A Savonnerie Style Rug

open house miniatures needlework carpet lucinda pink - computer generated

Computer generated image to give idea of colours. 

Once upon a time… and it does seem a long time ago now – I wrote a blog post called To Sew or Not to Sew about a needlework carpet design that I had created from one of my printed carpet patterns.

Well, I did finish the carpet… eventually… and I thought that it looked very, very good and much nicer than the picture at the top of this blog post, but it is not a symmetrical pattern and it does take ages and ages and ages and ages and then some to embroider, so I filed it away in my (ahem) not very good filing system as something that needed thinking about and simplifying (a lot).

However, there seem to be a few brave souls out there who would actually like to try working one of these and have asked if I will share the pattern.

Now the problem that I have at the moment is that, due to circumstances beyond my control, my computer is in storage (if I start to tell you why it is in storage I will not stop and I suspect that you will become terribly bored because this is not a blog about leaky showers and electrical wiring, although I suspect I could be quite entertaining about wallpaper paste…)

Anyway, the end result is that I have a list of things of things that I promised I would do and now can’t do because of heaps of other things that I must now do first.

Having said that, this morning I conducted a dawn raid on my computer, grabbed some files and am now sitting in front of the computer of a kind and generous friend and about to type a brief list which I hope will be helpful.

  • This is not an easy carpet to work – for one thing the design is not symmetrical
  • A frame is, in my opinion, essential
  • I had to put in the central guidelines in coloured cotton (I removed these after completing the carpet although some people work over them)
  • I had to be very careful not to get huge lumps of thread at the back (there are a lot of colours in a small space)
  • It helped to think of the project as “painting with thread” and not just working a charted design – that way I didn’t get too worried if I put a stitch in not exactly the right place…
  • I think, in order to get a good result, it is essential to start from the middle and work outwards
  • I would recommend picking a bit that looks easy to you and try a small test patch first – see how your thread and canvas work together
  • Be kind to yourself, if you are new to needlework, try working the outside brown border and see how you get on.

Here are my colour charts – if you want to work a symmetrical carpet, work the central motif and then pick the corner that you like best and work that round the outside (I’m sorry, I can’t do reverse patterns at the moment).

And here are the black and white ones that I made. They drove me distracted – but you may prefer working with this sort of chart and it would make working the carpet in a different colour-way easier if you use these (I’m sorry, I can’t do a set of charts in different colours at the moment).

You will need to find your own colours. I used embroidery thread on 22 point canvas and I used a thinner thread than I usually do. Threads vary and you will need to experiment to find what suits you.

Here is a screen grab of the colours that the computer programme suggested, as you can see there is quite a subtle mix, but


The colour blocks that look as though they are the same colour, are the same colour – this is where I combined all the very close shades into one colour that I liked.

Making up the carpet – (this sort of carpet was not usually fringed)

I can thoroughly recommend Janet Granger’s online tutorial on how to hem a miniature carpet.

I use a slightly different method and ideally I would like to make a slideshow how I finish mine, but I’m sorry to say that it is another one of those things that I will have to put of my To Do List.

Speaking of which, next on the list is –

  • Full Bilderbuch for Maria in Argentina

Well, I grabbed the file for that this morning, so all I need now is paper and glue and a printer and some time and space…

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I don’t host any advertising on this weblog.

If you see adverts then they were put there by WordPress, who have to make money in order to maintain this blog site.

By paying WordPress a small yearly fee I could arrange for there to be no advertisements on this weblog. I am too mean / poor to do this.

Open House Miniatures - Victorian Advertising

I came across some advertisements at the back of a Victorian book of fairy stories and loved the fabulous use of different lettering.

There are eight (in miniature) on this pdf –


and they should each print at about 2 by 3 inches in size.

In the test run that I did, I printed them very quickly on thinish, poorish quality, A4 printer paper and was very pleased with the results (although, as usual, not with the photographs of the results !)

I realised how out of practice I was at working with a computer when I didn’t manage to get them lined up, or even the right way up on my first attempt. (I have been, and am still, busy, busy, busy, but that is a story for another time.)

Open House Miniatures - Victorian Advertising - misaligned

Here are a few more on a larger scale, so that you can resize them to suit yourself. (Click on the pictures to see them full size).

I hope that they will be useful and fun to use.

Open House Miniatures - Victorian advertising Open House Miniatures - Victorian advertising Open House Miniatures - Victorian advertising Open House Miniatures - Victorian advertising


I don’t host any advertising on this weblog.

If you see adverts then they were put there by WordPress, who have to make money in order to maintain this blog site.

