Monday, 29 December 2014

Year ending.

I'm no great movie maker, but I found an easy-peasy does-it-all-for-you online video thingumajig. The song is one I've adored since I was a kid, the pictures are just a few of my bits and pieces from 2014.

After all, I did it for love.

Hope everyone has a great 2015.
Loads of love.
Me. xx

...And my dollies. ;)


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Raccoon posse...

Slightly obsessive over these boys, but I figure they're well worth the effort.   The next lad I picked up was Benjamin... who, in my head will insist on being called Ben because it's more 'street' and less dorky.

Either way, he's such a handsome boy.   Dr Krow has done me proud, and the difference in the faces of my four Phin sculpts is really quite impressive.  For Ben, I wanted a British punk look, and have yet to make him a decent outfit, so he's in Lucas' old cast-offs.   For ages now I've been dying to have a go at a Mohawk wig, so I've done my best with this one.

The thing with Mohawks, is they look uber cool from the side, awesome from the back... but just a tad odd from the front.  

It's a pretty darn respectable Mohawk though, as they go.  However, I am going to get him a couple more wigs in this colour, so he has more than one look for me to fall back on. 

It can't be denied, he's one hell of a handsome dude. the grey eyes work for him too.  I'm in lurve.

Yah. This mah srs English face.

The bulb in my desklight died yesterday. It's a specialist circular tube and to have it expire the day before Christmas Eve was frankly paralysing.  However, I found a supplier online who guaranteed next day delivery. I gave it a shot, not really expecting Christmas miracles, but it arrived this morning at 11am!  It took only 13 hours from me ordering it, to being able to put in in my light and use it. 

I'm very happy.  It's a daylight bulb too, so I no longer have to colour correct the yellowish tint to all my photos.   (Also, K, if you ever read this, I totally swiped your bedsheet.)

Righto. Onto Phin.  :D

I was saving him until last, because I just knew I was going to swoon like a schoolgirls.  He is AMAZING.  He's way arrogant, and way wicked, and Dr Krow managed to give him the perfect little smirk I asked for.

With the dark brown eyes he's certainly a ladykiller. Never was there a more tempting demon....

Cue spammage:

I can't get over him.  He's my dream doll.  <3

Come hither.

 The new wig was fun to cut and style.  It also looked great on him when it was still long. very Heathcliff.   So I've ordered another black one, which he can wear long.

And here's a group shot where you can see the differences in the faces.   Loving every one of them.   I still need to fiddle and faff around, and Ben needs an outfit for sure, but it's nice to see the grouping. 

I think I have the four best Imperium Park Phin dolls in existence right now.  :)

Anyway, I hope you dolly peeps and anyone else who peruses my blog, ever, have a wonderful Christmas, and a great New Year. 

Loads of dolly love to all.  xxx


Monday, 22 December 2014

Jeremiah was a bullfrog...

Introducing Jeremiah.   My redhead Tonner Phin custom, done by Dr Krow, who is just lovely to do business with and is soooo talented, I'm seriously in awe.  :)

It was great fun doing up his wig and styling it.  I'd made the outfit long before today, so yay for not having to hang around in the buff. 

I absolutely love him.  <3

I'm a sucker for red hair, green eyes, and freckles, and have long wanted a male doll of that colouring.   The eyes that fit this sculpt are 5mm oval ones.   The measurement is in the iris. That's 5mm.  I learned to my cost when I first bought 10mm oval eyes - they were enormous!

The eyes I got from the USA - because you can't get anything here in Blighty - are really nice, but he pupil in one of them isn't quite central.  It gives him a slightly  boss-eyed look, so I'll have to try to get another pair in the hope that I'll at least get two green eyes out of the four that are in alignment.

The freckles Dr Krow has given him are lovely. The camera never does a good repaint justice and I can't capture how natural-looking these freckles are. 

And one final one in almost-monochrome.

(Now I can't stop singing this darned song...)

Next is Benjamin.  I'm going to attempt a mohawk (sort of) for him, and he doesn't have his outfit yet, so I'll have to dress him in Lucas's old stuff.   Ben will be getting a punk look eventuall, if things pan out.  An anrchy teeshirt, and some jeans with lots of black chains, and maybe some ripped bits and pieces.  We'll see.  Oh and studs.  I want to use studs.  :)

Phin, I'm saving for last.  His new face-up makes him look so arrogant, it's wonderful.  His outfit is almost complete, bar a good black tricorn, so not too much work required.

