Wednesday, 15 November 2017

It's been a long time. . .

  The last two and a half months have been tough. Continuing staffing problems meant I spent eight weeks working twice as many shifts as usual, we all got sick with various things and everything has just been crazy busy. I thought I'd still get time to write here, but whenever I had a quiet moment, I just collapsed into a puddle.
  Of course it did not help that the Giant Husband tends to forget everything he's told as soon as he hears it. (He's not horrible, just thoughtless sometimes.) Which meant I spent a lot of that time feeling like I was taking care of everything at home or like I was the only adult in the house. But we all managed to survive.
  I'm back to working my usual amount but for the time being all of my shifts are when the Giant Baby is at daycare, so I'm still not getting any time to myself. And when I do, mostly stolen from sleep time right now, I'm working on my costume for my work Christmas party.

  We finally got the Giant Baby a big boy bed. I liked his cot because he couldn't get out of it but the side of it was only up to his crotch and he was nearly as long as it. But I really like his bed. Mostly because it means I'm not having to lift close to twenty kilos over the side of a cot. And he hasn't actually realised that he can get out of it by himself yet. On the downside, while he was in the cot he always wore sleep bags. They're convenient and they meant he couldn't kick the blankets off or lift his legs high enough to climb out. Now he's in a bed, blankets are safer. He's less likely to hurt himself falling or climbing out of bed if he has all his limbs. Unfortunately he hates blankets apparently, and refuses to use them which meant we had to relearn how to dress him for bed if we wanted him to be warm enough.

  The next Giant Baby project (besides continuing to try to trick him into either bloody talking or eating his dinner) is toilet training. Don't worry, I'm well aware that toilet training is both boring and disgusting, so I won't be writing about that here. But if all my pictures start looking rushed and damp, they probably are.

  I've had a few issues with the LOL Surprise dolls lately. Dolls coming with only one shoe, or the wrong outfit and accessories, or accessories that have been caught in the bag seal so they're melted and wrecked. The first two I actually contacted the Australian importer about. I would like to say they were great but they weren't particularly. Yes. They mailed me replacement parts but they also said that "due to the secret surprise element, the production process of these dolls leaves no room for error and mistakes like these simply don't happen." Which is a giant load of bulldust. If these mistakes simply didn't happen MGA wouldn't have set up a dedicated email address to deal with exactly that issue. Seriously, that exists, but it only services the US. But I'vealso found the failure rate to be roughly fifty per cent! One doll with something missing or broken could be a fluke, two could be bad luck. But when it's three and then four, in a month, that's a pattern. That's a production issue. I also can't help but wonder how many kids out there have gotten one of these with a missing shoe or something and their parents have said either "Oh well. Don't worry about it." Or "Don't be silly. They're so small, you probably lost it." But for the price that they are, I expect better. Especially since the fancy pantsy packaging means you're ostensibly paying twelve bucks for what is at best a seven dollar toy.

 I hope I can make more of an effort to write more now that crazy time seems to be over. We'll see. Meanwhile, if anyone reading this knows of any other doll blogs that might be worth reading, could you please leave a comment so I can have a look? A lot of the ones I used to read don't post very often anymore and I need my dolly fix! 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Playing with dolls

My Wellie Wishers doll arrived last week and she is very, very cute. I like her even more in person. The only disappointment is her pigtails. One is a perfect sausage curl. The other is a curly mess. They're also uneven. At this point I'm on the fence about whether to try to fix the wonky one, or just take them out. In the end, I'll probably decide the ringlets are too much effort and take them down. Right now I haven't fixed them or taken them down.

 Since I'm home sick today, I decided to play around with a few of my similar sized dolls and see who fits what. First everyone tried on Willa's outfit. (I'm thinking of changing her name to Willow. Willa sounds weird to me, like it's supposed to be something else but I'm mispronouncing it or something. I know I'm not but it just sounds wrong to me.)

 Anna looks almost painfully cute in this. (Her hair's a tiny bit messy because the Giant Baby is a little confused about who she belongs to.) The clothes fit well, but I couldn't get her feet into Willa's boots.

