Sunday, February 26, 2017

Leonard Joins the Scottish Highlanders

I knew as soon as Lawrence arrived that I wanted to dress at least one FID man as a Scottish Highlander. Not Lawrence, however; he simply doesn't give me that Highlander feeling. Maybe Leonard or Claude. After living with Leonard for a week, I decided he would work.
The kilt essentially is a wrap skirt with pleats around the sides and back. You take a wide rectangle and fold it into even pleats leaving an unpleated section at either end. When worn, the unpleated sections overlap resulting in a flat front. These flat panels each get a pair of small darts at the waistline to accommodate the curvature of the waist. Add a long strip of fabric for the waistband, wide enough to fold over and trimmed to fit at the ends, and voila! That's all there is to it. The length is up to you. I leave the hem unfinished, merely pulling threads for a slight fringe at the bottom.
The fly plaid is a simple square. All I do to finish it is to pull threads all around to give me a short fringe. The fly plaid should be bigger than the one I made. The fabric was left over from another project and I didn't have enough to make it larger. I raided my jewelry box for brooches. I found a couple of Scottish brooches with amethysts in the centers; the stones clashed with the red tartan. The gold-toned brooch is not technically Celtic, but close enough. The brooch with the blue stone is Scottish. It's large, quite heavy and tends to pull the plaid down, but we use what we can find. And seeing as there is a thin blue line in the Glenn plaid, I had to go with the blue.
I gave Leonard the shirt I had made for Idealian51 Cuba and made a new one with slightly longer sleeve cuffs for Cuba. I also made both shirts slightly longer in the body than the pattern called for to make sure they wouldn't pop out of the waistbands. The shirt is from the Dandy pattern (Tamara Casey for Designs by Jude) designed for Tonner's 19-inch Mortimer Mort and Peter Pevensie. I omitted the jabot and the lace on the cuffs as I wasn't going for the dandy look.
For fun I decided to make a short vest. The Dandy pattern includes a long waistcoat, so I traced it onto tracing paper, stopping a little below the waist. As it was my first time using these pattern pieces, I made a muslin first, sewing the back and shoulders and basting the sides. It was a perfect fit so I kept the muslin for my lining and cut new fabric for the main vest. I sewed buttons on, only to discover that I had to nudge the fly plaid out of the way in order to see them. I guess the burning question is: how much do I want to show off the buttons?
I've spent the last few days searching online for the perfect wig. Why is it the ones I like are either the wrong color or the wrong size? I looked through my growing stash of size 5-6 wigs and came up with a Monique Gold Shaine, which I bought for my Raccoon girls. No matter how I comb it, it never hangs right. It's not like pulling it back and tying it will ruin its style. I had been looking for a red or a brown wig for Leonard, so I'm surprised the blond works, despite his dark eyebrows. As for Cuba's Ello-Rose wig, those wavy curls are impossible to brush or comb. What a mess! All I can do is spray it with water, re-tie it and hope for the best.
I still need to make flashes for Leonard. These are bits of colorful fabric attached to garters that help hold the socks in place. I made a pair for Cuba but they don't stay up; I need to fix them. On the other hand, the kilts are long enough that the flashes don't show so I wonder if I should even bother.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Iplehouse FID Leonard

