Just a quickie post today, to show off Miss B's Cinderella costume. I was reasonably happy at how it came out, especially considering that I didn't have the added expense of a pattern. As I mentioned in my previous post, I used the tutorial from the Make It Love It blog here . Give it a go - it's fantastic!
I love this shot of her. I told her to pretend that she was waiting for her prince. She loves hamming it up for the cameras! Excuse my over-zealous use of Piknic filters - they help to mask the fact that the skirt part isn't the right shade of blue which I must admit annoys me every time I look it.
The underskirt ended up being much more work than the actual dress, but as I mentioned in a previous post a lot of that came from using tulle by the metre, instead of the chiffon on a roll. There really was a load of gathering involved - I think I may just invest in a ruffle foot as I might end up making the flowergirl dresses for my sister's wedding next year and matching petticoats would be super cute. Especially as it is a 50's wedding - squee!! I did take a few shots of the completed petticoat but made the mistake of doing it inside as has been overcast/raining for the past few days here so naturally the photos are horribly blurry and not really blog-post quality. I will try again on a sunny day. Maybe Santa might bring me a fancy new camera for Christmas and this problem will be a thing of the past - hint hint!
I am not really feeling the Blythe vibe right now in the sense that I don't have that longing to add anything to my collection. What's wrong with me? I still enjoy reading the forums and looking at other people's pics on Flickr but haven't been sewing or photographing my own girls for about a month now. I wonder if in part it is because I was so indifferent to Vanilla when she arrived. It's just shy of a year since I got my first one - Holly the PuPe and I remember how thrilled I was with her. I used to pick her up every time I was in the sewing room to admire her and just loved making clothes for her to wear.
In some ways it seems that the excitement at receiving each subsequent Blythe has diminished to the point where I just don't feel it at all anymore. The last 2 Blythe I bought - Star Dancer and Vanilla have barely been looked at once I'd deboxed them and neither of them even have names. Maybe it's time to consider moving some of the lesser loved ones on and getting a Kenner? Quality over quantity ya know ;)
Sometimes I just feel like avoiding certain tasks....and today is one of those days.
I have to finish making a Cinderella costume for Miss B for her school play. The dress is all finished and looks reasonably good, but the underskirt is giving me a whole new respect for dance seamstresses and sewers of those cute little pettiskirts that you see on Etsy. The $70 or so that they charge for those puppies is more than worth the money! I am currently surrounded by acres of tulle strips that need to be gathered and sewn and my heart is really not in it anymore. The tutorial called for non-fray chiffon but I wasn't able to source it locally and I thought that soft bridal tulle would do just as well. Let me just say that this stuff is a real pain to work with! And I'm sure that Miss B will be complaining about the scratchy-ness of it. If I had to suffer through this process again, I would definitely order the non-fray chiffon strips online.
Actually, having seen the costumes that the other kids have, I find myself wondering why I bother going to so much trouble. She's actually kind of conspiciously overdone! Although I don't feel bad for making it as Miss B loves the costume to bits and swans around in it after school, only taking it off for meals and bed! I guess I thought that since she had the part of Cinderella, she should look a bit special and I must admit that I really did enjoy making the dress part of the costume...and probably went to a lot more trouble than was necessary. The truth is that I love making costumes, and in some ways I wish that the culture here was a little more like that of America, with parents going to lots of effort to make things look nice. At least that is how things look from my blog reading Aussie perspective anyway!
The dress was actually not very hard to make at all thanks to the creativity and generosity of a wonderful blogger (Make It and Love It) who posted the tutorial here. I think I love this woman and I'm so grateful to her for sharing the method. You could use it as the basis for quite a lot of different costumes, just by tweaking a few things here and there.
The tutorial is more of a method than exact instructions as there is no pattern provided - which was great for me, as I find printing things to scale and fiddling with sizes to be a lot of extra work when I really just want to jump right in and start sewing. It shows you how to draft your own pattern using an item of clothing to draft the basic bodice and then just adding the extras that make it all Cinderella-y. Here's a pic of my bodice partway through construction before the sleeves were added, complete with untrimmed threads - oops!
The instructions are excellent and very detailed and there are lots of photos of the process. I was a little bit afraid about drafting sleeves, but they worked out beautifully. My only regret is that I cheaped out a bit on the fabric for the skirt and used a synthetic blend that I picked up on the bargain table. The colour isn't right and I think it doesn't have the right amount of body to really make the skirt poof out nicely. Unfortunately I didn't really have that much choice about it as there wasn't any satin that matched the bodice fabric anyway, and besides which, I had already spent a bit more than I wanted to on the materials. It's so frustrating how expensive fabric is here in Australia compared to the States! I also wish that I had cut the bodice a little bit smaller, as it seems to have stretched a little bit, but I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter.
Make It and Love It also has a great tutorial for a pettiskirt that you can use to poof out the dress (or just make it for your little one to prance about looking adorable in!). It is pretty straight forward, but kind of time consuming as the huge amount of gathering for the two layers of the skirt seem to go on forever. Hence my procrastination at going back into the sewing room and finishing the damn thing off! I need to put an extra tier on Miss B's to make it a bit longer as the original tutorial is for a younger (and shorter) child, but I think it will still work well and hopefully will give the skirt some Cinderella-y fullness.
Oh well, I'd better get back to it. Endless miles of gathering (well about 30 meters of ruffling, then 10 metres of tulle, then another 5 metres of tulle x 2) await. And they won't sew themselves!
I had planned on doing a review of Vanilla when she arrived, but as I stupidly clicked BIN without checking the listing properly, my Vanilla is naked and I saved a whole $10. Note to self - read the listing before committing to buy, Noob! So at any rate, I can't comment on her stock, which did look quite cute. Especially the shoes, which I am kind of sad about, but oh well, lesson learned!
I was excited when I saw her in the box. Although she was naked, she looked lovely and had such nice straight bangs. So I freed her from her cardboard prison, took off her plastic fringe keeper thingy (her bangs immediately revealed themselves to be crooked - sigh) and popped a dress on her. And was underwhelmed.
