Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dolls in progress

The County Fair is soon and, as I didn't enter last year, I'm really hoping to get something for this year. Maybe even three dolls, for three different categories. My dining table, therefore, looks like this,
 I think the tornadoes are over, for the moment. I hope. The doll on the table was made all from my own pattern, taken from an idea I saw for making medieval clothes that fit properly. For the clothes, you took the intended wearer of said garb, put an old long sleeved t-shirt on them and then bound the t-shirt all over with duct-tape. I know! Perverse or what? Then, and this is the brilliant bit, you CAREFULLY cut the t-shirt off, down the places you would expect seams to go. Tidy it up, add seam allowances and you have a pattern. The link for  the method will go here ->

I thought, if it works for a chemise, why not for a doll. I'd wanted to make a smaller rag doll, but I'd never seen a pattern I liked. Fussy...

So, I bought a cheapy plastic doll whose body and limbs were the right size. He looked French, so I called him Plastique Bertrand. I wrapped him in used tumble-dryer sheets and then wrapped him in masking tape. When I cut it off, I pretty much had my doll pattern.

I need to work on the face a little. The first doll has a really hard jaw-line and I need to amend that and the arms, but otherwise I'm very content.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Butter Sticks

...You have to see this! This is why the internet is a wonderful thing! You meet up with wonderful people and they have great ideas and cool stuff!

This was sent to me from My Legacy. And, it's so cool!. I've made mine and here is the photo of it. I'm going to use it today, now I have taken some pictures, for buttering a frying pan (that's a skillet in Brit-speak) before pan-frying fish for dinner.
Here is the butter stick. No label, yet.

And here is the butter stick, with butter. It really is as easy as it sounds.

So, thank you SO MUCH to My Legacy, for sending me the push-up pots. Go have a look at her blog. She's a great lady and she has some cool things there.

I'm wondering what else they could be used for. Home-made massage bars, maybe? Novelty chocolate bars? Melt down old lipsticks for a personalised thick, chunky rouge stick? Make one with lard for greasing pans for pancakes? (Lard is seriously under-rated. It makes the best pastry and amazing cookies, as long as you don't tell people they're made with lard. )

I must stop now. I vowed I wouldn't make a craft blog.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Aunt Brenda's Doll

This is the completed doll that was posing  all saucy and nekkid on my deck a month ago. Hubby came and asked me if I had one finished so I could give it to his aunt who was here a-visiting. So I fudged the issue and  said, 'Yes, of course, Dear.' which meant I now had a deadline.

I only work if there's a deadline. Sad, but true. Now I've accepted that about myself, I find it's easier to get stuff done. 
Here she is, all posing and coy.

One reason I hadn't finished her is because I didn't know who she was. Now, if this sounds all New Age-y and weird to you, I'm sorry.  It's not meant to. Usually a doll's inspiration comes from a piece of fabric I like, or from the doll herself. Her face gives her an identity and I try and make that identity manifest to others. It's not as arty as it sounds, honest. 

This doll I'd originally intended to be a child, but she didn't have a child's face and there was something knowing and amused about her expression. I didn't know how to dress her to reflect that. Hence her unfinished state.

The discipline of the deadline meant I had to get around her identity crisis. So, first I poked about my fabric collection.  Nothing. Then, I meandered through a pile of clothes I'd set aside for re-purposing. Or is it 'upcycling'? How about 'clothes I don't wear but can't bring myself to throw away'? Amongst them was a huge, frumpy maxi sundress with oversized sunflowers. Not good for me, but perfect for her.  I also found a small scrap of cloth with undergrowth and toadstools  and that seemed to want to be included, too. Bright gypsy colours, an environmental woodsy theme, long hair and an amused smile. So that was what the doll was; a nymph-y, dryad-y gypsy.

Doll on the cake stand See those gripping fingers? I think she's scared of heights...
Now I had the fabric everything fell into place. 

What I usually do is wonder around in a fugue state (like a fudge state but without the calories) holding the cloth up to the doll and trying different ways of draping it and tucking it and adding other fabrics to it for contrast. This can go on for some time. Weeks, even. But...I had a deadline! So her outfit was decided pretty swiftly; fitted bodice, long, long skirt, pagoda sleeves and an ivy coronet.

My Glass Worktable

I freehanded the pattern to fit her. I hate paper patterns; all those bossy instructions and terse commands. Baste this! Interface that! Clip curves! Of course, if I hated clipping curves, I probably shouldn't have started to make dolls, but every craft has its tedious aspect.
Tryout of bodice and sleeves.

The bodice was lined in bright yellow cotton, but the sleeves were left to be floaty and light. I decided against an underskirt for the same reason. I always give dolls wide and voluminous skirts. It helps with the posing, I think and makes them more interesting to handle. That, and the first thing everyone does with a rag doll is to turn them upside down and look at their knickers. Everyone. Just try it. Hand some unsuspecting soul a cloth doll and watch what they do. 

Here, I've done it for you.
Yellow bloomers amid yellow blooms
And then she was (mostly) done. I wove a wreath  of some fake ivy I just happened to have hanging about. I was going to add flowers, but that seemed to make the whole thing a little overdone, so I left her with a  simple green garland. I sewed ribbon streamers to the waistline, and pinned the bodice back, to show the yellow lining . The fabric with the dark leaves and toadstools I inserted in the neckline, to look like a shirt underneath. Three bead buttons, a band of red silk dupion for a change of texture and she was all done.
Dress. On backwards...
And, if I'd planned this better, I'd have a photo of the finished doll! As it was, the deadline tweaked my tail and I just had time to box her up. She did look pretty though.