unthreaded and I wouldn't know how to thread it again. Solution? Learn how to thread it!

Lately I've been making some really cute animals on that sewing machine. I've discovered that it's ok to be a beginner. Sometimes your items will look a bit lopsided and nothing like the pattern. But then you can get creative and fix them with unique embellishments and your own design twists.

Kitty (above) was one huge mistake after another. But she turned out quite winsome and she is actually my favorite creation right now. The lamb and chihuahua? (above and left) Had gaping holes in them that I had to sew over by hand. But they look fine. I had to stretch myself to find ways to cover my mistakes. But I learned that nothing has to be perfect when you're crafting things you love.

Let yourself be a beginner while crafting. Try a new technique like felting or crocheting. The more it scares you the more fun it is to triumph!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Humble Seamstress: Nurse Dolls and other Cuties!

Country Bear All Dressed Up in his Handmade ClothesI discovered Helene from The Humble Seamstress on Etsy. I really love her style. There's something so whimsical and charming about the simple beauty of her creations. They remind me of a different time when life was simpler. 

Her shop features all sorts of darling hand made items including doll clothing and unique scrappy angel dolls and this little bear here.

Cloth Doll Nurse Ball Doll - ROLY POLY and will make YOU feel BETTER - Collectible
Helene used to be a nurse and now she makes many nurse dolls!
Sarah Spring Angel an 18 inch Original OOAK Cloth Doll - 1st in a Series of 4

A crafter from Pennsylvania she says, "I am an avid sewer & retired from my job as an R.N. to persue my creative path. I am primarily a collectible doll maker but make many other sewn items & will have some really cute, different dolls & other items listed." 

Her dolls truly have a unique personality. You can find her shop, the Humble Seamstress, on Etsy at Check out all her interesting and lovely dolls, especially her doll clothes.  It's worth a trip! 

P.S If you read yesterday's post here about using gesso for your dolls, you'll love Helene's idea for another creative gesso use. She used it to paint over her 1970's paneling (yes, we remember it!) so that she wouldn't have to take it all down. Cool!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gesso...Try it for a new way of creating softies!

Gesso on Cloth: A technique you'll want to try!

After reading this month's issue of Stuffed magazine, I realized that there's a whole world of techniques out there that softie lovers can use to enhance their dolls. It may be old news to some, but to me, the light bulb clicked on when I saw an article about using GESSO and ACRYLIC PAINT to make doll faces.

What is GESSO?  Gesso is a type of paint that's thick and white. It's like a whipped icing. But it's really a medium that is used to prepare a canvas before an artist paints over it. It can be purchased at any art or craft store and online. It's usually in the paint aisle.

You can use it in the same way to prepare your softie doll's face. It works best on cotton. Don't try felt for the first time around as it soaks in too much and you may get frustrated.  

This technique is so easy to master. You may have seen some lovely dolls that looked like primitives. They are made of cloth, but their faces appear to have a cracked, textured surface. This is the gesso's magic. . You simply make the doll face with cloth and then you paint it with gesso. Allow to dry and paint the face with acrylic paints. 

The results will be a sweet, almost aged patina that looks as if your doll has been well loved for years. 

I'd love to see photos of anyone's projects using an acrylic and gesso face painting technique. Send them to Or leave me a comment here with your links. Happy painting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

East Coast Art Is...WHO - Art Is...You - The East Coast Art Retreat

Get ready East Coast Crafters...October Art Day Sells out Fast.
East Coast Art Retreat will be held October 6-11, 2011 in Danbury, CT over Columbus Day Weekend

Sure, we're not even out of winter yet, but October's East Coast Art Retreats held in Danbury, CT will sell out fast. And then you'll kick yourself for laughing at all of us who signed up months in advance. There's crafting and networking and socializing. But most of all, INSPIRATION for your art and crafting!!! Check it out below. You can go for one day or more. And you can also volunteer to save some money.

Register - East Coast Art Is...WHO - Art Is...You - The East and West Coast Art Retreats

Hi all! This blog is about helping fellow artisans and crafters out. So today, I want to share with you two magazines that are ideal for soft doll crafters like us. I get nothing but  joy out of telling people about these magazines. You won't believe  how many wonderful titles the publisher, Somerset Studios has!  When I first discovered them, I felt like I had finally found my niche and a magazine that celebrated it! 

You can find the magazines at and If you want a lively, fresh, colorful and innovative burst of enthusiasm and inspiration, head on over there and check these gorgeous magazines out.

Youc an also find Art Doll Quarterly and Stuffed at Barnes & Noble stores and at crafting shops like Michael's or JoAnn's Fabrics.
Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Overwhelm of Crafting from Home

It can be really tough to keep order when you're a crafter working out of your own home.

Every surface and nook is prime real estate when you're a crafter working out of your own home. If you live, raise a family, serve meals, and entertain all in the same place you craft, it becomes a challenge to keep everything organized. As you can see here, Clara's Closet is no exception to feeling the crunch of space constraints. But when we love what we do, it's hard to put things away and make everything neat and tidy.

I am interested in hearing from others how they keep their crafting spaces in order when they can't just shut a door and return later. When there's no extra bedroom or basement, how do you rise to the challenge of living in the space you also craft in? 

Send me photos or describe for me how you organize and make your crafting space workable for you when it doubles as your living space. I'd love to feature answers here. Send to Thanks!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Natural Scrubs that Rival Store bought for Price and Juiciness

Well, this blog is all about celebrating crafters and artisans. One thing I love is a good spa treatment. But since I spend virtually all my money on crafting items these days, I can't always afford one. 

