Gratitude

Sunday, January 22, 2017

More Scots Highlanders

I continue to work on costumes inspired by the Outlander series. Last week's meet-up photos show Butterfly Narae in a new homespun gown while Idealian51 Cuba wears a shirt from the same pattern as SoulKid Yarn's. You might have noticed too that Yarn's new red wig has migrated onto Cuba's head and that Yarn is sporting a different wig altogether. I love red hair and, as luck would have it, I had a number of red wigs in my collection to choose from.
The shirt pattern is Dandy, designed for 19-inch Mortimer Mort by Tamara Casey for Designs by Jude. (The pattern also makes breeches, a waistcoat and coat.) Based on how Yarn's shirt came out, I knew I wanted some extra length in Cuba's shirt. I also wanted to remake the neckline. Instead of securing a gathering stitch around the neck to fit, I made a channel and ran a crochet thread through it. This thread functions as a drawstring, so the neckline is completely adjustable should a doll with a thinner neck wear it. Seeing as I planned to omit the lace at the cuffs from the start, I probably should have lengthened the sleeves just a bit. They look short, but perhaps that is only by comparison with Yarn's much longer lace sleeve ends.

The Irish feel of Narae's gown happened unintentionally. I chose the trim because its colors complemented the fabric, not realizing the green flowers could read as shamrocks. By the time I noticed, I couldn't remove the trim because of the difficulty in picking stitches out of the fabric's loose weave. I like the dress, however, so she's keeping it. Here's a full-length view:
Originally I had intended that FID Lawrence would join the group. I rejected that idea on the grounds that Lawrence is too dark to represent Jamie Fraser and that the FID head is too small next to the other dolls. The Idealian51 head, on the other hand, is perfect. Adding to his allure for this role is how hard it is to find premade clothing to fit him. Lacking much else to wear, he was simply begging for a kilt.
I learned from my mistakes on the kilt itself (poor Yarn was my guinea pig) and added darts to the flat panels before sewing the waistband. Even so, I had trouble choosing the best placement for snap sets. I wanted the kilt snug enough not to fall down but loose enough that I could tuck one end of the fly plaid into the waistband. At the moment I have the plaid tucked under the belt, which leaves the kilt a bit loose. Considering that a historically accurate plaid would be one large rectangular piece of fabric which the wearer would place on the ground, pleat by hand, lie down on and then roll into and gather with his belt, the end result would look even baggier than my version.
Looking for something to convert into a belt, I struck gold at Michaels (a craft store chain). I could tell at a glance that the leather strip was the perfect width to fit my belt buckle. I didn't consider its thickness until I came home and realized the paper punch that cuts through thin synthetics wouldn't work here. With no leather-working tools, I proceeded by trial and error until I finally punctured the belt by means of a hammer and a sharp nail, but the hole wouldn't stay open. None of my eyelets would accommodate the tongue of the buckle, so I forced a thick needle into the hole to hold it open until I was ready to fasten the belt. I dread the day I need to change his clothes. I may have to cut the belt off! In the meantime it looks good.
Because Yarn is wearing my only penannular brooch, I ordered two more online from a company that offered them in small, medium and large. Imagine my surprise when the two "smalls" arrived and I discovered each was larger than the doll's sporran! Somehow I had expected them to be the same size as Yarn's. Must be that one was a mini. It's also nearly 35 years old, so chances of finding another like it are slim to non-existent. After taking photos I replaced Cuba's brooch with a smaller one that looks vaguely Celtic. It will have to do.
As I've mentioned before, my Scottish outfits are not copies of costumes shown in the Outlander television series. They are merely inspired by the books and the series. I don't require historical accuracy in what I make. It's enough for me to achieve the feeling of an era--a modern impression rather than a period replica.

I still haven't quite figured out who's who related to the characters from Outlander aside from Cuba, who has the stature and the look of Jamie Fraser, and Narae, who is my Claire. Ideally Claire should be a little taller, but I don't have anyone else at the moment who can fit the bill. Yarn is problematic. He can't be young Ian, whose character would be better represented as a white Mohawk with facial tattoos. He can't be Fergus, either, because Fergus is actually French. Or maybe he could be Fergus, with dark brown hair, which would make Dollpire Roo his Marsali. With nearly black hair he could also be Roger; then Roo could be Brianna. Obviously this requires some more thought.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Vermont Doll Lovers Meeting, January 2017

Three members of the Vermont Doll Lovers group met yesterday for the first meeting of 2017: Lyrajean, Modern Wizard and myself. For a larger view of any of the photo-collages, click on the image.

