Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keeping One Step Ahead of Irene

I am writing a day earlier than usual.  Hurricane Irene is on its way and Resin Corner is in its path.  This part of the Northeast rarely gets hurricanes.  We also rarely get earthquakes, but last week we felt a wee tremble from the quake way down in Virginia and this week there was a smaller quake closer to home.  A hurricane no longer sounds altogether unlikely.

Heavy rains and high winds tend to bring down trees, which in turn bring down power lines.  No power = no computer access = no blog.  So, ready or not, tonight we blog!

Last week found me rushing to make an outfit for Kaye Wiggs Fair Elf Layla.  I need not have hurried.  The first half of the doll orders went out and I did not receive a shipping notice.  That means my Layla will arrive in the second wave, presumably in the coming week.  With the sense of urgency gone, I let myself slack off.  The outfit is not done.

Instead of sewing, I brought Elfdoll Sooah out of storage.  She is one of the dolls I put away when I listed my home for sale.  There is a theory that buyers do not like to see "collections" in the homes they view, and another that people find dolls to be creepy.  My realtor was kind enough to assure me that my dolls are not creepy.  At the same time he advised me to stow some of them out of sight.  After a year of very little activity on the real estate market, I have decided to let the listing expire (3 weeks to go!) and to rescue my dolls from exile.

One reason I brought out Sooah first was because I need new photographs of her.  I am planning a photo book featuring my dolls.  In reviewing the photos I had already taken, I realized that I did not have a good portrait of Sooah in her 1790 dress (Adams Harris Patterns).  This is an outfit that has not seen the light of day for two years.  Every once in a while it surfaces when I am looking for something else.  I look at it and think:  I really like this dress.  I should let Sooah wear it again.

So I took it out and ironed it.  As I dressed Sooah in the various pieces, I noticed things that could have been done better, like the apron ties.  Originally I used a variegated ribbon because it was the closest match to the off-white apron.  Unfortunately, the color transition from white to light tan made it look like I had scorched the ribbon with a too-hot iron.  I replaced the ribbon with snaps.  (I don't know why I didn't just sew the apron to the skirt.)  I also replaced the hook and loop closure on the skirt with a snap set.  It's neater and more secure.  I am still debating whether to sew ribbons to the inside of the skirt.  They would enable me to tie the overskirt up into a pouf as in the pattern illustration.  Maybe I'll do it later.  It's not essential to her portrait.

I was eager to see how Sooah would look in the brown updo from LeekeWorld.  I like how it looks with her darker eyebrows.  A few silk flowers for interest, and Sooah was ready for her close-up.

I should make another version of this dress -- one with longer lace on the sleeves and perhaps a wider skirt.  Hmm...  I seem to remember a length of cloth in Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.  Mardi Gras came and went and I never even started the dress.  Must have a look in my fabric stash.

Irene Update:  Sunday night.  I think Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a Tropical Storm before she got here.  Rained all day, heavy at times.  Some wind, although nothing like what was predicted.  Tomorrow will see flooded roads for sure.

Oh, and I finished the outfit for Layla today, but you'll have to wait for her arrival to see it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waiting Room for Kaye Wiggs' Layla Fair Elf

I can't believe I am waiting for my third Kaye Wiggs doll.  The first two (Millie and Lillie) were small -- roughly 27 cm high.  Layla is MSD size, 45 cm or 18 inches.  I told myself repeatedly that I wouldn't buy her, and I managed to hold off through most of her preorder period.  Then, just days before ordering ended, I caved in.  Try as I might, I couldn't resist her sweet face and elfin ears!  (The blue wig drew me in, too, but I had already purchased it.  Might as well get the doll, right?)

She was originally due to arrive in early- to mid-August.  The date was then pushed up to mid- to late-August.  For the last week or so, I have been haunting The Resin Cafe, the online forum devoted to Kaye Wiggs dolls.  And today I started seeing excited announcements from other buyers saying they had received their shipping notices.  So now I am haunting my email.  Still no announcement.  If the dolls ship in the order they were submitted, it's going to be a long wait.

In an effort to use my waiting time productively, I have been at work on an outfit for Layla.  There is every possibility that she will fit into some of the clothes I have made for other girls.  On the off chance that she doesn't, I am making her an outfit of her own. 

There is no shortage of patterns available for Kaye Wiggs 18-inch girls.  So far I have bought one by Gracefaerie. I plan to buy a few more of these, as well as several from MHD Designs, as soon as I make up my mind what sort of look I want for this doll.  For now I am making #50 Kaleidoscope, which was inspired by a Victorian illustration of a girl in a blouse and jumper.  There are pattern pieces for a dress, a petticoat and a turtleneck top, as well as the blouse and jumper.

It took me forever to decide on a fabric combination:  I had all sorts of colors and prints spread out on the floor to see how they looked together.  My ultimate choice was a pink-and-burgundy plaid homespun for the jumper, with a dark rose knit for the turtleneck top and stockings.  I chose a pale pink batiste for the jumper lining.  (Obviously, she won't be wearing the blue wig with these colors.)  Kaleidoscope does not include pattern pieces for the stockings.  I borrowed those from a different pattern, so I hope they fit.