By paying WordPress a small yearly fee I could arrange for there to be no advertisements on this weblog. I am too mean / poor to do this.

Nativity 2013

open house miniature christmas nativity 2013

I made these nativity sets last March and have been trying to get a “nice” photo of a finished one ever since.

So far the best I have come up with has been rather blurred…

open house miniature nativity set christmas 2013

The best that I can hope for, therefore, is that the combination of the above two photos will give some idea of the finished article…

The nativity started life as an old Christmas scrap

I have no idea who this will print - I suspect that although it is relatively large it is also poor quality

I have no idea how this will print –
I suspect that although it is relatively large
it is also poor quality

If you would like to make this miniature nativity for yourself, the pdf is here –


If you decide to print and make the nativity, please bear in mind that your computer / printer settings and the paper that you use will make difference to the results that you get.

A walk-through of how I made mine is here –

There are more things to make and do on the projects page and I am going to repeat here what I say there –

  • You may use the contents of the pdf for yourself – and if you would like to make 10 of something and try selling them please go ahead, but do think first of all the other people who will be doing exactly the same thing.
  • You may share these projects with your friends and family, and miniature club.
  • You may link to them from your website / blog / satellite station, if you have one
  • You may customise them.
  • You may use them / the design ideas, in whole, or in part, as for inspiration for making your own things.

You may not copy the pdf, or the contents of the pdf, in whole, or in part, and re-sell them.

This is my 101st post !

Happy New Year,!
I hope that 2014 will be a good year for you all.

Where was I ?

Our computer has been to the PC repair shop and I have been off-line for a while.

While I was waiting for my Spoonflower samples to arrive, I had been planning to write about Sue Bakker,  but thanks to the interruption I have rather lost the thread of of all that I wanted to say (no pun intended).

So what follows is shorter and briefer than I originally intended –

Sue Bakker needlework pattern in International Dolls House News 1977

I am very sorry to say that I only know Sue Bakker by reputation and not personally.

She is a founder member of The Guild of Miniature Needle Arts and some of her superb work can be seen on their website here – http://www.gmna.org.uk/people/SueBakker/Sue.html

She is also a member of The Miniature Needlework Society (International)

I know that her designs appear in various books, but I have never seen any of her charts offered for sale in kit form and I can only suggest that anyone interested in her work should contact her through one of these websites.

One of my friends, who knew how much I enjoy canvas work, gave me a copy of the International Dolls House News (Volume 26 No 11, October 31st 1997) containing one of her charted designs, and above is my attempt to do her work justice.

I think that it is a superb design and I found it was a great deal easier to work than its intricate appearance suggests.


Spot the Difference

Open House Miniatures - new look fireworks

From time to time the materials that I use to make something become unavailable.

A good, recent, example of this was the large box of Wilder’s Fireworks, shown in the photograph above.

I made both of these boxes of fireworks, and both boxes are marked / dated on the back.

The paper used to cover the box is different.

The paper used for the label is different and the printing method / printer used is different.

However, they look similar on the outside, and so does the arrangement of the fireworks.

Open House Miniatures - Firework box interior

The box on the right was made in 2006 and it has been played with.

The box on the left was finished this week and it is pristine and new.

The contents, and arrangement of the contents, have remained the same since 2006.

The box, and the arrangement of the fireworks inside it, vary slightly from box to box. This is because they are handmade and not mass-produced.

The new box is a fraction larger than the old box –

Just under 2  (5 cm) inches long

Just over 1 and 1/4 (3.3 cm)  inches wide

Just over 5/16th inch  (0.8 cm) deep

The box contains 13 fireworks, and these are fixed in place in the box.

I did not invent fireworks, or a box to put them in. However, I do make these particular boxes of fireworks and so I now have to add the following caveat –

All copyright, design rights and intellectual property rights existing in my design and products and in the images and text on this website are and will remain the property of Elizabeth Plain 2013.

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I was hoping to blog about Spoonflower’s fabric this week, but it (naturally) takes longer to make up a swatch pack than it does to print one sample piece and so I am still waiting for my swatch pack to arrive.

I still think that Spoonflower’s service is incredibly fast !

For the Record…

I wondered how long it would be before I found myself writing a blog post like this one.

Last week someone sent me a photograph of a theatre that was evidently based on one of mine.

I hadn’t made it and I sincerely hope that the person who owns it had not bought it because it had been sold as mine.