Lyrajean brought her three Iplehouse EIDs: Asa, Bibiane and Bichun. She also brought her tinies: Volks Yo-SD Kira, Custom House Petite Ai Sariel and Uriel, Xagadoll Sylvia, Hujoo Freya, and her Spiritdoll cats, who were accompanied by their Sylvanian Family kittens. Her Star Wars cosplay Unoa Zest and Bimong Meronica battled with their new and improved light sabers.

Modern Wizard brought three dolls (left to right): a female elf made by fellow member DragonGems (aka Megan), a Soom Faery Legend Auber, and a custom Mattel Barbie head on a custom Spin Master Liv body. In the second photo they are joined by Lyrajean's Xagadoll Sylvia.

Finally, my dolls: I brought Iplehouse FID Miho and Lawrence, FairyLand PukiFee Sheep Story Rin, SoulDoll Soul Kid Yarn (minus the Winter Prince fullset), Bimong Butterfly Narae, and Soom Idealian51 Cuba Summer Monologue (romantic head).
With EID Bichun in the house, I thought it would be fun to show the EID and FID guys next to one another. It's funny, Lawrence doesn't look small until you see him with one of the big guys.
Now to think of which dolls I'll bring next month for the Valentine's Day meet-up...

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Highlander Outfit for Soul Kid Yarn

I'm posting Saturday night, instead of Sunday, because I plan to binge-watch the entire second season of Outlander tomorrow on the Starz channel. After missing most of the first season, I only started watching in earnest near the end of season two. It didn't take long before I was hooked. History, romance and time travel. What's not to love? I'm currently reading the original novels by Diana Gabaldon--I'm a few hundred pages into book six, with two more books to go--and sewing Scottish highland outfits for my dolls.
My first Outlander-inspired outfit came together during the Fall, made for my Dollpire Kid Roo (a Dollmore Kid head on a Dollmore Judith Girl body).  I planned to make a male version for Soul Kid Yarn, who at the time was on order but hadn't arrived.
Fast Forward to the beginning of Winter. After some fit issues with the kilt, I finally have Yarn finished. None of my wigs felt right for his character, so I ordered an Ello-Rose from Facets by Marcia. It arrived yesterday. It's much fuller than I expected. The photo on the Facets by Marcia website makes the wig look rather sparse compared to the burning red bush I received. When I tied it back my black ribbon all but disappeared in the mass of curls. In a way I'm glad that the wig gives the illusion of a bigger head. Yarn's head is one size smaller than Roo's, so it evens them out.
I couldn't help wondering how the outfit would look on FID Lawrence. Though he tried it on I didn't take photos, because just about every piece of the outfit needs to be longer or wider before it will fit. Let's just say I liked it well enough to want to make him a Scottish outfit of his own. Lawrence is both brawnier and more intense looking than Yarn, so his Highlander outfit will look more like something he could brawl in.
I've also started on a dress for Narae inspired by Claire's Scottish gown. Note that all of these costumes are "inspired by" rather than attempts to reproduce costumes from the show. I'm using the same pattern as for Roo's plaid gown, but making it in a small green-and-ecru check homespun. I had hoped to have enough of it finished to show tonight, but the homespun had other ideas. The stuff unravels easily, which makes it get smaller as I sew. Luckily Narae is small enough that it should still fit when I'm done. If not, well, it won't be the first time I restarted an outfit.
It took three sets of photos before I got what I needed for this post. In the first set I didn't have Yarn's proper wig. In the second set I had the wig, but didn't notice until I was editing photos that one of his flashes (a garter with a decorative flash of fabric on it) had worked its way above one stocking. Today's photos show fewer distractions. Unless you count the doll stands, that is, but these two absolutely refused to behave without them.
A few notes about the costume. The tartan fabric worn over the shoulder is a fly plaid. It should be longer. I was a wee bit stingy and didn't cut it large enough. It's held in place by a penannular brooch. I've had this one for years and found it was a good size for the plaid. I don't know what I'll do when I make a second outfit, because my only other small pieces of Celtic jewelry are a Welsh love spoon and a Book of Kells bird. Guess I'll have to buy another brooch.
The furry thing hanging from his belt is a sporran. Kilts don't have pockets, so basically the sporran is a purse for carrying a man's essentials. Ladies don't wear these. Usually the decoration on the front consists of two or three tassels. I didn't feel like trying to make tiny tassels, so I chose pre-strung beads and used five to make them more visible. The only things missing from the outfit are the sgian dubh and a kilt pin. The sgian dubh is a small knife that is usually tucked into the top of one stocking. I don't have anything that small, although I suppose I could try to make one. Likewise I don't have a tiny kilt pin, although I did improvise a pin for his jabot out of a straight pin with a silver ball head. If I find another one I'll stick it in the kilt. The shoes are wrong, of course, but I'm no gonna try making ghillie brogues!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! - First Dress of 2017

