Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Waistcoat for 17" Tonner boys.

So yes, I've been working on this waistcoat for the Tonner lads.  I took a great deal of trouble with this one to practice putting in the lining perfectly.  I even remembered to attach the top snaps to the lining before I attached it to the outer, so it would be invisible from the front.   Not that it really mattered, because I planned to put buttons over the snaps, but it was a good sewing exercise.  :)

It was a bit of a risk, devoting such attention to a pattern that is only on its first draft, but I felt reasonable confident.

Here's the weskit (that's what my dear old mum used to call them) almost finished.  I've slipped in on the doll at this stage and it does fit really well:

I added the straps when I was sewing the garment together, then did one of my handmade buckles from my buckle tutorial.   (Find the tutorial here:)

It's looking pretty smart.   More dressy than I'd intended, but I love it, and I love the olive green lining. I keep thinking how great this would look in any fabric, denim, corduroy, all sorts of prints for the girls. I must do a girl's one for Ell and her mates.

One of the best lined garments I've ever made. All sewn completely invisibly.  It wouldn't be too hard to make this reversible. Hm. Might have a go at that some time. Maybe when I do the girl's one.

You can't tell in the photos, but the back seam is subtly curved to fit the doll's back, and the fronts of this waistcoat are cut on the bias, so the garment moulds itself around the doll's body nicely.

Thus far, I've made the waistcoat pattern all in one, nearly, with no shoulder seam. I'd like to do one with a shoulder seam, so I can make the front in some kind of brocade fabric with maybe a satin back. 

For anyone wanting to try something lined and luxurious, to advance their sewing skills, I heartily recommend trying a waistcoat.  They're relatively easy compared to jackets etc.  No sleeves to worry about, and really satisfying one the lining and outer have been sewn together and the whole thing turned right side out and pressed.

I may be maundering....

Here's the finished item.  I made some tiny buttons out of Milliput and hand painted them.  It's fiddly, but I looked for doll's buttons on Ebay and they seem a bit pricey  -- they also never have the exact colour I want, so I made and painted my own. 

Doing a bit of a critique on the fit of the garment, I'm wondering if I should make slight alterations.  The back is as near perfect as it can get, maybe a teeny bit longer would be better? I'm not sure, as I've seen lots of men's waistcoats that are quite short in back.

As for the front, it's all very good, but I may cut away the sleeves a bit as shown in this pic. I've put red dotted lines to shoe where I'd trim the garment.  And perhaps the neckline could be lower?

I welcome any input.  :)


Sunday, 26 October 2014

More stuff for the boys.

I've finished off the cargo pants for my new Phin doll.  At least I thought I had until I realised Id forgotten to embroider the fly, but I shall do that tomorrow.

Once I'd finished the pants, I couldn't decide whether to have a go at making a pair of braces (suspenders if you're American)  or a waistcoat (again, if you're American, that's a vest, I think.)  I may end up doing both, but not in the same outfit.   I'm thinking of making one of my Phin boys into a cool British punk type, with an anarchy teeshirt and braces over it.  Maybe.

Any old hoo, I draped on the doll and marked out a good waistcoat pattern, complete with darts, and I'm sewing up the first pattern draft now.  It's fully lined, and I hope it works, 'cuz I'm not in the mood to sew five or six garments before I get it right.

My desk is remaining relatively organised, even if it is hard work keeping it that way:

The waistcoat will be a mottled black and charcoal, with a mottled green lining.   I do love green these days.  Especially olives and yellow greens.

Been feeling really tired of late.  Perhaps its the winter setting in, or me getting old or something. 

On the subject of Lucas, whose head has been sent off for his repaint. I had a chat with the artist about setting in some glass eyes and we're hoping it will Come to pass.   Watch this space.   I'm tremendously excited yet incredibly nervous at the same time.  :o 


Saturday, 25 October 2014


Just a quick one today, I'm so tired and not sure why.

Cargo pants for the Phin body. :)  Coming along nicely. 

I got some army green jeggings that our household teenager had put in the charity bag.   They're hardly worn, so I washed them, cut them up and pressed the fabric.  Nice green stretchy denim that goes over yesterday's leotard nicely.

The pockets take forever to do, but are so worth it. Looking forward to finishing off the embellishments with antique copper studs.

