Sunday, January 25, 2015

One Finished Outfit and a New Faceup for Mirwen

Mirwen has had an exciting week.  I finished one of the outfits I've been working on for her--and I repainted her face.

The outfit consists of the second corset top I made a few weeks ago, coupled with a skirt.  This is not the outfit modeled by the first Fairyland/Victoria Frances collaboration (the doll that was not released to the public).  Rather, it is a different style of skirt put together with the same style of corset.

I had some issues putting it together related to the fabrics I selected.  Much as I love the silver fabric that forms the underskirt, it is extremely hard to iron.  I should have steamed the hem before putting the skirt together.  I didn't, so the hem is unintentionally poufy.  Where you see the black tulle layer I originally intended to use a beautiful coral organza with a bit of sparkle to it, which picked up the color of the small flowers in the printed fabric. Gathering that fabric and trying to fit it between the other two layers was a nightmare.  I ended up taking the skirt apart and discarding the organza.  It seems to be the sort of fabric that wants to be the star of the show; obviously it is not content to play a supporting role.  My main regret is that now the organza is cut, I'm not sure what to do with it.  It was a remnant to begin with (most of my "fancy" fabrics are) so there is no extra and I've had it so long I can't get more.
As far as patterns go, I used the Sans Pretention pattern from MHD Designs for the underskirt.  The top skirt is a rectangular piece rounded off at each end, to which I added a row of white lace.  The sandwich layer is simply four thicknesses of a rectangular piece of tulle cut to fall midway between the bottom of the top skirt and the bottom of the underskirt.  I cut a yoke from a scrap of black fabric, using the yoke from the Sweet Jane pattern by Adams-Harris Pattern Company, to connect the tulle to the top skirt.  Without it there would have been too much thickness at the waist.  As it was, there was so much thickness to deal with that I ended up doing a lot of hand sewing.  Better that than trying to unsnarl tulle that my sewing machine has chewed to bits.

 A word about the choker.  It is simply a piece of black elastic with a built-in ruffle, to which I have glued a paper flower.  What's interesting is that the flower is made from printed paper that resembles the print in Mirwen's dress.  What a lucky find!

If you are looking at the photos and wondering what's different about Mirwen's faceup, the answer is Nothing.  I took a set of photos of the finished outfit with Mirwen in her Fairyland default makeup.  Although I have always intended to repaint her, with winter upon us I didn't think I would be repainting her anytime soon.  Yesterday, however, the weather report called for sunshine and temperatures above freezing.  In the past I have sprayed MSC outdoors in freezing temperatures, but it's risky.  No one likes to spend time painting a doll's face only to have the finishing spray freeze on contact with the resin, or else turn white and flake off when you take the head back indoors.  Yesterday's conditions were as good as you can expect in northern New England in wintertime.  They spurred me to action.

Before I could give her a new faceup, I had to remove the default.  I don't think I've ever encountered a makeup job that was so difficult to remove.  It's a good thing I started early in the day, or else I would have missed my narrow window of favorable temperatures.  I wanted her to have the faceup shown on the prototype Victoria Frances Mirwen.  I had already printed out color copies of the original faceup.  All I had to do was copy it. 

I don't usually employ a magnifying lamp to do faceups: I find it disorienting to see a pencil as large as an oversized crayon under the lens.  The marks it makes are huge!  It became easier as I worked at it.  I think it helped that Mirwen's head is larger than most I have repainted.  Seeing the big fat marks on the resin encouraged me to make shorter, finer strokes.  Needless to say, I am pleased with the results.  The faceup is not perfect, but it is better than any I have done before.  The worried eyebrows are part of Mirwen's look, but they still need a bit of tweaking.  I couldn't fix them yesterday because the temperature began falling earlier than predicted.  It was only 2:30 p.m. and already the thermometer read close to freezing.  I'll wait until another warm-up and hope it comes without rain.