Blythe sewing pattern - SSP-003

Tea-dyed shabby chic.  My favourite!  This new pattern is my personal favourite of my Blythe patterns so far. 

As with the others in the new line, this is a straightforward sewing pattern, crammed with photographic instructions that will engage even the novice sewist.  I've made my little dresses up in tea-dyed cotton fabrics and I'm slowly getting addicted to dyeing fabrics again.  I love the antique quality that tea colouring gives.


Here in my blog:

Here's Missy in her new frock, with the standard Blythe body.

And Lottie, with her brand new Pure Neemo Flexion S body. I'm quite taken with this doll's body. You can get little packets of spare hands for them, so I might invest in some.

The pattern has two different sized bodices, tailored to each body type. The remainder of the pattern pieces, Skirts, petticoat and armlets are interchangeable between the two bodices. 

The armlet fit both doll's bodies perfectly, but the Pure Neemo hands have to be popped off to get the armlets on.   Which is okay, because like Ellowyne and Monster High, they're designed to do just that for easier dressing.

So. Now that project is finally complete. I can turn my attention to my newly-modified and repainted Phin boys.  My first new guy, the redhead already has his wig styled and ready.  I was going to call him Jerome but he hates it and for some reason insists on Jeremiah, which I rather like more too and it's sticking to him like poop to a blanket.  I'm always fond of old-fashioned and even biblical names.

I mentioned on Facebook that the new boys need names. Some amusing suggestions were bandied about, then one of my lovely FB pals, Kath, suggested Ben and Jerry.  Heh.  I love the name Benjamin as it happens, so the poor boys are going to be subjected to those monikers.

Phin will never let them forget it.... But at least it's better than Bill & Ted, Bill & Ben, Cheech & Chong, Or Mutt & Jeff.  ;)


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sewing pattern for Blythe SSP-002

In light of my having to wait for my tea-dyed fabrics to dry before I can do any more sewing, I've been updating some of my tutorials for the Straightforward range.   Today I've managed to tidy up and condense the Blythe pantsuit into a regular sewing pattern.

Here on my sales page in my blog: 

And in my Etsy store:

I'm hoping to work through some of these previous tutorials, so I can offer them at the new reduced price.  Some of them simply don't function very well, due to the way I've taken the photos for the instructions, but I'm confident that most of them will do-able.

It will take time though, and I'm still inspired to create new patterns, so things will be gradual.

The tea-dyed stuff looks very pretty thus far, but I foolishly left a metal spoon standing in the liquid with the soaking fabric, and now where the spoon was in contact with the fabric - it's gone all black and weird. Ugh.

Hopefully I'll be able to place my pattern pieces around the stains.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Coming along nicely.

Another quickie today, just to post a couple of teasers for the newest sewing pattern.  Things are going a lot better with this new range already.   I'm enjoying the fabrics so much I sat on Ebay today and bought up a few more fat quarters in different colours.

I love the tea-dyeing too, and will be dying another batch of fabrics tomorrow.  The dress I'm  making for the instructions PDF is sized to fit the Pure Neemo Flexion 'S' body, so I will need to make up another dress fitted to the standard Takara Blythe body.

Finally, too, I'm all ready for Christmas. Not that I ever do a huge amount of preparation, but it's nice when all the cards are sent and the minor pressies have been bought.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Raccoons Rags sewing patterns.

I'm always racking my brains (Such as they are) for what to do with my published tutorial patterns.  For 2015, I'm going to be bringing out a new line of more basic sewing patterns.  The reasons for this are:

1)  It's going to be a lot less stressful not to be so obsessive over each picture I take as I work.

2) It will be a lot less to organise into a document.

3) Not everyone wants a beginners tutorial, and I think straightforward sewing patterns will be welcome.

4) Because the instructions are short enough to be all one document instead of lengthy tutorials, which can take up to three separate documents, and Etsy only allows me to upload 5 PDFs at a time - I can offer both A4 and U.S. Letter formats in the same package, so European people don't have to email me and ask for the A4 version.

5)  Most enjoyably for my customers, I will be able to offer these at a lower price than the full-on tutorials.  :)

They'll be called the SSP collection. (Straightforward. Sewing. Pattern.) I've already listed one on my Etsy page, and in my Sellfy sales page right here on my blog. (Look above for "STRAIGHTFORWARD PATTERNS FOR SALE")

Here's the first.  I amended my newest pattern - the Blythe Boho ensemble - and have re-priced it at £7.99. The photographic instructions are, I feel, as good if not better than most PDF patterns currently on the internet market.


