Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quartz's Jeans Are Finally Done!

It took me long enough:  three weeks to turn out a single pair of jeans.  Of course, I didn't work on them every day.  More like one afternoon on the first weekend, then both afternoons of a weekend two weeks later.  It's not that I lacked motivation, only that other things got in the way.

I got them done despite my usual problems with the pattern.  This one had a single long waistband piece accompanied by instructions to sew the two short waistband sections together.  Huh?  I don't know if I sewed the fly correctly, especially as it connects to the waist.  At times when I felt lost, I went to my closet to look at a pair of my own jeans, just to see how they were put together.  That's not the first time I had to resort to that strategy.

And the fabric!  I hate using fray check because it leaves the fabric stiff.  The alternative is to serge, keeping in mind that I have no serger and must do it by hand.  Or I can use a machine zigzag stitch, which doesn't really prevent fraying because I never get the stiches close enough to the edge.  Not to mention the narrow stripes, which danced before my eyes like Op Art.  I still have quite a bit of this fabric left.  I'm tempted to throw it out.  (Only tempted.  I doubt I'll do it.)

The finished product isn't bad.  The fit is loose, which works for tucking in a tee shirt.  I will probably make him a belt to keep the jeans up.  The front belt loops are too close together.  I don't know how that will work with positioning a belt buckle.  The problem with sewing against a deadline (such as tonight's blog) is that some garments, while technically finished, are not quite polished.  Lucky for me Quartz doesn't care.  He has been wearing jeans that came as a gift from Soom.  I'm not a fan of decorative zippers, especially on dolls where the zipper is out of scale to begin with.  Umm, no.

Because of this big guy, along with the larger of my Iplehouse dolls, I have ordered a taller shoji screen.  As soon as it gets here, I will be able to photograph the big dolls without anyone standing a head taller than the screen.

Also on the subject of Quartz:  I have a buyer for his fantasy parts.  Good-bye dragon legs, talons, and horns.  The talons always reminded me of chicken feet.  Big blue chicken feet.  It's a pretty shade of blue, but... 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Narae Faceups Revisited

Yes, I know, I was supposed to finish Quartz's jeans.  What with housework and baking and getting my paperwork ready for the tax preparer next Saturday, I didn't uncover the sewing machine all weekend.  I did, however, stop at JoAnn Fabrics for snaps and pink thread, and came away with those items plus a stretch fabric with a cute animal print (maybe for Little Fees?) and a variety of trims.  What can I say, except that I had coupons.  There's no point going into a store with coupons in hand and not using them, right?

Girl talk.  Butterfly Narae on the left, old Narae on the right.
Their wigs are Jpopdolls' Kana Wavy in Winter Moon and
Monique Gold's Buttercup in Black and Dark Purple.
One thing that I accomplished in the past week was an update to Narae Butterfly's faceup.  I liked the first one I did, but the eyebrows were rather thick for a girl and didn't give her the look I was after.  This time, instead of drawing the eyebrows with the edge of a pastel stick, I drew them with a watercolor pencil.  Much better!  It's easier to correct a mis-stroke with watercolor.  A quick swab with water, wipe and done.  No shadow, no residue, just a clean field for starting over.

Wig switch.  This one is a Monique JoJo in Golden Auburn/
Golden Strawberry.
While I was at it, I tackled my original Narae as well.  She has been looking sad and faded for some time now.  I thought her faceup could use refreshing.  First, because I didn't want to spray MSC over dust particles, I gently wiped her face with a cotton ball barely moistened with water.  Afterwards I stepped outside for a quick spray of MSC.  All she needed was a touch of color on the cheeks and a bit more color on her eyebrows.  More MSC.  And then a new coat of gloss medium on her lips, because MSC takes the old gloss off.  I couldn't believe the difference.  Suddenly she looked virant and alive.