Everything they say about her is true. I don't know why I thought I would feel differently. I wanted so much to love her! The thing is, although she does look quite sweet in photographs, she somehow does not feel as good quality as the other Blythes when you see her in person. Her hair is very fine and I can see her scalp through the top, her legs are sticky and super bendy and her face is very shiny - even more so that normal. I compared her to the others and none of them even come close in the shine stakes. I mistakenly thought her eye shadow was grey, but it's blue and her lips and blush are just a bit too bright for her pale skin and hair. Oddly, this doesn't seem to show up as much in photos. Maybe it's just that I am not a fan of the FBL mold. She has a slightly wistful look about her, I think.
So my overall opinion of Vanilla? Great hair colour but very fine hair. If that bothers you pay extra and get Paris. Very shiny face. If you don't want to spray-matte her get Paris. Make up just a touch too dark. If you want subtle, get Paris. So I guess really, I would have been better off getting Paris myself!
On the plus side, she was very cheap and I think she will be a great base to customise. I will be sending her away to have some work done later in the year I think. A bob, boggle, lip carve and face up from a top notch customiser and she'll look a million bucks. But as she is? Not my cup of tea. I would not recommend her for those who like to keep their girls stock in my opinion.
I've been thinking a lot lately about handmade Blythe clothes vs factory made. What is it that makes people purchase handmade items from Etsy rather than the cheaper mass produced Sugarmag clothes? For me it's always been about quality and variety. Factory made clothes often don't stand up to repeated dressing (or washing) and after a few uses the seams can start to come away. I also occasionally have trouble wrestling factory made items onto the dolls body, which for some reason doesn't seem to be as hard with handmade clothes. Some things, like jeans have a reputation for staining whereas the handmade ones seem not to be quite as bad, and then there is the issue of variety and dare I say it, individuality. A lot of handmade clothes are one of a kind. There is something kind of satisfying about taking a beautiful shot of your Blythe nicely dressed in something incredibly cute and knowing that there isn't anyone else out there who can replicate the look exactly because a duplicate outfit simply doesn't exist.
A while ago a read a comment comparing the prices of the handmade to factorymade and expressing shock at how much a handmade Blythe garment sells for on Etsy. Not so long ago, I probably would have done the same. After all they are clothes for dolls and use the smallest amount of fabric. It's hard to believe that it is possible to buy a human sized garment for not that much more than a doll sized one.
Having now taught myself to sew these tiny clothes, I can now understand that the reason for the extra cost is not for the materials, but the time and skill required to construct one. Admittedly, if you make mulitple copies of one garment using the same fabrics and trims I suppose that time would be saved. However having soon realised that this assembly line method soon sucks any pleasure right out of sewing (for me at least) I think that it's more likely that most Blythe seamstresses work in much the same way that I do and make each garment individually, taking the time to choose just the right fabrics, trim and little extra touches that make each finished item unique and that is what really adds to the time invested in each tiny dress - extra care and attention to detail.
One of the reasons that I've been thinking about this is that I've been toying with the idea of changing the way that my dresses are finished on the inside. My latest creation, the pink spot/stripe combo has been finished in such a way that there are no visible seams on the inside which I think looks so much better, but I'm wondering if I should continue doing this as the extra time taken should probably be taken into account in my pricing. This first one I am listing for the usual price, although it took me about 3 hours to complete all told. Does it matter to Etsy buyers that the garment is beautifully finished on the inside? Are they prepared to pay a little bit more for that little extra touch or would I be better off just keeping it simple?
I caved in a few weeks ago and bought myself a Vanilla. There's just something about her that milky white hair and her complexion that I could not resist. For some reason in pics her skin tone looks a little different to the regular fair skinned girls - I wonder if maybe they used a different plastic? I think she will probably get customised though, as she really is very shiny and I find that I don't enjoy photographing the super shiny stock girls nearly as much as those who have been sand matted.
I'm not entirely happy with my purchase, although it is my own stupid fault. A word of warning - before you hit the BIN button be sure to double check the listing to make sure that it's exactly what you wanted. I got a little trigger happy and accidentally ended up buying Vanilla nude instead of new in box. While I did get her marginally cheaper, and her stock isn't super-special, I was a bit sad because the difference in price was a mere $10. If I had decided that I didn't want to keep the stock clothes, I could have sold them for twice that much. At any rate, she ended up costing me a smidge over $100 including shipping to Australia, making her the cheapest Blythe in my collection with the exception of the factory girls. I know she's just a "Simply" and not one of the more pricey and sought after girls, but all the same it's interesting that the prices have dropped so much. Not good for people looking to sell older Blythes though I suppose.
I have been looking at my collection with a critical eye lately and wondering if I will ever manage to bring myself to sell any of them. I never imagined I would say this, but I kind of feel that I have reached the point where I have just about got enough Neos. Instead of madly buying new dolls I will probably gradually send most of the remaining girls off to be customised now and I think that with maybe one or two more fantasy haired girls I will be happy to stop collecting the Neos altogether and maybe begin saving for a Kenner. I would love to have a Miss Sally Rice or even a custom Simply Peppermint but other than that I feel quite content with the dolls I have and could possibly even stand to let one or two less loved ones go. I'm still waiting to hear from Erica about sending Poe off for her new face, and I have reserved a spot with Frankie Darling to have Holly customised (I am so excited about that!). Now it's just a matter of waiting and madly sewing to make up the funds to get the work done!
Speaking of fabulous customisers, I stumbled acrossthis great interview (and competition) with Melly Kay on BlytheLife that I highly recommend reading. I've followed Melly's blog and stalked her flickr pages for a while now ever since seeing her beautiful custom work on a Saffy factory girl (Bubble) and each subsequent doll somehow manages to be even more lovely than the last. Her custom Blythes have a natural life-like beauty and innocence that is incredibly appealing to me - the soft colours and the technique she uses to carve lips and nostrils really brings Blythe to life. I don't normally use other people's photos in my blog as I've never been sure of the etiquette and don't want to stand on anyones toes so let me just say that these are not my pics - they are the work of Melly Kay, so if I am doing something horribly offensive by posting Melly's pics here, someone let me know and I will take them down immediately. The reason I decided to include them is because my descriptions really don't do her work justice - you need to see her Blythes to fully appreciate her skill. These are two of my favourites.
I love this factory Qpot that she worked on.
This mohair girl kills me - she's perfect. The colours used in her face-up and chips complement her red mohair perfectly and her lips and nostrils are so beautifully done. I love the way the lower lashes are so delicate and understated. Not sure which Blythe she started out as, but she sure is stunning now! Whoever owns her is very lucky :)
Who knows, maybe I'll end up sending Vanilla over to her one day to get made over. I would love to have one of her dolls in my collection.
