Sunday, July 31, 2011

Agnes reminds me of another doll!

I was working on Agnes today.  It was crazy wig try day.  As I put a template on her, I couldn't help but feel that she reminded me of another doll.  Maybe it is my imagination, but something about her reminds me of Souldoll's Hye.  Perhaps it was the white fabric wrapped around her head, maybe it was the soulful look Agnes has.  There is a promo shot of Hye with a white cap like hat.  If you google Souldoll Hye it will come up.  I didn't want to post here as it is not mine to post and doll companies can get very touchy (as I suppose they should).

As for my template, I'm going to need wire and possibly cardboard reinforcement.  Right now, this is fusible interfacing to attach the hair I'll iron it on.  (don't try with Saran hair -- it will melt!)

I'm using mohair.  What was I thinking?  I'll continue later -- next week.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jump to Jeans! I'm Finally posting.

I know I keep jumping around.  I hope this keeps it interesting.  I read a doll artist's blog recently and she said something to the effect that she did best when she worked on several projects at once.  (I'm no doll artist, actually I'm no artist).  I consider myself somewhat of a crafter that is without any real skill.  I try things out.  I'm usually not 100% pleased with them, but I guess that's what makes them unique to me.

Well, when I went to DOA for the stockings tutorial, I stumbled upon this jeans tutorial.  It was posted by RagDoll.  Whoa.  Very talented.  I just couldn't get it out of my mind.  It looked simple enough.  Then I started seeing jeans everywhere.  I went to the mimi woo site, looking for shoes -- found jeans.  Ahhh!!  At first, I thought I won't need jeans for my doll.  But jeans are an intricate part of our current wardrobe timeline.  I don't think there is a woman out there that doesn't own a pair.  Secondly, I'm writing a back story for Agnes.  (I never thought I would, but never say never.) so there are outfits that I want to photograph her in that coincide with the backstory. (Note to self: need to learn how to photograph dolls).

The tutorial was VERY easy to follow (many thanks to "Ragdoll" for posting that fabulous tutorial).  I'm happy with the way they turned out.  I would consider Agnes as "hard to fit" -- she has a small waist, larger hips and her thighs needed to be reckoned with.  I remember thinking pants -- not going to be good.  They fit great.   I wanted them to have a narrower leg, but I was concerned about getting her feet in them.  Here she is with her McQueen hair!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Crazy wigs!

When I started this wig my oldest daughter said:  that's just batting wrapped around her head.

Well, yes.  That is how it started.

It actually started as a cloth wrapped wire made into a "halo".  It then looked like this: (Hence the reference to just wrapping batting around Agnes' head)

 Onto the halo, I then stitched the batting.  Stitched the back and sewed the top together in an inverted gather.  Again, I liked this look and was tempted to use this as a whacky runway hat or prop.

It fits very nicely on Agnes head.  It looks like it was made for her (because it was).

So this is the "form".  I started off thinking of making a Marie Antoinette type wig.  Now I'm thinking of something crazy.  I thought silver curly cues or perhaps gold.  I can't get "a fix" on what I want to do, so I'm temporarily abandoning this wig.  (Not to worry, it will resurface).  I consider it on hold.

NOW, on to this:

I always wanted to make something Alexander McQueen like.   About a year ago, I was on a forum that asked about hair styles.  I showed the style from an Alexander McQueen show.  I think it was outrageous for most of those forum goers.  :)   I started off with this.

I think Agnes feels Rapunzel's pain:

Of course I didn't need all that mohair, but it was fun.  Here's a close up of the wig cap (not yet cut) but formed, some mohair draped over to make sure the top will be covered, a wire to enable the updo part of this.  Lots of glue :)

This is after the formation of the "horns".  I've stitched the center part.  The braid will be stitched over the part (obscuring it from view).

Another view:

 I then stitched all the way around the wig cap to hide the wire:  I had to wait to get thread that matches the hair as it may show.

From the other side:

This is the look I'm going for:  (ala Alexander McQueen)

I think the color and mood are spot on.

More to come on these crazy wigs.  I enjoy them.  I'm braiding mohair as we speak (theoretically).
The stuff I use is called natural roving (hopefully, that means something to crafters out there).   I start out with a pretty big hank of it.  The pencil it there to show scale.

Then, I separate out what seems to be a relatively fat section of it.

Note its width compared to the pencil.

Then, I tape it to my counter and braid it very tightly.  It is the tightest that my not so nimble fingers can manage.  It loosens over time.

Then I use simple thread to just tie it off.

As you can see, it is now skinnier than the pencil.