Narin's wig is a Monique Gold Frankie in Golden Auburn.
Butterfly Narae has switched to the Buttercup wig.  The
purple streaks barely show in this photo.  Everyone looks
good in the Buttercup wig -- even the boys.
I confess, I was lazy and didn't remove my old Narae's eyelashes before spraying.  I didn't notice any ill effects until later, after I had finished her touch-up, when it occurred to me that her eyelashes looked white instead of black.  Oops!  I took photos anyway, hoping it wouldn't show, but I will definitely be replacing her eyelashes.  I hate gluing such small eyelashes.  I get half the strip in position, then for some reason the rest of it won't follow suit.  It either goes on crooked, or else it goes right through the eyehole and comes out the other side.  It doesn't matter what sort of tool I use.  Doll eyelashes have a mind of their own.

All together for a family portrait.  I might redo Narin's eyebrows.
Maybe lower them and give them less arch.  I'll remember to
remove the eyelashes next time.
Narin joined the girls for photos yesterday.  I placed them in Caroline's Parlor.  That prop is so useful -- it works for the littlest BJDs up through the MSDs.  I'll have to see what other American Girl accessories might work.  I love the VW Bug, but it's pricey for a prop that's less versatile than the parlor.  Now, where did I put that catalog?

* All of the outfits on this page have appeared previously.  They are from patterns by Adams-Harris and Gracefaerie.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Doll Club Saturday

The Chittenden County Doll Club met yesterday at the Brownell Library, where we got the surprise of our lives.  Five people showed up!  This is a first, as we are usually lucky if we can get three people together.  It was even more surprising given the previous day's snowstorm.  I have a long drive to Essex and wasn't sure I would make it, but in the end the only snow-covered roads were the ones closest to home.  For the last few miles I followed a car whose driver hadn't bothered to clear the snow off his car, only the windshield.  I kept waiting for him to hit a bump or a pothole, or have to slam on the breaks, any of which would have brought all the snow on his roof down over his windshield.  Dangerous idiot!  Only thing I could do was keep my distance.

But never mind that, let's get on to the dolls.

Goldi brought one doll I had seen before (a Fairyland Minifee Chloe) along with three new ones:  a Soom Ace Wind Elf, who is waiting for warmer weather to get her faceup; a Luts Cerberus Project Tiny Delf Dorothy (the name alone is bigger than the doll!) and a Fairyland Pukifee Pongpong, who is also awaiting faceup.

Chloe in her new kimono.

Ace -- Wind Elf, before faceup.  I hope we get to see her blushed
to look like a fox.  You can't see the entire outfit here, but she wears
a short kimono jacket over hakama pants.  (Hope I spelled that right.)
Dorothy in front and Pongpong behind her.  I think this is
the first time I have seen a Pongpong girl.  Usually s/he's
pictured as a boy.
Lyrajean brought three familiar faces:  her Iplehouse EID Asa, her little Volks YoSD Kira (who came with a little red wagon and a sled) and her Alchemic Laboratory Unoa Sist.  Asa and Sist wore matching kimonos and obi sashes and carried matching fans -- so cute!

Asa has borrowed Quartz's wig for this photo.  She looks good in silver.

Kira lazing in her red radio flyer.  She let Goldi's little ones
borrow her sled.

Megan brought one doll, a bjd she sculpted herself!  Now there's talent.  Years ago, I made a few cloth dolls with polymer clay faces, hands and feet.  Not one for half-measures, Megan used Sculpey for the entire doll.  I'll tell you, my first effort was badly sculpted and out of proportion, whereas Megan produced one cool little dude, completely jointed!  Judge for yourself.  Here's Xavier.

Xavier wearing Steampunk goggles on his head.  Megan
sculpted those, too, as well as making his clothes.
Modern Wizard brought her three Soom Faery Legend dolls so we could see how they look next to my big Soom guy.  Her Mellifer, a Metato--Keeper of the Heart, sported a new mohair wig in living technicolor.  Ginevra, an Aenigma--Spider Sprite, and Flower, a Kremer--Sprite of Slumber, rounded out the trio.