Now I'm off for a snooze.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Leotard for Phin.

Now I've sent Lucas's head off for repainting, and I have a couple more Phin dolls wending their way across the Atlantic, I wanted to get back to making some guy clothes.

I'm a bit exhausted with the patterns and really need a break. I worked really hard to release 15 pattern tutorials in just a few months, so I'm indulging myself with the boys for a bit.

One thing I wanted to do was to create a leotard - so that when I tuck a tee-shirt or top into their pants, it stays tucked in. Now, I'm aware that it's not terribly fashionable for guys to tuck their shirts or tee-shirts into their jeans/trousers, but when you spent an age sewing a perfect pair of doll jeans, with lots of lovely detail on the fly and around the waist, well - you want it to be seen.

I used the basic tee-shirt pattern (#011)  and adapted it into the leotard shape with a bit of measuring and guess-work.

The first pattern draft is a success!  That doesn't always happen so I'm very pleased.  It could do with shortening just a tiny bit in the body, and I may or may not take the sleeves in a little, but apart from that it works perfectly.

I'm also pleased with the way I managed to get the stripes to match up.  I wanted eyelets at the neck, so the front had to be done in two halves.  It's looking good.   

The next concern was whether or not the jeans would fit over the extra bulk around his bum and crotch.   I knew the stretch jeans I made would, but was hoping the rigid jeans wouldn't need re-working.  As luck would have it - they do fit. :)

They're a teeny bit tight in the waistband, but moving the fastening a little will resolve that.  So at least pattern #012 can be used over the leotard.  I will probably publish this as a pattern too. Leotards are so darned useful to have in a doll's wardrobe. Boy or girl.

I plan to make a pair of army green cargo pants to be worn with this, in a stretch denim, so I used green eyelets at the neck.  My only regret is that one of the eyelets is out of sync with the rest.  Things like that niggle me, and it sticks out like a sore thumb whenever I look at it.

It's the second eyelet down on the doll's right hand side.   Slightly gutted over that error, but generally I love the garment.

Talking of sore thumbs, Mine are almost completely recovered now, so I'm enjoying my sewing again. :)

This outfit will be for my redhead once he's arrived and has been customised.   I love olive green on a redhead.   The other new guy will be blond, possibly  a bit of a hippie or a beach-bum.  I'm thinking of something tie-dyed for him at the mo.  Not sure yet.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

More repainting.

I may or may not attempt glass eyes in my new Phin doll when he arrives... incidentally, I have actually now succumbed to temptation and bought a fourth.  Then I'll have a raven haired boy, a brunette, a blond and a redhead.  Heh.

Then that really is it.  The girls are happy though, that there's more manliness to go around.

For now, I wanted to amend Lucas's eyebrows.  I'm after a sort of appealing expression, but I can't seem to get it right.   I managed to make the eyebrows nicer today, but on re-doing the eyes themselves, all I've managed to do is to make him look profoundly sad.

Le sigh.

The light is funny in my room today, so I found it hard to get a well-lit shot of him, but here's the progress:

I added some very pale freckles for his cheeks too. They look adorbz in real life, and very natural, but the camera doesn't pick them up terribly well.

I think this one below is the best freckle shot.  They are nice and even across both cheeks  but very hard to capture. I don't want to overdo them, because the redhead boy (when I get him) is have more pronounced freckles and green eyes.

I'll keep plodding on until I get him right. Even if it means wiping off all the paintwork and starting again.  I think what he needs is a bit more of an open-eyed look.  I've made the eyelids a bit too heavy which detracts from the innocent, appealing gaze.

He' still a very beautiful boy in my eyes. <3

For his eyebrows, I was very brave. I actually managed to sand down the annoying eyebrow marks that have been etched into this sculpt. I used 600 grit silicon carbide paper, very fine, and just worked away gently at the marks. I couldn't remove them all, but managed to get rid of just enough. For anyone wanting to try this - TAKE CARE.  It does show where the doll has been sanded, very slightly. It doesn't show in photographs, or under normal light, but can be detected under very bright light.

Just passing that along.  It doesn't ruin the doll, but a serious collector would pick up on it and might think it's detrimental to the doll.