This braid will surface in yet another project.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

So many steps!

Ok, so I knew this wouldn't be an easy dress and that it was going to take some time.  I also realize I'm pretty impatient.  I really hate waiting between steps.  I find myself wanting to work on some thing (else).  After making several layers,  I began to wonder if I had enough (layers).  I made an underskirt to attach the layers to.  It is like a gossamer fabric, but it is of polyester.  I did some measuring and I'm way off.  Not enough... really???

Drudgery.  I have to go back, retrace templates, cut fabric, pink, apply sparkle... The sparkle is in three stages.  One stage for each color.  My WHDD (would have done differently):  I would apply the lightest color first, then layer each darker color.  The sparkle is an ultra fine glitter that looks more like dust. (really a pain to work with).

I was a little disappointed with the progress and to make matters worse, my eldest daughter commented "cheap copy".  This is a little inside joke with us.  We have seen so many "knock offs".  Some good, some not so good.  We traveled to China several years ago.  Land of the "knock offs".  Even among the knock off market, there are different grades.  The better the copy, the more expensive.  We were in New York and saw a "Valentino bag".  It was $400!  That's a lot for a copy!

So imagine the laugh I had when my daughter looked at my dress and said "cheap copy".  Yes, it looks kind of like a cheap copy.  Upsetting really, given the hours that have gone into it.  But I will forge on.

What you are looking at:  The underskirt with baste thread marking the layers/rows.  The individual rows that will need to applied around the skirt in a fishscale type manner/pattern.  The individual rows have special glitter applied to them (A real pain).  Each row is also scalloped/pinked on the edge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Black and white -- dress

Here is the final rendition

Here's a closer look

After I took a look at the close-up, I realized the waist was "off".  I took out the zipper and started again.  Here is the final.  Agnes is showing off the lovely zipper pull.

Here was the inspiration:

WHDD:  Would Have Done Differently:

My what I would do differently (next time)  If there were a next time:
I would note that the stripes did not align on the original. (drove myself crazy trying to align)
I would have used a white lycra instead of a flesh tone on the bodice
I wouldn't have gathered the bodice quite as much.
Would have used thinner strips of black tulle and used one more to make 5.  Honestly, the tulle was probably one of the hardest parts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

If the shoe doesn't fit...

To quote Gloria Steinem:  "If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?".  Let me start by saying, I love this doll.  I love everything about her.  That been said, she does have quirky feet.  As I look at them, I'm in awe over the beauty of those tiny toes.  Very natural, definitely not fashion doll like feet.  (I like to call them her "hillbilly toes") -- they make her unique and interesting.  Of course they don't make her a candidate for store bought shoes.  Perhaps this is what everyone's toes should look like (if we didn't spend years cramming our feet into shapes that were maybe never meant to be).  :)

I love shoes.  Especially doll shoes -- so cute.  I have quite a collection of shoes.  I took out my plethora of shoes in a Cinderella like escapade, attempting to try on a host of options.  None fit her.  Now comes my dilemma.  Should I buy giant shoes and stuff the toes (to account for the width)? -- should I learn to make shoes?  Is there a doll out there with similarly sized feet?  All questions I've asked myself and I guess I'm going to have to explore my options.  I wish I could find a custom designer.  The world lost one of the great doll shoe designers when they lost Joe Tai.  I had followed his work for many years, I was so sad to hear of his passing.

The shoe really does complete the outfit.  So, I'm on my quest for shoes that fit Agnes' foot.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sock it to me!

So, never one to waste, I made some thigh high stockings from the left over sock used to make the knit dress.  I've made two pairs of stockings so far, one pair of beige fishnet like hose from the fabric I used for the underwear set, and this pair.   I'm thinking of making some socks also or maybe some pantyhose.  If I can keep the stockings up, I probably won't struggle with pantyhose.  I think Agnes' feet are too wide for traditional Barbie pantyhose.  She's not tall enough for Tyler or Gene hose.  I put some Gene pantyhose on her yesterday to take a look at the structure.    I was making the stockings from trial and error (trust me I had several error).  Back to DOA.  There's a tutorial there for stockings.  (I credit MissCarrion here.  Thank you for the tutorial.  A real time saver).  From now on, before I try to suffer through any project, I'm going to research it there!

Here's Agnes sporting her thigh highs!

Because of the fabric, these are very thick tights!

