The People’s Dolly

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It’s been just over a year now since Morrígan (my Lammily doll) arrived at my door, moved into my heart, and gave me doll fever. I’ve sung her praises many times on this blog, but today I want to sing the praises of her creator, Nickolay Lamm, and the Lammily company.

When Lammily first came out, there weren’t many options for clothes for her. Her selling point was that she has realistic proportions that, scaled up, would result in a woman with a healthy body. This, and the fact that the company was brand new and figuring things out, meant that there just weren’t many options for her. She couldn’t swap clothes with many other dolls, certainly not with the usual suspects. This gave birth to a DIY market and community – Etsy sellers like Phyllis ShermanHelena HannukainenOph Bruneau, and Em Carroll began making Lammily clothes. I decided to create Handmade Lammily Fashions on Facebook, which was followed by an offshoot group, Lammily Enthusiasts (both groups have mutual respect for and collaborate with each other). We were small but we were mighty. A representative from the company joined Lammily Enthisiasts, where she would interact with and answer questions for eager Lammsters. Soon after, Lammily Enthusiasts became the Official Lammily Fan Group.

As Lammily’s success grew, the company aired their first commercial which let’s us see our girl interacting in the already established Doll World.

In the most recent commercial, Lammily takes time to give homage to the iconic toys and dolls that have come before her, pointing out that without them, she would not exist.  The driving image is showing this doll as an equally valid and inclusive player – not elite, not better-than-the-competition, but just as good. She can play with and fit in right alongside your other dolls. I think that’s big.

Something I have been extremely impressed with in recent months has been  how Mr. Lamm not only acknowledges Lammily’s DIY crowd and fan-base, but is actually *very* supportive of it. On their website, an option right along their “World of Fashion” clothing, are the “Handcrafted Limited Editions“. Further, what you will see when you sign up for their mailing list and start getting their emails, is that he introduces you to the DIY lady responsible for the handmade clothes.

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Screen shot of a Lammily Email

So far, I am really impressed with Mr. Lamm and his company. Between all I’ve stated and the fact that she was the product of a Kickstarter campaign, I don’t think I’d be out of bounds to go so far as to consider Lammily “The People’s Dolly”. (As much as a representative of capitalist consumer culture can be, anyway. The irony isn’t lost here, only amusing.)

Now I just need to learn more about how the dolls themselves are made. From what I understand, though, the company ensures that every step of the doll-making process is done at factories that don’t take advantage of their employees.

I Like Fashion…

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My friend, Brieanne, who has never been afraid to be herself.

…I say, though I feel insecure.
I like fashion, I think, though you’re just not so sure.
You look so presentable, with glamour and flair.
I’m wearing a tshirt and do I know I have hair?

“I like fashion,” you say, citing trends, naming names.
“Who are they?” I wonder, “Why does anyone care?”
“You need the right top, with that skirt, not too tight.
You know what I mean. Keep it classy, alright?”

“You don’t want to dress like you’re old or too young.
This color goes with that. Are you having fun?”
What I wear is expressive, it tells the story of me.
Can you tell I spent time? Picked out the right tee?

This one says “Free Palestine” another says “Dream”.
I look at the labels to learn where they’re seamed.
“Who made your jacket?” I’ll ask, you’ll reply.
“Oh this? It’s from [insert some designer]’s line.”

Yes, but who made it, and what were they paid?
Would you pay what it’d cost, if they made a living wage?
How ’bout your blue jeans? Would you wear them if
you knew their dyes were toxic? Go on, give us a spin!

Rana Plaza. April 24, 2013. 1,129 dead. 2,515 injured. Photo by Ismail Ferdous

Triangle is old, Rana Plaza is new.
One brought about change, the other should too.
Our clothing defines us, it’s a cultural thing.
Ideology, religion, and more do they sing.

The boy with his collar popped, the girl who’s gone goth.
This group or that group? Is it really just cloth?
Break down the boxes! No labels! We’re Done!
At the end of the day, we all want to belong.

