Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Final Reflection for the Year

Now that the end of the year is upon us, I've decided to look back at the past year in the blog, and share with you all some lists that I've compiled.
I culled through my entire year of posts to create two top ten lists, one of my top ten purchases for the year, and one of my top ten sewing projects. It was not an easy list to make, several items barely missed the cut. So if you think of something that you personally would have included, but isn't represented, don't think I didn't like it, I just needed to make the cut off somewhere. Otherwise this list would go on forever, and I think you can agree, I talk enough as it is. I wrote a little reasoning behind each item, and why it was where it was on the list. I also included a link to the original post for each one, so if you desire you can go back and read the original post for each item.

Top Ten Purchases
10. Boots - June 6th
My shoe addiction is legendary at this point. These boots are one of my favorite shoe sculpts so you better believe I jumped on the chance on getting them. I've even managed to use three of the four pairs in the collection. The only ones I haven't found a use for are the light blue pair, but they're so hard to get on and off I doubt I ever will. But still a really great purchase. I was even able to give the black pair to Charlotte, because she clearly doesn't have enough shoes.
9. Hair Fair - September 13th
This year brought me more into the mod era than ever before. I went from six mod dolls to fourteen! And I certainly couldn't pass up this iconic hairstyle especially when I found her for such a deal, and locally too no less! She seems to be fitting in well in the collection, but I think she needs a brunette companion to really balance out the collection.
8. Fashion Queen - November 11th
Even though I more than doubled my mod collection, the vintage dolls will always be my main love. So when I found this Super cheap Fashion Queen I eagerly snapped her up. I didn't know at that time that she'd be one of the best conditioned dolls in the collection. Her face paint is stunning! Hopefully in this upcoming year I'll actually be able to dress her.
7. TNT Skipper's - August 10th
Another one of those Mod dolls I was just talking about. She's one that got cobbled together since I bought her head separately from her body. I've always liked Skipper with her Banana curls, but I never thought I'd own one, but here I now have a lovely example of one. And I was even able to dress her before she arrived. That almost never happens! I guess she was meant to be in the collection. It was just one long random lucky chain that brought her to me.
6. Julia - August 12th
My first (and certainly not last) AA Mod doll in my collection. Her arrival is very similar to Skipper above with her head and body coming separately. Another doll where things just worked out shockingly well to add her to the collection. I'd love to be able to add another one to the collection next year.
5. Vintage Barbie Shoes - May 20th
Finding a cute pair of Barbie shoes for a dollar is one thing, but when they're vintage closed toe heels that's a different story. These easily became one of my better purchases, and one that will always be on display in the collection. They're still on my Blonde Bubblecut, and even if she changes clothes she'll be wearing them. They're just that versatile!
4. Sweet Sixteen - May 1st
I've known about Sweet Sixteen dolls for years now, and even though the information available about them is limited (aka nothing at all) I still wanted one. Especially when people would share pictures of them with lovely brown re-roots. 2011 was the year that I finally got mine, and re-rooted her. Not sure if I'll get another one (or *shudder* re-root another one) but my first one is so lovely. It's sad this doll wasn't more popular when initially released, I think she'd be more popular nowadays.
3. Lot of four dolls - July 15th
I've always been a guy with an eye for a bargain, and these dolls certainly fit the bill. A random era grouping of dolls for the price of forty dollars, including shipping is always nice. A gift from my parents allowed me to purchase them. Most of them had their flaws, but buying that gave me a near mint Superstar Barbie, a good condition TNT Barbie, and the body to Free Movin' Barbie, and a Tuesday Taylor. When you break it down by doll it was cheaper to buy these vintage dolls than the new dolls in stores!
2. Canadian Malibu Barbie - October 13th
Foreign exclusive are some of the rarest and most coveted items in Barbie collecting. If you don't believe me just look at the prices for Japanese Midge, Sun-Sun Francie, or German Francie. Even the foreign exclusive outfits have a mind blowing price tag. With the rarity also comes along a giant price tag. But Lady Luck was shining down on me one day and I was able to find and purchase the Canadian/European Malibu Barbie at an awesome price. At first I got her just because she was so rare and at a good price, but I ended up falling in love with her. With her face makeup she's exactly how a Stacey doll would look like given a Malibu makeover. Now I just need to figure out how I want to dress her!
1. Birthday Dolls - July 13th
And for our top purchase of the year I have the lot of dolls that I got for my birthday. While waiting for them was agonizing, it was worth it in the end (and in the past). Not to keep trotting out this little statement, but I never thought my collection would get this impressive. Back before I came down to North Carolina I had a collection of 12 vintage dolls, and very few Barbies. Now the vintage collection is over forty and I own several iconic (and expensive) dolls. I never thought I'd ever get an American Girl Barbie since even a poor condition head tends to go over my price range. But in this lot I was able to get her head, a (poor) condition Casey, and several different pieces of really nice condition Francie clothes. If I was a 1960's child I'd be spoiled, and as a collector it's even worse!


Top Ten Sewing Projects

10. Julia's Dress - August 17th
I've complained often enough about sewing Mod for you all to know about my issues with it. I find it much easier to work with the vintage styles and fabrics. But the recent influx of Mod dolls have forced me to start getting around my reservations and actually sew. Julia here was one that I was hesitant about. Using this vintage fabric and an adapted Flickr pattern I was able to craft this adorable mod dress. I wasn't totally in love with it when I first made it, but people seem to have a really great response to this dress, and I've come around to it too. It's become one of my favorite mod dresses.
9. TNT Skipper's Dress - August 5th
I mentioned how thrilled I was in dressing TNT Skipper so quickly in the list above. I was able to dress her before her head arrived and she looked amazing when she was finally all together. Usually when I make something before someone arrives I have to go a different direction since it rarely matches their looks once their in hand. But this was not the case, Skipper looks like she was made for this dress. Also I'm proud of it because I was able to make a Mod dress that was still sailor-esque. I love dressing Skipper in sailor dresses. And I was able to use patterns that I already had, no need to draft new ones! And I already had all the fabric, so this actually cost me nothing!
8. Midge's Halloween - October 29th
This costume was actually for Charlotte before I gave it away and did something else for her. She ended up in the Odette costume (which didn't even make the list). It was cute on Charlotte, but on Midge it became adorable. It's very much like the vintage "Barbie In Holland" costume, but with an Aubrey twist. This costume falls under my usual costume theme, making it in several different parts. This one is actually five different pieces. I rarely keep people in costumes, but if I was going to, Midge would certainly be wearing this one! I actually ended up putting the costume up on the garment rack, I like it that much.
7. Charlotte's Christmas Dress first one - December 2nd
One of the latest additions to the list, but still one that deserves to be here. I'm always impressed when I'm able to successfully reproduce a dress that I find online. Especially when I'm adapting a pattern specifically for it. Now making it wasn't without it's bumps, but I'd call it a success, especially since I'm planning on redressing the doll wearing it to something like it. And I was also able to use that red velvet I bought last year, when I originally tried to use it after I bought it, I found that it was too difficult to work with. This year it was a breeze, I'm improving!
6. Skooter's Dress - February 7th
Skooter is in my opinion the hardest doll to dress. My first (and to that time only) Skooter was part of the dolls that I had since before college and I had yet to dress her in something that I actually liked. And that's sad since I owned her for years. Her dress came about by accident, it was some leftover fabric from a Kimono, that just seemed to work for her. I believe I made the pattern for this dress, it all just seemed to work out for her. It really doesn't fit my idea of how Skooter "should" dress, but it just works for my Skooter. I'd say this would be one of my top Skipper sized outfits I've ever made! (I just wish I had more of that red fabric!)
5. Superstar's Dress- August 7th
Superstar Barbie is one of the most iconic dolls in Barbie history, and she demands a special type of fashion. It wasn't until after I bought the dolls (but before receiving them) that I first saw the taffeta in the store. Originally I rejected it due to it's color and difficulty to work with, but after getting Superstar, I knew that this was the fabric for her. But I was hesitant about working with it. It's not an easy fabric to work with, it's lovely shiny fabric, but frays like no tomorrow. So I was very careful, took my time, and prayed a lot. And the dress came out lovely. I haven't made anything from that fabric since then, but this dress was worth it. (It's like she planned it all!)
4. American Girl Dress - July 25th
Another doll that requires a special outfit. You can't just throw anything on her. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do for her, but when I found the right thing, it just worked. This is so high on the list because this made me try making hats from buckram. Took me forever to find it, but when I did I was so psyched. She's the only one who actually got a hat from my efforts, but I still have the material to make it, so I have the option. I do enjoy it when Barbie forces me to try new things, and they actually work out. Her outfit is just so... perfect for her.
3. Jenny's School Girl Uniform - June 17th
One of the goals when I first starting sewing was to finally own a nice version of a Japanese school girl uniform. Sadly for a while my skills were nowhere near my vision of what's to be. After I found a decent school girl pattern I ended up making a couple. They were passable, but certainly not great. They took forever, and they each had a slew of issues. This year when I made another one (originally for Sweet Sixteen), I used a lot of the skills and techniques I've been learning. And while it's still not perfect I'm much, much, much more satisfied with this uniform. The sheer difference in technical skill between this uniform and one of the original ones is stunning, and there's not even that much time difference between them. I guess I have to stop saying I'm not getting better, this is some pretty hard evidence I am.
2. Charlotte's Second Christmas Dress - December 25th
After I gave up Charlotte's first Christmas dress, I had to make her a second one (obviously). Like usual I was cobbling together several patterns to make the dress. Most of them are ones that I've used countless times, but that's not important. The reason why this is on the list, and so high is because of the complexity of the dress. Just compared to last years dress, this one is so different in terms of what I set out to accomplish. And yes, nothing on it was that new, the fact that I set out to make such a complex dress to start with, really shows how confident I'm getting in my sewing skills. Last year I wouldn't have even thought about making it, but now, I've just made it.
1. Charlotte's Tales of the Hoffmann Dress - April 16th
And we've reached the end of our list! Our final item on it is an older entry. Only one sewing project on this list predates it. It's the 'Tales of the Hoffmann" dress. I believe that this is the first dress that is closely based on a real outfit that I set out to recreate. With this outfit I studied source material, hunted for the correct fabrics, and worked out each step to create it. At the time it was a huge success. It's been a building process that really helped make the rest of these items possible. Even though Charlotte stopped wearing the dress long ago, it's been proudly on display on a dress form on her shelf.
I just really like that dress, a whole lot!

