Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's the Easter Bunny, Little Shiwoo!

Fair's fair:  The Iplehouse kids had Christmas, so the Fairyland kids get Easter.  Last weekend I featured Little Ante's new dress and pinafore, and the top half of Little Lishe's new dress.  This weekend Lishe's dress is finished and Little Shiwoo has a whole new outfit consisting of socks, shorts and shirt.  (See last week's post for pattern information.)

I admit I had some misgivings about my fabric choice for Shiwoo.  After all, what boy wants to wear pink?  We got around that, however, when I assured him that it wasn't pink at all, but light red.  Light red is okay in his book.  And don't you dare tell him otherwise!  I'm really pleased with the combination of the light red stripe and the light brown herringbone.  And get a load of my stripes!  I remember the first striped top I made.  The side seam told the whole unsavory story.  My stripes simply didn't match from front to back.  Now look at these stripes.  Not only a front-to-back match, but sleeves, too!  Does Shiwoo care?  Not a whit.  Just don't say the word pink in his hearing.

In honor of the holiday, the Easter Bunny has paid Fairyland a visit, bringing candy-covered chocolate eggs.  He has carefully hidden these around the parlor.  Well, maybe not so carefully, as some of them are tucked away in plain sight.  The little ones collect their baskets and commence to hunt.

It would have been fun to stage the hunt outside if the weather had been a little warmer and the grass a little greener.  As it is, everything is still a dull brown, with the snow so recently gone that the ground is sure to be a bit juicy.  March in this part of the Northeast is officially known as Mud Season, for good reason.  I sure wouldn't want to eat chocolate eggs that had been hidden outside this time of year.  Is that dirt or chocolate?  Um, no.

Let's see how the kids are doing with their hunt.  The Easter Bunny is a lot taller than they are, and may have hidden some eggs completely out of their reach.  Let's hope they don't endanger themselves by climbing on the furniture.

Shiwoo will probably find the lion's share of eggs.  He's quick, he's pushy, and he's completely unhampered by skirts, although Lishe is no slouch when it comes to climbing, regardless of what she's wearing.  Ante's costume is just too voluminous to let her compete.  Maybe one of the others will share his or her bounty.

It looks like they have found all the eggs.  The Easter Bunny had some pretty good hiding places, like the inside of teapots and the bottom of deep drawers, but in the end he was no match for three determined LittleFees.  There remains but one question to ask:

Are you guys going to eat all that by yourselves?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Getting Ready for Easter

In a perfect confluence of events, Easter is just around the corner and my LittleFees need new clothes.  Luckily there are only three of them, so it's do-able.

I pulled out a couple of patterns:  Ridinghood LittleFee by Adams-Harris (some day I'll get around to making the hooded cape--it's really cute) and #53 Perfect 10 by Gracefaerie Designs.  Oddly enough, Perfect 10's Tiny Maid appears to be the same dress as Ridinghood.  All the more reason to make one of each to see how alike/different they really are.  Perfect 10 also has shorts and a variety of shirts so there is something for Little Shiwoo, as well as for the girls.

Ante's finished dress.
I selected my fabrics:  a multi-color dot on yellow for LittleFee Ante's dress, with a violet gingham check for sleeve and hem bands; a green with violet flowers for LittleFee Lishe; and a brown herringbone for Shiwoo's shorts, to be paired with a pink-brown-cream stripe turtleneck and socks.  Ante also gets a white pinafore.  I may omit the pinafore from Lishe's dress, or if I do make it, it will be in a contrasting color.  I can't make hers white, because I opted to make the long sleeves and collar that go with the blouse pattern instead of the short sleeves that go with the dress.  They will be off-white, as if she were wearing a blouse under a jumper.  A white pinny over it wouldn't work.

Finished dress with pinafore.
One thing that surprised me, given the picture on the pattern envelope, is how long the Ridinghood dress is.  If I make this pattern again, I'll cut both the skirt and the pinafore shorter.  Otherwise, the fit is perfect.  I'm glad I made the pinafore--it really finishes the outfit.  And using eyelet cotton made it fancy enough that I didn't need to decorate with additional trim.  Ante's wig is from Soom.  I wish the hair were softer so it would lie better on her forehead.  It's so stiff it sticks out like the bristles on a brush.

