Sunday, May 29, 2011

When Restringing Goes Wrong: SoulKid Linn

I don't know what it is about SoulDoll bodies.  I have three SoulKid girls and one SoulDouble boy.  All have extremely tight elastic.  I can't believe it's all in the engineering, because each doll has a different style body.  I'd sure like to see the muscles on the guy (it has to be a guy) who strings these dolls together, because it takes real strength to stretch elastic so taut.

As I discussed in an earlier post, I bought Linn with SoulKid's old general body.  Last year I acquired SoulKid Ahee with SoulDoll's new double jointed body.  Each head looked like it belonged on the other body, so I switched them.

Linn finally had a body that matched her more mature face.  Still, it wasn't ideal.  The double jointed body's elastic was so tight that she couldn't turn her head without bringing up her arms and twisting her torso.  I decided to restring her.

Not pictured:  a small S-hook that held the arm elastic, neck elastic,
and two leg elastics inside the chest cavity.  The two short elastic
loops each stretched all the way from the chest to the feet.

On many dolls, an S-hook in the head holds all the elastic in place.  The SoulKids have a resin knob that extends from the neck into the head.  It is connected to the main stringing via its own piece of elastic.  This elastic was so taut that I couldn't shift the knob to see how far down it was knotted.  Later in the process, when I could finally reach it with a pair of scissors, I cut this piece of elastic.

I tried to pry her torso apart to locate the knot.  No joy there either.  I released the arm elastic by unhooking a hand.  If it didn't solve my problem entirely, at least it freed the interior body cavity to allow me some visibility and maneuverability.  It now looked like I would have to unhook a foot and let the elastic spring back into the doll.  It didn't bother me that doing so would loosen everything.  That was precisely the point.  I meant to restring her with a new, longer elastic.

The foot design threw me for a loop.  Where I expected a simple metal rod and small S-hook, I found a resin cap with elastic passing through it.  I could only raise the cap enough to see that there was no S-hook.  Instead, the elastic was looped around a resin hook that was part of the foot.  All I had to do was slip the elastic off the hook.

On the left: broken resin hook; on the right: its unbroken mate.

That's when the resin hook snapped.  Broke off completely.  Linn and her now useless body went into a box to wait for me to figure out what to do next.

Super Glue?  Given the amount of stress that small piece of resin has to withstand, I'm not sure that Super Glue is the answer.  I might try it, if only out of curiosity.  It can't damage the foot any more than it is already.

I went to SoulDoll's website and logged in to use the Question and Answer page.  After briefly explaining what had happened, I asked them flat out if it was possible to obtain replacement feet.  They said yes.  The cost of the feet was $18.  All they needed to know was my country, so they could calculate the shipping costs.  I told them.  In fact, I told them three times, and have yet to receive a reply.  That was a month ago.  My request is now buried fifteen pages back in the queue.  At this rate, by the time I get replacement feet (if I ever get replacement feet) I won't remember how to string the body back together.

Meanwhile, I've missed Linn.  She is one of my earliest BJDs -- not the first ordered, but the first to arrive -- and she holds a special place in my heart. 

I looked around at the other dolls, some more recent acquisitions and some less loved.  Could any of them supply a body for Linn's head?  After some trial and error, I found a match in Planetdoll Emma.  The body is very close in size and color to Linn's original body and her head fits.  It did take some muscle to remove Emma's head from her body.  (This was the doll whose faceup I did with her body in a plastic bag, because I couldn't get her head off.)   I just about destroyed the S-hook in my attempt to remove it.  As luck would have it, I needed a larger S-hook anyway to attach Linn's head, to compensate for the resin knob's absence.

So Linn has a new body, but Emma's head has none.  If truth be told, I wasn't in love with Emma.  There was something off about her proportions.  I realized when I saw her next to my other girls that her head was quite a bit larger by comparison.  It made her look more childlike, but more importantly, she didn't fit in with the others.  If by chance I should change my mnd, Planetdoll does sell bodies separately, so I could make her whole again.  The question is:  Do I want to?

