Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dragonflies and summer shoes...

Current Mood : Crafty !

(sigh) I swear, I’m gonna give up on eBay. I get so tired of the same ole crap over and over. Of the last five orders I’ve placed, three have stepped the ‘print the postage on Saturday, actually take it to the Post Office on Thursday’ dance. I know I shouldn’t expect anyone else to function by my standards – I ship the day or the day after I get paid, whenever the PO is open, and I don’t claim to have shipped it until I’m home from the PO – but it ranks that the sellers get credit for ‘fast shipping’ when they’re actually taking their sweet time. It’s gotten so, if the post mark is a different date than the day given on the tracking number receipt, they get one star on ‘speed of shipping’ ranking. It’s a minor stand, but I’m taking it.

In other news…well, there isn’t much. Managed to spend 20 minutes in a Michael’s craft store and not spend a dime. Stunning, I know, but we were there for supplies for tomorrow’s art class, and aside from replacing a backdrop scrapbook paper I damaged – Italian salad dressing stain – there wasn’t much I was interested in. And now that I’ve used the backdrop and found that it’s not very useful, and they’re not on sale anymore, feh. Decided I didn’t need to replace it after all. Managed to find the Barbie-licensed ‘tapefitti’ rolls – removable tape with appropriate pink themes – but not the MH ones, a bit of a disappointment.

But once home, I checked mail and my last – for at least two months – Japanese fabric order from Kawaii Meow had come in. The colors are a bit more muted than I expected, but that made me so happy, as I wanted these prints for the guys. The one that shows as 'pink' is actually more of a plum color. The ‘scraps’ are generous enough that I can probably make t-shirts and smaller accent pieces for their ghoulfriends, like a skirt or tank shirt. Only problem is, there’s seven pieces of fabric, and I got 14 guys ! Oh, and one other problem – the fabric is so beautiful, I have trouble cutting into it ! So that project may be months in the future. Here’s hoping !

But that felt from the abandoned make-your-own-HooDude project, now that was easy up for grabs ! Decided to try to make some little shoes for Baby Belle out of the white piece, and about a half-hour later, the first one was ready, and twenty minutes after that, she had a pair. A bit too big, I think I gave the insoles a bit too much of a generous seam allowance. Every time I picked her up, her new shoes fell off. But…I still had a bobbin of elastic thread that wasn’t quite used up from Clawdeen’s little shirred summer dress the other day. Would a single line of stitching just under the upper raw edge snug them up a bit so I could use ‘em ‘til I improved the pattern ? Yup ! Now they look a little more like baby booties, but not quite ‘infant foot protection bags tied at the ankle’. So I’m happy.

I keep meaning to go out by m'self and have some fun, but I’m having too much at home ! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

A pretty doll on a pretty day - and I think I did a pretty good job on her dress !

Current Mood : Oddly confident !

For no other reason than it’s Monday, so we all need a laugh and some cats, I’m posting this link to some great cat ads. My fave is ‘Norman: Eco-Warrior’, but they’re all good. Hope they make your  today a bit better !

Good thing I gave the Headless Headmistress pre-order a pass – it’s already been removed from the TRU site, and most fans assume pre-orders are already sold out. At this point, if I find one on shelves, yaaay. If I find one and actually still want one, yaaay x 2. Just hate buying something so sight-unseen, I don’t even know what the box looks like. Or the actual item, and not a prototype. Given Mattel’s track record with Barbie proto vs. photo, I think I made the right decision for me.

It’s super-hot here today, and the management hasn’t turned on the AC yet. I can’t really blame them, it’s only April, but when you and your glass of water are sweating sitting still, it may be time to kick it over and be done with it. I was all set to go out for a bit today, but I was just too tired and steamy to be in much of a mood for it.

So we stayed home, and I made a second go at the very rudimentary pattern for Baby Belle. It fits and closes now, but the neckline is much too wide. It still fit, so it was nothing to add a gathered rectangle to it, and now, she has a new dress ! I rather liked it, and started posing her for an early photo, but all I could see was her little naked butt. Guess I’m not done sewing – she needs panties. Glad I still have over a yard of that rejected green fabric !

Of course, since there’s next to no patterns for regular toddler Little Disney Princess dolls, there’s far fewer for baby LDPs. But that dress had come fairly close to fitting her. I wondered if the panty pattern I had for LDPs – courtesy of Doll Shop Deluxe, before it imploded – would work, if I used elastic. Heck, I even had some used elastic sitting around from last night. The panties that went with 80s Baby Crissy’s dress were too big for both Crissy and Chatty Cathy, and I liked the fabric, so I spent a half an episode of Law & Order reducing it to component elements. Including waist and leg elastic. It was only 1/8” wide, but with casings, that didn’t matter.

I simply couldn’t figure out how to assemble the panties with leg casings and a waist casing. You’d need a side seam sewn to make the waist casing, and you could sew one leg casing, too, but what about the other one ? I decided to just go for it and figure it out on the fly. And I had it right, the panties fit with some good, active elastic – they sort of resembled diapers. But, oh, how those non-elasticized legs sagged and gapped !

