Gratitude

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Two Arrivals, One Return

One-half of my year's-end event purchases arrived last week. Oddly enough, I ordered them one day apart and they shipped one day apart--although in the process of shipping one hurried home while the other decided it would be more fun to spend the weekend in New York.

FairyLand's FeePle60 Moe Cygne arrived first. This doll was a must-buy because she is a larger-size version of FL's Project Liria, a very limited MiniFee release from mid-2015. (Only 67 full sets were available for sale worldwide. Needless to say I didn't get one.) Enter Cygne: An Ode to the Swan. As much as I liked the FM60 version's swan costume, I ordered the basic doll only. It was a matter of cost, first and foremost, as well as wondering how long a dress made of white feathers would take to start molting. Not that I'm allergic, but with three pet birds I have quite enough free-floating feathers around the house already. No sense adding even more of them to the air I breathe.
FM60 Basic Cygne
By basic I also mean blank. It's not that I didn't like her default face-up, because her makeup is one thing that made me fall in love with her. The question was, did I love it enough to pay $70 extra for it? The problem with basic dolls is that once you start adding back bits and pieces of the full set, you end up paying more than you would for the entire package. So I opted to do her face-up myself. I did an okay job, considering I risked temperatures only just above freezing and worked quickly to finish before the weather changed. I wanted to be sure she had a face to present at the next doll meet-up. I'll redo it when warm weather arrives for good.
Preliminary Face-up
I had forgotten that basic FM60 girls come with flat feet only, so I neglected to buy heel feet. I also forgot to order a different pair of hands. Moe girls come with #17 hands, which I don't particularly like. Luckily Denver Doll Emporium had both the heel feet and basic #12 hands in stock, so I ordered both. The acrylic eyes FairyLand sent with her didn't work for me. (Too big.) I changed them to 12mm glass eyes in aqua and ordered a pair in green that I thought I might like better. When they arrived I found I liked them as much as the first pair, but not enough to go to the trouble of removing Cygne's head to install them, so I put the green eyes in FM60 Lacrima instead. (In case you're wondering why it should be more trouble to change eyes in Cygne than in Lacrima, Cygne is very tightly strung. At the moment I'm having difficulty turning her resin key to remove her head. Lacrima has been around long enough to be easy to handle.)
That's an Iplehouse SID dress Cygne is wearing. (Sad to say it's no longer available--I've had it for years.) I was both surprised and delighted to find that it fit her. Of course the shirred top means it will fit any size bust, but the length is absolutely perfect despite the fact that Cygne (who will be named Brianna) is quite a bit shorter than SID women. She is also wearing a low-heeled shoe from Soom that fits perfectly with her flat feet. Changing to her heel feet won't be an issue, as FM60 girl hands and feet attach by way of magnets. Easy-peasy. (I wish all BJDs had that feature.)

Raccoon Doll Monica was the second arrival. Monica was issued as a Limited doll in two versions: Temptation Monica with a bold, bright makeup and Elegance Monica with a softer makeup. Both versions were available in the usual Normal and Sweet Mocha resins as well as two new resin colors: White and Dark Mocha. I ordered Temptation Monica in Sweet Mocha, the same resin color shown on Modern Gene below, who also wears the formal pink skirt and corset top I ordered at the same time:
Sweet Mocha Gene
Imagine my surprise and chagrin when I opened Monica's box to find this:
Dark Mocha Monica
I had to stand beside a window in order to get enough light to take the photo. The window is to the left, where the resin appears lightest. The yellowish cast on the resin comes from the box; it's not there when the doll is removed from it. And as you can guess from the foam surrounding her, which looks dark gray rather than black, the Dark Mocha resin is somewhat darker than it photographs. After talking with people on Den of Angels, I think the difference in color is the same as that between Iplehouse Real Skin and their Light Brown resin. Anyway you look at it, this doll is not the color I ordered. 

