Monday, 30 June 2014

Free tutorial: How to style a dolls skirt. (2 methods)

Righty. I keep getting asked how I get my dolls dresses and skirts into such a nice shape, and make them less, well, poufy. Well, part of it is the cut of the pattern, I don’t do tube skirts, for example, but most of it is in the styling. It’s no big secret really, so I’ll show you here.

Before I start though, here are a few important provisos.

1)  Most importantly- NEVER DO THIS WITH A BODY-BLUSHED DOLL. It involves leaving a damp garment on the doll overnight and will RUIN your body blushing and sealant.

2) NEVER DO THIS IF YOU HAVE ANY TRACES OF NON-WATERPROOF PEN ON YOUR SEAM LINES OR THE EDGES OF YOUR FABRICS. Vanishing ink is fine, in fact dampening a garment will remove it all, but if you’ve used any kind of pen in the hidden seams for markings etc - don’t get your garment wet.

3) MAKE SURE THE DOLL, THE SURROUNDING AREA, THE STAND, YOUR HANDS ET AL - ARE CLEAN. You could do this on the draining board in the kitchen if you like, because method 2 is a bit drippy, but make sure the area is clean. Dirt sticks to wet fabric like nobody’s business.

4) Make sure the fabric you're wetting is COMPLETELY colourfast. Experiment before leaving it on your doll for any length of time.

5) This works best on natural fibres, such as cotton, silk, viscose/rayon (which is actually not man made)  Things like acrylic might work, but polyester can be notoriously hard to get a good crease into. I don't know if this works on poly-cotton, because I avoid it like the plague, but I might give it a go just so I can report on how well it works.

(Likewise this works best on the more sheer fabrics like lawn, voile, muslin, batiste, etc. It does work on the quilting and patchwork weight cottons, but those fabrics are heavier weight and are always, always crisper) 

ETA: As per the comments below, this might not work with silk.  I don't use silk myself but am told it's very prone to watermarks, even a light spray.  Test on a scrap piece first!   (I have used Spoonflower 50% cotton, 50% silk with this method and it has been fine, but do be careful with pure silk dolly clothes)

Got it? Good. Now we’ll begin. :)

I drape a towel over my desk for this, so forgive me for the less-than-elegant background to my photos.

Method 1 - Quick and Easy.

Firstly, here’s Lizette in the dress I made recently, all ironed out so you can see how poufy the skirts are. (There is an underskirt too, which you can't see)

Wet the skirts under a tap, and avoid getting the bodice wet. ... Don’t have the water gushing out, just running enough to soak your skirt and underskirt all the way through. We don’t need to wet the bodice, and it should all be beautifully pressed from when you made it - so dampening might remove some of the crispness. Doll clothes are far easier to iron as you’re sewing, than when they’re all finished.

Here’s the soaked skirt, with the dry bodice.

 Give the skirt a squeeze with a towel to remove excess water:

Then wring it out, to get as many crinkles in as you can. This is a great way to get that really shabby chic look. Don't wrench it and break the stitches, just wring it firmly in a spiral.

 Next, wring the skirt in a spiral in the opposite direction.
And here's your damp, crinkly skirt:

 Slip the dress or skirt back on the doll, and gently pull the skirts into place. You can't see the shorter underskirt, but it's there. I've just left it to fall however the visible outer skirt falls.

 Keep tweaking and shaping the skirt. You can press in gathers with your fingers, or gently tug at the hems to get it in the shape you want.   As a side not, I use pure cotton lace for this one reason - it's easier to style than nylon laces. They are stubborn and hardly retain a crease.

 And here's Lizette, looking far more shabby chic and far less poufy.

 Method 2 - more controlled but slightly drippy.

Here’s Pru in her freshly ironed dress. (I had already styled these frocks, so had to iron them out for this tutorial) The skirt is lovely, but is still a bit too wafty and doesn’t hang in a realistic scale to the doll.

Keep the dress on the doll - and the work area clean. And just pin up the outer skirt.

Take a spray bottle with clean water, and just spray the mist over the underskirt soaking it well.Work your way all around the underskirt.

