Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Fabrics!



Okay so I'm a fabriholic.  Do I care?  Nuh-uh.

So often I try to find fabrics with tiny doll-scale prints that I can combine.  So often I find one perfectly beautiful fabric... with absolutely nothing that will team up with it.   So this time I took it upon myself to produce the right kind of prints to accompany each other.

I'm currently working on the Victorian-look leotard and overdress for Ellowyne, and I wanted some dark fabrics to use.  This led me to design a hearts fabric, and an accompanying flower/star print. Now I fully confess I've taken my inspiration from some commercially printed fabrics that I have in my stash, and people may recognise the heart fabric; but I have made the appropriate Gimp brushes from scratch, and all the work from pattern repeat to colour is my own.

I sent the designs off to Lacuna Press on Saturday, and they're so fast, the fabrics arrived today.

This is Lacuna Press cotton percale Ultra.   The dark colours have printed so well on it, and I'm very happy.  The camera and lights make them appear paler, but in real life the fabric is in deep shades of chocolate and plum.


I like my fat quarters.  An ideal size for dolly dresses, so I design a whole yard of fabric at a time, dividing it into four sections, one of each design.



And a quick close-up...


Can't wait to use it!  :)

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Plodding along...



I had the song "Bobbing Along" from bedknobs and Broomsticks going round in my head today... only I kept singing it as "plodding along" while I grappled with an old pinafore pattern I had for Ellowyne.

I drafted this pattern back when I had my first Ell, and my sewing for anything larger than Pippa scale dolls was less than perfect at the time.

First pic though, The leotard part went just fine.  I mastered the art of the leotard fairly quickly, due to the stretchy fabric, which is very forgiving, although it does have its own set of problems.  This is made in Spoonflower "modern jersey" (to which I'm fast becoming addicted) printed with my own fabric pattern design.   I made the leg-of-mutton sleeves a while back, and haven't had the chance to feature them in a pattern yet.



Here's the original outfit.   It sold for less than it was worth at the time, because I was still sort of learning.   It's remained one of my favourites though, and has a steampunk feel.  The new pattern will have the option of a plain bodice, and one with mock lace-up front.



The new fabrics I bought for my latest pattern, are a selection of 3 lovely dusky plum shades, and a couple of dusty paler lavenders.

Here's my first attempt at the plain bodice. I used my original pattern without modifying it.  Because it's not in two sections like the original one was, it doesn't fit quite right.  you can see from this picture that it's just a bit uncomfortable-looking.  The darts look a bit rumpled, and you can't tell from the picture, but the front neckline gapes away from the leotard underneath.

The shoulders also look a bit odd, because the back is too high up the neck.



Fortunately it was pretty easy to smooth it out and alter the shape a little. Here's the second attempt, looking smooth and fitting beautifully.



As a result of my alteration thought, the neckline is not as low, or as square as the original.  So I may have a crack at altering that too..... or I may leave this plain bodice as it is, and alter the neckline for the mock lace-up version.   We'll see how I feel.

I have had pain in my left shoulder recently.  I get nerve pains down from my shoulder joint, and down again from my elbow.  I suspect it's a touch of repetitive strain injury, from lots of time sewing by hand, and lots of time on the computer.   It seems to be getting worse rather than better, but I don't want to stop sewing for weeks on end while I rest it... or indeed using the computer.  Half of my life is on this computer, and I can't imagine how agoraphobics coped before t'internet.

Le sigh.

I don't care. I'll sew until the darn thing drops off....


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Friday, 25 September 2015

Mmmmh ...Spoonflower.



I love Spoonflower for having the occasional free swatch day.  I always pounce on the chance to get another fabric design proofed, so it can be sold.  We have to proof all designs before sale, because colour on a monitor is different from actual printed colour, so every design needs to be checked, to maintain high standards.

You will see my design here is slightly different to the shades in my online shop (link below the pic) It's turned out a beautiful strawberry-looking variation of pinks, so I'm very happy with it.

