Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The hair's here!

Today Miss Jones' hair arrived from Restore Doll. I was not expecting it for another week or so but it was a lovely surprise. It's absolutely beautiful and I can't stop admiring it. It's just the most heavenly colour! I'm so glad that I went with the blend as neither shade seemed quite right, but together they are perfect! I would have taken a photo, but I lost the light too early, and as I have discovered, it's impossible for me to take a good photo with my camera without some sunshine. I just hope that I have ordered enough hair to do the job well... I got 4 skeins of the regular format and it really doesn't look like that much hair - especially when I compare it to the amount that came off her head after Miss B took to it gleefully with the scissors.

Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen her have that much fun playing with a doll before! As soon as she got home from school she wanted to play hairdresser and Jonesy's hair grew shorter and shorter. I thought it looked quite cute short and if she wasn't going to be transformed into Coraline, I would have left it that way. Considering she's only 8...and has a brutal technique, I think Miss B did a great job!

Seeing as how it was Jonesy's last few moments as a blonde I thought I'd play around and take a few shots before her big it for better or for worse! Yesterday I played around with the camera settings (and discovered that my camera is pretty much useless without natural light - grr!) and also learned a little bit more about I think the shots I've taken are greatly improved and in my opinion, this is by far the best doll photo I've taken. For a girl with such a ghetto background, Jonesy photographs surprisingly well!

Sadly, she does not look nearly this nice at the moment. As I write this she is sporting a rather savage crew cut in preparation for her new hair..and once I've finished this post I will begin pulling out the plugs. I hope that I haven't made a big mistake in scalping her.

Monday, March 29, 2010

That's more like it!

Version 2 of the tiny blouse came out much better - stress free and with no unpicking or cursing involved! I followed my "plan" as outlined in my last post and that, coupled with my new gaget, the Clover mini-iron, made all the difference. I'm still not entirely sure that my method of doing the collar is the same as the one that the Dolly Dolly people used, but it looks nice and neat and lays flat, so I'm not complaining!

I finished the lightbox tonight and took a trial photograph using it and was so disappointed in the result. Believe it or not the background is white, and this was the best shot that I took! Obviously I am doing something terribly wrong, I just don't know what it is. I wonder if it's just not possible for me to take a good photo at night with the camera that I have... I think I need to study the manual and learn how to to this as I am not happy with any of the shots I have taken so far.

The outfit I made actually looks much better in person and it's so annoying to have such a crappy photograph of it.

On the upside, I had a lot of fun dressing Holly up for her photoshoot. Miss B joined in the fun as well. I plan to make something cute for her Simply Lilac in the near future. She is much harder to dress as so many colours clash horribly with her hair. She only looks good in pastels, black or white.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A magnificent failure!

I had orginally intended this post to be a bit of a show and tell about an outfit from Dolly Dolly mag that I've made. However, I have declared my first version of this blouse to be a magnificent failure - magnificent in that I have learned so much from sewing this itsy bitsy item, regardless of the less than perfect result. For the purposes of blogging, I popped it on for a photo. Note that the odd fit around the torso is due to the fact that I haven't put any press studs on. This one is bound for the bin, so I didn't bother finishing it off!

I've made quite a few Blythe outfits before, and all of them have come together quite nicely and without much fuss, so I was feeling a bit cocky when I started making this outfit. The apron is adorable and the skirt is very simple, however I was intimidated by this blouse from the beginning. Collars and inset sleeves are tricky even on people sized garments, and when you are dealing with a sleeve that's only an inch long, any tiny blunder becomes very very noticable. Sewing on such a small scale is a real challenge - having to try and muddle through with Japanese instructions does not help matters!

Lessons learned:

1. Fray Stoppa (the Aussie version of Fray Check) will make your garment very stiff. Regardless of how neat and lovely it makes your seams look, they will be bulky and make your garment appear to be lined with cardboard.

Next time, I shall be using the pinking shears and only use FS on the sleeve/shoulder seam.

2. The collar is bloody tiny. Sew the side and bottom seams before cutting it out next time. You will save yourself much cursing.

3. The incomprehensible photo tutorial in the front of the instructions is in actual fact the instructions for making a facing. You will need to do this to attach the collar to the blouse. If you look very closely at the drawings, you will see the facing on the inside of the garment. Note to self - look more closely at the illustrations next time - you will save yourself much cursing.

4. Despite a recommendation that I read in someones blog a while ago, the soft tulle that I bought for this purpose did not make a good facing in this instance. At all. Tiny blouse version II will have a facing made of fabric. The results could hardly be worse!

5. The cuffs need to be edge stitched BEFORE the side and under sleeve seams are sewn. Because even though they did sit nicely with the cardboard-like Fray Stoppa, without being stitched down Blythe's thumbs will get stuck in them when you attempt to put the garment on. Particularly since the FS has bulked up the seam, making the cuff opening super-tight. And stiff.

6. The sleeves seem to go in more easily if you sew them in two stages - starting from the centre to the outer edge. Surprisingly they were the least of my problems. Next time I might even try skipping the machine gathering and see how that goes.

