Friday, 21 July 2017

Another teaser



I do so love to tease.  This is a brief sneaky glimpse of my current Ellowyne project.

It's proving to be a real art piece using different skills, and I can't wait to finish. I'm waiting on glue at the moment.  Might take three or four days to arrive so I can't finish the shoes yet.  Bah.





Love these colours.  <3


___________________




Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Crochet fest for Ellowyne Wilde



Whee.  I've been on such a crochet buzz lately.  It makes a change from the sewing and I sort of needed a break.   I'm addicted, and have bought loads of new yarns, and have plans for su much crochet and knitting, I can't even.

But here's the initial collection.  The outfits start at £25.00 because I've wanted to offer something a little less expensive in my Etsy shop.  That is never easy with handmade items.

Available in my Etsy shop: (In the 'handmade doll fashions' section)

Besides the rain we're having here in South Wales today, summer 2017 has been hot and sunny and glorious.  So these little outfits reflect that.  I've called it the English Rose collection, and each outfit has a quintessentially English name.  It's been fun, and  I still have outfits on the go, so will be adding more.

The first eight look very glam on Ell and her pals.  So here they are.

The dresses are not simply tubes with skirts added, but are fitted to the doll's bust and waist.   I've used cottons and rayons for these. The rayon is gorgeous.  I keep raving about it, but there it is. Fabulous for doll scale. The cottons are equally lovely, and handle differently, but I'm loving htese raw materials.

"Camden Lock"   A fun and trendy part of London. Pru looks set for a good stroll along the canal to the fashionable market.



"Bayswater" A delight in peaches and lilac.



"Regents Park". A gentle stroll to feed the swans.



"Mayfair" A fashionable address for a select garden party.



"Kew Gardens"  A horticultural afternoon, followed by tea on the lawn.



 "Glastonbury"  A rainbow to wear in the VIP enclosure at the festival.



"Henley" Perfect for the regatta.



"Kensington"  because Amber insists on looking divine whilst visiting the museums.



I have my crochet stuff set up next to my sewing spot, so I only have to reach for it.  Which I do all the time. Lots.   I've got a couple of 1940's style outfits on the go at the moment, and after I've made some of those, I'll be devising a more 1920's look with cloche hats.












So off I go to watch a little Wimbledon.  I missed the Djokovic game this morning, and I'm very fond of Novak.  (Although I still hope Murray wipes the floor with him.  I'm so evil.)

Then more crochet.  I love yarns.  The colours I've spent ALL THIS MONEY ON are mouthwatering and irresistible.


___________________










Thursday, 6 July 2017

Crochet for Ellowyne Wilde



I don't do things by halves.

I think in a recent post, I said I was going to brush up on my crochet skills.   This usually  means sitting and creating a dress or something, and keeping at it until every last piece is perfect. Obsessive much?

You bet.

Hence ... I've made lots of these. The ones here on mah dollies are complete outfits, apart from Pru on the far right, who's wearing a dress I've laundered and have put on the doll to dry. Which is why the hat doesn't match.


Some of these yarns are rayon (The USA seem to call it Rayon, we Brits call it viscose) which is a natural fibre but is created by chemical means, so it's classed as semi-synthetic.   This does not mean it's a cheap material, like polyester. It's very much like silk and is very shiny, soft and slinky.  It has amazing drape, which is lovely in doll scale. 

When you've crocheted it up, it's sort of rough and a bit squeaky, but if you rinse it gently in warm water and a generous amount of fabric conditioner, it transforms once dried, into a soft, slithery and drapey fabric.   It's strange stuff. When wet, it seems to shrink (which made me panic) and is almost too tight to put on the doll, but once dried, it's soft and perfect. It behaves very much like silk, but if you're dying it, rayon dyes like cotton.

I have four or five sumptuous rayon crochet yarns I inherited from my dear mum, but as I only have a few, I've been looking into buying some more.