“I like fashion,” you say, in your elegant heels.
Wrapped in your rayon scarf – you love how it feels!
You look at me, in my worn out gym shoes.
You’d never guess, I care about fashion too.

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:

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Armel Pélardy‎:

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Deborah Griggs:

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Deluded Martita:

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Julie Soper:

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Oph Bruneau:

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

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:

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

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Stop Telling Us What to Wear: Mini Rant

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Yesterday, while I was at the library, I picked up a copy of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing our Daughters from Marketers Schemes by Sharon Lamb, Ed.D and Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. I’m only about 40 pages in so far, but it’s already been something of an eye opener. I’ve been aware of rampant consumerism and the way the clothing industry tries to push people (not just girls and women) into the little categories it wants us to be in (male/female, preppy/rebel/geek, “urban”/”rural”, etc) for awhile and I’ve been aware of the brand-worshiping aspect of consumer culture for as long as I’ve been scratching my head over the importance of wearing clothes just because there was a certain word or logo on it (that happened around age 9, when I moved to a new school and everyone seemed to have to wear stuff from The Limited or Limited Too and if you weren’t wearing those clothes then ohmygodwhatiswrongwithyou?). However, it turns out that there’s a little more than I ever wanted to admit going on.

What I have gotten out of this book, thus far:

  • There is always this push to make girls want to be older, faster. This is nothing new to me, but, they’re marketing “bras” and pretty underwear and bikinis to 4 year olds now. *4*!!
  • Girls are being pushed into camps from a early age
    1. Camp 1: pink, the classically feminine color is soft and sweet (which there is now a bit of a split in the pink camp, with the pastel hues reflecting innocence and bolder hues (or pared with black) reflecting a bit of a sexier edge.
    2. Camp 2: red, a bold and assertive color.
    3. From the book, “The red girl is the girl who is not like the other girls can develop into not liking what makes those other girls who they are, putting them down for being too girly and weak. The girl wars mentality we see in the media is often between girly girls and tomboys, between what we fear starts out as the pink girl and the red girl.”
  • The same items are marketed to 6 year olds and 13 year olds.
  • The hetero-normative push into what is supposed to be the most important thing on a girl’s mind: Boys! (which, even I fell victim to with the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync when I was 12-15) Stores are happy to sell all manner of trinkets and shirts that espouse love for whatever male teen star is hot at the time… and this is marketed to 8 and 9 year old girls as well as teens. Why would 8 and 9 year olds be concerned with the cuteness of boys? When I was 8, I was still listening to what my parents listened to (and Michael Jackson).

Like I said, I’m only about 40 pages in. However, while I was scrolling through teh internets, I came upon one of those stupid “what you should/shouldn’t wear” lists. From LifeScript: Healthy Living for Women (I’m already laughing, folks), is an article telling me the “Top 10 items [I will soon be] Too Old to Wear” Here are some of my favorites:

  •  I can only wear my beloved Tshirts that say stuff for another year and a month. According to this article, I have to retire my tshirts at 30 because, “the freedom to express yourself via your wardrobe is part of the teen and 20-something years… but beyond that?… ‘The message tee boom was fueled by Young Hollywood… it’s mostly a way for people to express frustration.'”  So, I guess I’m only allowed to express myself for another year, then I need to shut up and hand it all over to people younger than me.
  • Not that I like to expose my cleavage, but I am now aware that after 50, it’s no longer an option for me. That’s because, according to the article, “‘An older woman shouldn’t feel she needs to show it all off. Anything below the middle of your [bustline] has got to go,’ DeMartino says. ‘A little goes a long way,’ writes Krupp, who in her book bans excessive ‘boobage’ past the age of 40 and warns readers not to display too much sagging skin.”  That’s right, women who are 50+ need to cover up because they have “too much sagging skin” [read: not attractive anymore; gross – read: younger *should* show cleavage – read: women are to constantly be aware of, and compliant to, the male gaze]
  • Now, I don’t do much with my hair beyond a simple pony tail, because I don;t like it down and I’m too lazy to do anything else with it. BUT. If I feel like putting something cute in my hair (it happens), like my tshirts, I’m only allowed to don these items until I’m 30. Because, “whether it’s flowery scrunchies, banana clips or your daughter’s plastic kiddie barrettes, whimsical hair accessories are not fitting for a fully grown woman.”  For the record, my grandmother, a woman in her 60’s, wore a pretty red hair gizmo over the holidays -the first time I’ve seen her wear anything in her hair in my life – and I thought she looked fabulous.