Also, a good rule of thumb to follow when sewing tiny Blythe clothes from Japanese instructions is to avoid having a glass or two of champagne beforehand. Even if it is Saturday night. It does not help. At all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Etsy Coraline goodies

I'm having fun shopping for this Coraline clone. Just look at the goodness that is to be had on Etsy. These little "moushkas" are the cutest Coraline crafts that I've seen so far and I think that Jonesy (Frankie just didn't suit her anymore) might need one. The artist also makes the black cat. He has a wire amature so you can pose him.

These great critters are made by Etsy crafter anitabelcast and can be found here in her shop.

I'm also trying to think of a really cute pullring - I like the pendant from this necklace.

Also up for consideration is own version of the button skeleton key...but am not really sure how to go about it. I'm going to a craft expo over the weekend and I'm hoping to find a nice key charm to play with. We'll see.

Although not at all Blythe related, I could not finish this post without including this amazing doll pattern from Sew Lolita for the beautifully dressed "Little Me" poppet of Coraline. I am wondering if the raincoat would fit Jonesy - the poppet is 11 inches tall, so it's a definite possibility.

The pattern also includes some ideas for how to make your own "little Me" as well and a photo of one that she's made. I personally love it, but I was firmly told by Miss B not to get any ideas of making one of her as she found it a bit scary (as opposed to the button-eyed clone??). I am toying with the idea of making one of myself for fun! Here's her Etsy shop, in case you feel the urge to make a Little Me too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Thought I would include some ever-so-slightly better photos of my Coraline custom. The last post was written quite late at night and the light was not good (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). Hopefully when I finish up the lightbox it will make crummy photos a thing of the past. Or at least appallingly badly lit ones at any rate.

So, here's Frankie with her button eyes, and her browns (that I had to put in because unlike most Blybe/Basaaks she didn't come with the browns). I'm pleased to say that Miss B is delighted with her and especially likes the button eyes (which is a relief, after all that sanding!). In fact she's loved her a bit too hard and the pull string has broken. It's probably my fault - looks as though the knot wasn't made big enough inside and she's pulled it right through the hole in the arc. I don't plan on fixing it right now, it can wait until the hair arrives and she is de-scalped.

I ordered the hair from Restoredoll over the weekend. It's a blend of two different shades of blue - Looking Glass Blue and Sapphire Blue. I hope it looks OK as it was hard to tell from the website and there's always the chance the the colour looks different on my monitor than it is in real life. In a week or so I'll let Miss B cut all of her hair off and I will prepare the scalp for re-rooting. She is quite looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stage one complete!

It is insanely late, but I wanted to put up a quick post. I've finished Frankie's face-up, and put in two new sets of eyechips - browns and buttons (because Miss B wasn't having it any other way...). Before and progress so far.

I'm not sure I like the freckles at all...but Coraline has freckles, so freckles it is. I know - she looks nothing at all like bloody buggery Coraline, but I did promise I'd have a go for Miss B and being 8 years old, she's not very good at compromise. She hasn't seen her yet as I've only just finished her and last Miss B saw she was still a collection of parts. I'm sure she'll like her anyway. I'm hoping that the blue hair will make her look more Coraline-esque, although the very thought of the re-root makes me feel a little ill. My very worst fear is that I'll spend ages re-rooting her and then completely destroy her hair when I cut it into a bob. I also worry that Miss B will see the button eyes and be terrified of her..personally I think they are a bit scary (and besides which, Coraline doesn't get the buttons in the movie - it's kind of the point!). They are there at her own insistence so she had better not be scared - they also came at great personal cost - I sanded off some of my nails in the process of getting them thin enough to put in!

Work done so far:

Complete new face-up.
Carve lips...very very badly.
Gloss lips. I think I may attempt to re-do her lips - her mouth is too small.
Two new sets of chips - foiled brown and buttons (which I had to sand to fit - PITA!!)
New lashes
Freckles...also done very badly. There's an art to getting freckles cute, wish I knew it.
Rebodied on Takara body.

Still to do:

Reroot with blue hair.
Cut into bob (eep!!)
Make Coraline outfit.
Make tiny Coraline doll.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

There has been a distince lack of posts of late for two reasons. Firstly, because I've landed myself a short term contract and have been working (and things have been frantic), and secondly, because until today my customising gear had not arrived.

Well, today it did and I couldn't wait to get cracking! At first I thought I would just "try out" the sanding sponges. It's like peeling off wallpaper - you just do a tiny bit to see what it's like and before you know it you're standing knee deep in shreds of paper, the walls are bare (although in this case, it was Frankie's face that was bare) and you're wondering how to tell your parents. Within the hour her make-up was gone and she had lovely velvety matt skin. Even with her ghetto heritage she looked pretty good imo!

Then I got out the needle file...the less said the better about that really. While I didn't carve a hole in her face or anything like that, I definitely have no natural talent in that area. I don't even know how to fix my she'll probably just have to stay somewhat lopsided. I like to think it adds to her charm.