Lishe's wig is Roxy, by Monique Gold.
I got halfway through Lishe's Tiny Maid dress.  I've added the ruffle to the skirt, but I still have to finish the back edges, then gather the waistline to fit the bodice and sew them together before I add snaps.  One thing is certain:  this dress is much shorter than Ridinghood.  As for the pinafore, the more I think about it, the more I want to make it.  I only wonder if I will have time to do that and make all the pieces of Shiwoo's outfit, too.  Decisions, decisions...

I would trim the bangs, but I'm afraid they will stick out even more.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

MSDs and Rebecca's Settee

Last week I introduced a new member of my constantly changing cast of characters:  a burgundy-colored sofa from American Girl known as Rebecca's Settee.  I like props that I can use with multiple dolls, like AG's Caroline's Parlor, which works with both MSD size and tinies.  The settee showed itself to be the perfect size for Kaye Wiggs' MSD girls.  Who else, I wondered, could make use of it?

My three Bimong dolls (two Narae girls and one Narin boy) couldn't wait to sprawl all over it.  There's plenty of room for three when you're as slim as the mini-mature Narae.  They even had room to spare.

Next up was my U-noa crew.  There are simply too many of them to occupy the settee at the same time.  Still, they arranged themselves on and around it and happily posed for a family portrait.  The U-noas are slightly smaller than the Naraes.  While they can sit, their feet don't touch the ground.  I wouldn't be surprised if, in less voluminous dresses, four U-noa girls could sit side-by-side at once.  Chibi Lilin (below) doesn't count--she's sitting on another girl's lap.

My Iplehouse JIDs were less successful.  Even though they are slightly bigger than the Naraes, they are less flexible.  The settee is quite deep, which makes it hard for dolls with a shorter upper leg length to sit comfortably.  The girls kept sliding forward, making me wish for mini throw pillows to prop up their backs.  (I'll have to make some.)  The U-noas also have a short upper leg compared to the settee.  They, however, managed to look as if they were lounging rather than holding on for dear life.

The last doll I tried was Nelly, a larger Kaye Wiggs doll (about 55 cm).  Her upper leg length was a good fit for the seat; however, her lower legs were a bit long, especially in heels.  Without high heels, she might have been able to sit with her feet flat on the floor.  Not wanting to tackle the tiny buckles and straps, I didn't take off her shoes to try.  With Nelly on it, it looks less like a settee and more like a wide chair.

The last group I want to try posing on the settee is my Fairyland group.  For that I will have to wait at least another month until I finish paying layaway on a Minifee Celine.  I know the settee is way too big for the Littlefees and Realpukis, but I want to try with everybody on it, just for fun.  The only Fairyland doll who will have to sit out this experiment is Feeple Siean, who is just too big for the settee--or any other piece of doll furniture I own.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Layla's Body Shirt: Second Attempt

I almost decided to keep last week's lacy body shirt, figuring the sagging bottom wouldn't show under Brooke's dress.  (Brooke is a Fair Elf Layla from the talented Kaye Wiggs.)  I also toyed with the idea of simply cutting the bottom off, hemming the remaining portion and calling it a shirt.  Then I considered making the dress and adding the body shirt's sleeves and collar to it, as I'm not above a bit of cheating if it makes an outfit work.  Finally, pride won out.  I can do this, I said, and set about looking for a different fabric with which to remake the body shirt.

I have made a body shirt (and several undergarments) in the past from white swimsuit lining.  It works well for dolls, as it is thinner than other knits but has good stretch.  As luck would have it, I couldn't find any, even though I am sure I had a length of it left.  That left me with a small piece of white, four-way stretch, cotton-lycra knit.  It's thicker and holds up well when sewn into small garments.  Soom Quartz's tee shirt is made of the same fabric in yellow.  I also have it in blue.  It's great stuff.

The new body shirt came together so easily, I wish I had used the lycra from the beginning.  That's not to say I didn't run into difficulties.  In fact, I almost made the same mistake both times.  Setting out to sew the socks first, I pinned the long sides of one together and looked at it.  What an odd looking foot this sock has!  Well no wonder--it wasn't a sock piece at all, it was a sleeve.  Thank goodness I hadn't started sewing.