Melly Kay is having a competition right now where she is very generously giving away a beautiful Melly Kay Bohemian Peace custom, Bellatrix. To enter, click the link and read the interview at BlytheLife, and follow the instructions. Good luck to all who enter - Bellatrix is a really lovely girl!
I finally finished the little yellow dress that matched the purple one yesterday and put it on Holly to model. I took photo after photo, all of them blah. I thought it might be my boring white background so I put a pumpkin in the shot to give it a bit of oomph. It looked better, but it still wasn't right.
And then I saw Ash out of the corner of my eye with her bright orangey hair...
Incredibly, I had everything I needed to make Miss B's witch costume on hand and after a frantic sewing session last night this is the result. I think it came out quite well. It only ended up costing $8.00 for the hat and is a great improvement on the horrible thing I nearly bought her from the local shops. She thinks she looks pretty good in it and has been preening in the mirror ever since I finished the final stitch last night. Scuse the photo - it was taken in a big rush before school today. I swear it was easier to snap a shot of her without a silly expression on her face when she was a toddler!
I am feeling very smug about it all as I didn't have a pattern - I just cut out a rough dress shape, with sleeves and fudged a little (hence the pintucks!) until it fit. Amazingly it all went together with no trouble at all - even the sleeves - and I am now master of the automatic button hole function on my sewing machine. Embarassingly I had never needed to sew a buttonhole on it until last night, even though I've had my fancy pants new machine for over 5 years. All it has sewn is quilts, doll clothes, a few skirts and some costumes for a school musical that somehow didn't require buttons.
The reason I'm so pleased with myself is that although I have done lots of dressmaking in the past, it was always always with a pattern. I would not have had the faintest idea how to run up even a simple costume without one. After sewing for Blythe, human clothes are a walk in the park!
Seeing Miss B so happy with the costume made me feel a bit sad that Halloween is not really celebrated here in Australia. I know that the seasons don't aline properly etc etc but it really is a lot of fun and I can't see the harm in having to provide a few sweets for the trick or treaters. Last year Miss B dressed up and we took her around our street trick or treating but we weren't exactly welcomed by most, so this year we will go to the one child friendly event in our city that is halloween themed - the Manly Halloween Street Party. It's not quite the same (it's not even held on Halloween, but on the Saturday!), but at least she'll get to wear her costume again. On Friday night we'll carve a pumpkin and decorate the verandah - hopefully we'll see some trick or treaters on Sunday. Otherwise I will have a lot of chocolate and lollies to eat!
This dress, and it's little yellow sister, have been the cause of some major sewers block for the last 2 weeks. For those who don't know, sewer's block is the inability to either finish the item you are working on, or move on to another project because you for one reason or another you have become "stuck".
For these dresses, it was the trim that held me up. I really do love the look of linen, but it does tend to be somewhat plain on it's own. I really wanted to make a sweet Japanese inspired dress with it, but once I'd finished it just lacked a little something. I had originally made pockets out of the same contrasting fabric as the sleeves but when I held them up against the dress, it still looked kind of flat. The answer came in the form of these cute little flower cutouts I bought a while ago - I think they are perfect! It just goes to show that stash building can really come in handy when you least expect it.
Speaking of stash building, I visited the craft expo here in Brisbane on the weekend and bought some lovely lovely fabrics to play with. I can't wait to get stuck into them, but first I have to make a witch costume for the lovely Miss B who is singing "This Is Halloween" in front of all the grade 4s tomorrow. I originally thought I'd just buy something as I remembered seeing a few cheapo costumes at the local newsagent, but as it turns out they were $30 and really quite horrible. I don't know if I'll be able to come up with anything better, but at least it won't cost me anything!
Yesterday I ignored the large pile of laundry sitting grumpily in the bathroom and instead spent a pleasant few hours working on Poe's reroot. I know people complain about how much slower mohair is in comparison to saran, but I am finding that it seems to be coming along quite quickly. Maybe I'm doing something desperately wrong! I have nobody to show it to, so I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope that it will work out ok!
I am using a method I saw on Flickr a while ago. There used to be a tutorial on how to do it, but it has since been removed, so I am kind of just combining the info I have gleaned from all over. It is a knot method, but instead of tying the knot at the very end of the plug, it's tied in the middle and the two ends are fed through adjacent holes. It leaves a really neat finish on the inside imo, and seems to be very secure. It's only suitable for long length fibre, but it's a nice compromise between lock and loop and the usual knot method. I use a large headed needle to feed the mohair through the holes. It isn't terribly fast, but then I have yet to find a method I can successfully use that is! Having the mohair all nicely combed is a huge time saver, and I just make the plugs up as I go.
I am glad that I did that disastrous reroot on the Basaak - even though it didn't work out terribly well I did learn a lot from doing it (mostly, what NOT to do!) and I feel a lot more confident this time, even though I haven't worked with mohair before. The Blythe scalp is sooo much softer and easier to work with in comparison!
I have given Poe a thatched side part - as you can see her scalp was very damaged along the centre part and although I have repaired it (that's the big white strip), I don't feel comfortable having the closely rooted rows in the torn plastic. I've just started the upper fields which are also very closely rooted - once I've done the first couple of spirals I'll start skipping holes. Poe's Disco Boogie scalp seems to be have the holes more closely spaced than a normal scalp, so I'll probably just do every third hole and see how that looks. One thing I do know, it's going to be poofy - which isn't the look I was going for. I think that perhaps those lovely wispy straight reroots tend to use lots and lots of extremely fine plugs and take a bit more skill than I posess right now. Maybe next time.
All this fussing about with Poe is giving me a lot more of a feel for her identity. I am kind of excited to be sending her away for her faceup. I have decided that I am going to get her lips carved rather than leaving them stock and I think she might be a lashless girl. I have found an amazing Australian customiser and although I am on the list to send her overseas for a free faceup, I am thinking that maybe one of the other girls might go there in her stead and I'll just have the work done locally - the list is very long and I am really looking forward to seeing her completed now. I'm pleased that I didn't end up selling her - she has real character, even if she is still a trainwreck!