Way cool!  The wig looks like flames.

I brought only two dolls this time:  my newest big girl, Iplehouse SID Mari, and my Soom Quartz Ice Dragon.  I should probably stop referring to him as an ice Dragon, as I have finally listed his dragon parts for sale on Den of Angels.  Once they're gone, all he'll have in the way of fantasy parts are his ears.  They don't come off, so he'll always look a bit like Spock.

Poor Quartz, I didn't finish the jeans I was sewing for him.
Fortunately, Soom included jeans as a gift when I purchased
him, so he didn't have to wear dress pants with the new tee
shirt I made.
Kiri, my SID Elemental Guardian Mari, shows off a brown wig
from Iplehouse that I bought for one of the boys.  It looks
good on her.  Her resin is peach gold, but either the room's
 lighting or my Photoshop program paled it down.  (Makes
me wish I had bought her in normal resin.)

Quartz and Kremer posed side-by-side so all could appreciate the resemblance.  I wouldn't be surprised if both came from the hand of the same sculptor.  They have a similar look and features.

The room we use for our meet-ups features changing art displays.  This month's was especially colorful, so I took a group shot of the dolls that also included some of the animal portraits looking down from the wall.

All present but Ginevra and Xavier.

And because I love birds:

A Hyacinth Macaw

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Getting Ready for Meet-Up

Just when I thought I was free to start a new dress for Brooke (Kay Wiggs Layla), I received a notice that the next Chittenden County Doll Club meeting is Saturday.  I want to bring Soom Quartz, who hasn't had an outing yet.  How nice it would be if he were wearing something that wasn't another doll's hand-me-down...

He has been wearing pants, a vest and top that I made for my former Unidoll Anthony from an Adams-Harris pattern called Hollywood.  The fit is a little loose on Quartz, so I know I can reuse the same pattern or others designed for Unidoll boys.  This time I am making the short-sleeve tee and jeans from A-H's Risky Business! pattern.  The pattern includes a long-sleeve overshirt, but I won't have time to sew it before Saturday.  As it is, I didn't even finish the jeans today, only the tee shirt, which means I'll be burning the midnight oil every night this week trying to get them done.

The denim consists of alternating gray and white stripes; however,
the small photo above creates an optical illusion of wide stripes. 
See the waistband (the curved piece near the sleeve) for an
accurate rendition of the stripes.
It would go a little faster if pattern pieces were uniformly marked and directions clear.  The Pants Front piece was identified, but not the Pants Back.  Luckily the Back Pocket looked like a back pocket.  The Side Pocket took a little longer to figure out, because if you cut four of it you could make a pair of shorts.  Then there was a mystifying little piece that could have been a shirt collar section.  I couldn't tell because pants and shirt pieces were printed on the same page.  I finally figured out it was the Back Yoke.  Labels please!

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  Pattern Designers, please identify inseams and side seams, or back seams and front seams.  When I am looking at a deconstructed pants leg, I am totally disoriented as to which side is which.  Perhaps I am spacially challenged, but I doubt I'm the only one.  Also, please check your sewing instructions to ensure they make sense.  Don't just tell me I need a scrap of fabric for the collar.  Scraps come in all shapes and sizes.  How long a scrap?  How wide?  If I knew instinctively how to do this, I'd be drafting my own patterns instead of buying them.  Just saying.

Finished tee shirt.
Quartz will attend the meet-up with a newly enhanced faceup.  I liked the first faceup enhancement I gave him -- all except the mouth, which turned out too bright a pink.  So I removed it and tried again with flesh-toned pastel.  His resin is cream white, so the flesh is sufficient for color.  I haven't taken photos of him since then (I redid him last week when the weather warmed up briefly) so you'll have to wait for next week's meet-up photos to see him.  He really is a handsome fellow.  I'm glad I decided to keep him.