Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Jack'O'Lanterns are Gross!

 I don't know if I've mentioned that the Giant Baby is obsessed with Halloween. He watches Halloween videos all year round, has a battery operated Jack'O'Lantern as a night light, and wants to be Jack from Nightmare before Christmas when he grows up. So it was only a matter of time before we got nagged into making a Jack'O'Lantern.

It's not a Pinterest worthy, work of art. It wasn't well planned and we didn't try very hard. But it's the first  real one anyone in our house had seen in person, we still thought it was pretty cool.

But the reality of it was gross. Hollowing out the pumpkin, I managed to break a spoon and get pumpkin under my thumbnail which bled for two days. The Giant Baby asked for a sad pumpkin, I was not prepared how anguished it would start to look after a few days. And a week later, we've had to throw it in the bin because it was soft, and gross, and smelly, and full of mold! Hindsight says "Der! Of course it is." But I really didn't expect that at all.

Pumpkins are yummy but as decoration they are gross.

Friday, 12 October 2018

NPK Collection doll

My 18 inch doll from EBay arrived yesterday. I was going to spend some time doing an in depth review but if I plan that, it will never get done. So here's a quick post about her instead.

She's already my favourite 18 inch doll. Although in fairness, her look is so different to other 18 inch dolls that you can't really compare them.

The neither good nor bad things-
She's all vinyl.
Her eyes are fixed, they don't close.
She has rooted eyelashes.
Her hair is a wig.
She comes with a "Certificate of Authenticity" but since this isn't filled out it's kind of meaningless.

The good things -
There's a fair bit of weight to her and the vinyl seems really nice.
 She has really nice airbrushed blushing on her face and hands.
Her nails are painted a natural colour.
Her clothes are well made.
Her shoes are great. Fake leather with actual, proper soles and working buckles.
Her hair actually feels like hair and swings beautifully.
Her face is really cute.
I don't know if it will show in pictures but the airbrushing on her face is amazing. Shaded and layered in a way you don't usually see on play dolls.

The bad things -
If you look closely at the paint on her mouth and nails you can see brushstrokes.
Her dress is . . . really ugly.
If you part her hair so you can see it, her wig cap is quite messy looking.
Her hair is insanely long. Too long. And her fringe is pretty uneven.
Her eyelashes are odd. VERY long but also a dark, blood, red colour. From a distance it looks like shading. Close up it's very strange.

Here's a close up of her face.

Her hand

This is how crazy long her hair is

That pointless certificate

Redressed in a nicer outfit

And in a lineup with a Journey Girl and an Our Generation doll

And here's what happens if I leave dolls on a chair while I wash dishes

For the record, that was three hours ago and he hasn't given her back yet. And she's still naked and bald!

So, the new doll isn't perfect but she is amazing. I'm already plotting to get a second one with dark hair!

Sunday, 30 September 2018

More updates . . .

I was intending to follow up my last post with a more doll centric update, but then both kids got sick. Tiny (who is actually completely average in size but seems tiny to us) was terrifying in that way babies get when they're snotty, and the Giant had so much fluid build up in his ear that it actually burst his ear drum! So this is going to be a fairly rushed update, with pretty bad photos, before anybody wakes up.

All the local shops cut back on their shelf space for the Shopkins Happy Places stuff. Which meant getting every set for any building would've meant travelling to various shopping centres trying to find them, instead of just going to two shops. Before the kids, I probably still would've collected them and made seeking out every set into an adventure but now it just seemed way too hard, so I stopped getting them. I was going to get the Disney ones when they came out, but when I finally saw them I just didn't like them that much.

I was also getting a lot of LOL surprise dolls for a while too but simply put, the recent releases have just been too expensive. As it was I would only buy them if they were on special for fifteen dollars or less. But the confetti dolls were over twenty dollars and the newest ones are nearly thirty dollars! Which is bloody ridiculous for what they are.

I did get a second Maru and Friends mini pal, Jamie, for my birthday. But I haven't really done anything with her yet. I really like her but I'm not a huge fan of her dress. The fabric it's made from is lovely but the actual cut of the dress is simplistic in the wrong way. It doesn't (to me) look classic or cute, it looks like it's been made from the pattern of a generic, two dollar shop, doll dress.