Regardless of doll company, BJD sales are considered final unless the doll arrives damaged. (Or unless you don't pay for it, or cancel your order immediately, before they start making your doll.)  On the other hand, this was obviously the wrong color, so I left messages both on Raccoon's Q&A board and via e-mail. I didn't expect an immediate reply, seeing as most Asian doll companies were already shutting down for a long Lunar New Year weekend, but I heard back within a day. Raccoon acknowledged the mistake and asked me to return the doll at his expense. Customer service doesn't get much better than that! It will take a few weeks to make the new doll. I don't mind the wait at all. It will be worth it to have the color I actually ordered. And since you can't see the resin color too well in the above photo, which was taken to showcase the outfit rather than the doll's skin tone, here is my gorgeous Sweet Mocha Gene in close-up.
Sweet Mocha Gene
I look forward to pairing my Raccoon girls with the two Fashion Iplehouse (FID) men still on order: Leonard and Claude. There is no telling how much longer their orders will take. Leonard is waiting for a sold out wig color to be restocked, while Claude awaits both a sold out wig and sold out boots. What really irks me about the second one is that the wig is not even for Claude, it's for Monica!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

More Scots Highlanders

I continue to work on costumes inspired by the Outlander series. Last week's meet-up photos show Butterfly Narae in a new homespun gown while Idealian51 Cuba wears a shirt from the same pattern as SoulKid Yarn's. You might have noticed too that Yarn's new red wig has migrated onto Cuba's head and that Yarn is sporting a different wig altogether. I love red hair and, as luck would have it, I had a number of red wigs in my collection to choose from.
The shirt pattern is Dandy, designed for 19-inch Mortimer Mort by Tamara Casey for Designs by Jude. (The pattern also makes breeches, a waistcoat and coat.) Based on how Yarn's shirt came out, I knew I wanted some extra length in Cuba's shirt. I also wanted to remake the neckline. Instead of securing a gathering stitch around the neck to fit, I made a channel and ran a crochet thread through it. This thread functions as a drawstring, so the neckline is completely adjustable should a doll with a thinner neck wear it. Seeing as I planned to omit the lace at the cuffs from the start, I probably should have lengthened the sleeves just a bit. They look short, but perhaps that is only by comparison with Yarn's much longer lace sleeve ends.

The Irish feel of Narae's gown happened unintentionally. I chose the trim because its colors complemented the fabric, not realizing the green flowers could read as shamrocks. By the time I noticed, I couldn't remove the trim because of the difficulty in picking stitches out of the fabric's loose weave. I like the dress, however, so she's keeping it. Here's a full-length view:
Originally I had intended that FID Lawrence would join the group. I rejected that idea on the grounds that Lawrence is too dark to represent Jamie Fraser and that the FID head is too small next to the other dolls. The Idealian51 head, on the other hand, is perfect. Adding to his allure for this role is how hard it is to find premade clothing to fit him. Lacking much else to wear, he was simply begging for a kilt.
I learned from my mistakes on the kilt itself (poor Yarn was my guinea pig) and added darts to the flat panels before sewing the waistband. Even so, I had trouble choosing the best placement for snap sets. I wanted the kilt snug enough not to fall down but loose enough that I could tuck one end of the fly plaid into the waistband. At the moment I have the plaid tucked under the belt, which leaves the kilt a bit loose. Considering that a historically accurate plaid would be one large rectangular piece of fabric which the wearer would place on the ground, pleat by hand, lie down on and then roll into and gather with his belt, the end result would look even baggier than my version.
Looking for something to convert into a belt, I struck gold at Michaels (a craft store chain). I could tell at a glance that the leather strip was the perfect width to fit my belt buckle. I didn't consider its thickness until I came home and realized the paper punch that cuts through thin synthetics wouldn't work here. With no leather-working tools, I proceeded by trial and error until I finally punctured the belt by means of a hammer and a sharp nail, but the hole wouldn't stay open. None of my eyelets would accommodate the tongue of the buckle, so I forced a thick needle into the hole to hold it open until I was ready to fasten the belt. I dread the day I need to change his clothes. I may have to cut the belt off! In the meantime it looks good.
Because Yarn is wearing my only penannular brooch, I ordered two more online from a company that offered them in small, medium and large. Imagine my surprise when the two "smalls" arrived and I discovered each was larger than the doll's sporran! Somehow I had expected them to be the same size as Yarn's. Must be that one was a mini. It's also nearly 35 years old, so chances of finding another like it are slim to non-existent. After taking photos I replaced Cuba's brooch with a smaller one that looks vaguely Celtic. It will have to do.
As I've mentioned before, my Scottish outfits are not copies of costumes shown in the Outlander television series. They are merely inspired by the books and the series. I don't require historical accuracy in what I make. It's enough for me to achieve the feeling of an era--a modern impression rather than a period replica.