Then I remembered. Crissy’s panties didn’t have leg casings. They were hemmed, with elastic sewn on top inside. Hmf. I could probably do that. I went slow and carefully, and then I had well-fitted matching panties for Baby Belle. I wasn’t sure I could sew 1/8” elastic either, but I did it just fine, and it was recycled, too. What’s funny is, I more or less free-handed the dress, and it took about 40 minutes, with the usual stops and starts. I had a pattern for the panties, and they took well over an hour !

And there they are ! Of course, you can’t see the panties now. (facepalm) But I’m still pleased. I’ll probably go ahead and scan this pattern, then tighten up the neckline. She still has the elastic over her bangs, because as soon as I take it off, those bangs start creeeeeping up again. May have to do a boil-pour right at her hairline. The rest of her hair’s too wrecked to risk.

Hope to use a knockoff magic sponge later this week, see if it takes off those ink stains. Even if it doesn’t, I’ve enjoyed playing with her, and learning that I can make patterns for different dolls out of darn near nothing but the backside of Beloved Hubby’s revised essay print-outs, a pencil, and a ruler. The confidence I’ve gained from that is priceless, and ya can’t buy it anywhere.

Except maybe a thrift store…

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Connundrums, part MCXXVII

Current Mood : So sleepy...

I gotta quit watching Jem on Netflix. Keeps reminding me of a time when I was gonna live in Paris – for part of the year – and have a London Fog trenchcoat tied (not belted !) at the waist, over a flowing silken  black dress, my feet admirably clad in matching smoky hose and black FM pumps as I nimbly danced over the ancient cobblestones in a romantic haze of lamps and shadow at twilight. Yes, I used to think these things. Until I first met real cobblestones in Belgium, and soon learned I could barely keep upright in kitten heels on that stuff. Twice my face got up close and personal with cobblestones, I lost count of how many times my knees did, so I learned pretty quick to keep them a safe distance from my little fantasy delusions.

And I’m having the latest in a series of my little fits about the next MH doll coming out. ToysRUs.com has ‘gone live’ with the pre-orders for Headless Headmistress Bloodgood and horse Nightmare - $43. ! Of course, by the time you add shipping and tax, it’s almost $55., and all for a doll I’ve never seen except for the same prototype photo, over and over again. And, I guess because it’s a pre-order, ya don’t get the ‘save five bucks’ discount. (sigh) Beloved Hubby says we have the funds, I can do it, but… I hate to tie up fifty bucks outta the family coffers for nearly two months. TRU says they won’t bill ‘til they ship, but we all know they’ll tap the account temporarily, and having to keep up with a floating $55. is a pain.

Thing is, you’d think this’d be exactly what I want. Don’t have to run around and call the local brick-and-mortar every Thursday afternoon for two months, it’s guaranteed I’ll get one, I really like the character, and she’s new, yatta yatta. Still, I’ve never seen the actual doll, TRU has a reputation for stocking shelves before filling orders, and I’ve heard waaay too many tales of people getting seriously wonky dolls via TRU mail order. I don’t know if I’ve been ridiculously lucky with mine, or I just don’t see the wonk like everyone else seems to. So I haven’t placed my order yet, and I’m not sure if I’m going to.

What I may end up doing is waiting a few days – I have some funds coming in, and using those will keep the ‘mystery floating $55.’ from haunting the family checkbook ‘til mid-June, or whenever the dolls actually ship. If the pre-order option dries up between now and Wednesday, so be it.

Twila, the daughter of the Boogey Man, is starting to show up online and in stores. She uses the smaller Howleen-size body, and is part of the 13 Wishes line. I’m barely semi-interested in her, but I found her diary, thoughtfully posted by new owner Ben Mumberson, contained a reference to Clawdia, one of Clawdeen’s siblings. To me, that’s hilarious, because it’s what I named Dawn of the Dance Clawdeen, after Robotech : Macross character Claudia Grant. MH Clawdia is studying in Londoom, wishes to be a writer, and is hilarious even chatting via webcam. (grin) My Clawdia holds fond memories of walking in the snows of London with her doomed fiancĂ©e, is also a funny one, and is in charge of two aircraft carriers grafted to a spaceship that holds a civilian town in its belly. Other than that, they’re identical ! (snerk)  

And that’s Chatty Cathy, the 1969 version, wearing the dress I bought 80s Baby Crissy for. Man, I wish Mattel had never recycled the ‘Chatty Cathy’ name, I’ll never find this doll’s shoes at this rate. Dress is a little big, but still looks nice on her, so I’m glad I trusted my visual judgment that it’d fit. I’ve been burned so many times thinking this or that would fit, I hardly ever trust my ‘eye’, ya know ? But if you switched out some fabrics, it’d be more apparent that this dress is very close to Timey Tell’s issue one, the one I’m trying to replicate. Plus, it’s one of the few hand-made dresses I’ve ever seen that wasn’t made by me, so it’s important ‘evidence’ that I’m not the only one sewin’ for dolls out here. This may actually be locally sewn ! So I’m happy.

Hope your weekend ends on a peaceful note. Maybe from a cardinal ! 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Poor Crissy - everything starts to sag the closer you get to 30...

Current Mood : B(r)ushed.

