Saturday, April 23, 2011

Emma's Loss is Asa's Gain

I was going to entitle this "Le Malheur d'Un Fait le Bonheur de l'Autre" except (a) my spelling stinks and (b) only a few people surfing my site would stop and read.  It means One Person's Loss is Another's Gain.  More particularly, it means that I set out to make an outfit for Planetdoll Emma and turned it into a dress for Iplehouse Asa instead.

It started when I picked up a cute pattern from Raw Kiss called Flower Girl:  a sleeveless dress, overskirt, shrug, stockings and hat.  The ensemble was shown on a Planetdoll, so I figured it would be perfect for Emma, who has not had anything new since she arrived.  I went through my stash and assembled my fabrics.  I cut out and started to sew.  Immediately I had a question that the instructions did not address:  What size is the seam allowance?  It looked like a quarter inch.  I did not entirely trust my measurements because I purchased the pattern as a PDF, and I always have trouble printing PDFs to the proper scale. 

I crossed my fingers and forged ahead.  The pattern did not call for lining the bodice but I lined it anyway.  Anytime I am dealing with a collarless, sleeveless dress or top, I get better results if I line the garment.  So far so good.  I assembeld the dress skirt.  Ten inches wide seemed awfully narrow.  I wish I had made it a little wider.  When I put it together with the finished bodice, there was almost no need to gather the skirt, because it was about the same width as the bodice.  Something not right somewhere.  I removed my basting stitches and put the skirt aside.

Next I did something I should have done sooner:  I tried the bodice on Emma.  It seemed a bit large.  I needn't have skimped on my seam allowances after all.  Out of curiosity, because Iplehouse Girls are wider across the back and shoulders than my other MSDs, I tried the bodice on Asa.  Very nice!  It could have used darts in front, but as I had already lined the bodice I decided to gather the bottom edge instead.

The skirt was easy.  I used fabric left over from a kimono I made for Elfdoll Hazy.  As the Flower Girl dress skirt barely went over Asa's hips, I cut out a skirt 15 inches wide, plus a little extra for seams.  Then, to dress it up a little, I cut a ruffle twice that width.  Finally, for embellishment, I tied two pieces of ribbon into a half-bow reminiscent of the bow on a Korean hanbok.  A new Iplehouse wig (new to Asa, seeing as Tania has already worn it), her brown boots, and Asa has a brand new look.  She also has new Eyeco eyes.  I found the very pale blue to be a little spooky and opted for a blue-gray instead.  They make her look less intense.

Now that I know she needs a little less bodice and a little more skirt, I will remake the dress for Planetdoll Emma.  But she will have to wait until I have finished a Yo-SD dress that I am hoping will fit Erzulie.  If it doesn't, there's always Bambicrony Toto, or Little Fees Ante and Lishe, all of whom are clamoring for new clothes.  It never ends!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Waiting for U-noa Chibi Roron

It was inevitable.  The moment I ordered U-noa Chibi Lilin, I knew that at some point I would have to have her companion Roron.  Not to buy Roron would be to leave Lilin alone of her kind.  She doesn't complain.  Lilin is not that kind of girl.  But sometimes her sweet little smile is a little ragged around the edges and a wistful look comes into her eyes.  I know what she is thinking:  "There is no one else here who is my size."

Size matters:  Oasis Doll Natalie on the left.  Right, from back to front:
U-Noa Quluts Sist, U-noa Chibi Lilin, Kaye Wiggs Millie, and Puki Fee Zoe
It's true.  Chibi Lilin is the only 35 cm. doll at Resin Corner.  The U-noa Quluts girls are nice to her, but sometimes I fear they don't take her seriously.  And she is too tall (and too mature) to hang out with the babies and tinies.  What's a girl to do?

Sizes:  back row 42 cm, 35 cm; front row 29 cm, and 15 cm.
I started thinking about Roron again after seeing one on offer at ebay.  The doll was assembled and painted; I believe it included an extra faceplate, as well as a jaw-dropping asking price.  Not for me at that price!  It was time to pay a visit to Noppin, the U-noa annex website of Crescent Trading in Japan. 

