Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dolls: Clothes for Becky

   Those of you who have followed this blog for a while might have noticed that I've been interested in making garments for a long time. You can read all about that here, here and here. However, I always ended up so scared to cut the pattern and fabric that I've not been able to actually make any clothes. Can you believe that?

   Well, since I started making dolls I've been trying to remember what I loved most about dolls when I was a kid. One of those things was being able to play with their hair and the other was being able to change their clothes. The hair was easy to fix by using yarn instead of felt, but to be able to change the clothes I needed to make more clothes. OMG! I seriously thought of giving up and keep sewing the clothes directly on the doll. The felt collar and colored body on dolls like Amanda and Sheila  was the most I believed I was capable of doing. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against that style, but I really wanted my dolls to have real clothes.

   It all started with a regular elastic waist skirt that I learned to make by using a doll pattern over a year ago. This one was made with the remnants of the bubble skirt I tried to make for Becky after I cut off the waist band. I like it better this way.

   Then I tried to make a peasant dress, I've seen this kind of dress everywhere recently probably because of the summer. I watched a video on YouTube and thought, why not? I drafted a pattern based on Becky's body and this dress was the result. I still need to tweak the length because it's too long for a shirt and too short for a dress but it fits her beautifully for a first attempt.

   I'd already made a dress so I felt invincible and decided that it was time for something more complicated; a party dress. I drafted a bodice pattern once again based on Becky's body but when I started, I noticed something... Becky doesn't have shoulders! Then I gave it a lot of thought and resolved that I could use the top of her arms as shoulders, trouble solved. From the picture above: 1) First draft: I attempted to make a bodice without lining... that didn't work. 2) Second draft: I lined the bodice and that worked better. 3) Third draft: I lined the bodice and decided to change the shape slightly. I rounded the neckline a little bit more and made the armholes much smaller.

   This would be draft #4, the bodice is lined and it's almost exactly the same as #3 but a little bit shorter. I liked it enough to make the skirt. I followed 2 different tutorials to make this dress, this one by Stitch in My Side and this one by Oh Strumpets!. The only thing I did different to these tutorials was the finishing of the skirt on the back.

   And I love how it fits her but as you can see the felt collar and the dress don't look good together. I'm fixing that next time by making the head and the body in one piece, so no neck seam. My next doll will be able to use any clothes I make her, I'm SO excited!

This could be a start for me to make my own clothes, what do you think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dolls: Say Hi To Becky!

   Okay, say hi to Becky! I think I might be getting a little repetitive here but I'm in LOVE!!! I found a way to make Sheila's pattern work and I couldn't wait to try it. I did change the arms a little bit so they didn't look too curved, but that's the only change I made to the body.

   I'd say this doll is a successful experiment. The face is hand-painted with acrylic paints instead of fabric markers. I used wool felt instead of acrylic felt and I gave yarn hair a try. I'm in LOVE with all those changes!

I also attempted to make a bubble skirt but it didn't work
 exactly as I expected so I'm treating it as a regular skirt.

   My absolute favorite part of this doll is the hair, every strand of yarn, ribbon or string was hand-sewn one by one onto her scalp. It took me many hours to sew the colorful details as they were triple stitched in place. The bulky yarn went much faster and I just LOVE how full it makes her mane look. I can't wait to try this with better yarn; this is just some acrylic I had in my stash.

   I also stitched some colorful bits on her bangs to pull it all together

Her mane from the back.

   The only thing I'll change next time is the size of the face, I'd make all her features a tad smaller. I loved her eyes and full shiny lips, though. What do you think?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dolls: Practicing Faces with Acrylic Paint

   One of my favorite parts of making dollies is drawing the face; it gives them personality. The dolls I've made recently had their faces drawn with Sharpie Stained fabric markers. I really liked the results, but as a creative person I felt like they didn't completely fulfill the look I was going for. They were not opaque so I couldn't use them on dark fabrics, the colors were limited and the ink bled way too much to trust them. It actually took a while to draw the faces with them. I had to let the ink dry completely before putting any other colors or they would mix together making a mess of my cute doll face.

   So I decided to paint the faces. I wasn't sure if I should just get fabric paint or if it was a better idea to get a fabric medium to mix with acrylic paints. After a little bit of research I found that the fabric medium with acrylic paint would give me more versatility, colors and a better price. I went to my local craft store to see what I found, not completely opposed to the idea of the fabric paints if they convinced me. Then I found a rack with acrylic paint that was so messy I couldn't find the colors I was looking for and the paints didn't really look fresh, but that was all the paint they had. Eventually, I found the fabric medium and decided to hunt for a few colors just to be able to try them. When I went to pay, the cashier told me that they were on sale at $1 each, SCORE! I got home, stirred the paints and they were good as new. So I decided to practice on a panel of natural muslin and this is the result!

Acrylic paint without fabric medium

   I'm in LOVE!!!! I think I'll never go back to embroidery or fabric markers, ever. I love to be able to add highlights and shadow to create a little bit of a 3d look, though I'm more fond of a cartoonish look.

Acrylic paint WITH fabric medium

   Now I need to see which one of these faces I'd choose or what features I'm going to mix and match for my first try on Kona. Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fabric Crush #27 + Designer Interview

   Do you love fabric? and what about cats? I sure do, but I've always had the feeling that to create a successful mix of those two requires a lot of planning and talent. I'll show you my favorite cat fabric ever, and its designer. Say hi to Kathy Weller!


...and say hi to the kitties!

