A Tilda Doll Goes Gardening with Kanzashi Flowers – Heart UpCycling!

A Tilda Doll Goes Gardening - with Kanzashi flowers!

I have been wanting to create a range of Tilda dolls with hobbies for some time, so I was doubly pleased to receive a custom order for a doll with a passion for gardening.

It is always a real challenge creating a custom order doll.  It is never possible to match a doll exactly, but with a little care and patience, you can strive to get as close as you can.

Debbie Dalston's Dreamy Donation Gardening Tilda Custom Order
Custom Order Request - A Gardening Tilda Doll

Up to now, my Tilda dolls have all been made to the same pattern – although each has her own personality and individual style.  You can find some of my previous dolls and instructions on how to make them here.

It was great to have the opportunity to branch out a bit for this project and create a different sort of doll.  I think dolls with hobbies make really lovely presents.  They can sum up and express all that you admire in the receiver. 

Gardening is  one of my own passions, so this doll was an absolute pleasure to create.


Kanzashi Flowers Gardening Tilda Doll

With custom orders, the details are all important.  If you look closely, you will see that this doll is wearing little trowels in her ears.

I was delighted to be able to source these on EBay.  If you search for Tibetan Silver Charms, you will find numerous suppliers and they are really good value for such tiny and intricate little pieces of jewellery.  I think they finish her off perfectly?

I have invested in a few more of these, so if you are looking for an extra special Christmas present for someone you love with a passion for their hobby, contact me and request a custom order.

The little coloured pencils you can see in the top of her smart apron were made from matchsticks, shaved into a point and coloured with water colour crayons to look just like real pencils.  

The twigs would have been easier enough to find in my garden, but I was worried they might look a bit tatty and would fall out of the apron pocket too easily.

I have a small supply of paper roses bought from a Miniature craft fair at the NEC many year ago.  They are helpfully fixed onto wire stems, so winding three together and folding them around her little gardening fork meant they should stay nicely in place in her apron pocket.  They look a good bit prettier than the twigs too?

A Tilda Doll goes Gardening with Kanzashi Flowers
A Tilda Doll goes Gardening with Kanzashi Flowers

How to Make Kanzashi Flowers

I wanted to get as close as I could to the original doll, but this project called for something extra special.  I could see the piece of cloth in her apron pocket, but I really wanted to make something a bit nicer than that.  

I bought a little Clover Kanzashi Flower Maker a few months ago and had never got around to using it. This was finally the day to try my hand at making a Kanzashi flower.

I was really impressed by just how easy this cheap little tool worked and it is just great for using up small pieces of fabric too.  They are easy to buy online and there are a variety of flower sizes and shapes to tempt you.   

How to Make Kanzashi Flowers
Kanzashi Flower
Clover Kanzashi Flower Maker
Clover Kanzashi Flower Maker - Back
Clover Kanzashi Flower Maker - Back

What are Kanzashi Flowers?

Kanzashi flowers are traditionally used as decorative Japanese hair ornaments.  As with so many things in the intriguing world of Japan, there are strict rules about the manner and pattern in which they are worn.  If you are “in the know”, you can immediately tell a Geisha girl’s status by close observation of her Kanzashi flowers.

Folded flower kanzashis can be made of a wide range of materials including wood, gold, and silver.  Changes in fabric and colour indicate observance of special and  seasonal celebrations.

For my gardening Tilda though, the Kanzashi flower has no special meaning.  For her, it is just a bit of fun!

How to make a Kanzashi Flower - Step by Step

Making a Kanzashi flower is really easy:

  1. Cut a small scrap of fabric into a square a little larger than your flower maker.
  2. Find the straight grain and bias line of your chosen fabric,  (See my earlier post for how to do this).  The bias line is the really stretchy one – the straight grain pulls tight when you stretch the fabric.
  3. Place your open flower maker on the right side of your fabric with the centre lined up along the bias line.
  4. Fold the tool shut and snap it into place.
  5. Thread a needle with a fairly long piece of cotton and double knot the end.
  6. Sew around the edge, following the directions of the numbers on the tool.
  7. Cut away the excess fabric.
  8. Remove the tool and simply draw up the thread to create your first petal.
  9. Using the same thread, continue to make a second petal in just the same way.  When you remove the tool and draw up the fabric, the second petal will sit nicely alongside the first and your Kanzashi flower will begin to form.
  10. You will need five petals in total to make a flower.  You can add an additional petal or two if you are feeling flamboyant?!
  11. Sure the thread to hold all the petals in place and finish off with a flower centre using an embellishment of your choice.
  12. Your pretty flower is all done – ready to decorate all your sewing projects.  Easy peasy lemon squeezey!
Kanzashi Flower fabric remnant roll
Kanzashi Flower - donated fabric remnant roll