Here in my blog:

I'm sorta excited about these. They will be easier for me to produce, I love doing the whole pattern thang so much, and am happy to be able to give my customers the best value for money I possibly can.

I have another Blythe pattern almost completed now, which I'm still trying to cram into 2014.  It's gorgeous.  I wish I was 30 years younger because I'd totally wear it.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Trying to squeeze another one in...

I have some lovely tea-dyed bits of fabric that I wanted to turn into a little dress for Blythe.   So I've decided I might as well photograph the process and make another pattern-tutorial.

I love this fabric so much.  It's in between lawn weight and quilters-weight cotton.   Nice and thin for dolly clothes, but not see-through or sheer.

For this little dress, I'm making the pattern pieces for both Blythe standard Bodies and the Pure Neemo Flexion S body - which several people seem to favour when re-bodying their dollies.

Wonder if I can shoehorn this one (my 17th) into 2014?  Heh.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Pattern #016 now in the Raccoon's Rags Etsy store.

My new Blythe pattern is published and available online.   :)

Possibly the last one of 2014, unless I get a wriggle on and manage to do something more really fast.

In my Etsy store: 

Or here on my blog sales page:

This is an ankle length skirt and petticoat, with a ruffle-trimmed longline top.  The puff sleeves from my pattern #015, the Blythe pantsuit can be used with this top.

I give two methods of making up the top.  The professional way comes first, and if that's a bit daunting, I provide a "quick and dirty method" all in the first tutorial.

I've played around with the fit, and while this does look quite nice on a Pullip, the skirt would need to be lengthened.  (Or shortened if you want a flirty little skirt)

Pullip bodies are longer than the standard Blythes, but the top looks quite good as it's longer-line. 

I also invested in  Pure Neemo Flexion S body, as I know many Blythe customisers like to switch to this type of body.  It's thinner in the bust than the standard Blythe, and wider around the hips and thighs, but the waist seems to be almost exactly the same. 

When you come to attach the snaps for the top and skirt, the garments can be fitted on the Pure Neemo body and look quite good.

The legs are shorter than Blythe's though, and the skirt will be floor-length instead of ankle-length.

So that's me for the next couple of days.  I'll be finding something else to publish - possibly the waistcoat for the 17" Tonner guys.

My three boy's heads are still with Dr Krow, and they're very nearly finished, so I'm excited.  Chances are I'll get caught up with playing with those for a bit....


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Newest pattern, this one for Blythe.

Decided on creating another Blythe pattern with full tutorial, whilst waiting for my boys to come home.  This one will be for Blythe, and has a long skirt and petticoat with a top that has a ruched detail.

After making the Jedi outfit for my big 17" guy, this seems to be going much faster, even with having to take a photo after every seam!

 I'm already almost halfway through it.   Looking forward to publishing a few more bits and pieces, especially once the New Year comes along.

 I will have published my first 16 pattern-tutorials this year, 2014.  I wonder how many I'll be able to produce in 2015.  :)

It doesn't look like they'll be drying out any time soon either. I still have so many ideas.


Friday, 5 December 2014

The final Jedi outfit. (Warning, massive picspam)

So here's my current Jedi poster-boy, Lucas.  A 17" Imperium Park Phin doll, customised and repainted by Dr Krow.   By the bye,  He's not named after George Lucas, I just happen to like the name, so it seemed appropriate to pick him for the Jedi outfit. ... That, and my other three boys are off being customised. ^^

The tea dyeing worked well. The clothing looks humble and well worn.  Jedi have a semi-Samurai and semi-monastic feel, I always think.

I tried him in his alternative wig. I think it needs a good restyling but I can't face it.  I keep going back to the fur wig, it's so him.

The whole look without the robe.  I managed to work the straps on his boots so that the line between the boot-tops and the actual gaiters isn't obvious. I had to use different buckles, but that's okay.  I may be picky, but when one simply can't obtain the exact bits and pieces one must improvise.

And the robe. Not technically accurate because of the contrast lining, but I simply couldn't help myself.

Something wicked this way comes....

