Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mini Makeover: Egee Pupetrina

Meet Puppetrina. 

Pupetrina is a 22" puppet doll made in 1963 by Egee. She has a opening in her back that you can put your hand to control her arms. Puppetrina has a vinyl head and arms, a soft body and hard plastic legs and partial torso. Her soft body is filled with a single roll of foam and the whole contraption is held together by a candy-striped onsie that snaps at the crotch.

 She was in pretty good shape, just surface dirt and crazy hair.
I gave her a cleaning up with a magic eraser on her vinyl and plastic parts and soaked the lower part of her onsie in water and oxyclean--it was the only soiled part, luckily the rest of her soft body was very clean and in great shape without rips or stains.

 I was worried about the hair--it is the very thin strand, dry hair and it was matted and tangled. I washed her hair with warm water and Pantene conditioner and carefully combed it out and set it on small perm rods. When it was dry I brushed out the ringlets with a natural bristle brush and it just turned into a cloud of honey loveliness :)

For her new outfit I wanted something to kinda disguise the fact that she has no shoulders to speak of, so I made a dress using Simplicity Crafts 9066 for 18" dolls (view B). It has a big "collar" I thought would help balance her drooping shoulders. I modified the pattern by shortening the sleeves (Puppetrina has bent arms and the long sleeve patterns for straight arm dolls usually makes big folds of fabric along the arms-which I do not like,so I needed to keep the sleeve above her elbow) I also used bias tape to finish the neckline as I don't like leaving a raw edge at the neck as the pattern instructs.

I found some shoes and tights that were perfect for her in my dolly odds and ends stash.

I love her! She is now part of the permanent collection.

I made her a quick hand puppet--just seemed right :)

Puppet Show!

I have been to quite a few Estate/Yard sale lately that have had a lot of dolls (!!!!!) theses are some of the lovelies that I have been lucky to find--who are currently awaiting their turn for a mini-makeover. Among them are Bonomi Kitty (she is in the worse shape--but I am dying over how gorgeous she is!!!), Belly Button Me So Silly, Ideal Corrine, a couple Horseman girls and a 50's ballerina with a missing foot....

Saturday, February 6, 2016

My New Sewing/Doll Room

I packed up my doll/sewing at the end of September. It is now February and I finally have a new room to unpack it all into! I'm excited to sew! I am excited to look at my dolls and fabric--all the pretty fabric! I am excited to make more patterns! It may take me awhile to get everything put away and organized--(darn- adult- life- mortgage- paying- job), but it is a nice big space much bigger and brighter than any sewing space I have had before I may even call it my "studio", I like the sound of that :)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Making PDF Doll Clothes Patterns: Bumps, Snags and Joy

So I have been converting my original patterns to PDF. This is hard work!
So far I have two completed patterns. This is what I had to do get there:

Think should I even do this?
Give self a pep-talk.
Decide on what pattern to PDF-ify--not too hard, not too pedantic.
Do some research to make sure someone didn't beat me to it--really, even though my patterns are all created by me, there are only so many clothing looks that are appropriate for toddler dolls and I don't want to step on any toes.
Gather my pattern pieces from my files and sew up an outfit--make sure it fits impeccably.
Make little changes to pattern shape and size.
Draw pattern by hand, neatly (challenging for me).
Scan the patterns:
After many frustrations, I found the best way to do this was cut out the pattern first-then scan as it was easier to re-size in Word as a jpeg.
Open patterns in Word--add all the goodies--pattern markings etc. I used text boxes to do this.
Wonder if my patterns pieces look unprofessional.
Research to see how other doll pattern-maker's patterns look.
Feel Better.
Convert Word document to PDF file.
Test Print.
Realize pattern has changed size.
Spend many hours trying to fix this--turns out what Word and PDF think are 100% sized copies are 16% off.
Test Print.
Experience Joy.
Set up a photography area near my sewing machine.
Sew through the entire pattern, stopping at every point to photograph the garment in construction and making notes of the steps.
Upload photos.
Edit photos.
Open a new Word document.
Write my headers, footers decide on a layout for the document.
Write out legal stuff, front matter for pattern.
Write out instructions and add photos to the document.
Chase my photos all around the document. 
Curse times 50.
Wonder if my instructions and photos are clear enough.
Decide to find a pattern tester--put out feelers on my blog's FB page and page for the doll community my pattern is for.--I had very good luck in finding an excellent pattern tester-she was quick, professional and simply awesome.
Reward pattern tester for her awesomeness.
Feel good about pattern.
Revise pattern x 20.
Convert to PDF--my version of Word does this automatically.
Find mistake--revise in Word--reconvert to PDF times 10.
Photograph finished looks. Take 100 photos. 
Edit photos.
Create a PNG file of photo for use on pattern cover.
Play with and settle on idea for naming pattern and design pattern front cover--this was my favorite part I spent hours on it :)
Experience JOY.
Compile all the PDF's into one big PDF
Review Pattern--find tiny flaw-Revise, Reconvert, Compile, times 3.
Feel like checking pattern one last time--don't.
Experience Insecurity. Who will buy it? Is it good enough? Will people criticize it? Will someone steal it and resell it? Will the whole endeavor turn in to a cautionary tale for my children and aspiring PDF pattern makers?
Give self pep-talk.
Decide to do more research on Selling PDFs.