It's so hard to find!   Most of it is vintage stash that people are selling, but even on the vast world wide web, it's really difficult to find a supply.  I've found a couple of sellers and have ordered samples, and am excited to try them.  

Rayon yarn is not cheap, so the rayon dresses will be a little dearer, especially my precious vintage - and sadly finite - stash.

On top of that, I've bought a load of crochet cottons, and some of the dresses are made in these. They'll be a little less, as you can buy them reasonably inexpensively. I'm trying to devise outfits that I can offer for sale at less expensive prices than my hand-sewn items.   So far so good.  

When I go quiet, it's usually because I'm spending lots of time making. And this time it's crochet.   

Loving it, and it's been so hot that all I want to do is sit in front of my electric fan and crochet.   Watch this space.

Also Wimbledon is happening.  So yay for that.  :) Go Andy.


_____________


Friday, 30 June 2017

Two summer corset sets for Ellowyne Wilde & Friends.


Summertime, and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy's rich and your ma is good-lookin'
So hush little baby, Don't you cry


Two gorgeous Summer outfits for Ellowyne and co.   I'm loving making corsets and crochet hats.   I also have some crochet dresses coming up, and am trying to keep the costs down, so hopefully will be offering them for a little less that some of my hand-sewn items.

But for now, we have these two beauties.

Available in my Etsy shop:  In the 'Handmade doll fashions' section.


Fish are Jumpin'
£55.00



These are of course the outfits I made during the production of SSP-050.  I've primped them up a bit, added crochet hats, and lovely little chokers, just to set them off.  I like a choker with bare shoulders.



The hats are fun. I've made so many!  Now I've brushed up on my crochet skills, I can make one in an evening.

The top for this set is a corset-style top. It fits beautifully and has that lovely ruffle around the lower edge.



The skirt for this one is just off the floor, so I call  it foot length.  Perhaps Maxi length is more correct?



Cotton is High
RESERVED


I love light colours on my darker skinned dolls.  Lizette looks beautiful in anything, especially this. The corset is fully boned, and fastens at back with eyelets and narrow ribbon.  This one is a little more expensive, due to the boning, eyelets etc.  It takes quite a while to get it all perfect, and nothing less than perfect will do.


This tiny rose print is so pretty.. I want to buy some more and use it again.


The length of the skirt is just above ankle length, but in fact the cotton ace trim brings it to ankle length.   Due to perspective, it's difficult to depict the true length of doll skirts. They always look longer in pics.



And another crochet hat.  I'm making these in my sleep...

It's nice to switch off from sewing in the evenings, so something like crochet is not only really therapeutic and relaxing, it's also highly productive.   I've always called it wasting time productively. My lovely Gran was the same. She couldn't just sit still and watch TV, she always had to be doing something, like knitting.   Relaxation might not be a waste of time. In fact it's valuable ... but for the life of me, I can't sit still and do nothing.

(Unless Doctor Who is on the tellybox...)



Next I'm working on a lovely evening gown/wedding gown for Ellowyne.  It's one of my more ambitious projects, but I'm confident I can produce a sewing pattern for it, that's not too technical or difficult.

_______________________








Saturday, 24 June 2017

Drive by Saturday - Viscose/rayon threads.

Doing a quickie post on Saturday this time.

Lately I've been getting to grips with my crochet skills.   I sew, knit, and craft, but crochet has never been one of my strongest skills, and I want to make some pretty dolly dresses so It's time to knuckle down and get some practice in.

I've come up with a design and pattern already, for a dress and a hat,  which are still works in progress.   Whilst digging through my limited stash of crochet threads, I've found some lovely cotton that I've had a while, and are crying out to be used.  Also, I rediscovered some proper vintage rayon threads (which is the same thing as viscose) that I inherited from my lovely mum.