Natural grapefruit scrub has no chemicals
Gina Kain creates amazing scrubs that contain nothing but natural ingredients. Sure, you could spend a fortune for chemically altered creams and scrubs at the store (we all have!). But when there's a fellow crafter who makes them in her own kitchen with love, let's cheer her on! They contain only pure granulated sugar, freshly grated grapefruit zest & freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, grapeseed and/or extra virgin olive oil, grapefruit essential oil.  They come in an 8 oz. glass jar that looks lovely on your counter. Color will vary as ingredients are all natural.

You can find Gina at Just tell her you'd like to find out more about her scrubs. She's working on getting her web presence built and could use the support of other like-minded artisans.

Gina Kain makes wonderful home made artisan spa scrubs
Gina Kain is a wife and mother of 2 boys and she lives in Litchfield County, Connecticut.  She started creating various sugar scrubs for gifts, and for mother's groups that she is part of, and the feedback was always positive.  Now she is selling her special grapefruit scrub on Clara's Closet.  Most recently, her church has made the scrubs as a fundraiser for its Grace Place ministries.  Grace Place is a pregnancy resource & crisis pregnancy center, where Gina serves as a lay counselor.  Any woman enjoying a little bit of pampering will enjoy this rejuvenating, fragrant and skin-softening scrub.  This sugar scrub is made with all natural ingredients and comes in an attractive 8 oz glass jars.  They will last for several months stored at room temperature. Ask her about bulk discounts for your group or yourself.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clara's Closet Gives to Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Dear Friends and Crafters,
My grandmother, Clara Macco, namesake of Clara's Closet, was a truly original crafter! 
My mom and I are very excited to be getting up and running on Blogger as well as Etsy. We give a portion of our proceeds to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America in memory of Clara, my mom's mom (my grandmother). Here she is in the photo above. My mom and I look so much like her!

She was a lovely lady who held our family in stitches! Literally, she stitched animals and crafts as well as needlepoint that won honors. But she also made us all laugh. She truly was a unique and adorable lady. Towards the end of her life, her Alzheimer's got the best of her and she could no longer remember how to craft anything. It was probably the saddest part of her dementia for all of us who loved getting her homemade goodies as gifts and watching her create with her juicy Nonny fingers that seemed to have magic in them.

If you'd like to donate, go to Alzheimer's Foundation of America and visit our page. Or, you can set up a page for your own fundraiser for a loved one. It's really easy and just takes a few minutes.

Look for more crafting news and ideas next time. And thank you for reading.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Today's the Day! I am celebrating artists and crafters: AMY LILLEY of TEACUP TEDDIES

Pippa bear from

Hello all! Today is my first real blog at this address. I am going to use this blog to celebrate the wonderful crafters and artists out there who use their imaginations every day to create things of beauty.

One day it might be a soft animal, the next handbag or a piece of jewelry. I am a strong believer that artisans should help each other out. There have been so many times I've run into a crafter at a flea market or show and they're embarrassed to promote themselves. Artists need to all stick together as we mostly all love creating items, but hate the promo part. Myself included.
Seal from

So I thought it would be fun to cheer on other like minded creative people. If you are one, contact me and maybe you can be featured here too!

Today, I am spotlighting a wonderful crafter who I found on Etsy named Amy Lilley. She makes the most darling teddy bears and creatures who fit in teacups. They are fully jointed and so sweet. I had to buy her tiny puppy, as it stole my heart. She make her home in England and at the ripe old age of 22 she's already what I consider well on her way to being a highly sought after artisan. The type of animals she makes are reminders of a bygone time. So delightful! 

Amy Lilley of Teacup Teddies and Dolly
Find Amy at:

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter at:
Twitter: bLushingdove1

Here's her unique artist story:
My name is Amy Lilley and I can honestly say that I adore making all of the little creations that you will find in my shop. Creating them is always a fun and exciting experience that leaves me reminiscent of my childhood. It was here that my love for these creations began.

It was my mother who first introduced me to the jointed (artist's) bear. She owned a little lion (Leo) and a bear (Bruno), whom she had acquired during her childhood. They were both charmingly tatty and fragile. I looked on them with envy as I knew they were one childhood possession that my mother would not relinquish to my pleading. I settled for having them visit my bedside every time that I was unwell or scared at night: they both had excellent bedside manner.

Failing to inherit Leo and Bruno as I grew older, I sought after a little jointed companion of my own. They were annoyingly hard to come by! The completion of this search was anticipated on every beach side-holiday (as a result of my mother explaining that the 'quirky' shops by the seafront may sell them). I did make several purchases, but none were quite the same as the little lion and bear whom I loved. 

It was not until I discovered Etsy (at the age of 21), that I realised that these creatures were available to 'adopt'! They were called 'Artist's Bears,' and were handmade, OOAK (one of a kind) creations (most of which had little movable joints-the feature I loved best about Leo and Bruno).

I rang my mum and asked her to buy me a little jointed elephant from one Etsy shop as a Christmas gift. I was delighted that I could finally have a little jointed companion of my own! I began researching 'Teddy Bear art,' and started to make my own little bears and animals. I have always loved making things and I had loved these critters for so long that it seemed the perfect art-form for me to pursue. I have done so ever since.

Cheer Amy on at:
Twitter: bLushingdove1