Sunday, December 27, 2015

Gearing Up for a Delivery

Two new Raccoon girls will join the family tomorrow. At least, fingers crossed that tomorrow is the day. They are in transit, having left New York this morning. I don't have a lot of clothing in their size, so I have been sewing in anticipation.

Both girls have the new body style: slim as opposed to the original glamour body. The only real difference is a slightly wider waist (0.5cm larger) and narrower hips and thighs. This actually opens up the pattern possibilities. Many of the DeeAnna Denton patterns (Designs by Jude) are fitted through the waist and hips, which made converting them for Sarah's and Mika's pear-shaped bodies more work than I cared to do. The slim body's measurements are almost exactly the same as those given for DeeAnna. I bought two of the close fitting patterns in anticipation.

But first I had two other patterns I wanted to use. One of them was so unlikely that I never would have attempted it if I hadn't tried a finished garment on Sarah first. Gracefaerie's #14 Mini Wardrobe for 43cm Narae includes a Gothic Lolita dress designed for a doll whose 5.1 inch waist is the only measurement she holds in common with Raccoon girls. The original pattern was obviously designed with enough ease to accommodate a variety of mature minis. Why else would the bodice fit? The dress's full skirt has plenty of room for Raccoon's larger hips. It's one of those basic patterns I use over and over, in different fabrics and multiple variations. I haven't set the snaps on this one yet. I'm waiting until I can fit the dress exactly to the new body. As you can see below, I turned the dress into a sleeveless, more grown up style with little embellishment other than a few tiny gold beads (nearly invisible in the photo). I will add a ribbon belt when I dress the doll.
The second pattern is Dressing Up (Designs by Jude), a dress designed for Tonner's Hermione Granger doll. The hips are the main difference between Hermione and Raccoon, but because this dress has a full skirt the wider hipped Raccoon girl can wear it. I tried the dress on the glamour body and the dropped waist did not pose a problem, so as soon as the new girls arrive I can set the snaps.
I could have stopped there, because each girl would have an outfit all her own. On the other hand, I bought patterns especially for them. I needed to make at least one. I selected Lunch Date (Designs by Jude), a pair of wide legged pants fitted at the waist and hips, coupled with a short sleeve blouse.
But why stop there when I could turn it into a pants suit? Urban Beat (Designs by Jude) has a waist length jacket that should work perfectly with the pants. I started making it yesterday, so only the pants are done. I'll sew the blouse today so that the doll has something to model, then finish the jacket afterwards. I wish I could remember where I bought the fabric, because I want to get it in other colors. I think it's a stretch twill. Whatever it is, the finished pants have just enough stretch to allow them to go over the glamour body's hips, which means all my RaccoonDoll girls can wear them. You've got to love a fabric like that!
Below you see the pants, finished except for the snaps. I encountered only one problem with the directions: I had come to the end of them and still hadn't sewn the inseams. I'm not sure where in the sequence that step should go, but I did it at the end without having to undo anything else.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mirwen Snow Queen

I'm always surprised when I look in my stash of unpainted heads and faceplates to see how many there are. Most are event gifts. I add one to the stash each time I order from FairyLand during an event. There is another coming with the Basic FM60 Lacrima I ordered. It's either MiniFee or LittleFee size but probably the latter, as I ordered the doll with no extras this time. (Lacrima is the doll I will be styling as Frozen's Elsa.)

A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of a warm day (in December--yes!) to paint some faces.  As you may remember, I needed a third LittleFee elf to bring to the holiday meet-up. Luckily I had an unpainted Juri 2013 event faceplate that I was able to paint and put on LittleFee Lishe's body. Here she is. I'm quite happy with how she came out. She does have eyebrows, only you can't see them through the bangs. She will inhabit Lishe's body until I decide Lishe needs to come back.
Around the same time I saw a beautifully painted Mirwen sleep head on Den of Angels, which made me wonder if I had one. I don't always buy the sleep head with a FairyLand doll, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it. The trouble was it already had the default face-up. I remember I ordered it blank. FairyLand sent me an e-mail saying they had painted it by mistake and did I still want it. I accepted it as is, even though I didn't care for the face-up. It appears I placed it in the faceplate/head box and forgot about it.

