Thursday, 31 July 2014

Back online...

...with the headache from hell.

I bought a friend for Phin. I know I've mentioned it once or twice, and I finally had the ransom demand from customs via Parcelforce last Friday.  I went to the site and paid the charges, my brain registering the VAT as £25.00 which looked normal enough.   Once I got the Parcelforce receipt though, I was horrified to see I'd been charges £250 for the VAT and the whole total came to over £300.  The doll was only around £110.   I phoned customs and they told me that the value on the customs declaration was calculated at $1900.00.  I nearly flipped. I suffer from the most awful anxiety and it's made me ill all week.

It was either the senders fault, or Custom's fault.  Once the parcel arrived - surprise, surprise, yes it was actually UK Customs fault.  What a nightmare. They've cleaned out my savings account and I'm left with nothing but the forlorn hope that my claim for  refund will be approved. UK Customs have massive powers, more so than the police I believe. And the little person gets trampled.  I'm so angry I can't see straight.

But. Anyway.  I've posted my claim and just have to hope they don't behave like jerks over it.

It was doubly nerve-racking all week too, because Ubuntu broke my computer.  My lovely homie helped me sort it though, and now I have a shiny new wireless card - some other seemingly unrelated issues were solved at the same time.  So children, let me warn you - don't touch Broadcom wireless cards with a bargepole, if you're running Linux.
 
The doll ... I'm pleased to say is lovely.  I won't let this ruin my enjoyment of him.   I've called him Lucas, because it just seemed to fit, once I'd done a bit of work on him.  I managed to start yesterday because the computer was well on the way to being fixed, and today I've got the Customs thingie out of the way. So I feel like I can breathe.

First off.... that horrendous moustache had to go.



 
Much better. It took a little Winsor and Newton brush cleaner & restorer, cotton buds, and some very careful cleaning, but off it came.


His faceup is a lot better quality than Phin's was. So I'm leaving the lip colour and will just retouch his eyes, and change the eyebrows.

Next, I prised off the glued-on wig.  These wigs are surprisingly nice, and easy to style, but I wanted brown hair for Lucas.  Phin's can remain black though. I had a fur wig that I've been playing around with that was too small for Xander (my Iplehouse Ryan) so I put it on him and started trimming.


It never ceases to amaze me how the hairdo can change the whole face of a doll.    I had to damp the wig down - it's a good way to style and to cut into shape without making loads of mess.

NEVER do this on a resin doll though. Or a doll with sealer on their face-up. The sealer reacts and blisters. Believe me, I've had personal experience.  I only put wet wigs on vinyl dolls with factory faceups.



He looks kinda sexy, all dripping wet...  ;)

Once I'd finished trimming, the wig was drying out a bit. I decided to stop before I ruined it, because it really was looking very good.  I think fur wigs are the way to go on these larger male dolls. The scale of the fibres is right for them, and I've seen some beautifully styled fur wigs around.


I know I still need to sort out thos eyebrows, but I'll try and make him look sweeter and more innocnet than Phin.  who could also use a bit of a retouch here and there. But I like the hair colour and style on him.




Once the wig dried, it looked a little too bouffant again - but I'll try and find a styling product to hold it in style. Wet-look gel or something. I often use el-cheapo human hair gel on my dolls and their wigs. It washes out just fine... but I refuse to be held responsible if anyone else tries it and ruins their doll.  I've ALWAYS tested my ideas on old broken dolls or wigs I hate and won't use before trying them out on the good stuff.



Not to be outdone, Phin had to have a trim too.   I like his wig very much, but something about the style made him look a bit slimy in my mind. I've given him a more modern cut and it's made him a little more handsome and possibly more youthful too.  I'm very please I didn't screw up, but with the spare wig that came with Lucas to fall back on, I felt brave enough to try.

One word about wet hair and faceups - I've used Tamiya acrylics on Phin, with a little sealer, and so far he's been wet quite a lot but the sealer and paint has shown no sign of reaction.  I'm pretty impressed, but wouldn't recommend anyone to take unnecessary risks.



And with a little hair gel:



He looks great when he's dressed.  I still feel I need to work on his brows though.  I'm not so good at them really.

