Doll Surgery

 

 

 

Lately I have been trying my best to quell my wanting for new dolls. As it is, I do have a fair amount and rather than just to continue amassing more of them, it’s best that I try to focus on the ones I currently have. Though, I *did* pick up some recent acquisitions that I didn’t really even pay anything for. Yay free dollies!

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Wait? FREE?? Yeah, free. Ok, $3 and some change. But practically free. Some months back I signed up for a Toys R Us credit card. Basically, the card accumulates points for dollar that I spend. Those points add up to money back that I can spend at Toys R Us. This haul was the result of earning $50 worth of points. There are probably better options out there for cash back or rewards and certainly lower interest rates. But this post isn’t so much about the card, as this is really my first foray into credit cards. I avoided them like the plague through college and even now they scare me just a bit. I have personally known too many people get hurt by them. I do not advise getting a credit card unless you have enough income to not be struggling from paycheck to paycheck and/or have very strong will power. It is very easy to think that a line of credit is like an emergency fund. IT IS NOT. I spend my credit the way I would spend my debit card – on stuff I would normally buy that I have the funds for in the bank. Then I pay it off in full (not the minimum) and as soon as what I’ve spent posts to the account.  All of that said, let’s get into the dolls.

So, if you look at the above photo, you’ll see that I got myself three of the Made to Move (MtM)dolls and two Fashionistas. I’d had the brunette and Asian MtM dolls already. I got two more of them for the sole purpose of rebodying.

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Miss Candy Jumper (I haven’t yet given her an identity) didn’t quite match up with the brunette’s color. As you can see, she was a closer match to one of the Liv dolls I had laying around.

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Livs aren’t as wondrously articulate as MtMs, but, before MtMs came on the market, Livs were about the best that could be had in play line articulation. Unfortunately, Liv heads are

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Oops!

a much harder and less malleable material than Barbie heads. I had quite a bit of trouble. This doll did not wish to be decapitated. It was like I could almost hear her screaming. In the end, I pulled too hard and the little internal neck piece popped out and is now rattling inside the Liv head. But, I still want to use that Liv body, so, what do I do? I had to perform a trickier transplant…

 

Now, what you’re about to see may be gruesome. I extracted the part I needed from an older body in my dolly morgue. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It took some intense skill and precision on my part, but the transplant was successful! Let’s just hope these new parts aren’t rejected down the road. I don’t think Miss Candy Jumper wants to go through this ordeal again!

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¡Gracias! Puedo doblar mis rodillas!

Here are all the new dollies, out of the boxes and post-op (I’m still working on the 5th):

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So far, the only one I have a name for is the blonde curvy one. I’ve chosen to name her Diane, after my mother. I don’t really know why, she just reminds me of my mom. I’ll have to make her a new outfit (Mom was never one for dresses) and a little bandana.

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My mother being radiant. The tiny one is me, around 3 years old. Gonna say this was 1988.

 

 

It’s Something

Today is my day off from my day job. I have 3 tasks ahead of me today.

  1. A friend of mine is paying me to hem a pair of his scrub pants. It’s a quick and simple job. So I should get those done.
  2. The same friend also needs me to affix a couple of patches to the shoulders of his scrub tops.
  3. Another gentleman I know has asked me to med a pair of jeans for him. I’ve got plenty of scrap fabric, I’m just gonna patch them.

I suppose the first thing I should do is get dressed. That’s a bit problematic for me, because I’m laying in bed with 2 blankets on me. Well, they’re not really blankets as much as they are body heat insulators that protect me from the cold of the rest of the room. My body has a natural disinclination to the cold.

——- Editorial Time Jump ——-

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Patches done. I use wonder under  and an iron to affix patches.

One way to hem a pair of pants, the way I frequently use:

GEGet the inseam measurement you need – that’s the length along the seam from. Measuring a pair of pants that are a good length for you already works well enough, though it’s not as fine tune accurate as having someone measure your inseam while you stand in your underoo’s. But we’re talking maybe a half inch room for error here.

GEIf you do not know the outseam measurement – that’s the outside seam from waist to ankle, or the measurement you’re given (if they’re not your pants) is wrong or off, simply measure the distance from the bottom of the original hem to the hash-mark where your desired inseam hem is. In this case, it’s 6 inches. (6 3/16 inches, but I’m not that precise.) So, I measure 6 inches from the bottom on the outside seam and make a mark.

GEFold the leg inward so that the hash-marks are both are even and centered. Pin.

GESew.

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I like to tuck in the inside too. So,  from here, I turn the pants inside out, cut off some excess leg…Fold inward…Pin and sew

And here’s one way of patching holes (there are several):

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These are the jeans before I did anything to them. This is the downside of those expensive pre-torn jeans – they tear in ways you don’t intend for them to much easier because they’ve had a head start.

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Turn the clothing inside out. Pin scrap fabric to cover the hole.

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Sew. Be careful though, when you’re sewing far into a pant leg or a sleeve – you have to really bunch the rest of the leg or the sleeve to avoid sewing through layers of folded over material (i.e. sewing the pant leg/ sleeve to itself).

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This is how they look after the scrap had been sewn in. I still need to go in and hand sew that long tear, and I will probably do so decoratively. Like this:
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Things That Frustrate Me: Sewing Machine Help?

I’ve been working pretty steadily, sewing most of the day. Then, as I’m feeling a good rhythm, and nearing completion of some of the laptop bags I’ve been making, my sewing machine decides it wants to be a jerkface and throw a fit.

GEDoes ANYONE know what the heck this is? What causes it? How to fix it???

I’m at a complete and total loss. The machine will work perfectly fine, with no problems and then suddenly, BAM! It does this crap to me. What you’re seeing is the thread coming from the bobbin all jacked up. And it bunches and jams up the needle and I have to do battle with the machine to get my fabric back. It starts doing this out of nowhere and, if I’m lucky it’s a once or twice deal, but sometimes it will keep it up for hours before it manages to straighten itself out somehow. It makes me want to throw my machine out a window. These hissy fits that my machine throws waste a butt-load of thread. I often get upset and say, “Screw this” and go back to sewing by hand (which takes eons by comparison).

GEThis was taken the other week when it was doing the same thing.

Do any of you, my readers, have any experience with this? Can any of you offer me any help? I’ve had this machine for 11 years. My mother bought it for me. It’s a White 935.

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I actually meant to take pictures and post this a few hours ago, but then I had to hunt for my camera (it is a rather crappy camera, I know), which frustrated me even more.

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. 🙂

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…

 

The Finished Purse Yields Paid Work!

It’s been roughly a month since my last posting. I have since finished the purse I was working on (see parts 1 and 2) and after I took it to work, one of my co-workers paid me to replace the zippers in one of her higher end purses (and I am happy to report that she was pleased with the results). Around the same time, I had responded to an ad on Craigslist looking for a seamstress to do some custom work, and that sucked up about a good two weeks between design, production and fine tuning, but was worth it.

Anyhow, here are the photos of my purse!

The inside of the finished purse, from the top opening. You can see both the inside pocket zipper and the back zipper. The pillowcase turned out to make quite a nice lining indeed.

The purse from the back opening.