These are fishnet like: (although you can't tell from my crappy photography).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dress progress

Here are some of the things I'm working on:  Here's the bottom of the Betsy dress.  It is four layers.  One bright white cotton underlayer, one thin polyester white layer, two layers of tulle and there is a black tulle stripe.  The tricky part was the black tulle.  It had to be sewn on with nylon thread.  The black thread you are seeing is the basting thread.  The zipper will go in the front.

Here's the top:

 I sewed the lycra netting onto a piece of nude lycra material.  This is the entire top.  The edges will be attached in the front to a zipper (hard to imagine, I know).

Here's the first look at the Zuhair dress:  This is about 4 steps into it. There was template making, tracing, cutting, and pinking of entire edges.  It took a lot of work to get here.  Doesn't look it.  I have a new respect for the people who have to construct garments.  (Designer -- yes I know they do the amazing part), but the unsung hero is the pattern maker who interprets the design into a workable garment.

Lastly, the black silk arrived as a beautifully flat, ironed thin piece of fabric resembling voile.  I need said fabric to be crinkled randomly.  First I wet it (and it bled like a dickens -- dye everywhere).  Then I did the broomstick skirt method twirled it and put it in a knot.  Like so:

It dried.  I unrolled it:

Looks perfect, but I'm sure it is not going to be easy to work with.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wigged out!

I love the wig Agnes came with.  But as with everything, variety is the spice of life.  What a sweet tiny head she has.  What type of wig would I want for her if I could have any wig in the world.  One of my personal favorites is the tibetan lambs wool on skin wig.  I think because they remind me of the antique french ones used all those years ago.  I've been trying to contact Anji of Anjiswigs.  I had a wig from her some years back and I just love it.  It is a really big size 6-7 or I'd grab it for this doll.

I think I'm going to attempt to make some wigs for this doll.  In the past,  I've even made a really interesting wig for an antique doll that I have (It's hard to find antique wigs or replacements suitable for antiques).  I saw some wool roving at a closeout store, so I bought it.   I also bought some pliver (?sp sheep skin).  I even saw some interesting goat hair, but it is out of stock.  I have seen some great wig making tutorials.

First things first.  I need to make a wig cap.  I've used muslin in the past.  There are knit ones you can buy, they are stretchy and look sort of like a mesh.  I did (buy some) -- but they are too large for this doll.  I remember reading somewhere (can't remember where) to use pliver -- I'm trying that.  The only thing is that with all natural materials (muslin included, they do degrade over time).

I hated "bagging" Agnes' head. But,  I couldn't risk the moisture from the damp pliver getting into her  head.  This I call the Lawrence of Arabia look.

Once the pliver dries, I will cut away the excess and mark up the hair lines.  I'm not sure if I can use Human hair with this... Hmmm... I have to think about this.

Here's my human hair attempt.  (in progress).  You are looking at Agnes with a pliver wig cap and the first hair sewn on.  The hair is a beautiful strawberry blonde.  The lighting doesn't capture the color.

Here's Agnes with her human hair super long wig.

I think I would like to make the same wig, but trim it just below shoulder.  Right now, this one is a wrangly mess.  Almost fairy like.  I like that; so I'll keep this one long.

Here she is... Miss America :)

Here it is from the back:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Slip sliding away!

I cut this "slip" from an inexpensive dress.  Some quick stitching and an elastic waistband completed it.  (It was already hemmed and attached to the netting.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dress Drudgery

I'm working on 2 dresses at once.  Still the Betsy Johnson one and now I'm trying a copy of a Zuhair Murad dress.   Yesterday, I got the black silk from my second order.  Looks like just the right material!  Pretty happy about that.  But I do feel like I'm hopping around too much, as the black silk is for yet another dress.    I see a dress and I want to try it right away.  I see another dress, same thing happens.  It's summer, so (in Florida) I have more free time.  But I think I've got to pace myself.  Maybe one a month or so and work on other things in the mean time.

I think I'll finish the Betsy Johnson one in another day or two.    It's a relatively simple design.

I saw the photo late one night and was tempted to try to imitate it.  LOTS of steps on this one.  Not a one day wonder.

Same with the black silk dress.  It has lots of steps and a TON of bead work.  That will be a real labor of love.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Success! My Knit dress

Happy with my interpretation of this dress.  Wide raglan sleeves replace the dainty fitted sleeve of the original (This spares Agnes' fingers).  I chose to make the dress in black as I thought the off white might make her appear washed out.  The knitted fabric is much prettier in person.  It was taken from a sock!  I thought of this as it reminded of a sweater I had made from a DOA forum.  (Again, wealth of information on that BJD site).  This size doll has distinct advantages.  I added a chain belt for some interest.