I still haven't quite figured out who's who related to the characters from Outlander aside from Cuba, who has the stature and the look of Jamie Fraser, and Narae, who is my Claire. Ideally Claire should be a little taller, but I don't have anyone else at the moment who can fit the bill. Yarn is problematic. He can't be young Ian, whose character would be better represented as a white Mohawk with facial tattoos. He can't be Fergus, either, because Fergus is actually French. Or maybe he could be Fergus, with dark brown hair, which would make Dollpire Roo his Marsali. With nearly black hair he could also be Roger; then Roo could be Brianna. Obviously this requires some more thought.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Vermont Doll Lovers Meeting, January 2017

Three members of the Vermont Doll Lovers group met yesterday for the first meeting of 2017: Lyrajean, Modern Wizard and myself. For a larger view of any of the photo-collages, click on the image.

Lyrajean brought her three Iplehouse EIDs: Asa, Bibiane and Bichun. She also brought her tinies: Volks Yo-SD Kira, Custom House Petite Ai Sariel and Uriel, Xagadoll Sylvia, Hujoo Freya, and her Spiritdoll cats, who were accompanied by their Sylvanian Family kittens. Her Star Wars cosplay Unoa Zest and Bimong Meronica battled with their new and improved light sabers.

Modern Wizard brought three dolls (left to right): a female elf made by fellow member DragonGems (aka Megan), a Soom Faery Legend Auber, and a custom Mattel Barbie head on a custom Spin Master Liv body. In the second photo they are joined by Lyrajean's Xagadoll Sylvia.

Finally, my dolls: I brought Iplehouse FID Miho and Lawrence, FairyLand PukiFee Sheep Story Rin, SoulDoll Soul Kid Yarn (minus the Winter Prince fullset), Bimong Butterfly Narae, and Soom Idealian51 Cuba Summer Monologue (romantic head).
With EID Bichun in the house, I thought it would be fun to show the EID and FID guys next to one another. It's funny, Lawrence doesn't look small until you see him with one of the big guys.
Now to think of which dolls I'll bring next month for the Valentine's Day meet-up...

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Highlander Outfit for Soul Kid Yarn