But anyway, enough blather.  I'm off to design some fabric prints by way of respite.  I still can't sew today due to both my cut thumbs, but they're not so sore today. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to pick up a needle and tread without pain.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Inserting eyes into a doll.

I don't know if I'm extremely impressionable or what, quite, but whenever someone asks me a bout a particular outfit, garment or some aspect to dolly creativity, I sort of get obsessed about it and have to explore the possibility.

Hence when a friend on Facebook asked me if I was planning to give the new Phin doll I've ordered some glass eyes - I was both terrified and fascinated.

Still don't know if I have the temerity to attempt it on a precious Tonner doll, but today I picked up a poor helpless Moxie hybrid and stared cutting her head to bits.

Puir wee thing.

So absorbed was I, that I didn't take photos for most of the process, but I cut off the top of her head leaving 'tabs' to help it close up again, and slowly started poking out her eyes with a blade.  You need a very sharp scalpel blade to do this effectively, and as a result, I've jabbed my thumb (the other one, not the one I cut a few days ago) twice and bled profusely. So now I have two cut thumbs. Pah.

Once I'd finished bleeding and cursing, I managed to make a nice neat job of the outside of the eye sockets.  I picked a doll with a hard plastic head and while Moxies are not as hard as Wilde Imagination or Tonner dolls, it was better than working on an uber-soft Monster High doll.

I didn't use a dremel, because the vinyl is too soft, I'm sure.  One of my homies had a dremel I could borrow, but I'll wait until I decide to attempt a harder-headed doll.   It's very difficult to bevel out the insides of the eye sockets with a scalpel. I made a right mess of the inside, but eventually the eyes did sit properly in her head.

I gave the eyes a bit of eyeliner with black acrylic, stuck on some eyelashes (You see how these things snowball?)  and finally tried different pairs of eyes in the doll's head.

Ugh.  The hardest part of this was getting the eyes in the right position, and to stay in.  Admittedly the flatness of the Moxie Girlz face is not conducive to getting a really good-looking eye, but the fiddle and faff I had of trying to attach the eyes without gluing.  Vinyl is soft, not like resin or The WI/Tonner dolls, so the head keeps shifting and regular eye putty just doesn't work.   Blu-Tac was a bit better, but still the stupid eyes kept detaching and hanging loose in the head.

It took me AS LONG to get some eyes into her, as when I cut out and bevelled the plastic.  What I've done is order some cheap oval eyes from China via Ebay, and will have to glue them into her head.  Which is okay, as long as it works.  I'll update when the eyes arrive.

So, here she is. Yes the eyes look a bot googly, and don't quite line up. They should fit flusher to the eye openings, but you can see they kept swinging loose and are not as snug as they should be.

I should have taken a 'before' shot really, but will take a pic of one of my other Moxies when I put in the new eyes.

Suffice it to say, I feel almost confident that I could do a Phin doll, but it's still very scary. The cutting is very difficult. You have to push the tip of the blade in quite hard, and it would be easy to slip and split the doll's head wide open.

Still I guess that's better than a major artery.  >_<


Sunday, 19 October 2014


I cut my thumb with a scalpel and can't sew.  It's amazing how much one needs the tip of one's right thumb for so many things. Bah.  Hence I can't do much, and can't concentrate on anything because I want to be sewing.  I guess Sunday is a day of rest anyhow... Unless I can persuade one of my housemates to help me put up the new shelves.

I left poor Lucas on the desk all night, nude, with a damp wig, so it could dry. One of my homies laughed because I'd put a bit of fur around him - because he was cold.

Well, it is October.

Phin found it amusing too.

Poor Lucas.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Phin & Lucas and..

My two Tonner Phin boys are getting a pal. I impulse-bought another Phin today (what am I like?)  I read somewhere that only 150 of these boys were ever made. I'm not sure if that's true, but I'll have three of them.

My first, Phin, has black hair.  My second, Lucas now has brown hair, and the new boy will be a blond.

I've been tweaking some old fur wigs to fit Lucas today.  I had a blond one which was a size too big, and a brown one which was meant for  Blythe.  Now I've remodelled both, and have started cutting them to style.

Here's the one Lucas gets to keep:

It's still dripping wet, but I'll finish it off tomorrow.  It's a nicer brown than the one he already has and matches his eyebrows better.