Here's a picture of Agnes in front of the original ad.

Not as much success:  I'm still working on the other Betsy Johnson dress, but it is slow

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Under here. Underwear

Made a simple bra and panty set.  Happy with the way they came out.  I'm also making stockings.  Trial and error.

Here's a photo:
Agnes and her one stocking!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Purchased clothing --take two

Yesterday I bought Agnes a robe and a Grecian costume.  Both are for Barbie, but with some alteration I think they will fit just fine.  I was reading yesterday, each body is different that is why when we buy ready made clothing some times it fits nicely, sometimes not.  The same is true about doll clothing.  Some of the newer Barbie dolls have different dimensions than the traditional one (a little more hip room and a little less in the chest area).

Here's the front and back of robe:

I purchased the Grecian costume because of the packaging.  I bought it in a closeout store; it was obviously packaged for the european market.  The price was printed on the packing card in british pounds.  It is unusual as it has rather large buttons on the shoulders.  It looks "mommy made".

Should add a disclaimer:  I'm not affiliated with Barbie or Mattel in any way.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Now that I finished the first dress.  I've decided to move on to another.  This will be trickier as I don't have a pattern.  (This could be a disaster.).  Other than for Bleuette, whom I've sewn for without pattern, I don't think I've ever sewn without a pattern for a doll.

I'm still waiting for the second order of silk, so I'm moving on.  Here's the next dress:  I've laid out the fabric for the copy of the Betsy Johnson dress.

Tulle is a nightmare for me, so I'm using a rotary cutter.  I cut away the zipper pull and added a loop.  After looking at it I realize I need to add some links to have it fall lower.

Last night, instead of working on the dress, I was on line. I found the most amazing tutorial on the DOA site.  It shows how to make basic pattern pieces.  I love that forum.  There is an incredible wealth of knowledge there and people are willing to share.  In order to make the pattern pieces, I have to find and purchase a french curve.  Hmmm.  I've never come across one of those (not that I've looked for one).  This will be a steep learning curve for me, but it's worth the effort.

Of course my head is spinning.  I saw another dress on the cover of an old Nordstrom catalog,  I want to make one for Agnes.

It appears to be a knit lace and I can think of just the fabric (if I can find it).

There are not enough hours in the day.  I wish I could work on Dolly things all day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Zip, zip, zip! And the Dress

Trying to find a source for all my zipper, button, etc. needs.  I have 3 current sources identified.  I ordered from one and here's my findings.  I placed the order on July 7th in the morning.  And although I haven't ordered from the other two, I'll list them also.  Received my buttons and zippers yesterday, July 13th.  Very pleased with them.  The zippers seem to be scaled just right, as are the buttons.  Here are the buttons on my finished dress.

I ordered these from  I found the site through (Tinyzipper is no longer selling items). and also have some zippers.  I'm pretty happy with zipperthatdoll, so I'll continue to order from them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dress -- Final fitting

And viola,  I put the dress on Agnes and adjusted for button placement and hemline.  The pattern was originally for the Gene doll.  I xeroxed it on a reduced setting.  It needs some more tweaking; before I make it again.  There is another version with a gathered skirt.  I thought of this pattern when I received the clothes from Canada from     This pattern surprisingly fit her hips.

I notice "Barbie clothes" are not kind to Agnes' hips:  I was afraid with the reduction of the pattern, that the hips wouldn't fit, but it fit nicely.  The original pattern was well below the knee.  This reduced version hit Agnes just below the knee.  I'm waiting on some tiny buttons I ordered to finish this.

yesterday, the silk fabric I ordered arrived.  I'm disappointed.  Although the fabric is beautiful, it won't work for the purpose I had in mind.  I saw a Betsy Johnson dress in the window of that shop.  I ordered more fabric yesterday.  I'm going to attempt to make this dress next if I can find the right tulle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First dress. Progress?

I put a question mark as I'm not sure how much progress this really is.  I started stitching.  Being a non - seamstress, I guess I don't follow directions too well.  Here's what I have so far on Agnes' dress form.

Front and back:

So far, so good.  I think it will fit.  Only the final fitting will tell for sure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Iron Irony

The irony is while I searched for a way to iron these tiny fabric pieces after cutting my pattern pieces, the solution was right under my nose.   Almost literally.  I looked down in the draws of my rolling cart and there I saw it.  A mini iron.  I must have purchased it some years ago.  I hadn't remembered.

It looks like a cross between a curling iron (for the hair) and a tiny flattened garden trowel on the end.

Here's a picture of it:

It is more powerful than I imagined.