Whew, that was a lot of typing, and a lot of work in one post.
I hope you stick around and see what happens in the upcoming year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Getting Caught Up

Been a quiet day here today. I've still been basking in the glow of making that dress yesterday. Charlotte's been wearing it all day, and looking all adorable. I really like this dress, it just came out better than I was expecting. Next time I'm in Hobby Lobby I'm going to have to look at the decorative tulle to see if they have anything like this. I might want to make some more dresses like it.
Even though I really like this dress, I am thinking about how I'm going to store it when Charlotte's done with it. I've already scanned the collection, there's nobody I want to dress in it. I think it would look really great on a Silkstone, but they're all dressed satisfactory to me. And I fail to see the point of redressing someone that I already like what they're wearing. (Could it be time for another Silkstone? (Nope!)) When Charlotte's done wearing it, I'm going to put it on her garment rack. I just need to figure out how to put a strapless dress on a hanger. I'm sure I'll figure something out. I just don't want to stick this dress in a bag, this is a show piece! Plus, if something snagged the tulle, I'd be so livid!
Other than admiring Charlotte and her newest acquisition, I also worked on the blog. My Christmas blog post ended up being a huge post, and it took me several days to write it, edit it, and make sure all the pictures were correct. While I was working on that, I fell behind several days, writing them, but not posting them. I couldn't talk about stuff that happened after Christmas, when I hadn't talked about Christmas, especially since I was referencing stuff that happened on Christmas in the later posts. So I had about five days posts written that was just waiting for me to get the Christmas one posted. So today I sat down and made myself finish the Christmas post, edit it, and publish it. I was then able to get the next two days finished and posted. I'm still a day or so behind (my day after Christmas post ended up being super long too). Why do I feel like I need to write books? Really, I could say the same things just in fewer words.
Anyway, I also went out today (I've gone out the last three days in a row!), but you'll be pleased to know that I didn't get a thing. I didn't go to that many places, but I didn't see anything that I wanted or needed where I did go. So I didn't get anything. I'm not bummed or anything, some trips are just like that. Now if that's the new trend I might have a different attitude, but at the moment it's fine.
Late in the evening I did try and do some sewing. I printed out a pattern and everything, but after looking at it and trying to figure out how it went together I couldn't manage to work it out. So I decided to hold off on it and try something else. I tried working with another fabric from that sewing kit box, but it was the exact opposite of the pink tulle, it was ugly and hard to work with. I didn't even bother finishing it. I just gave up on it. I'm not sure if I'll even keep it to finish it. Might just be something I'll pitch into the trash.
I'm just not that pleased with it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I can't wear my Christmas dress at New Years! That's tacky!

I started this morning with some cleaning. I started putting away what I got yesterday. I didn't get around to putting it away last night (I was slow in taking pictures), but I knew if I let it linger much longer, it would be underfoot for much longer than it need be. I got most of it out away, several things I still don't have an idea where they are going to live yet. One of the things I didn't put away was the bolt of pink tulle from the sewing kit. Not because I didn't have a spot for it, but because I wanted to use it.
I really liked this tulle back when I first saw it, back when I bought that bag with some of the contents of one of these sewing kits. Only that tulle was mostly missing, with what was left was just hacked to bits. This one had most of it there, with only a small bit of it used. I decided that I needed to make something with it.
I decided to revisit an old technique, using it as an overlay. I had done something like that with the Wedding dress I made for Charlotte a while back, but this was a little different. The wedding dress was made with lace and kept the edge of the lace and the bodice was hemmed separately, with the tulle I'd hem them both together. For the material for the actual dress, I chose that pink broadcloth that I bought way back when for making the Garden Party dress. It was one of the last times I bought broadcloth, since after that I learned that calico was better. I usually avoid using broadcloth in my sewing since it's so thin, but this was an under cloth, and would use some of that fabric up.
For the patterns I chose the typical bodice pattern. I have good luck with it, and I like it, so why pick something out? The bodice came together pretty easy. Although I did have to work out how to sew the hem, with a tulle overlay and using tulle to help hem it. And I did have to redo one side dart when the tulle wasn't laying flat and didn't get sewn with the broadcloth, but that was an easy fix. The bodice was done pretty quickly, I mean I've done it enough I should be able to do it in my sleep.
For the skirt, I was trying something a little different. The pattern was the full skirt that I use often, it's actually the skirt that belongs to the bodice in the original pattern. I hemmed the bottom like usual, but when hemming the sides I did it a little differently. I attached the tulle to it at the side hems. Except that the tulle was much longer than the skirt itself. Then I pinned the tulle to the skirt, tucking it so that the tulle was gathered over the skirt itself. I sewed that down. Next I started to pin the skirt to the bodice.
I wasn't able to keep working on the dress after that. I ended up going out today as well. Originally I declined going, several times, but when I was asked over and over, I broke and went with. There was just a few places to go to today, nothing horribly exciting. I didn't get much of anything. Don't believe me? The only thing I got was a new permanent marker since my old one has been quickly fading on me. Really, not that exciting at all, and not really worth going out for. It's good that I got a new marker, but it wasn't like I was in dire need of one. All it really did was take time out of finishing the dress.
Back at home (and with my new marker put away) I got back to sewing. Since I had just started pinning the skirt into place before I left that's where I picked it back up. I finished pinning then sewed it down with large stitches to see if I liked how it looked (and to see if I had messed up anything). When I tried it on Charlotte, I was not pleased. The skirt fell at the worst place on the body. It made the dress look misshaped, and made Charlotte look thick waisted. I have a nasty habit of adding skirts too low and them not closing in the back becasue of that, so this time to counter that, I added the skirt exactly at the waist, and it still looked terrible. This was a style of dress that really needed the skirt to not be exactly at the waist. The best laid plans, right? Luckily this is an easy fix, just take out the stitching and lower the skirt. I just need to do more pinning. I lowered the skirt so it now was attached more at the hips instead of right at the waist. This new position looked much better. I was so pleased with it that I sewed it down. After that it was time to add the sleeves, originally I was thinking that I could use some tulle scraps and made some small off the shoulder straps, but when I was deciding what to add, I decided that it just didn't need anything. It looked perfectly fine without them. Better in fact. So I decided to not add any sleeves, it was now a strapless dress.
But I wasn't finished, since it was now sleeveless, I decided that it needed something else at the top. I ended up choosing an old favorite, a capelet. I used the same pink broadcloth for it. It also has similar tulle on it. It's actually not exactly same tulle as the dress. This is actually pieced together from the cut up pieces of tulle I got from the first (mostly used up) sewing kit. I used all off the new tulle on the dress, mostly the skirt. Luckily I still had the older stuff, or else the cape wasn't going to be made. I was able to use the tulle so that all of the pieces are showing the silver flowered part. I was even able to use some of the pink ribbon that I already had on hand. I really love it when I'm able to make something without buying anything new for it.
When I was done sewing the cape, it was time to finish it. And yes, I did finish it. I was working late tonight in order to get it done. You can really tell how much I like something when I make the entire thing in one day. It's finished and Charlotte's been wearing it. Four days after Christmas and she's already got a new dress!
It's just so pretty.
So pretty!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