I knew I was home free when it came time to sew the crotch pieces together and I found myself with front and back of equal size.  Yes!  I could barely contain my joy as I tried the garment on Brooke.  My joy was short-lived:  I had made the cuffs too narrow.  Brooke has wide hands with splayed fingers.  They wouldn't go through.  Seams are the bane of my existence.  They start out the right width, but as I sew they get wider.  I don't notice until it's time for a fitting.  Needless to say, I picked apart the cuff seams and redid them, leaving more room for her fingers to pass.  You'd think that a fabric with that much stretch would give.  What makes it not work is the seam which attaches the cuff to the sleeve.  It has no give, so the stretch ends there.  I'd like to say Lesson learned, only I know I'll do it again.

After the body shirt, sewing the dress was a piece of cake.  Of course, I wouldn't be me if I didn't digress from the pattern slightly.  The skirt, in my opinion, was too long so I added two pintucks in the lower portion of the skirt to make it shorter.  It's too bad that the floral fabric doesn't allow the pintucks to show up in the photos.  You'll have to take my word for it that they're there.  I also did not line the skirt.  MHD Designs seems to line all of her skirts and dresses.  Granted that makes the garments neater, with no fraying seams on view.  It also makes the skirts stiffer and heavier.  I figure if I need or want something to stiffen the dress later on, I'll add a separate petticoat.

This past week a sofa arrived from American Girl.  Nearly all of my seating choices accommodate one doll at a time, the exception being a couple of benches for the smaller dolls.  It was high time I added a sofa so that two or three mid-size dolls can sit together.  A reviewer commented on AG's website that the sofa was rumored to be retired soon.  I decided it was time to buy.  Sometime in the near future I hope to show it again with more than one doll occupying it!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Knit Body Shirt for Layla--A Cautionary Tale

Brooke (my Kaye Wiggs Layla) has been standing around looking forlorn lately.  The other dolls have been getting all my attention.  She wants some too, but is too shy to ask.  How can I resist that face?  It's time to make her a new dress.

Going through the patterns I have in her size, I settled on Simplicite, by MHD Designs.  I've made outfits from this pattern before, but they were sized for the 11-inch Kaye Wiggs girls, Millie and Lillie.  The 18-inch version shows the dress without a collar, worn with a turtleneck.  Just the ticket!  I looked at the pattern:  Instructions and pattern pieces for dress -- petal dress -- rompers -- knickers -- cardigan -- knit hat -- socks.  No turtleneck.  Not to worry.  Her Petits Riens pattern, which I also have in both sizes, covers a variety of underthings including three body shirts.  One of them has a turtleneck.

My stash turned up a pretty floral print in blues and white with dark green, which I have been saving for a different project.  There is plenty of it, so I am going to use some for the skirt.  A coordinating dot print will serve for the bodice.  And for the body shirt a thin, lacy white knit that should work well with the floral.

I have used the lacy white knit before, also for a body shirt but for a smaller doll.  As I remember, it was a bear to work with then.  Why did I think it would behave any differently this time?  One of the problems in working with this fabric is that some of the time you end up sewing in a hole.  After a while the thread knots itself up, forcing you to stop and pick the mess apart.  Some of the holes in the lace end up on the outside edge of the pattern piece, where they defy all attempts to sew a clean seam.  I don't know if a serger would have a better time of it.  I don't have one, and must either zigzag my way around or else sew the edges closed by hand.

I wasted an inordinate amount of time picking apart a beautiful seam that ended up sewn on the wrong side of the garment.  In my defense, it's hard sometimes to tell which is the right side of the lace and which is the wrong.  Five minutes to sew a seam, 45 minutes to undo it, all because I couldn't distinguish my thread from the threads in the lace. 


I added a ruffled elastic band to the leg openings.  The pattern didn't call for them -- I just thought it would be a cute touch.  Maybe that's what interfered with the fit of the crotch, maybe not.  Somehow the back of the garment sagged like a baby's full diaper.  I attempted a quick fix that helped a bit, even if it didn't completely solve the problem.  I didn't bother sewing snaps, but just pinned the body shirt on Brooke for the photos.  I expect I'll start over again next weekend with a solid knit.

Another caveat for anyone thinking of using a similar fabric for bjds:  little resin fingers get caught in the openings in the lace, making it dangerous as well as difficult to dress the doll.

The shirt doesn't look so bad in photos.  Up close it's a hot mess.
And I didn't even start on the dress!

I bought the fabric online.  If I had seen it in a store first, I wouldn't have bought it.  Just running my hand over it, my winter-chapped fingers catch on the threads.  This isn't what I had in mind when I went looking for stretch lace.  Next time I'll know better.

P.S.  The socks didn't work, either.