Saturday, 31 May 2014

Sometimes it helps to be obsessive....

Still plugging on with the patterns. This one is for jeans and I'm really enjoying the photography angle, as much as the sewing part.  The instructions - Argh. I just hope I'm articulate enough to be explaining things well.  Still, there's no substitute for good pictures.  My close-up skills have improved considerably whilst doing this.

I bleached some denim especially for this project, and am loving that washed-out look with the contrast stitching and the rivets.  :)

I'ma gonna be typing instructions in my sleep tonight, and my hands are going to be famous. 



Friday, 30 May 2014

Restyle for Zane

Constantly blogging lately.  Anything I do doll-wise seems to make me want to squawk about it here. >_>   But what the heck, it's too much fun.

Anyway, much as I love my new Barbie Basics Ken... who I've named Zane, he was a little too Tarzan for my liking.  Not that I have anything against Tarzan, but I dig guys with shorter hair.  So I've used the hot water technique to shape his style, then tentatively trimmed the front, and I've given the back a good cut and shape.  

He has gel in at the moment and it's still wet, but once it's dry, it should look less slick and a little softer.   Hopefully more like Ty's style.

I've also used watercolour pencils to see how he looks with darker brows and slightly larger irises.   Watercolour pencils are fab for this - because if you cock up massively, it wipes off with a damp cloth.  I may re-do him in acrylics later on.  If I get a no-shaky-hands day.  I miss being able to tweak a dolls faceup.  My eyes are rubbish now I'm older, and it takes magnifying craft glasses and my massive magnifier with the attached light for me to do even a tiny job.

Ah well. I'm still twelve years old in my heart.  :)

Zane looks full of attitude here, heh.  Ty's still considering battering him with that baseball bat for nicking his new teeshirt... or he might just mercilessly ridicule him for having such shiny arms..... I wish I could do something about those arms.

What I really, really, want next, is another Harley Ken so I can do a full re-root.  But they're phenomenally expensive now.  Eeep.

And it appears that Tonner do a Sheldon Cooper doll. Oh, the temptation.


New guy on the block

Lordy, they're horrendously expensive now, but I HAD to get me a Barbie Basics model #15 male doll. He's so handsome, I couldn't resist.   Now I've got him home and partially removed his clothing - I realise, man .. he's ripped. What a sex god. ;) The photo doesn't do him justice. So yeah, meet Zane.

Anyway, I took this shot of him on my workdesk to show him off - and I swear this shot wasn't set up - but look at Ty in the background toying with Phoenix's baseball bat!   It made me laugh. I can't decide whether he's casting an appreciative eye over the new guy, or if he wants to do him some serious damage.

The two fictional characters I named the boys after, are actually FBI agents who are having an affair whilst out doing their FBI thang.  Ty Grady is a bit of a nutjob, and Zane Garrett is a little more level headed.   So with that in mind... I'm really not sure what Ty might have in mind for that baseball bat... 


But yes, I'll be doing something with Zane's hair.  Long hair on guys doesn't really do it for me so I will definitely re-style it, and maybe shorten it just a little.   I'd quite like to repiant his irises too. I'm not so keen on the fact they don't fill his eyes, but I'll have to be feeling brave and have a non-shaky-hands day to attempt that.

He's a great doll, despite the singular rigid pose and lack of articulation.  I did buy an articulated Fashionistas Ryan to re-body him with, but the neck is too short! He looks weird on the Fashionista body, so it looks like he;s stuck with his won.  Ah well. He's still worth having, bigtime. :)


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Creating patterns, the story so far...

I've been working really hard on my first doll pattern.  I stuck to something simple  - a teeshirt for Ken dolls, but felt I needed to add some extra value, so I've added the options of long sleeves and a turtle neck.  I know I keep banging on about how much work it is, but I sew a seam, take a photo, repeat, and repeat, lots of times, then I upload the pics and write out what to do while it's all still fresh in my mind.

I've nearly finished the teeshirt pattern now - and will be selling them as not just patterns, but PDF tutorials as well.  Instead of just plain instructions, the tutorials will be packed with photos and I will share some of my techniques on how to get things to look great.  :)

I'm kind of excited about this, and realistically I don't expect to sell many patterns for guys - BUT, once I get into the female doll stuff, I'm hoping my reputation will be good enough so that people will want to buy the pattern/tutorials.  

