A Tale of Two Dolls: Part II

It’s been quite a busy week and a half since my last posting. I’ve been helping Barbie rehabilitate after speGEnding several years in a box. I’ve given her a good scrub down, washed her hair, found her better clothes, and have been bringing her up to speed with technology – she remembers the internet, but last time she was on a computer, Windows 95 was the standard. She spent an entire night last week just on Youtube watching cat videos! She’s been on my computer almost every day. It had become a routine that I would get home from work and have to kick her off so that I could use it. So, you can imagine my surprise when I came home yesterday evening and found Barbie asleep on the couch and Morrígan sitting at my laptop instead!

Morrígan’s eyes were so transfixed on the screen she barely noticed as I sat next to her on the bed. “What’cha reading?” I asked.

GEShe didn’t respond, but looked down at her feet. I leaned over, curious as to what the matter was. On the screen were several open tabs – blog posts and youtube videos – all making the same general statement: Lammily dolls are fat, boring, and ugly. A pain seared through me. I looked down at Morrígan, who was trying hard to hold back tears. “Don’t listen to them,” I said, bringing her into my arms, “these are only a handful of people. Do you know how many people love and support you?”

She nuzzled into my shirt. “Why are they so mean to me? I didn’t do anything to them! Why do they hate me so?”

I didn’t know how to answer her. How could I explain something I didn’t fully understand myself? “Well, I’m not entirely sure. Sometimes people just really like what they already know. Maybe they see how you’re not exactly like the other dolls and they don’t like the change.”

Hearing the commotion, Barbie awoke from her slumber and came upstairs. “What are you guys talking about? Is there a new cat video?”

Morrígan pointed toward the laptop, “They’re saying how ugly I am and how pretty you are and that you inspire imagination and fantasy and that I am boring!”

“Oh. That. Well, you’re just going to have to deal with it,” Barbie said with an air of authority, flipping her hair with her hand, “Take it from someone who has been in this business for a very long time: You’re going to have people who criticize and hate you no matter what. So you might as well get used to it.”

I did not appreciate Barbie’s tone. I could sense that maybe this was some false bravado. “Morrígan,” I asked, “can you give us a moment?”

After Morrígan left the room, I gave Barbie a chance to explain herself. “Why are you acting this way, Barbie? Is there something you’re not telling me?”

There was a silence for several minutes. And then Barbie sat at the computer and pulled up another list of blogs and videos that ridiculed and poked fun at her for being unrealistic and damaging to girls. She looked at me sheepishly. “Let me see if I’m understanding you correctly,” I said, “you felt bad about yourself, so, you decided to act tough and try to bring Morrígan down?”

She nodded. I pulled her close and held her the same way I had Morrígan earlier. “Barbie, you have done so much for little girls by going forward and holding so many jobs that, at one time, girls never aspired to – you’ve been a doctor, an astronaut, a pilot, a business executive, and since you’ve been in that tote, you have even run for President of the United States! You’re not perfect and there are some legitimate concerns around body image issues and racial diversity, but these are issues that can be addressed. But, no one is perfect and your faults should not detract from your strengths. But,” I told her, “You really do owe Morrígan an apology.”

Barbie hopped off the bed and went to find Morrígan, who was laying on a pile of fabric in the sewing room. Barbie sat down next to her and put her hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry I was a jerk downstairs. Thing is, the internet has been really mean to me, too. I’ve been reading all of these posts saying I’m horrible, that I’m unrealistic, and worst of all, they say that I’m hurting the children I’ve always been trying to help. I can’t help the way that I look, this is how I was made,” she slumped over, “Now I feel awful. I hate the way I look now.”

GE

I took a deep breath and walked into the sewing room and addressed both the dolls. “I don’t know why society has such a hang up on women’s bodies and looks. Or why people love to sensationalize or focus on the negative. It is true that the Lammily dolls were created in response to a need for a more body positive doll. But that doesn’t mean you should hate your body, Barbie. Your proportions won’t work for a human, but that’s ok because you’re not a human – you’re a doll. No one should feel bad about the body they’re in. People come in all shapes and sizes. Now dollies are starting to come in different shapes and sizes.”

“So, there isn’t any one standard of beauty?” asked Morrígan.

“No,” answered Barbie, “and there shouldn’t be.”

************

Morrígan Makes a Friend: A Tale of Two Dolls

After my Lammily doll, Morrígan, became a gateway into the doll world for me, my grandmother decided it was time to give me this old storage tote. She informed me that the tote was full of old Barbie dolls that were leftover from my childhood. Intrigued and hoping to find dolls I could experiment re-roots and re-paints on, as well as potential friends for Morrígan, I lugged the dusty old tote into my apartment. I had no idea what I would find. Morrígan came downstairs to see what all the fuss was about. “What is THAT?” she asked.
“It’s a tote,” I said, “full of trinkets from my childhood.”
“Can I open it?”
“Go ahead. I’ll let you catalog the entire thing.”

GE

Morrígan stands, gazing at the tote of wonder.

What treasures lay hidden within your walls?