Then after dinner I thought I'd just sandmatt her eyelids and see how the pastels as makeup worked. It was fun, so I did a bit of eyeshadow. Also fun. And then she was starting to take shape, so I added a little blush and then some lip gloss which didn't turn out quite as I'd hoped either but being fairly natural looking it's not too bad. I would have done the freckles as well if only my brown paint had not dried up. Oh well, that's a job for tomorrow!

She looks ok considering she's my first custom. I mean obviously she's not utterly fabulous and I think that SammyDoe and Poohie can sleep easy, but I don't think she'll end up in the bin after all regardless of her many many faults. I quite like her.

Unfortunately, she looks nothing like Coraline. Nothing at all... And I don't think she will suit blue hair either. I wonder how I'll break the news to Miss B.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Out, damn eye!!!

I've been a bit slack with the updates of late - life's been getting busier and busier now that I'm studying and doing my industry placement.

Poor Frankie is now just a jumble of parts sitting on my dining room credenza. I'm careful to put her bits out of sight whenever anyone comes over so they don't think I'm too crazy!

When I last posted, Frankie's eyechips had been giving me grief. After I soaked her chips for 24 hours, I kind of expected that they'd give up the fight and just pop right out. I was greatly mistaken. For aparently the glue that the good people in the Basaak factory use is designed to last until the end of time. After 20 or so attempts using gluestick removal, freezing, swearing and pleading I realised that there was just no way those chips were coming out. So I chatted to my hubby...and out came the drill and within 10 minutes the orange and pinks were several pieces, but out. This, my friends, is my method of removing stubbourn eyechips. It is not for the faint-hearted, but it does get results. Please not that the sausage fingers in the photos are not mine! Believe it or not, I am the better photographer so my hubby graciously volunteered to be the hand model :)

Equipment - electric drill, tiny drill bit, sturdy screw (long enough that you can easily grip it), pliers, old towel/rag to put the eyeball on so that you don't scratch up the other side.

Drill a tiny hole in the centre of the chip using the drill. Go veeeery slowly, drilling just a little at a time until the hole is just deep enough to start your screw. You might want to use a hubby just used me to hold it which is probably not advisable, and also why there isn't a photo of this process! When you are done it should look like the above pic.

Now screw in your screw, using the screwdriver to spare your hands. Once it's "bitten" in you'll hear some nasty cracking sounds and at this point, it may shatter (which is a right PITA). Beware - a shard came flying out at me during this process. I'd use protective eyewear next time.

Now, using as much brute force as is necessary, use the screw to lever the chip out. If the gods are smiling upon you, they'll come out nicely in one piece. The pink ones were tough and came out in bits :( We had to drill multiple holes and lever them out with a tiny screwdriver.

Now you just need to clean up any shards of chip left in the socket before you pop the new ones in. I'll let you know when I find an easy method for that.....

In addition to being hideous to remove, as I suspected the Basaak/Blybe chips are slightly different to the Blythe ones. The Basaak chip on the left (with the hole in the pupil!) has a markedly shorter post than the Blythe stock chip on the right. I've ordered some chips from Coolcat - I'm really hoping that they will fit with a little sanding.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Basaak and her indestructible eye chips...

After a long and boring day catching up on assignments, I decided that some me time was in order and spent a few hours this afternoon fussing about with Frankie and trying to track down some customising tools on the internet. As well as the sanding sponges and such, I need to order her some eye chips and as info on the subject is sketchy, I decided to pull out Frankies chips so that I could compare them to a Blythe's. And that is pretty much where I'm still at.

Well, her head might practically fall apart in your hands, but her eye chips will outlast the apocalypse. They are NOT coming out without a fight...and possibly not at all. I initially didn't want to pull her mech out as I was afraid that it might be flimsy and easily broken, but after attempting the glue-stick method of chip removal with her mech still in over and over and over, I decided that perhaps a good soak in hot soapy water might be just what the doctor ordered. The mech came out with a bit of prying with a masking tape wrapped screwdriver between the mech and the faceplate (with more force required than I imagined would have been necessary) and I managed not to damage her eyelids (yay!). But I think I may have misinterpreted the instructions for unclipping the arc and it looks as though I have done it on the opposite end to the way it's demonstrated on Puchi Collective. Hope that it all goes back together ok!!

So now her eyeballs are floating about in some warm soapy water, hopefully to be nicely loosened so that I can get the damned things out. I sincerely hope that this glue is water soluable - there is no way that those babies were coming out with the gluestick method alone. I spent some time researching to see if anyone else had documented their experiences customising these clones and while there were lots of pics of completed dolls on Flickr and a couple of in progress ones, there really wasn't much practical information...such as if the glue used is nice and water soluable or horrible and super-glue-like and what kind of eyechips other than the flat ones will fit her. Hopefully by the time I'm finished with Frankie, I will have compiled a nice little bank of knowledge that might help someone else out. It's so frustrating that this info isn't out there! For the record, her eyelashes came out with very little trouble. I didn't bother taping them out of the way when I was trying the gluestick method of chip changing and I ripped out half of one set that way. The rest came out easily after a brief soak in warm water.

I have a really busy day tomorrow so I might not get back to her before Thursday. Hopefully the chips will just fall right out (haha - right!). BTW - isn't the photo I took wierd? It looks like she has a light in her head!