I was thinking of calling the range of patterns 'Options'  - but that sounds too much like a  chocolate drink, lulz. So Yeah.  Anyway, I need to tweak for typos and make sure it's all easy to read.  Here's Ty looking awesome in the first Raccoon's Rags pattern.

Also, I've figured out how to save my tutorials as PDF's in both A4 AND US letter size.  "Options" really is the whole theme of what I'm doing. People like options.  I like to offer choice in a way that doesn't have me working so hard that my stress-related illness puts paid to my ideas.

The way I'm going to sell them, is I'll set a fair price for a PDF pattern/tutorial which will include the highly detailed instructions, a 'how to print your pattern' document, and a PDF of the pattern pieces themselves.   People can then have the option of paying a small amount extra for me to send them a printed copy of the pattern pieces only.  The instructions don't really need to be printed - I never print them out when I buy a PDF pattern, I just read them from my tablet.  That keeps the need to print down, which keeps costs down, which can only be good for my customers, right?   People can always choose to print out their instructions on their own printers.

I hope that sounds okay to people.   It's what a few folks of Facebook have said seems a reasonable thing to do.

Anyway, I've made a good start on the pants/jeans pattern :)  Go Raccoon.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Trying to compile a pattern

I've thought about publishing my doll patterns for sale off and on now for a number of years.   Today, I sat down and started off with making a simple teeshirt for Ken dolls, and taking pictures as I went along.  That strikes me as the clearest way of explaining how it's done.   I'm an experienced sewer and I always get in a tizzy over written instructions without pictures.


I do not begrudge anyone a penny of what they charge for their published patterns. People like Gracefaerie, Designs by Jude, Adams Harris, and MHD Designs - I salute you.   The work involved in creating a usable pattern is well, work.  Lots of work.   I can understand why they charge what they do for their work, in fact - I'm surprised it's not more.

It seems one needs to love doing, or needs to be a bit of a dolly philanthropist to go to all that trouble for a few quid per pattern.  I know it depends on how many you sell, but realistically, I know most dolly designers are certainly not getting rich from doing it!

Then there's the problem of "Do I sell PDF format only?"  Because down that path lie scaling issues for customers when they come to print out the pattern.  Or "Do I sell only printed patterns?"  I feel that path will be extremelly costly in printer ink.  I know folks charge a bit more for a printed pattern (plus shipping) than PDF versions, but you can't hike up the prices too much.

It seems sticking to only one option might make me lose potential customers. So I have to offer both,  which means two sets of problems to solve.  Ah well, I'll do a couple for Ken dolls, then a couple for Ellowyne and see what happens. If I have the energy....  ;)

So anyway, Here's a few pics from my first pattern instructions, just for a few visuals.  My back hurts, and I have a headache now.  So I'm off to chill under my blankie, with the cat.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

How to modify a Sideshow figure's legs. (Ankle extension)

Okay, back to the action figure. (I keep having to remember it's a Phoenix Kaelen action figure - not a Ewan McGregor doll.  But then I'm such a girl)   I recently finished his outfit, which was sewn before I got him and tailored to fit a Ken doll. You can see in this early shot, that while the clothes fit nicely, his legs look a tad short.  In fact the cargo pants are inordinately long on him and are tucked into the boots to hide all the excess fabric.  So, feeling brave, I decided to rectify this problem.

Sideshow figures  don't have feet. They're a bit like Bratz dolls in that the shoes/boots pop off.  HOWEVER, I was lucky enough to find a pair of Sideshow action figure bare feet attachments. In Canada.  So I bought them. (Thank you Canada)

As you can see, the lower legs are a bit stumpy.

The feets themselves are really well jointed, and can be posed at more angles than say biker Ken's feet.   I planned to use Fimo for the modelling work, so I had to be careful and model the clay around something before baking so it didn't collapse or distort. The feet will melt in the oven, so I needed something the exact size of the pegs that I could model the clay around (for removal later) and wouldn't melt or burn.   I found some bamboo knitting needles, 5.5mm, which look a bit too big, but take it from me, they're exactly the right thickness.

I cut two of them down, and marked half an inch, so I knew where the modelling clay had to end.

I took some Fimo, and wrapped it around my cut dowel; shaping the other end of the clay into a rough peg shape.  Wire pushed into the thinner peg part is to strengthen the piece. Fimo is notorious for breaking just when you don't need it to. Milliput would have been better and probably more professional, but I wanted to give this a shot first.