My first outfit of the year was supposed to be a kilt for Soul Kid Yarn. When I finished putting it together, however, it didn't fit him, no matter how hard I tugged or where I placed the snap sets. It was plenty big when I started. What went wrong? Close inspection showed me that at least one pleat had turned back on itself as I was sewing the waistband, making a lump at the waist. Also, I had tacked down the pleats a short way all around and now discovered that some of the tacks went through too many layers of fabric. So last night--after a neighbor's fireworks jolted me out of bed--I sat at my sewing table and picked the seams apart. I guess my first outfit of the year will be the kilt after all, as it's the first one I'm working on in 2017. Although seeing as I'm back to square one, you won't see it before next week.
That makes WithDoll Priscilla's dress the first finished outfit of the year. If you recall, Model Delf Annette claimed Priscilla's blue dress, which meant Priscilla needed something else to wear with her silver cloak and glittery shoes. It needed to be in keeping with her persona as a guardian spirit of the moon, so I selected a gray quilting cotton with a tiny print, along with a solid dark gray cotton gauze. The printed fabric would become a corset top with matching puffed sleeves (Gracefaerie's #21 Corset for MSD), which I intended to pair with a high-low skirt in the cotton gauze and a short underskirt of plain white cotton.
I had never made a high-low skirt before. I didn't have a pattern. I have made any number of full skirts from simple rectangles, however, so I deduced that a high-low was simply a plain skirt with part of the rectangle cut away. After folding and cutting a small piece of paper to make sure I was on the right track, I measured Priscilla for length and cut my fabric. Normally this is where you get my sob story about why the piece didn't work. Not this time. This time it worked! I didn't line the skirt. It might have looked better if I had but chances are it would have hung more stiffly. I didn't want stiff--I wanted fluid. There is enough stiffness from the tulle trim I added to both the underskirt and the high-low.
I changed her wig to a white Kana from Jpopdolls and added one of my old bracelets as a headband. It's nice to find a use for these bracelets after so many years. I never wore them much even when I was younger as I always hated to have something dangling from my wrist. They fit a size 6-7 head almost perfectly. This one does tend to slide down if I'm not careful. It fits better with a fuller wig.

Happy New Year to All!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Dolls' Christmas

After the elves brought the tree indoors last weekend, they returned to the forest to observe the Winter Solstice. While they were gone the other dolls took turns trimming the tree. First the Fairyland FeePle60s hung the red ribbon from the wall.
Only someone tall could do it.
Soom Idealian51, Soul Vito and Dollmore Zaoll Luv added the string of hanging lights.
The RaccoonDoll girls and Iplehouse FIDs paused for a photo, then went back to mixing the punch.
The Dollmore Kids and Judith girls hung the strand of golden bells.
SoulKid Yarn, the Bimong Naraes, and the Luts Model Delfs hung the yarn and bead garland that the smaller dolls had crafted, placing it low enough that the little ones would be sure to see it.
The Iplehouse JID boys, Fairyland Minifee and Unoa Quluts girls took a break from baking cookies and gathered for a group photo.
Next the children arrived: an Iplehouse KID and three BIDs, a Unoa Chibi, and three Little Fees. Little Shiwoo was heard to ask, "Is it time to sing now?"
Then, when no one was looking (except the photographer) the littlest ones took their places: a Doll Chateau Ada, two Aileen dragons, two WithDoll tinies, four Fairyland Realpukis and a Pukifee.
Finally came the moment they had all waited for--placing the star atop the tree. Although everyone looked and looked for it, no one could find it. Just when it seemed they would have to do without, the Iplehouse nYIDs came up with a sparkling substitute--a snowflake! Now if only it doesn't melt before Santa gets here.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours! May all your dolly dreams come true.
You can sing now, Little Shiwoo.
"Fa-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!"