So, on that same warm December day I wiped off the default paint and repainted it. I'm sorry now I didn't photograph it first to show the difference before and after. Essentially her makeup is now more subtle. When you think about it, what woman goes to sleep heavily made up? So I painted her using the principle of less is more. In my photos she wears a winter white gown trimmed in fur, with a matching hat and a white wig. I love the effect of white on white. It's perfect for a snow queen. Here she is. Enjoy!
Just for fun I played with some PhotoShop filters. The second photo has a light flare, the fourth has a diffuse glow, and the last has a blizzard effect. I also smoothed out her visible shoulder joint.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Vermont Doll Lovers Meet-Up December 2015

Six of us met yesterday at the Brownell Library in Essex Junction to celebrate an early Christmas with our dolls. (ModernWizard has also posted the meeting at http://vtdolllovers.blogspot.com/2015/12/vermont-doll-lovers-december-meetup.html.)  The dolls were in an especially festive mood, inspired no doubt by their holiday attire and a number of Christmas trees. Let's look in on the festivities:
ModernWizard's Araminthe and Sardonix enjoy snacks with a bear-y friend. Scarves and Sardonix's hat were intended to dress wine bottles.
Here we come a-caroling: my MiniFees Lishe, Shushu and Mirwen, dressed in fashions from Wilde Imagination and wearing Iplehouse boots. LittleFee Ante Elf looks on.
Dashing through the snow: my Soom Quartz and FeePle65 Siean cozy up for a sleigh ride. A better look at the sleigh (from Plow and Hearth) below:
I don't know if they started out with a horse or a reindeer pulling the sleigh, but the LittleFee elves (Shine, Star and L'il Frost, otherwise known as Juri 13, Ante Elf and Soso) seem to have magicked it away.
Lyrajean also brought a sleigh. Riding in hers are her two Spiritdoll Bastet cats, with Petite Ai Sariel in front. Volks YoSD Kira and an artBimong Meronica round out the group.
Another look at Meronica. I'm very tempted to add one of these to my collection as she would fit in well with my Raccoon Doll girls. Lyrajean also brought her Volks Chiyo (not pictured), a new U-noa Lusis (red lips, below) and her U-noa Sist:
DragonGems' Russell, whose sweater started life as a Christmas sock, compares dolls with ModernWizard's Submit.
Melface's U-noa L-Bi competes with her MiniFee Rin for the most colorful Christmas sweater. Seated are her Dollzone Raphael, Doll Chateau Charles and SoulDoll Cubarem.
Above is a look at DC Charles in all his glorious full length, to prove he can indeed stand unaided, albeit not for very long.  I wish I had taken a closer photo of his fabulous body painting/tattoo work. Hiding behind him is Melface's Dream High Studio Hiro, he of the jointed hands. To the right is a lady elf sculpted by DragonGems.
Melface acquired her Luts Honey Delf Centaur (Choco Cookie version) without a head. I hope she finds one to match that lovely light tan resin.
Up in the tree top, Dollpamm Bebe Poyo. She belongs to Melface.
Another candidate in the colorful Christmas sweater contest: Shannon's Doll Chateau Bella.
Melface's LittleFee Lewi joined the party late, as Shannon was still knitting his sweater. I picked up some knitting pointers from her as she worked. Thanks, Shannon!
Lyrajean's Luts Delf Chiwoo Vampire is having a melancholy Christmas, although whether it's because she's had her fangs removed or because Lyrajean is putting her up for sale, she isn't saying. Also up for sale (but not pictured) is her Soom Sabik.
And we heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, 
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!












Friday, December 11, 2015

Sneak Preview: L'il Frost and the Starshine Elves

The costumes for tomorrow's doll meet-up are finished! Yay! Here is a sneak peek at Star, L'il Frost and Shine. I'll probably make a couple of tweaks to the frost wands so that the dolls can hold them more securely. The wands are blue on one side (ice) and white on the other (snow). And of course, L'il Frost still needs to put on his roller skates. Hey, I had to save something for tomorrow, right?


Actually, I am tempted to enlarge the tights pattern and make three new pairs. They don't take long to sew and I'm afraid L'il Frost will burst his current pair at the seams if he tries to sit down.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Li'l Frost and the Starshine Elves

Before you go looking for actual dolls named Li'l Frost and the Starshine Elves, let me say that Li'l Frost is my LittleFee Shiwoo (wearing a Soso faceplate), while the Starshine Elves are Star (my LittleFee Ante Elf) and Shine (my LittleFee Lishe). Shine will soon become a Juri 2013 elf. For the time being she wears her default Lishe faceplate because I only got around to painting the Juri 2013 this afternoon. By the time I finished it was too dark to take photos.