Rayon has been with us commercially since 1891.  It's classed as a semi synthetic, but is actually made from natural fibres.  It's the process which is chemical, hence semi-synthetic.   Rayon actually behaves very much like cotton when dying.  It has a slinky heavy drape to it, and I adore it, although that slinkiness can be  a nuisance to sew. It can also be a bit awkward to crochet or knit with, but I love the results, so it's worth it.   But I digress.  My mum's threads are at least from the 1960s, possibly even the 40s or 50s.  And it makes gorgeous doll scale dresses because of the drape.

Do you think I can find some new rayon crochet threads for love or money?  They seem so hard to find.  On Ebay, I've seen threads from India purporting to be viscose, but a while back, I bought a load of machine embroidery spools claiming to be rayon, but they turned out to be polyester. Which meant they didn't have quite the same qualities.  (You can't dye polyester very easily.)  This makes me wary of buying threads that claim to be viscose/rayon.

I did find one seller who stocked it in the UK, but it's £7.50 per spool.  Ouch. I must admit to ordering one rainbow coloured spool, purely for research purposes. Heh.

So how do you tell rayon from polyester?

Well, do this over a sink, because rayon is flammable - more flammable even than cotton.  If you hold a lighter flame to a rayon thread, it will flame and burn down quite quickly, so mind your fingers.   If you do the same with polyester, it will melt and you'll get like a clump of plastic. So I'm currently going through my big box of supposedly rayon machine embroidery threads, separating the polyester ones out from the genuine rayon.

What I thought I'd try, is combining 5 or 6 machine embroidery threads together, to make a thicker and very pretty crochet thread of many shades.   I've made a start on a dress, I'll post pics when it's done, but the six spools I'm using are all clattering around in a tub as I pull the thread out to crochet.   This made me yearn for a spool holder, the like of which I used to use at art college (oh so long ago!) when knitting together sewing threads.

One of my housemates suggested I make one, and luckily I had lots of bits and pieces from various craft projects, so I came up with this:



It's cobbled together using 5mm foam construction board, and two 5mm dowels.   I've glued it with Aleene's tacky glue - which is pretty darn good stuff.  But a glue gun might be better if you want to make something similar. It's light, so I'll clamp it to my desk with a G-clamp when using it (loaned by my other housemate.) I've glued things with Aleene's before, such as card mouldmaking boxes, etc, and it's very sturdy once fully hardened.

So that's it really.  I'll blend my sewing threads together and see what kind of dolly dress I can make.

Excuse my blather, but there is a point to all this - Never buy expensive kit if you can make it for pennies!


________________



Wednesday, 21 June 2017

SSP-050: New sewing pattern for Ellowyne Wilde & Friends

Despite the hot weather - which I'll admit did slow me down some - I've managed to work in my OVEN of a room and here's the latest from Raccoon HQ.


*Available in my Etsy shop:

And right here on the blog: (PayPal shopping cart)



£8.99





My Craftsy store:

On CD disc from Ebay: (No VAT payable, and no charge for the CD itself, just postage.)

If you wish to buy directly from me,  I can supply a PayPal invoice and email the pattern to you within 24 hours of payment.  Usually it will be faster than that, I'm just allowing for the potential differences in time zones.  

Email for a PayPal invoice:

If you do buy from me by email, and you live in the EU, the rules state that I don't have to charge you VAT as it's a direct sale.  So I won't.

Price without VAT is £6.99.

*Etsy will charge EU customers VAT (This does not affect America or other non-EU countries).  I always recommend people to look in my Craftsy store anyway, as the prices fluctuate, due to the international exchange rates.  I always recommend comparing prices.


This is a tried and tested corset pattern for Ellowyne that I've been using for a couple of years.  

Version 1 of the corset is fully boned, with topstitching, but if that's a bit daunting, there are also directions for an easier-to-sew corset style top, using the same pattern pieces (Version 2).  This second version fastens with snaps, so if eyelets are not your thing, snaps will be just dandy.





The armlets too can have eyelets inserted, so they lace up, or you can opt for one of my faves, the bead and buttonhole loop closure.  If you click on the photos, you should be able to see a larger version.