I'm still ploughing on with the pants/jeans pattern for this sized doll, and now my beloved computer feels like it's brand new, I'm able to get on and finish it. God, I love Linux Peppermint.  <3

_____________________



Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Double jeopardy

Just a quick entry to say I'll be back online as soon as I can.  Not only did my computer break (bloody Ubuntu) but my emergency back-up netbook broke too (bloody Mint)

Don't get me wrong.  I loathe Microsoft and Windows with a frankly unnatural passion and I love Linux to bits. But Ubuntu seem hell-bent on stuffing up what used to be a really good distro, and my copy of Mint on the netbook just got really corrupted over time.

One of my homies, who is also a tecchie is installing Linux Peppermint on both for me so I should be back soon. The netbook is functioning but a little limited. The desktop needs a new wireless card.

So. Yeh. See you all soon. xxx


_____________

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pants for Phin



Well, I managed to scale up the Ken tee pattern to fit Phin and the other 17" Tonner male bodies, but I don't want to scale up the jeans. Two reasons. One, I prefer to scale down if possible - I just find it easier. Two,  for a larger male doll, darts are a good idea at the back of the waist. It makes the pants or jeans sit better and is more professional.

Luckily, I have a pants pattern for My soulkid Caleb, who is a couple of sizes larger than Phin, but Phin has been wearing Caleb's old denim pants for a bit now and looking okay-ish.   So yesterday, I turned them inside out, put them on Phin, Pinned them up a bit and altered the pants pattern I have for Caleb using the pinned jeans as reference.

I'm having to do this the hard way - in fact, it's the same way I created the jeans for Caleb in the first place.  Measure up the doll.  Draft a pattern. Sew up a toile (test garment.)  Get it wrong.  Mark the adjustments. Draft a second pattern. Sew a second toile.  And so on...

Of course I didn't have to measure Phin, I had a pattern to tweak already.  If I'm amazingly lucky, it goes right first time - which does happen. This time however, I had to make two test garments. That's quite okay, because I have been known to make up five or six. The second pants needed a teeny bit of tweaking, but I know I'm there now. With my drafted pattern I can cut out some denim pieces and make Phin a pair of jeans.  He'll need pockets, and a waistband et al, but at least I know where to go from here.

Caleb's old denim pants. (One could hardly call them jeans yet)


And the process of altering the  pattern for Phin:


I try to use up old bits of fabric that I no longer like.  They're hardly attractive on a guy, but that's life.


Kind of fun though.  Hard thinky work, and my back aches a bit, but fun nonetheless.

______________

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A new blog page, and a new pattern.

At last I've uploaded all my available patterns for sale right here on my blog.   If you look at the pale green banner at the top, you'll see "Patterns for sale". Click on that and you'll be able to scroll down through all the Raccoon's Rags patterns.

When you click the "buy now" buttons - there's no obligation to purchase, it merely takes you to an information page, about the pattern and there you will see the option to buy.  Just follow through to checkout and you can download your zip files straight away.

All the PDFs are in USL size - but if you need A4, just let me know once you've paid and I will email the A4 PDFs to you asap. I'm VERY reliable unless my broadband dies.  Which, hopefully, won't happen again as we have a shiny new package installed.
 


Also, I have a new teeshirt pattern for 17" Tonner male dolls (#011) to offer you lovely people.   It's a scaled up version of pattern #001, the Ken teeshirt.  I'm offering it separately, for people who just want an easy life without scaling up bits and pieces, and who don't really want to sew for 12" male dolls.

The existing pattern #001 does contain instructions on how to scale up the pattern for the 17" boys, so if you want to sew for both dolls, buy pattern #001.


Pattern #011 is available here on the blog:

And in my Etsy shop:


All my patterns are available here on my Sellfy page as well:



I love the subtle V shape of these Tonner guys torsos.  Phin looks great in this.




And he rocks the dark grey turtleneck!  he could be a proper villain and take over the world - if only he had some pants...



I can't seem to scale up the ken pants for him, as pants and jeans for larger doll seem to need darts in the butt.  But I can scale down my Soulkid boys pants for him, so I'll be working on that next.

______


Monday, 21 July 2014

Patterns for sale on my blog. Yay me.



Not much in the way of pictures to show at the moment, but I do have some news.   I've been looking into this for a while, and I can finally sell my pattern tutorials from right here on my blog. 

So for those of you who don't particularly want to sign up with Etsy, you can simply click and buy here.   If you look at the top of my blog, the pale gree background, click on "PATTERNS FOR SALE" and you'll be right there.  I'm uploading them slowly, and will have them all available soon.

As you were :)

_______



Saturday, 19 July 2014

The ongoing saga of Slade...



I can't get it right.   Painting in this really hot sticky weather is frustrating, because the paint is drying on the palette after I've only done a couple of brush strokes, so not the ideal weather for it.