I had a feeling Leonard would arrive after I posted my Valentine's Day couples--and he did, by one day. Considering all the snow that fell beginning last Sunday afternoon, I'm amazed that he arrived at all. But he's here, and so are the two outfits and wig I ordered with him. I had worried that items (like the wig) which have since sold out would cause a delay while Iplehouse restocked. Instead it looks like they may have set aside everything ordered at the same time as the doll. I hope so. That means Claude should show up in another few weeks, despite the presence of sold-out boots and wig on his order.
FID Leonard and Raccoon Gene
Now that I see Leonard with my previously ordered Lawrence, I wish I had ordered Leonard in real skin and Lawrence in normal skin instead of the other way around. It's hard to choose when Iplehouse shows the dolls only in peach gold and light brown. My imagination can take me only so far. Claude will be coming in normal skin also, instead of the real skin and peach gold Iplehouse shows. Fingers crossed! Of course with FID Claude I have the memory--not to mention lots of photos--of the normal skin SID Claude I used to have, so there shouldn't be any surprises.
FID Lawrence and FID Leonard
On to the clothing. I ordered two outfits with Leonard: the Vintage Road Set and the Black Tuxedo Set. I'm a little nervous about the Vintage Road Set. Blue denim coupled with a black pullover is a recipe for staining. I could have washed the jeans before putting them on a doll, but I was afraid they would shrink. Clothes from Iplehouse are usually skin tight to begin with. After some thought I put the Vintage Road Set on Lawrence, as he is the only doll I ordered in real skin and is less likely to show stains than the other two. I already have the tuxedo on Leonard, which leaves the gray pants and shirt for Claude.
Leonard with Raccoon Sarah
The Tuxedo jacket and pants are a good fit. In fact, the pants are even a wee bit loose, so there is room to tuck in the shirt. Like the gray shirt, the tuxedo shirt is tight enough that it gaps in front. The cummerbund, which is supposed to cover the pants waistband, is too tight. Why did Iplehouse put belt loops on the pants? There is no belt. I'm left to wonder if the cummerbund might fit if I removed the loops. It will take a fair amount of work to do it right, so I want to be sure before I attempt it. There is no possibility of adjusting the cummerbund itself, as it closes with Velcro strips. Maybe if I get brave (or bored) someday I'll simply make a new cummerbund. For now I have the cummerbund sitting above the waistband. I can just barely fasten it.
That leaves the tie. A simple little item, no? A small bow with two ribbons to fasten it. Two ribbons so long that I ended up with a much larger bow in back than in front, way too much ribbon to tuck neatly under the collar. What to do? I snipped some of the length off the ties, folded the ends under and sewed a snap set. I'm not sure the ribbon won't unravel at some point, so I think I might make a new tie by attaching a small ribbon bow to a piece of black elastic. I don't know. Considering how much Iplehouse charges for a complete outfit, shouldn't the outfit 1) be complete and 2) fit in every respect?
Leonard with Raccoon Sarah*
I had a bit of a struggle getting the Vintage Road Set on Lawrence. At first it looked like the pants legs were too narrow to go over his feet but I was able to stretch them enough to get them up. Too bad these guys can't tuck in their butts--I could have used a little help easing the pants over them. The pullover sweater needs to go on carefully. I put one sleeve on, then the neck, which made it awfully hard to maneuver the second sleeve. Probably it would work better to put both hands in, ease on the sleeves and then pop the head through the opening. It would help if the shoulders were not quite so wide. Thankfully he can get into it, which is more than I can say for the shirt Soom sold for Idealian51.
FID Lawrence and FID Miho**
After I put on the bracelet I was left with a mystery piece. I didn't remember a necklace with this outfit. Finally I went back to the website to see what it was. I think this is what Iplehouse calls a decorative belt. It appears to attach to either the belt or the belt loops. None of Iple's photos show exactly how and where, because the sweater comes down over it. Thanks, Iplehouse. At least this outfit comes with a belt.
FID Miho in Navajo
A final word (or more) about wigs. Leonard's dark blonde wig is a James from Facets by Marcia,  made by a custom manufacturer (not her usual Monique Gold). It's a lot tighter than I like, and because it has less hair it makes his small head look even smaller. I think I'll reserve it for my first Raccoon man, whenever Raccoon Dolls gets around to releasing one. Leonard's fuller, reddish wig is from FairyLand. It was sold as a wig for LittleFee but I always found it too tight to get on mine. Occasionally one of my Raccoon girls will wear it; for now I think Leonard will keep it. The wig I bought from Iplehouse is a mess. Not only is it tight, it was poorly cut. Granted I am no hairdresser, but I will probably give it a trim and see if I can salvage it. Heaven knows I can't make it much worse. When it comes to wigs the FID men appear to fall between sizes 5-6 and 6-7. I would be tempted to buy a Jpopdolls wig size 6.25, if only she sold some in a style more befitting a man. The only style currently available is Kanalong. In my opinion it's just too long.

All the girls pictured are wearing wigs by Monique Gold as sold by Facets by Marcia. Gene's wig is Faye in reddish brown, Sarah's is Pretty Girl in carrot red, and Miho's is Navajo in brown black. Because it's so tightly braided, this wig did not fit her at first, so I let Gene stretch it for a month or so. Now it's perfect. Hmm, maybe I ought to let the girls stretch my men's wigs, too...

*Sarah is wearing the gift dress that SoulDoll sent with the purchase of Vito Freya. It's a little loose on top and might work better on a doll with a larger bust. I believe all my Raccoon girls have the small bust. I'll have to try it on FID Miho for fit.

**Miho is wearing an Iplehouse sweater and leggings made for JID girls. Because the leggings were short for her, I crocheted some leg warmers. She needs boots.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

For Valentine's Day

Yesterday morning I awoke to the sound of a snowplow scraping the road. That's all it took to convince me that I would be missing yet another doll meet-up. It's a fact: the older I get, the less I care to venture out on snowy roads. Whether the snowfall is minimal or a full-blown blizzard, I don't like to drive in it.

My dolls, however, were dressed for a Valentine's meet-up. What to do? I didn't have the heart to disappoint them, so I took photos anyway. I present them today in place of the meet-up photos I would have taken yesterday.

Brianna, a FeePle60 Cygne, would have made her meet-up debut--all by herself because she doesn't have a sweetheart. (My one F60 boy now has three girls to choose from. He'll stay undecided if he knows what's good for him. It keeps the girls on their best behavior.) I did make her a heart-shaped pillow for Valentine's Day. I think her wistful expression says it best: a pillow is a poor substitute for a warm-blooded lover.
She is wearing Zaoll Luv's full set outfit, a nice fit even though she is a few centimeters taller than Luv. Her wig is from Jpopdolls.

