Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Dancer and a Chair

This past week I got into a discussion on Den of Angels about Dollmore's Ballet Kid Pirouette Zinna. Looking for a photo that might answer the questions, I was surprised to find nothing more recent than snaps from the doll meet-up nearest Pirouette's arrival in July 2015. That's one of the hazards of buying a full-set doll for which no other outfits are available. As lovely as she is, once I've shown her there is nothing new or noteworthy to share unless I put her in a story, which I haven't done.

A day or two later I was pawing through a box of doll clothing, looking for something else, when I came across a ballet costume I had made for a Mini Supia years ago. I don't think I ever tried it on Pirouette. Would it fit? It did. I found a pair of white tights and the black ballet shoes I purchased from Dollmore. (Why do they sell toe shoes in other colors but no additional costumes?) At last, an excuse for photos. I'll let you enjoy them without further commentary.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Vermont Doll Lovers Easter Meet-Up 2017

Four of us met yesterday to celebrate Easter with themed props (peeps and bunnies predominating) and dolls. Every month we find a new art display on the walls of the meeting room. As luck would have it, all the art was clustered on the two walls we normally use, so we set up against a bare brick wall instead. While it gave the photos character, it played havoc with camera flashes. I corrected as much as I could in Photoshop. Next time I vote for setting up on one of the white walls, no matter how much art it holds.

No one wrote down doll's names. I should know what most of them are but my memory is a leaky cauldron. So unless I happen to know them offhand, they are described but not named. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

I'll start us off with my group, which included my four FairyLand FeePle60s: Mirwen, Lacrima, Siean (boy), and my new Cygne. Both Lacrima and Cygne are showing off new face-ups done this past week when the weather warmed up. Also in the group are PukiFee Rin and WithDolls Lucy (fox) and Laney (lamb).
Modern Wizard's dolls include her ice cream-loving vampire hybrid, a Soom Faery Legend sprite, and a girl (in hot pink wig) made by one of our members.
Lyrajean brought four Volks SD dolls, plus YoSD Kira.
Last but not least, Bittersweet Blue brought a group of dolls that included an SD size Obitsu, a FairyLand MiniFee tan Chloe, a couple of poseable Barbies, a tiny Hujoo Freya cat and four other small dolls. She also opened a bag of teeny tiny dragons. I've never seen dragons that small!
Next month's theme is Vices. I'm pretty sure I have nothing that fits the theme, so maybe my WithDoll elves will finally get a chance to get out of the house for a meet-up. Their vice? I don't know. Maybe good elves gone bad? I'll have to think about it.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Getting Ready for Swim Fun in the Summer Sun

Last summer my doll group devoted two meetings to a beach theme. Great idea, except none of my dolls had swimsuits. I kept meaning to make some but never got around to it. I figured this year I would get a head start, or the beach meet-up would come around and I'd be sitting there again with a tiny picnic basket and one or two dolls in shorts. Or else ignore the theme altogether, but that's no fun.

One of my crochet books (Ready Set Crochet by Susie Johns) has a pattern for a cute string bikini top. It's sized for humans, but adjusting it down to one-quarter size posed no problems. I especially like that it has a bit of shape to it, rather than consisting of two tiny triangles and a bit of string. The shape was surprisingly simple to make. You crochet an L-shape and then join the two short edges, beginning at the point where they meet. I tried the strings two ways. The violet bikini has a simple chain for the strings; the blue has a chain with one row of single crochet. The first looks sexier; the second is a bit sturdier and easier to tie.
My only complaint with the pattern is that there is no corresponding bottom. I was wondering what to do about it when I came across an example later in the book of increase and decrease triangles. Aha! I thought. That should work. Starting at the front waist, I decreased to the crotch, crocheted a narrow crotch and then began to increase for the back, all the while measuring against one of my Raccoon girls every couple of rows. Strictly speaking neither front nor back is a perfect triangle as I was aiming for coverage rather than mathematical symmetry. Maybe I'll try a slightly more daring treatment for the next one.
For accessories I turned to My Crochet Doll by Isabelle Kessedjian. I wanted a sun hat, a beach bag, and a towel or blanket. I used the rain hat pattern, measuring the piece on my doll's head after every round because I had no idea how big the finished hat would be. After round 6 or 7 I realized I needed to start decreasing and abandoned the pattern altogether. I decreased throughout the next 2 rounds to snug the hat around the head, then started increasing for a ruffled brim. To finish I wove blue yarn in and out of one of my decrease rows and tied it with a bow. I am absolutely thrilled with the result. Of course I'll have to make a few more; the girls are already fighting over who gets to wear it.
The beach bag looks okay, but I'll be the first to admit I got lost early on. I couldn't manage the adjustable loop and worked from a chain foundation ring instead. It's an accepted alternative--although I found it awkward to work in a small circle, especially when trying to determine which threads to pick up for my next stitch. Next time I'll try to master the adjustable loop to see if it makes the going easier. I'll need to make a couple more bags if I am to outfit a half-dozen girls for the beach.
No pattern was needed for the blanket. My only constraints were the amount of yarn I had in each color. I used a package of Lion Brand Bonbons containing eight tiny skeins of yarn in bright colors and worked five of them into a pattern of narrow stripes. I wish now I had left each skein attached when I changed colors. Not only would it have saved yarn but I wouldn't have had to weave in all the loose tails. As it was I barely made it to the end of my border before the orange yarn ran out.
The only thing keeping me from starting the next bikini now is yarn. Even though I have plenty of both colors left, it would be pretty boring to have six bikinis in the same two colors. My local store carries limited colors in this weight of Aunt Lydia's yarn so I had to place an order; with luck the yarn will turn up in the next few days and I can get working again.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

