Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Getting to grips with Blythe hats.


I've measured all my bigheaded dollies heads as follows

Blythe (over hair) = 26.5cm.
Patience (over hair) = 25cm.
Pullip (bald) = 24cm. So with hair I would imagine Pullip is very close to Patience.

The Blythe hats are too big for Patience, the sailor hat slips down over her eyes, the bakersboy hat can be made to look nice, because I always cut them large so that the band can go across the doll's forehead and the back of the band can be pushed down towards the nape of the neck. The problem with my Patience is her ponytails/bunches get in the way of hat fitting.


Blythe dolls have huge heads, so I had to draft new patterns pretty much from scratch.

To ease myself into it, I adapted my Bakersboy hat for Ellowyne Wilde to fit the Blythe head. Here's  pic of my new Basaak girl, already slightly customised.  I don't want to spend a fortune on Blythe dolls, I just want to sew for them and for that I need a couple of cute models, so Basaak it is.

She has the most brilliant red hair I've ever seen on a doll, so she's not matching the current sky blue collection I'm sewing, but hey, at least she has a head.

I used some white cotton jersey for this hat, which I hand-dyed to match her outfit.  (I'll show it at some point, promise!)  And it fits really well. These hats are deliberately cut large, so they can be pulled right down at the back to give a bonnet feel.

And from the side and back: this is such a gorgeous bright canary yellow. Very sunshine-y.

Next, I looked at a hat I make for Ellowyne which is from a MSD Designs pattern.  It wouldn't work on Blythe if I just scaled it up.  So I completely redrafted it and after a couple of teething troubles, I managed a perfectly serviceable hat.

Very cute with the upturned brim. I want to make another one that's more of a cloche. But this is a very adorable little sailors hat and I'll make more of these.

And now my fingers are actually bleeding from swing, I'm going to take a break and carry on with the actual outfits for this headgear. I've had a couple of days where everything just went horribly wrong. Attempts to crochet hats turned out poorly so I went back to sewing - which is much more my forte.

I pricked my finger and bled all over the white fabric I was using for the yellow hat; then managed to wash it all out, and then when I pressed it I scorched it badly with the iron.  Argh.   I did start over with the white fabric and it dyed beautifully.  I was tempted to try Turmeric to see how well it dues cotton, but having plenty of bright yellow procion MX dye at my disposal, I decided to play it safe. Things are working out better today.  Fewer disasters all round.

Tidying my workspace would probably help matters....


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Fabric design...

... Is dangerously addictive. ;)

As promised, here's the result of the blackberry-dyed fabric.

It's a piece of cotton voile, and all I did was to mash up the blackberries in a mug, add boiling water, and a teaspoonful of salt, and I poked the fabric into the mixture (crushed bits of blackberry and all) Then left it to soak for two hours.

I like a mottled or marbled effect with my dyes, and this came out really nicely, and I had a soft shade of greyish lavender.

I read online that elderberries give a stronger colour, almost blue, if salt is added.

Here's the blackberry fabric next to the tea dyed pieces, to give it some colour context.  Purple is the complementary opposite to yellow, so any purple shade next to yellow ones tend to stand out better.

So that's that.  I need to figure out how to use the colours together in an outfit.

Mostly, I've been crocheting Blythe hats these last couple of days. But I'm a sewist** not a knitter/crocheter, and I get bored so fast.  So I've been hopping on the computer and playing around with some cute new fabric designs.  They'll be small scale, for dollies, of course.

I came up with an old favourite of mine,  the kittyface fabric that's available on Spoonflower.  I may work on it a bit more though.

And what else but a raccoon fabric made from my little logo. :)

Lastly, I love owls, so owl fabric had to be created.

I think the owl one is my favourite. 

So back to the crochet. I plan to tint one of the hats with fabric dye, so that will be the fun part - as will making crochet and bead flowers to embellish them.

Next time, I'm going to sew something for Blythe.  Their heads are too huge for me to be able to crochet anything quickly. On the upside, crocheting a hat for Ell or any other doll after this will seem really fast.

**I always say sewist because if you read it written down, 'sewer' is just completely the wrong word! I suppose seamstress is the proper word, but it suggests femininity and plenty of guys like to sew too.  I could say tailor... or couturier... but the latter sounds a bit pompous.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Sewing, dyeing, printing...

Trying something a bit different as an outfit today. Something for Blythe, and it's going rather nicely.  This is a good sized little doll to sew for.  Small enough to be fairly quick, and not so tiny as Pippa or such an awkward sway-backed shape as Monster high.

The blue of the skirt fabric, which I had printed by Lacuna Press (formerly Liberty Press) shows up much deeper today. either because it's against a paler blue, or the light is just better.  Either way, this is more what the print actually looks like.