Three outfits in progress
So why the role playing?  Next Saturday the Vermont Doll Lovers will hold our annual Christmas meet-up. My MiniFees are going as carolers, which doesn't require a change of character, only the addition of coats and boots.  I thought it would be fun to dress the LittleFees as Santa's elves, but as I started assembling fabrics and patterns a whole other story emerged. I'm using left-over, rejected and extra fabrics from the Elsa Project (I had to take a break from that in order to dress up the little ones) which means I have a lot of blue, blue-green and silver. Icy colors. So instead of Santa's elves we have Jack Frost's elves. They go about the countryside on Christmas eve touching everything with snow and frost to guarantee a white Christmas.

Tights (and leggings) done
With three costumes to make, I am working in assembly line fashion: three pairs of tights, three tops, three hats, three vests. It's quicker this way. Of course where I have a color change or a change from knit to woven fabric, I try to do all of each at one time. Anything to get it all done by Saturday. (I could have started sooner but I tend to procrastinate.)

The tights, tops and hats all come from the same pattern: Happy Little Jack-O-Lantern from The House of O'Brien. I've made the entire outfit before so didn't anticipate any problems. I guess I got lucky the first time and the knit I used was just the right weight. This time I hit a snag. One of my knits has two-way stretch only. The resulting tights might fit a PukiFee but they don't go up past a LittleFee's knees. The other knit has four-way stretch so I cut three pairs of tights without testing one first. They had to fit, right? The first pair was so tight going on that I didn't sew the feet on the other two. Abracadabra--leggings! With shoes you can't tell. The tops, on the other hand, fit just fine in both fabrics. The hats will be pinned to wigs, so fit is not an issue.
Shine's shirt is almost finished.

That leaves the vests--or tunic and dresses, I haven't decided. I'm using the bodice from 1800 Ange Ai by Adams-Harris Patterns. I'll probably attach a short skirt to it for the girls and something to turn it into a vest for Li'l Frost. You'll notice he is wearing sturdy shoes. That's because he will be donning roller skates for the meet-up. Though ice skates would be more in season, I don't have any in LittleFee size so we make do with what we have. Either way, he is guaranteed to terrorize the other meet-up attendees.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Elsa Project, Part 2

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a good one this past week. Despite the holiday, a craft show and appointments, I still managed to sew Elsa's corset--not once, but twice. This seems to be a recurring theme. I sew an item, for whatever reason it doesn't work, so I make another. Call it a learning curve. (Some curves are steeper than others.)

For my pattern I turned to the tried and true #16 The Corset from Gracefaerie Designs. I've made it several times, always with success. This time I chose a different version of the corset, the one with a solid front. It laces up the back but I chose to close it with either hooks or snaps. I don't know why I second guessed myself here, because the pattern already allows for extra fabric in this version with a slightly wider back piece. For some reason I assumed that I would also need additional fabric in front to make up for not lacing it. Bad idea. Corset #1 ended up way too wide.
Corset #2 in progress (inside out)

That wasn't the only problem. The pattern recommends using a tightly woven medium weight fabric. My knit fabric was not only hard to sew in and of itself, but even more so when paired with a lining that has no stretch. (Why do I do this to myself?) Add to the mix a very basic sewing machine, which offers no stretch stitch, and you have a recipe for disaster. I substituted a small zigzag stitch. This works well on some garments; here it left me with seams too narrow to top stitch. I did the best I could under the circumstances. Not good enough. I could go on listing the mistakes I made putting this corset together but I won't bore you. I think you get the general idea.
Corset #1 (top) and Corset #2 (inside out; bottom)

Another day, another corset. I'm still using the wrong weight fabric because it has the look I want; however, this time I'm going to make it work for me. I start by changing to a regular straight stitch. I'm still using the ballpoint needle because why ask for trouble, right? Everything progresses smoothly. There are a couple of places where my thread gets tangled in the knit's loose weave, but I fix those and move forward. Now admit it: you're waiting for something to go wrong. Sorry to disappoint you but Corset #2 is a winner. I fit it on Mirwen and decide I have enough room for snaps in back. Not sure I'm going to keep the silver beads I added to the body suit neckline. The Simplicity pattern adds glitter. No thanks--I've got too much glitter scattered around the room as it is. What I really want is to make another version of the body suit in a tighter knit--if I can find a fabric I like. The light blue knit just doesn't hold up.
Corset #2 (right side out)

The Simplicity pattern for Elsa's costume combines the corset and cape into one piece. I considered doing it that way, then decided I might like to use the corset with other skirts occasionally. That means I need to treat the cape as a separate piece that attaches by means of hooks or snaps. I would have started work on it today except I forgot to measure Mirwen for the length. Oh well, it's too dark to do any more sewing today. The day that started out cloudy, then cleared up to give us a brief hour or so of bright sunshine, finally turned dark again and sent us snow. 'Tis the season.