New Fashions for My BJDs

This week I highlight fashions recently purchased for various BJDs, along with the finished Opulent gown for Raccoon Monica and a crochet dress I made over the winter.

After posting last week I figured out how to finish the sleeve lining for the Designs by Jude Opulent gown. (Not sure of the period. It feels vaguely 18th Century to me.) I decided I disliked the row of silk flowers edging the overskirt, so I removed them and scattered them across the front of the overskirt instead, where I positioned them over printed flowers of the same color, along with some extra beads to cover same-color dots. I didn't extend the decorations to the back, figuring they would get crushed when the doll is seated.

After all that work I'm still not in love with the gown. I don't know if the problem is the print or the color combination, but the total effect gives me a circus clown feeling. It bugs me so much I didn't bother making the petticoat. What I'd really like is to find a blue and white toile for the overdress and a dark blue for the underskirt. I'll see what I can turn up at the fabric store.

Brianna, my FM60 Cygne, has a new Casual Summer skirt and vest set from DollHeart. I had been eyeing this set for some time, thinking the style would suit her perfectly. It's hard to get an exact fit for a Moe body. Volks size SD10/13 comes pretty close, although I did have to move the skirt's snap to fit her narrower waist. Also the vest/blouse shoulders have a tendency to ride up, but I haven't figured out what to do about it short of tugging the front down every so often. If the back looks ill fitting in some photos, that's where my doll stand grabs her. I can hide the waist gripper under the lace in front but not in back where the edges are sewn flat. The outfit includes lace underpants, a sort-of macramé looking shawl that DollHeart shows wrapped around the doll's hips, and a length of lace for use as a headband. (It didn't work with this wig.) The outfit is sold out at DollHeart; I found it at Fabric Friends and Dolls. I added the necklace, which consists of a tiny corset that was part of a set of Steampunk charms.
The next DollHeart set is not brand new, as my SoulDoll Vito has worn the shirt and vest for a while. It's actually meant for a size SD13 boy so I finally put it on Sheehan, my F60 Siean boy, for whom it is a perfect fit. The set is called Unknown Future and consists of black pants, a gray-and-black striped shirt, brown vest, long brown coat, white scarf and jabot, and a rather large black hat. I didn't photograph the full outfit because I was posing him with Cygne and felt his outer garments overwhelmed her airy skirt set, but here are the pants, shirt and vest. I should have photographed the back, too, because the shirt has some nice detail with a narrow black ribbon laced and tied into a bow. Oddly enough, DollHeart's photos don't show this detail.
Model Delf Annette scored the next outfit, Pianissimo from Sadol. This set was originally available for both SD and MSD girls. Much as I would have loved to have it for Cygne, too, it was sold out by the time I made up my mind to buy it. Sadol now has both sets marked "Available Soon" so Cygne may get hers after all. Annette's set came from Fabric Friends and Dolls. Pianissimo consists of a striped dress with matching panties, white stockings and a navy blue beret. The fabric colors differ for SD and MSD sizes. I do wish some of these companies would pay attention to the wording on the charms they use for decoration. I can live with "Love" on the dress and panties, but the ones on the beret and stockings say "Hand made". Seriously?
Finally, I present a little crochet dress I made for MiniFee. The seller from whom I bought MNF Lishe sent a darling pink crochet dress with her. I always wanted to make another like it, and after almost three years of studying it from every angle I finally attempted it. The top was fairly easy. I got it after only a couple of tries. Even though I could see how the shoulder straps were done, I purposely varied them. The skirt was not so easy. Not that I counted, but at a guess I got most of it done, then pulled it apart and began again five times. Okay, maybe six. Some people can knock off a little crochet dress in one afternoon. Mine took all winter. But the next one will be quicker. The only thing I didn't quite figure out was the scalloped ruffle, as you can tell by looking at it. On the pink dress it is three scallops high. Mine is one scallop high and way too ruffled. I couldn't find any instructions for multiple rows of scallops done the same way (and obviously misunderstood the instructions I did find). I'm still searching, however, and will make another dress if I find the answer. The first photo shows Lishe in the original pink dress; the second shows Mirwen in my variegated blue-aqua-violet version. I would have preferred to make mine in a solid color, but had only variegated colors on hand. I figured it would do for a first attempt.
I had hoped to show off my first ever crochet bikini, but the finished bottom ended up too loose. The top, however, came out great! I plan to remake the bottom part this week, probably as connected triangles rather than as a fitted, panty-style bottom. Unless I find a doll who can wear it as is. We'll see.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Opulent for Raccoon Monica