My underskirt is soft cotton voile, so it just fell into place once wet, without my having to tweak it.  But all you need to do is pull it gently, and maybe tweak the gathers in a bit. Generally shape it with your hands until it sits in the way you want it.

 Once that's done, let down the overskirt, and spray that with water too. Avoid the bodice as best you can. 

This skirt is made from Liberty Tana lawn, which is quite springy, even when wet.  But you can 'sculpt' the dress with your hands into the right shape.

I usually run my hands from the waistband all the way down the skirt, then tweak the shape until I'm happy with it.

And finally, here's Pru in her slightly soggy dress.  Once you're happy with the shape, leave it to dry naturally, overnight if possible. 

And you're done. The hardest part is waiting for it to dry.  :)


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Raccoon's Rags pattern #008. A mini-project.

I've been looking at these knickers for Ell and trying to cut them in a way that is easy to sew and requires no elastic.


Et voila, I've managed it.  :)   So now there’s a min-tutorial on offer in my Etsy store, for a much lower price. That way people can get a feel for my patterns without having to dive right into something a bit more complicated.  And knickers are always useful. A girl simply can't have too many.

They do actually fit my KDF girls, but they don't hide the ball joints - I included a picture anyway, so you can get an idea. Ball-jointed resin dolls, aren't always put together so prettily as Ell.

It's a nice simple little pattern, and I'm pleased I can now make knicketies for my dolls in a jiffy.

And off I go to rummage in my boxes for the next pattern....


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Ellowyne Wilde pattern #007

Finished up with my latest pattern today. I'm quite lucky that I have all these tried and tested patterns ready to be sewn, photographed and written up.   It seems to be saving some time in the development stage.

Here in my Etsy store:

The latest is a set of accessories with a couple of larger items included. Leggings, leg-warmers, arm-warmers, fingerless gloves and a cropped top.  When it's all on the doll it looks like a dance outfit!  But I've used all these bits for some of the ensembles in mu Etsy store. The leggings and gloves look great with summer dresses and tunics, for example.

It also looks great on Katie, my KDF. KDF hands are BIG. Which is a tad annoying, but the gloves and arm-warmers are very stretchy and have a Lycra content, so just fit over her fingers, so hopefully they'll be fine for other slim MSDs too.

Lizette's outfit looks good with the leggings, leg-warmers and gloves as well. I chose the colours to go with it specifically, as I'm building up another outfit to list on Etsy.

And Priscilla just looks fabulous all ready for her aerobics class. ;)

I keep promising myself a break between patterns, but I'm so inspired, and I'm a bit of a workaholic when I'm well enough.   BUT. I've been a bad girl, and ordered a Patience doll from Wilde Imagination, AND found Phineas and Theodora sold as a pair on Ebay - so I impulse-bought them.  I was looking for a handsome guy, I'll be perfectly honest, and I will definitely be taking a break to enhance Phin.  I want to repaint his eyes, and maybe restyle his hair. 

I keep looking at the Iplehouse JID boys, but alas, too many pennies, so I settled for a16" Phin.  I quite like Theodora too, and she'll make a nice addition to my Wilde Imagination girls on the shelf.  I'll have three Ells, (Priscilla, Elle and Saffie) A Pru, An Amber, a Lizette, and now a Theodora.  Different doll, I know, but she should fit in with the other girls, and I'll have a full set. 

I'm hoping Caleb's clothes patterns will fit Phin without too much adjustment.  We shall see.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

And another one :)

Wheeee. Another one finally complete and up for sale in my Etsy store.    It took a while this time. I wanted to be really thorough in the tutorial, and I made an extra jacket just to see what I could do with it.  

I managed to combine the pattern into a version for stretch fabrics and for non-stretch fabrics, with four different sleeve styles and two different front opening styles.  I like my patterns to be versatile, and I like to offer options.   Which takes a long old time to cover in the tutorial document, but so worth it.