I've also somehow amassed a little collection of 18 inch dolls. About a year ago I got two Journey Girls. Then more recently I got an Our Generation Rafael and rewigged him as a girl. I'm not overly happy with her wig, it looked a lot darker on EBay, but that's what you get buying stuff on EBay. Still deciding whether to get a new wig or just put up with this one. 
There's another girl coming as well. I don't know much about this new girl's brand, but they're often on EBay and Aliexpress under titles like " Handmade American Girl Doll". They're not American Girls. They're not even really knock offs, since they look nearly nothing like them. To me they look much younger than most 18 inch dolls, they're just the same size, with adorable little chipmunk faces.

I'm also considering, maybe, getting one of these girls from Target.

 They're about the same price as the Our Generation dolls and have pretty generic faces but they're sweet looking.

I also got the Our Generation kitchen set. I want to customise it for my Kish dolls but when I bought it I'd forgotten that my supplier of Mr Super Clear has closed down, so the first step is going to be finding somewhere, preferably in Melbourne, that sells that.

I think that's about it. So here's a picture of a dapper little skeleton boy. (Who loves Halloween more than anything.)

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Babies and stuff

So this happened four weeks ago . . .

Normally I'd probably delete that picture, because I look like a nineteen year old boy. But knowing I have less than five pictures of myself with the Giant Baby, I don't want to delete any pictures with this one.

 I've heard rumours that being pregnant improves ADHD. Something to do with estrogen. I'd like to officially say that is a crock. I've always done things a little bit at a time because I don't have the focus to do things all at once. I even take a break halfway through washing the dishes. Sewing takes ages because I tend to take a two minute break for every six inches of sewing, or basting, or pinning. But while I was pregnant this stopped working. Because I would take my wander off break like normal but I'd completely forget to go back to whatever it was I'd been doing. As an example of how bad this got - I've been reading other people's blogs this whole time but I got to the point that I could only focus on a paragraph at a time. But I couldn't focus for long enough to comment on anything. I'd leave things open in tabs to comment on "later", put it off for a week, then have no idea why all those tabs open. It might have been funny if it wasn't so frustrating.

 Now I'm feeling more like myself again. I have my brain back but I'm too tired to get anything done yet. The Giant Baby is having a little bit of trouble adjusting, which isn't surprising since he is a bit spoilt. He loves his baby sister and is always asking to hug her, kiss her, hold her, pat her, but he's angry with me because he's not getting as much attention as he used to. And his dad has spoiled him even more than usual lately to the point where I could just about put them both on EBay.

The new baby is lovely. Of course she is. She's four weeks old. All she does is eat and sleep. She's healthy as a horse and thankfully she's built on Rachael scale, not Giant scale. (She's only just now hit the size the Giant Baby was when he was born, and she actually still weighs a little bit less)

I'm pretty sure this post is kind of disjointed and rambling but I'm going to post it anyway.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

What I've learnt about Azone

 I got some Azone Pure Neemo dolls for Christmas. I know, that's ages ago. But I was planning on getting one more before I wrote anything about them or did anything with them and so far that hasn't happened. But in the meantime here is what I've learnt about different Azone bodies and sizes.

 There are four different Azone Pure Neemo bodies. Which one a doll has mostly depends on the age of the doll. I say mostly because there is an overlap period when the new bodies begin production where certain types of doll will have the old body, while others have the new one.
  The oldest body is called Advanced or Advance. I've not seen one of these in person but they seem to have minimal or no articulation. Instead they have interchangeable body parts, so you change the dolls pose by removing body parts and replacing them with others in the correct pose. Which frankly sounds like a storage nightmare.

  The next body is the Flection body. The Flection body has lots of joints. The arms move up and down at the shoulders but not side to side. There is also rotation to the upper arm. The elbows are jointed with a hinge. The hands rotate (but don't bend) and can be removed and replaced with other hands in different poses. They swivel at the waist. Their legs move forward and backward at the hip. There is a rotating joint in the upper thigh. Knees bend on a hinge and the ankles are on a ball type joint. But there is limited side to side mobility in the ankle because of the shape of the lower leg. That is a LOT of joints!

 The next body is the Full Flection body. Which is confusingly similar to the last body but realistically it's almost the same. The legs on the Full Flection dolls move out to the side very slightly at the hips. And I mean VERY slightly. And there's an extra joint at the shoulder so the arms can move sideways, away from the body. Otherwise these seem to be the same as the Flection body. Of my two Full Flection dolls one has jointed wrists that bend, the other (surprisingly the newer one) only rotates at the wrists, so I'm not sure which is more common.