Available at The Fat Quarter Shop



A couple of months ago I had the chance to see this fabric line for the first time in Julia Bravo's Blog. It was love at first sight, so I contacted Kathy about an interview and she was nice enough to answer my crazy questions. 

*Crazy questions below this paragraph.* LOL

Reading through your blog, I couldn't help but notice that cats and dogs feature prominently in your work. Are you an animal lover? Do you have pets? Tell us the story of fido or fluffy!

Yes! My husband and I currently have one pug, Daisy. Here's a fun fact: I was a custom pet portrait artist for five years before entering the world of fabric design and product art!


How was the process of designing your fabulous fabric line? Did you get it right right away? or Was it a long process of hit and miss until you got it right?

Certain portions of the Jive Cats collection are pretty much exactly as I first sketched them out in my sketchbook (except for the fact that the Jive Cats designs in my sketchbook are all in pencil.) Other elements required a little give and take. This was my first collection with Northcott, as well as my first fabric collection in general, so I had a lot to learn as far as fabric printing goes as well as repeats and such. I was fortunate to have had such a good teacher in Deborah, Northcott's Design Director.

I read that you don't sew, but I've seen in your blog that you seem to be full of ideas for those who do. Is there something in particular you'd like to see made out of your fabric line?

I think a little girls' (or big girls' for that matter!) skirt or dress would be so perfect!



Where do you find inspiration? Do you go to the park and sit there to sip a cup of tea while you write down some of your awesome ideas or are you more of a Pinterest kind of girl?

You know, I do love the idea of Pinterest, but I'm not so successful at using it. I feel like there is some secret to Pinterest that I am not privy to. That said, one of my favorite things to do is to just go sketch at the library or a coffee shop. The white noise and anonymity factor really helps me to zone in and focus on my work.

What does a day in the life of Kathy Weller looks like? Do you have a routine or something quirky that you do everyday that you'd like to share? How do you like your coffee in the morning?

I do love coffee. But I feel I'd be leaving something out if I don't divulge my addiction to Starbucks green tea latte. It's great both hot or cold, but here's my big tip: get it unsweetened, and with an extra scoop of matcha powder. Perfect!

Is there anything you would like to say to the fabric loving community?

If you see me at Quilt Market, please say Hello! I would love to meet you! :D

Thank you so much Kathy for giving us the chance to know you.

What do you think? Isn't her fabric line just perfect?

I can't wait to make a couple of things from this fabric, I've been hoarding it for around 2 months. XD

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dolls: This is Amanda.

   Remember I told you I'd fix Sheila's pattern to make her easier to sew? Well I did, but I need to say that I'm not happy with those changes. This is Amanda and I'm not sure about her.

2nd prototype

   The changes I made, make it super easy to sew, but the resulting doll doesn't feel the same. Amanda is 2" taller and a little chubbier; I normally like chubby but in this case I like the original better. Sheila is much lighter and at 13.5" she is a good size for little girls. I changed the arms because I thought Sheila looked like she was contracting her biceps, but the new arms look like creepy fingers extending out of Amanda's body. I made her legs skinnier and longer but I think they don't match with her body. I also made her puffy ponytail bigger which doesn't work because now it feels flimsy, same with the bow. So, for the next prototype I need to rethink the whole doll so I don't make any other miserable mistake. I'll save this pattern though, in case the parts can be used at any other time.

   For this doll's skin I used Kona Taupe, I'm not sure I love that color for a darker skin tone though. I also have some Kona Earth that I want to try, we'll see. The face was drawn with Sharpie Stained markers, including the cheeks which I normally make from felt. When I use Kona Flesh for the skin, it's easy to see the face template through the fabric but in this fabric it was impossible, so I used blue carbon paper to transfer it. It was a big fail because when I soaked the fabric to make the lines disappear, the ink (which I hadn't set yet) bled a little and the areas already marked over with the pink marker couldn't be erased at all. That's why I made her lips red, to hide the lines a little. I'll probably get me a tracer light box to make this step easier.

   In the coming days I think I'll go back to the beginning and work from there. I'll have to alter the way the doll is put together to avoid all the fiddliness, but I think It'll be worth it. I can't wait to get the pattern all right so I can start using my wool felt. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dolls: I Want You To Meet Sheila!

   For over a month now I've been working on a pattern for a cute little doll. Last week I decided to try what I had so far and here it is, Sheila would be the first prototype! and I LOVE how she turned out.

   But as much as I love her, I need to say that she was a pain in the a*%$! to sew. For those of you who have made dolls or would understand the process, everything was fine until I had to put her together/sew the body. Her little torso and neck were too narrow to contain her long legs, arms and big feet. Let's say I had to hand-stitch some areas where the sewing machine just wouldn't go through.

   Yikes! That would be Sheila's underarm. At that point everything was too fiddly and as you can see, I couldn't make a blind stitch.

   I'm working on fixing all the little details that went wrong with Sheila. You know, because I might want to make many more dolls and I want to enjoy the process as well as render a high quality product. ;-)

Don't you think I'm cute?

   Again, I used Sharpie Stained fabric markers to draw her features. I really like those markers but they're to be treated with respect; if you don't make light quick strokes the ink will bleed... badly. Her skin fabric is Kona flesh, her hair and details are acrylic felt and the rest are regular quilting fabrics.

I gave her a curly ponytail which I love!

   One thing makes me sad. I really like Sheila, but I have to give up many of her distinctive quirks on behalf of her survival. We'll see how it turns out. See you later!
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