After the success of my pink mohair I was itching to have a go at processing some more, and remembered that a while ago I bought some red wensleydale locks but didn't end up using them because they came like this.
I made a few plugs, but that's as far as I got. Yesterday I tied a couple of curls together and washed and conditioned them and they came out looking like this.
Much better! And I must say that it was nice to have lovely clean fibre to work with - it brushed out so much more easily. The photo doesn't really do them justice - I don't think it could handle the colour too well. They have a really nice pearly lustre to them and I quite like the way they are like little ringlets. It's a shame that I don't really need them for anything. I suspect that I enjoy processing and combing the fibre more than I do the reroots!
I admit to procrastinating a little about starting Poe's. Last night I repaired her scalp and painted it with acrylic paint so I could begin today, but the paint dried a little bit tacky, so rather than get to the end of the reroot and have paint flaking off, I think it would be best to sand the stock brown colour off and just use it flesh coloured. I did read that non-acetone nail polish remover is good to get the stock paint off, but I rubbed and rubbed at it and it didn't budge for me. At this rate I feel like I'll never get started, much less finish the job!
I just wasn't satisfied with how my mohair turned out. So I did some more research and then thought I'd throw caution to the wind and just dye the stuff with food colouring for fun as it seriously could not have looked worse than before and in any case, I didn't want to throw any more money at it. And here is the end result.
Seriously, I could not be prouder of this bit of fluff if I had grown it on my own back! It's shiny and luscious and perfect (even if it is pink)! As it turns out, the secret to gorgeous mohair is all in the combing.
When I was preparing to dye it, I thought I had better brush it as the locks were so tight that there was no way that the dye would have penetrated to the centre. So I divided it into lots of little locks - about 12 for the ounce of fibre I had, brushed each lock into a big fuzzy cloud and tied it together at the top with string. All of the little bits of VM and dirt came out in the brushing process so it looked much cleaner. The floor did not. It's a pretty messy business and not for the squeamish. I am reasonably certain that a lot of the little bits of "stuff" in there was goat poo and it was obvious that my previous attempt to wash it had not been all that effective as my hands were still getting oily from the lanolin.
There was quite a lot of mohair caught up in the brush - I wasted heaps, but from what I have read this seems to be pretty normal. Then dyed it with the food colouring. I chose pink because I thought there was less chance of it being completely unacceptable if I made the colour too strong or too weak as I was not sure how well the fibre would take the dye. For the record, it really grabs it! I was aiming for palest pink and it turned out much darker than I had anticipated, but it's still ok.
I wet the brushed locks with hot water and laid them neatly in a glass dish. I used a lasagne dish - as I was using food colouring it was perfectly safe to use regular cookware - obviously if I had bought the acid dye I could not have done this. Then I made up my dye bath using a few drops of pink food colouring, hot water, a glug of vinegar and a squirt of dish soap - very scientific. I didn't measure anything! Then I just poured the dye mix over the top of the mohair and "baked" it in the oven for about an hour. This method works well because the water stays nice and hot without violently boiling, which can cause felting. Water + agitation is bad news for mohair or wool, so don't stir it.
When I pulled it out the water was clear as all the dye had gone into the mohair. Then I rinsed it in hot water and conditioned it (just put some conditioner in your hand and run it down the length of the lock from the top - don't scrunch it up like you would your own hair or it will felt!), and left it to sit (ie...I went out!). When I returned 3 or 4 hours later I combed the mohair with the conditioner still in it (lost quite a bit more hair), rinsed it and left it to dry. And that's all there is to it!
Things I've learned for next time:
Separate into lots of small bunches as it's easier to comb. Brush before washing to remove all the VM & make it easier to remove lanolin. Comb again with conditioner still in the hair, then rinse thoroughly.
A lot of people dye their fibre "in the grease" - ie unwashed, but I think that I would probably wash it first as the mohair I had was quite greasy. I really want to do this again and experiment with some different colours. I wonder if it would take parisienne essence or tea/coffee for a natural brown?
My only concern now is that there is a LOT less fibre than I started with. I just hope that I have enough to give poor Poe a decent looking head of hair. It is a good thing that the mohair I bought is long so I can use a technique where I double it over, thereby getting double the thickness.
Now I just have to remove the paint from her scalp and repair her torn partline.
I've spent the day fooling about with mohair and after all my hard work cleaning it I think I'll have to end up dyeing it after all. I held a bit up against Poe and all I could think of was Mrs Quickly from Nanny McPhee with her frizzy yellow perm. Not quite the look I was going for. :(
The photo is terrible - it's raining and the light was fading, but you can still see enough to know that this is not a good look. Even taking into account that she still needs her face-up. I'm thinking of dyeing the mohair - but can't decide on a colour. Trying to toss up between pastel easter egg type colours or just going with a natural dark brown. I have so many brunette girls already though. It's starting to get boring! At the moment I am leaning towards a pastel greenish/blue.
As some of you might know, I've been in the process of trying to find some fibre the right length (and price) to reroot poor Poe with for a while now. A few days ago my fibre arrived and I've began processing it so I can begin the reroot.
The mohair I ended up buying is from an Aussie seller, and as I mentioned, pretty much straight off the goat's back. I will admit that I was expecting it to be kinda gross and stinky, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. While it was absolutely not perfectly clean and lovely, it wasn't too bad and even better, the seller kept the locks all nice and together so I don't have the nightmare of untangling a big messy wad of fibre. Here's how it looked straight out of the bag.
In it's unwashed state it is kind of greasy, and there's a bit of "VM" (that's vegetable matter - hay and possibly...goat poo!). It does smell a little bit goaty, but not terribly so. All the same, if you are finicky about such things, then attempting to process your own mohair is possibly not for you. Looking at the fibre in its raw state it is difficult to imagine it gracing the head of one of my Blythes!
Most of the info out there on processing mohair is geared towards spinners rather than doll makers, who need that lock kept nice and intact through the cleaning process and if you follow their methods you will end up with nice clean mohair that has ended up in a tangled clump, rather than the nicely combed locks we need. Luckily I found this excellent guide to washing mohair by Mohairhouse. Quite possibly what I did is not the best way to wash mohair, but here's the method I used.
