Doll Fever

Since my last posting, I’ve managed to acquire 6 more dolls and have made a few more outfits – aside from what I’ve sold on Etsy – Thanks to those who have purchased from me. In all the years I’ve had an Etsy shop, it has only been since Lammily became a thing that I’ve had such activity. It certainly seems like I’ve found a niche.

The first of my new dolls is this Ken doll my grandparents got me for my birthday. I lovingly refer to him as Nerd Ken. The only downside to him is that he can’t move very much. He has no real working joints. Barbie is the same way. So, I ended up purchasing another Ken doll from eBay with the intention to do a head swap. I haven’t gotten around to doing this yet, but I did make an outfit for him.

      GE   GE   GE
GE   GE  GE

Eventually I want to make a tie and a trench coat. I would like to OOAK (One Of A Kind) a John Constantine. I actually picked up yet another doll, the Divergent character 4, because I figured he might be my best bet at becoming Constantine. Though, in reality, it’ll most likely just be a Constantine cosplay because I don’t have much faith in my abilities to actually make a doll’s head look like Constantine’s. Not to mention, I now have concerns that the acetone that I would need to take the paint off his back would end up melting his back in the process.

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Work by Alexandre Pedreira

I’ve never really done any OOAK work before, but, like anything else, I’ve never let that stop me from trying. Although, I see so many really amazing OOAK dolls that I’m a bit intimidated. I actually really love Alexandre Pedreira’s work. (Fair Warning: Some of his dolls are anatomically correct and NSFW.) I don’t know how he does it, but he manages to get chest hair on his male dolls. He doesn’t just paint it on, but somehow affixes hair to dolls’ chests. I would LOVE to have a male doll with chest hair! When he does sell these dolls, they generally run around $200. For realistic chest hair, I would willingly pay that.

GEJust today I managed to snag 2 articulated naked Barbies from Salavation Army for a combined $2 and change. Their hair is a mangled mess and the brunette’s feet appear to have been chewed. However, these girls should serve good practice for learning how to re-root doll hair. I actually remember seeing a tutorial several years ago on how to re-root Blythe with human hair (Thanks, Anticraft! You guys have introduced me to so many neat things over the years. I can’t find the exact forum thread, but I remember I first saw this within your forums sometime in 2009). I think I may make the darker doll into a sister for Morrígan. I’m pretty sure I want to make the other doll a redhead (maybe a cousin of Morrígan‘s?) although I’m also debating putting Barbie’s head (I can only really have one Barbie actually called Barbie, all others will be given new identities) on this new doll’s body so she can move around. I’ve not entirely decided yet.

Mitsuko and Morrígan getting to know each other after Mitsuko moved in.

Mitsuko and Morrígan getting to know each other after Mitsuko moved in.

Perhaps my favorite of my new dolls is the Mixis doll. There are actually multiple Mixis dolls and this one is the Limited Edition Emerald Okada doll. The interesting thing about the Mixis dolls is that they are all supposed to be a mix of two or more races or ethnicities. The Emerald doll, which I have decided to rename Mitsuko Jones, is a blend of Black American, Native American, and Japanese. I think that’s pretty cool, and, while I only have the one Mixis doll right now, I intend to buy the rest as I have the means to do so. Mitsuko and Morrígan have actually become fast friends and have been spending a lot of time together.

Morrígan braiding Mitsuko's hair. This took *hours*

Morrígan braiding Mitsuko’s hair. This took *hours*

Morrígan introducing Mitsuko to Tarkan, her favorite singer.

Morrígan introducing Mitsuko to Tarkan, her favorite singer.

While I don’t intend to let my dolls completely take over every post on this blog, I have to say that right now I am having a lot of fun with it, and I’ve gotten compliments on my doll stories. So, there will be more doll stories in the future. I debated, briefly, about creating a secondary blog just to focus on dolls. However, I think the dolls can have a valid place within a blog that focuses on textiles, fashion, culture, communication, and art. Also, setting up an entirely new blog would just be a pain, so, I’m going to just roll with it. ::singing::: It’s my blog and I can do what I want to, do what I want to, do what I want to…

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Laptop Bag: Making a Pocket

A couple months ago, while I was working on some other artwork, I took apart an old dress I’d picked up from FreeCycle eons ago and had been hoarding because I loved the pattern. I’ve decided I want to make a laptop bag with it. However, there are some modifications I had to make to the original Instructables pattern.