And from the back, I love the shape of the overdress.

The underskirt needs dampening again and styling a bit more neatly, bit overall, it's coming along.

Also, I dyed an extra piece of fabric to go with the ones I showed yesterday. The teas was stronger, so the colour seems a lot deeper, I love it. I've been trying to find a beige which isn't too brassy for ages, and now I can dye my own for next to nothing.

Looking forward to making something with these fabrics.  :)

Also, this morning, I had a treat in the post.  My sampler from Lacuna fabrics arrived today.  I'm so happy with the result. To be honest, it's better than anything I've had from Spoonflower. The colours are almost identical to those on my computer monitor whilst I was designing the prints.   Even the very pale colours show up beautifully.

And they're SO FAST.  My word I have to wait forever for Spoonflower - and not just because of the Atlantic ocean.  They take about nine days to print, I think, and Fancyprints seems to take a wee while.  I don't want to do Fabcyprints down though.  It's well run and incredibly friendly and helpful. They will print cotton jersey too, which is a tad awkward to find in the UK.

Last but not least, I was banging on about using cheap household ingredients for dying fabric to one of my housemates.  I asked if she could get some cheap and nasty blackcurrant squash for me, next time she does the household shop.  She went one better, bless her, and went to pick me some blackberries from the bottom of the garden - absolutely free.

I mashed up the blackberries in a mug, added half a mug of boiling water, and a teaspoon of salt, and the fabric is still soaking. That's the beauty of sewing for smaller dolls. You only need a small piece of fabric, and therefore half a cup of dye is cheap and easy. I shall hopefully be able to reveal the results here on my blog tomorrow.

My life is so exiting....


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Tea dyeing

I keep seeing it on the Internet and so I had to have a go at tea dyeing.   I didn't bother much with recipe instructions, I simply added salt to hot black tea - very strong, and left my scraps of fabric in it or a few hours.  The salt fixes the stain a bit - in theory.

It worked really well and I was delighted with the antique and shabby chic looking colour it produced.

Again, I can't get a good enough shot to do the colour justice, but these fabrics were once pure white cheesecloth, and black/white striped lightweight cotton. I've made enough for a Blythe outfit I have planned.

Here's a bit of a close-up.  I still can't get the full colour, but at least it rinsed well and the stain remained in the fabric.   I always recommend lining dolls clothes with white or ivory, or very pale fabrics - even with commercially dyed fabrics.  Just to be safe.

I'll have a go with coffee next, just to see if there's a big colour difference.  I once had a flatmate who dyed a cotton jacket and skirt suit with coffee, and it worked amazingly well.   I'm inclined to try a squash, like blackcurrant or Ribena too.   Having gotten Ribena on white teeshirts in the past, I know it's very hard to shift the stain! 

Looking around the interwebz at what people have tried, I see Kool-Aid can be used for tinting various materials too. It can't be used on cottons and rayons, alas, only animal fibres like wool and silk.  But I'm positive that cottons will stain using some of the fruit squash we have in the kitchen cupboards.

I'm going to be so popular with my housemates.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

UK printing service.

It's always exciting to get your very own fabric print in the post.  I'm in love with this bluebell-coloured shabby floral I designed a while back.

Having been gutted that Fancyprints have stopped doing cotton lawn, I found Lacuna Press (formerly Liberty Press) here in the UK, who do a really beautiful lawn, as well as some very lightweight bamboo fabrics and silks.  I ordered a colour map and a sample booklet from them and was surprised at the speed of dispatch.

I was even more surprised when my first fabric sample arrived only 4 working days after I'd placed the order. Spoonflower takes an age (even without the shipping across the Atlantic) and Fancyprints seem to take a long time.  But Lacuna are very swift. I'm impressed with the quality too.

Here's the link to Lacuna Press:

Here's my cotton lawn.  I couldn't capture what a pretty bluebell colour this is, even after fiddling around with the hue and saturation.

Here's more of a close-up. My camera isn't doing justice to this pretty blue - it looks paler and greyer than it actually is. 

I'm making a Blythe outfit with it at the moment, with a view to drafting a new pattern to publish.

I've already ordered more samples from Lacuna, can't wait!  Im expecting something from Fancyprints too, they do a cotton jersey which I can't find anywhere else. 

Also, I'm tea dying some fabrics for another Blythe outfit.  Hope it works, I've never tried it before, and tea dyeing can produce such a pretty shabby-looking tint.

Watch this space for more Blythe stuffs. If it works... ;)


Monday, 22 September 2014

My first Blythe pattern: #015: Now available.

It's so much fun sewing for littler dolls when one is used to Ellowyne Wilde.  Makes a nice break, and I had a blast making this pattern.  It's even prompted me to buy another Blythe clone for my photographs.