I love my window seat. I’ve been watching a gorgeous cardinal, strong and red and proudly singing every morning - everything a guy bird should be. Since cardinals tend to hang out in pairs, I’ve been wondering where the female cardinal is. Her brownish plumage tends to blend – but I saw her today ! She came swooping in from outta nowhere, scaring heck out of a handful of sparrows, a couple grackles, and the biggest blue jay I’ve ever seen. I hope they’re nesting.

I did some nesting of my own today – dishes and laundry, the usual. At least they’re done and I can relax tomorrow, hopefully. Started work on Baby Belle, mostly pulling a brush through her hair. Much like my original LDP Belle, I could swear her hair is two sets of fibers, the good smooth stuff and the woolly crappy stuff. On the underside is the good stuff, it brushed well and is still silky, but up top is the real mess. After a quick bath and shampoo, I got it brushed down and pulled back into the usual ‘village ponytail’ look, with a clear elastic holding her bangs down. Broke a comb doing it, too. Since she’s had some time to dry, her bangs are horizontal to her head – like a hair shelf -  instead of over it, I’m hoping some cheep fabric softener will help ease them down the rest of the way. Now that her hair’s mostly out of sight, she looks much better !

Even tried to sew for her today, a simple shirt that’s too tight and too high-necked, and didn’t even meet in the back, much less close. Still, it’s not too bad for a first pattern trial, and I’ve already revised it. And at least now, she’s got some clothes, even if they aren’t well-fitted.

And yes, your eyes do not deceive you, the second doll we bought yesterday is a Baby Crissy – the soft-body late-80s one. I mostly got her to gank her dress for the Timey/ Dottie/ Cathy brigade, but I had some fun brushing her ponytail out, and  unsticking her yellowed eyes. She’s going into the Donations bag in the next day or two. Those stuffed soft bodies are such a pain ! Couldn’t get her to sit upright even for a quick snap photo. I wonder if AG dolls are gonna be this floppy in another decade or two.

Her hair mechanism still works, and she’s in amazingly good shape for a playline doll pushin’ 30 years old. No real stains, and her fabric body is like-new clean. I hope she finds a good home. I gotta find her some replacement clothes…

Friday, April 26, 2013

Baby Belle blues

Current Mood : Joyfully tired...

Today was a great semi-‘me’ day ! Dearest Son had a great visit with his grandparents, I snagged four books at Beloved Hubby’s University Library, two dolls at the GoodWill down the street, got the grocery shopping done, had a great salad for lunch, and took a nap ! Luckily, we got Dearest back home before a major thunderstorm hit, too. A really great day !

While Beloved didn’t have class today – that’s why he was with me, he had no class ! – he had a test to take, so I amused myself happily in their Library. Got some great books on culture and even sewing that the local one lacks, and I’d barely settled into a nook to wait for him when, there he was ! We hit the GWill, and he found a gorgeous tie and a psychology desk reference – it’s probably $50. anywhere else – and I found a Disney Princess doll who didn’t play fair and another doll you’ll see tomorrow. Yup. You might remember (I barely do) that I once had a nearly identical Baby Ariel, but her hair wasn’t nearly as disastrous. I’m not sure if I’m gonna be able to get that woolly mess back anywhere near the way it looked in-package. While the image doesn’t show it, her feet and fingers are covered in blue ink stains, and she really needs an all-over bath.

But who could resist that sweet little face looking out of a pile of stuffed animals, plastic vanities, hopeless-hair styling heads, abandoned games, and broken sports equipment ? Not me. Since she was so inexpensive – 99c ! – I decided to make a project out of her, and got the other doll, too. Cracked the ‘Sharpie Code’ on their feet, too. Circle and one dot, 99c. Circle and two dots, $1.99. It’s a good idea, since tags never stay on dolls long in thrift shops. My 1969 Chatty Cathy has the $1.99 mark on her, but it was half price day when she joined the ranks of ‘Mattel dolls with the Timey Tell head’ girls I have.

Once home, I discovered two things about Baby Belle. One, she smells faintly of either vanilla or baby powder, it’s kinda hard to distinguish. Two, that’s not her dress. It belongs to one of the 15-inch Little Disney Princesses, although hours of research, from cheap knockoffs to Tonner exclusives, in every possible medium from stuffed to porcelain, from every manufacturer, although the dress has a 2008 Playmates tag, has failed to show me which LDP owned it. At first, I thought the dress had been put on wrong – it happens a lot – but it’s simply too small for her. (grin) When I tried to take it off, I wondered out loud how they got it on her in the first place !

 Ah, well. It’s still pretty, and PDorrie can certainly wear the dress, and will soon, it just leaves Baby Belle bare. I’ll whip up something for her once she’s clean and not so demolished and forlorn. Still, I have no idea why toy companies insist on using cheap sateen and sparkle tulle on playlines. It looks cheap in days, frays like heck, and tears almost while extracting it from the packaging. I guess shelf appeal is the only explanation – most girls love shiny fabrics and shimmery fragile ones. 