See, isn't that a gorgeous pattern?

See, isn’t that a gorgeous pattern?

First off, the material isn’t as heavy as that of a suit jacket. So, I needed to add some moderately thick interfacing to give it some extra stability. I only have 2 kinds of interfacing on hand – very thin fusible web and some generic sew-in interfacing that I picked up from somewhere ages ago (probably from my paternal grandmother) and I don’t even think the company that made it is around anymore. I don’t want to make a trip to the store, so I went with the 20+ year old sew-in stuff. It’s awesome how well this stuff kept. The point is, if your outer material is on the thin side, just about anything will do to stabilize it. If I didn’t have any interfacing, I could have used a layer of some slightly thicker fabric to add more durability.

The other thing I have to do is to create my own pockets. See, the beauty of using a suit jacket is that it already has pockets, so you don’t have to make them yourself. It’s a time saver, it really is. It can be a bit of a pain to draft and construct a pocket where none previously existed, but it can be done. Here’s how:

GE1) Measure out on the back where you need the hole for the pocket mouth to be. I do this my marking the center line. Then, you’ll want the mouth to be about 2.5 – 3 inches from the top. I decided I want my pocket to be about 5 inches wide, so, I made sure to put that 2.5 inch mark on that center line. You can use a rotory cutter or good scissors to carefully cut along that line.

Ignore the stitching along the sides. I had to play around with the pocket installation before I got it right. Also, you can tell the top bar hasn't been trimmed yet.

Ignore the stitching along the sides. I had to play around with the pocket installation before I got it right. Also, you can tell the top bar hasn’t been trimmed yet.

2) For each pocket I made, I cut out a rectangle of lining fabric about 5.5 -6 inches wide (wider than the mouth hole) by anywhere from 12-14 inches. It all depends on how deep you want your pocket. Say you want your pockets 6 inches deep. Since you’ll be folding the piece of lining in half, multiply the number of inches (in this case 6) by 2. Then, use some scrap piece of the outer material to line the top edge of each pocket piece. You will need this piece of outer material to blend in when pushing back the edges of the opening creates an open space. You’ll see what I mean later.

3) Starting with the bottom edge, face the right (face) side of the pocket to the right (face) side of the bag face, lining the edge of the pocket along the edge of the mouth hole. Pin into place and then sew. Go ahead and sew along the entire length of the pocket piece, even if it’s wider than the mouth hole. You can always use a seam ripper to pull out a stitch or two if you need to later.

GE4) Now you’re going to do the same thing with the top edge. Kind of loop the pocket lining over so that the edge of the right (face) side of the pocket runs along the top line of the mouth hole.  Sewing this one with a machine can be a little tricky, but it can be done.

GE5) Push the pocket into the mouth hole. Very carefully, work the edges of the mouth hole , pinching the edge from the pocket and the face, creating a smooth seam edge. Pin as you go. Pay particular attention to the two sides of the pocket slot. This is where you may need to take out a stitch or two – but just enough that you can push the pocket edges all the way in and create a smooth edge all the way around. Now, stitch around the pocket slot, making sure you don’t sew the pocket shut.

6) Sew the sides of the pocket shut.GE

Tada! You have created a pocket! I told you it was a pain in the ass, didn’t I? Now do you see why you needed that matching fabric at the top of the pocket piece?GE

Revisiting An Old Project: Laptop Bag

A couple years ago, my boyfriend emailed me a link he’d seen on making laptop bags out of men’s suit jackets (and strongly hinted that he wanted one). The pattern and instructions are over at Instructables. If you’re interested in making one, I suggest clicking that link, as I’m not going to be redundant here. 🙂

One of the things I would recommend if you’re going to make one would be to use some upholstery grade thread and denim or leather needles, as you’ll eventually end up pushing very thick layers of material through your machine. My poor little machine was crying for mercy when I made one of these bags for Neil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      O

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now that I’m gearing up for this weekend’s Race Street Bash, I’ve decided to create more of these laptop bags, using the original Instructables pattern as a basis from which I will variate. Come back tomorrow evening for the first of these variations!

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.