I'll show the blond one when I've finished faffing with it.

The new guy will have to have a name. I quite like Thaddeus or Jeremiah, maybe Jerome; but not sure yet.  Maybe he'll tell me a name once he gets here.  :)

I must resist buying a fourth one just because I want a redhead.......

.... hmmm.....  


Sunday, 12 October 2014


I was seized with the desire to decorate my room recently, and the pot of paint I bought for it has sat downstairs, unloved, for too long.  So I finally decided to attack the job.

The room is my bedroom and sewing room combined. I also have my computer in here, so it's pretty much Raccoon Headquarters.  The way our house is set up, there's no space for me to drag all my furniture outside and set about it properly, so I ended up shifting everything away from one wall, prepping and painting it, then shifting it all back and moving stuff away from the next wall.   I've only done three walls, which were a sort of cream, as is the ceiling. But I like it this way and I don't have the physical strength, or any paint, to do that final wall anyway.
Maybe next Spring.

Here's a pic in progress.  I opted for a very soft sage green, called Crushed Aloe. I love it. I adore greens, they're so relaxing, which is good for my anxiety.

And one of the finished wall behind my workdesk (The colour of the paint hasn't come out very well here, alas.):

It's all looking very soft and smart, and clean. :)  I love it so much.

Wanting to get a more coordinated look (After all, this is my creative space) I couldn't afford a whole new set of soft furnishings; so I bought three cheap cotton bedspreads from Ebay, used one as a bedspread, then made matching curtains by using my old curtains as the lining and re-using the original curtain tape and hooks:

The fabric looks far darker and more vibrant in the pictures. In real life, the colours are softer and slightly chalkier.

I also have this old fireplace in my room.  It's not attractive, and it's impractical to use it to light fires, so I made a tiny curtain to keep it looking tidy.  I store a fair amount of crap in it and don't want to have to look at it!

In the above picture on the right, you can see one of the chopped-up bedspreads.  I still have a fair bit of fabric and might use it to cover a couple of pieces of memory foam that I use as comfort pillows for my back. They'll look a sight nicer than being wrapped up in old pillow cases.

So yes, the whole endeavour has exhausted me. My back is in bits, and I'm just doing a few bits of hand sewing to finish off the room.  I've also ordered some cheap artists canvasses and plan to make some abstract art to hang up around the walls.  They look a bit empty now I've taken all my pictures down.  I'm bored of the old pictures, so I need to make something new.

All this means I'm taking a bit of a break from the dolly stuff, possibly until next week; but we'll see how it all goes.


I'm ff for a bit of a lie down.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cotton lawn from Lacuna Press.

I've been offline for a bit due to redecorating my bed/sewing room.   It's a real challenge with my anxiety problems and my useless back, but yesterday I managed to get a whole wall done, paint around the window, radiator etc. Tomorrow's a big deal because I need to move all my dolls, shelves and work desk to paint the larger wall.

Having my room upside down is extremely stressful, and while my back was okay this morning, I went to bed last night and it had seized up very painfully.  My legs hurt today, so I had a break to try and alter my curtains.  

Something lovely came in the post today which really cheered me up. My latest fabric prints from Lacuna Press. I used the kittyface design which is an old one I created a few years ago, updated a bit with little hearts and a soft cream background.  I also created a couple of new designs, little raccoon faces with retro flowers, and some cute lil' wols with hearts and flowers.

I do love me some wols. <3

I love Lacuna Press. I know I keep saying it, but the cotton lawn is exquisite and soft, beautiful to sew.  It's not cheap, but then it's not the most expensive cotton lawn I've found online either, and I'm happy to pay for such high quality.  ...And speed!

Another nice thing about this UK company is that the colours of the fabric, when it arrives, is so close to the colours on my monitor when I'm designing.  I'm so happy to have discovered this great website and can't recommend them enough.

Here's the link:  

I'll be making some really cute dolly dresses with these tiny animal prints. Can't wait! 

But alas, not until I've finished the arduous task of painting this room. Le sigh.  I will keep you posted. 


Monday, 6 October 2014

Desk tidies.

It's literally been years since I sewed anything for myself, rather than dolls, so I had loads of fun making my desk tidies.