  Molly looks cute too. The clothes are a little loose on her but not badly so. The fit is a little weird but I think that's mostly because of the weird shape of Molly's shoulder area. The boots fit her too, but they were so loose around her legs that they looked ridiculous.

  I really like they way Tabitha looks in this! But in all fairness, I like the way Tabitha looks in most things. The clothes fit her well, but her feet were too long for Willa's boots.

I actually really like Willa's outfit! And it looks like it's going to be one of those outfits that more or less fits and looks good on most dolls.

 Next, just for fun, I tried Anna's dress on everyone. (But not her cloak because it's a glitter-shedding monstrosity.)

 It's a little tight across Willa's bust but fits her as well as it fits Anna. (It's quite tight on Anna's waist.) Even Anna's boots fit. Willa makes a pretty cute Anna.

 I was surprised by how tight this dress was on Molly! I kept thinking of her as the thinnest doll here (especially after everyone tried Willa's outfit on) but this dress was probably tighter on her than anyone else. The side seams on the bodice were straining. I'm putting this down to Molly's different body shape, or witchcraft, or something.

 This fit Tabitha weirdly. The Chrysalis dolls are quite sway backed and the waistline of Anna's dress hit pretty much exactly where Tabitha's tummy sticks out the most. Consequently it took a couple of tries to find a pose that didn't make her look pregnant.

Next everybody tried on Molly's dress.

Willa looks quite cute but also a little boring in this. Also, I could only get the bottom press stud to do up, it was too tight across the chest and shoulders and quite loose at the waist.

On the other hand it was far too big for Anna. But a bit tight around the arms.

I really, really like this dress on Rowan. It doesn't fit perfectly, but I don't really care. At the moment this is her dress. It looks very Madman era on her, to me. It reminds me of illustrations in early 1960's kids' books.

 Next I tried Rowan's original outfit on Molly and Willa. That was cheating a little bit. Because I know it's the most forgiving outfit of all the ones that came on my 14 inch Chrysalis dolls. The dress is stretchy and the jacket has loose sleeves, so it fits almost everyone.

 It fits Willa quite well, except the sleeves are too long. But I don't think it suits her. It's too grown up, or too realistic or something. The style of the outfit, doesn't suit the style of the doll.

  Molly looks super cute though. Even though she's wearing Rowan's boots, they're way too big for her. To me, in this, she looks like a child wearing one of those obscenely expensive designer fashion brands.

  I also tried Willa in Molly's flower girl dress and it's pretty cute on her. It would probably look better if I had shoes that fit her though.

 And I tried the shirred, poppy sundress on Willa. Which probably shouldn't need to be called "trying on". The design of that sundress means it's really forgiving about who it fits.

 I kind of wish I'd had some red ribbons or poppies or something to put in her hair.

Lastly, on a whim, I tried another one of my Helen Kish Chrysalis dresses on Molly, because I thought it would suit her. It did.

  I'm going to have to skip my Word of the Month project for September. We're all sick here. But on top of that one of the girls that I work with is going on holidays and another one just quit, so I'm pretty much going to be living at work for the next few weeks, which sounds like so much fun, that I'm already growing a stomach ulcer in protest. But I will be back at that next month, and I am still working on getting those other patterns on here in the meantime.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Word of the month wrap up. Sundress pictures.

 I now have an armload of dolly sundresses! I had to make one. I ended up making three shirred sundresses, four standard sundresses and four party dresses from the standard sundress pattern! Grand total of ELEVEN dresses! (One was for my 18 inch doll and the pictures of her did NOT turn out so will need to be reshot.)

The dress that started it all. . .

  I'm quite happy with how this one turned out. I couldn't draw up the shirring as tightly as I would have liked to because 1. The printable fabric I used can run when wet so I wasn't brave enough to try steam blasting it with the iron; and 2. The elastic I used is extremely cheap and nasty and melts when ironed. After I'd made all the dresses I discovered that you can draw the shirring up more by just pulling on the ends of the elastic but it was too late by then.

I used pretty much the same design to make this dress for Molly, my Maru Mini Pal. . .