After baking, The wooden dowels came out of the clay nicely, although I had to twist gently and carefully to stop it all breaking.    Then I used a scalpel and some 150 grit sandpaper to shape the pieces. One needs to check for fit as one goes along, but it worked well.  You can't see the wire, which is baked into the clay. I used wire snips to cut it off flush with the end of the peg.

Yay. Lots of mess!  :)

I carefully pushed the foot pegs into the ankle extensions, and the fit was perfect.  Go me.

And it works really well!   Okay, so it's not pretty, but with my male dolls, the legs are always hidden under trews or jeans, I don't make shorts for my more manly guys. He even stands up with the new attachments. Just.  ;)   The added height with these was just about half an inch.

(Ignore Ty in the background. He's just having a snooze)

After that success - I promptly snapped off one of my Fimo pegs whilst fiddling with them...D'oh.   Praise the lord for giving us superglue.   All fixed, with no problem.

 Now he's just about the same height as a Ken doll, although in this picture below, he looks a bit taller, which is odd because they're almost the exact same height. Must be the camera angle.  Anyway.  This could be done more professionally with some Milliput.  The pieces would be far stronger, but would have to be painted flesh-tone.  I opted for beige Fimo soft, because I couldn't be doing with getting out all my paints -although Fimo can be painted with acrylics too.  Not that I plan to go there, cuz I'm a lazy cuss with some things. 

I'll need to take more shots with the tripod, due to wobbly hands and not being able to get the angles right.   But it worked, and I'm happy. For the time being. I'm really not so fond of the Sideshow body. It's very much not a fashion doll body.

For that reason I still plan to get a spare Ken body and experiment with the arms though. I want to be able to use the action figure's many pairs of hands, so I'll have to take the Ken arms apart, and work out how I can put the Sidehow hands into them.  Might involve some careful drilling.  It'll be a blast. 

Like Frankenstein's lab.


Finished 2nd jacket for 12" male doll.

Managed to finish the new denim jacket yesterday.   It's amazing the difference the embellishments make.   Those pockets are a pain. I mean ,they're okay now I have a system, but lots of work for two tiny bits of fabric!   It's a good job the difference is worth it.

I also love these tiny metal studs in antique copper and brass.  I may have overused them, but  do I care?

And here's Ty in faded black (dark grey really)  jeans, and the new jacket.   Maybe he'll get a darker teeshirt to go with the ensemble. I think that might look better.

Next, I'm tempted to try selling some patterns, but I'll need to make items using each pattern, and photograph the process, so people can understand how to do it.   Loads of work involved, more than folks realise.  Especially when I don't know how to convert them to PDF and keep them the right size when they're printed out by potential customers. So I'll start off with maybe a teeshirt and see how it goes.  I have boxes full of patterns, which - sorry to be morbid - will probably just get chucked in the bin once I'm gone.  Maybe I should start recording them for posterity.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

RE-tailoring the 12" doll jacket

The black denim Jacket I recently made for 12" male dolls was great from the front, but I had to pin the back drastically to get it to hang right.   As you can see in this picture below, a substantial amount of fabric had to be pinned, and also - which is not so clear, is that the centre back of the jacket was too high.

I wonder how many doll sewers make something that contains loads of work and looks so nice; but contains one rather large mistake.  I can't bear to throw out a garment like that, so for now it will remain pinned, but I have started work on tweaking the pattern.

I turned the jacket inside out, put it on the doll and marked all the alterations that needed to be made to the seams. Then I copied the adjustments to my pattern and started sewing again.   This is just what one has to do to get a perfect pattern.  Very often I need to re-make a garment up to six or seven times before I'm satisfied.

Here's the nearly-finished jacket, without the final top-stitching and embellishments.  It hangs great, and that adjusted collar rocks my world. :)

Okay, so it's not a particularly masculine colour, but I dig guys in tie dye, and I dig guys who can wear pink.  So here's we've got the two rolled into one.   I'll probably give him a 60's  flower power feel.  Maybe.

And here's the back.   When sewing coats for dolls, it's well worth having a curved back seam because even guys have a good curve down the spine and over the butt.  I've been cutting most of my garments on the bias too lately, because I've found there is so much 'ease' in the fabrics that way.  It's great for fitting tiny curved seams together.