Luts Model Delf Annette also would have made her meet-up debut. She is paired with Model Delf Avalanche, who is beyond thrilled finally to have a girl made especially for him. Her outfit is by Sadol; his is sewn by me from a combination of Adams-Harris patterns that I originally made for a Limhwa Mono or a U-noa boy (I don't remember which but both boys wore it). Their wigs are from LeekeWorld.
I love how well engineered their bodies are, which puts me in a quandary right now. Do I buy the newest Model Delf boy or wait for Raccoon's promised male dolls. If the Raccoon guys don't appear soon, I know where my money is going.

Then we come to my odd couple: SoulDoll Vito Jin and Dollmore Zaoll Luv. I keep them together because of their heights; otherwise, their head sizes and overall proportions are a mismatch. I would love to find a girl that looks better with him. There was SoulDoll Vito Freya--a perfect match who unfortunately didn't stay very long. If I could find a girl with most of Freya's proportions (minus the bounteous booty)...well, bye-bye Luv.
Jin has a new wig, a Monique Gold Buttercup in chestnut/brown black. His outfit combines a Doll Heart shirt and vest with Dollmore Zaoll jeans and Iplehouse nYID shoes. Luv's outfit combines a blouse from an Adams-Harris pattern for SD girls with an Iplehouse JID jumper. Her wig is from LeekeWorld.

But what's this? Uh-oh! Trouble in paradise!
The head size is right, but she is quite a bit shorter than he is. Still, I can't deny he looks interested. So does she. And I have seen many human couples where the girl is much shorter than the boy. We'll have to watch this and see what develops!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Cutest Doll Crochet Pattern Book

Perhaps I should have titled this: The Cutest Doll Crochet Pattern Book I Have Found to Date. Truth be told, most of the books of crochet patterns for dolls that I've found focus either upon 18-inch play dolls or upon amigurumi. A quick browse of Amazon books shows me some new titles I didn't see the last time I looked. Even so, none of them consider ball jointed dolls, much less tiny BJDs, so basically I am on my own in figuring out how to adapt the patterns. Before I get too far ahead of myself, here is the book, by Isabelle Kessedjian:
A caveat for users in the US: the crochet terms in the book are UK/European. I copied the author's chart showing US and UK equivalents onto a card that I can use as a bookmark, for when I need a reminder that dc in this book equals single crochet, not double crochet as I would normally expect. Another caveat, this for everyone: there is no gauge given. You're given the weight of the yarn and the size of crochet hook used. The only way to know what size garment you will end up with is to make one and see! The same goes for using different yarn or another size crochet hook. This appears to be intentional, a matter of the author letting each individual decide for herself what size her doll will be. Yes, but it's also just a tad frustrating.

That said, the projects are adorable. You get not only the doll with a variety of costumes and accessories, but also props like a suitcase with a blanket and pillow, a basket, a cake and cupcakes, a camera and a schoolbag. You also get amigurumi pets such as a toy bear, a penguin and little fish. I don't foresee many little fishes in my doll world unless my dragons like to eat them, but I can't wait to try the bear and penguin.
My intent in buying the book was to use the patterns to clothe my smaller BJDs: FairyLand's Realpuki and PukiFee, WithDoll tinies, and Doll Chateau Ada. I own two pairs of tiny trousers that someone knitted for Realpuki. Every time I look at them I wonder how the maker did it, because I have never seen knitting needles that would produce something so small. Since then I have found metal crochet hooks that tiny. Whether I can see well enough to use them is another matter, but hope springs eternal, as they say.

I decided to make a test garment to check for size and also to see how well I could follow the instructions. I selected the sweater, as it forms the basis for coats and dresses, and started with Aunt Lydia's Classic 10 crochet thread and a size B (2.25mm) crochet hook. Bad choice. The sweater, like many of the other garments, is crocheted in the round, but no matter how many times I tried, I couldn't keep my chain straight as I worked the foundation row so that I consistently ended up with my slip knot one row above my hem. Undaunted, I switched to Aunt Lydia's Fashion 3 crochet thread and a size D (3mm) crochet hook. It wouldn't give me the size I ultimately wanted, but at least I would be able to see what I was doing. After getting the same results several more times, I gave up working in the round and decided to make a sweater that would close via buttons or a Velcro strip.
The sweater looked fine until I reached the armholes. Suddenly I realized that despite having exactly the number of stitches in my row that the pattern called for, the resulting garment was not going to fit any doll in my collection. Oh well, I told myself, I need the practice. So I continued making the first sleeve, which seemed much thicker and wider than those in the book's photos. I had to see what it looked like on a doll. I picked a LittleFee. Hmm... If I made the sleeves shorter than the pattern called for she could almost wear it. Of course, it was too long for a sweater, but it might work as a coat or a bathrobe. Maybe add a fuzzy yarn as trim around the edges. So I did just that, using Patons Cha Cha for the trim. (Note: eyelash yarn is not easy to crochet.) I crocheted a quick belt from the Fashion 3. And here it is:
I've learned a few things from making this test garment. 1) Except for hats, forget about working in the round. 2) I need to get comfortable with Aunt Lydia's Classic 10 and a smaller crochet hook. 3) All of these patterns will need some adjustment to fit my dolls' differing body types.