 I didn't realise until after I'd made it that Molly is kind of weirdly shaped in the shoulder area. Her shoulders are more the shape of a bisque doll's shoulder-plate than human shoulders. And so a design this strappy makes her shoulders look very slopey and in general makes her look lopsided and awkward.

  But the same dress also fits my Disney toddlers. . .

Although if I was making this for this doll, I would probably make it a little shorter.
AND it also fits my 14 inch Kish Chrysalis dolls. . .

This is Tabitha, a re-wigged Piper, and I LOVE this dress on her. This combination of doll and dress is definitely my favourite from this project!

  Then there are the procrastination dresses that I designed and sewed while I was putting off learning to do shirring. I made patterns, then had fun designing dresses. I worked with four doll sizes. My 14 inch Kish Chrysalis dolls, my 12 inch Kish Chrysalis dolls, my Maru Mini Pal, and my Wilde Imagination Patience dolls. Each size got a sundress and a party dress. Although in all honesty there were only two sizes because the bigger Helen Kish dolls are the same size as Maru, and the smaller Helen Kish dolls are the same size as Patience, other than a few tweaks of skirt and shoulder strap lengths.

  I really like this dress I made for the 12 inch Chrysalis girls. . .

 Originally I was going to adapt the same design for the 14 inch girls (I wish I had) but instead they got this. . .

Which I don't hate but it's really just not my style either.

 Molly got a cute little flower themed dress. . .

Which looks a lot better on her than the shirred one, I think it's the wider shoulder straps.
And it also looks alright on Ariel. . .

  And I discovered that Patience is a LOT of fun to design for. Because she has a fairly cartoonish face, I feel I can be a bit silly when designing for her and it's o'kay because she can get away with it! Nevertheless her sundress is fairly sweet and restrained. . .

I totally designed that as an excuse to use that fabric!

 While I was still planning those, I saw a flower girl dress in a shop window and thought to myself it looked like it could be made from the same pattern. So I made this for Molly. . .

 Then, of course, I had to make party dresses for the other dolls!

 My bigger Kish dolls got this. . .

This one didn't turn out how I expected and I'm not completely happy with it. But I do have an idea that it made be salvageable with a belt, but I forgot about that when I was taking the pictures and right now (while I don't love it) I'm accepting it as it is. It reminds me of the sort of dresses that people put on their daughters before sending them to a portrait session involving an ornate, vintage tea table that is, for no obvious reason, in the middle of an orchard or wheat field. (And of course all the photos must be printed in sepia tone or some other artistically faded effect.)

  My smaller Kish dolls got this dress which is definitely more fun. . .

 It had been meant to be rainbow coloured. Each tier a completely different colour. But I couldn't find the meshy gauzey stuff in four colours that worked together. It would have had to be three pastel and a fluorescent, or three brights and a pastel, and similar combinations which wouldn't have worked. So I compromised with all pink.

 I had most fun designing Patience's dress. It is definitely inspired by some of the dresses worn by various dolls based on the Tiana character from Princess and the Frog. And whilst Alice's colouring could not be more different to Tiana's, it still looks pretty cute on her. . .

Although I really probably should have styled her hair before I took these pictures.

And of course while I was taking the pictures for this post, I had to take some extra, just pretty pictures. . .

I HAD to share those two pictures of Molly, mostly because I spent an obscene amount of time editing all her flyaway hairs out of the pictures! I have discovered that I do not like her hair. It looks pretty and silky. It feels pretty and silky. But there's a curve to it, that won't go away, that's completely out of scale; and it gets flyaways like you wouldn't believe.

Even if  I don't like the dress, I do like this picture of Amarie. It reminds me of the old promotional photos for Heloise's dolls.

I don't know how I quite got this lighting in the next picture. . .

But I like it.

And of course I had to get a picture of the two littlies in their sundresses together. . .

Although Arden doesn't look like she's enjoying herself anywhere near as much as Lydia!

And then, because I loved her in that dress, I got some more pictures of Tabitha in the poppy sundress. . .

I also set up a "beach" and took some themed pictures. Unfortunately most of those are the photos that did not turn out right and no matter what I did, I couldn't fix the colour and contrast in them but here are the few that I do have. . .