I basically separated the mohair into three smaller bundles, tied at the top with a silicone hair tie and followed the method for washing locks using dish detergent and very hot water. If I was to do this over again, I would have picked out the bigger pieces of VM before I wet the mohair. As I discovered it doesn't come out in the wash, but the water does help to distribute all of those tiny pieces right through the entire lock, making your locks really dirty. Oh well, you live and learn...
The fibre was very dirty, and after three washes was still not looking lovely and white so I soaked it in some very hot water with dish soap for a good 20 minutes to see if I could get it any cleaner. Next time I'd pick out the VM first, then wash once to get most of the dirt out, soak in hot soapy water and then rinse and wash again. It is entirely possible that my mohair is stained or the goat that it came from isn't white but cream (actually I don't really know why I assumed that it was white as the goats come in several colours including blonde and a silvery colour) because even though it was much cleaner looking after the soak, it still wasn't really super white like other mohair that I have seen - more like white with blonde tips. So at that point I figured that that was as clean as it was going to get, rinsed off the dishsoap and conditioned the fibre using a generous amount of human hair conditioner (just squishing the conditioner into the tied locks, not agitating at all) and put it into ziplock bags for 20 minutes or so. I was pleased that at this stage I had barely lost any hair at all from the 3 bunches - yay for silicon hairbands!
After I rinsed, dried and brushed a section of it, (at which point it turned into a cloud of frizz that was only subdued by dampening it), I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed with the result. My mohair seems to be of the super crimpy variety rather than the loosely curling type that I wanted, not especially shiny and worst of all, it's a pale straw colour that I am not a fan of at all.
It is also apparent that I will have to dye it as the colour does not suit Poe's skintone. Ironically it looked pretty good against the paler Blythe-in-bits, but I have already got a scalp for her. I am looking at using Landscape Acid Dye to improve the colour in either Pacific or Tasman - both are shades of blue/green in different intensities. They are really pretty colours, I just hope that it dyes up nicely and doesn't end up going bright green on the cream mohair. I am also considering playing with food colouring to see if I can get a pretty pastel colour I can live with.
At this point after all the work and the less than satisfactory result I've achieved, I would not recommend trying to save a few dollars by processing the mohair yourself if you have a particular look in mind for the finished scalp. It's not the amount of work involved that I consider to be the issue, but rather the unpredictable (and in this case, somewhat disappointing) result. At the end of the day, the look of the combed mohair depends mostly on the animal it came from (age, genetics, colour, living conditions) and also the part of the fleece that the locks were taken from (some parts of the fleece are guaranteed to be stained or just very very dirty). Buying mohair fibre without knowing these things means that you can't be certain how the processed fibre will look.
I wanted to achieve white or cream shiny mohair with a gentle wave and so far, after several hours work have ended up with pale blonde mohair that is matt and crimpy. It's still quite nice, but it isn't what I wanted and will look very different to the way I had envisaged.
The fibre (including postage) cost me $14.00, and I also spent an extra $10 or so on a brush, conditioner and conditioning spray. On top of that, I now need to purchase the dye which will set me back another $14 or so. I think that all up it would not have cost me much more to have purchased the fibre I really wanted in the first place and I have had to accept that the look that I wanted for Poe's customisation will now have to change to accommodate the mohair that I have ended up with. If you are patient and flexible with your customisation than it is quite doable, but for specific results you are much better off buying your mohair already processed.
I've been busily sewing away this weekend as it is horrible and rainy. Here's the baby doll outfit that I mentioned yesterday. Not sure if these will be a regular in the shop - I guess it depends on how well it's received. At any rate, it's nice to be filling up the shop with new things. Things got pretty quiet on the sewing front for a while but I seem to have my mojo back.
Today I made this little set, but I'm still undecided as to if I will sell it or not. I don't have any more of those little flower beads left and I kind of made the cami so I could re-take the bloomer listing photos as they were pretty abysmal. Not to mention the fact that there were plastic boobies in every shot!
I am toying with the idea of making a little diorama to take my shop pics in as the white background is getting kinda boring. I will have to sweet talk my hubby into making the box up and I'll see what I can find to decorate the room with. I'm going to have to do it on a budget as I'm saving my dolly pennies so that Simply Vanilla and Sparkly Spark can come to live with me.
I may have squealed like a piggy when I saw that this gorgeous girl is coming up for release on November 10. I have been wanting a blue haired girl ever since I attempted to reroot Frankie my less than successful Coraline fakie and now CWC/Takara have very kindly decided to release a new one. I did toy with the thought of getting one of the older blue girls - Can Can Cat or Asian Butterfly but I'm not overly fond of the SBLs with their yellow eyeballs and impossible to open heads so I have resisted temptation so far. I also like that her hair is a nice managable length. Three of my girls have ankle length hair with no bangs and it is a real pain to keep it under control.
Regrettably she won't be as cheap as the normal Simply girls, but who knows, maybe the dolly funds will stretch to cover it.... I hope so as she is lovely! I will have to get cracking and produce some new dresses to put in the shop (actually I made the cutest little dress today, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see it as it's been too dark and dreary to get a good photo).
I also hope that the quality control will be a bit better on her than it has been for her unfortunate sister, Thumpty Thump. A couple of collectors on the forums have had problems with her hair being really badly cut, which isn't good considering that these girls are a little pricier than the normal Simply releases. All the same, I cannot wait to see her promotional shots.
At last I have worked out a way to make these that does not make me swear like a sailor! Bloomers are available in my shop now, should you need a pair for your plastic princess.
To be honest, I probably would not have persevered were it not for the fact that I had a specific request for them and I was determined not to let a pair of tiny knickers get the better of me. There were a few failures...including a pair that would have fitted a pencil (elastic too tight!), an enormous pair that were miles too baggy and my first attempt that were a bit on the low-rise side (ie. the crotch was waaaaay too short!). Now though, I've got it all nicely worked out and they are pretty damn cute if I do say so myself.
I had fun dressing up all the girls in them for a photo shoot only to realise that there was no way to photograph them all together nicely since they wouldn't all fit in the lightbox and I am too chicken to prop them up against the wall in case of falls and scratched faces! It's a shame that Poe is not in better shape as I made 7 different pairs but only had 6 Blythes to model them on. I really need to get on and do that reroot for her as I'm hoping that Erica will soon be able to work her magic on her faceup. I've now found a place that has nice long mohair at a price I can afford without resorting to selling my organs, so hopefully it will soon arrive so I can get started.