For the two rows of buttons marching down the front of the jumper I selected tiny brass brads from the scrapbooking aisle of my local craft store.  They were certainly easier to attach than buttons.  All they required was to be pushed through the fabric (easy with a loose weave like homespun) and the two wings spread on the other side.  Thank goodness they came 100 to a package, because I broke 3 in my clumsy attempts to spread them.  I hope they stay in.  The jumper is fully lined, so once the hem is finished, there is no going back to fix an errant brad.

I had not planned to finish the hem with lace.  The pattern calls for finishing by serging or zigzag stitch, neither of which I particularly like for a hem.  Without having the doll on hand to check the length, I didn't want to make a traditional hem in case the jumper ends up being too short.  I did try it on Iplehouse Asa (small bust version) because I had read that they were similar in size.  It fit her so well that I think I will make her one of her own.

Hopefully Layla Fair Elf will arrive in time to try on the completed outfit later this week.  If not, Asa will model it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hazy's Joie de Vie

Today I finished the second Joie de Vie outfit (from a pattern by MHD Designs).  This one, as you saw in the Work in Progress post, is for Elfdoll Hazy.  I know I shouldn't play favorites, but I find I like the outfit better in this color combination than the first one I did for Elfdoll Soah.  It must be the peacock print.  I love birds.

Speaking of Soah, her standard head arrived last week.  This is the head I should have received with the doll instead of the smiling head.  She arrived with default faceup but no eyes.  I gave her a pair of 16 mm Souldoll eyes.  The smiling head can accommodate 14 mm eyes, because the smile causes the eyes to narrow slightly.  The standard head has rounder eyeholes, hence the larger mm eyes.  I also ordered some 16 mm Eyeco eyes from SafrinDoll so that we can try other colors.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't make a couple of changes to the pattern the second time around.  The first was relatively minor.  On the first outfit (peach color) I waited until after the skirt was attached to iron in the pleats, simply because the directions said nothing about doing it sooner.  This time I ironed the pleats before gathering the skirt and got a better result.  The pleats are evenly distributed and the skirt looks and hangs better.

The other change involved the headdress.  Because I wanted Hazy to wear the long black wig, I tried Soah's headdress on her to see how they worked together.  I had photos of Soah wearing that wig with the headdress, but Hazy has a smaller, narrower face than Soah, so there was no guarantee the fit would be the same.  As it turned out, I didn't like the way it looked and opted to make a hairband instead using the peach ruffle, some silk flowers and a piece of elastic to hold it on. 

My friend Julie wondered where Soah was going all dressed up like that.  It got me thinking.  Where would you (or a doll) wear an outfit like this?  It is too exotic for American street wear.  When I look at it I feel transported to the Far East, although I can't pinpoint exactly where.  China with a hint of India, perhaps?  Another century altogether?  I like the mystery of it.  The woman (or doll) who wears it is obviously mistress of her own style.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mini Meet-Up in Vermont

Earlier this Spring I joined Den of Angels, an online forum for ball jointed doll enthusiasts.  Since that time I have been looking forward to the chance to meet with fellow collectors in my area.  Today, finally, I got that chance.  It turned out to be a mini meet-up, as there were only two of us:  Modern Wizard and myself.  On DoA I go by the handle Vermont Chick

We met for lunch and dolly conversation at a Thai restaurant.  There were actually more than two of us, if you count the dolls we each brought.  Our poor bemused waiter took the extra bodies at the table in stride.  Good man.  I would have loved to take his picture with the dolls.

Afternoon at the gazebo.  My Byuri and Lillie tower
over little SoSo, but they are just over ten inches tall.
Deciding which dolls would have the honor of attending wasn't hard.  It had to be a doll that would fit into a padded bag for ease in transportation and protection against both bumps and sunshine.  The only padded bags I have at this time are for the little ones.  I decided to bring one doll that is On Topic at DoA (Iplehouse BID Byuri, who is both Asian and resin) and one that is Off Topic (KayezKidz Lillie tan elf).  DoA has a list of criteria for inclusion.  The major criteria are that the doll must be Asian and made of resin.  KayezKidz are resin, but their creator is Australian.  In my humble opinion, Australia is Pacific Rim and should count.  Unfortunately, no one is asking me.  The KazeKidz fan forum is the Resin Cafe, where my handle is ljvermont

"Did you see that?"
Modern Wizard brought a Fairyland RealPuki SoSo, who is so adorable in person that I know I am going to get one eventually.  The only question is when, because all the RealPuki are marked "Temporarily Sold Out" at Denver Doll.  Alas, this is just as well, because I am temporarily out of money. 