What treasures lay hidden within your walls?

Like finding sarcophagi, all the burial shrouds of the dead toys would needs to be removed to reveal the mummies inside.

Like finding sarcophagi, all the burial shrouds of the dead toys would need to be removed to reveal the mummies inside.

Some old stuffed animals, carefully packaged Beanie Babies that we once swore would be worth millions, and a dozen ceramic keepsakes were what we could see. At the bottom, buried under everything else, was a single Barbie doll: A mid-90’s remake of the original design. Her dress, her hair, and her body were smeared and blotched.

“Who is she?” asked Morrígan.
“Someone I haven’t seen since I was a child. Her name is Barbie,” I answered.
There was a sharp gasp. Barbie was waking up. I helped her to a chair as she tried to orient herself. “Where am I? Who are you? No… wait…” Barbie looked at me closely. She recognized me. “You’re so much older! How long have I been in that tote?”
“I think that answer might depress you. Here,” I motioned for Morrígan to sit in the empty chair, “there’s someone I’d like to introduce you to.”

GE

Barbie recounts her harrowing experience to Morrígan.

As Barbie rested to regain her strength, the two dolls faced each other. “Is this who everyone tells me I’m trying to replace?”, thought Morrígan. She looked over at me and then back at Barbie. She watched the stranger fall asleep in her chair and her mind began to stir with questions. So many questions.

**************************** To Be Continued ******************************

Creating a Narrative

“Beylerbayan Apek of Orhanli Beylerbeylik” by Gambargin on DeviantArt

Months before Lammily was completed and shipped out, she had a passport that could be customized by the buyer for each individual doll. The idea here is that while each doll is a Lammily doll, she could have her own, unique name and, by extension, her own personality or story variant. Indeed, so many of the Lammily dolls I come across in the Facebook groups have been given wonderful names and a few have developed personalities that are evident in the outfits the dolls are dressed in and the way they’re posed and talked about — yes, adults still have license to engage in imaginative play. It has taken me some time to find an identity for my doll.

The basic Lammily character story is that she is well traveled. This is a nod to the fact that her initial backing came from contributors all over the world. It’s a narrative that I like and that I think fits especially well with some of the themes of this blog – this is A’Cloth the World after all. The little booklet she comes with talks about some of the different countries she has been in – Canada, France, Australia, Italy, England, the United States – all Western countries. So, I’m imagining some of her travels into other parts of the world – Japan, India, Turkey – and some of the friends she might make and clothes she might wear. I’m trying to imagine where she might be from originally – just because I’m American doesn’t necessarily mean she is. I mean, she might be. But maybe she’s British? Or maybe she’s Spanish? Or Turkish? Or Russian? Or a combination of any of these? Because of her brown hair and tan-ish skin tone, there are a half dozen plausibilities – each of which provides an opportunity to learn about different clothing traditions and some history.

I’m actually kind of enjoying constructing a backstory for my doll. It makes me feel very nostalgic – I used to write short stories and fan fiction frequently when I was younger. I just have to be careful I don’t get so sucked into the details that I forget to sew anything, lol!

As of this evening, I have officially named her and we (yes, my doll and I – don’t judge :P ) are on our way to hashing out her story. Her name is Morrígan Çelik. Her mother is Irish and her father is Turkish. She is intelligent and curious, but very headstrong. Her mother would tell her the story of Cuchulain before bed and she would dream of epic battles and facing down snarling dogs with her bare hands. Her father taught her how to play the bağlama as a child and she plays as a way to relieve stress after a long day. (I will now have to figure out how to make a doll sized bağlama, lol.) Morrígan is a huge fangirl – she has posters of David Tennant, Tarkan, Imran Khan, and CM Punk on her wall.

Handmade Lammily Fashions – Inspirations

Have you seen the Handmade Lammily Fashions group over on Facebook? I started this group just a month ago and there are already 116 members. I find so much inspiration in seeing all of these talented individuals posting pictures of their creations. I love seeing people create and develop personalities for their dolls. I see the way members help each other by sharing advice, tips, and discoveries and the way they all compliment each other and it lifts my spirits on a bad day. Here are some of the clothes made by members who have given me permission to share their work:

Amber McGlynn:

AmberTMcGlynn1 AmberTMcGlynn2 AmberTMcGlynn3

Armel Pélardy‎:

ArmelPélardy‎2 ArmelPélardy‎1

Deborah Griggs:

DeborahSGriggs1 DeborahSGriggs4 DeborahSGriggs3 DeborahSGriggs2

Deluded Martita:

DeludedMartita5 DeludedMartita4 DeludedMartita3 DeludedMartita2 DeludedMartita1

Julie Soper:

JulieSoper1

Oph Bruneau:

OphBruneau2 OphBruneau1

There are many more wonderful works over on the group page. I encourage you to give it a look :)

Dolly Got Back: Making Pants for Lammily

GE

One of the wonderful things about the Lammily doll is that she has realistic proportions. As a result, Lammily actually has a booty. This is both a blessing and a curse. Trying to form pants to fit a larger derriere is hard enough with people -The Struggle is Real -but trying to form pants to Lammily’s rear is downright frustrating. Unlike a fleshy behind, her hard plastic butt has no give – no muffin tops for this girlie. Even the shorts she came with can’t handle the pressure when she sits.
Seriously, they look so nice until she sits.