They've recently bought in some polyester Crepe de Chine, and here's my design on that new fabric. This is an 8" square:



The fabric is very nice for poly.   I can iron a nice crease into it, which means seams will be easy to press nice and flat.   But I've actually bought a fat quarter in cotton lawn.   My dreamy dream fabric.

Here's the design "Vines & roses"  in my Spoonflower shop.

When you buy from SF, you can choose your fabrics from the drop-down menu.   The designers (like me) are paid 10% commission, and all customers deal with Spoonflower, not us designers.

The design is one of my small-scale prints, suitable for dolly clothes or miniatures - like dolls house wallpaper.   You can also buy this in paper form from SF, and they even sell actual wallpaper.

Now back to work for me.  I'm supposed to be busy, but my attention span today is slightly shorter than that of a goldfish.....


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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

New outfit for Ellowyne.


The first ensemble for the delightful Ellowyne Wilde in a while now. I love sewing for this girl, and having recently finished the sewing pattern, I had a ball today and treated myself to an accessories-making binge.

Now available here at Etsy:

Hey, it's less calories than a chocolate binge.



The Alice band is one I made for the TUTE#019, Alice bands for all dolls.   I've tinted the flower with silk paints, to tie it in with the pinkish theme.



I made a little handbag too, with real kid leather from a closing-down sale stash I bought many moons ago. It keeps paying for itself, and I love working with it.   The back does not open, it's a decorative sort of a thang.

The necklace is made from glass seed beads, and I made a little hook fastening for it.  My previous trade as jewellery maker comes in handy for dollies.

And I added a ribbon belt to the pants.   The belt is in two parts, and is stitched securely to the back of the pants next to the closure.   I've left the rest of it loose, so it can be adjusted when the doll is dressed in the pants. 


 And as the pants fabric is some I have only used in a lined coat before. I wanted to be safe from potential staining.  It's high quality, viscose and cashmere, so it should be fine, but to be really sure, I made a pair of no-elastic tights to go under the outfit.


I'm so happy I created a tights pattern. They're so quick and easy to make, and very useful.

So often I see a pretty dolly ensemble for sale, which states 'jewellery not included".  I never like to team a doll's outfit with jewellery or accessories unless the whole caboodle is on offer.   Although I do make an exception with shoes.  I think sometimes one needs to show an outfit to its best advantage with footwear.

This particular ensemble will look great with any pair of Ellowyne Wilde shoes. I tried on the doll a pair of zip-up high heeled boots, and it looked fab.




My favourite item is that leotard. The roll collar worked better than I'd dared to hope. And I love the fabric.... even if I did design it myself.  

Well, I guess it's a good sign if one loves what one has designed, right?

Darn tootin'.


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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Ellowyne sewing pattern SSP-028: "Polo".




This took so long!  I think I'll have to get used to that, now I've almost exhausted my existing patterns.  I'll have to draft brand new ones which means painstaking attention to fit, and working out all the glitches before I feel happy to offer the pattern to the buying public.

Quality is really important to me, so please excuse my slowness.  It's better than offering half-baked products.

Available now in my Etsy shop:

My craftsy store:

Or here on the blog: (Via Sellfy)

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 suggest comparing prices.


On with the fun part.   Here's the cover.



I've posted about the pants a fair bit, and now they fit perfectly, but choose your fabric wisely.



I re-made the leotard as well, the collar is heaps better now....  Why have 'nice' when you can have gorgeous?



The waistcoat has princess seaming. Now I used to be a bit scared of princess seams, but after some exploration, I  offer a couple of tips in the instructions to help you sew these seams a bit more easily.


For the Alice band see TUTE#019, and for the tights (which I made to protect dolly from any potential pants-staining) see SSP-019.

Whew!  Now, let's see.  What's next.....


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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Choosing fabrics for dolly clothing.



I've mentioned this in a recent post already, but having has some dramatically different results - now I've finally finished my trews - I thought I'd make a post specifically about it.

One of the main problems in sewing for dolls is drape.  The fabrics will never drape as heavily on doll scale as they will on human scale, this is particularly noticeable on crisp medium weight cottons, such as those used by quilters and patchwork peeps.