Dear Internet, Marketers – Kindly stop telling us what to wear or not wear and stop pushing us into boxes. I’ll wear what I want, how I want, for as long as I want.

 

 

 

They’re Almost Pants!

This past week I have been working on making myself some cargo pants (See posts 1 and 2). While I had intended to have these pants completed by now, as always, life has had other plans for me. However, in contrast to the way the story normally works on this blog — I get busy, I don’t make time to update, 2 or 3 months later I write another post apologizing (like here.. or here), long time readers know the drill by now — I’m going to update with what I *have* managed to get done since last time (and force myself to accept the fact that I’m neither perfect nor able to juggle everything the way I’d like to).

Inside out, pinned together.

Inside out, pinned together.

Right side out, front side

Right side out, front side

Right side out, front side, pockets close up.

Right side out, front side, pockets close up.

Right side out, back side

Right side out, back side

As you can see, they are definately starting to look more like actual pants, and the pockets have turned out fairly well. However, between getting hung up on the zipper (this pattern has some oddly written instructions), work, surrendering the table to roommates for their gaming purposes, and spending time with my boyfriend (obligatory plug – check out his podcast sometime), I haven’t gotten further than this. Let us see what this next week brings.

 

 

 

What I Get For Thinking

From this point forward, no more promises… I promise.

So, I’m still not quite ready to show you all the completed jacket. After I finished installing the back panel and tacked on the new cuffs, I noticed something…

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… The outer edge of the cuffs, and on the wrist along the bottom of the cuff, are more spots that are fraying too badly for me to just ignore. The entire reason I am doing this creative upcycle is prolong the life of this jacket for my friend. If I don’t do anything with these worn spots, they will eventually get worse. Well, even without those spots, the jacket will still eventually wear down, but I’m aiming for later rather than sooner.

As a result of this problem, I’ve been experimenting with different ideas on how to reinforce these weak zones without just throwing more patches on them. So, I had one crazy idea that I spent way too much time on only to fizzle out on me. I thought that perhaps I could use a decoratively cut strip of contrasting denim to cover those areas – providing the needed reinforcement while at the same time looking interesting.

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If you notice, while the band fits well at the cuff, it’s too short on the other side as the arm of the jacket begins to expand out. If I secure this band onto the jacket, it will cause bulging and puckering. So, now I need to come up with another idea. In the meantime here are some photos of the jacket showing the completed back panel replacement.

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In other news, I have about a week before I am set to share a table with another friend, Julia, at C4A’s Race Street Bash in Urbana, Illinois. This means the jacket is going on the back burner while I finish making things for that event. Given that the temperature has been in the 80’s this past week, I don’t think Melissa will be needing her jacket back just yet. Besides, as I’ve been experimenting on it, I’ve decided there are a couple more things I want to do, for the sake of aesthetics. 🙂

The Fitch Pitch: Socially Conscious Re-Branding?

So, I know that I had promised that my next post would be the finished jacket that I’ve been working on (See posts 1 and 2), and I promise to get to it. However, I saw this video in my Facebook news feed, and wanted to comment upon it.