I put it on the doll in a bit of a hurry, but at least you can see it fits without a pin, an the back is a little lower. I like a denim jacket to just cover the top of a pair of jeans.

Also, I decided on a new name for him.  I've been reading the 'Cut and Run' series of books by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban, which I adored from start to finish.  It's about a couple of FBI agents called Ty Grady and Zane Garret.   I know the colouring of the characters is a little different to my dolls, but this guy is now being called Ty, and when the Barbie Basics model 15 Ken arrives, He'll be Zane. =^-^=


Thursday, 22 May 2014

Denim jacket for 12" male doll

As I've said before - I do own a sewing machine, but mostly I sew by hand. In fact everyone may safely assume that all of my doll garments have been hand-stitched unless I specifically say I've been playing with the sewing machine.   Hand sewing gives a lot more control when easing fabric to fit,  it's therapeutic, and I just love it.   With my slight OCD, and my not-so-slight stress related illness,  something repetitive yet creative is just perfect.

Backstitch is my friend. :)

I thought I could adapt my recent coat pattern for a denim jacket pattern. Which turned out to be partly true.   Soooo many pieces for this one! I looked at human sized denim jackets online, and there are even more components in those than I've got here, but for such a small scale project, I decided this should be okay for my needs.

The finished jacket looks pretty good, but I had to alter it substantially to fit.  I'll also have to tweak the pattern a heck of a lot to get the next one just right.   It looks great in the pics, but I couldn't get the fronts to hang right without pinning the back.  You can't see it in the pictures here, but the back needs a lot of adjustment still.

Because I'd put so much work into this, and because I won't be selling it, I'll settle for the pinned version, but my obsession with getting things perfect means I'll probably have to make another one soon.   I love the little metal studs I ordered, so I used several to mimic buttons and rivets.   I also did a spot of embroidery to mimic buttonholes.  I can't for the life of me figure out how to make actual buttonholes in such a small scale, on denim, which frays so easily; even with fray-check.

There's so much top-stitching in jeans and denim jackets!  But well worth the effort.  :)


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Finished jeans for Ken

...Who still needs a better name.  Le sigh.

The tiny studs I ordered arrived this morning so I was able to add them as final embellishments to the jeans.   I love the look of these on doll clothes and they just finish off the garment nicely.

When I made the blue jeans, I deliberately chose some thin denim that had faded in parts and not so much in others.  I'm not sure about them now they're done.  While I like the contrast you can see on the pockets, I think the waistband should have been made from the more faded areas instead of the deeper blue bits.   I'm so pernicketty that I might make another pair... although the waistband will be hidden and the outfit is for my own dolls and I won't be selling it - so I s'pose it doesn't matter.  But still.

Next want a coat or a jacket. Still can't decide which.  I'm so dithery today.


Monday, 19 May 2014

Raccoon's stash

Having re-organised my fabric stash, I felt so proud of my neatness (yeah right) that I thought I'd share.

This is my favourite drawer, so many pretty colours.

This one isn't so pretty, and it struck me that I haven't used a lot of these - which tells me I need to stop buying fabric and get on with using some up!

And another purty one.  I found a load of cotton voiles that were surprisingly inexpensive. I use these a lot for petticoats and linings.  The whites and creams on the left are the ones I get through the most, so I make sure I'm always well stocked.

I tend to keep a lot of fabrics for hand-dying too.   Which I don't always get around to doing. I need a good sunny day for it, because I share a house and the garden is the best place for drying all the bits.

Having a teeny tiny bedroom, which is also my sewing room, I have too much fabric for my drawers. Luckily under-bed storage is easily available.

I could probably organise my stuff a lot better really, but I get used to zimming around on my chair going to where I know everything is kept quite quickly.    But yes, that's my fabric stash, and it's hardly ever this tidy. ;)


Two outfits for Ken

I seldom make 'batches' of clothing, but I've spent the last few days making two teeshirts and two pairs of jeans for Ken.   ... He really needs a batter name than that.

Remember my 'no more dolls'  wailing?  Erm, well. I've bought a Barbie Basics Ken - the good looking dark haired one, and I plan to re-body him on a fashionistas Ryan.  So much for my resolve.

But back to the subject in hand.   Two tees and two pairs of jeans.   Very happy so far.  The jeans need finishing off. I've bought some 3mm studs from Ebay in antique copper and antique brass, which I'll use to embellish.   Belt loops need to be added too, so I'll be doing that later today.