I think I’m home most of tomorrow, although I do need to nick out to Dollar Tree again for some cheep fabric softener, for BB’s hair. Hoping to hop over to the new grocery store, just to poke around a bit. It’s crunchy health/ organic, so I know it’s out of our budget, and we just topped the pantry tanks at Aldi’s today, but a girl still likes to know what’s available where.

Hope your Friday was fun ! And without thunderstorms !

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Shirr fun !

Current Mood : Satisfied

Pretty good day today ! I finally made a decision about something that’s been bugging me, actually sewed something, and had a first-bid win on eBay, something truly rare for me. I’m real cheap, ya know. And then I found out that tomorrow’s kind of a ‘me’ day – I’ll be running errands with Beloved Hubby while Dearest Son is visiting his grandparents, but at least I’ll be out of the house !

OK. Decision. Few weeks ago, I found a pattern for Timey Tell’s little ‘jumper’ dress. Like many of Ken’s Mattel outfits, it gives the illusion of separates when it’s actually all one piece. And for years, I’d been intending to make my own. It’s just that the design has symbolized the epitome of 70s doll style for me for decades, and being able to sew my own would probably keep me from labeling all my just-finished doll outfit photos on Flickr with ‘bad doll sewing’ tags. At least for a few weeks…

Thing is, along with my intent to sew my own was the knowledge that I’d have to make my own pattern, too – after all, *nobody* made patterns for Timey or Dottie, much less for her issue dress. So I mostly put it off, thinking I’d need to sacrifice one of those issue dresses for a pattern, and the two I already had were in good shape. I’d either have to find a third in wrecked condition darn cheap, or sketch and alter ‘til I got it right. Not too long ago, I wasn’t at all confident I could do ‘sketch and alter’. Sewing for MH for three years – and sorting through all of the darn good clothes I’ve sewn for Elphie and Fiyero recently – has really improved my skills, and to a lesser extent, my confidence.

But when I found the pattern I was my usual dead broke, so I bookmarked and moved on. Now that I want to work on some Timey/Dottie clothes, the pattern idea has come around again. It’s eight bucks – kinda steep for a simple dress and a pair of panties – but it’d save me some work. Or…I could satisfy another need for just a few bucks more. I’m also mildly obsessed with having my dolls’ original shoes. Don’t know why, but it kinda bugs me when I don’t. I’ve looked on and off for Timey, Dottie, and Cathy’s shoes, but they’re all fairly rare. Now, I’m considering buying another Timey – who comes with the dress, shoes, and even socks, for just a few bucks more than the pattern. Hmmm. Noodled around with the plusses and minuses and concluded today that I’m gonna try to buy the second Timey – if the seller ever gets back up with me – and plow the ‘pattern funds’ into getting it all. Sure, it’s more work, but I’m rather looking forward to it !

And if I do get the second Timey, at least she’ll leave Chez Insanity well-dressed ! With that off my mind, I wafted through that stack of scraps from yesterday. A light yellow floral on top would be just big enough for a shirred sundress, and that wouldn’t take long. Only one thing – I’ve almost forgotten how to shirr ! I remembered to steam the stitches, and about how to sew it, but some of the details just hadn’t been stored in my memory very well. Quick YouTube video got me reoriented, and I was soon diggin’ in the thread boxes for something to mostly match the scrap. Not long after, Signature Clawdeen had something new to wear, and I think it looks lovely on her. I remember how to shirr ! Still, I think I’ll add straps maybe tonight – it looks like it’s missing something. And sitting a bit low on her chest.

And, ironically, I won an auction for a pair of doll shoes I’ve been wanting. Clears out my ‘fun money’, but I’m glad I have them on the way. Oh, and my MH drawer pull finally came in – for some reason, the seller sat on it a week between printing out the mailing label and actually getting it to a Post Office. I need to find a new screw for it, too. Slow shipping aside, it’s really heavy and looks great. Now I’m just waiting on some fabrics from Japan, some Velcro ™ from China, and some vinyl from California ! What can I say, I really enjoy my fun money !

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Inspiration re-ignition !

Current Mood : Eager for a picnic.

In case you’ve ever wondered if those ‘food tents’ they sell at Dollar Tree are good for dolls, well, they kinda are. It’d be great for a doll picnic pavilion, if the dolls are small and sit low. The top of the frame hits MH heads if they’re in the red Coffin Bean chair or the School playset bleachers. And I picked the smallest dolls to sit on those things ! It’d be even better if you can prop up the tent with straws or similar cylinders, but as-is, a picnic on the grounds would be the best. Guess I should have tested it with the lunch/ picnic tables instead of the bleachers. Ah, well. The tents really are cute ! Especially for a dollar. I also have the orange hibiscus print one. I think Dearest Son’s gonna snag the blue one for his Ponies.

As you can guess, we hit DTree today, but I mostly bought snacks and some household goodies. They make a generic Febreeze, which I just today discovered. Their Magic Eraser is OK, in that it did better than plain water at cleaning up my Arena surface, but I’ve never used the name-brand to compare them to. My bag of Tootsie Roll Pops had a new flavor – Pomegranate – that I really liked ! So I’ll probably never see it again, but I’ll know what the label color is, just in case.