The V2 top here is not boned, but I don't see a reason why you couldn't try boning it.  (Yes, I'm fully aware of how rude that sounds.)




There are two lengths of skirt too., both fully lined, and utilising the corset fabric for the yoke.  I designed this skirt specifically to fit under the corset.



My girls look very feminine and romantic in this ensemble.






Next, I'm hoping to produce something for Evangeline, but not sure yet.  I've been researching steampunk, so I have loads of ideas for that...  and I do have another corset,  which is a different style and I'm thinking of using a different construction for it.

We'll see.  

________________


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sunday drive-by.



I don't usually post teasers this early into a pattern, but this is shaping up so nicely.   It's a tried and tested pattern for Ellowyne,  I'm just trying to work things  so that an easier version can be made from this same pattern.

It's so feminine and pretty!

If I was twenty years younger, I'd wear it.

But yes. Just a teaser for now.  Everyone is going to have to wait to see the eventual pattern.



I'd almost forgotten what a nice shape Ell is to sew for.  She's feminine, and fun to fit clothing to, but she has a nice small bust which makes my life a whole lot easier.   I keep looking at my Evangelines and wanting to make them something dramatic, but those enormous boobs.  Why?

In other news, I've been spending inordinate amounts of time on Pinterest.  So much inspiration!  I must have saved and pinned a gazillion fashion ideas.

Making the patterns as my actual living has meant that I don't get the time to do something really outside the box and creative and fun.   I need to make something fabulous soon and try out all the ideas in my head, or I'll start stagnating.


___________


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

FREE03 - New FREE pattern for Kaye Wiggs dolls.



So every summer I try to create a free sewing pattern.  It's my way of saying thank you to the doll community.   It's you guys who pay my rent and keep my head above water. It's my entire livelihood now, so thank you.  All of you.   You're a wonderful warm and supportive community. I may be shy with my Facebook posts, but it is just that, shyness... and lots of sewing, of course!  I don't always have time to come and comment, but I lurk sometimes and try to be available for any help people need with sewing their patterns.

*

It can be downloaded here:

A4 size:
U.S. Letter size:

It's also available in my Craftsy store:   (Again, for free)


*

Here it is.  A pretty jersey sundress for both MSD and Mei Mei bodies.  It has a cute ruffle, and a little flower motif.

This is similar to the free Patience sundress, but isn't just a scaled up version. I started from scratch to make a really nicely-fitted garment.  It would look so cute with stockings and a floppy summer hat.







Enjoy! And thanks once again.

Dolly hugs,
Tess

<3 <3 <3

______________


Sunday, 4 June 2017

Shoes for Evangeline.



All the time and effort spent on making these dolly shoe lasts has been worth it.  I've spent the weekend devising my first pair of shoes for Evangeline Ghastly, and I'm well pleased with the result.

There is carnage on my desk, but in the middle, a cute pair of shoes.



I literally sculpted the shoes around the lasts, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to write any coherent tutorial.  It's a bit like 'feeling' your way around the actual construction.


Below are the shoes on the actual doll.  Surprisingly, she actually stands up in them, but that's without any clothing, like long skirts, etc, to throw the balance out.   They still have bits on them which need brushing off, and are undecorated, but they fit perfectly.


They'll make a lovely finishing touch to an outfit.   I have a purple ensemble planned for my Evie, so the shoes will hopefully match.

And the next pattern for Elllowynehas been decided upon.  Looking forward to sewing for her again.
I love the KW girls, but I find them a challenge to pose, and to get the wigs to sit right!

___________________

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Shoe lasts for dolls - and information on Jesmonite.



I've made some casts of my dolly's feet from my silicone moulds.

Jesmonite. People.  I say whenever you want to cast resin, use this stuff. It's water based, it's an eco-resin (for that reason) and it cleans up with a damp cloth.  It's so darned easy too.  Like mixing plaster of Paris.