The two jackets either side of Lizette have slightly different sleeves. (The bodies are the same.)  I wasn't happy with the way the sleeves were cut, so I improved them for the pattern.  The stretch version fits my Kid Delf dolls too, even with their big hands - the non-stretch, alas doesn't quite go over their fingers. But I'm pretty sure most slim MSDs don't have such massive hands and the non-stretch jacket should fit several different dolls.

There's also a tight, sexy version, if your use the stretch pattern pieces and use non-stretch fabric.  Here's Lizette looking demure yet somehow sultry. Not easy, but she pulls it off pretty well.

So now I get a day or two's break.  I want to Mohawk one of my Monster High dolls and am still waiting for the saran. I hope it arrives tomorrow.

I'm kind of excited for the next Ell pattern though. I want to do a bakerboy hat/bonnet, a pair of leggings and some gloves.  In face I have a whole heap of ideas lined up for patterns.   This will definitely be the year of the tutorials for me.  ;)


Monday, 23 June 2014

A break from work

I really am starting to think of making patterns as a proper job lately. I seem to be devoting well over an actual working day to it every day.  I need to take it easy before I overstress myself and can't work for ages again.  Ack. Woe.

So anyway, a while back, I bought my first Amber Stanhope doll. She was a nude doll and when she arrived, her eyelashes were damaged - and she had that fringe. (Bangs, if you're American!)   I had some BJD eyelashes, so I replaced them and made her look pretty, but I'm not keen on fringes on my dolls.

I mean, I like them on other peoples dolls, and I don't mind too much if a wig has a fringe, as long as it's not solid .   Someone mentioned to me that someone else had removed Satin Shimmer Amber's fringe completely, and she looked beautiful.... and despite my efforts to hide my Amber's hair under a hat for ages, I kept looking at her and thinking I should have a go...

So last night, I couldn't sleep so got out of bed, grabbed some pliers, and sat and yanked out each individual plug of Amber's fringe. It could have been a disaster, especially as I was tired and cranky, but it worked really well! The hair came out surprisingly easily. I think they must have rooted the fringe last, or the rest of her hair might have come out as well.

Here she is with her new do.  She puts me in mind of a Renaissance beauty like this:

I must say, I'm sorely tempted to enhance her hair by adding new plugs. Low-lights maybe. I have a lovely redhead blend of saran that I fancy using.  I keep looking at her lips too. Maybe I could change them. I'm not keen on her overly-pouty top lip.

I'm quite taken with Amber.  She has this attitude-y pout in some shots, but in others she looks sort of sad. I'm a sucker for a sad dolly.

Or she could be sulking because I won't give her silk....



Sunday, 22 June 2014

Sunday blatherings

Phew.  Hot weather we're having here in South Wales.  I'm so grateful for my tiny-but-efficient desk fan.

Been slogging away at the latest pattern, which will be the jacket that Amber and Ell are wearing below.  It will have three sleeve options, and hopefully it can be made in both stretch and rigid woven fabrics.   I’ve made it in both in the past, but I've re-vamped the sleeve pieces and improved the fit,  So the jackets in this picture will have an identical body, but the sleeves will fit a little better and look smarter at the shoulders.

It should also fit over the large hands of a Luts Kid Delf too. Which the previous one didn't.

Here's a couple of visuals from the pattern. I've made the first jacket, and am embarking upon the second one now.

They fit with pattern 005 perfectly, and I'm aiming to make many of my patterns interchangeable.  I really want to give value for money.

And photographing each step has suddenly become a lit easier, thanks to my awesome housemate.  She found me a cheap little mini tripod at Tesco.  It was originally £15, but reduced to £2!  Bargain. :D

I had my camera and large tripod permanently set up in my little room, and was forever bashing the chair into it, tripping over it, and manhandling the stupid thing back into its corner when I needed to go to bed.  This one has made things so much more enjoyable... and is kind of a good scale for 16" dolls. If only I had a doll scale camera...

I've picked a really bright pink and orange hippie fabric for my second jacket, so it'll either look uber-cool, or just plain hideous. (In which case I'll have to do it all over again.) We shall see.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

My room

It's my bedroom, but due to the fact I live with friends, and one of them has SO MUCH STUFF.  We don't have a spare room for crafting, and hence my bedroom is my sewing room. 

