Sunday, July 26, 2015

She's Collared!

The bodice is making progress and it's turning out to be very intriguing.   It's a very high collar that stands up and makes a big statement!  I've been working on it for some time and I'm finally happy with the design. I feel like something really good is going to evolve from this.

It almost looks like a flower...

The collar is made up of two layers.

From the back, it looks quite regal!

Standing pretty, waiting for more.

My next step is to finish the sleeves and decide what's going over the chest area.  I want something ornamental but I don't want to detract from the "poof" of the collar.  

I'll post more photos along the way.

Happy Dolling!
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Friday, July 03, 2015

Drafting a Dress

So today I'm off from work due to the 4th of July holiday, and I'm using my "day to play" on what else?  My doll, of course!

I'm ready to design the dress bodice, which is one of the trickiest parts dollmaking for me.
I've drafted the pattern, transferred it onto paper towels and taped the pieces together to see how the bodice fits.   It's not quite there just YET, but I will cut, tape, tuck, tweak and try to get it right.

The moral of this story is:  
If you have paper towels, a felt tip marker, scissors and tape, you can drape a shape right over your doll to make a bodice.  If you don't feel comfortable designing your own, use one that you've already made or that you like a lot, and try to modify it right on your doll.  It's a pretty good method :-)  If you're good with computers, scanning and resizing things can be helpful.

The bodice is the main part of the dress.  Once it is done, the whole dress should come together really quickly.  I already have my fabric picked out!  Hopefully I'll have some more pictures to show you soon.

Happy dolling!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bouncing Buddha Babies

This afternoon I was walking around Chinatown in NYC and could NOT resist these little cuties.

I love Chinatown!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Crown Jewel A-La-Found Object

All that glitters is gold, isn't it?  Let me show you how transform a sparkly "found object"into a crown jewel.  

This "jewel" is a Swarovski Schonbeck teardrop chandelier crystal.  It's been lying around in my stash box "like forever." I always knew I would use it someday!  I don't have a crystal chandelier hanging in my dining room, but goodness gracious, this crystal needs to be displayed.
On a doll, of course!  

The hat or "crown" turned out to look more like some sort of Persian Fez.  I wasn't really planning it, but it just sort of "happened" that way (like almost everything I do with my dolls!)  But I think it's a happy accident, and so I wanted to share.

The pairing of a simple hat with a large sparkly handmade ornament is really inspiring me.  Have you ever started a project and let it go on for a long time because you can't figure out where it's headed?  That's what has been happening with this doll.  Dragging on and on...  Finally finally finally, I reached a turning point.  The jewel is is "talking" to me.  It's the starting point for the development of the entire costume.  Call me crazy (aren't we all?)  but it's almost like the doll is beginning to tell me who she wants to be now.  Because of this thing on the hat!  Sometimes it can take forever to figure these things out.  Little things can really go a long way.

If you can relate and this is making sense to you, read on!

Anyway, that's my own haphazard (but logical?) doll making process and way of thinking.  On to more practical matters:  how to take a found object and make it into an opulent cabochon?

In order to put the crystal on the "Fez" just right, I thought it would be a nice touch to encrust it with beads.  That's the trick because the beads really make it "pop,"  Here's how I did it.

The first step is to decide what fabric you want to mount it to, and choose some matching seed beads.
I used matte gold colored beads, size 10/10.  You can use whatever size seed bead you want, or a combination.

I  used some fabric left over from her "crown," to create a base.  I originally thought that I could bead right onto the hat, but that was too awkward, and it's much easier this way.  Because the fabric is thin, I ironed it onto a white stabilizer.  Even if your fabric isn't so thin, it's always better to use the stabilizer.  It will make it easier to handle, and easier to mount onto the hat.

Next you'll want to do the actual entrustment of beads around the crystal (or found object of your choice).  From this point on we will refer to your found object as "crystal" although you can use something different.

Lay the crystal down over the fabric / stabilizer.  Because it will slip around, draw an outline using a mechanical pencil.
Bead along the outline, one bead at a time.
Keep going around the perimeter of the crystal, beading another "line" on top of the beaded outline you just created.  You can do picot stitching or any type of random beading you want.  Take up 2 beads at a time, or 3, or 1 according to your whim.

