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

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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.


_______________


Friday, 19 May 2017

SSP-048: Ruffle Dress & Jacket for Kaye Wiggs dolls.


A rainbow of ruffles!

I've had some custom printed fabric in rainbow shades for a while now, and they were ideal for this little outfit for the Kaye Wiggs MSD and Mei Mei dolls.



*Available in my Etsy shop:

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

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 £8.50

*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 dress is a simple shift dress and is not fitted as tightly or exactly to the doll's body as my usual bodices.  It should go over a leotard quite well as it's designed to be slightly loose fit and quite straight.

It looks lovely on both dolls bodies, the MSD (18" or 45cm)  and teh mei Me (17" or 43cm)  but of course will be a bit longer on the shorter Mei Mei body.



With the addition of the jacket, you could use a while rainbow of fabrics, or just mix and match fabrics as you want.  

The dress and the jacket can have as many or as few ruffles as you wish.  I've provided a quick note on how to make the single ruffle dress, and once you're familiar with the pattern, it would be easy to have two ruffles or add lots of ruffles to the dress and the jacket.

You can also easily just hem the basic jacket and/or shift, to have no ruffles at all. 




Obviously you can throw as many embellishments at it as your heart desires.

I love both my girls in this, and the garments I've made while developing the pattern will be available to buy once I've added some fripperies.

That was a fun project, but I think definitely something for Evangeline, or poor neglected Ellowyne next.

________________


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Total lack of days off.



I usually manage to force myself  to take a break from sewing at the weekends, but honestly, I've had a really quiet sales week, and when that happens I tend to panic and sew my head off.   So I haven't had my weekend this weekend.  I've had headaches though. Heh.

And I have done some embroidery.

That's something different, right?



I'm making shift dresses with ruffles for my Kay Wiggs girls. I'm hoping there will be a jacket too, but i'm having issues with the hand size.

It took me a while, but I'm pleased with this little floral motif. I picked out colours from the ruffle fabric to decorate the bodice.   It looks dead cute on Gracie, but I'm keeping the pics under wraps until the pattern is published...

BECAUSE...


(Damn, he's so sexy, even hidden behind a bit of paper.)

Here's a close up of the embroidery though.  Just simple stitches. I want to add some french knots, but am waiting for some white floss to arrive.



There will be Ellowyne and Evangeline things soon.  I just have so many ideas spring into my head that I want to make everything, right this minute. NOW.

I need a Tardis.

_____________________



Saturday, 6 May 2017

OOAK outfit for Kaye Wiggs MSD - "Sugar Plum".



This one is my favourite so far, probably because it's purple...

Available now in my Etsy shop:

£130.00

Outfit for Kaye Wiggs MSD (45cm/18") only.   (The petticoat and bloomers waistbands will not fit the smaller Mei Mei body.)

ooak outfit for Kaye Wiggs MSD


The shoes this time were quite an achievement.  The method of construction is a little different, and I had the perfect shade of Ultrasuede to match the dress.   I'm so glad I made the shoe lasts, they're proved vital in designing and constructing dolly shoes.

For the waistband, I made a little waist cincher that fastens in front with some matching thread.  I'll be adding a couple of spare lengths of thread to the package, but you could use anything to fasten it, narrow ribbon or thin kumihimo cord for example.

Ultrasuede is frighteningly expensive!  I invested in some last year, and have been too afraid to use it, but it's just so soft and lovely to work with, and matched the fabrics so well, that I had no excuse.

This hat fits my Gracie's head, over a wig, and is a little looser on Layla's head.  But as you can see from the pics, it still sits beautifully over a wig.

ooak outfit for Kaye Wiggs MSD


There are two petticoats, one goes above the other.  I've given each one different closures so they can be told apart. The hook end bar petticoat goes at the top.

outfit for Kaye Wiggs MSD


She's such a cutie.  I love that little face.


outfit for Kaye Wiggs


I think she's getting used to this posing lark.

outfit for Kaye Wiggs



I still have a few more outfits to list, but I'm craving something new.  Maybe another pattern, and I'm still wanting to make something for Evangeline.  I've been a bit tired lately, so inspiration is a bit slow,  but I'm on the case.

A corset for Ellowyne is in the offing... and maybe something new for Blythe.   If there were 48 hours in the day, my life would be a lot easier.


____________







Friday, 5 May 2017

Current outfit for Kaye Wiggs MSD



Just a drive-by post. A teaser for the current outfit for KW MSDs.


Hats on dolls are lovely and I adore these little bakersboy bonnets.   The flower is ultrasuede, which is horrendously expensive, but so nice to work with.

Once I've finished the cardigan, this ensemble will be ready to list.

As you were.

____________________

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Fun with wool.



Sunday funday.

So I made Layla some dreads.

Trust me, this is the worst -made wig in the history of wigs, but now I've figured out a method of how to do it, I may make a few more with a bit more effort.   It's a hot mess under those top layers, but it does look good when photographed, so I'll keep it as a prop.

It would look great with hats too.

DIY Kaye Wiggs dreadlocks


I used King Cole Riot chunky for this.   I bought some to make myself some hats, and yeah... I ended up using some of it on the dollies.   Tell me about it.

It's a multicoloured yarn, so I picked one with lots of brown shades in it.. I think mine is called Potash.   It's a single ply too, so it looks like little dreadlocks, and they're a great scale for the doll.  

King Cole Riot chunky


King Cole do a DK in this yarn too, which means thinner dreads, if you want to have a go with a smaller doll.   Kaye Wiggs MSD's have SD sized heads, but a normal head-size MSD doll might look better in the DK.

King Cole Riot DK

Anyway, she looks great in it.  Now I want to sew something kind of hippie-elfish for her.  Urban Elf maybe? Is that a thing?  this is why I usually prefer the human dolls to elves or fauns. I find them easier to design for.


diy dreads kaye wiggs

Obviously Gracie wanted to get in on the act.   I'm surprised this fits her, actually.  But I did make the wig cap very stretchy... and I cheat with wigs.

Can I keep it mum? Huh? Can I?

Resin dolls heads are SO DARN SLIPPERY it drives me nuts.   And those silicone wig caps don't always work, or don't always fit.  So I use - and you'll all shriek in horror when I say this - Bostik white stick-n-fix.   Because it's white, it doesn't seem to stain, and it's good and sticky for holding maddeningly slippery wigs in place.

That said, I don't leave it on the doll for any length of time.  Two or three days at most, but more usually just for a photo session.  And it doesn't seem to do any harm.



I have a few more balls of the riot in different colours, and find myself tempted to make a fantasy version.  Of course it would have to contain purple... and I was supposed to be making hats for myself... But summer is coming, so I suppose I can wait until October.

__________________