And here's one extra of the Rosette doll, I've named her Holly, because she seems to like it and she was a Christmas present, sort of.  From me to me, heh.  I found a Monique Gold wig that looks good one her.  Unfortunately it's Lizette's, so there might be squabbling.


Saturday, 17 May 2014

Custom face-up for Rosette Violet (by Krowbar)

A few months ago,  I treated myself to a Soom Pure Rosette BJD, and I'm loving the long, skinny, lanky body.   She's the first doll I've bought without a faceup, because I wanted to go to Dr Krow (Krowbar) specifically.  She's amazing, I love her work and it's a huge bonus to have such a good artist here in the UK.

Well, the doll is everything I asked for and more.  Dr Krow really listens to what the customer wants and comes up with stunning work.    I asked for no gloss on the lips or eyes, because sometimes it makes photographing a doll a bit tricksy.   When she arrived to day, I had to shove my 12" boys aside and attach eyelashes, then find a pair of eyes that fit.   With eyelashes, less is more, I think.  So I chose relatively short ones and am glad I did, they look really long on her.

I've taken a couple of shots of her in different wigs, and will try to get out the tripod tomorrow to try and capture the tiny detail in her face better.   I just love those freckles!  My first dolly with freckles too.  She's fab.

This brunette wig is an Ellowyne Wilde wig.  It fits nicely if I use a silicone wig cap and I think is my favourite.  I'll probably use this as her 'main' wig.

Next, another Ell wig.   Mid-brown with a fringe.  Quite cute.

And here's the wig Soom sent in the box when she was shipped.   It's kind of okay, but I like the Ell wigs better.  If I have a doll with beautiful eyebrows, I quite like to be able to see them.

All in all she's great, but very floppy.  I've tightened the elastic inside her but will probably have to wire her as well. The head/neck joint needs sueding too, as her head tends to flop around a bit.   I don't mind having to do a bit of work on new BJD's.  It kind of makes me feel like a doll is more 'mine' when I have to do a couple of mods.


Friday, 16 May 2014

1/6th scale shoulder holster

For the little gun, I wanted to make a shoulder holster.  It worked out well, but alas the scale of the doll means that the gun itself is too bulky to be hidden under the coat without making bulges.   No matter. I wanted to make one and I was pleased with what I achieved.

I have a load of soft kid leather that I bought up from a closing down sale many years ago. It's been a valuable resource in my stash.  :)  

Lots of pictures again, because this is so different to what I usually do, I'm really enjoying it.

My apologies for the rude-ish teeshirt slogan, btw.  Cussing doesn't bother me much. I'm an ex-biker and I've been on the interwebs for too long to be easily offended; but I tend not to swear when I'm blogging, and I appreciate there are people out there who would rather not see it.  


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Phoenix Kaelen Project

I have no idea how many pics we can upload to one post - so here goes.... Sorry for the spammage.

I spent a ton of time on this guy, and things still need to be done. The Padawan braid is annoying and may have to go.  The legs need lengthening, and I'll be making a shoulder holster for the gun.  He'll probably also get a sword with a scabbard and a few other bits, like a smartphone.

So far, I've done most of the clothing.  Today I carefully darkened his eyebrows and it makes the world of difference to his looks.

Having kept my creative writing life well away from my doll blogs, I decided what the hell.   This guy, Phoenix Kaelen, is a character figure.  He's my intellectual property, and in creative roleplay writing, I use Ewan Mcgregor for his face.. Mr McGregor is very much not my property, he belongs to himself and I have nothing but respect for the man.  Phoenix Kaelen is God's henchman, a dark angel, and it's his job to travel around the cosmos putting out the trash.  Mostly demons.  Kind of like a celestial James Bond (Although Phoenix would say Bond is a pansy.)  He's not so much an asshat, more of an ass-sombrero, but he has a heart of gold and is pretty much a good guy.  Mostly.

As for the doll action figure, I'm, so darn proud of him that I had to record him here for posterity. :)

Seriously, those eyebrows and some careful lighting have improved his looks beyond measure.  It was a pretty good portrait of McGregor to start with, but now he's such a handsome boy.

Alas, poor Ken looks sad and naked now that Phoenix has nicked his gear.  But then Phoenix has a baseball bat and a gun.   What chance did Ken stand?