I'm trying a new pattern for my Raccoon girls: Opulent for 18-inch Kitty Collier, designed by Tamara Casey for Designs by Jude. Usually I use patterns for 17-inch Super Deluxe DeeAnna Denton. Neither doll's measurements are the same as Raccoon's, but both are close enough that they can be adapted with a few modifications. Kitty's bust is the same as DeeAnna's, her waist is one-eighth inch smaller, her hips are a full inch smaller. Because of the hips, only full-skirted fashions for Kitty Collier will fit Raccoon girls. Raccoon's height equals 17.5 inches. Designs by Jude makes the same patterns available for several size dolls, so I could have chosen Opulent for DeeAnna. I simply would have needed to lengthen the skirt.

The outfit consists of a full underskirt, a petticoat, and a fully-lined overdress. I made a muslin of the bodice and was pleased to see that it looked like it would fit without alteration. If I had bothered to line the muslin (that's not a step I normally do), I would have noticed that the extra thickness means the edges just barely meet in back. It's too late to cut the back pieces wider, but I think I can make it work with hooks and eyes. Laces would be better, or even just an extension panel to allow snaps. The dress isn't finished so I still have time to think about it.
Finished underskirt with unfinished bodice
By-and-large, the pattern is easy to follow, if you don't count the missing steps. I read the pattern instructions several times to make sure I didn't skip over them. Not there. Unfortunately they deal with finishing the bodice. What really annoys me is that I could have made the bodice up to that point with no instructions whatsoever, but once I joined the lining to the main fabric at the back and neckline as directed, I wasn't sure how to proceed with the rest. Should I leave the sleeve and side seams until ready to join bodice and skirt? Or should I do them now? Should I sew the sleeves and side seams of the main fabric and lining together as if they were a single thickness of fabric? I don't like that option as it leaves raw edges exposed that can snag and unravel, as well as catch on the doll's hands when I'm dressing her. If I do use that option, I have to hand finish all the raw edges because I don't have a serger. So I finished the fabric and lining separately, hoping to join the two at the cuff. Although this didn't quite work, I think I know where I went wrong. I'll give it another try before I join the overskirt to the bodice.
The pattern, unfinished overskirt, and some trims
I chose to make the gown in cotton in case I encountered problems that might ruin my fabric. It's a lovely fabric, just not what comes to mind when one hears the word opulent. I'll save my fancy fabrics for when I've worked out all the kinks. The cotton did give me some trouble, specifically when gathering it to fit the waistband. Thank goodness I ran two parallel threads for gathering, because one of them broke off as I pulled them through. Even so the fabric ended up wider than the waistband; I had to finish gathering it by hand.

Embellishing the gown was fun. I used a variety of materials: lace, trim, beads, ribbon, and silk flowers. I took the silk flowers apart, discarded all the plastic bits and then joined the flowers to beads to hold them onto the skirt. The underskirt and the skirt part of the overdress are done. I still want to add a few flowers to the bodice and the sleeves. I also need to join the bodice to its skirt, fix the lining, and sew the petticoat, and then I'll be done. That means a photo of the completed gown will have to wait until next week.
Notions for trimming overskirt

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Wandering Fashion Stash

I have a small stash of clothing left over from a former fashion doll collection. Every so often I come across it as I root around my basement storage looking for other things. I try to make note of where I saw it so I can find it again, only to search in vain the next time I want it. It's as though the box had legs capable of carrying it from one basement room to the other. I'd been on the hunt for it for well over a year without success--until it resurfaced a week ago, on a top shelf well out of my reach. Did I run upstairs for the step-ladder? You bet I did. And glad I did so.