Don't always blame the sewing pattern!  Consider your fabrics carefully, they make a huge difference.

Most people like to sew doll's clothes in quilters weight (QW for short) fabrics. These vary a lot from range to range in crispness and handle; and come in such an array of beautiful prints and colours that they are lovely to use for dolls.   I tend to advocate using lighter weight fabrics such as lawn, batiste, voile, crinkle, even muslin.  

However - I do tend to try and bear QW cottons in mind when I draft my sewing patterns, understanding that they're often the go-to fabrics for many dolly seamstresses.

Keeping this in mind, I set out to draft a really good trouser pattern for Ellowyne, as part of my next sewing pattern which is not just for pants, but for an ensemble.  In the process, I ended up making nine pairs of pants, until I got my final two properly finished pairs.

The first few toiles I made were in scraps of QWfabrics that I had lying around.  My reasoning for this, is that if a pair of trews looks good in QW, then they will look even better in a more appropriate fabric.  The fabrics I always suggest are very soft lightweight denims, an upcycled denim shirt, or some "jeggings" or anything really thin works well.  Some fine soft needlecords, or micro-cords, and I also have so soft rayon with cashmere that works beautifully.

Here's a first pair of pants, using the pattern which I know works really well from my toiles.  The fit is good as you can see, but this crisp fabric wrinkles everywhere.  The crotch isn't brilliant, and the legs below the knees look crumpled.



From the back the crotch is even worse, it's worse in real life than it looks in the picture.



Now, here are two pairs (my final ones) in red (viscose/cashmere mix) and darker green (a softer QW cotton than the fabric in the previous two pictures.)

You can see the dark green pair, although still a tad wrinkly, do sit better on the doll, because the fabric seems to be a touch softer than the last pair, and the oh-so-soft viscose/cashmere pair are smooth and beautiful.


And from the back, the green pair again are better than the first two pictures, but the red pair - well, you can see how different they look.


The red pair will be the ones I use.  I'll add some extra detail later, but wanted to show how well they came out, and what the different fabrics look like.




A soft lightweight wool blend, or some softer tweed should work also.   I choose cottons and viscose (rayon) because they press so beautifully,  I recommend pressing seams open (if you're not overlocking) on doll's clothes, to  reduce bulk in the seams, and pure wools can require a LOT of steam pressing to get them nice and flat.

A wool/acrylic blend may be easier to press, because acrylic knitting yarn is easily pressed really flat. Polyester can be a b'iatch to press a crease into as well, although some of the newer ones like spoonflower's 'modern jersey' do press a bit better; as do some polycottons, as long as there's about 50% cotton in the blend.

I guess people have all sorts in their fabric stash,  just keep an eye out for good fabrics on shopping trips is all I can say.  I buy most of my fabrics online, so it's hard to feel what they're like until they get here, and occasionally I find I can't use them. That said, some online stores will sell you small samples.

Don't be above upcycling either.  Charity shops (thrift stores in the USA, I think?) often have some hardly-used, or brand new garments that people don't want.   I like to buy the brand new  or nearly new items, launder them well and cut them up for dolly clothes.  

This wasn't meant to be quite the essay it turned out to be!   But I hope some people find it useful.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Not so pants now....




Okay, everything is much less pants today.

I've finished the final toile for the trews for Ellowyne, that fit over the leotard.  I took off the trews from yesterday, that I didn't like, sorted out the back, and tried them on the doll sans leotard, and they look much better.

As for yesterdays shorts, I've added the legs, and made them a slightly more subtly flared, and sewed them up.   They look great.  I'll probably put on a mock-belt detail too, but that's for later.  Right now, I'm very happy with the almost completely wrinkle-free crotch.



From the side you can see the nice flare.  These are great boot-cut trews.



And with high-heeled boots.  They look really good.


I tend to make my flared pants longer than straight legged ones. That's because with flares, I prefer a high heel under the leg, and with straight leg or skinny pants, I like to put on MSD boots with flat heels, over the top of the leg.