GE GE GE GE
So, trying to figure out the right way to make this doll a pair of jeans that will look just as good when she’s sitting as when she’s standing has been a daunting task with multiple fails.

The first thing I did was to try to draft a pattern the way The Fashion Doll Stylist demonstrated with her dolls.  This was the pattern I derived from that exercise:  I suppose they could work with some adjustments. I’m sure I’ll use this pattern for dress pants.

GE GE GE

I tried just playing around with trying to form the jeans to her seated. This mostly resulted in ridiculous sketches and a lot of chopped up fabric as I tried to figure out what I was even trying to do.

GE GE GE GE GE

I then decided to try to approach her jeans just the way I would pants for a person with more seat cushion. I turned to various sewing books on my shelf that weren’t much help. Then I found this tutorial – Full Butt Alteration for Jeans. So, I set to work again.

Now, if you follow the A’Cloth the World Facebook page or are a member of my more recent pet project, the group Handmade Lammily Fashions (also on Facebook), then you’ve already seen some of these photos and have read a bunch of my real-time frustrations.

GE GE GE GE

I don’t even want to think about how many hours I put into this, but I managed to make a pair of jeans that look like they’re comfortable and manage to work both standing and sitting. Of course, they’re baggy. This is, of course, what I was going for. However, I cannot currently imagine how skinny jeans might be constructed for her. I don’t think I’m committed enough to buy a pair of Apple Bottoms just to deconstruct them to see how they’re made. I’ve received plenty of compliments on these pants, but, I’m not entirely happy with them. I’m sure they could greatly be improved upon – I’m just too worn out to try right now. Until I *do* tweak them just right, I’m not putting them up on Etsy – although the girl power hoodie is up for sale. But, I did share the pattern over on the Handmade Lammily Fashions group page in case anyone wants to try making them.

GE GE GE GE

In Love with Lammily

Lammily the day she came home.

Lammily the day she came home.

This is a post I really should have written before now. I’m sure by now most of you have heard of the new Lammily doll – she’s made with proportions that are equivalent to that of the average 19 year old female in the United States – average here is defined by the stats obtained through the Center for Disease Control (CDC). But, this post is not to educate you about Lammily’s story – if you’d like to learn more about that I will direct you to these others articles and postings:

Back in March, when Lammily was being crowd-funded, I ordered 2 of these dolls. My primary thought was to get one for Ava-face Baby-head for when she gets older (she’s nearly 1 year now) and to keep the other for myself in the box (just in case these dolls gets super popular).

My little baby cousin, Ava-face Baby-head.

My little baby cousin, Ava-face Baby-head.

However, as time went by, I could feel myself becoming more and more anxious for Lammily to arrive. When she finally did arrive, I was so excited that I could not resist taking her out and playing with her. And so it has been, for roughly a month since I took her out of her box, that I have found myself spending hours putting her into poses to take her picture to share online and, what I really enjoy – making clothes for her.

See, because Lammily has proportions that are so novel to fashion dolls, she currently has no other options for clothing beyond what she was dressed in. I don’t know why I’ve gotten so enthused over a doll or making clothes for her – perhaps she’s brought out my inner child – but I am. But, I know, that for months I haven’t been making anything. I haven’t felt anything worthwhile, creatively. Even the mess I was working the last time I posted (which was months ago, as seems to have become the norm), never really became anything. I tore up some pictures and I ironed them to some fabric and then it all just sat in a pile on the floor in my craft room for months before I eventually picked it up and moved it. But this doll, I don’t know, I’m actually making stuff and having something to show for my work when I’m done. So, at least for now this is has become a thing.

If you’re on Facebook and are so inclined, I’ve created a Facebook group called Handmade Lammily Fashions that you might be interested in joining. I figure it can be a place where we can show off all the neat stuff we make for this doll and share patterns and tips (which, I will likely post here as well).

Lammily taking a tour of my workplace:

GE   GE   GE

Some of the shirts I’ve made for Lammily so far:

GE   GE   10329691_674385522667050_5582808974170752062_o

I Am Creating…. Something

Has it been forever again? I believe it has! When last we met, I was in the middle of packing. I have since moved, finished unpacking, and have started to settle into my new home. And hey, check it out, I have actual sewing/crafting space again!

GE

GE

I can make a giant mess in the throws of creativity and come back to it as it was and not have to spend an hour just trying to figure out what I was in the middle of doing! :D It’s wonderful!And check out the storage space!

GE

GE

And now that I am settled in, I am reminded that there is a Hatch 2015 deadline coming up.. soon. So, I am creating.. something. I don’t really know what yet. This is one art baby that I won’t know what it is destined to be until it decides to show me. So far, I’m working with last year’s wall-calendar, double-sided fusible web, and an old lace curtain I picked up a few years back.

GE

GE