Edited on Tuesday, December 1st to Add:

Another day, another body suit. If the first one was too tight and the second one was too loose, finally the third one is just right. I only wish the fabric were not quite so dark. It does have gradations from dark to light, as well as a sort of star trail in a sequin-like material that was surprisingly easy to sew, so there is visual interest. Here it is:
And here it is with the corset:
It's hard to get correct color in photos that have no white or gray. The chair, however, is indeed yellow and the outfit pieces are more aqua than true blue, so the bottom photo is nearer the right color.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Elsa Project, Part 1

Recently I viewed Disney's Frozen for the first time. To say that I was thoroughly captivated would be an understatement. The wheels started turning in my mind, scattering stardust, ice crystals and fairy magic. I want to make the costumes. Which dolls can I turn into Anna and Elsa? She looks a little too worried to be the happily optimistic Anna, but FairyLand's FM60 Mirwen will play the part. Elsa is not here yet. I have FM60 Lacrima on order from FairyLand. She's coming without face-up or costume--a blank slate upon which I can create my ice queen. As I don't expect her before mid-January at the earliest, I have plenty of time to gather materials and sew.
One of the first things I bought was a pattern. Although it's for a different size and style of doll, I wanted to have it on hand to study how the pieces go together. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, Elsa is the blonde in the above photo and Anna is the redhead. Mirwen is already here so it would make sense to start with Anna's outfit; however, seeing as I need to use Mirwen for Elsa's dress fittings I decided to begin with Elsa.
The Simplicity pattern appears to join all the dress pieces together except for the cape. I decided to go about it differently. For the long sleeves and the bit of fabric above the corset front and back, I am substituting the body shirt from the Adams-Harris Annabella pattern, omitting the fullness from the top of the sleeves. I ended up making two body shirts. The first time I misjudged the length of the sleeve once you remove the top section. Also my chosen fabric didn't give me the effect I wanted. Although the shimmery dance fabric with four-way stretch worked up beautifully, the completed shirt looks more like body armor than ice crystals. She needs to look icy, not silver-plated.
It's a good thing I went through my fabric stash before heading back to Jo-Ann's, because I found the perfect substitute in a very thin, light blue, two-way stretch knit. I remembered to shorten the sleeves; I also widened the front section slightly because the silver version is a tight fit. The new version sleeves are just right. The body of the suit is actually loose because the blue knit has much more give to it. Or maybe it's because I haven't attached the snaps yet. Either way doesn't matter--the corset will hide it.
I bought the rest of the fabrics for the outfit from Jo-Ann's. Below from left to right you have the transparent skirt overlay, the main skirt fabric, the corset fabric, the completed body shirt, and the cape. The corset will be lined with the main skirt fabric, as well as interfacing if that's not stiff enough. I would have preferred a different fabric altogether for the corset. I've worked with this stuff before and the needle gets bogged down (and downright sticky) from the glue holding the dots to the fabric. The only alternatives I saw were a blue version of the silver dance fabric or a solid color, maybe in the same weight as the skirt, with an overlay. In the end I loved the color of the sticky dot fabric enough to sacrifice a ball point needle.
The woman at Jo-Ann's who cut my fabric kindly folded it with the sparkly stuff on the inside of the folds. In order to photograph it, however, I had to unfold the overlay and cape fabrics. My dining room floor now sparkles with all the little bits that fell off. (Not to mention all the glitter I had to sweep off my dining room table after taking the photograph.) I imagine I'll be eating and inhaling a fair amount of the stuff before I finish assembling all the pieces of this dress.

Next I'll tackle the corset while I still have the ball point needle in the sewing machine.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vermont Doll Lovers November 2015 Meet-Up

How many of you forgot that we are now meeting monthly? To those who weren't there:  Missed you, but we had fun!