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Elves Choose the Tree

With Christmas only a week away, the WithDoll elves, their Star and Moon spirit guardians and LumeDoll cousin went into the forest to choose a Christmas tree. They took a moment to pose with their selection. After they bring it in, other groups of dolls will take turns adding trims and decorations--and of course posing with the results.

In addition to posing everyone with the tree this week, I hope to make a new dress for WithDoll Priscilla. At Mia W's suggestion, I tried Priscilla's blue dress on Model Delf Annette. The dress is just as short on Annette as it is on Priscilla--although it looks longer with her shorter heel height--but because the bodice is loose on top and Annette has a larger bust, it fits Annette better.

Here's a close-up:

Unfortunately, yesterday's snow storm meant I couldn't get to this month's doll meet-up. If anyone is interested in seeing photos of the gathering, click on this link: http://vtdolllovers.blogspot.com/2016/12/vermont-doll-lovers-meetup-12172016.html#more

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Annette Gets a Face-Up

It's a good thing I don't make a living painting face-ups. This time of year I'm lucky if I get a few hours of sunshine a week, never mind temperatures above freezing so I can spray MSC outdoors without getting ice crystals on my face-up. Nor do I have the luxury of taking my time painting. If I don't finish a face-up the same day I start, it might be a full week before I get another chance. There were a few hours of sunshine one day last week. The temperature was just barely above freezing so I chanced it and painted Annette. There was no time for step-by-step photos. As it was I barely got her done before the sun sank behind some tall trees at the rear of the house. At least I can show you the before and after photos.

This is Annette before face-up.
This is Annette after face-up. Luts offered two makeup choices. This looks quite different from either of them.
While I was at it I changed her eyes. I didn't care for either her default eyes or the eyes I ordered as a replacement. Going through my eye stash, I did find a pair that look like my DollBakery small iris blue denim. I thought WithDoll Angela had these on but hers lean more towards aqua; I have no idea which eyes they are. Anyway, the blue denim eyes look great on Annette. (Oops. I need to lower one slightly--or raise the other.)
I also changed her outfit. This is the one I bought from Luts. I do like it, but it can be a pain to photograph. The black automatically triggers my camera's flash, which then has a tendency to wash out everything but the dress. I wonder what my neighbors thought as my window shades went up and down, up and down, as I tried to find a balance of light and dark for taking photos. The flash was less of a problem when I photographed her with Soul Kid Yarn and WithDoll Priscilla. I guess the other colors were enough to keep the camera happy.
I ordered the chaise during Tonner's Black Friday event. Originally there were three color combinations to choose from, but the one I wanted sold out before the event. Still, you can't argue with a bargain, even if the color is not what you wanted. The chaise was designed for Ellowyne Wilde. It's also supposed to accommodate Evangeline Ghastly. I have to wonder how Evangeline can recline on it--she's taller than Annette. The Luts outfit has an air of 19th Century French music hall and le cancan about it, so I thought it would be fun to pose Annette with Dollmore's Bitter Biscuit Zinna. All we need is Toulouse-Lautrec lurking in the background with his paints and easel.
One more photo from this shoot. I posed Annette with her head at the foot of the chaise and her hair trailing down to the floor. The black behind her shoulders is her skirt, which I pulled up so it wouldn't wrinkle when she sat on it.
For Musume: Here are Annette and WithDoll Angela. They're the same height but Annette has high heels on while Angela has boots.
Next Saturday is a doll meet-up day. We're supposed to bring doll foods for a holiday feast. I suspect my fake food is out of scale for the dolls I'm bringing, so maybe I'll bring a Christmas tree instead.