Much happier with it all now;



I still had this wire mesh letter rack which I use for holding my pattern pieces while I'm working at the desk, and I really hate it. So I made a fabric covered one to tie in with my other desk tidies.  It doesn't look quite professional or polished with bare card showing, but I prefer it it to the mesh one. 

Now at least when I do tidy my desk it looks properly tidy.  You can also see the cute little Blythe outfits I've been working on. :)

Now I need to make another Blythe outfit and photograph each step for the next pattern release. I made these two to test the pattern thoroughly.  Lots of work to do!


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Prettying up my work space.

This is not a tutorial.  It's just and idea and hopefully some inspiration for using up junk.

I love my workdesk. I inherited when my dear mother passed away, and I remember she saved up for it and bought it brand new.  My dad fixed it all together really solidly, and I just love it so much. It's perfect.  My mum loved it so much as well, in fact she was doing a crafts project at this desk the day she passed away.

It's very precious to me, as is her 1950's sewing box.

But anyway, I got completely sidetracked in nostalgia there.  I currently have my tools and implements stored in plastic desk tidies, meant for offices or school rooms.  Plastic, and boring. Untidy looking and not very inspiring.  Desktop organisers seem to cost a fortune if you want something nice, and I can't find much that meets my requirements.

Bleh. Boring, plastic, and not attractive.

However. I have a load of thick corrugated card from boxes stored away, and a load of quilter-weight fabrics that really need using up, so I decided to try and make some patchwork boxes.  I've seen a couple of tutorials for doing this around the internet but I can't find them again, so I made it up as I went along.

First I cut my card to size and glued the fabric to it with thick PVA.

Then I started sewing the panels together.  I made sure I didn't get any glue on the edges of the card, so the fabric wasn't too stiffened with glue to sew.

This colour scheme is beginning to look somewhat Christmassy.  Not intentional. ( In fact - I am totally the Grinch.)

The sewing was the most fun part. But then that's my thang.

I made three boxes in all, taking all my implements into account and what sized boxes I'd need for the different sized things like scissors, pens, small objects like the fray check bottles and superglue, etc.

Here are the first two boxes.  A bit messy inside, so I decided to line them with stiff card. Luckily my housemate had a load of old bits of mounting card. She's very awesome when I need bits and bobs.

I'm still in the process of lining the boxes and making dividers for them. 

My sore back stopped play, as it usually does. So I'm off to watch TV on my tablet and rest up for the night.  I shall endeavour to post pictures of the finished items tomorrow.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

No, I totally don't do Blythe. ;)

I find beading dolly garments very relaxing.  It's also something I can sit and do after a day where I've sewed such tough fabrics that my fingers are sore. So today I finished up a petticoat and skirt for Blythe and devoted myself to beading the front half of the little ruffled long top.

Sewing through voile and crinkle muslin is nice and gentle on the pinkies. A good tip when beading dolly items is to mark out lots of dots in vanishing ink first. Really helpful.

And here's a tease of the finished thing, with a glimpse of the skirt.  I want to make a hat for this and throw some more embellishments on. It's looking very soft and pretty and feminine now. The clothes hare are still damp where I sprayed them to remove the vanishing ink and tweak them into shape.

I didn't take to Blythe dolls at first, to be completely honest, I didn't get them at all, but since I acquired the two Basaak girls, they're kind of growing on me, although they're not my doll of choice.  I won't be getting a collection of them, but I may modify them a bit more.   Mine seem to have acquired names, I had every intention of not naming them, because I don't do Blythe, heh, but now they're called Missy and Lottie. 

Here's Lottie looking mischievous  and a tad mysterious. I do like her new eye chips.  Basaak eye chips are so darned hard to get out, they're glued in and tend to shatter when being removed, but I managed to get the new ones in despite that.

Missy is the redhead I showed yesterday with the hats. I'm going to get her a more natural coloured wig or something.  Scarlet hair is fun, but doesn't lend itself to the colour schemes of most of my outfits.

More tomorrow. I seem to have three Blythe outfits on the go right now. It was going to be two, but the colour scheme for one of them was all wrong; so I've taken the non-matching elements away and will make two outfits out of the one mismatched one.