I’ve never been all that keen on Abercrombie & Fitch (or American Eagle, or Hollister, or any of the other cookie cutter trendy fashion outlets for that matter). It’s just never been my style. When I was a teenager, I spent all of my hard earned burger flipping money at Hot Topic (which, 10-13 years ago actually carried some pretty awesome stuff). I still have my spiked leather collar… oh, memories. Of course, this was also before I woke up and started to learn about where all of my clothing came from and noticed the consumer machine I was taking part in. But, I digress…

A&F, like just about every other brand out there, is marketing to an audience and is pushing this image of what is physically and socially desirable. Everyone and everything around you is trying to influence you in some way. Our parents, our friends, the schools, the media, religion, all of it. How do you think culture is passed on? No one is born knowing anything or having any opinions or philosophies. We learn these things from the society around us, for better or for worse. At least the guy doesn’t deny he has an agenda. I don’t agree with his agenda, but, I give credit where it’s due.

So, the Fitch the Homeless campaign. I kind of like it in that they’re pretty much telling A&F, “Screw You and Your Elitist Crap!” And I also get that, generally, giving homeless people clothes isn’t a bad thing. Donating used clothes and keeping them from being trashed is certainly the opposite of the massive textile waste A&F creates by burning clothes (Seriously? Quit being such a dick.), so it’s doing some good there.
— Did you notice though, that they didn’t just shop some anonymous thrift shop, they went to Goodwill, and even made sure to flash the logo? The song, “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis also specifically names Goodwill and just recently Beyonce teamed up with Goodwill for her latest tour. I’m sure these are all just coincidences, and it’s likely just genericized trademarking at work, as Goodwill is one of the largest second hand companies internationally and perhaps the most widely known company name in the US, aside from Salvation Army, but 2 syllables is less hassle than 5. Sorry, Salvation Army, we’ll always remember you come bell ringing season.

Perhaps what rattles around my mind the most with regard to this Fitch the Homeless campaign, is that, it’s pretty much using the homeless people to combat this image that A&F is pushing. I’m sure they have the best of intentions and they just want to wake some people up to this system we live in, tarnish the A&F CEO’s elitist vision and hopefully get him to 1) Quit burning clothes that people could use 2) Realize people come in all shapes and sizes and 3) We already have a big enough self-body image problems and disorders stemming from them.  I also respect that in order to get people involved in a cause, you have to get that message out somehow, so why not make a youtube video and use social media to get people motivated, interested and interacting with your cause? It’s a very smart thing to do and hopefully it *will* get people involved and bring about some positive change. But, despite all their well-meaning, at the end of the day, they’re still juxtaposing the image of homelessness against the current conventional ideals of social desirability. They’re mad at A&F for saying “A is pure, we don’t want to be tainted with B” – which I wholeheartedly agree makes them douchebags – but they’re fighting this message by saying, “Hey, look! We’re tainting your precious A with B all over the place and there’s nothing you can do about it!”. This is still a problem.

Fringe Distractions and The Wonder of Fusible Web

Was my last posting really 3 weeks ago? Where did the time go?? I suppose I can blame a recent obsession with Fringe for part of my distraction. I discovered it was on Netflix and have been systematically working my way through the series (I’m currently into the first 2 episodes of season 3 for anyone who cares). Though I did just spend a week out of town visiting family, so, that played a role too. (I managed to get my grandmother hooked and now Walter (played by John Noble) has become her heart throb. It’s too cute.) For anyone unfamiliar with the show, here is the promo for it:

Whatever the reasons for my absence, I hath returned! And I have updates on the progress of the jacket I started working on last time.  The very first thing I did was to take out that upper back panel and the two cuffs, as they suffered the most damage. I ironed them out and used them as patterns to create new pieces. Because the front sections of the vest were too small by themselves to cover the entire back panel, I needed to combine them to create a big enough piece. So, I played around with them a bit – laying them out in different ways, trying to imagine how cut out pieces would look, how I would need to arrange them to both utilize as much of the decorative material as I could while trying to maintain some kind of visually pleasing aesthetic once the sections were to be joined with the denim.