Once home, I found that the fabric scraps I’d ordered from Nevada Crafts Supply on Etsy had arrived. I’d ordered three ‘Pay It Forward’ packs of 24 scraps – 20c each with combined shipping of six bucks, which I thought would be a fun gamble. It was ! While they weren’t in the hand-sewn bags the ad mentioned, the baggies did include ribbons, lace, and trim that wasn’t – and some stickers !

I loved my order, but I do have to mention that these really are scraps. Most are very small, maybe three to four inches square. Luckily for me, my three each contained many of the same fabrics, in different size scraps, so if I want to make a MH skirt out of the cherry-print micro-corduroy, thanks to ordering three bags, I’ll have enough. Of the 72 scraps total, maybe ten were unique, another ten prints were in two of the bags, and the rest were in all three. I’m glad it worked out that way, and feel my $6.60 was well-spent. But aside from quilters, doll sewists, budget-strapped teachers, or applique aficionados, I don’t think these scraps would be big enough for most crafters. I do recommend their customer service and quality fabrics. Even the prints I don’t usually go for still fill me with possibilities !

I had a blast draping and fitting the various pieces to numerous dolls. For sheer entertainment value, that was worth six bucks right there ! Maybe after using a few, I can work up the courage to go near the Japanese fabrics and do more than just stroke them like kittens…

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dead Tired...my 'real' zombie Ghoulia doll.

Current Mood : blah.

I’m in kind of a blah state. Spent a good hour cleaning off the Arena, moving the binders together, clearing off a crate top – don’t know what’s gonna go there, but it’s free space now ! -   and wiping down all the surfaces. I know what project I wanna work on next, and I spent a bit of the afternoon assembling all the patterns and fabrics together, winding a bobbin of the new thread, and firming up the design in my mind. But I just couldn’t make m’self actually cut it out or do anything approaching  a ‘real’ start. And, as a consequence, I don’t have anything new, so I don’t have a new photo. It’s silly, thinking everything shown here has to be new in some way, but I’ve managed to put m’self in that trap, and I’ve gotta figure a way out.

Instead I watched old ‘educational’ films on YouTube – on gossips, dating, sleep, and managing your classroom. Hey, it’s better than most of what’s on cable right now.

We had Beloved Hubby’s class at the Library today, and for once, I had my stuff together. For one Mom, a book I’d promised to lend but hadn’t been able to find, and another, an MH doll. Turned out, she does roller derby and wanted the Ghoulia Roller Maze doll, but the only place she saw her wanted $25. ! So I cleaned my duplicate up – unfortunately, it was the broken-armed body Ghoulia – and dressed her in her official gear, but substituting her sports glasses from the Classroom set instead of those tacky green sunglasses. She was thrilled, even with the broken arm, and thought my elastic cuff additions were perfect. So that was a great happy-booster, making my fellow moms happy.

That made me look at the other dolls in the ‘Sell’ box, and I ended up pulling Dead Tired Ghoulia out as well. I’ve never really favored her much – her lips are a blah shade of bubblegum that looks washed out next to her skin tone, her hair is unremarkable, and her expression is darn near impossible to photograph – so she ended up with Dearest Son, and that’s how I still have her. But today, I spent time with her, trying to capture her uniquely half-hearted ennui on film…and she wrangled her way back into my heart, and she’s now on the Arena with the rest of the ghouls. The blouse she had on had to go (it’s definitely not one of my best), so I replaced it with Picture Day Cleo’s blouse, paired with the denim skirt I made from some overpriced kids’ jeans I snagged at a ‘stuff a bag for a buck’ thrift store sale. I still have most of those jeans, I’m a sucker for the embroidered cats all over ‘em.

Hmpft. For being a ‘blah’ day, it was actually kind of exciting, now that I think about it…

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rulers can be so mean...

Current Mood : Fighting sleep...

We started the week off briskly with Dearest Son goofing around in the living room. He crashed into the white cubby, which didn’t hurt him, but when he snagged that big metal ruler with his shirt sleeve, it pulled back and smacked him, and that did. I admit, I’ve hit it with my arm before, but figured it was just me being clumsy, but it’s clear that ruler’s a menace. So I drilled a cup hook onto the cubby’s side, and the ruler’s hanging up safely out of the way. For it to smack anyone else, I’d have to take it off the hook with intent.

Not much going on, sewing that successful cowl collar seems to have drained all the creativity out of me for now. That, or I’m just tired. I’m firmly in the MH Slump, just like every year, but at least I know enough to not rush out and buy doll furniture I have no space for. In a day or two, I’m sure I’ll feel up to sewing again.

Maybe after my nap…

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Take *that*, Modern Art #1625 !

Current Mood : Celebratory !

Other times, I take several hours of quiet time and proceed to demolish one of my challenges ! I stayed up waaaay too late to sew this, a cowl-necked blouse and skirt from a Japanese pattern made for a 9-inch doll. In a t-shirt knit fabric. No directions, just an image of the pattern, not in scale. If I wanted it, and if I could master it, it would be a serious challenge. Was I ready ? Was I up to it ? Could I really try again after a string of failures still haunted my psyche ?