I have improved the lips no end though; and the eyes are a little less stark.  There's still an issue that's driving me bonkers, but I'm going to wait until the weather is more conducive to keeping my paint fresh and moist.

He's looking pretty sexy in spite of my frustrations:


The changes are subtle, as per usual, but you can sort of see the progress here.



We'll get there. 




 
 I've also re-touched Phin's lips. They looked a bit too purple-grey, but I've given him a more natural looking colour now.  Photos will be inevitable, but at the moment his hair is a mess.

__________________




Friday, 18 July 2014

Slade (Rory Riot repaint)



So yes, I got out my lovely new Tamiya acrylics and I ended up - as so often I do - repainting far more of Slade than I intended.

Now - I'm not a great re-painter.  I trained in art, so I know how to do a fairly convincing eye, but I can't do beautifully shaded and liquid looking eyeballs.  I'm equally rubbish at lips.  I can muddle through and often my work takes a few attempts. (I still need to sort out Phin's eyebrows.)

This is why I don't sell my repaints, or do commissions. And please don't ask me to do tutorials, because there are SO MANY on  t'internet, and most are much better than mine would be.  So go and look stuff up.

Anyhow, I will advise people to wrap up their dolls hair in clingfilm. (saran wrap,) or you will get paint in your dolls hair.  Which is horrendous.  Having done this - half-heartedly,  I started my repaint and yes, I did end up with paint in his hair, which I had to cut out very carefully so as not to ruin his whole look.


 I love to see a face-up come along. 


 The lips started off well, but I overdid them in the end.


Now, I'm aware of two things:  One, the whites of his eyes are too white. They could do with some subtle shading under the top eyelid.   Also - the lips are overworked and just don't look good.   I'll need to see to both of those things, but all in all, he has a piercing blue-eyed gaze that kind of makes me come over all unnecessary.


Haha! He looks like he could be Cameron Diaz's brother!  I don't mind Cam, luckily. She was awesome in "A Life Less Ordinary" with Ewan McGregor, (who else?) but I've seen some horrible "celebrity" repaints of her, so it makes me shudder a bit.

Buuut, once the changes have been made, he should be a pretty handsome guy. He looks okay in real life, but when you take a photo of a doll and blow it up to these sizes, every tiny little mistake shows up.


He looks like another bad boy. ;)


His hair needs styling again, but I'm waiting for the paint and sealer to harden off overnight before I get water anywhere near him.

______________________

Pattern #010



And another!   Pattern ten, hats for Ell and friends, and most MSDs you could probably think of.   Four different hats, three tutorials, and pattern pieces.

HERE IN MY ETSY SHOP:

I've included the gorgeous little bakersboy hat, that everyone asks me about. I've been asked by several people if I planned to produce the pattern for it, and now I have!   The peak has been re-designed, because I used someone else's pattern for that piece alone and it's not mine to sell. But I like the new peak more, because not only does it give the hat an olde-worlde look, and a retro 70#s look, but it also gives a flopsy Holly Hobbie look to it as well. :)

Bakersboy hats are my favourites of all time.  I always wanted one as a kid but the ones I liked in shops were too expensive for my not-so-well-off mum, bless her soul.   So I've never had one, but my dollies do! 





So being offline for a couple of days wasn't all bad. At least it made me work and stop messing about online every five minutes.  I'm also feeling a bit better now. :)

_____________________


Woe!

Ack. Two whole days without t'internet! That was horrible.   I'm agoraphobic and my whole life is online.  My srs admin stuff and my friends and my dolly stuff.  I suffer from severe anxiety too, and I always get physically ill when the internet goes down.  Bad. Very bad.  I'm gazausted today, having not slept a wink, and having been kept awake by a bout with IBS.

We recently had BT infinity installed - which incidentally is not that brilliant anyway - but the guy who installed it in our house and at the local exchange box was a BT sub-contractor.   The proper real BT engineer that turned up today, said that this other pillock had left bare wires in the exchange, which shifted and touched, and burnt out or phone line and broadband. 

Still, on the bright side, some of my Spoonflower test swatches arrived yesterday, and most of them look great. One or two need a tweak I think, but all in all I'm pleased. I need to figure out a way to use them up now. Maybe more patchwork or gypsy-style dolly dresses.