There's got to be a morning after,

First off, today was a much better day than yesterday, emotionally speaking. I was afraid I'd continue being in a foul mood, but this morning when I work up, I just felt better. Might have helped that I had a decent night's sleep, and the fact that the sun was out. Not a cloud in sight, yesterday had been full of black clouds, both literal and imaginary.
I was even motivated enough to pull something else out of the unfinished project box and work on it. It's a recent addition. Do you remember me talking about remaking the short jacket that my Brunette Ponytail is wearing? I was trying to see if I could make an inset collar. It didn't work out at the time, and I quickly grew disenchanted with it and it ended up in the box. Today I sat down with it again, and worked with it. I really played around with how to set it in, in order to make it even, and not have a rippled collar. I went cross eyed a couple times, but I managed to get the collar set in without too much of a ripple going on. I made some real progress with it, but haven't finished it yet. Because...
I went out today! I know, I just went out the other day, but had been forced to forgo going to two of the three second hand stores (they were closed on the 26th). And yes, I know this counts as an addiction, and no, I'm not willing to get help for it yet. First up was the Salvation Army. Not a whole lot there, but it looked like they were doing a restock while we were there. I didn't find a lot of interest, but I managed to pick up a few things. Their Christmas section was half off, so I checked out that shelf. I managed to find a small Christmas frame for fifty cents. (But that's not for me). I also found this... Christmas bell craft thing. It was huge and tacky, and partially broken. But I bought it, not because I wanted the bell, but because I really liked the red flowered fabric. I plan on taking it apart for that fabric. Also I need some stuffing material, and I can get that from this as well. I got that for a dollar. I also picked up a puzzle book, but that wasn't for me, that was for my Mom. She asked me a few days ago if I saw one in my travels to pick it up for her, I said I would, but I rarely see those, but I did today. Must have been one of those fate things. It was totally unused, and looked like it had a variety of puzzles in it, so I knew she'd like that. And for our final purchase there I got a pair of panty hose! Because I hear it slims legs and makes them look longer, and I want longer slimmer legs. Just kidding, it's for Barbie! I've been on the lookout for some tights material. I've been making fake tights out of jersey knit, and while that works for some applications sometimes it's a bit too thick. Hopefully I can use these to make some thinner leggings. Although I will say I'm a little worried that this won't be an easy fabric to work with. I'm going to have to build my confidence a little before I'm willing to cut into it.
I also hit up the Christian Second Hand store. They were having a half off everything in the store sale, which would have been wonderful had they had much of anything. The toy section had been picked clean, barely anything left that was interesting, even at half off. I found a couple fabrics that I liked, but I talked myself out of several of them. I was just getting them because they were cheap, and I don't need to waste money like that. There was one fabric that I didn't put back, it was this silver metallic fabric. It was amazing, I would never put that one back, even if forced. It's solid silver, about a yard. It's just amazing. This is the kind of metallic fabric I wish Hobby Lobby sold. It's just so much better than that lame fabric. No plans for this yet, but now that I have it the wheels are turning. I just hope that the sewing machine likes this fabric better, it had a habit of eating and ruining the lame compared to sewing it. Only time will tell. But I will hand sew this fabric if need be!
After I put back all the fabric I decided against I made a rash choice. I bought this children's sewing box. Odd enough this wasn't the first time something like this was at this store, or the first time I bought it. Way back when we started going there I found a bag with parts from a set just like this one. That's how I got my little pair of scissors, my plastic measuring tape, my first thimble, the start of my straight pins, and a hanger that Charlotte's pea coat is on. It had some of the fabric from the box, but it was all hacked up, and missing everything else. This new one was still in the box, but everything was just a jumbled mess in it. It's been there for a few weeks, and I baulked at the six dollar price tag, but it looked much more tempting at three. I figured that from what I could see, a lot more of it was there, and even the scissors were worth three dollars, so I bought it, hoping my gamble would pay off.
Well, want to hear something ironic? The scissors were the only thing missing from the box. It looks like the child who got this box, opened it, played with it for an hour, then got bored, packed it away and never played with it again. Most of the fabrics have been used a little bit, but they're mostly there. The dress form is unfortunate, it's much too large for Barbie. Honestly, it might be Joe sized, at least in the torso. So I'd say the entire box is a toss up. I'm not able to use the dress form, or the dress it came with (no loss there, it's ugly), or the non-existent scissors, but I can put to use the thread, straight pins, the fabric, and some of the other stuff. And it came with the hanger, so I've got another one of those! So I'd say it was a decent buy at three dollars, but not that good if I had paid six.
Hopefully I can put what I got to use soon, and prove that it was worth buying.
But that will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And the clouds came rollin' in...

I woke up this morning with a black cloud over my head. From my very first waking moment I've been in a foul mood. Sensitive, angry, moody, ready to pick a fight, I've been all of these things today, and I'm not really sure why (although I have a few inklings).
I've tried to be on my best behavior today in spite of that. There's no need to take out my crappy feelings on my family when I know they're not the cause or the reason for my mood. If anything they are the people who help keep me from having more of these type of days. And I think I did pretty good, I didn't lash out at anyone or anything. I don't even think they know I've been having one of those dark days. I've been pretty good at keeping myself in check today. Did a lot of second guessing myself to decide if something I was saying (or typing) was just being mean, and erred on the side of caution for most of it. Hopefully tomorrow things will be better, although if I'm being bothered by what I think I am, it might not be...
Needless to say I wasn't in the mood to sew anything today. And I honestly even if I was, I'm not sure what I would have done. I actually don't have any projects in mind at the moment. Nothing for the nude dolls, nothing even for Charlotte, which says a lot. Instead I did some cleaning, which was good. I've been neglecting a spot in my room, and today I was able to go through it and move some stuff around and neaten it up. It was only a small spot, but now that it's clean the entire room feels bigger, isn't that weird?
I actually did some sewing, but nothing that required any creativity. I was just pulling some more stuff out of the unfinished project box and working on it. Now that it's not disgustingly overflowing I feel more like pulling things out from it and working on them. Maybe that's how I have to do it, keep it well stocked with projects, but not overflowing. Today I pulled out Ashley's original Christmas dress. It was pretty close to being finished when I decided I didn't like the look and gave up on it. Since it was so close to being done I wanted to finish it. It didn't hurt that the only reason I didn't at the time was because I didn't like the look of it, there was no sewing errors in it or anything. It just needed the skirt sewed down (it was attached, just with large stitches), and then the usual finishing treatment. I used Charlotte as my fit model (like usual), and it came out well. I'm glad it's finished, but I don't have much use for it, especially now that Christmas is over. I'm just glad it's finished and I can keep it out of the box.
I also fished another item out of the box to work on. This is an underskirt variation I was trying out. I forget what the original project that it was for, I want to say Charlotte's Odette costume, but that could be wrong. (It's been a while since I thought about it) It's like the usual underskirt, but with the white fabric shortened and a tulle skirt instead. It's basically a band of fabric for the waistband with tulle making up the skirt and giving it the fullness to fill out a skirt. It didn't work at the time, but figured I could at least finish it and have it available. So I did. All it needed was seam reinforcements and a snap. Pretty simple, and it certainly fills out a skirt. Charlotte is wearing it under the dress in the above pics, and it's as full as that skirt can go. It might actually be too full of a skirt. Did I actually say that???
Madness!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Day after Christmas everybody!