Linn's new dress is adapted from Gracefaerie's #30 Play Day.  I
combined the dress bodice, sleeves and ruffle with the pinafore skirt.
Her wig is Pretty Girl in brown-black/blonde from Monique Gold.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Twing-key, Tiny Fairy Jasmine and the Pink Dress

I fell in love with Dream of Doll's Twing-key in the cute little pink outfit (sort of a futuristic nurse's getup) and blonde wig shown on the website.  Wouldn't you know, DoD sent her to me with the same wig, but in black.  Undeterred, I decided to make her a pink dress anyway.  Not a copy of the outfit on the website -- I don't have an adaptable pattern and I am not a pattern maker.  Besides, that outfit requires white boots and I don't have those in her size.  But I have a cute pattern for an MSD dress and so I cut it out and started sewing.

A tedious length of pleating.  I wouldn't begin to attempt this with
anything other than a striped fabric.  You are looking at the reverse
side of the skirt.  I first made the collar with the pearl buttons, as
seen here, then removed the buttons and substituted daisies.

If this pattern looks familiar, it's because I have already made it for Iplehouse BID Erzulie (my little Julie).  It is the Joyful Pattern from Atelier Momoni, presented in the December 2006 Haute Doll.  The pattern was available in sizes for both MSD and Yo-SD.

The first time I made this dress, I lined the collar and sandwiched the lace between the two layers.  This time I decided to follow the pattern more closely, although I still put my own spin on it.  I substituted two repeats of the trim's daisy motif for the pearl buttons.  Then I chose a wider lace for the collar and bottom of the dress.  I especially like it on the collar, where it covers the shoulders, suggesting sleeves.

The pattern includes directions for the hair bow and stockings.
Shoes and wig by Blue Fairy.
When I tried the bodice on Twing-key (I'm calling her Twinkie) it looked like it was going to be a loose fit, but a fit nevertheless.  So I'm darned if I can figure why the finished dress came out so big.  I decided to try it on Jasmine for comparison.  They are roughly the same size, with the exception of the bust.  Twinkie has DoD's girl figure, while my Jasmine has Blue Fairy's full blossom figure.  (Tiny Fairies come in three figure types:  immature, blossom, or full blossom.)  The bosom made a small difference in fit, just enough for me to declare that the pink dress would be Jasmine's.

Big Girl and Little Girl versionf of Joyful Pattern.
Jasmine and Julie (BID Erzulie)

In order to stem Twinkie's disappointment, I let her try on Jasmine's In Powder and Crinoline outfit.  I was surprised to discover that it fits Twinkie better than it does Jasmine.  That suggests to me that the original pattern was drafted on a BF immature girl figure.  While I was at it, I let Twinkie borrow Jasmine's curly ivory wig, her white socks and white shoes.  Lucky for them that they wear the same size and that I added an extra wig and shoes to my original doll order, because DoD always seems to be out of stock on shoes to fit their Dream of Child (MSD) dolls.

Jasmine (left) and Twinkie (right).
I still need a cute little dress for Twinkie.  I've looked through my patterns and don't see anything that moves me.  It may be time to go online and do a little pattern shopping.

In the meantime, I have cut another dress out of a combination of blue printed fabrics.  I won't even pretend to know who is going to end up wearing it.  Previous versions went to U-noa and Narae.  When the time comes, I'll just let the girls stampede the dressing room and try it on for size.

In Powder and Crinoline, as worn by Dream of
Doll Twing-key (Twinkie)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sewing for Chibi Roron

Poor Roron -- I tried to make her a dress from a pattern in Dollybird, a Japanese magazine.  Need I mention that I don't read a word of Japanese?  The pattern pieces were clearly drawn, however, and the instructions did include some recognizable measurements and a few English words such as:  "smocking" and "How to make".  How hard could it be?

Pattern pieces cut out and partially assembled for the smocked
dress (without any smocking).