As far as I can tell this is the only significant difference between Flection (right) and Full Flection (left)

  The newest body is the Emotion body and. . . well. . . there isn't a lot I can say about these because other than prototype pictures, I've never even seen a picture of one. Rumour has it they have a ball-jointed waist and all the old joints but with improvements so they can do things like kneel properly. But I don't know anything for sure about them. I'm not even sure I got the name right.

Four different sized Pure Neemos

  So back to the Flection and Full Flection bodies. To put it simply they come in four sizes. Extra Small, Small, Medium and Large. To put it not so simply - it's a bit more complicated than that. The Extra Small dolls are simply Extra Small. They're all the same size, 21 cm or 8 and a quarter inches. An Extra Small doll has hands a different size to the other dolls. So whereas hands are interchangeable between Small, Medium and Large dolls, the Extra Small dolls need Extra Small hands.

  The other sizes are a little more complicated. Because they're made in two parts. The sizes are often listed as doll size, then bust size. So there could be a Medium doll with a Small bust. Or a Medium doll with a Large bust. And they won't be the same size as each other. Or the same height. Because what's referred to as the doll size is the leg length/size up to the waist. And the bust size isn't just the size of the boobs but ALL of the body above the waist. And there are four different bust sizes that can be used on these dolls - Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large (or LL)! This leads to a lot more variation in sizes.

As an example, the doll on the left is a small doll with a small bust. The doll on the right is a medium doll with a medium bust. The doll in the centre is a medium doll with a small bust. So she's the same size as the small doll from the waist down but the same size as the medium doll from the waist up. Interestingly all three dolls arms are exactly the same size. BUT the Extra Small girls arms are a completely different size.

  As well as size differences there are two different skin tones. White (on the left in the picture above) and normal (on the right) which is quite pinkish and not really very dark at all.

  The default hands are sort of starfish hands. Wouldn't be my first choice if it were up to me but some of the dolls come with extra hands and packs of extra hands are sold separately as well. My largest doll came with five extra pairs of hands
And my smallest girl came with three extra sets of hands
Including this hand which is holding something but I don't know what!
A coin? A charm? A guitar pick?

  I'm going to finish up for today by showing how they compare in size to some other dolls. I'll probably write more about these girls soon but I've run out of time for now.
Left to right - When I read I dream, Stacie (old), Extra Small, Creepy vintage Skipper, Small, Small Medium, Medium, Moxie Girl, Olsen twin. Looking at this I'm kind of keen to dig out my Moxie Girl clothes for them!

And I'm not sure how well the neck joint would fit, but the "When I read I dream" dolls heads would proportionately be a good fit on the Extra Small body. (I've always felt their heads looked too big for their original bodies) BUT it would make them about an inch taller. Maybe a little less than that. Other Barbie family dolls probably wouldn't work as well unless they were fairly pale because the Pure Neemos are not tan at all!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Vintage Sewing Books

 If I could give one piece of advice to anyone expecting their first child, it would be to buy everything you can gender neutral. Yeah, have some cute little boy or little girl outfits, but for the most part, just stick with neutral stuff. Why? Because when you have your second baby, you probably won't have as much money to blow. It's easier if they can just wear the older kid's hand me downs and cheaper too.

 That's why there's not been much from me lately. Our new baby is going to be a girl, which is great. I don't really care that much, I'm just hoping that it's normal human sized. But almost all of our baby clothes scream "BOY!" I was working a lot more when I was pregnant with the Giant Baby, and didn't have to worry about things like paying for daycare and hearing specialists for a two year old. So at the end of the week, jumping online and spending two hundred dollars on ridiculous baby clothes, that'd only be worn once, and just end up covered in bodily fluids anyway, wasn't a big deal. But over the last few months, all of our spare cash has been eaten up with various medical expenses. Not anything dramatic, just doctor's visits, the kid's hearing specialist, and because I forgot to book my ultrasounds until the last minute, I couldn't get into either of the public hospitals in our area for them (which would have been free) and had to pay to have them somewhere else. And so right now our focus is on how to afford the things we're going to absolutely need, rather than pretty things to wear.

 Luckily, I'm a crazy hoarder, mad-person, with boxes and boxes of fabric stash and a big box filled with vintage sewing books. So I've been baby sewing. I'm pretty sure that's not a proper sentence, though. Except, the books I have, mean you have to rule and draw up your own patterns, which is tedious and time consuming, so two days work may only have some weird looking diagrams as their result. (It also means I have a lot of trouble focusing. My attention span sucks, and there's a pretty slim chance of me still being interested enough to make anything by the time I've finished ruling up the pattern.) It's also a bit confusing because some patterns include seam allowances, but most don't and which ones do is completely and utterly random. But most have an allowance on the pattern for a hem which seems odd to me. Why have an allowance for a hem but not seam allowances? Which means I have to pay attention more than I'd like.