I puttered around mostly.   I picked up Slade and trimmed his hair, styled it with some gel, and it's much less bouffant now.   I've been using ordinary cheap hair gel on a couple of old dolls to make sure it doesn’t react badly with the saran, or the vinyl, and so far I've found it's great ti use.




It's surprising how different this guy looks from different angles, and with different lighting:


Next I need to gently re-touch his face-up.   I've finished my hats pattern for Ellowyne, pattern #010 so I'll be listing that in  my Etsy shop today, and can take some time to play with my paints.   I'm still tempted to attempt a partial repaint on my Hunger Games Finnick doll too.

Now I'm suffering a poorly tum, and feel generally wiped out, so yes. A cup of mild tea and some dry toast I think.

________________________

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Slade (Integrity toys Rory Riot)


So I wanted to call him Sid, which is definitely more punk, but as he was a glam boy to start with, I settled on Slade.  I just hope it's not so similar to Zane that it'll annoy me. I have a Mattel boy called Zane.   But I've wandered off the track again.

Since yesterday, I've added some new saran plugs to his hair.  Some soft brownish blond shades that are a tad more sophisticated looking than his old trashy blond.

He's still a little too bouffant for my liking, so I'll continue to style him over the next few days. When I enhance his face-up - I'll be sorely tempted to paint his nipples too. None of my Mattel boys have them and frankly, it's a novelty.



He'll be in teeshirt and jeans eventually, like my other boys.  One of the gang.

In other news, I've managed to finish all the tutorials for my four-hats package. Now I need to sit and draw out the pattern pieces, scan them, and make sure they all print out exactly right.   Eh, manana.

I'm off to eat brownies and moan about the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen ...

________________



Monday, 14 July 2014

Riot - from Jem & the Holograms

EVERYTHING with my sewing and pattern-drafting went wrong today. So I'm not going to talk about it. Bah.
 
But I do have a new doll.  Mixed feelings over that fact as you will read below.

I did a few searches on Flickr for "Jem Riot"  and some really nice pics of this boy came up.  No disrespect to Integrity Toys - I love their dolls, but compared to the masterpiece that is Mattel's blond Harley Ken - there’s something a bit off about their Fashion royalty homme dolls.

Managing to find him for a reasonable price on Ebay, I ordered him, and he arrived today.  Has anyone else ever bought a doll and opening it up only to feel utterly disappointed?   This is only the second time this has happened to me, so I guess I'm lucky with the amount of dolls I seem to have collected. 

He has that slight weirdness that most IT boys have, his face looked kinda squished flat and he reminds me of an old ex boyfriend. Haha!  Not good really. 

To be honest, I almost put him straight back in his box to re-sell him, or just shove him under the bed and forget him, but I did some more research online, and found some great restyles and repaints.  I am very partial to my 12" boys, so I though what do I have to lose.

Here's how is is straight out of the box.  I should have photographed him really, but this online pic just about sums up the trashy looking hair. Terrible. TERRIBLE. Hair. I mean, I know these Jem doll are meant to be outrageous, and I'm a child of the punk era, but for a doll of that price, the hair could be so much better. It's frizzy,  impossible to get  comb through; badly shaped, and my least favourite shade of blond ever.  It's the kind of colour blond that cheap Barbie imitations have.

 ... I realise I'm ranting.  Ahem.





It's easy to straighten hair with hot water, and trim down a bit shorter.  It also seems possible to slightly change the shape of his head by dunking it in hot water and pressing it, then running cold water over him to fix the shape.

Sooo I had a go at that, and surprisingly, it seems to have worked. Very subtly, but just enough to make him look less like my ex.

He looks better with straight hair, a trim, and a slight reshape of the head. I can actually like him now:



I’ve also removed a few hair plugs, ones that hung badly at the front.  I'll remove a few more, then I'll add some strands of darker blond or even light brown saran to try and mask the trashy blond.   Finally, I'll give his face-up an enhancement.

But already he's a fine boy, and at least my little gang will no longer beat him up....



With darker hair, he'll need slightly darker brows... and that pink lip gloss really has to go. Then we'll find him a new name.

__________________


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Shabulously chic flowers - Free tutorial


Here's a flower I made for Amber's jacket, and is a really nice scale for 16" dolls, MSDs and even SD sized BJDs.  A pair of scallop - edged pinking shears are a bit of a must-have.  They're just perfect for flower petals.  You could try with ordinary pinking shears, or you could just snip into one edge of your strip of fabric with ordinary scissors to make a fringe. The only limit is your creativity. :)


I prefer to use a stretch fabric because it's more mold-able than rigid or woven. I find scraps that are not prone to fraying, and if you have a pair of scallop-edge pinking shears - they're perfect for flower making.