This cute lil' cropped pants and blouse outfit has two tutorials, all the pattern pieces, and as usual instructions on how to print them out.

I have more ideas for Blythe and will publish them soon. then I must get on with making something for Patience. Who is indeed living up to her name on my dolly shelf.

Pattern #015 is here in my Etsy shop:

And on my Sellfy page:

And here on my blog, in the "patterns for sale" page, right down at the bottom. (via Sellfy)

Here are a couple of pictures of the garments before embellishment.  The pants are so quick and easy and are great for beginners.

The blouse is a little more advanced, and I know some folks are a bit scared of sleeves, but my method walks you right through it, and puff sleeves are the best way to start.

The ensemble does fit on my Pullip body, although the blouse is higher in the waist and the pants are shorter.   The Pullip bodies are a teeny bit thinner, although the hips are bigger than Blythe, and also longer in the torso and legs.

I love pale blue and yellow together.  I really enjoyed this one.

As you were. ;)


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Print ideas.

Quiet day today, and I ended up on the computer doodling patterns.  After watching so many Project Runway seasons back to back, my head is full of half formed ideas.

One is to design a print that lays over a dolls dress pattern.  Not your usual small repeat, but something big and maybe stripy, that can be designed onto the pattern shape itself.

Here's what I mean, a tee shirt for Ken to start with, because they're usually fairly quick to make.

(The pattern pieces are not to scale, so don't go thinking this will fit Ken if you copy and trace it, but it does show the general idea.)

I really love designing fabric prints.  It's so nice to get them from Spoonflower and various UK printers I use.  I was devastated that Fancyprints have stopped using cotton lawn and cotton voile, but managed to source Liberty Press, who do small scale print runs here in the UK and they do a nice lawn, as well as some fine linens and sheer silks. 

I have not found anyone in the UK who can match Spoonflower's prices though. Some of the costs are bordering on extortionate. I'm sure if Spoonflower can do it for a reasonable sum, others can too.

Here are a couple of small scale prints I did for dolly clothes.  The sample swatches arrived recently and they look lovely.

They're available on my Spoonflower page

I don't sell the fabrics myself, Spoonflower sell them and give their designers  either a 10% discount on their own fabrics, or they give us 10% commission when anyone else buys the fabric.  The designer (me) isn't responsible for prices, or things going astray in  the post. It's a hassle free way to earn a bit of pocket money and anyone can open a Spoonflower account.

UK Fabric printers are Fancyprints, and Liberty Press, for anyone interested in giving it a go over this side of the pond.

Liberty prints have a preview window for your designs (Not as good as Spoonflower's)  But with Fancyprints, there is no preview. They're opening a new website soon, hopefully, which will make it easier to order.

This wasn't meant to be a review of fabric printers!  But there we go, I like to impart information.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Working on my first Blythe pattern.

Just a quickie today.

I had a lovely lady buy one of my Blythe outfits and ask if I planned to make any patterns for that outfit, or for Blythe in general.  Short answer - Yep! :)

Here's a sneak peek at one of the tutorial images:

Started yesterday and have already completed a cute lil' pair of cropped pants (that also fit Pullip.)  Today I'm working on the blouse.   Tiny fiddly work after doing so many Ellowyne Wilde sized projects, but lots of fun and hopefully it'll all turn out very cute.

I'm very partial to light blue with a touch of yellow, so fresh and pretty.

My willpower being what it is, I've also bought a Blythe knock-off on Ebay. This one is already customised because I don't want to have to do any work to it.   I already own one Basaak Blythe, and I did up her face myself.  It was hard work getting the shine off her face and I never did quite manage to replace the eye chips, but I still have the new ones, and might still try getting it done.

Back to my my tutorial editing.  Onwards and upwards. :)


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Free tutorial: How to make your own doll sized belt buckles.

I promised two more tutorials, how to make buckles, and how to make shabby roses. This one deals with the buckles, and I'll do the roses one a little later.

You can find doll sized buckles on the internet, but it's a bit hit and miss, and sometimes they're extortionately expensive, so I figured out how to make my own.

This works well for smaller dolls, and larger buckles seem a tad easier to find.  As a guide, this tutorial makes a belt for Blythe dolls, which have pretty small bodies.  Just that bit smaller than Barbie.  You can adapt the buckle to dolls larger or smaller, by changing up the thickness of the wire.  I'm not sure how well this would work for larger 18" dolls though... do let me know if you've tried it!

First, here are the tools and supplies you'll need.

I used to make jewellery as a business and I bought all my pliers from Kernowcraft: 

You can probably pick up the ones you need more cheaply if you browse around Ebay.