The mohair I found is cheaper because it isn't washed, which I hope will not pose too great a problem. In the pics the seller shows it comes up gorgeously white and lustrous...I just hope that I can manage to get the same results. I have no idea how to wash it - should I use human shampoo or woolwash? Cool water or warm? I see a lot more research in the immediate future....
I had actually found some fibre through another Etsy seller, but after I had paid for it she contacted me to say that I owed her more money than the amount listed as she needed more for shipping and handling and she couldn't be bothered working out the postage to ship to Australia...double the amount that she had originally quoted. I thought that was pretty uncool as I would not have bought the item in the first place with shipping that costly. I cancelled my order, mostly through feeling a bit disgruntled, I must admit. The way that she worded her convo asking for more money wasn't the best - she sounded as though I'd tried to rip her off somehow. Incidentally, this was through my "buying" account so I'm not calling anyone out here.
I have found through my own shop that sometimes the amount I charge is not quite enough to cover the postage to certain places, and when that has happened I just absorb the cost myself and then adjust my future listings for that item. As far as I'm concerned that was my error, not the clients.
Anyway, I shall dismount my soapbox, I've had my whinge and feel much better. Until next time :)
A photo of the first Middie sized Blythe has been leaked...and suprisingly she's super super cute!
Until I saw this I was not especially interested in her. Her non-bendy legs and lack of a proper 4 colour eye mech were a bit of a put off and to be truthful I thought her face would be leaning more toward the expressionless Petite, rather than the Neos. I've always thought the Petite faces were kind of odd looking with their startled bunny eyes surrounded by a bristle of lashes (sorry Petite lovers!) and have never been tempted by them (even though I have some cute patterns that would be fun to make up), but the Middie with her Blythe-like features and adorable head tilt is kind of irresistable, even to a hard hearted and cynical Neo-only collector like me.
Kudos to you Hasbro/Takara/CWC/Junko or whoever dreamed the Middie up. She's more than we could have hoped for :)
For a while now the Blythe community has been buzzing about the release of Simply Vanilla and Simply Chocolate this month, hoping and praying that Chocolate will be the fabled dark skinned Blythe.
Well sorry folks, but she's not. She's another creamy skinned caucasian type Blythe.
Actually I feel a bit sorry for this girl, as imo, she's really kinda cute. Not drop dead gorgeous "Oh I must have her" cute, but cute all the same. I wonder if the disappointment that she wasn't black will affect her sales?
Meanwhile, the illustrations of Vanilla look amazing and I'm very interested to see what she looks like in person. I don't have a really light haired Blythe yet...And I do like bangs!
And for once, that does not relate to a new Blythe. Yep, I bit the bullet, outlaid rather a lot of money and bought the bike I've been covetting for the last few weeks. For people really into bike riding my bike is bottom end, but seeing as all of my previous ones have come from Kmart, it's a BIG step up, both in quality and erm...price. I still feel horribly guilty about it, so girl/s and sundries are going to have to go up for sale to alleviate my conscience.
I have to say though, that it was definitely worth it. I've been riding all over the place in relative comfort and just enjoying the weather. I am far from the fit, skinny exercise loving type, so I'm going to take full advantage of my bike-riding enthusiasm while it lasts. It is early spring here right now, and just amazingly pleasant (apart from the swooping magpies!), and I just haven't felt the urge to sit inside and sew. Which is why the shop has gone temporarily quiet. Also, poor Miss B has had a horrible toothache, which has led to her needing a bit of extra coddling (and very expensive and traumatic trips to the dentist). The dentist visit was much more terrible for me than for her I think. She was so terrified that they gave her happy gas, meanwhile I had to sit in the room and watch the entire procedure without the benefit of any sedation. I think I could have used some too! On Friday she has to go in for a root canal and I am just dreading it. Apart from it just being insane that a 9 year old should require such a thing on a baby tooth that had been treated by that same dentist 6 months earlier, it's shockingly expensive. To make things worse we discovered that to our horror our health insurance (for which we pay almost $300 a month) will not cover it. Damn you to hell MBF!!!! You are a bunch of thieving crooks! I am more than a little cranky about that.
So to that end, I need to rifle through some Blythe bits and bobs that I'm not using and give Ash a little spa and a photoshoot to prepare her for sale and put a little money back in the kitty. And now I will go and bake some cupcakes, just because I feel like it.
I'm in the throes of tracking down a supplier of wool/mohair for Poe's reroot, and thought I might share some of the info that I've gleaned for anyone looking to do the same. There's a lot to take into account!
A natural fibre reroot has a lot going for it - it can be curly or straight, in a natural colour or dyed any colour of the rainbow, full or thin, long or short and even heat styled (straightend or curled) just like you would style your own hair. The reason why I'm keen to use this technique on Poe is for it's camoflaging properties - curly hair tends to hid the scalpline to a much greater degree than saran and unlike saran does not need to fill every hole of the scalp. I am hoping the technique I plan on using will make the reroot go quicker...but I do need to use 10"+ locks.
A search on etsy or ebay will turn up a wealth of choices to wade through. Beware though - any fibre described as roving or batting is not suitable to reroot a Blythe (even if it's tagged as doll hair, which they sometimes are). It's made of tiny tiny pieces and will disintergrate rather than separate when you try to make the plugs. Here's the lowdown on the different hair types as researched by me.
- Mohair is the fibre from an Angora goat. - Curly or wavy in it's natural state and lustrous. - It lends itself to both big and poofy styles and does straightened and whispy equally well. - It comes in a range of natural colours and is greatly prized by reborn artists and personally, it's for this reason that I believe it's so damned expensive.
The gorgeous mohair prepared for Reborns is usally washed, dyed and combed and looks like this. This is the good stuff!
Beautiful huh? And perfect for a Blythe. Sadly, it is usually sold in bundles of about 1/2 an ounce - from what I've read you need about 2 ounces for a Blythe reroot. All that painstaking work comes at a price - a bundle this size (4-6inches long) will cost anywhere from $18 - $30 and as you can imagine the longer the locks, the higher the price. Mohair this length can only be used with the knot method of rerooting and will result in a shortish head of hair falling somewhere between the shoulders and back. Keep in mind, that like curly hair on humans, the shorter it is, the poofier it will be. The prepared mohair is also available in longer lengths as well (although it's harder to find), so if you chose to go this way you can also use lock and loop if you wish.