I hope everyone is enjoying their post holiday day. I started off my morning by taking down most of the decorations on the bookshelf, and changing some people out of their Christmas garb. Artemis was the first to go back to her usual look. After that it was Modern Circle and Blaine. But that's all that I changed back, although I did confiscate Joe's Santa hat from him. Everyone else stayed in their Christmas clothes, but for several different reasons. Ashley because she just got her new outfit and it felt too soon to change her back, Vanessa, Midge, and Mary Clair because I like their Christmas outfits better than their usual clothes (I also gave Mary Clair's shoes to someone else), Charlotte because I just like seeing her in her's (and I'm not ready to stick it on a hanger), and Joe, because he was wearing the same thing he was wearing before Christmas just with a Santa hat (now without). I also put away the Christmas tree on the Momoko shelf, and the Christmas cards. Still haven't put away the Nutcrackers yet. So for the most part, Christmas is cleaned off the bookshelf, except for Charlotte's shelf. But my day was not always so relaxed, it was not one where I could sit back and take it easy. Since my family knew we were holding off Christmas we've been a little lax with getting ready for it. We didn't have much of anything yet, but since Christmas was over it was time to stock up, or else miss our chances with the after Christmas sales. So today we went out to brave the stores, in order to reap the post-Christmas (to most people) sales.
First up on the destination list was Hallmark. My sister likes their ornaments and asked for some for Christmas. I like their ornaments and their sales after Christmas. This year they had a forty percent off their Christmas stuff sale. I thought last year it was fifty, but last year I don't think I went the first day after Christmas, maybe eventually it goes up to fifty. Either way, I got a superhero ornament for my brother-in-law, and two ornaments for my sister. She likes cute ones, but I really couldn't find any that seemed "cute". I ended up picking up two that were mystery ones. There's three paint variations to get and you buy the sealed box and part of the surprise is opening it. Thought that might be interesting. Plus... they were cheaper (only six dollar each after the forty percent off) (and don't tell her I said that). I didn't find any "Our First Christmas" ornaments (that's what I wanted to get her personally), so I guess I need to keep looking for something for them. They're the only ones that I haven't gotten anything for yet, everyone else I already have their present in hand, except my brother's who's still in the mail. Maybe I'll just get them cat toys and be done with it. Well, at least I have that option if I can't find something better before the "big day" (whenever that may be).
I also hit up Hobby Lobby, not to check out their Christmas clearance (66 percent off), but to find some tiny craft hook screws. (I'll tell you why later). Sadly they didn't have any in the size I needed. They did have some screw eyes, and I technically could use pliers to open them, and make them into hooks, but thought that was too much work, and too great a chance for failure to spend my money on that. I didn't want to spend my money on something that I might not end up using. So I didn't get them. I also checked out the fabric section. With so many of the dolls staying in their Christmas clothes because I liked the new ones better, I decided to look for some fabrics that I could use to replicate their Christmas dresses, but in non-Christmas fabrics. I was mainly looking for a white with red pattern cotton for Midge. Sadly, they didn't have anything that I liked that worked in the scale, so I didn't get any fabric. I didn't however leave the store empty handed. I ended up heading back to the Christmas section. Truth was, there was something I wanted there. Over the past few weeks I noticed that they had some spools of tulle. 100 yards for ten dollars. They did fall under the half off sales that Hobby Lobby has been posting for Christmas stuff (Although I did wonder if it was part of the sale, tulle wasn't mentioned in the paper ad taped on the Christmas racks). I've been thinking about getting some since I've been using it in my sewing a lot lately. I bought that 25 yard spool I bought a while back, and haven't used it all up yet, but I'm sure I'll reach the end eventually. On sale these spools were a pretty decent price. I decided to get it, but hold off until the prices went lower. I thought I'd be fine waiting until they were 80 percent off, but today when I checked them, a lot of them had already sold. So I decided to not risk it, and get them. I bought two spools, one in white and one in black (the only colors they had left). 66 percent off is still a good deal. Now I don't have to worry about them running out, or me running out. Since I've been using the 25 yard spool pretty haphazardly and haven't reached the end yet, I doubt I'll use this much up for a long, long time. I might not even need to buy any again next year. But even though I have a massive amount of tulle, I will say when things get cheaper and they have any left... I might pick more of it up. It's a sick, sick compulsion. But at least it's cheap, right? These two spools cost me 7.27 including tax, that's less than four cents a foot! The other tulle spools, when on sale, cost exactly six cents per foot, that's a savings of over two cents! TWO CENTS!
After Hobby Lobby I headed off to Lowe's Home Repair. I was still searching for those screw hooks. This may be the first time I actually headed into Lowe's by my choice. Hate that store, going there just means another house project I'll be forced to help with. Just walking in the doors makes my stomach turn, it's very Pavlov's dogs. But Lowe's had exactly what I wanted! Tiny little 1/2 inch screw hooks, they were perfect! Except they cost a dollar, for two. I guess because they were made of brass, but was not willing to pay that much, for so few, so I was forced to get something else. I ended up picking up some larger zinc screw eyes. At least with those I got six for a dollar, and hopefully they would work out. I got two packages, not as much as I needed, but I wasn't willing to buy more in case it didn't work.
And boy, did it not work. I eased the eye open with some pliers, and when I screw it into the wood I was working with, it just cracked the wood. The screw part was just too thick for the size of the dowel I was using. And to make matters worse, the eye when opened was oddly shaped and I couldn't use it. So that was a waste of a dollar. (I had only opened one package, so we're going to return the other one) So not a happy camper from that.
I ended up going out again later in the day. Needed a few more things from the store, plus we had another task... getting my mother a Christmas present. There's a book she's been wanting for a while, and we found it at a local antique store a while back. I was hoping to find it online for cheaper, but adding in shipping it wouldn't be much cheaper. So today we went back and got it. Since my parents have a "no present" rule for each other this Christmas it's going to be coming from Santa than my father. (They have this rule, but they've both cheated on it!) After there we headed to a local hardware store. I was hoping that they would have a better selection of screw hooks, one I could both use and afford. And they did! They had some brass 1/2" hooks. They were a little thicker than the ones at Lowe's, but were much cheaper. I got six of these for a dollar. They had a collar thing on them, and I tried finding them without it, but the guy selling it (who was hovering over us while I was trying to decide) said that's how they all came, which wasn't the case at Lowe's (just sayin'). Although my Dad kept trying to talk me into getting screw eyes, even though he knew that's not what I wanted. Sometimes he won't listen! I ended up getting two packages of hooks, and hoped that these would work.
I had to wait until we were home before I could find out if these would work, if not I just wasted another dollar. I screwed the first one into the dowel, and got the same cracking as when I used the eye screw. It was a smaller crack, but still a crack. I decided that since it was just a small crack, and it was merely an ascetic issue I could live with it. What I was making was just for me anyway. I also had to ease open the hook a little to make it fit around what I needed it to fit around. And you want to know what I was making?
I was making hangers! I've been complaining so much about not having enough, I thought I'd make an effort to make some. I tried making some out of paper clips, but my efforts were clumsy and it looked terrible. I devised this wood/hook idea yesterday. After we were done with Christmas dinner I spent some time cutting dowels to size, then filing down their edges. I made 31 wooden parts, and gave myself a repetitive stress injury at the same time. Had I known the issues with finding decent hooks, I wouldn't have bothered making so many of them. I ended up making all twelve hooks into hangers. They're far from perfect (I would never offer these for sale), but they work. I ended up putting away the remaining dowels. These work for hangers, but since it's just a bar, and the hook isn't that long if the clothing you're hanging up on it has any collar that stands up, it interferes with how it hangs. It works well for dresses with flat collars. So I'd say this sort of worked, but it's not the best solution. I guess I'm just going to have to break down and buy a lot of hangers offline, since I'm not totally pleased with my own creation. At least I tried right?
After I was done with the hangers and used several of them, I turned my attention to the presents that have been piling up in my room. I've been meaning to wrap what I had, but the wrapping paper was in the basement and I wasn't that motivated in getting it. But today with all the new stuff I figured I might as well wrap everything and get it done. I wrapped everything I bought today, plus the few things that I had before. I even wrapped the March Angel that's for my Mom. I won't lie, I'm going to miss her, she was pretty to look at, even though I was terrified she was going to get damaged while in my care. Maybe it's time to look for a June Angel? I will point out/ complain that right now I'm the only one without a wrapped present.
*Sigh*