Well, what else was I gonna do at 11pm when I’m broke ? Might as well go for it, even if it is another Total Fail, it’s just another on the pile, no big deal. But maybe, just this once, I might get it right. I may understand and learn and grow from the experience. And I could always try again later. One thing’s for sure, mine wasn’t gonna look like the sample photo. That looks like t-shirt knit, not the woven cottons I have such a surplus of, I use it for tests and trials and scrap. Still, it would look good as a knit…

Original design image
Resized the pattern about four times until a paper version more or less pinch-fit my craft doll, then I cut it out of crap fabric. Nope. Sleeves are super tight, and it’s rather short. Trash can fodder. Resized it again. Too big, but I saved it off anyway, for a potential Barbie version. Six must’ve been the charm, because that one was a workable, usable pattern that needed only minor revisions, and I was ready to sew it. For superstitions’ sake, I continued to use the sickly green fabric and white (not matching – gasp !) thread, because when I do that on a first trial, it almost always works and is worth keeping. No surprises here, it actually looked really good. On the test body, that didn’t have to accommodate wings, it closes fully in the back, and the cowl neckline drapes over the shoulders in a near perfect oval that is open in the back. I could even reverse it and use the back as the front if (sigh) I had used matching thread that didn’t show the Velcro ™ so much.

But here’s the challenge – it wasn’t in resizing the pattern. PaintShopPro does nearly all of that work for me. It’s that cowl neckline. I spent over two years trying to get a similar one to work on Barbie, it’s the main focal point of my repeated failures to clone her #1625, Modern Art. Even the Aileen’s Petite Fashions pattern didn’t help, I just could not get it right.My favorite fashion out of all Barbie's millions (except maybe the Astro Fashions, those were awesome !), the one I couldn't make m'self.  And tonight, with a pattern that wasn’t even designed for her, I sewed it, and even the bilious color and glaring white thread doesn’t look bad at all on Rochelle. I felt like dancing, and did, a little.

Then I calmed down and made a simple slim skirt to match – an NG Creations slim skirt from her first set, same as Lagoona’s ‘Music Festival’ one – with some of that pretty trim I got on such a great discount, and poof ! Rochelle has a lovely spring suit ! Her wings keep the back open much more, and you can see the collar’s edges. I kinda like it better her way !

After a too-brief sleep, I decided to noodle around for patterns and inspiration, and ended up on Craftgossip.com – there was one for the Little Disney Princess dolls ! I snagged it and Pinned it and did a search for more ‘doll’ there – and had to go through over 50 pages dating all the way back to 2007, at least two thirds of which had nothing to do with dolls. Nope, the authors of some other completely unrelated projects had taken some cutesy ‘craft’ name with the word doll in it somewhere, so I ended up looking at endless terrariums and countless slightly changed versions of little-girl pillowcase dresses. I freakin’ *loathe* pillowcase dresses.  Or their sites had the word ‘dollar’ in them. (sigh)

Most of the doll patterns I found were for – guess who ? – American Girl dolls, and were too firmly locked into AG to alter. Not even gonna get into how many pillowcase dresses I found for that lot. growlmuttergrumble. I found some that showed how to custom make the pattern or change it to fit other dolls, so I Pinned those, too. For once, I have a few Pins that aren’t already on everyone else’s (much better) pinboards – I feel like I’m sharing, instead of just taking. Much better.

And I’m tired again. Think I’ll loaf on the sofa a bit. It’s been a very creative 18 hours ! Too bad less than five of them have been sleeping !

Saturday, April 20, 2013

One kitty in the fountain - must be playin' with the koi.

Current Mood : Wishful !

As you can see, I played with it some more, and had lots of fun. While it’s easy to obtain thousands of digital backdrops for ten bucks, I already have hundreds for free, so I think I’ll keep the cash for now. On today’s image, I played with matching the light and focus – the Catwalk Kitty was a bit softer than the fountain, so I blurred the fountain image a bit – and flipped ‘Sushi’ to get the best angle for the image. It’s kind of like watching a kid play with blocks for the first time, to see me use all these graphic image tools I’ve had for years.

My love affair with the OttLite continues. Thinking of buying an extension cord next time I’m out, so I can position it in front for photos, instead of just along the sides – that’s as far as it can reach now. I’m wondering if its softer light will make my dolls’ eyes look better, so I can use the camera flash less often. Half the time I use that, I have to remove or recolor their eyes from flash bounce – and that takes longer than erasing the backgrounds !

Found an Etsy seller offering bags of 24 fabric scraps for 20c. Before you stampede over, the scraps are anywhere from two by three inches to five by seven. Shipping was reasonable, so I bought three. I’ll let ya know what I get when they show up – if spending $6 on Etsy can keep me out of Hancock Fabrics for another week or so, even if I can only use a quarter of the fabrics, it’s still a good deal. Besides, I’ve been wanting to experiment with applique’ for a while.

Going to give Fiyero another week on Doll Page, just in case. Truth be told, I just got lazy today and didn’t get him listed. Beloved Hubby’s working this weekend, which means I don’t get a lot of sleep – I know it’s kinda silly, but I like staying up late, having a quiet house for a few hours, even if I do nothing but watch Bridezillas and work a Sudoku with the peace. And being super tired means I don’t have a problem falling asleep !