I don't mind.  The agoraphobia and anxiety make me want to be away from people a lot of the time, (Agoraphobia comes in different forms, mine is combined with a social phobia and fear of crowded places or too many people in a small space)  So, yes.  I'm happy in here.  I have an lovely view of the village and the River Severn, so nothing to complain about.

I've been re-arranging and trying to organise my space a bit more. lately.   It's a great space for a small room, and I can cram lots of bits and pieces into various places.  ..And yes, the main point is, I do seem to have rather a lot of dolls to fit in.  I have shelves, which need clearing off and re-organising to create more dolly space.

Here's my tidy work desk.  That doesn't happen very often.  I put my boys up on this shelf, because I can see them when I'm sitting up in bed with my morning coffee.

These shelves are at the foot of my bed, so I can gaze at my dollies in the mornings. It always takes me two cups of coffee before I can get up and get dressed, so eye candy is important.  This is one of the many reasons why I love being single.  No hubby to moan about all the dolls in the bedroom, or saying "you’re not buying another damn doll???" .... And I can put things where I want them.

On the wall  opposite my work desk, is my computer desk, with a higher shelf.  These dollies are mostly all waiting for new clothes.  You can see Holly on the desk, on the far left, and Caleb on the right of the desk. He's right by my bedside, with his teddy. So cute. He's not very manly, but he's my Little Prince.

Sadly, I've noticed my Iplehouse JID, Rachel, is changing colour.  She has a distinct greenish tinge to her face and neck.  My Ryan, who has been on the same shelf, and was purchased at the same time, is still perfect.   It made me freak a bit, and since taking these, I've had to move all my resin dolls away from the window to above the computer.  I don't much like them on this high shelf, but that’s the best place to avoid any sunlight shining in.

I'll have to take more shots of my re-arranged shelves at some point.

And couple of my 12" lads, which I took for Flickr and Facebook groups.  Couldn't resist shoehorning them in here.  I now have six.  So won't buy any more, as I'm tired of having to restyle their hair.  Although I'm quite tempted to buy another Barbie Basics 15, and try a re-root on him....

Love this group shot. Phoenix on the left hand end trying to look churlish and menacing... And actually doing quite a good job of it...

And now it's Saturday, so I'm still plugging away at the latest Ellowyne pattern.  I'm already getting distracted with blogging and having coffee breaks.

Here. Have a gratuitous pincushion.

I should have called my doll clothes business that. I can see it now.  Hand crafted by "The Gratuitous Pincushion"


Thursday, 19 June 2014

In the garden

As an agoraphobic, I don't even go out into our lovely garden that much.  I have a profound phobia of wasps to boot.  Fortunately, I have housemates who are saints. G lit up the citronella candle and I felt confident to sit outside with my homies for a while.  I even went to the very bottom of the garden to the pond.  All by myself.

Go me.

I took some shots of Priscilla while I was there. Just because.  I really would like to photograph more of my dolls in the garden in the sun, but I always seem to put it off due to my phobias.

Here she is, enjoying the garden.  Maybe she's a bit warm in boots and gloves, but she likes the look and one does have to suffer to be fashionable after all...

1) On our glass-topped patio table:

2)  On the cats favourite post in the lawn. He likes to sit right here. (You can see him in the background)

3)  By the pond, with water-lilies.   The string is to keep the heron away from the fishies. We have lots of fishies but they’re all hiding today.

4) It's such hard work modelling. Time for a rest... where's my mint julep?

Nice work if you can get it. ;)


Still faffing

Still having a break before I commence my next Ellowyne pattern.  So today I turned my attention to one of my two Monster High Bee girls.  I'm so proud of having these, they're so hard to come by now, and I was incredibly lucky to get the yellow torsos for them as well.

One is a repaint, who is so beautiful, I don't want to spoil here, so she remains wigged.  The other one, however, I've been dying to give a Mohawk.  I thought a lil' punkster black and yellow Mohawk would suit a little bee very well.