Isn't that the cutest little smile you ever saw?
This is RealPuki SoSo, from Fairyland.
aka "Noodge"
The other doll Modern Wizard brought is a hybrid made of a Jura elf head (I don't remember which company's sculpt this is) and a Shiny Doll Thaasa body.  The Thaasa body has an impressive range of motion and sits like a dream.  I know of no other BJD that can be lowered onto a chair and fall naturally into a perfectly beautiful pose.  (Hmm, I have two OasisDoll heads coming.  I wonder if the Shiny Doll resin might be a decent match for them?)

Sardonix becomes one with the butterfly.  I love how the
antennae appear to grow out of her head.
After lunch we walked across the parking lot to a gazebo for photos.  There were very few people around, so no one bothered us.  The dolls posed and we got some cute shots.  A short distance away we found a butterfly chair made of laser-cut steel.  Considering three of the four dolls were elves, it made the perfect prop.

"Stop complaining, 'Yuri.  Of course I know how to drive this thing.
You press this antenna to go left and that one to go right.
Or was it the other way around?"
I hope this was the first of many meet-ups, and that more Vermonters will join us in the future.  There is unquestionably strength in numbers.  Whereas I am shy of taking doll photos in public when I am alone, I have fewer qualms when I am with another person who is also taking doll photos.  After all, I would much rather hear passers-by comment, "Oh, look, a doll club," than whisper, "Look at that strange woman with dolls."

A moment in the sunshine -- but only a moment, because the sun
is not resin's friend.  Overexposure can turn resin yellow.
Next post -- maybe as soon as tomorrow -- I will have photos of Hazy's finished Joie de Vie outfit.  It's almost done.  I just need to attach the skirt to the bodice, sew the bodice buttons on and then make the headdress.  I'll have to photograph her with Soah, whose standard head arrived this week.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Work in Progress: Hazy's Joie de Vie

I promised Hazy her very own Joie de Vie outfit.  I always try to make good on promises -- it's just that they don't always happen as quickly as I've planned.

Joie de Vie takes a long time to cut out.  There are so many pattern pieces!  I tried to take a group photo of all the pieces, only to realize when I started putting the outfit together that several pattern pieces were hiding underneath the pants pieces.  So, the pattern contains all the pieces you see in the photo -- and then some.

With the exception of the completed ruffles (left), you are looking
at the underside (i.e., wrong side) of the fabric pieces.

As I mentioned last week, it's an easy pattern to sew despite all the pieces.  And making it a second time went faster because I knew what to do without relying so heavily on the illustrations.  Even though I didn't finish it, Hazy consented to model the parts that were done.  Without the long skirt on the coat dress, it is possible to see the harem pants.  When the outfit is completed, all you can see of the pants is the cuffs. 

Making the ruffles.  Not bad for a one-handed photo!
I really could have used a seond person to take the shot while
I guided the fabric.

If the fabric looks familiar, it's because I had enough of the peach floral left from Soah's outfit to utilize it in Hazy's outfit, too.  I wanted to line the coat dress in the leftover blue floral, but there wasn't enough of it.  I'll save that for a smaller doll.  The principal fabric in this version is black with blue peacocks, and I am lining it in a gray-and-black print that I last used to make a two-piece dress for Sooah.  The print doesn't show in any of these photos.  You should catch a glimpse of it lining the coat dress when the outfit is finished.

The coat dress will mostly cover the harem pants.

I am using the same bead buttons I used on Soah's outfit.  With the lesson of the first outfit fresh in my mind, I was able to avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered in matching bead size to button-loop size.  This time around I made my loops a bit narrower.  They both look better and work better with the beads, but were they ever hard to turn!  For a while there, it looked like I would have to start over and resize them.  I also made the loops shorter, and I am sewing the beads so that they stand up a bit more from the fabric.  It seems to be working.  The buttons on the pants cuffs don't appear to be popping out of the loops like Soah's do.

It's funny, the little things you don't notice when taking a photo.
I really must straighten the bows on Hazy's shoes!

As I was trying the upper bodice and sleeves on Hazy, I was reminded that Magalie Dawson drafted this pattern on a Sooah with fist hands.  It was all I could do to get the sleeve over Hazy's open hand without breaking a finger.  It slipped off easily enough, but I will have to switch Hazy's open hand for her other fist before we try the coat on again.  This is an easier proposition with Soah, whose hands are attached with magnets.  Hazy's hands are attached with metal hooks.  If I were making this outfit for a doll without a second pair of hands, I would have to remove the hands altogether in order to dress her.

Still to be sewn are the lower bodice sections, the coat skirt, and the headdress.  The headdress has long ties that must be turned.  I must also sew the ruffles onto the sleeves.  If you enlarge the photos, you may be able to see that the ruffles are merely pinned on.  I then have 12 more bead-buttons to attach.  I always face a new week with the best intentions.  I will spend some time each night working on the outfit and have it done by Saturday.  Dream on.  If I know me (and I do) I will spend each night in front of the computer screen, and scramble on Saturday to finish Hazy's outfit.  Sorry, Hazy.