Next up is the skirt for the first corset.  I have figured out how to put it together.  All I need to do before starting it is to practice making a rolled hem.  The prototype skirt left unfinished edges, but some of my fabric threatens to fray easily so I'm planning handkerchief hems.  A product such as Fray Check is not an option because my fabrics are sheer; any discoloration will show through to the front.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Arrival of a Time Traveler (JID Daniel)

Iplehouse is on a roll.  Orders that used to take 2 to 3 months to arrive now show up in about 4 weeks.  I don't know if they took on extra staff during the holidays.  All I can say is, "Thanks and keep up the good work!"

My latest arrival is JID Daniel, ordered on the Model body in Peach Gold resin.  (There are two body types for JID boys:  Model and Muscle.  The departed Boris was on the Muscle body.  I thought I'd try the Model body this time.  It's slightly slimmer in the chest, wrist, pelvis and thigh, with slightly longer arms.)  Seeing as there was an outfit for her in the shipping carton, I let Ophelia (KID Lisa) help with the box opening.  Lots of goodies turned up because, funds permitting, I usually try to order clothing, wigs and other things I need when I order a doll.  The fun part of a box opening is the surprise of finding things I'd forgotten I ordered.

The extras are neatly bubble-wrapped, which keeps small items from getting lost.  Beside the package is a white envelope containing Iplehouse's 2015 calendar, a gift accompanying orders of JID or larger dolls.

What is all this stuff?

Clockwise starting with the calendar we have a wig for the bigger guys, followed by an outfit for you, shoes for SID Shane, earrings for SID Soo, boots and an outfit for Daniel.

All yours.  I've pulled out a LeekeWorld wig for you to wear with it.

There must be some mistake.  I look like a boy in this getup.

No mistake.  Daniel, when we get him out of the blue box, will need an assistant.  That's you.  You'll pretend to be a boy named Lincoln Green.  That's what the outfit is called, but you will take it as a code name.

Code name Lincoln Green?

That's right.

I guess you know what you're doing.

Daniel the mummy begins to rise from the box.  Time for his assistant to provide some assistance.  She hands him the package containing his clothes.  We'll give him a few minutes to get dressed before we check in with him again.

Daniel arrived wearing 12mm acrylic eyes whose irises completely filled his eye sockets.  The eyes were so dark I couldn't tell what color they were and at first thought they were black.  It goes without saying that they have to go.  Daniel's eyes are so narrow, I knew he would need 10mm eyes.  I want glass, but until I can order some he will wear 11mm Eyeco silicone eyes.  The pupil and iris on the 11mm Eyeco are actually smaller than those on 10mm glass eyes, but I am finding them a little too small.  I tried nYID Oscar's 10mm glass eyes in Daniel to make sure, and they will be perfect.  I'm a little tempted to give them to Daniel now and get new eyes for Oscar.  I don't know.  I'll see.

I bought Daniel the Steam Punk Hunter Set.  The outfit gave me the idea to make Daniel a time traveler.  Talk about a fiddly outfit!  The shirt closes by means of a very skinny string that passes through the holes in the shirt's trim.  (Same method I used on FM60 Mirwen's corsets.)  It took me close to a half hour to get him laced up, primarily because the string skips a few holes each time it crosses the shirt so I was busy counting as well as lacing. Then there was the shoulder armor, which took a few tries to go on correctly.  (A diagram would be lovely.)  There is a chain that goes from one arm warmer to the shoulder armor, and a strap attached to the other arm warmer that winds up and around the other arm.  I wasn't sure about the latter, but I went onto Iple's site and it appears I got the placement right.  There was also a string tied to one of the belt loops on the vest.  I couldn't figure out where it goes, so when another check of Iple's site did not show the string I guessed that it's an extra in case I break the one that laces the shirt.  Works for me.

Here is my time traveler, all dressed and exploring an ancient Cistercian abbey.  His trusty assistant, as one would expect, is close at hand, her clothing somewhat awry from the speed of their journey.