The box contained clothing items for Tonner men and women, as well as for Franklin Mint character dolls. I found a jacket for Tonner men that looks like it will fit Model Delf Avalanche. I didn't want to take off his Highland garb so he didn't try it on. (SoulKid Yarn has been rehomed so Avalanche inherited the Scottish outfit Yarn had been wearing.) I also found a Tonner tuxedo jacket. How and when did that get separated from the shirt and pants?
Monica wearing Emme
I never had many fashions for Tonner's Tyler, probably because I bought dressed dolls and didn't change their clothes. The one outfit I have--Shakespeare in the Park--is too small for anyone currently on hand. I won't get rid of it because you never know when a future doll may come along who finds it a perfect fit. There was an outfit for Tonner's plus-size model Emme, which almost fits Raccoon girls. I'm debating whether or not to alter it. Not only is it loose on top, but when the doll is seated the high-low gown readily reveals whether or not she is wearing underpants. The shoes fit (if you like flimsy plastic shoes).
Vinyl Princess Diana fashions
Most of the stash consisted of extra outfits for Franklin Mint dolls: Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, and Laurel Empress of the Elves. I can thank a flooded basement in a previous home for the fact that I still have my Diana dolls. The flood damaged the boxes of both a porcelain Diana and the vinyl fashion Diana, so I never felt I could sell them. (The dolls themselves were on display in my bedroom and came to no harm.) That's good news for my WithDoll girls, who are now enjoying Diana's gowns. The gowns are a better fit on Priscilla, who has a large bust. They tend to engulf Emma's smaller chest. I also have Diana's wedding gown, as well as the pale blue suit that came with the doll. Although the jewelry fits WithDoll girls, I found that Diana's tiara suits Raccoon Gene's smaller head better, while the large necklace that came with Gene's pink gown works better on Priscilla, so they switched jewelry. The Franklin Mint clutch handbags are so small they look like wallets. Shoes don't work at all.
I can't see any of my WithDolls wearing Marilyn's gaudy red gown. Fortunately, the Marilyn Monroe doll is one that didn't sell--too many of them available at any one time--so I have the option of exchanging outfits. The boxed doll is wearing a cute pink and black gown that should look sweet on Priscilla or one of the elves. I don't know about the Lucille Ball I Love Lucy outfit. It's from the episode where Lucy and Vivian are on the candy-making assembly line. It would work as a waitress uniform if I ever want to pose dolls in a diner-like setting.
Ruby wearing Laurel
The final outfit available to me was one belonging to Laurel Empress of the Elves. Laurel was a beautiful doll resembling Arwen from Lord of the Rings, but because The Franklin Mint didn't have a licensing agreement for LotR they gave her another name. The outfit consists of a long green sleeveless tunic worn over a white blouse and brown trousers. Everything fits my WithDoll elves except the boots, but the tunic is a little too tight to wear over the pants. I suppose Angela could wear the blouse and trousers while Ruby wears the tunic together with the leggings and arm warmers I made for her. For now, Ruby is wearing the leggings with the blouse and tunic (above).
Laurel's tunic with my leggings & arm warmers
I have a small number of vinyl dolls left, some that did not sell, others I didn't want to part with or for whom I have no boxes. I'm beginning to see these less as a storage liability and more as an untapped source of extra fashions. I've already mentioned the possibility of switching Marilyn's two gowns. There is an Elizabeth Taylor doll with a gorgeous white ballgown. I also have a couple of Mel Odom dolls (Gene and Madra) whose outfits may fit MiniFee. I know MiniFee can wear Madra's coat.

As for Tonner's Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), I think I'll keep him just as he is.

And before I forget, here is Raccoon Monica in the unruly Iplehouse wig after I tamed it with a hot water soak. The "before" photo follows it.
The taming of the wig
I've given it another soak since the "after" photo was taken and it's looking even better. I think the trick is not to blow it dry, because the dryer seemed to add curl rather than straighten the hair. I thought it would do the opposite.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

FID Claude and Raccoon Temptation Monica

Yesterday was bitterly cold, with leftover ice and snow from the day before, so I skipped the March doll meet-up. Not to worry, though. If I don't have meet-up photos, I do have photos of two new dolls to share.