I hope this helps you if you are in the "thinking about it" stage about making PDF's of your patterns (I was there for years)--bottom line--it is totally do-able and you should do it!!!

Next up... really trying to figure out how and where to best sell my baby pattern.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Disney Animators Merida Before and After Mini Make Over

Couldn't resist this little Merida on Ebay (the before photo is her Ebay pix). She is not really an "Animator" doll. She is the Disney Toddler doll issue--skinnier than the Animator version. I had no idea when I bought her that the Merida's with this face, like the Rapunzel/Tangled doll, were also issued this way. I still think she is super sweet--skinny legs and all. She was in excellent shape except her hair--fuzzy... frizzy, so I gave her a trim and a boil perm. She does not quite fit the outfits I made for the Animators but this dress matched her painted on tights and shoes.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Disney Animator Dolls Patterns

I have decided to try my hand at making PDF patterns.
I have been making patterns for my dolls for about 10 years now--but not PDF's.

It has been fun and a bit frustrating--especially converting my hand drawn patterns to PDF files.

With a background in teaching I think I do a decent job of walking through the steps. The things that always frustrates me about sewing from patterns is that there always seems to be some key (to me) step left out and I tried hard to cover all those little things with lots of photos to supplement the written instructions as well as providing clear steps for finishing the garments to last--no raw edges!!

I have many patterns I am converting (many of my originals you have seen here on my blog on the DAC girls and other dolls) and I hope to offer them soon on a popular doll pattern website-They have my first file for review--so fingers crossed :)
Here's a sneak peek of the first 2 patterns.

Calling this one the Layer Cake Dress --I like a theme--so thinking of naming all these after sweet treats.

 This one (two-in-one actually) tentatively named, the Snow Cone Romper, is in work now:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Doll Make Over: Disney Animator's Mulan Update

I finally finished my Disney Animator Collection Mulan doll's re-root.
Why did I re-root a brand new doll? Read here.
It really took forever, not the actual re-rooting, but finding time to do it.
The complete reroot took about 4/5 hours of actually re-rooting.

I used Katsilk saran hair: 2 regular format each of Midnight Black, Brownette and My Sammy ( a mix of black, Brownette and a few gorgeous blonde highlights).  I have about a combined amount of one skein left, so a total of 5 skeins.

I use the tension re-rooting method which means I use a reroot tool, like this one, by Bountiful Baby, with a snipped off beading-needle in it, though I am sure their micro needle would work too. The holes, particularly around the hairline, are tiny and close together--so I had to use a tiny, tiny needle.

I learned a few things along the way so here are some tips if you are interested, if you have some for me please leave a comment --I need all the help I can get! :)


Removing the head is a bit difficult, the portion of the ball joint inside the head is fused there, meaning you will likely remove some of the interior vinyl, work slowly and don't give up.

The ball joint will probably break. Don't give up, you can fix it.

Alternatively you can leave the head on, clip the hair as close as possible and then shave off (yes, shave it with razor) the remaining stubble and the re-root it--this of course will leave all that fluff from the factory root inside the head (which bothers me for some reason) but, really -who cares, there is no where for it come out.
        Another drawback with this method is that you will not be able to add a extra securing layer of glue on the inside, but if you use enough hair in each hole it will stay very well (this is why it is called the tension method).

Dunk the head in hot water to tighten up the holes before rerooting and after rerooting to again tighten them--if the hair you use can take hot water.

Paint the head a color matching the hair you will use. I did not paint Mulan's head as it was already partially factory painted and the hair color I was using was similar, but because my re-rooting hair has much less bulk at the scalp than the original factory hair-- some scalp shows through in places particularly in the part line--as you can see below it is not painted. I wish I had painted it first--lesson learned.

The hairline/part line is very closely rooted--meaning the holes are very close together, do this part last. The bowing, flexing and denting that happens as you re-root the head will stress this area and may cause splitting between these tiny holes if they are already rooted.

The head is a bit hard, when rerooting I kept the head on a heating pad to soften it up a bit.

Reassembling--I broke the ball joint. I repaired it by running a screw through the pieces and creating the proper spacing with washers then added a bolt secure the whole assembly.
The white pin in the middle broke off--unusable. I replaced the spacing it created by using washers.

I softened up the body side of the neck by soaking in hot water and pushed the ball in. Then I heated up the head side of the neck and just jammed it straight down and back on.

I wish I had taken a photo of the repaired joint thing! But I was stressed about it working and just  wanted to put her head back on--now I don't want to disassemble her again.

She has great head movement and stability--just like the original movement.

I don't think this is the perfect solution, I do worry about the metal in the neck possible corroding or staining her some 40 years or so from now. I am thinking maybe two wooden balls attached by a proper length dowel would be a better solution--hindsight being 20/20 and all.

Her hair may not look like a large change--but for me it was worth the effort--it is multi-dimensional and styleable-it was not before,