Thursday, February 24, 2011

Topsy Turvy School Project

Well I thought that school couldn't be more time consuming than it had been in the last year and a half but I was wrong. It turns out taking two literature classes at once is MUCH more time consuming than math and history. Mostly it is because of the amount of reading and writing that is required in a literature class. I suppose I need to get used to it though, being an English major and all. *sigh*

In addition to all the reading and papers both my literature classes require a creative project that relates to the texts we are reading. The first one I have completed is for my American Literature class. We are reading texts that were written from the beginning of "America", including Native American and slave era samples, all the way to the 19th century. Of course it is a no brainer that any creative project for me will include some kind of doll or sewing project as it is what I know how to do best. I thought it would be interesting to make a doll that would replicate something a slave child or slave era child would play with.

I did a little research as well as asked opinions from my doll peeps on what kind of dolls were known to exist during the time. One suggestion I received was for a topsy turvy doll. If you haven't heard of a topsy turvy doll, basically they are dolls that have two sides with a dress or outfit that covers the other side. I don't know if that is a good explanation so go here to see some modern options. You can also see better pictures and buy patterns for them here.

For my doll I made my own pattern and it was MUCH harder than I originally thought it was going to be. The difficulty was in the dress. First of all the dress has to look finished on both sides and has to be able to turn which required keeping the top of the dress and skirt separate. I ended up hand sewing much of the doll's outfit which was a bit time consuming. I wanted the doll to look homemade and old so I tried not to stress out too much about the little flaws here and there.

If you are interested in the history of the topsy turvy doll, including the speculation over why the doll would be black on one side and white on the other you can read about them here.

Without further ado here is my doll! Come back soon to see the next doll I am making for my other class. I don't want to give too much away but the class is Shakespeare.... Bye for now!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adopted BeBes!!

I have been accumulating pictures from various customers of my dolls in their new homes. Some of them are so cute I thought maybe I would make a post to share some of my favorites. Enjoy!

This is my favorite!!! Soooo sweet!

Here is that teeny tiny BeBe baby that was a custom order over Christmas. I was so happy to see she fit snuggly in the matchbox she was intended for.

Amarion in his new home!

This picture cracks me up. He looks so protective of his dolly.

Awww sweet!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Creating a Monster

There's this really great blog called ionlylikemonsters and a while ago the owner of the blog sent out a call for plush artists to make some brothers for her blog mascot Roland P. Fingermonster. I thought it was a great idea and promised to make a monster right away. Well you know me and I couldn't just leave it at something simple so I have been working on him for several weeks now (it also was because school is kicking my butt this term). Anyway! While I was working on him the other day I decided to take some pictures of my progress. I intended to document his whole creation but as the day turned to dusk the light started to wane and since I refuse to use a camera flash, the documenting ceased. It would have been too much of an effort to set up my photo tent to take a picture every five seconds as I worked on him, so I only have the first parts to share with you. Don't worry though, I have all kinds of tips on creating monsters and working with long fur!

Let's start at the beginning.... You have clicked over and seen Roland by now right? It is important because I used his image to design my "brother" monster for him. Here is what I came up with.

The first step for me when creating a new design is to figure out what the basic shapes of the design are. In the case of the guy above there is the outline of his body which includes the gusset (the top of the head) and the rest of the body. Here are what the pieces look like when taken apart and photocopied.

When working with fur, especially long pile fur, it is important to keep in mind which way the nap of the fur is going. Depending on the look you are trying to create you will probably want the nap going all in the same direction, and usually up or down. Sidewise fur usually looks funny although you might be going for that. The bottom line is just to be aware so you aren't surprised or disappointed when you turn your pieces. I want my nap laying down so here is what my pieces look like when cut out.

Usually I am opposed to pinning in all shapes and forms. This is because I am lazy and can't be bothered with it. However, I will ALWAYS break this personal rule when working with fur. Fur is slippery and thick which makes it extremely tricky to sew. The main thing you want to do when pinning your pieces is to keep the fur inside the seam facing the right side of the fabric. As you pin, keep pushing the fur down between the pieces. This will help hide the seams when you turn the fabric of your monster and also leave less fur for you to pick out of the seams later. This first picture shows how the fur is sticking out as I pin and then next shows when I have finished pinning and all the fur is nicely tucked inside.

When you start sewing fur you might want to leave a seam allowance that is larger than you normally would leave on other fabrics. Even though you have pinned your fur it can still slide a lot and you want to make sure you get both pieces sewn together. When you are done sewing a piece make sure to check both sides to make sure they are sewn completely together. If they aren't go back over them, it doesn't matter if it looks pretty on the inside it is the outside that will count.

Next you need to decide on the placement of the gusset and get it sewn on. I refer to my originally drawing at this point and notice that I want his gusset to come down a little bit as the forehead and form the top of the mouth. I eyeball it and mark where I want it to be.

Now you want to pin the gusset on really well and sew that together. It is starting to look like a furry helmet!

The mouth is the next part and again I trace the mouth from the original drawing as reference.

To make a mouth that goes in you have to create a trim around the inside of the mouth. This is done by cutting a strip from the same mouth fabric (in this case black fleece) in about an inch to two inches (or depending on how deep you want the mouth to be). Then you sew that piece to the inside of the mouth (fleece) and the outside of the mouth (fur).

Okay this is the last progress picture and it was taken with the dreaded flash! You can see how his mouth has come together though.

And since that is the last of the progress photos here he is done! I am about to email Janet at ionlylikemonsters to see if she likes this guy. Wish him luck!

Boom! Done!

He thinks he is pretty funny.

Crazy arms/legs. This picture is a little creepy.

He's got his eye on you.