It's like a very hard plaster, because you don't mix two liquids together (like you do with epoxy or polyester resin) but it's a liquid and a powder.  And it's meant to go crystal clear, but I've put white pigment in mine.  You can get lots of pigments, and also stone and metal powders, the same as for the traditional toxic resins.

(I used to cast jewellery in polyester resins.  I had no end of trouble with tackiness, and the clean-up process involves toxic chemicals such as acetone, so.  I do have some idea of what I'm talking about.  Fumes are an issue too, but Jesmonite has almost no smell and is classed as non-hazardous.  It's like a faint emulsion paint smell, and I've happily used it in the kitchen.)

The only drawback is that it seems to take a lot of time to completely harden up. So I'm not sure how suitable it would be for resin dolls, for example.  You'd just have to leave the pieces for a month, because I've got a couple of feet I've left for that time, and they're pretty damn solid.  I dropped one of my feet on the floor earlier though, and it broke. But it superglued back together just fine, and is okay for my particular needs.

That said, I'm using the A300 Jesmonite, which is slightly cheaper than the A100.  A300 is good for indoor use, while A100 is said to be suitable for outdoor stuff which needs to be tough and weatherproof.

I'm no expert at all, but anyone tries this stuff for small craft use and has questions, I'll do my best to answer.

Here are just some of my pieces. These are Evangeline feets.



Today I was planning to start making some Evangeline shoes, as it's my weekend and I like to do something other than sew dolly clothes.   But I woke up really late and have missed half the day.

Poopla.

We'll see how far I get.

_________________










Friday, 2 June 2017

SSP-049: Mix'n'Match - A sewing pattern for Kaye Wiggs dolls.


A new pattern from Raccoon's Rags.  This is full of smaller projects, each of which can be whipped up in an an afternoon. .. even sewing by hand, I've found.



*Available in my Etsy shop:

And right here on the blog: (PayPal shopping cart)


£6.99





My Craftsy store:

On CD disc from Ebay: (No VAT payable, and no charge for the CD itself, just postage.)

If you wish to buy directly from me,  I can supply a PayPal invoice and email the pattern to you within 24 hours of payment.  Usually it will be faster than that, I'm just allowing for the potential differences in time zones.  

Email for a PayPal invoice:

If you do buy from me by email, and you live in the EU, the rules state that I don't have to charge you VAT as it's a direct sale.  So I won't.

Price without VAT is £6.99.

*Etsy will charge EU customers VAT (This does not affect America or other non-EU countries).  I always recommend people to look in my Craftsy store anyway, as the prices fluctuate, due to the international exchange rates.  I always recommend comparing prices.




The photos are self-explanatory, but to add a few points:  The piecework gloves and leggings can easily be shortened by leaving out the top one or two components, or lengthened by adding one or two strips.




Obviously, leggings and gloves can be worn to suit your dolly's mood.

The hat is a slouch beanie, but can be worn as a sort of cloche.  Layla's ears make it tricky to pull the hat right down, but it does look cute on the human dolls where the ears don't get in the way.



The tights for the MSD size are new and previously unpublished, and I decided to throw in the Mei Mei tights from SSP-043 as an added bonus.

The hat pieces give clear instructions for different head sizes.  I've based my measurements on Layla and Gracie, but for slightly different heads to these, the hats are very stretchy, so will be fine on most head sizes.  (Sizes over wigs are given in the instructions.)

As well as the shabby chic piecework gloves and leggings, here are the plain versions:




Gracie looks a bit shell-shocked.  Maybe she wasn't quite ready...


The tights themselves can easily be chopped short to make socks or tights.  It's a fun and versatile pattern, if you're making an outfit and just want that little extra something to compliment it.

So next, yes.  I really REALLY will make a pattern for Ellowyne.  I keep leaping around from one thing to another, and end up just settling on whatever catches my interest.

_________________



Sunday, 28 May 2017

Cloth dolly.