I have not asked for permission to reproduce their photograph here, which perhaps I should have done, however in an attempt to set the record straight…

Here is the prototype of one of my theatres – it is the one that had evidently been copied.

open house miniature - prototype for theatre

open house miniatures

I have been making this type of theatre for many years now and…

Elizabeth Plain theatre the dolls' house magazine november 2003 - issue number 66

This is from The Dolls’ House Magazine
November 2003

… because I make far too many different things, I keep sample and prototypes of everything so that I can match colours / size etc when / if I would like to re-make something after a while.

Over the years this theatre has undergone changes.

open house miniatures - theatre colour change

For example it was greener than it is now – that is due to a change in printer / paper / inks etc.

The curtain was originally ribbed silk – this was a piece of antique fabric and eventually I had none left, so I had to reinvent the curtain.

(Incidentally, the current curtain is not a copy of a toy theatre curtain.)

The look of the boxes, for storing character pieces and scenery, has changed too – this is because I like variety.

The first theatres that I made, which looked exactly like my prototype, were (and still are) only available through one London retailer, and they have never been available on-line.

However,  for this type of wooden theatre, I have sold on-line –

The Fairy Garden set

The Red Riding Hood set

The Cinderella Set

For the record, the Cinderella set, which has not been mentioned here or been available on Etsy, has scenery that looks like this –

open house miniatures

I like toy theatres and so I do make other types of theatre, and the characters and scenery to go with them.

However, this particular theatre is the one that has been most “visible” and widely available.

Dolls from the Marie France Beglan archives with an Elizabeth Plain theatre


Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower - Test Fabric

It is certainly possible to print onto fabric at home (See Bits and Pieces for an example) but it is not something that I would encourage anyone to do, unless they have a printer that can cope with fabric.

The printers that I buy are designed  to print letters and invoices etc, and they tend to jam if I ask them to print on anything much thicker than thin card.

This being so, I only attempt to print onto fabric when I know that my printer is about to expire and I am going to need a new one soon anyway.

There are other reasons for getting fabrics commercially printed. Here are some random examples –

  • Cost – believe it or not, given the price of ink, it is actually cheaper for me to go to a proper print shop and get my printing done there – and not have the bother of maintaining a very expensive piece of machinery.
  • Dust – fibres from fabric will inevitably get into the mechanism of the printer – even though I am scrupulous about No Loose Threads.
  • Size / quality of print
  • Guaranteed colour-fastness of a fabric print (Some people recommend using Bubble Jest Set – I haven’t tried this (yet) as I find that simply boiling cotton fabric works sufficiently well for me.)

However, generally speaking, I would say that getting a fabric commercially printed is a costly and time-consuming business – and very often you are expected to buy yards and yards of the finished product too.

Given all this, I have been eyeing up Spoonflower (rather skeptically) for a while and wondering if I could justify the time involved in preparing some files to their specifications.

In the end I had an “If Not Now When?” moment and uploaded a large design which I had ready. (This had not been tweaked to fit any of Spoonflower’s recommendations – which was very unfair of me.)

And the result was ?

  • I uploaded the design on a Friday and paid for a proof to be sent to me. ($6 in total for one sample)
  • My 8 inch x 8 inch proof was posted to me on the following Monday. (20.3 x 20.3 cm)
  • The proof arrived the following Tuesday. (I am in the UK and Spoonflower is in the US.)
  • I sat and looked at it and thought – This is pretty amazing. There must be something wrong with it.

But there isn’t.

The sample was folded when it arrived – and neatly creased along the folds.

So I washed it.

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower - Test Fabric washed

and ironed it on the reverse (I always iron printed fabrics on the reverse).

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower Test Fabric - Ironed

I had asked for a sample in the cheapest  fabric available and this is very fine and smooth (and slightly transparent).

It is also looks unbleached and is very slightly creamy in colour, and this does affect the colour of the print.

(The fabric on the left and the paper print on the right – again, this is an unfair comparison as I can only print in CMYK and Spoonflower prints in RGB).

Open House MIniatures - Spoonflower Test Print - colour comparison

I would say that, on this fabric,  the print quality is excellent, with very minimal colour bleed.

(The ruler is showing millimeters).

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower Test Print - minimal colour bleed

But what made me smile most was the one of the nicest compliment slips that I have seen for ages.

Open House Miniatures - Spoonflower fabric compliment slip

This fabric by Khandisha is here

And the thing that made me laugh when I saw it…?

(You will need to take a look at my previous post to understand why.)

Open House Miniatures - How big is this

I really must see if I can get some American coins, mustn’t I?

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In conclusion, am I planning to see if Spoonflower can handle some very small prints?

I am very tempted to, and if I do I will report back – with a sample book of the various materials available and a ruler !

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If you would like to visit my Spoonflower page in the meantime, it is here –