Gwendolen takes a look at Adriel's sketch

Eloise waits for the other girls to come and play horseshoes with her

But they're too busy collecting shells, and complaining about all the broken ones

Arden and Lydia have decided to try to dig through to China!

But it didn't take long for them to get tired out and give up!

I still plan on making PDFs of the patterns to put on the blog but, I haven't gotten around to it yet. It's probably going to be another week depending on how much real life insists on intruding. Also I will be adding "How to make a doll's shirred sundress in any size", so more to come soon!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

So much to talk about!

 I've been having a massively dolly few weeks. I've ordered a Wellie Wishers doll and she should arrive soon. I can't wait to play around with her and she'll probably turn up here at some point.
  I finally went over to the dark side and bought an 18 inch doll which is something I've been thinking about for a while but it took my ages to decide on which one. I want to talk about that, I also want to get another one soon.
  I got a chance yesterday to take photos of my dolls in the sundresses I made. I'm not 100% happy with the pictures though. My camera tends to oversaturate reds and brighter colours. So half the photos look (to me) annoyingly high contrast. The others (that aren't brightly coloured) look washed out but I'm not sure if that's just by comparison to the others. I'm going to have another look tomorrow and see if I was just being insane when I looked at them last night and either post them tomorrow or reshoot and post them later.
  I also spent a gift voucher I won at work on Our Generation accessories. I finally got to play with these yesterday and discovered that (as I suspected) most of the items are beautifully in scale with my 14 inch dolls. Weirdly there seem to be more things that are too small for them than too big!
  And while I was taking photos, I finally took the opportunity to play with my bjds and find out if any of the dolls clothes I have fit them. I'd just discovered that my 14 inch Kish Chrysalis dolls, my Maru mini pal and Disney princess toddler dolls (the ones with the freaky reflections eyes) could all share clothes. I've read that Wellie Wishers are the same size as the Disney princesses, so hopefully they can join in too. Unfortunately it turns out that my two bjds (a Dollmore Zihu and an Iplehouse kid) don't fit any of the clothes I have. They're too thin for the 14 inch doll clothes. They're too tall (and probably too fat, I didn't check) for the twelve inch Kish doll clothes. And Patience's clothes are far too tight and won't even button. But I still took some photos of them, because that's really what I bought them for and I've never gotten around to it. So here's Claudia, my Zihu, wearing a Chrysalis dress that's been cinched in with a clothespeg and hopefully I'll get time to write more soon.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Tiny Tuesday - Gift 'Ems by Jakks Pacific

 Gift 'Ems are one of those toys I'd seen online and liked the concept of but also had kind of assumed would never show up in Australian shops. And then, when I'd forgotten about them, I found them at ToysRUs on the weekend!

  These are another blind box toy that looks like a wrapped present with a little figurine inside. The box has a lid that can be removed and hinged panels that fold out that make a little display for the figure inside.

 The figures are themed by countries, then further borken down into day, night and beach themes. Mine is from Hanoi in Vietnam, from the regular day line. The back of the display box has pictures of the city the figure is from.

 The figures are very simplistic. Their only articulation is that their heads sit on a ball joint. They have a hole in their feet that fits over a peg in the display base to hold them in place.

I love the concept of these. But I'm not blown away by the execution. The whole thing is . . . kind of boring. I kind of wish there was something more to it. Maybe little cards that explained something about the featured city. Or have the backdrops look like a room of some kind and include some kind of accessory. Or just make the doll somehow slightly interesting. I love the little gift that folds out into a display but I really feel it has the potential to be more and really for seven dollars, this was not worth it.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Everything goes well . . .

The Giant Baby has had all of his hearing tests for the moment and seen all of his specialists and his hearing is steadily improving. Basically whatever fluid was trapped in his ears is slowly draining away. He's going to have to have regular hearing tests to make sure the problem doesn't return but for now he's going to be fine.

And he is picking up new words. "No" is still his favourite but over the last week he's added "mine" and "don't" to his repertoire. And he's finally started actually calling his dad "Dad". His speech therapist (who he loves and keeps trying to drag me back to her office) thinks he'll probably catch up on his own and so he doesn't have to have another appointment with her for another three months.