The photo on the left shows what the dress looks like with
smocking.  Adorable -- I want to try it sometime. 
Despite the photo tutorial in the preceding pages, I was not about to attempt smocking for the first time without clear instructions in English.  I decided to make the dress with a plain front this time.  I quickly realized that I would need to lengthen the front bodice to make up for omitting the smocking.  The skirt posed a problem.  Its pattern piece was not wide enough for even half a skirt.  It lacked the symbol showing that the piece is to be placed on a fold.  Some patterns show a break in a pattern piece if it is to be made wider than drawn.   There was nothing like that here.  Not knowing what else to make of it, I guess-timated a total width of slightly more than twice the width of the piece.  Comparing the finished dress with the prototype in the magazine, it could have been wider still.

Lilin (left) is wearing her "cool" face.  Her mohair wig
is from Beachgirlnikita.  Roron's wig is Elle from Jpopdolls.
When I was done, I was left with an unused pattern piece that I could not identify.  Presumably it is the piece to be smocked, although it seems small for that purpose.  I don't see how it would fit after smocking.  There were two other pattern pieces that I did not use:  the neck facing (I lined the bodice instead) and the socks (Roron's shoes are not roomy enough for socks).

Roron's dress with the jumper from Adams-Harris Company's
Standing There pattern.  Fabric designed by Mary Englebreit.
While Roron waited for her dress, I put her into a dress made for Little Fees.  It was too snug and didn't snap in back, but I could see where Little Fee patterns could easily be adapted for U-noa Chibi.  Not Lilin, because of her large bust, but definitely Roron, who is flat-chested.  This experiment reminded me of the jumper and blouse-bloomer combination that turned out too big for my Little Fees.  Would they fit Roron?  The blouse-bloomer needs about one-quarter inch added to the length of the bodice.  The jumper fit -- after a fashion.  It looks like an apron.  In a different fabric it could pass as a corset with a full peplum.  Just for fun, because the jumper was made in a companion fabric to Roron's dress, I tried them together.  They look like they were made for each other.

Roron and Lilin have changed into their default U-noa mohair
wigs.  Roron is wearing her "pout" face.  No doubt she wishes
the bluebird would sit in her hand, too.
This issue of Dollybird (vol. #15) also contains two patterns for U-noa Quluts girls:  a fully lined cheongsam (I hope I'm spelling that right) and a totally amazing outfit from Honey Meryl consisting of an overdress embellished with tatting lace, inset lace, and pintucks set on the diagonal to form a vee, paired with a plain underdress.  Its wow factor is so over the top -- I'm almost afraid to attempt it.  If I do, I will substitute venise lace for the tatting.  So much easier and just as pretty.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Putting Chibi Roron Together

I had huge plans for this weekend:  do several faceups, put Roron together, and make a dress so that Roron would be presentable for her grand entrance.  The dress is not quite there but the rest is done.  Two out of three's not bad.

I started with the faceups.  Along with Roron's default faceplate, I had ordered the Punska face option (or Punsuka, depending on which side of the enclosed card you happen to read).  Think of it simply as the Pout.  Also, in an earlier order I picked up the Lilin Osumashi face option.  I've seen this translated as the Cool face.  Roron has a Cool face, too.  I'll buy that one later. 

The faceplates left and center still have a thin layer of resin
inside the eyes and mouth.  This must be removed before
painting.  I use a craft knife.  Likewise, two of the three
mouthpieces above have small projecting pieces of resin
that must be removed before they will fit properly
inside the mouth.  They can be snapped off with pliers.

This time I tried my softer Sennelier pastels, instead of the Holbein set I generally use.  I was able to load my brush with color simply by brushing the side of the pastel stick.  Where I would usually blend the colors with a foam applicator, I stayed with the brush and employed a kneaded eraser to lift excess color.  I made less use of the watercolor pencils, reserving them for the eyeliner and lower lashes.  At the very end I added a few strokes of watercolor pencil to the eyebrows to pick out details.

On the other hand, do not snap off the projections at the top of
each faceplate, as these are necessary to hold the faceplate onto
the head.  These three (Cool Lilin, Default Roron, and Pouting
Roron) have their first layer of pastel.

I was tempted to sand down the sculpted eyebrows and try my hand at painting them freehand.  I'm glad I didn't.  One of the faceplates had fainter eyebrows than the others.  I had a devil of a time trying to make the two brows come out even.  I figure if Gentaro Araki has done me the favor of showing me where to put the eyebrows and what shape they should be, who am I to say I can do a better job?