Crescent Trading is a service that makes Japanese goods available to overseas buyers.  There is a fee for their part of the transaction, but it is a small price to pay for the opportunity to buy dolls whose maker is disinclined to bother with international sales.  There are two ways to obtain a doll through Noppin:  by lottery and by purchase.  I never win anything, so for me the idea of a lottery is a don't-even-go-there proposition.  Dolls for purchase, on the other hand, are first-come-first-served until the stock runs out.  It's a good idea to have a currency converter open as you shop, to reassure you that 45,500 Japanese Yen is not as mind-boggling an amount as it looks.

Sist ditched her high heels so she wouldn't appear
disproportionately taller than Lilin.
I had not ordered from Noppin since the annex opened.  Would my Crescent Trading login and password still work?  It turned out they didn't; I had to re-register with Noppin.  The website was easy to use, although the Japanese language PayPal site threw me for a loop.  Eventually I got an English translation.  Whew!

Roron was far from inexpensive, considering the doll comes as an unassembled, unpainted kit.  I ordered an extra faceplate while I was at it, because I could do so without incurring additional shipping costs.  I'll have to assemble and paint her myself, but that is a project I enjoy.  The savings over buying the completed doll on ebay are considerable.  Any time you see a brand-new, artist-painted doll on ebay, you can be sure that the asking price reflects a healthy return on investment for the seller.  On the other hand, if money is no object and the doll is painted in a way that you find irresistable, go for it!

While the tights are a little roomy on Lilin, Narae couldn't get them
up past her thighs. (See Note below.)
My confirmation from Noppin said that the doll would be requested from Alchemic Labo and should ship in about two weeks or so.  That's a far cry from the usual two months spent waiting for a completed doll from other doll makers.  I am still waiting for a Dream of Doll Twing-key that I ordered in February.

Meanwhile, Lilin is keeping the Garden bench warm for Roron's arrival.

A note about Lilin's outfit:  This was to be an outfit for Narae, from a pattern called Cute and Colourful by Martha Boers.  I printed the pattern from a PDF, not noticing that it did not print to scale.  Even after enlarging the pattern on the photocopier, I found that the tube top, arm warmers and tights were too small for Narae.  Enter Lilin, the recipient of garments that don't fit anyone else.  I altered the tube top to fit Lilin's curves, then didn't want to hide it under a dress bodice, so the dress became a skirt.  I still need to shorten the arm warmers and I should square off the toes on the tights to take up the extra fabric there.  Lilin didn't want to wait for all that, so she appears here in the outfit as it is at this time.

Now if we could just find a pair of shoes that fit over the tights...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

IpleHouse BID Erzulie in Real Skin Resin

IpleHouse has really got me going with their Baby IpleHouse Dolls.  They are all so adorable, it's all I can do to keep from buying every single one of them.  (As soon as I can muster up the funds, I plan to buy Elin and Nami.)

Erzulie was shown on the website in ebony resin, which looked absolutely perfect for her.  I was all set to buy her, then I read the disclaimer that IpleHouse runs at the bottom of the page for each of their dark resin dolls, to the effect that dust and marbeling can occur in the resin.  They do not consider this an imperfection, therefore no returns are accepted.  I don't know about you, but when I am spending big bucks on a BJD, I want her (or him) to be as perfect as can be.  Erzulie was also offered in tan and in real skin.  I already have Asa in real skin, as well as Byuri.  The color is rich and warm and -- well -- real.  So that's what I ordered.

Until now, my IpleHouse purchases have arrived almost two months to the day after they were ordered.  Erzulie took about two weeks longer.  I suspect they had more orders for the darker resins and so they made those first.  My girl arrived late last week and let me say from the outset that I have no regrets whatsoever.  What a cutie!  She came with cobalt eyes instead of the green eyes shown on the prototype.  I was hoping for green but the blue are very nice and I can always change them later.  We tried some wigs.  For now she is wearing a new wig from Leeke World.  The color is Eve Cream, the size is 6-6.5, and the fit is perfect.  Her blue shoes are from IpleHouse.