First I want to stress that this girl is not my own design.  I got the pattern for her from NilaDolss on Etsy.   She makes lovely patterns and cloth dolls, and I've really enjoyed her pattern.   I've also bought a pattern from MadebyMiculinko, also on Etsy, which is fabulously detailed, and her work is just as lovely.

I posted my doll's body parts yesterday, and once I'd assembled her, she looked like this...

I have added bits of red lace to the stocking tops, sleeve cuffs and top of the bodice.



You can see vanishing ink at the seams on her legs, but that will all disappear.

It's a new challenge making a cloth doll.   I found at first all my seams wrinkled. The secret to avoiding that is to really stuff the pieces very tightly.

Now I've added hair, and made a sort of tutu skirt,  she looks so cute.   The eyes are just pins I've stuck in temporarily,  I need to figure out what I want the face to look like. I may leave is blank, or just have eyes, like Tilda dolls.

When I used to paint and draw in the past, I've always liked to leave faces blank. It sort of feels whimsical and mysterious.   I may leave this face blank in the end.  



So that's me for this weekend.  Now I'm mostly just pottering around pretending to tidy things...

_______________


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Body parts stashed around my room...


I am the Bay Harbour Butcher.  (I wonder how many dolly people will get that one.)

Because I like  to do something fun at the weekends, and because I love dolls, I decided to have a go at making my own.  And cloth dolls seemed the thing to do, because I'm a far better sewist than I am a sculptor.

So far, all I have are these bits of body, and several practice heads.  Some of which went a bit awry, but today I'm going to try and assemble them into recognisable dollies.


I may let you know how I get on.   If it's a roaring success I like to post pictures, but dismal failures are usually swept under the carpet and I move on.   I can't decide if I like making cloth dolls from woven fabrics, or if I'd rather try using a stretchy jersey and use Waldorf doll construction techniques. Which are different again.  I'm not that crazy about Waldorf dolls, but the way they're made fascinates me.

Loving that red striped fabric, kindly given to me by my housemate, who's also a textile artist and has the most amazing stash.




___________


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Handmade outfits for Kaye Wiggs dolls



I seem to have built up several items of clothing for KW girls lately, due to the productivity with the sewing and knitting patterns. So I've added a few bits and pieces and they're up for grabs in my Etsy store, in the handmade doll fashions section.

Raccoon's Rags at Etsy:



First off is the little pink and grey outfit I made for SSP-047.   I've devised a new hat and cardigan, which needs work, but could be a new knitting pattern at some stage.

I added bead trim to the hat, and a little pink elastic.

Gracie looks so lovely in this, it's a bit of a wrench to sell it, but if I don't sell my outfits, they just end up filling drawers and boxes, and never getting properly loved.

£85.00


With extra snaps on the waistbands of the petticoat (unseen) and bloomers, it fits the MSD body too.  
I do like my Lilac Layla in greys.




Next is the shift dress I made during the production of SSP-048.   I had fun with the embroidery on the chest, and want to do loads of embroidered items now.

I added some pretty leggings, and a very cute hat.   It sits well behind Layla's elf ears, or is large enough to cover them.

£45.00


I was careful to make sure the hat fits the larger Gracie head too, as I know she's a popular sculpt.  (I think Missy has quite a large head too? But I'm not dead certain of that.)

I love this hat, and want one.  Maybe I should make human sized hats too.   The crochet flower is newly-learned.  You can find anything on t'internet.  I added blue beads to the centre to tie it in. Clicking on these photos should show you larger more detailed pictures.



Bringing  up the rear is a lovely outfit I've had for a while.  It's been in my stock box dying to come out into the limelight.  the yarn is Berocco Comfort Sock 3ply, and the colours are just gorgeous.   The russet of the Italian crinkle viscose dress teams with it perfectly.

£65.00


Again, these fit both MSD and Mei Mei.  the tam style beret fits my Layla head as well as the larger Gracie head too.



Okay, so I keep promising something for Ell, but the blue hat gave me an idea for a KW mini-pattern, so I may just do that first....

I should never really complain of having too much inspiration. But.


_______________