I delude myself how much easier it would be if he could talk. "Would you like yoghurt or an apple?" "Do you want to watch Toy Story or Frozen?" "Do you want the blue cup or the orange cup?" Even though I know that most two year olds are psychotic little dictators that will specifically ask for one thing and then freak out because they actually wanted the other thing. At least this way I can pretend he's freaking out because I didn't understand and not because he's a mad person.

I'm seriously considering learning Dianna Effner's eye painting techniques. I've always wanted to be able to do more with my dolls and I'm a big fan of her work. But I'm having trouble finding affordable dolls to practice on. I need a doll with painted eyes and molded eye sockets (like Barbie but preferably bigger) but literally all of the dolls available here seem to have inset eyes or flat faces with decal eyes. I'm thinking of resorting to Ebay and getting some second hand Lil Miss or Dolly Surprise dolls. For now I got to practice my fantastic dolly skills at work last week when someone uncovered a naked, headless El Cheapo Barbie in a cupboard.
She's stunningly beautiful now!

Almost every shop near us has posters in the window at the moment advertising an upcoming Stevie Nicks concert at one of the local wineries. This is driving me mental. I haven't listened to her music in years now but from the age of four to about twenty-five, I would have given my right arm to go to that. And for that reason I kind of want to go. But at the same time I know that the winery concerts tend to be a little disappointing. A friend of mine goes to see INXS every year and every year she says the same thing. "It was a great day out, but it wasn't really worth going for the music." Which is pretty much what I hear from everyone that goes to these things. So as someone that doesn't drink alcohol (I know! I could lose my Australian citizenship for admitting that but I'm too much of a control freak to enjoy it) and doesn't like crowds, I'm not sure that I would enjoy it enough to justify spending two hundred dollars on tickets. But I also worry that if I don't go, I'll regret it.

Last weekend I got one of the Our Generation accessory sets thinking the scale would be right for my 14 inch dolls. I chose a beach set, thinking that when I take photos of the sundresses I've made this month, I can use them as props. I don't have a picture of the set yet and haven't checked the scale against my dolls yet but most of it looks like it will work. If it does, there may be more of these in my future. (Especially since I just got a Kmart gift card!) Weirdly it looks more likely that some things are going to be too small for my dolls rather than too big. For example, there's a sandcastle that looks to me more like Barbie scale than 14 or 18 inch doll scale!

I finally ordered a Wellie Wisher doll. I kept talking myself out of it because to make an international order with American Girl, you have to do it by phone. I hate talking on the phone. AND frankly time zones are a pain in the neck to figure out, especially if you're incorporating things like daylight savings time. AND then there are international dialling codes . . . Ugh. Yeah, turns out those things are easy to google and were probably just excuses not to have to talk on the phone. Hopefully she'll get here soon.

Last week I discovered that shirring isn't even vaguely as scary as I've been imagining it to be. I had poured over tutorials online and lots of them said it wasn't scary. None of them pointed out that it is literally just sewing straight lines with your sewing machine! It probably wouldn't even be noticeable if the lines weren't quite straight. Although it's possible that I just lucked out by having a sewing machine that likes shirring. Either way it only took me twenty five minutes to make a coffee, wind a bobbin with elastic, do a test run, shir a dress and finish sewing the remaining seams on the dress! I'm sure I could still play around with different stitch lengths, a better brand of elastic and different tensions to perfect it but I could already do it competently on my first try so it can't be too hard! The biggest issue I had was that nobody local had the Gutterman's shirring elastic in stock so I was using an incredibly cheap brand. (The only one I could find.) And every tutorial ended with ironing the shirring to shrink it up more. I couldn't do that because even using my iron's lowest setting my elastic was melty burning and marking the fabric and smelling like death!

 As for the sundresses, I put on some finishing touches Thursday. Currently I have a pile of ten dresses made from the sundress patterns I made. Hopefully I can get photos taken of them on actual dolls on Tuesday.