It's a good thing I didn't sew in advance of her arrival.  I got quite a surprise when we sat down to try things on.  The outfits that I have made from patterns for Little Fee or for Millie are too small.  This little lady has a chubby torso and thin legs set close together.  I have an Adams-Harris Pattern for Custom House Ange Ai called Standing There.  I made it for Little Fee, only to discover that the bodice/bloomer that goes under the jumper is too big.  It almost fit Erzulie, except that there was too much fabric between her legs in the bloomer and I couldn't quite close the snaps on the bodice. 

The outfit that did fit was one I adapted from a pattern called A Flutter of Fall by Maryanne Oldenburg, which appeared in the October 2009 issue of Doll Crafter and Costuming.  I had made it for Little Fee Ante in a cute fairy print, only to find that it was way too much dress.  Instead of picking it apart and making it smaller, I started over with a different fabric for Ante.  All I had to do to adjust it for Erzulie was to move the snaps closer to the edge of the bodice.

Not long ago I picked up a dress pattern for a ten-inch doll from Yesterday's Children.  I haven't tried it yet, but the doll pictured on the front looks chubby and, apart from the sleeve cuffs, the dress is loose-fitting.  It might work.  I will certainly give it a try.

As I don't know what the name "Erzulie" means, I'm not as likely to remember it as a name I know.  So this little girl is going to go by the name Julie.  My friend Julie suggested it, and I am very happy to comply.  Thanks Julie!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

IpleHouse Tania's New Dress

Tania has been moping around the house lately, eyeing with barely concealed envy her sisters' new dresses.  Who can blame her?  The most recent outfit I made for her is a sundress.  Fine in summer, but somewhat uncomfortable when April showers are snow showers.

So I pulled out my box of patterns.  Selected Annabella from Adams-Harris Patterns.  It is a pattern for SD girls, but I had reduced it on the photocopier and had yet to try it on a smaller doll.  I looked through fabrics to see what might suit.  I had a lot left over from the Sweet Jane pattern that I made for Hazy.  Not only is it a gorgeous Japanese print -- the color was perfect with her red boots.

Because I had not made this outfit for Tania before, I made a trial bodice in another fabric.  It fit, insofar as I could tell without lining it.  The skirt has several tiers, along with belt loops that sit at the hip, so there was no telling how tight it would become when everything was assembled.  A more seasoned seamstress might have completed the entire outfit in test mode, but I tend to work intuitively.  If it feels right, I plunge ahead.

I had already made the body shirt for Asa, so I knew that would fit.  In fact, it fit under Tania's sundress, but she wasn't satisfied.  Said it felt plain compared to the other girls' outfits.  Now, Tania is a girl who could never look plain, even wearing an old sack.  Nevertheless, I humored her and piled on the lace and trims.

Anyone who is following my sewing misadventures has probably guessed by now that I encountered a problem or two along the way.  Annabella was easy enough to sew in SD size.  In MSD size, parts of it were too small for the machine and so I ended up doing a lot of hand sewing.  The shoulder straps refused to go in the right direction; I nearly shredded the bodice lining trying to reposition them.  Then, I sewed two of the skirt tiers wrong side out.  How did that happen?  It's not like I never made anything from this pattern before -- I've made three other versions of this outfit already!
Despite the outfit's shortcomings, Tania was proud to stand alongside her IpleHouse sisters for a group photo.  If she looks a wee bit shorter, it's because she is posing without the aid of a doll stand. 

I made a discovery while dressing her.  A previous owner wired her legs.  She is still strung with elastic, but there are wires running through the same channels.  I have never wired a doll myself -- I wasn't sure how to do it.  From what I can see without taking her apart, the wire goes all the way up into her torso.  I wouldn't be surprised if the same wire went up one leg and down the other.  This modification is intended to enable a doll to hold a pose.  It does make her sturdier when standing.  Finally I understand why she has always resisted any efforts to straighten her legs all the way.