 So far I've finished one dress, and I even learned to make buttonholes to do it!

It's not perfect. I used a sort of shirring tape on the front, that I really don't know how to describe. It kind of automatically shirs the fabric for you. And I hadn't practiced using it at all, so the very top little bit of shirring came out a bit wonky. Then I realised I could only stitch every second line and the rest turned out much better.  More concerningly, I actually have no idea what size it is! The book describes it as Infant sized. But that could mean almost anything under a year old. But also, in all honesty, the books I'm using are really inconsistent on sizing anyway.

  I'm making another dress from the same pattern that'll be more like the sample picture, with smocking and everything. No, I don't know how to do smocking, but there's a two page spread in the book that explains it, and it's such a small amount, that I think I can probably do it. Or at least cry and swear a lot trying.

I'm also making this raglan dress in red, printed flannelette with a white yoke -

That one's nearly finished. It just needs hemming, buttonholes and buttons.

I also want to make a few of these -

This is one of the ones that's inconsistent on size. Here it's listed as for 6-18 months (which sounds like a BIG size difference to me) but in other editions it's listed as 1-9 months or 3-12 months with the exact same measurements.

 These magazines are one of my favourite sewing resources. Not so much for the patterns, since I'm rarely sewing for humans, but for the advice on how to do things, or how to adapt a basic pattern into other things.

 These are just some of the ones I have that still have covers. Since they were printed more as magazines than books and were over thirty years old before I got my hands on them, most of them are missing their covers. Some are missing pages but some look like they were bought and never even used.

  They were written by a lady named Enid Gilchrist and published in Australia, first by the Argus newspaper (which is The Age now) in the 1940's, then by an Australian women's magazine called New Idea, until the 1980's. The 1980's ones are embarrassingly awful though. The two I have, from that period, have all the samples badly made, apparently by someone that hates sewing and children and clothes, in incredibly heavy, knit fabrics that hang in an awful, droopy way that make me think "No wonder they stopped making these books!"

 One of the things I love about these is the pictures of the clothes and how they changed over time. The earlier books have pages and pages of a million different styles of petticoats and gorgeous, snazzy, tailored, woolen coats. And the clothes are almost ridiculously formal.

  Both these outfits were suggested as easy clothes for holidays. And not holidays like Christmas or Easter, but holidays as in a week's vacation at the beach! I do not like ironing enough to even vaguely think clothes like that as play clothes is a good idea! And the little boy's shirt, looks like a pillowcase with a collar.

  And some of the books have some amazingly, camp clothes!

 That little boy doesn't look like he's feeling as groovy as his tie would suggest! Maybe because his shorts are painfully short!

This cover is so bright it makes my eyes bleed!

I'm pretty sure the girl on the left is holding the middle child down so she doesn't run away to change her clothes!

But that book does have some nice clothes in it

The little dress in the bottom left hand corner could probably still be worn by a four or five year old without anyone raising an eyebrow. (It says cover dress, but it's not on the cover of this edition. The military style one at the top was the cover dress on an earlier printing. In a painfully bright shade of pink!)

 It's weird to think that the kids in these pictures would be in their sixties now!
 Something interesting I have noticed is the ways the sewing tips changed. In the earlier books the tips are things like "How to adapt a standard bodice pattern to make a princess line dress" or "How to smock". Whereas the later books have tips that are at a very basic, beginner level. For example - "Be careful to remember to reverse the sleeve pattern before cutting the second sleeve, or you'll end up with two sleeves for the same armhole." Apparently they assumed everyone in the 1940's knew the basics of sewing but had lost faith by the 1970's!

 The ads are fun too. There are a lot that feature "moody" and "sluggish" teenagers, that immediately perk up after being dosed with laxatives! That'd perk me up too, but probably make me moodier. And almost all of the early ones have an ad for something called Curlypet, which supposedly makes your child's hair go curly!

 I'm very dubious that that would have worked. But can picture swathes of mother's handing over buckets of cash in the hopes of turning their straight haired darlings into little Shirley Temple moppets. I also can't help but wonder what it was and if there was any science behind it at all.

Anyway here's a fairly random selection of outfits.

Nine year old me would have loved this tartan dress! Grown up me, shudders at the thought of ironing it!