I am often given odd shaped pieces of fabric as donations – like this roll of pretty cream flowery cotton.  It is a long narrow strip which is difficult to use for most projects, but it is perfect for making Kanzashi flowers.

Lightweight fabrics work best with the lightweight plastic tool.


Kanzashi Flower
Kanzashi Flower

Join a Kanzashi Flower Making Workshop

If you fancy joining me in a workshop to make your own Kanzashi flower, then please contact me and – if there is enough interest –  I’ll see what can be arranged.

Have fun, make new friends and support a good cause (Birmingham St. Mary’s Hospice).  What’s not to like?!

Tips and Tricks

I always like to include a few tips and tricks in each post so that a  library of what I hope will be useful resources for crafters will gradually build up.  Today’s tips cover how to gather fabric with a sewing machine and working with leather. 

How to Gather Using a Sewing Machine

I used the new technique for gathering to make the three skirts for my latest Tilda doll.

See my previous post  – How to Gather Using a Sewing Machine – for how to do this.

It really speeded up the process of making the skirts which I have found a bit tricky with previous projects.

Working with Leather

This Tilda doll is a gardener – so dainty ballet shoe style shoes just weren’t going to be the right footwear for her.  She needed a tough pair of boots.

Luckily, I had a scrap of soft sage green leather felt in my donations stash which was just right for this doll.

Gardening Tilda Green Leather Boots

I used a simple paper pattern to cut a couple of pieces of leather the right size for her feet with an overlap at the top.

Special leather needles were required to sew up the back of the boots.  A short stitch length of 2 was used to keep the seam nice and tight.

A sharp pointed leather awl was used to make three holes on each side of the boot opening.

The most difficult part was actually turning the boots inside out.  The sewing was the easy bit here!

I keep all sorts of bits and pieces in the hope that they will be useful for sewing projects one day.  I found a fine leather cord that once held a label on a large jar of chutney I once bought from a Farmer’s Market in my trimmings box and threaded that through the holes to lace up her boots in style.  I only just had enough to complete the job.  Heart Up-Cycling!

Gardening Tilda Leather Awl
Leather Awl
Gardening Tilda Boot Pattern
Boot Pattern
Leather Needles
Leather Needles
Gardening Tilda Green Leather
Green Leather OffCut Remnant

Heart UpCycling!

Heart Upcycling Logo

You may remember that I was lucky enough to receive a bumper donation of fabric from my friend Debbie recently.  The beautiful rose cotton lawn and the green felt were perfect for this doll.  Sometimes, things are just meant to be?!

Debbie Dalston's Dreamy Donation Green Felt
Debbie Dalston's Dreamy Donation Rose Cotton Lawn

The little wooden heart buttons were also donated.  I still have four left for future projects.  Heart shaped buttons are particularly useful – I am always very happy when I get those donated!

Off she goes up to Inverness

A Tilda Doll Goes Gardening

My Gardening Tilda is on her way to Inverness now.  I wonder what her garden will be like?  Probably full of golden autumn colour at this time of year …?

Maybe she’ll need a woolly hat rather than a scarf all the way up there?!

Happiness is a Satisfied Customer

“Such a professional service – friendly, timely and excellent communication to clarify all aspects of my doll order.
The doll is absolutely beautifully made with such incredible detail.  I’m beyond delighted. Even my husband is just so impressed with the quality and he’s usually oblivious to this sort of thing.  It arrived also beautifully packaged .

Margot is extremely talented and I’m very lucky that I choose her to make it.  Completely confident in recommending Margot to any of my friends and family.”

Would you like a Doll made especially for you?

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