Lightsabre at the ready. (That's British for lightsaber.) I do like these chopsticks, but the ends of the 'light beam' taper to a point.  I need to find a way to remove the current blue plastic and replace it with some slightly better perspex rod that I have.

These are not the droids you seek....

You don't want to sell me death sticks.

You want to go home and rethink your life.

I'm all Jedi'd out now.   Maybe something for the girls next.  After a big project like this, I find myself totally at a loose end and at a loss for something to sew.

I've even cleaned the oven. :O


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Tea dyeing. (And recipe)

It's best to tea dye the fabric before sewing, and to make sure you have enough extra for any possible mistakes in cutting out the pattern pieces.

Here's how I make my tea dye mix and dye my fabric or garments.

In a pint jug, I use two ordinary PG tips tea bags. Any brand will do.

Pour in hot water, I make about 3/4 of a pint, depending on how much fabric I have.  It's possible to dye a piece of fabric large enough for a dolly garment in a surprisingly small amount of liquid.  I can get a fat quarter of cotton voile or lawn out of 3/4 of a pint of tea.

Squidge the tea bags around if you want a strong brew. Use more or less tea bags, or leave them in for a longer/shorter time to make tea for deeper/paler fabric.

Remove tea bags.

Add 1 heaped teaspoon of salt for every 3/4 of a pint.

Mix well so salt dissolves.

Dunk in your fabric, ensuring it's soaked through and mostly covered by the liquid. Poke it around with a clean spoon. I put my fabric in dry, not damp. I like a less-than-perfect effect, with natural lighter patches or deeper patches. For a more uniform effect, you can try damping your fabric first.

Leave for an hour or so.

Rinse until the water runs clear (shouldn't take long with smaller pieces.)

If I'm dying garments as opposed to just fabric - I'm brave, and I let the clothes dry on the doll. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOUR DOLL IS BODY BLUSHED. EVER. It will ruin the sealant, or the paint, or whatever is used to blush the doll. DO NOT RISK THIS ON A PALE BODIED RESIN DOLL, BLUSHED OR NOT.
I dry the clothes on the doll because I know it is rinsed well, and damp clothes can be styled on the doll's body to great effect. I don't do it on pale resin dolls, only my vinyl ones, or the darker skinned resin dolls.

I know for a fact damp clothes or wigs can ruin a faceup or body blushing. I don't think my well-rinsed garments would stain my pale resin dolls, but I won't take that chance - I strongly recommend you don't either.

*Climbs off soap box*

I use pure cottons for dyeing.  Acrylics and polyesters don't take well to any dye that isn't specialist.   A poly-cotton mix might work, but I haven't tried it. I believe the effect will be paler.  Viscose fabrics work beautifully too, viscose is actually a natural fibre.  I imagine if you're using silks, vinegar will be better to fix the colour instead of salt, but I haven't tried it yet, so don't take my word for it. 
Here's the Jedi outfit I've made all dyed and put on my Lucas. I've styled them the way I like them, so they drape nicely, and I'll wait for them all to dry before I put on his belt and boots, etc.

 One adorable but slightly soggy little Jedi:

 The clothing will probably dry a little paler, but that's okay.   I've dyed the trews as well, because they were too similar in shade to the lining of his robe for my personal liking.

All the work is done now. This will take overnight to dry, but I'll try and get some pictures of the complete outfit uploaded tomorrow.  :)


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Completion of the Jedi outfit. Almost.

So the gaiters I mentioned in my last entry did go well after all.  Here's how they look... it's not the greatest of pics, and I still need to sort them out where they 'join' the actual boot, to make it look more like a continuous boot-leg.  But, it's turned out way better than I'd hoped for.

Over the last few days I've been quiet because making the long-anticipated (by me if nobody else) Jedi robe - turned out to be a mammoth task.

I used an incredibly soft viscose twill weave, which is so slinky it pulls out of shape when cut on the bias, and requires buckets of fray check to stabilise the edges because it frays like a b******d.  It's a beautiful fabric though, and the end totally justifies the agony.

SO MUCH SEWING in this.  I did it all by hand and could have used a machine - but I often find machines are a bit to rough on delicate fabrics, and the overlock on a diagonal (bias) seam can make it as wavy as the deep blue sea.