The first arrival was Iplehouse FID Claude. His SID version was the first big Iplehouse doll I fell in love with, early in the Elemental Guardians series. No way could I resist that sweet face with its quirky little smile. I eventually sold SID Claude for the same reason I sold my other big Iplehouse dolls: too heavy, too hard to manipulate, impossible for me to restring. Not to mention how much display space they occupy. Then along came FID Claude. Under 50cm tall but with all the detail of the bigger version. In other words, perfect. Even so I almost didn't order him, put off by a face-up that made him look too boyish for the mini Hercules body. (For the record, FID is a slimmer HID, not a miniaturized SID.) Fortunately the B-type makeup not only looked more masculine, but resembled the makeup I wish I had requested with my original Claude, so I ordered him. How could I not?
Claude arrived a week ago yesterday, having spent a mere two days in transit. I tore into the box before the delivery man even left my driveway. FID Claude did not disappoint, although the wig I ordered did. At least it wasn't intended for him, but for Raccoon Monica, who was in transit at the time. More about the wig later. I didn't order clothing this time, just brown boots for my JID boys to free up their black boots for the FID men. A word of caution about JID shoes and boots: the boots fit FID men, the shoes don't. Boots are always a bit longer than shoes, and male FID feet need that extra length.
I gave Claude the wig I had intended for Leonard. It's odd, to me Leonard's face looks slimmer than Claude's, but whereas the wig seemed skimpy on Leonard it fits Claude just fine. The wig is James from Facets by Marcia. Most of her wigs are by Monique, but she also carries a few styles identified only as being from a Custom Manufacturer. Inside the wig is a tag that reads JF Styler.
The shirt I meant to put on him was badly wrinkled after Lawrence wore it. I did eventually iron it but for now, in a hurry to take photos while I still had good light, I dressed him in pants and shoes and got to work. Even half dressed he gamely played up to the camera.
Raccoon's Temptation Monica in Sweet Mocha resin arrived Monday. You'll remember that the first Monica I received was the wrong color. I sent her back, not minding the extra 3 or 4 weeks it would take to re-make her if waiting meant I'd get the color I wanted. Finally the shipping notice came. I had tracked her progress and knew when she was out for delivery, so I started to panic when it looked like the mail carrier wasn't going to stop. Maybe he saw me in the window or else he happened to remember he had a package, but he backed the truck to the end of the driveway and walked up. Thank goodness!
So here's where Iple's miserable wig comes in. I wish I knew how they tamed it for their photos. I couldn't make it look presentable no matter how I brushed it or tried to pin it back. It sticks out all over the place, totally uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Not only that, but sections of the first row of the cap look like there is no hair attached. It's also extremely tight on a Raccoon girl, whose head is slightly smaller than an FID woman's. That's the second FID wig I've purchased from them--both were unwearable. Their construction reminds me of the cheap wigs I bought early in my BJD collecting days. It's not the quality one expects or normally gets from Iplehouse wigs. The first photo below shows the wig on Monica. The Iplehouse wig is on the left in the second photo with a For My Doll wig on the right. She's wearing the For My Doll wig in the other photos.
Back to Monica. The Sweet Mocha is such a lovely skin color, dark but still light enough to show every detail. I had already decided that she would wear a dress I made from a Designs by Jude pattern for DeeAnna Denton called Hollywood Ahoy! I had ordered Raccoon's pink evening gown with her in mind, but Gene claimed it when I returned Dark Mocha Monica. Gene has informed me that she will not relinquish her gown, especially now that I've finally found the small stash of clothing from my old Tonner and Franklin Mint fashion dolls. (I've been looking for it for well over a year.) None of the clothes fit Raccoon or FID women but the jewelry works, so with the pink gown Gene now wears a tiara and necklace originally belonging to vinyl Princess Diana. The dresses, surprisingly, fit my WithDoll girls.
I had trouble photographing Monica and Claude together. My camera takes its reading from her and Claude ends up washed out. Granted he is pale to begin with; even so I'll need to pair him with Normal Skin girls. With a darker girl, distance shots work better than close-ups.
Monica photographed better with FID Lawrence. Iplehouse Real Skin is slightly warmer in tone than Raccoon's Sweet Mocha but the colors are otherwise closely related. They work well together.
I now find myself in the unusual position of having no dolls on order. That's not to say there are no dolls on my want list, only that any new orders will have to wait until a doll sells or my tax refund arrives.