Finishing the Rag Rug: What I have learned

I first began working on the rag rug just shy of a year ago. (You can read all about the humble beginnings here) I had never woven anything before, on a loom or otherwise, but I wanted a way to use some material I had laying around and wanted to try out the technique. I always get excited to try something I’ve never done before, I always jump into these big projects head on and learn as I go… I’m actually kind of surprised I even managed to make a small practice swatch! That being said, I ran into several points of frustration that resulted in long periods of walking away from the rug to work on other things, which is why it took me so long to finish. This is how I learn though, through experimentation.

Trial and Error Learning

Experimenting with dye:

I knew I wanted to make my rug black and red. I also knew I didn’t want to have to go out and buy a lot of new fabric either (as that would be expensive as well as defeating the purpose of utilizing old material), so I thought it would be wise to dye some old white bed sheets to the colors I wanted. That should be easy, right? Oh boy was I ever wrong! Not only did I spend hours cutting and dying fabric (note: dye first, _then_ cut!), but I made a mess and all I had to show for it in the end was some pink and grey fabric. For all the other dye noobs out there: Rit is no good if you want strong colors. Do some research before jumping head first, which is what I should have done.

Types of fabric:

While most of my material came from old bedsheets (cotton is awesome), I wanted to use what I had handy as well. This meant cutting some strips from old pants as well as an old satin sheet set I’d had for some years that was worn from cat claws. Satin frays like a mother and, while it certainly made use of the material, using it was a giant pain. The fabric from my old pants was thicker than the other material, and while that’s not really a problem in itself, I should have cut them into thinner strips, as the difference in thickness contributed to the my other major problem…

GAUGE!

Notice that pink/ grey piece in the center, I wanted to make sure my dying efforts weren’t for naught, and it serves as a reminder of my journey in making this rug.

 

Just as with knitting or crochet, gauge is important. Gauge, for those readers who may be unfamiliar with the term, is the tension and tightness or looseness of a knit, weave, etc. When you are following a pattern and knitting asweater, you want your gauge to match that listed in the pattern or the sweater will be too big or too small. The problem with this rug is that the gauge is not uniform. The gauge is super tight at the top and very loose toward the middle. So, how do I fix it? I do not want to unravel all my hard work and re-do it. I can either tighten up the lower rows or I can add some material to the upper rows or some combination to even it out. However, no matter how I go about it, there is no getting around that this is going to be another time consuming process. It’s quite aggravating when I really want to be done with it and get some use out of it, not to mention, I’d like to move on to other projects.

 

Purse Repair and Updates

After a wonderful 2 weeks in North Carolina, I had to return home and return to work. I had hoped to have some pictures of Neil’s baby nephew wearing the shirt I made for him, but sadly, when Neil and I left to drive out to visit his brother, we both forgot to bring the box of baby clothes. We did, however, leave them in NC with his Dad to give to the baby later next month. So, pictures are still to come, they just have a longer wait than I originally anticipated.

While I was on vacation, I took advantage of the time to read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. If you’ve been following my Facebook page (click on the “like” button in the Facebook widget to the

overdressed_bookright of the blog), you’ve already seen my praises for this book and that I feel everyone needs to read it. What happens in the textile industry and how clothes are consumed does not stay in the textile industry. It has direct ties to the economy, unemployment and the struggle for a living wage/ fair labor practices, the environment, and how arable land is used just to name a few.
If you’re like me, you can’t really afford to buy “new” clothes anyhow, even the fast fashion from the mall or Target. I buy almost all of my clothes second hand, or I make my own. But when you DO buy new clothes, you should understand the power your dollars really do have. No matter where you get your clothes, it could be worth the time to learn how to alter and/or repair them yourself to make them last and fit better, or find a local seamstress or tailor to do the work for you (and help support your local economy while you’re at it).

It is in the spirit of repairing and keeping what I already have and getting it’s full use that I am fixing one of my purses. This backpack purse was actually my very first purse. My father got it for me when I was in 6th grade. I never really used it until I started riding my bike more than driving my car – the little black backpack purse was both cute and effective for carrying while on a bike. However, the lining inside my little purse ripped and I’d been having issues with my keys and other things falling through into the no man’s land between lining and purse. Not really having any lining on hand and knowing cotton is sturdier anyway, I chose to re-purpose an old pillow sham.

The old lining, after taking a seam ripper to my purse. I used the original lining as a pattern for the new.

New lining.

The inside of my gutted purse.

I still have to do the actual sewing yet, but wanted to share the start with you all the same. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!