I’ve also been having an intense itch to create something besides a sales page, so I’ll probably sew a little bit later tonight. Not sure what, though. There’s this design element I’ve never gotten right, and I wonder…

Friday, April 19, 2013

Purple Kitty Day !

Current Mood : Happy with me !

Today was one of those where nothing goes the way ya think and plan for it to – but it ends up sooo much better ! I lost an auction that I really, really wanted, but it’s the best thing that could have happened. It made me get creative…

Gotta back up first, though, ‘cause I gotta confess. Several years ago, I experimented with pasting photos of my dolls into digital backgrounds – fun, but time consuming. I have to take the photo, remove the background, touch it up, find a background that works, fuss with getting it positioned right…arrgh. Removing the background was the worst, but I found an updated PaintShopPro that made it much easier…and I begged and bugged ‘til we bought it. Luckily, it was still on an upgrade sale, but still a nice chunka change. Shortly after all that, I decided it was too much work and didn’t use it anymore. (sigh) While I’ve enjoyed PSP PhotoX2 version 12.1 very much over the years – six, to be precise – I’ve felt vaguely guilty for not using the very function I craved and stretched our budget back then to get.

Until today. I lost an auction for a doll backdrop – artcloth (whatever that is) printed with a photographic background just the right size to use for doll pictures. The ones I’ve seen are mailed from China, and normally run about $21. to $23., the one I wanted was a stunning waterfront pier on markdown for $18. – which sat there with my lonely only bid until just before it closed. Arrgh. The seller had about eight I really liked, but at $20-something each, I needed the most versatile one possible ! At least, until I could afford another one or two. I went for this one because of that, and it was slightly cheaper, but getting outbid kinda shot my plans.

I snagged the image anyway, thinking maybe I could print it out at the Library and still use it, although it’d be too small to be very useful. And at 30c a page, glossy finish on thin copy paper…it just didn’t seem I’d get what I wanted out of it even then. And I’d probably have to deal with copyright hawks if I took it to an actual copy shop. Shame there weren’t very many photographic scrapbook papers out there. Looked for some. Wash out.

So I remembered and started thinking about my old stash of backdrops I’d amassed for what I was sure to be years of digital doll photos – yup, still there waiting, dozens of ‘em. I’d even subscribed to an occasionally useful image group that, out of every three e-mails, actually attached useable images, and harvested quite a few, years ago. But I got tired of endlessly deleting spam and scams, and bailed. Hmm…

Took that image of Abbey and the Wampa, and rediscovered how easy PSP made removing that snowflake background. Unfortunately, the blue of it blended a bit too much with the dolls, so the resulting image looked really bad and fake. Took a quick photo of ‘Sushi’, the sole remaining Catwalk Kitty in my doll herds – Calico was lost in a move last year or so – against a white backdrop, and that went better. Until I tried to fit her against a dark background digital image. Decreased the brightness and increased the shadows, blurred her a bit – and yeah ! That works ! That’s today’s first image.

I’d pulled up digital image packages on eBay, and soon found some I liked. Just for giggles, I cut/pasted an image directly from its auction page and used it with some other experimental techniques, and that became ‘Moondance’, here. By now, I’ve tumbled onto the idea that I kinda need to know what digital image I wanna use before I take the photo, because that determines whether I photograph white, grey, or black – or maybe something better I’ve yet to discover. It also determines where I should set light, if I can.

So, I’m really glad I didn’t win that auction.  Sure hope someone bids on mine tomorrow, when I get Fiyero listed. He lit no fires on DollPage, even with a reduced price. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Few minutes here, few minutes there... and Carlin says 'hi' from the deep !

Current Mood : Splashy !

Finally had a few spare minutes, so I went through stuff floating around the Arena. The quilting magazine the nice fabric seller gave me at the Flea Market was interesting, and had a cat applique I liked. Nothing else, though, so I scanned it and added the magazine to the Donations bag.

Then I went through the fridge, and added anything that was still safely edible to the stuffing I made for lunch. Yummy ! And with the exception of some green beans left from last night’s supper, we’re out of leftovers. Only problem is, the fridge looks rather bare without half-full bowls of miscellaneous bits filling them up ! I’ll probably give it another week or so, then cook up that other ham in the freezer…

Back at the Arena, I finally got to play with Carlin’s new ‘Siren’ tail. To be honest, I kinda hated taking her legs off, I felt like I was breaking her. I was surprised to learn she won’t stand with the pink fin part bent backwards, and it’s kind of a bit of balancing to get her to stand this way. Her headband isn’t even Mattel – it’s a Winx accessory from the shoe/wing sets – but it matches perfectly. I figure Carlin’s a ‘Splash’ siren, she only has the tail in water. Eventually, if Mattel ever makes Slow Moe, the tail will go on the CAM gargoyle boy I have standing in for Ghoulia’s main squeeze, and then he’ll become a stone merman figurehead. I’ll spray-paint the tail to match…or just paint the fins blue or black.