Pros Absolutely gorgeous and shiny. All the hard work is done. For some reason this kind of mohair tends not to be the frizzy kind (which I'm not a fan of) so you'll get a nice wavey result and not a clown-like afro. No waste Can get longer length - more choice of rooting techniques
Cons Price - you pay for someone else to do all the hard work for you. That's really the only con - it's a beautiful product if you can afford it.
A cheaper way to buy mohair is to get it washed and dyed, but uncombed. It looks like this (ie. a big ole mess!).
Cheaper Often dyed in fantasy colours (if that's what floats your boat) Easy to find - more common than the longer combed locks and therefore a great choice of sellers. Comes in larger quantities
Less predictable result This kind tends to be much curlier and not as shiny More waste - much much more waste More work - much much more work This kind of mohair is usually a shorter lenghth - fewer rooting methods Might be vegie matter in there to contend with (ie. bits of grass etc) Daunting, to say the least!
- Alpaca comes from...well an alpaca, obviously. - It's very fine and straight and comes in a lovely range of natural colours - lovely blondes and luscious chocolates. You can also find it dyed, although for some reason this isn't as common. - Great for if you want a natural fibre, but don't want curly.
Reroots done with this look like thick human hair (only Blythe-scale if you know what I mean). Kenners look out-of-this-world amazing with alpaca reroots. This is what the good stuff looks like - all washed and combed and ready for rerooting.
This particular one is one ounce and costs $27 (from mohairhouse on etsy - I've heard they are great!). To be honest, I haven't heard of people buying it all unprocessed and doing it themselves, although I suppose it must be possible. Here's what it looks like washed - very daunting to my eyes, even more so than the mohair as there are no defined locks.
Same pros and cons as the processed mohair vs the unprocessed really.
- Wensleydale and Cotswold wool come from now rare breeds of longhaired sheep. - This kind of reroot is not as common as the mohair, but is gaining popularity. - The locks can reach up to 12" long (more options for length and rooting techniques)and are very curly. - Wool is much much cheaper than mohair and is usually bundled in larger quantities for spinners and fibre artists - around $4 - $8 dollars an ounce.
- Very fine hairs - Silky with a pearly lustre (although is less shiny than the quality mohair). - Has quite a tight curl.
- More of an open curl than the Wensleydale - Often used in Santa beards - Has a nice little curl on the end, like the good quality mohair
This is the fibre that I'd like to try, if I could only track some down in the right length! I am beginning to wonder if I'm looking at the wrong time of year perhaps... Will keep you posted on my hunt for the perfect locks for poor baldy Poe.
I AM a dolly hoarder, as it turns out. I was all set to say goodbye to Poe, but I can't bring myself to do it. I pulled her out of the drawer she was languishing in a few days ago and am now all re-inspired to see her restored to her gorgeous self again. Damn her and her sad little EBL face!!
I've decided that given the almost certainty that she'll have a scalp gap, a Wensleydale reroot might be more forgiving than the saran and have been trawling the internet looking for a supplier. I was considering using the red that I had on hand, but sadly it appears that it might have been a casualty of my ruthless cleanout (by accident) as I can't find it anywhere - just the plugs that I had prepared. Such a shame as the fibre was so silky and lustrous. I'm not entirely certain that the red would have suited her in any case. It's just too too red.
I'm just waiting to hear back from a supplier to see if they can dye me some in chocolate brown. I need long locks this time - at least 10" as I'm trying a new rooting technique so fingers crossed that they can help me out. In the meantime, I'm trying to get her scalp ready for the new hair. The glue that was used is just impossible to shift and is not in any way water soluable. I'm at the point now that I'll have to cut the glued hair from the back of the scalp and maybe even sand the excess off. As I suspected, that massive toffee-like clump of glue running down her partline was a right PITA and although I was evenually able to pull the hair plugs through the holes and work it off, the scalp is damaged. There's not a lot of into out there about fixing this problem either. The only useful info on the subject I managed to find suggested making a patch out of fabric and using modge podge to keep it in place on the underside. I'll keep you posted as to how it works out.
I must admit that I was more than a little excited about this mook - I mean it's the Alice In Wonderland special, there were promises of Blythe patterns on the HLJ website, Poupee Mecanique contributed a pattern and it is meant to come with a mini Kumar (which is apparently the latest craze). So pushing aside my recent disappointment with Dolly Dolly 22, I emptied my Paypal account and settled in for the wait.
My first disappointment came before I even had it in my hot little hands - no mini Kumar for me :( I was prepared to live with that, mostly because I don't particularly like them all that much, and in any case, I was buying the book for the patterns.
Being a Japanese book, it is "back to front" to our western eyes, and naturally...in Japanese. Unlike the Recipe Coordinate mooks, which have the traceable patterns and directions in clearly defined sections for each doll, the pattern pieces are back to back on light paper and are all at the front of the book mixed in together and it's a little more time consuming to figure out what's what. Instructions for making the garments are found in the pages following the fashion shoot and although they are in Japanese, the diagrams are very good and any experienced seamstress should have no trouble following them. Particularly in the case of the single Blythe pattern as it is very basic.
Which leads my to my second and major disappointment - Blythe patterns themselves. Or should I say pattern. There is only one for Blythe. And it's very ordinary. One bloody buggery ordinary pattern. That's not Alice-like in the slightest. The fact that it is keeping company with dreamy, detailed and fabulous dresses for just about every other doll ever made adds insult to injury and made me feel a bit cheated to be honest. There are a lot of amazing patterns in here - Unoa dolls, Dolfie, Betsy McCall, Petite Blythe, Nikki Cat/Odecco (the smaller one of the 2) and Momoko all get a look in with several very very nice patterns, but just the one for Blythe. And a disappointingly ordinary one at that.
So in short, my opinion from a Blythe seamstress's perspective - don't bother if you are buying it for the patterns. Aside from that, there is eye-candy aplenty and lots of inspiration to be found within its pages. This is a great mook to flick through and admire the pictures, but not one to add to your must purchase list if sewing for Blythe is your motive for buying. I particularly recommend it for owners of Unoa and Dolfie. The Poupee Mecanique patterns are truly amazing - if you have a Unoa this mook is an essential. There's also a very nice outfit for Petite Blythe, and while it's just the one pattern set, it's nice enough in my opinion to justify purchasing the mook. Same goes for owners of Betsy McCall - there's just one pattern but it's a good one.