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope everyone is having a wonderfully great day. Full of family, fun, and food! My day was a good one, low key but good. My sister and her husband are in Texas, I guess they made it there pretty early. She was texting me by 11 (10 their time) this morning complaining about how his father was quizzing her on what foods she will or will not eat (She does have a limited diet). And talking about all the Asian restaurants they will be visiting (where she will no doubt, not find anything to eat). They come back on Wednesday, and I'm sure for my sister that couldn't come quick enough.
Since she's not here my family and I are just planned on having a family dinner. We had roast instead of turkey since we're planning turkey for the make up Christmas with my sister sometime in January. My father was in charge of the roast. Which ended up being a pain, not anything to do with the roast, but just dealing with the timing of making all the side dishes. (Which was all me) I ended up having to throw together the potatoes and the stuffing quickly because by the time I started the meat was already done and cooling. Sometimes things are really just easier when I take charge of everything. In order to save myself some mental anguish I'm planning on being in charge of the entire make up Christmas dinner meal. It's just easier on everyone else, and it allows me to at least be aware of the time schedule that dictates my activities. But dinner was good, it was nice to sit with everyone and have a relaxed family meal. After that was over we all went our separate ways for the rest of the day. Like I said pretty low key, so low key that I didn't even get any presents! I guess I was so naughty this year that Santa just skipped our house!
*SOB*
I'll be fine, I'll get over this slight... someday.
But after dinner I finally got a chance to take some pictures. Since it's Christmas it's high time to show off Charlotte's shelf now that they're all decked out in their Christmas clothes. I've been working hard to meet that deadline, and I'd be kicking myself if I didn't get to share it until after Christmas was over. So without further explanation here's the picture:
.......
Wait... Hmmm, that didn't work...
Oh!
That's right, as of this post, you've never seen Charlotte's Christmas dress, and yes, Charlotte did get a dress. I just haven't had much of a chance to share it with you, this month has been far too busy to share everything that's happened. So I guess before I share the shelf's photo, I'll share with you Charlotte's dress and how it came to be.
You may remember that I decided Charlotte was going to be dressed as Clara from "The Nutcracker" for this Christmas. Charlotte really likes those Ballet inspired outfits, doesn't she? "The Nutcracker" is one of the very first ballets that I was ever introduced to. I remember watching a taped version of the movie at my Grandmother's when I was much younger. We didn't watch it often, but we would pop it in from time to time. It was the 80's movie that took advantage of being both a play and a movie. Really a great performance of the ballet, I highly recommend it. After seeing it as a child, I didn't see it again for many years, a couple of years ago I was able to watch it online, but wasn't able to view it this year. Seeing it again while more grown up gave me a greater appreciation of this wonderful ballet. One of the scenes that struck me (in both childhood viewings and my most recent one) was the one where three dancers come in and do a short dance that the choreography mimics that action that's soon to come in the ballet. It's an usual scene, but always fascinated me. I remembered liking the female dancer's dress from it, and decided that it would work for my vision of Clara, but when I tried to find the scene online for reference, I couldn't. Isn't that always the case though? Since I couldn't find it, I had to draw it from memory, trying to remember what I had seen over a year ago.
I thought I did a pretty decent job replicated in from what I remembered. I quickly had a sketch completed, and liked it, and thought it could be something I could create. Next I needed to get some supplies for it. I remembered that the dress was pink, a color not well represented in my fabric stockpile. I needed a baby pink, and I only had hot pink taffeta. That's really would not work for what I wanted Clara to look like. I also needed to get some trim for the dress. I couldn't remember the fine detail work for the dress, so I ended up designing my own. We had two options, one that involved a decorative ribbon trim, and one that called for eyelet material (hopefully in pink). Whichever option I chose really depended on what I could find at the store, I do have my limits in that aspect. I was able to quickly find the right fabric at the store, (one of the more expensive fabrics) so I was halfway there. I was also lucky in the trim section. I found this sheer sheer scalloped fabric with pink undertones that was in a box pleat. It wasn't what I was thinking of when I designed the dress, but I liked it so much I quickly decided that it would work so I got it. I ended up getting a half yard of each of them. I didn't bother getting any thread since I still had light pink from a previous project, so I could save some money with that!
After I got the materials I needed I quickly started making the dress, I couldn't wait any longer. The top is a familiar pattern, it's the bodice that I always use. I actually used the unmodified version of the pattern earlier in the month making Vanessa's costume. This one is the modified version that allows inset sleeves. This one is very familiar, I just changed the neckline. This one is just a simple circular neckline that's close to the neck, rather boring really, but I did that for a reason. I was planning on adding a collar, so the neckline wasn't going to be visible. I did hem it though, even when not seen a hemmed neckline usually works out better for me in the long run. Before adding the sleeves I worked on finishing the collar. I was using some of that sheer white material, last seen in the skirt of the wedding dress (Charlotte's not the domo's). I gathered it, and tacked down into a mock cowl collar around the neckline. It's very Georgian (my favorite era), I also added a pink ribbon rose at the center for some decoration. It came out well, although I did have to redo it a few times, but the hassle was worth it.
After that I added the sleeves. Like usual I made them 3/4 length. At the sleeve hems I added the trim, since it was already pleated I didn't have to even gather them to give them that flared look that I love (another Georgian element). The trim was okay to work with, it does have a fraying issue, so it won't last too heavy play, but I doubt Charlotte will wear it enough to cause a real problem. I didn't even have a problem setting the sleeves in. I did end up pointing the bodice at the bottom hem. I love how a pointed bodice looks, and now that I use the tulle to help with hemming I can easily create it. Still have trouble figuring out how to make the point lay flat. Often there's a nasty ripple that really ruins the line of the dress, which was certainly the case with this dress. I guess that's something I can work on this upcoming year.
After I was done with most of the sewing of the top I tried it on, and had a fit issue with it. For some reason Charlotte was swimming in the bust area. It was really over-sized there for some reason, but it fit decently in the hips and waist. I thought about ways to fix it, but remembered an old family saying, "To make up for what God's forgotten, remember it's always best stuffed with cotton" (Thanks Nana). I didn't just jam cotton balls into Charlotte's top (save that for the Domos), instead I made her a simple bra. It's just a white cotton strip gathered in the front, nothing too fancy but the added fabric helps her fill out the top. I did put some effort into making it because she can always use another nice bra. Sometimes when Charlotte wears those older clothes designed for the older bodies she has troubles filling out the bust, this would be a decent way to help fix that.
When that was all squared away I started off with the skirt. Originally I was just planning on having the trim (if I had gotten the eyelet materiel) under the dress, with just the scalloped edge poking out beneath the hem. This new trim was far too pretty to mostly hide under the skirt, plus I didn't think I got enough to go all the way around the bottom (that stuff's expensive). So I changed my plans. Instead of a full skirt I decided to add a panel at the center that used rows of this trim. If you remember the Garden Party dress I made a while back, it's just like that one (or if you remember the actual Mattel Garden Party dress it's like that). Sadly the first front panel I made ended up getting messed up. It was my own fault for trying to use the trim super sparingly, which is so ironic since I messed it up and had to redo it, thus using more of the trim. Luckily I had learned my lesson, and my second attempt at making the skirt panel was much more successful, or else I might have run out the trim. I did however, forget to take into consideration that the Garden Party skirt was shorter than the length of the skirt I was planning for Clara's dress, so I ended up with a panel shorter than the skirt material. I thought about making a shorter skirt, but knew that I would hate that in the end. Instead I ended up sewing another row of the trim at the bottom of the panel. This didn't have the white cotton backing, so you could see through to what she was wearing underneath, but I ended up liking the look. It was a happy accident. After solving that issue, I didn't have much of an issue with the rest of the skirt. Although I did have some problems with the machine pulling on the pink fabric as it hemmed the skirt. I ended up pulling out the machine stitches and hemming it by hand, but in a couple places you can see the fabric is marred from the machine. It's weird, it didn't do that anywhere else, just the skirt hem. But the skirt went together pretty easy, and attached to the bodice well. So that's good.
I also ended up making some pantaloons to go under the dress. I was planning on doing that all along, but now that you could see a bit under the skirt, I knew that I had to. They're very similar to the pantaloons made for the "Tales of the Hoffman" dress and the Harlequin costume. I also used the trim on the Pantaloon cuffs. I really like how that sheer line of the trim shows off the pantaloons and the trim on them, it just makes it look intentional, and not just a quick fix.
For accessories, Charlotte got the long white stockings, and the usual white ballet shoes. I also tied a pink ribbon into her hair. Adding to that her little Nutcracker, and she was done! (And looked darn adorable)
And now that all that talking is done, here's a photo of the entire shelf:And one without the non-Mattel dolls (For In the Pink)
A couple close ups of Charlotte: (You can see she's holding up her skirt in a couple pictures, that's because of a safety pin that's latched onto her skirt with part of the post on the outside of the skirt that her thumb slides under allowing her to hold it up like that. Not sure if the pin is visible.Some of my Christmas cards on the Silkstone Shelf:The rest of my cards on the Vintage Shelf:And the tree on the Japanese Doll's shelf:After I finished the dress, by a random chance, I found a video of the scene in the movie that I based the dress on. I'll add it here so you can see it too.

Check it out, notice something? How about the fact that my memory of the dress was WAY off! I did get a couple things right, the decoration at the sleeves, the neckline (somewhat, it is cowled), and the pointed bodice. Other than that I was very, very off. I forgot the crimson bodice color, the actual neckline, the line that runs down the bodice, and my fabric was much stiffer than the one used for that costume. So really, this is much more "inspired by" than a "copy of", although I will say, I prefer mine much more to the one in the video. But that's just my opinion. (And I could even say mine was original, because I doubt anyone would see any resemblance between my dress and the one in the video.)

And so, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!
(Oh, and a Happy Birthday to Kelly and Tommy. I got them several years ago on Christmas day, and that became their Birthday. They might be ten years old by now. They grow up so fast!)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Everybody!