(sigh) Made the mistake of watching shows about collectors. Three episodes of the same show, and each one dedicated half to a dedicated doll collector. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised or dismayed that each collector was treated and/or portrayed as either an absolute loon or just plain creepy. I’ve read that doll collecting is the second biggest hobby in the US, but it’s not like respect comes with numbers. But it’s still sad to see these people either act to expectations or get edited to same.

It was a partial ‘me’ day today, but I was so sleepy from last night’s thunderstorm – we lost power to half the place for several hours, so we went out for a few groceries and storm-watched ‘til late – I mostly loafed. Luckily the fridge was on the still-working circuit. I have amazing luck finding markdown bags of salad that are still good, and it didn’t fail me last night, I scored two. We ate one as the storm raged, and I ate a third of the remaining bag for lunch. Caught up on some housework while Dearest Son was still at his grandparents’ – Beloved Hubby was picking him up after his classes – and vacuumed the floor. How we get a pound of leaves in a week amazes me. Next week, I’ll hafta start cleaning the back end of our place, although keeping the front end tidy is darn near a full-time job !

No takers on Fiyero / Matt O’Neill, which I pretty much expected. It’s nice that he’s had some lookers, though. Hope I’m not asking too much. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oh, yeah ! How can you resist ?

Current Mood : Worn and sleepy. 

Got Fiyero / Matt O’Neil listed on Dollpage today, even made him a Flickr set, so potential buyers can see my horrible sewing for him close-up. I’m really glad I got to offer him early, waiting ‘til the weekend to post him up on eBay was gonna drive me nuts. Waiting ‘til I had a semi-‘me’ day to take photos was a good idea - while they don’t look it, they took hours. And I still don’t have a single one that doesn’t show shine on his eyebrow. (sigh) Hope any buyers don’t think that’s a scratch. I think I remembered to say how almost perfect he is in the text…

So, in essence, my ‘one doll romance’ plans for my ‘me’ days have already begun – I spent nearly all my available time with Fiyero ! While I think I set a reasonable price for him on Dollpage, I doubt he’ll sell there, and he’ll end up on eBay. Not sure how I wanna do things there. I like to set my prices low, but I’m gonna be all kindsa upset if someone wins him for 99c ! I may have to set my first reserve price, which will still be pretty low. I’d just make his opening bid the lowest I’ll take for him, but that doesn’t encourage bidding at all. (grin) Every time I’ve set an auction with the option of Buy it Now or bidding, it always has gone to bids, and it always closed higher than the BIN price.

Only thing more addicting than shopping and bidding on stuff is selling yours ! I keep checking my e-mail and the sales page, over and over…

The ‘clean up’ lot I bought from a MLP message board seller came in yesterday – that’s where the CAM dress Abbey wore came from. I love it all ! Just not sure what I’m gonna do with Skelita’s rolling luggage. And I went ahead and ordered the MH drawer knob off eBay. Too expensive for what it is, but it’s not like I’m ordering a dozen. Not gonna buy anything else until some of my stuff sells, though !

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Current Mood : Sweet and cute !

Two great things that work well together – a ‘new’ (to us) CAM dress, and an older kids’ meal toy ! Abbey gets a new dress from the lot I bought from a MLP board member and an older Burger King mini stuffed Wampa creature from a Star Wars promotion I don’t even remember. I like to think this was Abbey’s from her childhood, her parents sent it along in a care package, with the usual Yak Cheese Chips, deep frozen buuz, and traditional family recipe boortzog - very popular among her friends with adventurous palates. But just seeing “Mister Growler” again makes her all misty-eyed. Aside from its uber-cute size, I’m not even sure why I kept it, but I’m glad I did ! It was one of the props I pulled out during last week’s ‘me’ day extravaganza.  It’s also one of my newest backdrops, from Michael’s scrapbook paper sale. Pretty !

In preparation of tomorrow’s ‘me’ day –  I already know I’ll be spending most of that time running errands with Beloved Hubby – I tackled four loads of laundry and a double sinkload of dishes today. Washed, dried, turned right-side-out if needed, and put away. I also wrote up Fiyero’s ad text, but I think I’ll change my departure schedule for him. My original plan, to get everything ready to put him up on eBay this weekend, will probably stay the same, but if my photos tomorrow come out well, I may go ahead and list him on Dollpage, see if he sells there. If not, I can cancel the listing on Dollpage and go ahead with eBay, if he does, yay !, no payin’ eBay commissions. Only thing is, with an auction, I can list him for ten bucks and see how the sale goes, but with Dollpage, I gotta come up with a price and shipping when I list him. Hmmm…guess I’d best find a box !

Oh, forgot something else I should have told you yesterday. While prowling around Hobby Lobby, I ended up in the ‘Kids Party’ section, and saw something familiar. A party favor pack much like the MH ones I’ve bought, just with colorful generic toys instead of branded ones. One even had those tiny notebooks, just like the MH ‘Decomposition Books’, but in bright colors. Hm. Found the price – exactly the same as the MH ones – in fact, since I got one at Mal-Wart for $9., the licensed ones were a little cheaper. Still, I may snag one later, with a 40% off coupon, just for some variety.  

That’s the only problem with HLobby’s 40% off coupons. There’s always something else you wanna use one on !