ModernWizard brought a groovy 60's style roombox designed for the American Girls Mini dolls and named, aptly enough, the AG Minis Groovy Room. The explosion of psychedelic colors extended to the neon colors of the occupants' hair.
I love how the walls show the influence of Piet Mondrian's abstract style. The dolls, from left to right, are Jujube (an Elfdoll 14cm Winky), Dorothy (an Elfdoll 14cm Dodo) and across from them Jeff (an Elfdoll 14cm Kai). I remember being tempted by these small dolls when they first came out. I didn't realize at the time how small they really are (14cm = 5.5 inches). The room is narrower at the far end than at the front, which gives a wider angle of view for photos. Way cool!
Her Submit, who previously sported an Elfdoll Doona Kathlen head sculpt, has acquired an Elfdoll Hana head and set of faceplates. Hana originally came in two versions, angel and devil. This is the devil set, and is another Elfdoll I wanted way back when. The angel set never appealed to me--the expressions seemed simpering. The faceplates in the devil set show more attitude.
 
Shown with Submit in the previous photo is a Mattel Megabloks Monster High playset, a small set designed for the Monster High dolls to play with. Works for other dolls, too, including DragonGems' hand sculpted 1:6 scale Russell, who was absolutely fascinated with all the interactive pieces in the set.
Russell felt the cold weather coming on and dressed for the occasion in a new hoodie, distressed jeans and knit cap that DragonGems made for him. She also made the man purse. Here's another view:
Except for the way he's dressed he reminds me of a realtor I once worked for.  My boss was more into the professional 3-piece suit look.

I brought six dolls to the meeting. Oops! Make that seven. I added one more before leaving the house. First up is Wilde Imagination's Resin Ellowyne Wilde. I bought Ellowyne as a blank doll, which gave me the opportunity to paint her myself. Not sure if this is her final look, but she likes it for now. She is wearing the Robe Nuage dress I blogged about earlier.
Also appearing at her first meet-up is Dollmore's Judith Girl Arasa Blue Zinna, my fabulous Russian Princess. She goes by the name Zora. Dollmore's Dollpire Kid Shiloh makes a reappearance, this time in period dress and a different wig as her undead love interest, Count Timofey. He may look younger than she does, but the child vampire is at least 200 years older. Unfortunately he is also hungry and keeps trying to nip at her wrist, to her embarrassment and displeasure.
"Not in front of everyone, Timofey. Have you no discretion?"
"Just a sip, Zora dearest. To remind you that you belong to me."
"Behave yourself. We are being observed."
"So luscious. So forbidden. Your words stab me to the quick."
"Melodramatic little turd," thinks Dollmore's Judith Girl Maxima Suntan Zinna, standing behind them. "How can she stand to let him touch her?"
Alida, my Maxima Suntan Zinna, is wearing the denim suit I sewed for her. She popped a button as soon as we arrived. The metal studs attach via prongs that pierce the fabric and are bent down on the other side. Apparently the jacket waistband was too thick to allow the prongs to attach securely.
RaccoonDoll Mika (on the right) is making her Meet-Up debut. RaccoonDoll Sarah (on the left) has returned to keep her company. I took a knitting class last week--mainly as a refresher because I hadn't knit in so long I couldn't remember how to start. The day before the meet-up I decided to knit a cape or shawl for Mika. I have a large stash of yarn from abandoned craft projects and from it I chose an eyelash yarn to match her dress. It worked up into a thick, lush, almost faux fur-like fabric. But was it ever hard to do! I kept finding extra loops on my needle, no doubt from picking up eyelash threads instead of yarn, and had to stop frequently to count and decrease. There was no pulling rows out, because I couldn't see the loops to put them back on. It was full steam ahead regardless of the consequences. Luckily, the result couldn't have looked better. Yay, me!
Sarah pretends to be Marilyn Monroe standing over the subway grate. As for Mika, well, sometimes a girl likes to show a little leg. (A little?)
Meanwhile, looking grandly out of scale is Iplehouse nYID Oscar in his Imperial Guard uniform. Oscar was disappointed not to find any larger girls at the meet-up. ("Just when I get a few hours leave, all the cool girls are gone.") Hmm, maybe Sarah is trying to get his attention rather than channeling Marilyn Monroe. Come to think of it, that might account for Mika's leg thrust, too. Ellowyne wants to know: "Are you making fun of me?  He's twice my size!"
Ignoring the female commotion he had caused, Oscar stalked to the other side of the room to sulk.

For more photos of this meet-up, see ModernWizard's blog: http://vtdolllovers.blogspot.com/2015/11/vermont-doll-lovers-november-meetup.html.


Next meeting is Saturday, December 12th. It's time for our annual Christmas extravaganza!