Make 4 or 5 built-up lines (think of building a stone wall with beads).  Check to see that the edges reach to the top of the crystal's edges.  Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of these steps.  But I hope you get the idea :-)

Once the bead encrustment is ready, cut away the fabric/interfacing from the crystal, leaving about 1/2" allowance.  Then trim the stabilizer only down to the perimeter, so only the fabric is left for the seam allowance.  The next steps are as follows:

Thread up a needle.  Turn your work around so you are looking at the wrong side,  and baste around the seam allowance.

Pull on the thread to gather up the edges.  They will naturally fold over to the back.  Sew this excess seam allowance flat onto the stabilizer, taking stitches across the diameter of the back wherever needed.  (go back and forth with your needle and thread).

Turn it over.  The crystal has been flipped up to show how nice and neat the ornament looks.  

Attach the ornament to the hat.  I chose gel medium because it dries clear and is strong enough to hold the crystal permanently.  Liberally brush it onto the back of the ornament.

Place it down on the hat and press.  Lift the crystal to expose the fabric and use your finger or the back of your paintbrush to make sure there aren't any bumps.  Make sure the crystal sits well in the bead encrustment.

Use pins to hold it in place while drying.

Once it is dry, you can adding a little E-6000 glue around the inner edges of the beads to make sure the crystal doesn't flip-flop around.  Carefully paint the edges of the crystal with the glue, and use a blunt object to press the beads into the glue so it stays in place.

Don't put glue behind the crystal itself, where you might see through to the fabric behind.  If your found object is opaque, then this won't matter. 

I hope you will try this idea the next time you are looking for something to inspire you.  If you're like me, I'm sure you have a box full of "treasures" just waiting to be transformed into "just the thing."  I'm totally inspired and tickled pink now.  Stay tuned to see how her costume evolves!  I think she's finally on her way.

Happy Dolling!

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hair in the Wind

Go with the Flow!

This doll will never have a "bad hair day."  Her hair is permanently blowing freely in the wind!

Her hair is made entirely of fabric.  It's very detail-oriented and tons of fun.  This type of hairdo is like an artistic license to go 130 miles down a deserted road.  Nobody is looking, nobody minds.  And it feels amazing to create it!

She has a "part" down the middle (and a pin that I have been using here and there...)

I gave her a sort of "diva" curl- a mix of the roaring 20's and "something else!"  I guess that something else is ME.


Thus far, the hair is made up of two odd-shaped "gloves" that are haphazardly sewn onto the head.
There is no particular shape or reason to it... just a bunch of random folding and fun.

To make the "gloves, simply draw it out on the fabric, right sides together.  Sew and turn, stuff it a just a little, and sew onto the head.  You can add pipe cleaners if you like, so you can control the "movement."  Enourage folding, so it looks like wavy hair.  You will want to use lots of pins to make everything stay in place, then sew it down with small stitches.  That's it!

The result may look a little "extreme" but I have faith that this is going to be terribly fun-looking when she's all done.

I'm thinking some kind of hat with a big ostrich feather?  I have not decided yet.  I just go bravely, one step at a time.  I don't want her to look like Medusa, but I'm not afraid to let the creativity flow.  So, I'll figure out what belongs on her head and add some more "hair" around it.

Until next time,  Happy dolling!

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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Needlepoint for Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Ever since I can remember, my mom made needlepoints.  These weren't your average needlepoints.  They were on the "okay this is really different" side.
I'm not saying that needlepointing is 'unplugged" or that people who do it are not like the "rest of us," but my mother's needlepoint canvas choices stun everyone who walks into the house.  Literally.

She loves nudes.
Nudes, nudes, NUDES!!

What a childhood I had!
And I'm not kidding.

After at least 45 years of needlepointing (some of her pictures are from my earliest memories), the entire house is full of bare-breasted needlepointed portraits from Picasso to Klimt to Renoir and more.  My poor dad!

So this year, I bought my mother just what she needs for mother's Day- another needlepoint.  It's not nude but I like it.  It's eccentric, like me.

Come to think of it, this looks like a great doll candidate....