I'm posting Saturday night, instead of Sunday, because I plan to binge-watch the entire second season of Outlander tomorrow on the Starz channel. After missing most of the first season, I only started watching in earnest near the end of season two. It didn't take long before I was hooked. History, romance and time travel. What's not to love? I'm currently reading the original novels by Diana Gabaldon--I'm a few hundred pages into book six, with two more books to go--and sewing Scottish highland outfits for my dolls.
My first Outlander-inspired outfit came together during the Fall, made for my Dollpire Kid Roo (a Dollmore Kid head on a Dollmore Judith Girl body).  I planned to make a male version for Soul Kid Yarn, who at the time was on order but hadn't arrived.
Fast Forward to the beginning of Winter. After some fit issues with the kilt, I finally have Yarn finished. None of my wigs felt right for his character, so I ordered an Ello-Rose from Facets by Marcia. It arrived yesterday. It's much fuller than I expected. The photo on the Facets by Marcia website makes the wig look rather sparse compared to the burning red bush I received. When I tied it back my black ribbon all but disappeared in the mass of curls. In a way I'm glad that the wig gives the illusion of a bigger head. Yarn's head is one size smaller than Roo's, so it evens them out.
I couldn't help wondering how the outfit would look on FID Lawrence. Though he tried it on I didn't take photos, because just about every piece of the outfit needs to be longer or wider before it will fit. Let's just say I liked it well enough to want to make him a Scottish outfit of his own. Lawrence is both brawnier and more intense looking than Yarn, so his Highlander outfit will look more like something he could brawl in.
I've also started on a dress for Narae inspired by Claire's Scottish gown. Note that all of these costumes are "inspired by" rather than attempts to reproduce costumes from the show. I'm using the same pattern as for Roo's plaid gown, but making it in a small green-and-ecru check homespun. I had hoped to have enough of it finished to show tonight, but the homespun had other ideas. The stuff unravels easily, which makes it get smaller as I sew. Luckily Narae is small enough that it should still fit when I'm done. If not, well, it won't be the first time I restarted an outfit.
It took three sets of photos before I got what I needed for this post. In the first set I didn't have Yarn's proper wig. In the second set I had the wig, but didn't notice until I was editing photos that one of his flashes (a garter with a decorative flash of fabric on it) had worked its way above one stocking. Today's photos show fewer distractions. Unless you count the doll stands, that is, but these two absolutely refused to behave without them.
A few notes about the costume. The tartan fabric worn over the shoulder is a fly plaid. It should be longer. I was a wee bit stingy and didn't cut it large enough. It's held in place by a penannular brooch. I've had this one for years and found it was a good size for the plaid. I don't know what I'll do when I make a second outfit, because my only other small pieces of Celtic jewelry are a Welsh love spoon and a Book of Kells bird. Guess I'll have to buy another brooch.
The furry thing hanging from his belt is a sporran. Kilts don't have pockets, so basically the sporran is a purse for carrying a man's essentials. Ladies don't wear these. Usually the decoration on the front consists of two or three tassels. I didn't feel like trying to make tiny tassels, so I chose pre-strung beads and used five to make them more visible. The only things missing from the outfit are the sgian dubh and a kilt pin. The sgian dubh is a small knife that is usually tucked into the top of one stocking. I don't have anything that small, although I suppose I could try to make one. Likewise I don't have a tiny kilt pin, although I did improvise a pin for his jabot out of a straight pin with a silver ball head. If I find another one I'll stick it in the kilt. The shoes are wrong, of course, but I'm no gonna try making ghillie brogues!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! - First Dress of 2017

My first outfit of the year was supposed to be a kilt for Soul Kid Yarn. When I finished putting it together, however, it didn't fit him, no matter how hard I tugged or where I placed the snap sets. It was plenty big when I started. What went wrong? Close inspection showed me that at least one pleat had turned back on itself as I was sewing the waistband, making a lump at the waist. Also, I had tacked down the pleats a short way all around and now discovered that some of the tacks went through too many layers of fabric. So last night--after a neighbor's fireworks jolted me out of bed--I sat at my sewing table and picked the seams apart. I guess my first outfit of the year will be the kilt after all, as it's the first one I'm working on in 2017. Although seeing as I'm back to square one, you won't see it before next week.
That makes WithDoll Priscilla's dress the first finished outfit of the year. If you recall, Model Delf Annette claimed Priscilla's blue dress, which meant Priscilla needed something else to wear with her silver cloak and glittery shoes. It needed to be in keeping with her persona as a guardian spirit of the moon, so I selected a gray quilting cotton with a tiny print, along with a solid dark gray cotton gauze. The printed fabric would become a corset top with matching puffed sleeves (Gracefaerie's #21 Corset for MSD), which I intended to pair with a high-low skirt in the cotton gauze and a short underskirt of plain white cotton.
I had never made a high-low skirt before. I didn't have a pattern. I have made any number of full skirts from simple rectangles, however, so I deduced that a high-low was simply a plain skirt with part of the rectangle cut away. After folding and cutting a small piece of paper to make sure I was on the right track, I measured Priscilla for length and cut my fabric. Normally this is where you get my sob story about why the piece didn't work. Not this time. This time it worked! I didn't line the skirt. It might have looked better if I had but chances are it would have hung more stiffly. I didn't want stiff--I wanted fluid. There is enough stiffness from the tulle trim I added to both the underskirt and the high-low.
I changed her wig to a white Kana from Jpopdolls and added one of my old bracelets as a headband. It's nice to find a use for these bracelets after so many years. I never wore them much even when I was younger as I always hated to have something dangling from my wrist. They fit a size 6-7 head almost perfectly. This one does tend to slide down if I'm not careful. It fits better with a fuller wig.

Happy New Year to All!