No doll stuff today, they've taken a backseat to some Christmas stuff. Since I'm expecting there to be a big demand for the oven tomorrow I figured that I should do what I can today with the desserts. So today I made the Cheesecake Mousse pie (no baking involved, but still good to get out of the way), and more chocolate chip cookies. But these I get to eat! They're for tomorrow, but I still had one, I needed to make sure they came out tasty! (That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!) Those are the only desserts we have planned for tomorrow, so I'm all done with those.

Also heads up, our January 7th plans might be changing. My Dad is getting trained on a new machine at work, and they are sticking him on the day shift for a bit, and they're messing up his scheduled and he's now supposed to work on the 7th, so we may not be able to have Fauxmas then. Not that big if a deal, since it's not like I'm waiting for presents or anything. I'm sure we will work out some day we can all get together. I'll post updates when I know anything!

Tomorrow is Christmas! GASP!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last minute shopping, always a thrill!

Just a quick update on my sleep issues. Last night was better than the night before, although it was still far from ideal. Adding onto my sleep troubles I had some weird and upsetting dreams. It's just unusual that these dreams that upset me so are the product of my own imagination. Why would my own mind do something like that?
I just don't get me sometimes.
Not a whole lot on the doll front. I did color fast the dress I finished yesterday in an effort to keep it from staining. When it was dry I put it on the body and put it back on the bookshelf. It really looks good up there. Makes me kind of wish I had a head to go along with it (kind of). I like it more than the dress that was there previously, although that was supposed to be a temporary fashion that ended up staying there for several months. But now that dress is packed away in the spares bag, and I doubt it'll ever see the light of day again, unless someone needs a Halloween costume.
No chance to do any sewing today because... I went out! Don't ask me why I was going out two days before Christmas, I was invited, so I ended up going. I really didn't need to go, and it was in my best interest to stay in, but I went anyway. I ended up visiting the local antique stores, not my idea, but I went along with it. Nothing new at either store (I was there not that long ago), and whatever vintage Barbie dolls that still were there are out of my price range. So I left there without anything thing, but really, I don't need anything.
Most of the stores were a madhouse today. No shock since it's two days before Christmas, but still there was much more traffic than normal. The Walmart plaza was a madhouse. I didn't go into Walmart (My father did to get a new truck battery), but I went to the Dollar Store instead. Nothing exciting there either. They were also super busy, I ended up leaving without buying anything. I did check for those paper dolls that came with the plastic hangers but I haven't seen them in a while so they must be sold out. Luckily I picked up several when they were in stock, but they were a cheap and easy source for Barbie hangers. I'd love to get other (better) hangers, but don't have an easy source to find them. Maybe I should learn how to make them...
Anyway, I also visited a second hand store while out. We were planning on stopping into all three, but as the day went on and we got stuck longer in stores than usual we had to cross two of them off the list (plus eventually I just wanted to get home and stay there!). We only visited the Christian Second Hand store. We had been there earlier in the week, so I wasn't expecting to find much. I was hoping something I was looking at last time I was there might still be there, but no luck, it was gone. Not that big of a deal, I really didn't need it. I was half heartily poking around the craft section when I found this bag of doll shoes. I kind of think I've seen it before, but I could be mistaking it for something else. Either way, there looked to be a pair of shoes that could fit Chatty Cathy. I pulled out my handy dandy foot template and held it up against the bottom of the shoe. It looked like the shoe was shorter, but wider than the template. The shoes seem to have a little give, so I opened up the package and tried to see if the template would fit inside. It did... but only after it bent and wedged itself into the shoe, so I had to pry it out of the shoe. It's hard doing that while trying to be discreet. I bet I looked extremely sketchy trying to remove it. I decided on getting the shoes. They had the possibility to fit, and for only fifty cents I really should at least try. If they didn't work I could always see if one of my Flickr friends or somebody could use them. Before checking out I made a quick scope of the dolls they have displayed on the children's clothing rack. Usually they're porcelain dolls, and not anything I'd pay to own. This time I saw a doll with an interesting face. She looked a lot like a Madame Alexander doll. So much like one in fact I checked her for markings. I couldn't find any on her, but her dress was tagged. Heidi by Madame Alexander, Made in New York, New York. Well that answers that question. I ended up getting her, she's pretty dirty, and missing several of her accessorizes, plus most of the elastic in her clothes have stretched out, but I still thought she had potential. She's a cute doll, but I'm not planning on keeping her. I'm planning on cleaning her up and reselling her. I'm not expecting to get much for her, but maybe someone will want her for a little profit. And plus, I would be happy knowing that she's going to someone who will cherish her compared to someone who would just wreck her. She's Madame Alexander for pete sake!
At home I ended up starting off by washing her tights. The spots came out, but the large yellow areas of discoloration didn't. Not really sure what to do about that. I also tried the shoes on Chatty Cathy ...............................................................................................................................
and they fit! You can see where her big toe is in the shoe, but for the most part they fit pretty decently. This brings her total to... six pairs of shoes. These are her only pair of vintage shoes. I know they're vintage because they're marked "Made in America", not something you see now a days. They're also marked "9 1/2 T", I assume the T is for toddler. They need a decent scrub, but I'm happy they fit her. Poor girl needs as many shoes as she can get. With her new shoes I was finally motivated to redress both Chatty Cathy dolls in something a little less summery. My brunette ended up in a white with pink roses dress I made a while back. My blonde ended up wearing a scarlet top and a jean jumper (I had to censor the below image, the jumper has a nasty habit of showing off her underwear). I looked through the Chatty Cathy clothing box while picking out their new clothes, there's a lot of early sewing work in there. I've improved a lot since I made some of these, which is understandable, Chatty Cathy is the doll that really motivated me to start sewing in the first place.Sadly, she's not the doll to get me motivated to sew something new for her!
Sorry Chatty Cathy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Actually finished something today!

My sleeping issues continued again last night. I'm not too surprised since it rarely fixes itself after one night. Typically after the first night of poor sleep the next one is a little better, then the next one's a little better, and so on. At least last night was an improvement compared to the night before. It would be terrible it if was worse. Hopefully I'll keep going in the right direction with it. It feels like lately every night's been Christmas Eve and I'm super excited! But I'm not really, I just can't sleep.

Anyway, today I decided to keep working on the stuff on the unfinished project box. I discovered this dress when I was sorting things into keep and put away. Honestly I forgot all about it. It even took me a little time to remember who it was for originally. Since it was a sailor type dress I thought it was for Sweet Sixteen, but after working with it for a bit I remembered that it was something I made for the Canadian Bubblecut but quit when I ran into trouble.
Most of the actual dress was already finished. The sleeves were already in, and the neckline was hemmed. All that needed to be done with that was resew one of the side seams. If I remember correctly the fabric shifted when I was sewing it and it didn't sew both sides, plus the fit was looking terrible, so I quit. Today I fixed that. And like that most of the dress was finished! (It still needed hemming though, and lots of the detail work).
I ended up making a sailor collar for it (I did plan that originally), and edging it with some narrow white ribbon (added the ribbon by hand). I attached the collar, and hated it. I ended up taking off the collar and redoing it three times to get both the fit and the look right. Luckily I had only tacked it down in a couple places so it wasn't that terrible to redo each time. Eventually I got it to look how I wanted it, so I was able to start working on rest parts of it. I did hem it, using the tulle method. But I did pull out the top stitches from the hem and tacked it down by hand. After I was finished with that I added two snaps in the back, using Charlotte as my fit model. This type of dress looks better on the belly button body, the bust to waist to hip ratio fits the pattern better. Vintage dolls are a little too top heavy to make it work, I do have a Malibu doll wearing this pattern, so it sometimes can work. But I digress, I ended up doing the seam reinforcement I usually do. For decoration I made a small bow to go where the collar meets and sewed it on. I was trying something new to make the bow, and liked how it came out. I also added six pearl beads to give it a double breasted look. Sewed the back together and I was done! Finishing this dress took several hours, and that was after most of the initial construction was already done.
And... I'm not in love with it. Don't get me wrong, it's a cute dress. I do like it in that aspect, but it's just not that cute. It's a bit mature for what I was going for. I was thinking about putting this dress on Charlotte's garment rack, but not anymore. It's not her style. Whenever I look at it I see is a dress that should be worn by a famous tap dancer in a 1940's classic film. Someone like Eleanor Powell. And even though it's not for Charlotte anymore, I don't actually dislike this dress, I actually plan on displaying it in the collection. It's going in the Silkstone shelf on Artemis' original body that I broke (it's a sad story) that I use for a dress form. It's a little tricky getting the sleeve over her wide right hand, but with a little work it goes on. (Just can't keep taking it off her or the side seam is going to give out. But it looks good on the form.
She can be my little headless toe tapper.
P.S. If you'd like to know who Eleanor Powell is check out this video of her in action, she's stunning!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Out with the Old! (Sort of)

My sleep issues flared up again last night. I spent several hours tossing and turning trying to fall asleep, then when I finally did it would only be in short bursts then I'd wake up again and repeat the tossing and turning. Really a terrible way to spend a night. So I've been a little laggy today. It's times like these that I wish I could take naps, but sadly I cannot. I only nap if I'm really sick, otherwise I wake up feeling worse than I did before I took the nap. It's a cruel world sometimes.