1) Cut a strip about 8 or 9 inches long, and just under 1/2 and inch wide.   It should measure half an inch wide once you've cut your scalloped edge.  And only cut the one long edge with the shears, the other edge needs to be straight.  (Also, I like the grain to run across the width of the strip as shown, it makes for a better flower)

The longer the strip of fabric, the fuller your bloom will be.



2) Fold over one corner and catch this down as you run gathering stitches along the straight edge. Make your stitches nice and small. 



3) Gather all the way along, and turn under the corner at the end. Catch it down with your gathering stitch as shown below:


4)  Gather the strip up, but do not pull the thread too tight, leave some room for movement in the fabric, and distribute the gathers evenly along the length.  Secure your thread with a couple of teeny stitches on top of each other, but don't cut it off.



5) Now start rolling up the gathered edge of your fabric strip, sewing it down as you go.  The strip will have twisted a bit, but you can straighten it out as you go.



6) Keep rolling the fabric over and stitching it down.


7)  Keep going.  And going... 





8) Once you get to the end, secure your thread with two more tiny stitches on top of each other, but again, don't cut it off.



9) Turn your flower over and open it out. 



10) Finish it off by sewing a bead into the centre.  I've used a 3mm bead. You can use any size you want that goes with the scale of your doll...  or you could sew a bunch of tiny seed beads in the centre.  Whatever you fancy.

Leave the thread attached for when you come to sew your flower onto your project.


All done!

I did try a couple of different ones, and they're nice enough, but the scallop edging really makes the design. The pearl bead flower was done with ordinary pinking shears, but the strip of fabric wasn't long enough to make it look very full.   For the lilac one with the gold bead, I just snipped into my strip of fabric at intervals to suggest petals. A more densely fringed one might look nice though, like a carnation.




Here's Priscilla modelling the flower on a hat. The hat is blue, but I doctored the picture to make it match her tank. Everything else, including the flower, is the original colour with the saturation turned down a little.




Lastly, here's Amber in her jacket, decorated with the very first flower I made. You can thank Amber for the free project. 





And that's it.  Hope someone can find this helpful and have a try. :)

_____________________








Saturday, 12 July 2014

Pleh


Really forcing myself to get on with the patterns today, which is soooo hard when one has new dollies one wants to play with.   It's not as if I can take an hour or two off each day, or a day a week, because I need to leave my workdesk set up for taking pics, and what I really want to do is make clothes for Cami and Phin.  Not enough space.  Boo. So I sort of have to do one thing at a time.



I keep picking up things like shoes, and wigs, and going off to rifle through my fabric stash, or make a coffee.   The sooner I get these patterns done, the sooner I can play.

That's what I keep telling myself. Oh look... Patience's hair needs combing...

________________________


Friday, 11 July 2014

Tonner Cami


I tend to prefer my dolls with large heads.  Odd, I know, but I like the caricature and indeed doll-like quality of them.  I also find dolls with large heads look better with big clumpy boots than dolls with heads that are more in proportion, and Lord knows how I love big clumpy boots.

Many moons ago, before I got my first Ellowyne doll, I bought a Tonner Tyler.  I never could make myself like her, and so she was sent to a better home.    On and off, I've often looked at Cami over the years, and since someone on Facebook posted a picture of one - who looked much prettier than any other online pictures I'd seen - I decided to go for it.  

The girl I got was far less expensive than I thought a Cami would be, including customs charges, and so I'm delighted. She's stunningly pretty in real life. The stock Tonner photographs you see on the Tonner site and even on Ebay just don't do her justice.

The wig is great too, it hasn't slipped off despite much combing and tweaking to get it looking tidy. 





Really lovely expressive doll.   I'm glad I bought her.




She's nicely articulated, and fun to pose. I much prefer her more natural-looking body shape to that of Tyler Wentworth:



She came with porn-star shoes....



And of course I had to compare her with Ell.  Here's my Priscilla next to her.   Cami is longer in the leg and a more womanly than the teenage body Ell has been blessed with.   But, it looks like there's not a huge difference in size, and most of my Ell clothing should fit her. I'm  very much hoping my boned corsets (fitted exactly to Ell) will fit her perfectly too.   I'll be trying things on and taking pictures as and when.



Money well spent IMHO. :) I can see myself getting a couple more.  Because really, I don't have enough dolls.... 



_________________