I think the standard procedure in doing Mohawks for dolls, is to flock the shaved areas properly.... which scares me. If I screw it up, it really is screwed up.  So I've been trying a few different self-adhesive velours.  Not luck until today, when my sel-adhesive baize turned up in the post.  It sticks really well, and stays there.  Because it's felt too, it shapes itself to the curvature of the dolls head nicely.

Here she is from the back: The thing to know about the MH CAM girls, is that their heads have hard plastic plates.  Very annoying and impossibly to reroot.  You can carefully cut out the hard plastic circle, and cut a plastic shape from an old Barbie My Scene head and glue that in instead - OR, Retro dolls have started selling replacement circles in various colours in nice soft plastic.  I bought some, glued mine in and stuck on the baize:

Poor wee thing, she doesn't look very pretty yet. But once my yellow saran gets here, she'll be really cute with her Mohican.  I will post updates as and when I root her. 

She's kind of tricksy when it comes to working out a good shape for the baize bits.  The MH bee doesn’t have any ears, so I had to just create a shape that looked okay.  Once the rooting is done though, I'm sure the effect will detract from any oddness resulting from the lack of ears.

And of course, I have a new Harley Ken.   I've been messing around with all the short hairdos on my boys today.  With short haircuts on dolls, you kind of need to keep trimming (carefully!) and re-styling so the hair looks okay.   Short hair on dolls is SO difficult, but worth it in the end.

Once I'd sorted them all out, I noticed that my original doll, (Ty - left)  is noticeably paler than my new guy (Deuce - right)   This was a bit of a surprise. It implies that the blond Harley Ken dolls had a second wave, or something.   Ty is maybe four years old? Maybe more, I've had him a while.  Deuce - I have no idea. He could have been on some collectors shelf in his box for a while.

If anyone can shed light on this, do let me know.

See the difference? (This shot makes their sculpts look slightly different, that's purely the camera angle.  They're absolutely identical apart from the skintone.)

So the names. Yes. Well, Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are from the Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban.  I love the books so much, that's how Ty and Zane got their names.  Ty has a brother in the books, Deacon Grady, or Deuce.  So it seemed logical and has sort of stuck already.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A bits and pieces day

Needing a break from the pattern tutorials, I spent most of the day doing a re-root on one of my Dynamite Girls, Jett.    I hated her hairdo, which made her skull really tall and pointy - but lo,  once I'd removed all her hair, her actual skull was a bit tall and pointy too.  So I'm trying to give here a style like my Nu Face Erin, (lady in red)   Sort of wavy and hippie, with braids.

It's going okay.  I'll set it and style it tonight.

In the meantime. I am awaiting the family order of Chinese takeway we're getting in tonight.  Yay.

AND.   My new (second) Harley Davidson Ken arrived today too. I mean seriously, I've seen this doll for £183.00 on Amazon UK, but I managed to find one on Ebay that was a real bargain. Less than half the price.  Although I have to confess, if I did have to pay the full whack, I might well have done...

Yeah, I really love this doll.

I had to get him in the gift set with Barbie.  The one I have, Ty, was a nude doll I managed to buy really cheaply back when these guys were much less expensive, and with the gift set doll, I get all his clothing and his uber-cool shades.   I'll have to take pics and review  the set a bit.

I've noted the Barbie has really pale skin too, which is awesome, because pale skin Pivotal bodies are a tad difficult to find. Not to mention slightly expensive.

I dearly want to give this guy a new tattoo. And of course if he has one, Ty will have to have one.  I'm also gagging to try a Mohawk re-root.  But that's scary on such a beautiful male doll - I'd hate to ruin him.  I'll have to practice on one of my Monster High girls first.

Love the leather biker pants. And the chain!  *Swoon*

And recently, Spoonflower were offering a free 8 inch square sample of their new sports stretch fabric, so I ordered some in a 1/6 scale camouflage pattern.  It's not my design, alas, but there's this great designer on Spoonflower who has many dozens of different 1/6 scale camo prints.   I love this.

There's just enough in this to make a teeshirt for a Ken doll.  So my guys will have a cool camo teeshirt to fight over.

Phoenix will probably win, given that he's the one with the big gun...