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!

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