The next lot of bits are more straightforward:

0.8mm plated jewellery wire. I use silvertone, but you can use whatever colour you fancy.

Sharp marker.


A strip of leather or ribbon to use as a belt. (You could use ultra-suede or a braid you happen to like. )

Scissors for cutting the leather or ribbon.

If using ribbon, a lighter to seal the ends.

First, snip off a few inches of the wire.

Mark a guideline all the way around your flatnose pliers with the sharpie. Keep it at a suitable point so the buckle will be big enough to thread leather through.

(Note: The flatnose pliers will make a square buckle. If you wanted an oval buckle, you could use the snip-nosed pliers, because of their rounded shape)

1) Hold one end of the wire firmly in the flatnose pliers.

2 and 3) Using your marked line as a guide, wrap the wire all the way around the pliers gently and slowly.

4) when you get to the end, it should look like this:

Gently remove the wire from the pliers. It should look like this:

With the snipenosed pliers, bend the end of the wire over into the centre as shown. You should have two layers of wire in the centre now.


Here is how your buckle should look.

Carefully snip the end off with the snips as shown:

Here is what you should have. The finished buckle.

How to use your buckle? Well, you can use anything that won't fray to make a belt. If using ribbon, make sure you seal the ends with the flame from a lighter.  

Don't go setting your workroom on fire! If you're a youngster, get an adult to help you do this part. Just hold the lighter flame next to the ribbon, and the edge of the ribbon should shrink away a little and melt, forming a fray-proof edge.

I'm using kid leather for my belt, it's just nice and I want to make a belt for a Blythe doll. Thread your buckle onto the strip of whatever, as shown here, and run a thin line of superglue along just the very end as shown by the arrow:

(Superglue is excellent for leather, but use it sparingly, or the leather will stiffen)

1) Fold over your end and pinch the leather strip tight so the glue bonds.

2) Here's what it should look like from the other side.

At the other end of the strip, cut the leather into a point as shown: (If using ribbon, don't forget to seal it with the lighter flame)

Fasten your belt as shown and voila! All done.

These buckles do take a bit of practice. When I started to attempt this, for ever good buckle I had, I had fifteen bad ones. It gets easier once you get used to working the wire, and fortunately it's very cheap to make mistakes. One coil of craft wire is enough to make dozens upon dozens of buckles.

ADDENDUM:  Here's a helpful wire conversion chart.  I've greyed out the inches column, because I use millimetres, but it's there to help you if you prefer inches.

Happy crafting!


Monday, 15 September 2014


I have these phases where I'm obsessed with accessories, especially shoes, boots and hats.    Spurred on by the success of the pirate boots I posted earlier on, I decided to make some shoes for the dress I used to illustrate pattern #013.

The fact that I'd dyed the belt to tone in with the dress made me decide to make some shoes in the same colour.  Painting flat bits of kid leather is SO much easier than painting up a pair of already-made boots.  I can't part with the boots I coloured recently, so the shoes will be perfect to sell with the outfit.

It's a messy old business involving glue, leather and all sorts of odds and ends. To make it even more complicated, I taught myself how to make buckles out of jewellery wire.  It's annoying trying to find the right sized buckles for various scale of dolly, so I'm glad I finally figured out how to make my own.

Here's the work in progress.  I tidied it all up a bit for  the photo, but you can see the practice buckles I made.

And here are the finished shoes. They're a sort of espadrille style.  I'm so happy with them because it's the first time I've ever tried to make a proper fitted toe - instead of just easy straps across the foot.

They fit really nicely.  I heartily recommend this blog for some amazing doll shoe tutorials:  Fashion doll Shoes. Tarja is so talented and she makes some of the loveliest doll shoes around.

Here are mine from the side. They curve well and fit Ell's foot really nicely.

And from the back. The hand made buckles are looking good, and I worked out a way of making them nice and sturdy.

Next comes the hat - although I made that before the shoes.  I posted on my Facebook that I'd accidentally made something stunning, and promised to show what it was, once I'd finished. And here it is. :)

The 'accident' was in trying to design something else and coming up with this lovely shape.    I've used the same fabric that's in the dress to cut some bias binding strips.   Making one's own bias tape is hugely rewarding - but that wee bit fiddly.   Totally worth it though.

I had some pre-made cream satin roses, and made some more out of scraps of the dress fabric to tone in. The aqua beads are little glass pearls.  I do like this colour palette. 

It looks very sweet on Ell too.  This ensemble is turning into something special.

And that's all for show & tell today. ;)

Yes, I know I have the finished pirate outfit I need to post, but I keep thinking of little tweaks.  So that will come soon.

I'd also quite like to do a couple more tutorials on how to make the roses I made in the hat, and how to make those buckles.  They really are very nice buckles and deserve an airing.