I did make an attempt at dressing a doll, but ran into troubles fairly early on and quit. It went into the unfinished project box, but wasn't there for long. No, I didn't come back to it, I actually dumped out the entire box. It's gotten extremely full lately since I've given up "Finish it up Friday", but I didn't dump it out in order to find something to finish. Instead I went and looked through everything. I made two piles. One pile of about thirty projects that I thought either had potential or were new to the box, and the rest. The stuff that I thought could still be saved went back into the box, the rest of it got dumped into a grocery store bag. The entire bag was filled with projects that I had started but never finished. I doubt I'll ever finish most of them (or like them if I do manage to finish them), but I'm not ready to throw out anything just yet. I just needed to get them off my desk for a while. Maybe when I'm not dealing with them for a while I can actually get rid of some of the less successful projects. I am thinking that February will be another finish it up month, and I can make some progress on the stuff in the bag (and the stuff in the box still).
But after I picked out the projects that I thought could still be completed, I was motivated to actually work on one of them. Sadly I didn't finish it, finish it, but it's closer to being done than it was before.
But progress is still progress. I hope I can actually sleep tonight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One more done!

Skipped writing today. I think I'm going to take a break until after the 7th (Fauxmas). I have too much to do and too much on my mind to really focus on writing. After the 7th things will be calmer and I'll be more likely to get something accomplished. Heads up, one of the things on my mind is the upcoming house cleaning before the 7th. Just how I want to celebrate my new year. Fun.
So today I continued working on Ashley's outfit. Time is very quickly running out and I need to finish it if I'm going to have the entire shelf dressed by Christmas and be able to post a picture. I was mostly done with it, so it wouldn't take long to finish it. I just had to get off my duff and do it.
The shirt was already done, and the jumper just needed a couple of minor things finished on it. Unfortunately in order to finish it I had to undo part of it. It was just taking off one snap, so it wasn't that bad, but I hate having to redo snaps. But I needed to do it. The way that I added the first snap, while fine at the top was throwing off the match of the bottom sides of the skirt. One side was ended up much lower than the other one. So I could either redo the snap, or adjust the hem. The snap was easier to fix so it won. So I undid it and redid it. It still looks good at the top, but I was able to compensate for the bottom so I only had to tweak one side a little to make it match up. One more snap and sewing up the back hem and I was done! Another dress finished on my crazy Christmas mission! I took a couple pictures of her for you (and Flickr and In the Pink). Here they are:
After I had finished with Ashley I turned my attention to Malibu Stacy. She had lost the shirt I made for her to Ashley, so I sat down to make her a new one. I managed to mess up the fit of this one, so it was very tight on the shoulders and made it ripple across the bust. I toyed about giving to top to Ashley and putting her top back on Stacey (the new top was tight on Ashley but not as tight). But since I had Ashley's all finished I didn't want to rip out the bow. And honestly I wasn't in love with the fit of the new top on Ashley either, so I decided to just remake the top again. This one went into the box for another time. But when the second top had it's own fit issues, and I knew that I was going to have to make it a fourth time, I decided I was done for the day. At least I got Ashley's outfit finished. Stacy is just going to have to wait, at least she's not on a holiday deadline.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Postmas must love me... Not!

I had two goals that I set for myself this morning. Finish Ashley's dress and redress Kelly and Tommy into something more Christmas appropriate. I only managed to complete one of these things today, redressing Kelly and Tommy. I originally had hoped to sew them something, but after the pattern got messed up in printing and all my efforts in making them something failed, I decided they could wear something they already had. Kelly got a fancy dress, tights, and coat, and Tommy got black pants and a holiday inspired sweater. I know it used to have a hat too, but that's long gone. And so they were finished for the "Holiday party" that's going on on that shelf. Did you know there's 11 dolls on that shelf (currently), and five of them are wearing clothes I didn't make, (Joe, Blaine, Kelly, Tommy, and Modern Circle) one of them is wearing a dress I made last year (Artemis), and five of them will be wearing something new that I made for them just this year (Ashley, Mary Clair, Midge, Charlotte, and Vanessa). It's been both a productive and a non-productive month. I'll have made five dresses (at least) by the end of the month, but none of them are permanent. And worse, I like a lot of the silhouettes of the dresses more than their usual outfits, so several of them are possibly going to get their current dresses remade in non-holiday fabrics. (I never can win!)
But even with Kelly and Tommy dressed, that left me with one goal not completed. Sadly, I did not get that done, I didn't even touch Ashley today, much less finish her outfit. Instead it was a going into town sort of day. That's right shopping! I even hit up all three second hand stores. (Won't be able to do that again until after the Holiday) Picked up a couple stocking presents for my sister, her husband, and my brother there. They're a little dusty, but too cute to pass up. It's those wooden figures with the elastic in them. When you press the base they fall "apart" and when you release it they pop back up. They had a cat (my sister), dog (my brother), and a reindeer (Sister's husband). Originally I was going to give the dog to my brother-in-law (weird to type), but it was too cute. Not sure if they would keep them or just toss them, but I wouldn't want them to throw out the dog. So I'm giving it to my brother instead. He's less likely to just dump something like that. And if he does want to get rid of it, I can take it. I don't really want it either, would just hate to see it tossed out. Didn't get anything at the Salvation Army. I almost got something at the Christian Second Hand store, but I wasn't fast enough. I saw some of those cute knee hugging elves, but before I could get to them some woman picked them up. I was hoping she'd put them down, but she never did. I watched her out of the side of my eye hoping she'd decided against them, but she never did. I gave up when she put them into her cart. HER CART. I've never purchased so many things at that store at one time to need a cart, but apparently she did. She could have least left something good for the rest of us! I'm bothered by it, and was annoyed more so at the time, (with the fact that I wasn't quick enough) but I'm trying to get past it. It's not like I lost out on a vintage Barbie or anything. (If that happened I'd be livid!)
I also went to Walmart, to pick up a fashionista Ken. I was hoping to have the Homme head in hand before I got the body, but the mail hadn't come yet today. Also there wasn't much of a point in trying to see what skin tone he had since Ken and Ryan both had the same skin tone, so my options were limited. I was a little worried they'd be all sold out (just my luck), but they weren't. They had both of them, so had to choose. I liked Ken's clothing better than Ryan's, but I really couldn't see myself using either of their outfits. I'd much rather make something instead. Lately with my sewing improved I'm more likely to make something than use what I already have or buy something. I just buy clothes if it's on sale and I kind of like it or I want the shoes. I ended up picking Ryan, not because I thought I could use his clothes (I have no intention for using his Ed Hardy inspired outfit), but because of his shoes. He's wearing a pair of boating shoes, just like what I wear! His are gray, and a bit dull, but it's a start. They've used this shoe mold before, but I've never gotten around to getting. It seemed a little silly to spend all that money for just a pair of shoes for Ken. Especially since that style wouldn't work for the vintage dolls, and they're who I usually dress. Maybe if Joe could still wear Ken shoes I might, but as of this moment, he can't. But now I have a pair, so when he can wear Ken shoes again, he has that option. And honestly, shoes are the only things I could see myself using from either of their outfits.
That's all I got while out, but now that my Walmart gift card is finished I can stop obsessing about using it up. Now I can say goodbye to that corporate monster! Peace out! Even with my limited purchases, (Ha, I call getting an entire new doll limited) at home I had some things waiting for me. Remember yesterday as I was complaining about how nothing I was waiting for showed up on Saturday? Well today it was a total glut of stuff for me. I got my father's Christmas present in the mail, it's just some vintage German stamps like last year. I was wondering when this was going to come, I ordered it a while back, and for something that was shipped in a regular envelope it took a lot longer than I was expecting. I'd ordered it well before some of the other stuff that also arrived today. Also in the mail was a present from a Flickr friend. I sent him a couple things a while back that I thought he would like and he was kind enough to send me some fabric! Ah fabric, a terrible legal addiction. He sent me some salmon colored organza, some light blue organza, some bronze satin like fabric, and a small bit of this green velvet. If I name any of the fabrics incorrectly, forgive me, I really don't know my fabrics all that well. I'm not experienced in fabrics at all. Wasn't it awesome of him to give this to me? Let me tell you, there's not a lot of that velvet, but it's so soft. The cat likes it too, he was sleeping on it tonight. I can't wait to find a project to use them on. And for our final item in the mail for me, we had the Homme head! Good thing I bought the body today, or he'd be a man without a leg to stand on, and I'd be super annoying until I could get out and get him his body. Remember how I talked about opening him now or waiting until the 7th? Yeah, I barely made it into the house before I was opening him and doing a head swap. But first, let me say he was packaged wonderfully, in a box with packing peanuts and everything. Honestly I thought he'd just come in an envelope. Anyway, in short order Ryan's head was off, I'd trimmed the neck posts, and heated up Pierre's head up enough to put on the body. His head did fit, luckily. He is however not the best skin tone match. Pierre (that's his character name, I didn't name him that) is a bit more orange-red than the Ken body. It's not too extreme, but not perfect, but he and I can (and will) live with it.
After he got paired up with his body I went though all my Ken clothes and had him try on a bunch of different clothes. And I learned... that I have some seriously ugly Ken clothes, just downright hideous. But I still tried a bunch of them on him and had a bit of a chuckle. This was my first experience with the Fashionista Ken body as well. It seems like he has different proportions than the Ken's I'm used to. I think his legs are longer, or his crotch is lower. I had a lot of my pants not hit correctly on him. Also he's thinner than the older Ken dolls. I had lots of loose waistbands in pants on him. And he can't wear vintage pants because his feet are too big.
Eventually he ended up in the black shirt from the Ken basics pack I got recently and the only pair of pants I found that fit him. I made them a while back, for Joe I think. They have some issues (including some hanging threads in the inseam), but they fit. I do like how he can wear most of the Ken shoes I have. He's wearing the monk boots that came in the basics pack.
For the time being he's hanging out on Charlotte's shelf, but I'm not sure he'll end up living there. I'm not really sure where he belongs. This may sound absolutely terrible, but I'm not really that impressed with him. I'm not sure if it's just my over inflated expectations coming down to reality now that I have him in person, but I'm not just in love with him as I'd hoped. Maybe I'm having issues with the Ken body (who would have guessed that he would have less mobility than the fashionista body, Ken can't even spread his legs at the hip. He does however have pivotal knees that aren't as weak as Barbie's though.), maybe it's the head sculpt, or the hair. (It's long, but short, can't really do anything with it) or maybe it's the fact that he's not my first choice (unlike Vanessa who was my favorite FR doll.).
Either way, I'm glad I have him, if only to quell that annoying voice in my head that complains about not have a Homme doll.
I finally shut him up! (Maybe I'll warm up to Pierre eventually.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ick.