Now to go and make a proper pair for this here leotard ensemble. I haven't even begun the vest/waistcoat yet.


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Saturday, 12 September 2015

Digital papers now available



I wanted to wait until I had a few packages to upload, and now I'm happy to say my digital papers are now available.

These are in high quality JPG format for Etsy and through the blog.  
For Craftsy, they are in high quality PDF format, as this is the only format Craftsy will accept.

All the papers come as 300dpi images, all 12" x 12" square, which seems to be the standard size being offered by digital paper sellers all over the Internets.

Mine can be found in my Etsy shop:

My Craftsy store:

And here on the blog: (Via Sellfy)


I love pattern design, it's what I studies at art college, many moons ago, and I've come up with some pretty colour schemes.

People can use these for their online artwork, such as websites, blog backgrounds, etc. Or they can print out their papers to use in art journals, mixed media pictures, collage, dolls house wallpapers, crafts, cards, gift tags, all sorts of papercraft.  

Here are my first five collections:











There will be plenty more in the future, because I like to unwind from a days sewing by making pretty patterns on my spiffy new computer.

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Argh pants!



Pants.   It's actually a word you'd use for something that's rubbish here in the UK. We see pants as underpants, and find the word 'pants' quite hysterical. So today everything is pants. Including my pants.  My pants are pants.

I made some ... okay, now I have to call them trousers ... to go over Ell's new leotard.   As most people who read this blog, or know me a little will understand, fit is really important to me.   I guess it gives me the chance to indulge my borderline OCD.   I kind of obsess over fit.  And if a garment won't go right, I tie myself up in knots over it. I actually woke up feeling really depressive and low today.  Just because I can't get something perfect.


Here are my original trews.    Now they look okay in the picture, One does get a normal amount of puckering around the groin, even in human sized pants.   But it bugs the living S*** out of me.

They look better in the picture than in real life I think.  And they do look pretty much okay, just as if they're a comfortable pair of trews that have had some wear by their owner.  .. but "pretty much okay" is just not good enough for my patterns.

That and the back looks awful. Take my word for it.



So today I sat down to completely re-draft a new trouser pattern, and as usual, when I'm designing trews, I design shorts first, because it saves me wasting a load of extra fabric whilst making toiles. Once the crotch is right, the legs usually follow on okay.

This is my third pair of shorts, and to my eye, the crotch looks a lot better.  It also looks way better at the back than the original pair.   They're also fitted better - not so tight - so are easier to put on over the leotard.



There's still some wrinkling around the crotch, but it's minimal, and I'm not sure one can completely erase any pulling or puckering without trace - unless one is a Saville Row tailor, which unfortunately I'm not.   I swear when I come back in my next life, I want to devote my life to pattern cutting, and maybe become a Saville Row tailor, or couture seamstress before I embark on sewing for dollies.  

Any old how, I'm going to add the legs to these new pants, and sew them up to see how they turn out. I find it much harder to make good pants in quilters-weight cotton than I do in softer and slightly thicker shirt denims and needlecord... and that just makes me want to be able to do it!   For this next pattern, I want to create a damn good pair of Ellowyne trousers that is good and reliable.

Off I trot, back to the workdesk. Wish me luck.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Roll-neck leotard for Ell.



Something I've wanted to rty for a while now, a polo-neck, or roll-neck tops for a doll.   It's slightly tricksy, because unlike human roll-neck sweaters, this has to fasten at the back. the overlap at the back makes it even more of a fiddle.

Nonetheless, I found a neat solution, and the new leotard looks great on her.

Here's a quick snap of Saffie.   I was able to tweak the neck  with my fingertips, so it looked a bit ruched,  which I'm pleased with.




Just a quickie today. Next I'll be making her some proper pants.  The purple ones are good but need just a teeny bit more tweaking.


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Monday, 7 September 2015

17" Tonner male dolls sewing pattern SSP-022 Long and short coats.



At last, I've finalised the details and this long-promised pattern is now available in my outlets:

Etsy shop:

Craftsy Store:

And right here on the blog: (Via Sellfy)

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 suggest comparing prices.