I was intensely relieved that it went right first draft, and I won't need to tweak the pattern to make a second draft.  The hood is just right, the sleeves are the perfect length, the hem does trail along the ground but I can ignore that, because dolls don't walk around on desert planets getting their hems all dusty. >_<

Also, I know these robes are not lined, and certainly not in a contrast fabric, but I couldn't help myself. I love the luxury of a lined dolly garment. Using a contrast fabric for the lining really gives it an opulent feel.   The hood and sleeves are lined with the same brown as the outer, but the body itself has this nice beige-blond colour.  Which should look good when the white garments have been tea dyed a similar shade.

This post is just a teaser for today. I've sewed myself out and need a break, but I'll try to get Lucas dressed for some semi-official pics tomorrow.   I need to tea dye the white items before it's really finished.

One helpful hint as regards Fray check ( I use Fray Stoppa) Not only does it prevent really bad fraying, but with slinky or silky fabrics, it stabilises the edges and stops any bias-cut edges from stretching or  going all wavy.   It's a godsend in a project like this, even if you are lining it and enclosing all the raw edges.

People have asked me why they should bother using it if everything's going to be lined. I've always said it makes your life a lot easier when sewing it all together.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Progress on the Jedi outfit.

Worked out how to make the waistcoat-type garment that goes over the Jedi tunic yesterday.  I sewed so much!  My fingers were sore, but I just had to finish it.

Here's the ensemble together. It's damp in the picture. I wetted the garments under the tap to a) remove all the vanishing ink and b) style the over-garment so it hung properly.

I'm using a bit of scrap ribbon for the belt, temporarily:

Now at the back,  I believe that Obi Wan's over-waistcoat ends at the belt, from the outfit on my action figure (which is impressively accurate) and from the only picture I've managed to find. 

But I like the look of the two pieces of fabric falling below the tunic hem, so I've made mine like this.

I left it all overnight to dry out, and this morning tackled the belts.  first there's a wide fabric one, like the kind that fastens a kimono, over that is the leather utility belt.

In fact, the belt that came with my 12" action figures looks good on the 17" Tonner body: 

I was tempted to use my spare one for my Jedi and call it quits, but for the scale of the lightsabre hilt.   My lightsabre chopsticks arrived today and they're just about perfect for the 17" body.  The 12" scale hilt is just as long, but is thinner than the hilt on the chopsticks, so it doesn't look quite right. 

These chopsticks are awesome, I love them. (The 12" doll's lightsabre is at the bottom of this picture below.)

So I ended up making my own belt. I had some kid leather in the same colour as the boots. It looks almost black here, but is a dark brown.   It's not as detailed or as cool as the smaller scale belt, but I had fun and it looks kinda good.   The clasp in the centre was something I couldn't really reproduce, so I've just added a twist of wire and made some tiny D-rings to embellish it.

The lightsabre hilt should clip on to the belt, but I'm really a seamstress, not a modeller, so I've made a loop for it to slide into.

It's looking better and better.  To be honest, I only wanted to make a robe in the beginning, because I'm into coats and capes, but it's been a pleasurable digression.

The boots I'm using for him are not tall enough up the leg. Jedi boots are knee-high.) So I'm currently attempting to make some gaiters in exactly the same colour leather. 

I'll be posting pics if it works. If it doesn't ...we'll forget I ever mentioned it. ;)


Friday, 28 November 2014

Jedi tunic.

There's probably some correct fandom terminology for each of these garments, but I'm going with tunic right now, based on the research I've done.   I love Jedi costume. It smacks of Japanese kimonos and samurai warriors.

The tunic is finished, pretty much.   It all looks a bit white, but I plan to tea dye some of the bits and pieces in varying depths of shade.

(Obi Wan's boots are much higher than these. I do have some that are higher, but I thought these looked more 'Jedi' than the others, and are a darker brown.)

I haven't used a fastening because the garment doesn't really need one.  There's a criss-cross waistcoat type thing that comes next and the wide fabric belt seems to hold everything in place.  Over the fabric belt goes a leather belt with a sort of clip for the lightsabre hilt.

And from the back.

I'm pleased with the shoulders where the sleeve joins, it worked beautiful and isn't as hard as I thought is would be... even with a lining ( I can't resist lining things.)   The proportions are generally good for this first draft.  The whole thing needs dampening to remove the vanishing pen marks, and needs a bit of styling.

It could do with being a smidge longer overall, and the fronts might look better if I take a half inch away on each side.

Off I go to attempt this waistcoat type garment.  I'm looking forward to doing the belts immensely. :)