I'm also trying to work out the best way to get the finished patterns on here in a printable format that takes into account that the US uses a different paper size to the rest of the world. Where to host the PDF file and what size to make it. If I use US paper sizes, it won't print right anywhere else. If I use the international standard, it won't print right in the US. I'm also avoiding thinking about that because it's confusing. Life was so much easier before I knew not everywhere uses A4 paper! At the moment I'm pretty sure I'm just going to take the smaller length and width measurement from each so it will print as smaller than a full page on either paper size.

And since this post is already all over the place, I'm going to leave it here.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Tiny Tuesday - The Ridiculous Shopkins Affair

I have been skipping Tiny Tuesday lately because I wanted to post about this but it caused some weird stuff that I'm having trouble processing.
A while ago, I was at our local shop and I noticed that they had the new Shopkins Happy Places blind boxes so I decided to grab one. Turned out the boxes were printed with four different designs, so I grabbed one of each.
I got home, opened them up and the little trinket above was in one of them. A limited edition! Yay! I've never seen a Moose limited edition before. I never expect to get one and frankly don't even think about them because the chances of getting one are so remote.
It took less than an hour for the initial excitement to wear off and for me to realise that this was way less exciting than the toy I otherwise would've gotten in it's place. My shopkins dolls have no use for a projector and being all one colour with no painted details, it has very limited play value. I have never been less impressed by a toy.
But I posted a picture of it on Instagram anyway. Oh dear. I didn't know that the blind boxes hadn't really been released pretty much anywhere yet. I spent the next forty eight hours fielding private messages from people I'd never even heard of before. Some were fairly reasonable. "Where'd you get that?", "What kind of pack did that come in?", "Could you upload a pic of the collector's list?" Some were less reasonable "Can you upload a picture of each individual item in the collector's list? The pictures you've put up aren't clear enough." "Would you be willing to go back to where you got that, buy the rest of their blind boxes and mail them to me so I can get a limited edition too?" "You should give that to me."
I kid you not. I got a message from someone basically saying "You should give that to me." I assumed they were joking and messaged back that I was considering putting it on Ebay since I don't want it and could send them a link when I did. They weren't joking. Over the next two hours I got eight abusive messages from that person saying I was a money-hungry b*tch, who thought I was going to make my fortune with this thing on Ebay, but they were going to tell everyone not to buy it because I was this, that and the other. And anyone who bought it wouldn't pay me for it and blah, blah, blah. Then twelve hours later an apology and a "so when Ebay goes to sh*t on you, contact me and I'll do a trade." Yeah, no. I didn't reply to that but if I had it would've said something along the lines of "After that outburst, I'd sooner set it on fire than send it to you, thanks." Incidentally, I have no delusions about making a fortune selling it on Ebay. My thinking was, I don't want it. Anyone that wants it enough to be willing to pay for postage is welcome to have it. Anyone that's willing to pay much more than the price of postage is a bit silly and will probably be disappointed in it.
That was the most extreme example but there were about half a dozen collectors with absolutely ridiculous requests that all had tantrums, if I said no. I wasn't photographing every individual item on the collector's list. There are something like sixty items and it had already taken me an hour to photograph each page of the collector list so the pictures were in focus with minimal glare. I also wasn't spending a hundred dollars on toys and fifty dollars on across the world postage for someone I didn't know, on the promise of "I'll pay you back when it gets here."  While I knew it had come in one of my blind boxes, I had no idea which one it had come out of so I couldn't tell people which blind box design to look for. Or even if all the limited editions have the same picture on the box. And almost all of these people reacted with nasty little tantrums.
These were not children. I did actually get a few private messages from children saying things like "That's so cool/awesome! Congratulations!" Which weirded me out a bit. Who lets their ten year old think it's ok to send private messages to strangers? But all of the nasty, abusive, angry, nonsense came from adults! Which is so much wronger and weirder. Seriously, I have not bought a single Shopkins thing since then. The whole thing has left a nasty taste in my mouth and frankly I don't want to collect Shopkins if the entire Shopkins collecting community is full of entitled arseholes.
And all over THIS. . .

Which, in all honesty, is probably the most disappointing and pointless toy I have ever seen!