Thursday, October 22, 2009

To make a tree

Someone asked me to make her a tree man doll. I've been mulling this over in my head for months, and just bought the fabric tonight. I'm afraid this is going to be a bit tedious. But, since when am I not up to a challenge? I saw a great tree quilt n The artist made tons of tiny pintucks all over the fabric to make it look like bark. This will be my first task. Then, I'll be making a needle sculpted face to sew to the trunk of the tree. That part is fun. Okay, here comes the tedious part. I'm going to have to sew, and cut out tons of leaves, make branches that will be wired with pipecleaners and stuffed, that will then be hand sewn to the tree, and the leaves sewn to the branches. Why am I undertaking this so close to the Holidays? Beacuse I'm just plain nuts, and look for any excuse to not clean the house! That's why. LOL!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Tips and Tricks

Freezer paper is my friend! I learned about this fantastic versatile stuff when I made my first poppet. It's an incredibly popular doll created by Ghilie on She offers the pattern for free, and many crafters who have never sewn before have successfully made one.
One of the things Ghilie taught me was to use the freezer paper as a stabilizer when sewing around pieces of fabric. I find it indispensable when sewing around fingers. The paper irons to fabric, and pulls off without any residue. I also use it for making stencils. And as a Mom, I love the stuff for covering the table for a child's art project. The shiny side prevents paint from seeping through to the table and ruining the finish.

I'm not goona pay THAT!!

While out shopping with a friend at Old Navy I saw a really cool black sweatshirt that said "watch your back," on the front, and a skeleton's chest on the back. I knew the boys would like it. Then I checked the price tag. It was $30. Okay, yeah. All the boys would like it. I'm not gonna pay $90 plus tax for three sweatshirts. Later while shopping with Jonny, we saw a hoodie, again with the skeleton chest printed on it. This one was even cooler than the first one I saw because the hood zipped closed and became a mask. Of course, as I'd thought Jonny loved it! I looked at the price tag. It was $15. Quickly adding up in my mind how much it would cost to buy three, I decided that $45 was still too much. However sitting on a table next to them were some plain black sweat shirts for $5 each. "This I can do," I thought.
I came home, googled an image of a skeleton's chest, and found a free clip art image. I printed it, and then cut it into four pieces, enlarged each piece on my printer and taped them together. This became my pattern. After laying freezer paper over the pattern and tracing, I had a stencil, which could be ironed to the sweatshirt. Then using acrylic paint and textile medium, I stenciled the design. It took about 5 coats of of paint, drying with a hair drier in between coats before the image was white enough. To make each shirt a little different, i stenciled a heart under the ribs for the second shirt, and blended some light green into the ribs of the third shirt so that they looked slighly moldy! Mission accomplished for $15.00.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Some tips and tricks

I thought I'd share some of the tricks I've learned while making dolls.
#1. I love my disappearing ink pen.
When working with tiny bits of fabric, I find it useful to trace around the pattern, rather than pinning the pattern to the fabric, and then cutting out.
I also use it for drawing the features onto a dolls face. If I make a mistake, all I have to do is take a damp cotton swab and rub it out. I also use it for marking the placement of the wefts of hair.

#2. When turning tiny tubes of fabric, I find that a small flat head screwdriver, and a drinking straw are indispensable. I shove the straw into the inside out piece that needs to be turned, and then place the screwdriver over a bit of the fabric, shoving it into the straw. This technique is excellent for turning fingers and spaghetti straps or sashes.

#3. A pet brush is perfect for brushing out yarn for doll's hair. It will make acrylic yarn look like mohair.

#4. I use scrap printer paper to weft rows of hair. I cut the paper into 1 inch strips, and then place a bundle of yarn over one layer of paper, and then another layer of paper on top of that. Then using the smallest stitch on my sewing machine, I sew over the top of the paper. The strips pull away easily because they've been perforated by the needle.

I'll share more as I think of it.

Alice is finished

She's finally finished. I tried a new head style for this doll. I think it's more suited to using knits. The muslin wrinkles too easily when the darts are sewn. The top is covered by her hair, but the chin didn't turn out a smoothly as I would have likes. I'm really happy with the face painting on this one. The pictures are taken with my phone and don't do it justice. I also tried a new technique for the hands. She has a mitten hand with a separate thumb, and then her fingernails are built up with glossy mod-podge. I like this effect and will try it again. However, I think I'll keep the mitten hand for the less realistic dolls, and go back to the separate fingers wired with pipe cleaners. Dave helped with the fashioning of the bottle. I fine tuned it a bit, but the basic design is his. Alice is for sale in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beginnings of Alice

I've begun a new doll. She will be Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I've made this character before with a needle sculpted face. I didn't quite achieve the sweetness that I'd desired in the character, so, I'm trying again. My eldest son just finished reading the book for a book report, and reminded me that in the book Alice wears a yellow dress, and had black hair. I'd had the Disney version in my head for so long, that I'd forgotten that Alice was a brunette in Louis Carroll's version. So, now, I'm trying to decide which to make her. Blond, with a blue dress, which most people recognize as Alice, or true to the original. She will be for sale in my Etsy shop. So, I'm taking a poll. Which do you think she should be?
Here's what she looks like right now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Trying new methods can be trying!

I've not had time to update this post. I've made two Jack Skellingtons, a Sally, and two Edward Scissorshands since posting the above.Currently, I am working on patterning the Wednesday Addams doll that I made for Littlepooky for the Halloween swap, and drafting a pattern for an Alice in Wonderland doll. I am making improvements upon the pattern that I drafted for the doll that I made for Christmas. She'll have a different head, and I've improved her feet and hands.
Trying out different methods can be trying!
I am also trying and failing to make a body for the Witch. I may have to resort to a wire armature with batting, which is a common method of construction for these kinds of dolls.
Too many irons in the fire!