Meanwhile, I think I will try tweaking the Momoko pattern to see if I can get it to fit Blythe - I have to justify this purchase somehow!!
I first saw her (because she definitely is a "her", not an it) two weeks ago while shopping for a new bike for Miss B, and have not been able to get her out of my mind. She's a bit pricey, so I bravely suggested to my partner that I sell a few dolls to help pay for her (perhaps a little rashly...). A few Blythes (I'm trying to keep it down to 2),and some sundries will be leaving chez Dollybird in the next few weeks so that I can feel less guilty about buying this (which I haven't actually purchased yet, so extreme is my guilt!). So now I find myself in the role of seller, rather than buyer and it is really quite daunting having to examine my collection and consider who and what I can comfortably sell. The problem is, I kinda like them all! How do people do it? Every time I think I've settled on 2 to go, I change my mind and decide that I can't part with them! I think perhaps that I may be a dolly hoarder :(
I know that it will be worth it as now that Miss B is older, we will be able to go for long bike rides along the river and she'll be able to ride to school (if accompanied), so really I do NEED that super cute and comfortable looking bike. I've never had a bike that didn't come from K-mart, so as you can imagine, I'm pretty excited about getting a nice bike at last - and hopefully my less photographed girls can go to homes where they are appreciated.
In Etsy shop news, I'm working on a new line of bloomers that have come from a custom request. They are very cute and should be in the shop at the end of the week. Stay tuned!
It's such a rare treat to be able to buy a Blythe and have her arrive within a few days. Amidst a busy day of sewing, my new Star Dancer turned up this afternoon and even though I really am a bit pressed for time, I had to snap a quick pic to show her off!
I bought her used from an Aussie girl on the This Is Blythe forum at a very very good price. To be honest, I was half expecting her to either not show at all or be horribly flawed, she was that much of a bargain, but thankfully it's all good and she is in very good condition for a doll that was released in 2006. Her only flaws are are some tiny marks on her face (really not noticable at all - just like scuffs in the clear finish over her make-up) and a little blue stain on one leg. Otherwise she's perfect and I cannot believe my good luck! I was a little surprised by how tan she is - she's much darker than my other Blythes, and her hair is not as crazy to manage as Nos Pop's as it isn't as thick. It's a really lovely natural blonde colour and I'm itching to give her a quick treatment but it will have to wait until tomorrow as I have to run out and take Miss B to choir.
This is a great time for buying Blythe if you are a collector - there are bargains everywhere. Or at least it seems that way to me, I think that when I first started collecting they were at the peak of their price range and now for some reason (perhaps due to the factory girls?), they have come back down to more reasonable levels. I've also noticed that a few people seem to be leaving the hobby or downsizing their collection and parting with a lot of the older dolls at very reasonable prices. Sales threads on forums are full of amazing deals right now if you are looking for a used doll and don't mind if she's nude.
The reason for my excited post? I've finally found my perfect natural blonde girl. A Star Dancer RBL who looks to be in great condition. And I got her for a great price too, made even sweeter by the fact that she will be my first etsy funded doll purchase. Finally I've made enough through the shop to buy a new addition to my collection! I am kicking myself a little as that seller also had a Miss Sally Rice who I have always liked for an amazing price but I really could not justify getting the two of them so Star Dancer it was, and I'm sure some other collector will be thrilled to be getting MSR at such a good price.
I am a little nervous as I am not familiar with the seller, and it's on a forum that doesn't really police their sales threads, so I hope that everything will be OK. The price was just so good that I could not resist, despite the fact that I was all set to get a Bohemian Peace. Although, who knows, I may still get her.... I am thinking of selling Ash to fund her purchase.
I still haven't found that elusive scalp screw so that I can put my Blythe-in-bits back together. Looks like I'll have to order from Ixtee. That's the thing with the fixer-uppers - they have so many annoying little issues.
Speaking of fixer-uppers, I have seen so many Disco Boogies in great condition at just a tiny bit more than I paid for Poe that I am kicking myself. At the time, I thought I was getting a really good deal, which just goes to show that sometimes it pays to wait. I honestly did not think that their prices would drop so radically - it seems like the market is flooded with them at the moment and they don't seem to be moving, which is surprising because I think she's so lovely - and her hair is amazing in it's stock state. Poe's scalp is in such a state that I have decided not to order the saran until I am sure that I have a viable scalp to work with...and I must confess that I have been procrastinating somewhat on tackling that enormous lump of glue. I'm sure that the scalp is torn underneath and I am not really sure how to proceed from there. I just need to bite the bullet and get on with it.
I bought this factory girl purely for her scalp. Due to her being the ever-so-easy-to-customise RBL, I was able to swap Roxy's scalp for hers without having to remove the dome and it was easy peasy. Then the poor thing sat about in pieces for quite some time until I felt like doing some customising and I decided that she would have the Adorable Aubrey scalp I had bought a while back - meaning that I would have to pull the dome out of the Saffy scalp and put the Aubrey scalp on. And that was easy too, given that these factory girls have no glue.
Now however I have finished customising Nameless Factory Girl, I am having a few problems getting her back together. This is the first time that I've encountered an issue like this and it's driving me crazy! It seems that the scalp screw that came with her isn't right and I can't get her scalp and dome to sit nice and tight on her head. It's so annoying! I've put out an SOS in the Aussie Blythe community in the hope that someone might just have a spare they are willing to sell. Otherwise I'll have to order one from Ixtee and wait a couple of weeks - grrrr!
After looking at the other Blythe's lips, the ones that have taken me time after time to get right...I've decided I still don't like them, so off they must come again! They were looking pretty good until I decided to get fancy with the second coat and just intensify the colour in the middle. Now they look blotchy. *sigh* And her blush is horribly uneven, it would seem.
How ironic that it only took me 3 attempts to get Ash's looking good - I wasn't even intending to redo them.
I've got some pretty new eye chips on the way for my new girl. Can't wait until they get here :) I love getting new eye chips in the post and it's so handy now that there is an Australian supplier - I can get them in my hot little hands within a few days. These are from We Play With Dolls. I was a little disappointed that they had sold out of several colours that I would have liked to buy, hopefully they'll be restocked soon.