Nearly there.  All that is missing is eyeliner and lashes.  The
faceplate in the upper left is the Sist Bully face, before I
dabbed eyeliner where it didn't belong.

While I was at it, I repainted the Sist Bully face.  I don't know what it is about that one, but I am never satisfied with the results.  I'm not sure I like it this time, either.  Sist is such a cute doll -- it's hard to make the snarl work.  This time my brush slipped as I tried to paint the eyeliner.  Instead of watercolor pencil blended with a wet brush, I used acrylic paint.  She ended up with a black spot on her eyelid and it is proving very hard to get off.  No doubt I will eventually wipe her clean and start over.  For the fourth or maybe fifth time -- I've lost count.

The shorter of the two lengths of elastic is for the arms.  To ensure
that I have the same length for each arm, I pull the same amount
out in each direction, then clamp one with a hemostat to keep it
from slipping through to the other side while I string the pieces.

Chibi are assembled in pretty much the same way as U-noa Quluts, with the exception of the head.  Other dolls bury their elastic inside the body.  On the Chibi, the elastic comes out through the head and wraps around it in grooves hollowed out for the purpose.  The wig then conceals the elastic.

The leg elastic goes up through the neck and into the head.
Many owners sand their dolls for aesthetic reasons, to conceal the seam lines left when the resin body parts are removed from the molds.  I confess to utter laziness in that department.  The same with body blushing.  If it won't show under clothing, why do it?  I'd rather save my energy for something that I can see.  That said, I really should give my girls manicures, because the hands do show and a little nail varish goes a long way toward polishing off a look. 

The leg elastic is shown wrapped around the head following the
grooves.  Lift the top elastic slightly to hook on the faceplate, then
reposition it to hold the faceplate snug against the head.
Speaking of hands, I have acquired several extra pairs, both from Noppin and on eBay.  For Chibi I have the Gu hands.  (Gu are fists.)  Then for the Quluts girls (Lusis and Sist) I have Tsunagi hands and Yubisasi/Yubisashi hands.  The Tsunagi are clasped; if you put one each on two different dolls, they can hold hands.  The Yubisasi set includes one flat hand and one with a pointing index finger.  Obviously, if one is to mix and match, all have to have the same manicure and nail color.

Here is another projecting bit of resin that you must not remove. 
Can you see it at the top of the leg on the left?  This piece fits into
a corresponding notch in the buttocks and allows the Chibi to sit.
(See photo below.) The wire dangling from the elastic is used to
 pull the elastic through the limbs.

When I first saw Roron on the U-noa website, I was puzzled as to his/her gender.  There is a unisex look to this doll that could go either way.  I have decided to portray Roron as a girl, but if I ever change my mind, there is a little boy part that can be glued in place to effect the transformation.  Again, the lazy part of me says, "Why bother?  It won't show.  Just dress her as a boy."  As the only clothing patterns I have found for U-noa Chibi are feminine, Roron won't be turning into a boy anytime soon.

I gave my girls Safrin eyes this time.  From left to right the
colors are Safari (a pale green), Pale Lilac, and Melon (a
bluish green).  The piece in the upper left that looks like
binoculars is the eyepiece.  It fits inside the head and holds
the eyes in place with a bit of tape or putty.  It can be used
only with eyes that have a narrow stem.  I prefer to affix
 the eyes using putty alone.  That allows me to use
 half-round eyes such as Safrindoll makes.
I'd better get back to that dress...  Then there are Lusis and Sist sleep faces that need painting.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Triple Happiness: Two Deliveries and a New Dress for Erzulie

What a week -- and weekend!  First, I managed to sew a cute little dress for Julie (aka Iplehouse BID Erzulie).  The pattern appeared in Haute Doll, December 2006.  Called Joyful Pattern, by Lola Palacios of Atelier Momoni, it is offered in both MSD and YoSD sizes. 

My first collar, top left.  Somehow the wrong side of the
pintucks ended up on the outside!  Below it is the fabric
I pleated and then cut out to the shape of the collar.