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Now, while I am entirely replacing the more damaged pieces, there are other areas of the jacket that are worn down as well. The folded edge of the collar has a lot of wear on it. However, as the collar sits directly above the back piece that’s already been replaced, I can’t very well replace the entire collar without compromising the visual harmony of the jacket. But I couldn’t very well leave it to wear down further, otherwise I would be doing all this repair work only to have my friend’s beloved jacket wear out again in a short time. So, as an answer to both of these problems. I patched them from the wrong side with the help of some fusible web.

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This is actually the same thing I did when I realized the buttonholes from the vest were part of the back piece I’d cut out and installed. As I was predominately concerned with layout and fabric conservation, I managed to overlook them! However, a few pieces of scrap and some fusible web and the buttonholes were no longer an issue.

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Next time, I will show you all the finished project!

Productive Procrastination

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It’s the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful Sunday. I have 2 loads of clean laundry that needs to be folded and put away, my kitchen is a mess from all of the dirty dishes that have not only filled the sink, but have also piled up on the counter and stove, and one of my couches is still covered in various balls of yarn, purses and other odds and ends. I *should* be taking the time to clean this place. And I will, eventually, sometime before I go to sleep tonight. But for right now I am putting it off.

There is a lot to be said for procrastination and it isn’t necessarily all bad. Sometimes, when we put off doing one thing, we’re still being productive, we’re just not doing what we feel we are *supposed* to be doing. Walter Chen wrote a fantastic post over at 99U on this very idea. You should read it. It’s marvelous. Basically, what it boils down to is that, when you feel the urge to procrastinate, do it – but do it in such a way that you are still accomplishing something. If you’re not keen on doing your homework right now, what else needs to be done? Do that. I did a hell of a lot of that in college. For quite awhile when I was in school, my apartment was actually clean almost all the time. Why? Because I would put off finishing a term paper in favor of doing the dishes. I made a pair of denim bell bottoms, entirely hand stitched, in a matter of 3 days (less than that if you subtract sleep, work and classes) because I was putting off something else.

Of course, you still need to eventually get around to doing whatever it is you need to do. My boyfriend, who always has 5 million tasks that he has to juggle, frequently uses something called pomodoro. Basically, you work for about 25 minutes, then you break for 5 minutes, work another 25, etc.. and every 4th break is a longer one, about 15-20 minutes. I think this is great if you can get it to work for you. It apparently works for him. I haven’t been able to get it to work for me. I just don’t work that way. I generally start off at something slow, but then I get into a zone and I’m entirely focused on nothing else but what I am doing. While I was in college, this was often how I did my papers. I would agonizingly struggle with an introduction, but after that, things would flow, and I’d crank out 4-8 pages in a single night, and not even realize it was 4 AM and I’d stayed awake all night. It’s how I still do some of my artwork (although now that I work full time at a physically demanding job, I have to force myself to get some sleep, or pull most of my all-nighters when I’m off the following day). I want to note here that getting into a zone does not necessarily mean the day before a deadline. That will get you into trouble.

So, what am I doing instead of washing dishes and folding laundry? Aside from writing this post, which is in itself productive, I have been watching episodes of Fringe on Netflix while taking my seam-ripper to a vest and a jacket a friend has asked me to repair for her. Take a look at this jacket:

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As you can see, this isn’t exactly a simple repair. The back of the neck is damaged badly enough, and so close to the seam, that it has to be replaced. The cuffs too are pretty bad off. If one were interested, the other edges could be made raw and the cuff could be left as they were, and just re-fashion it to be intentionally fringed. But, I’m not going to be doing that GEhere. Instead, I will be replacing those cuffs and that back panel with sections from this vest, which my friend also gave me to use. I really like the colors and patterns in this vest and I think, if I do it right, it can look quite nice with the well-worn jacket. Now. To fold that laundry…