Today's been a bad day. Seems I woke up under a gray cloud of some sort. Not really sure why I'm in such a funk. Part of the problem may be that I'm waiting for six things in the mail, and all of them had the audacity to not show up yesterday! I know that logically only three things that I'm waiting for could have arrived by yesterday, but still, those are some pretty terrible odds. So now I have to wait for over 24 hours for the option of any of them arriving. And you know me and waiting. We've never been friends.
But that's not the only reason I've been down in the dumps today, I just don't know what else is the matter. So my moods been pretty low, and my motivation even worse.
I did try something doll related, but it didn't work, and the doll is now worse off.
I guess I shouldn't have done that.
Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
Couldn't be worse.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A NDR (Not Doll Related) day

Well, sort of. I did start my day with the start of cleaning those dirty dolls from the bag. I'm going to clean them slowly a bit at a time to make sure I'm really getting them clean. I started with a couple of heads from the bag, Free Movin' P.J. and Miss America. They both washed up really nicely, and I was able to brush out their hair. I did feel a little bad breaking P.J.'s original curls, but they were messy and there's no way I was going to chance them spreading mold. Getting rid of mold trumps hair curls every time. I did try to re-curl P.J.'s hair, but didn't like the look, so I ended up washing out what I did.
Now, I have a thought I wish to ponder (type?) out loud. Now that I have a second Miss America head, I certainly know that my original one has had a hair cut. I've been toying with the idea of swapping heads with my original one, but have my reservations. I would feel bad just using that first doll for her body, especially since the only thing that's wrong with her is her haircut, but if I went out of my way to get her another body I'd be left with two Miss Americas, and really do I want two Miss America's? I'm not in love with the Steffie face mold (she's currently the only doll in the collection that has that face), and she's really modern for the vintage collection. I've been on the fence about the 70's dolls. I don't actively seek them out (except the Malibu gang), but when I find them for a good price I am compelled to get them. Perhaps I should make a shelf of just 70's dolls? That way they're there but not really mingling with the 60's dolls. I don't know, does that sounds elitist?
Anyway, the rest of today was filled with non-doll stuff. Cooking basically. My father was having a company holiday potluck thing, he needed to make some cookies. Or actually I needed to make some cookies, which was fine, except I wasn't asked, I was told that I was making cookies. Which isn't too bad, he's my father so I guess he can do that. So I set about making them today, since he needed them tonight. Also I made some tomato soup cake, just because I wanted to. I've been craving it lately, plus it would give me something I could actually eat. The cookies I had to make, and send on their way, which is the worst part of baking for someone else. If I'm baking it, I think I deserve to eat it too! Total Little Red Hen syndrome.
But baked goods weren't the only thing on the agenda. Since we still had our turkey from Thanksgiving, it was time to either make soup or throw it out. So today I made soup. not wishing to throw out a still edible bird. In order to make soup one of the first steps is you have to rip off all the meat from the bird by hand. It gets pretty gross. I'd say you'd enjoy it if you were a serial killer, but alas I'm not. (Although judging from the body parts in the room at the moment I could pass for one.) But luckily it's over pretty quick if you really dig in, and even I gathered a small pile of scraps for the dogs and cats to eat (they just loved me). After adding the potatoes, onions, and spices (no carrots, it's a long story) I left it to simmer on the stove. We had it for dinner tonight. It actually came out decent, although truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of home made soup. I just made it because I didn't want the turkey to spoil and have to throw it out. I'll still eat it, but would never go out of my way to make it. But it's done, and I can make it again after the 7th. Maybe I can make it more to my liking then?

What's in the Bag? Part Two.

All right, time for the second post about what was in that bag. (Trying to be quick about posting it!)

First up we have some doll heads, one of the main reasons why I purchased this bag. From what I know we have (from left to right) Free Movin' P.J. (With a bit of a haircut in front), Ballerina Barbie (Without her crown), Quick Curl Kelley, and Growing Up Skipper (with part of her neck knob still inside her head). They all need some hair help and bodies, but they are in good shape. No nips, bites, splits, or dings. Most of their hair is mussed, but looks uncut, except for the small spot on P.J.s head. It's like an instant 70's collection! (Minus Bodies) Also I've labeled them what I think they are, but I am no means an expert on 70's dolls. So if anybody notices someone isn't who I said they are, feel free to correct me.

Also from the 70's, there was a Dusty doll in the lot. I already have a Dusty, but she's headless waiting for her re-root. (Been like that for years actually) This lucky lady has all her hair, but also has the usual body melting Dusty typically has. She's actually melted into her dress. Luckily it's an unattractive home made number so I'm not upset about it. Not really sure what to do with her. I don't dislike Dusty, I kind of like her. I'm just a bit weary of her melting issues and the other dolls. Plus she actually has a bit of a bobble head. And I detest bobble heads!

Also in the bag were more doll heads! These are just not Barbie heads, they're much, much smaller than Barbie heads. They're Dawn sized, but not Dawn dolls. They're marked on the back of the head "Lensney 1973"(Hello eyestrain). I looked them up online and found a site that talk about them. Apparently they're from the company that made Matchbox cars. They're a line of dolls (smaller than Dawn) that was made from the 70's onward. I don't think they are that popular. They both look like they're in decent shape, but there's a start of a neck split in the blond.

Also in the bag, is a doll that I hope to eventually add to the collection, Mod Hair Ken. I don't have any mod Ken dolls, They're mostly vintage, then jump right to the solo Malibu doll. Ken here is almost in decent shape. It's just his leg joints have melted and broken off. But they're all still there, absolutely filthy but all there. I just need to find a replacement torso and he'd be all ready for display (after a bath of course). I guess I need to start trolling E-bay for him.

And finally, here's a mystery item from the bag. It's a pair of clone arms, and (I assume from the same doll) single leg. They're flexible rubber. The arms are solid, but the leg is hollow. There's also a wire going inside the leg. This allows the legs to bend. The other leg is missing, but wire is still all there. There was no torso or anything in the bag, and the only clone doll head in the bag wasn't a color match. I really like the hand mold on the arms, I just wish I knew who they belonged to so I could either find that doll, or find a home for them.

Part two finished! Stay tuned for part three!