As usual, I ran into problems right off the bat.  It was my own fault.  In my haste, I did some of the steps out of order, like making the pleats on the skirt before adding the lace edging.  Dumb.  The pattern includes lining pieces but the directions do not address them, and I forgot how to put a dress and lining together until after I had done it wrong.  I ripped it out and started over.  My first two collars were a disaster, until I remembered a trick for making pintucks.  Instead of trying to make the tucks on the tiny piece of collar fabric, I made them on a larger rectangle of the same fabric, then centered the pattern piece on top and cut around it.

The lace is pinned to the right side of the pintucked collar.
The bottom layer (above it) will be placed over the lace.
When I sew around the outside edge and then turn the piece
right side out, the pintucks will be on top, the plain layer
on the bottom, and the lace will stick out between them.
(Trust me, it works.)

The pattern's author gathers her lace on top of the collar.  I might try that next time.  For this dress I simply layered the lace between the pintucked outer collar and its plain bottom layer.

The pattern includes stockings, which the author labels tights.  If they are tights, there are no directions for sewing the panty part.  At any rate, the stockings were too wide for Erzulie.  I cut them down until they fit, but in the end they did not work because her shoes are a very close fit.  As it happens, both of her wigs have little bows already attached, so I did not make the hair bow also included in the pattern.

This wig is from Iplehouse.  The color is red wine.
While I was laboring over the dress, an airplane left Japan with my U-noa Chibi Roron at the same time as another plane left Korea bearing my Dream of Doll Twing-key.  The dolls were ordered two months apart -- who would have guessed that they would make their journeys simultaneously?  Both planes arrived at New York's JFK Airport within minutes of one another.  One doll made it onto a plane to Vermont the same day; the other must have missed the flight, because she arrived a day later.

Chibi Roron needs to be assembled and painted, so all I can show you for now is the box.  I had hoped to put her together this weekend but didn't manage to get to it.  Lilin will have to wait a while longer for her companion.

U-noa Chibi Roron, lovingly packaged by Noppin for her overseas journey.
Bits and pieces.  Trust me, they do add up to a doll!
I ordered an extra faceplate -- the pouting one in the foreground.

Twing-key has been on my want list for a long time.  She would have joined the dolls at Resin Corner long ago if not for all the must-haves that debuted in the interim.  Even before I put in my order, I knew that I would name her Twinkie.  That's probably what Dream of Doll meant to call her, except that they spelled it the way they heard it. 

She arrived with a black wig and green acrylic eyes, instead of the blonde wig and pink eyes she's shown wearing on the website.  I like the color combination of black and green, but the eyes were 16 mm, which left no white showing around the iris.  I prefer to see some white along with the color, so I went through my 14 mm eyes to see what might suit.  I installed several different colors to see which I liked best, finally selecting the eyes you see in the photos.  They are powder blue, from Safrindoll.

Although similar, this is not the wig that came with Twing-key.
It is actually a wig called That Girl, by Goodreau for the
American BJD.
Several years ago, when an online doll shop was going out of business, I bought a red kimono for MSD sized girls.  Year after year, I tried it on each new girl who entered the house, without finding that elusive perfect fit.  I confess I did not try it on Blue Fairy Tiny Fairy Jasmine.  She is about the same size as Twinkie, so it will probably fit her.  But for now, it belongs to Twinkie.  I should have ironed it before taking photos.  It has been folded for so long that its creases may be permanent, especially on the skirt.  The skirt was not originally part of the outfit.  I felt there needed to be something under the kimono to compensate for the lack of overlap between the front and back panels.  There is a matching hair bow that goes with the outfit.  I have yet to figure out how to make it stay put, as it slides off the doll's hair before I can even tie the ribbons that are supposed to hold it on.

The outfit also came with the white socks.
Twinkie came with an extra pair of hands (not photographed here).  One has a pointing index finger, as seen in her photos on the DoD website.  The other seems to be making the "Phone me" gesture.  Put them together and I guess she is saying, "You.  Phone me."

Also this week, thanks to the intervention of a reader of this blog, Balljointedwoman was accepted to membership in the online forum Den of Angels, where she will be posting as vermont chick.  See you there! 

I suppose that makes this a week of quadruple happiness.