The boys look so handsome in this coat. It has a few different styling options.


It's no secret that I love my boys.   This coat is fully-lined, with an optional storm cape (for the highwayman look.)  There's also a mock-pocket flap which you can choose to include or leave out; as well as belt-straps at the back.










I've made a few of these, and it looks good in different materials.  The lightweight denim version is smart, and looks a bit like tweed, and this one below, in pure new wool, is the last word in luxury.  For novices - I'd recommend avoiding wool until you're a bit more confident with the pattern, because it's lovely to sew, but needs a lot of steam pressing to get the seams perfectly flat.




As I've said in my last post, I am actually working on something for Ellowyne at the moment. I just wanted to finish this up and get it published. 

Lots to do.  But that's okay.  It's when I run out of ideas that I dread!


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Friday, 4 September 2015

Outfits by Tillietogs.



I love when my pal Trish (Tillietogs over at Fickr) makes something from a Raccoon pattern.   I invariably get to see a whole rainbow of lovely little dolly frocks, and accessories.  All these pictures are her own copyright.

Here are all her lucky Patience dolls:  I just love these pastelly-sorbet colours!



Every good girl deserves cake....


All of these were hand-sewn by Trish, using pattern  SSP-006, minus the sleeves.  


The dress to the left in the picture below was made from SSP-005.  I love this pic.




And a little more recently, here's what she did with SSP-010 for Ellowyne.   I love how all these dresses have completely different looks.


And another pic of three of Trish's lovely girls:  I tend to pick out the purple ones - we both agree on purple, it being such a fab colour. Note the sparkly belt. Love it.



Thanks for letting me show these, Trish.  This made a really colourful post!

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Thursday, 3 September 2015

Pants for Ellowyne - and ponderings on fabric choice.



I've moved back to Ell because I do miss sewing for these slightly larger dollies.

The pants pattern is one I drafted a long old time ago, but haven't used it much due to the amount of tweaking it needed. So today I sat and made a toile, put it on the doll inside out, made lots of mess all over it with vanishing ink, and tweaked the pants into a nice shape.

These will be straight leg pants, followed by a flared version.  Later I'll do some baggier cargo pants, and now I have the basic pattern right I can design from here.




I've used quilters-weight cotton here. It's lovely fabric, but lightweight denims and needlecord are a lot more "forgiving" fabrics.  It's very hard to get every little wrinkle out of pants made from this slightly "crisp" fabric, the softness and slight thickness of denim, cord, or even flannelette (brushed cotton) means the pants will always hang better in small scale.

Experimenting with cutting out your pattern pieces on the bias of the fabric will change the drape (such as it is) too.

The fabrics you choose for a dolly garment will really make a difference to your project. So basically if you can get the pattern to look right in a slightly crisper fabric like this - you can be preeetty sure it will look great in (for example) soft shirt-weight denim.

Upcycled (very clean) denim shirts and dresses are ideal for dolly pants and jeans. They've been made soft by laundering over time.  I always launder my fabric finds from charity shops, it pays to use a little fabric conditioner too.  Not only will your dolly smell divine, the finished garment will have that little extra softness.



Here endeth the lesson for today.  ;)

I love my work.

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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Three new outfits for Patience, in my Etsy store.



I've finished off these lovely little outfits - the ones that I made whilst drafting and publishing my recent patterns and tutorials.   They also give an idea of how you can combine these patterns and tutorials:   SSP-026, SSP-027, TUTE#018 and TUTE#019.

Here are the outfits - Links provided above each picture.


"Wols in blue"  Everything you see is included, apart from the doll and her wig.   Dress, jacket, shoes, pants, Alice band.














"Lil' raccoons"  Everything you see is included, apart from the doll and her wig.   Dress, jacket, shoes, pants.












"Playsuit"   Again, everything you see is included, apart from the doll and her wig.   Dress, shoes, pants.










Now I've satisfied Patience's every whim and fancy,  I feel the need to make something for Ellowyne.

I've a few ideas, which is good, only having more than one idea sometimes means I can't decide which one....

Indecision R us.


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