Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Fool's Day Worm?

I just heard on the news that tomorrow (April 1) may be a bad day for computers, thanks to the Conficker Worm. Or maybe everyone is hyped up over nothing. One site advised disconnecting from the internet tomorrow. I'll be trying to update all the computers in the house - a daunting task, but something that should be done regularly anyway:


Good news ~ Thank you St. Anthony! I found those crazy little hair clips. Don't know how I missed seeing them!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Labor Pains

I've been laboring for days, working on a new doll design for an issue of Doll Crafter & Costuming magazine. It's a slow process, completing a step, documenting that step in the instructions, illustrating and/or photographing that step, and scanning the illustration or processing the photo, and inserting it into the instructions. The pattern for the magazine will be abridged, and about the time the issue comes out, I'll probably release the unabridged pattern as well. At least that's what I've done with Soft Dolls & Animals magazine.

It's been quite awhile (with the exception of the luncheon doll in the previous post) since I've made a doll that's not coated in layers of Messy Mix, gesso, and paint. So this doll is progressing much more quickly that those other dolls. It's kind of refreshing, really.

A few posts back, Sarah left a comment. And she said a mouthful:
Oh, I hope you write more about this pattern-making project. I'm interested in your thoughts and process, since I find pattern designing a bit frustrating. I am looking forward to having my own pattern that I like, but I'm far from that point now. It's like making chocolate chip cookies knowing nothing only what probably should go into them, and making them over and over and over again, each time not quite right... ;-)

In a nutshell, pattern drafting is just trial and error. But, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Eventually, it becomes a little more intuitive, and by working with different materials, you become more familiar with their properties. Thanks, Sarah!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Luncheon doll finished

My doll for the Annual Joint Meeting of Eugene (Oregon) area doll clubs is finished. She really doesn't look anything like a Madame Alexander doll, but was fun to make none-the-less.

Her dress and panties are removeable, and her shoes are purchased. Her wig was sewn to her head. I've made myself crazy looking for my baggie of about 50 mini hair clips purchased not too long ago. I swear I'm getting senile. I hope I just stuck them somewhere *safe* (worst case scenario, they fell into the waste basket next to my sewing machine...)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A doll for next week's Luncheon

Next week I'll be attending a luncheon in Eugene (Oregon), the Annual Joint Meeting of the Eugene area doll clubs. I think this is the third year I've attended. I'm not a member of any Eugene clubs, but my friend Jean Peeters is, and has been most gracious in inviting Patti LaValley and myself to stay with her and attend the function. Jean's a wonderful hostess, makes wonderful dolls, and is very active in several Eugene doll clubs.

This year's luncheon theme is "Hats Off to Madame," with a slide show and history of Madame Alexander & Cissette. Attendees will bring their Madame Alexander dolls, and enter them in a competitive exhibit. There'll be quite a few categories in which to enter, and one of them is cloth. So I'm attempting to create a doll similar in style. I'm not a collector of Madame Alexander dolls nor am I familiar with them, so I bought a couple on eBay for reference.

This is a doll pattern I had on hand ~ "Izzie," designed by Sue Farmer in 2003*. I thought it would be a good starting point, and about the right size. She's about 13 1/2 inches tall, and is made from muslin. Today I'll be making her arms, sewing on her wig, and hopefully finishing her clothing.

Madame Alexander dolls have wonderfully chubby cheeks, but I just couldn't pop the cheeks out further on this doll.

This pattern can be found at the Yahoo group Cloth Dollmaking site. Thanks Stacy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Designing a new doll

For the past few days, I've been designing a new doll for the September issue of Doll Crafter & Costuming. I've been writing the pattern instructions as I go, which is a good way to avoid missing any steps. I've also been photographing the steps and imbedding photos into the instructions (I just love photos in patterns.)

The deadline is May 1, to get all the written material, photos, and the finished doll to the magazine. I've been a little stressed about it, because I don't have a really clear picture in my head about the final look and costuming. She's a project in evolution, in other words. I do have a name for her and an autumnal color scheme in mind.

This photo is prototype number 1, made from unbleached muslin. I identified a few design issues with this one, have made adjustments and have been working on protoype number 2, made from dyed muslin. She has a body, head and legs, and is patiently awaiting arms.

I work the next four days, so this project will be put on hold. I've also got to work on another doll for an upcoming function, so will probably not get back to her until early April.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Challenge Doll Done!

This re-do, salvage doll is done, or nearly done (she still needs her knickers), though I think I may make her skirt a little shorter to show off her blue print legs.

She is truly a salvage doll, starting out in an entirely different way. I've been adding to her progress photos at my picturetrail site, in the Salvage Doll album.

She is the doll I made for the molded-face Vintage Cloth Dollmaking challenge mentioned a couple posts back, using a cloth-over-cloth technique. She is painted in acrylics, and shaded with pastels. I use a stiff fabric brush to apply the pastels.

This was one of my many unfinished dolls pictured in this post. She's the tall one in the center back.

Monday, March 9, 2009


It's a lazy day, and I plan to putter around the sewing room and (hopefully) get a doll done. There's something between snow and hail falling from the sky. No reason to go outside.

I've been working on two challenge dolls simulateously (see previous post.) Since both dolls are painted it's easier to do the painting on both of them, and clean up the mess once.

Arms and legs are hanging to dry, and as soon as I finish with the hair, it's on to the costuming. I bought some lovely vintage-looking prints from Lisa Shafer's shop last May, and haven't had a chance to use them.
This is an Izannah Walker inspired doll. She's really what I'd call a "salvage project." In 2006, I was trying to design something new for the Hoffman Challenge. This doll started out as prototype #1, which I set aside because her body was too small for her exaggerated head, and she had a significant blow-out in the center of her face. I went on to fix the body size problem (prototype #2, my Hoffman doll "Carlie"), and later to create the same doll in muslin, with painted head, arms, etc. (Verity doll).

Last spring I revisited this doll, with an inspiration to experiment. So I cut off her head, gave her a new body, fixed the blow-out with paperclay. Then I coated her with Messy Mix, and gave her a cloth-over. Then painted that. There are some progress photos HERE. This is my Izannah Walker Inspired Album - just scroll down, and you'll see her decapitated head on a bottle and subsequent progress photos.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Online Doll Challenges

I'm working on a doll! I belong to several online groups, and some are sponsoring doll challenges.

The Vintage Cloth Dollmaking Yahoo group's challenge deadline is April 5, with two options. If I can get this one done, I'll be doing the second option, as I've got a WIP that will fit the bill, thereby killing two birds with one stone - participating AND getting an unfinished doll done. I've got an Izannah Walker inspired doll I've been working on for nearly a year!
First Option: To recreate a historic Presbyterian cloth doll using a pattern created by Lucinda Durbin. (Lucinda used her original Presbyterian cloth doll in creating the pattern!!) - you should see the dolls made from Lucinda's pattern - they're great!
Second Option: To create a molded face doll - could be a Kaethe Kruse, Helen Pringle, Izannah Walker , or Lenci type.

The FOCD (Friends of Cloth Dolls) Yahoo group's challenge deadline is March 31. Participants are using Claire Pruitt’s Penny Doll pattern. This is the doll I've been working on for the past several days. I've chosen to participate in this challenge, because I thought this doll would be a great learning experience. The shape of the body is similar to many of the antique/vintage dolls made from leather, with lots of gussets.