  This is about as casual as the girl's patterns got in the 1950's!

  I actually love this. I picture it as being a deep, dark blue, with pale blue ribbon and would be heartbroken if I found out it wasn't! But I cannot picture a modern child wearing any kind of adaptation of this.

  This reminds me of Buffy from A Family Affair. You can't see it in this picture but under the bolero, her pinafore has huge, brass buckles on the shoulders, which may be why she looks so uncomfortable.

  Another late 1960's, early 1970's gem! I love this, but could never inflict it on a real life child. And you can tell, just by looking at it, that that is some swelteringly hot polyester!

  I would probably force a child to wear this though. . . I'd possibly insist on it being a tiny bit longer though.

  This is one of my favourites. I imagine it being bright red. Although the kid in the picture looks a little freaked out, like she's not sure if she should run away or not. Possibly she's just scared of that terrifying, angry doll. Somewhere I have another book that actually has the pattern for the dress the doll is wearing too.

 Now I'm going to have to tear myself away and force myself to hem the red dress, even if hemming is tedious, so I can actually pretend I got something done today.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Tiny Tuesday - A Dollhouse for a Dollhouse

 Thanks to everyone that said nice things after my last post. I had my first scan today which thankfully confirmed I'm only having one baby! Twins run in our family and one of our cousins has triplets, so I was seriously having nightmares about the possibilities!

 Today I'm going to show you my dollhouse dollhouse. When I got this, most of the dollhouse sized dollhouses that I could find online were cast resin and didn't open, or the opened but looked very modern and had no dividing walls or floors inside. That's why this one stood out.

This one is by the Dollhouse Emporium. It's made of wood but the image on the front is printed on card that's stuck on. You can't really see ti in the picture, but the sticker is a little loose and creased in the bottom left hand corner. It's actually really sturdy for the size, short of being jumped on, the only part that I could imagine ever breaking is the fine metal rod that hinges the front section.

  The inside is completely painted cream and not only are there wall and floor partitions, there are even little doorways cut into the walls, which is definitely the kind of detail that makes me make high pitched noises. The vertical wall panels aren't completely straight, they're set on a very, slight angle, which surprisingly doesn't bother me at all. That's the kind of thing I wouldn't be surprised to see in an actual children's dollhouse, so in my mind it kind of adds to the realism. On the other hand, to my eyes at least, the front opens the wrong way! Which probably bothers me way more than it should. Even more annoying, you can actually see on the right side, where little holes have been drilled to accommodate the pin hinge, which just makes me confused. Why drill the holes there if you're not going to use them? I have, in a particularly OCD moment, considered trying to rehinge it on the other side but I'm pretty sure I would just wreck it, so I talk myself into leaving it.

  This little house is based on one of the Dollhouse Emporium's actual dollhouses. The Montgomery Hall. It's a pretty good likeness. It's even divided into the same number of rooms inside. Here's a catalogue picture of the actual Montgomery Hall for comparison.

 The biggest differences seem to be that the colours are more washed out in the miniature version, and the big version has two doors on the front, one opening toward each side. The little house would be an amazing dollhouse for inside the big version.

Not including the roof section, the little house is just under seven centimetres high, so about two and three quarter inches, if you prefer inches. And to give you an idea of scale here it is with the child from my dollhouse and a Kelly doll (who I just realised, too late, is having a slight wardrobe malfunction.)

 At some point I would like to decorate the interior. Wallpaper it with scraps of paper, carpet it with scraps of fabric or ribbon and furnish it. But it's a daunting concept because it is so tiny and so I always put it off. I've come up with a few ideas to furnish it. One is to download vintage foldable cut-out furniture sheets for paper dolls, shrink them down, and print them on card and have folded card furniture. Or to do the same thing but only roughly cut the images out and glue them to tiny cubes of balsa wood. OR to buy kits for 1:144 scale furniture and make it. . . I've already bought a few kits, but I'm too scared to attempt making them.

 They're terrifying. And, realistically, at this point, I'm not even sure they're going to fit well in the house. Since it's supposed to be a kid's toy, I'm not going to be overly fussy about scale (and they're supposed to be the same scale) but if the stuff literally doesn't fit in the rooms it's not going to work. But I guess, until I'm brave enough to had a go, that's a fairly moot point.

But of course to make this the coolest dollhouse dollhouse ever, it is going to need a dollhouse inside it. And for that, I probably will just use a square of balsa wood with a picture of this house glued to the front.