Lincoln Green, aka Ophelia, aka KID Lisa is not sure how this time travel business is going to work.  For now she is content to let Daniel think she is a boy while she follows along seeing the sights.

Update on Mirwen's outfits:  I am still working on two skirts to go with Mirwen's corsets.  One was coming along quite well until I began running into problems, both with the fabric and with my sewing machine.  The underskirt to the second corset is finished; I am having to remake the overskirt.  There is good news, however; I have figured out how to construct the skirt that goes with the first corset so that it resembles the Victoria Frances outfit on the original Fairyland Feeple60 Mirwen.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if the problems I am having with one skirt are caused by my eagerness to start work on the other.

Other news:  I have listed 3 of my large Iplehouse dolls on the Den of Angels marketplace.  I took one look at the lineup and realized I have too many large dolls taking up too much of my limited shelf space.  It's time to prune the collection. Vincent and Chris, being the most recent large arrivals, are the easiest to let go.  I haven't yet formed an attachment to them.  The third doll is a re-combination of nYID Olivia and SID Grace.  Of the two sculpts, I prefer Grace because there is more character in her face; however, I prefer the nYID body's size.  So I'm keeping Grace on what was nYID Olivia's body and selling Olivia's head on Grace's body.  No takers yet, but it is so soon after Christmas that I'm sure most potential buyers are temporarily tapped out.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sandals for Moosehilda

No, I haven't forgotten the skirt portion of Mirwen's outfit.  I'm unsure that my fabrics will drape well enough for what I want to do, so I thought I'd work on something else this week while I ponder my next move.

Poor little Moosehilda, aka Doll Chateau Ada, has been searching online for shoes but hasn't found any that look like they will fit her small, narrow feet.  I took pity on her and decided to make her some sandals.  These are easy to make.  The only pattern you need is the outline of the doll's foot.  I had some scraps of real leather, but having to work in such small scale made me think I would be better off using a synthetic.  Of the several synthetics I had available, I chose an upholstery grade vinyl because it was thicker than the rest while still pliable.  I figured that with two layers the sandal would feel substantial enough without requiring an additional insole.  Because Moosehilda has four feet, that meant cutting eight soles from the vinyl.  My plan was to glue a length of narrow ribbon between the two layers.  This would provide the laces with which to tie the sandals.
The little white bean shape below the scissors is the pattern piece.

It's always satisfying to complete a project in a short amount of time, and these sandals are not only easy but quick.  Getting all of the soles the same shape was a bit tricky because my pattern was so small it was hard to trace around.  I ended up doing a bit of trimming after top and bottom soles were glued together.  My biggest challenge was tying the sandals on.  Because her ankles are so delicate, it was a little like tying a bow around a toothpick.  But I persevered and Moosehilda now has sandals that she is proud and happy to show off.

I also made her a new faux fur wig to replace the white one.  It's difficult to get a good photo of her in a white wig.  Depending on the angle and the lighting, the camera sometimes reads the white wig and white resin as one continuous surface.  Afterwards I had to fix the white wig, because Moosehilda stretched it and it no longer fit its original owner, RealPuki PuPu.  I only got around to that today.  It was so dark and cloudy all day, I was unable to get any photos.  I'll update as soon as the sun shines.

Meanwhile, Moosehilda is over the moon about her new chair.  I found it at Pier One Imports.  It's designed to hold a cell phone. (Really.)  There is a small opening in the seat, which I suppose is for the cord to go through while you charge your phone.  I sewed a quick cushion to hide it.  Although the chair looks like rattan, it is actually metal.  I bought it thinking the Iplehouse BIDs and Fairyland LittleFees could use it, but found when I got it home that their torsos are all too long to fit inside, even without the cushion.  If I still had PukiFees in my collection the size would be perfect for them.  As it is, not only was Moosehilda the only one who could sit in it, but it accommodated her two pairs of legs perfectly.  Getting her inside requires a bit of finesse because of her antlers, but once inside she is queen of all she surveys.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Corset Top for Mirwen