I found it in this Etsy shop.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all the moms.  I hope you find what inspires you!
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Friday, May 08, 2015

Dolling on a Park Bench

How to you make time for doll making when you are extremely busy?

Take it with you!

I'm on my lunch break now, and it's a beautiful day in City Hall Park. I've brought a doll head and a needle, thread, pins, and fabric along.  Rather than listening to music or doing nothing, I'll do some dolling on a park bench!

Today is Friday and everybody in my office adheres to the jeans-on-Friday policy.  I  just added the eccentric sneakers.  Yep, that's "me!"  Dolling a-la-lunch break!

I am making fabric hair for this doll.  An experiment of sorts-  I'm tired of needle felting.  I want to try something different so I'm " sculpting"hair.  It's not going to be a quick process, so I need to account for my time and make it happen.

I'm an accountant by profession... and you know what?  I think that career track is directly related to being an artist because you have to be detail-oriented and disciplined.  Just like money, every moment accounted for can make or break your goals.  Sometimes just finding 15 minutes here and there is all you need.  So I debit my dolls and credit my lunch.  Or is it the other way around?

But in the meantime, I'm enjoying dolling on a park bench for a few blissful minutes before I have to run back to the office.

I think my doll is enjoying the park, too...

Some people are looking at me like I am strange as I am taking these photos.  
"What is that??"
Maybe strangeness is a doll making virtue.  Let's call it 'eccentric.'  Better yet, let's call it passion.  Whenever you are passionate about something, you find a way to do it when you really can't.
Lower Manhattan, watch out because here I am.  Or, here we are.  Me and my dolls, that is.  

Back to work!!!  (Yes, I'm a government accountant)!  I work for the Comptroller.
I don't think my dolls can run for Mayor but they have my vote anyway!

City Hall

Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy dolling!
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Attaching Ears to a Cloth Doll

HEAR's a quick tip for making and attaching ears into a cloth doll.
Begin with completed ears.  They should have a "stem" on the end where you turn, and lightly stuff them.
Insert a paper clip as so:

Next, turn the paper clip on a 90ยบ angle and sew it in place.

It needs to stay this way, so sew the corners down.

Using an X-acto knife or very sharp embroidery scissors, make an incision in front of the seam.

Use a little bit of tacky sewing glue being the ear to make it stay in place.  The glue should be on the base of the ear, not the lobe or the part we tuck our hair over.

And HEAR she is!  Ready for some touching up and on to her hair and a body.

Here is the actual ear template that I used. The correct size for a 20-22" doll is a drop over 1.5 inches.  You will need to adjust this template to your needs :-)

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

SMITTEN WITH MITTENS -- Making Prettier Hands for Cloth Dolls

If you've tried your "hand" at cloth doll making, I'm sure you've seen different ways of making hands.   I'd like to talk about the kind of hands that have all the fingers sewn together like mittens.  They're not just for beginners!

Often cloth doll patterns offer "advanced" and "beginner" hands for the same doll- advanced being those with five fingers which need to be turned carefully and skillfully.  The "beginner" patterns are plain old mittens.  That leads you to believe that to make a more beautiful and realistic hand, you need to make the fingers separate (which can be a royal pain).  After years of subscribing to that theory, I've changed my mind.  I think the "mitten" type hands can be more elegant and realistic.

Mitten hands are basically just a stump with the thumb sewn on separately.

Sometimes it's nice to make just two fingers together.  It's a nice, elegant pose.

This is my favorite type of cloth doll hand.  I hope you will try it!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

3D Fabric Eyes

I'd like to share a new doll in the works.  She's getting 3D fabric eyes.
So far I just made a pair of eyes, turned them around and stuffed them lightly.  Then I set the eyes into the head.  Slits were made using an Exacto knife.
I'll need to add eyelids and carefully set the eyes in place underneath, probably with a bit of extra careful manipulation.

Here is a closeup of the eye.  It's made on muslin, and colored with Prismacolor pencils.  I'll go over it again once the eyes are permanently in place.

These eyes may look a little (ok, a lot) funny now, but I hope they will look great when I'm done!  

I hope you visit again to see how she turns out.  Happy dolling and thanks for stopping by!
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