I've been fixated on my FM60 Mirwen lately, ever since CP/FairyLand announced a new FM60 in collaboration with Spanish designer Victoria Frances.  There was an attempted collaboration a few years ago using the Mirwen sculpt and the F60 body, which never saw fruition due to internal problems with a Japanese company that was also part of the project.  Thank goodness the latest project is on track.  I ordered the doll (Sionna Fomhar) the first day that orders were being taken.

FairyLand has a post on its image blog with photos of the earlier concept's prototype.  The doll is painted with the face-up eventually released (minus the bloody tears) as MiniFee Mirwen's default makeup.  She is wearing a corset top with a multi-tiered skirt in purple and blue.  Purple and black stripe stockings along with black/blue/purple feather wings complete the look.  Taking this costume as my inspiration, I am attempting to make a similar outfit for my Mirwen.

Pattern and muslin
First up is the corset.  I imagined this would be the most difficult part of the project, seeing as a corset needs to fit and I am unable to draft a pattern.  Luck stepped in, however, in the form of Gracefaerie's pattern #16 The Corset, which was drafted on a 60cm Luts Delf Lishe.  Before FairyLand, CP was part of Luts.  CP's contributions to the 60cm Luts Delf line eventually became FairyLand's FeePle 60 line.  I wasn't sure how a pattern drafted on a 60cm body would fit the Moe line, so I basted together a muslin and tried it on Mirwen.  It's as close to perfect as I could possibly want.

Possible laces, along with lining and fabric for second corset.
I have way too much fabric in my stash already to even consider buying more, so I am making no effort to copy the concept outfit's fabrics.  After sorting through boxes of fabric, wondering when and why I had bought some of them, I have decided to sew a couple (or more) corsets and then see which one I like best before pairing it up with potential skirt fabrics.

The corset pattern calls for eyelets up the front (or back, if you so choose) for lacing.  It's not that I can't insert eyelets, because I can.  It's more that I prefer an easier method if one is available.  So I couldn't help noticing that the original costume utilized the edge of the applied lace trim for lacing.  Genius!  I had to make a trip to JoAnn Fabrics to find lace that would work with 1/8 inch wide ribbon, but it was worth the trip.

First corset's back hooks, before I repositioned them.

The photos show my first finished corset and a second in the works.  Since then I have finished the second, referencing my mistakes in order to get a better fit.  Darkness fell before I could get photos of it, so I'll try tomorrow.  I have also repositioned the hooks and eyes in the back of the first corset so that they don't show when the doll is wearing it.  That was a bigger job than you might imagine, because when I sew a snap set or a hook set, it's not going anywhere.  It took longer to take apart the first corset's hooks than it did to sew them in the first place.  I need to keep reminding myself that doll clothing won't see the rough use human clothing does.

The skirt in the photos is not the final skirt.  It happens to be an underskirt to an outfit I made a few years ago for Elfdoll Hazy.  Hazy is gone, the dress doesn't fit anyone, but the underskirt is a perfect fit on Mirwen, although it does bunch up when she sits.  One of these days I may use the pattern for an actual skirt.

Monday, January 5, 2015 - Update

As promised, here is the finished second corset.  I thought it would be fun to have optional sleeves, so I took a pattern that had puffed sleeves and cut only the puff part from my fabric.  Rather than sew it onto a bodice, I folded and hemmed a channel for a length of 1/8 inch elastic both at the top (where you would normally gather the sleeve) and at the bottom (where you would expect a cuff).  The elastic keeps them up when she has them on.  When they are not wanted, they are easy to leave off.  Because Mirwen has removable hands, I was able to make my bottom elastic as tight as I wanted with no fear of breaking delicate fingers in the process of dressing or undressing.