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,

Monday, February 16, 2015

Disney Animator's Toddler Mulan: A No Good Very Bad Hair Day

I purchased Mulan from the Disney store recently. I could not resist that face! She is a part of the Disney Animator's collection of Princess toddler dolls. Mulan comes with her shiny princess "satin" outfit and a "plush" pet, her dog, Little Brother.
This is her photo from Disney's website and these braids, thick as they look,  are sparse compared with the marine- towing- rope- gauge braids my Mulan came with

 Like all the Disney toddler dolls, she is made of heavy high quality vinyl and has a somewhat woeful expression. Her hair is dense, rough and a one-dimensional, very dark black, it is very well rooted along her hair line and is rooted into a two-pony tail style with a clear part from her forehead to the nape of her neck. Her hair was originally in two very big, very thick braids--when I unbraided them--Whoa! I was a bit disappointed --her hair is WAY too thick and choppily cut-really no other style than the braids can really be achieved with this hair this way. Her hair is also absolutely shellacked with hair gel.
To me, hair is the most important feature on a doll. I cannot just leave the manufacturer's style--I want my dolls to look unique and change their hairstyle with their outfits. I need options-I need good hair!

 I decided to thin out this haystack of hair a bit and actually found my always-misplaced thinning shears and very slowly began to thin her hair out to try and achieve some semblance of actual hair a child or even a child yeti might have. You have to be careful with thinning shears--you can actually make a fuzzy hair situation worse with them. I kept them below her chin level to prevent flyaways and made sure my cuts did not create more choppiness by varying the angle I held them and where I made the cuts along the length.

 After washing the hair, the spit curl on her forehead and the ringlets by her ears went totally frizzy, but this was a smaller problem. I took out a lot of bulk--but the hair remained very bulky. I went from slowly thinning each small section around her head to just going nuts with the thinning shears--thinking: I am probably going to have to reroot her anyway. 

This playline Ariel toddler doll has some of the best manufacturer doll hair I have ever seen, Ariel has left my collection -she now brings her lovely smile and super brushable hair to a special needs PreK classroom.
I have other Disney dolls and their hair is lovely--Tangled, Princess and Me Cinderella and also my Goodwill find, playline Toddler Ariel whose hair was silky and gorgeous after a day at spa. 

 I ended up thinning the hair mountain again and again and again, trimming the length and then after a second wash and condition, rolling it in small perm rods-I had to do each half of her head separately--because there is still so much hair I ran out of perm rods--Did I say she has too much hair? : ) This did not work either as the curls just fell out. I did not boil perm as in my experience this type of hair does not hold up to heat.

So I decided she must have a reroot. It was quite easy to remove her body, with little effort I just popped out the ball joint from the neck. Now I thought --I will just warm up the head and pop out the other portion of the ball joint--LOL not happening--it was glued in and the material of this portion was so crumbly-like a stick of Juicy Fruit gum--I was finally able to pry it out without damaging the head with a large screwdriver-but the joint is mangled. I think I can rig something up with a plumbing ball joint to replace it....will share that when I get there.....

I have several skeins of saran hair in shades of brown left over from other projects and I think that will look great on her...

Have you had any experiences with Animator's series doll hair? I had Pocahontas on my want list, but now I don't want any more dark haired dolls from this current line, unless I am ready to reroot them or they are older issues with possibly better quality hair.

Bye for now --gotta go vacuum up doll hair :) Stay tuned for Mulan's reroot.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Doll Make Over: Vogue Brikette

I finished making-over my little Vogue Brikette.

Yes that is scotch tape-it was holding her hair on!
She was rerooted with Katsilk saran Black Orchid-- one large format and one small format skein. I replaced her sleep eyes too.
I made her outfit with a vintage 1970's Simplicity pattern 9698 for 15 1/2" Velvet dolls.

Well, I know I said I don't go in for the whole creepy Talky Tina thing (A Brikette was the doll in that Twilight Zone episode), but as soon as I turned my back on these two after placing them-- they clasped hands and did a Thelma and Louise right off the shelf taking my gorgeous Miss Kittycat with them-- smashing her to a zillion pieces :(

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Doll Make Over: Vogue Brikette

I bought a couple of Vogue Brikettes a while back they have been impatiently waiting for me to clean them up and dress them. 

I really have always loved Brikette's face --she's up to something! 

Brikette was actually the doll used in the famous Twilight Zone Talky Tina episode, I did not buy her for that reason, but in spite of it--I don't go in for the whole scary, creepy, this-doll-might-kill-me, thing. 

Brikette was made in 2 sizes: 22 inch and 16 inch. Both of mine are marked 1960. 
Early Morning Brikette Spa
All done-- she seemed to want something with that outstretched hand, so I gave her a penny, she is from I thought she might be able to get a piece of candy or two with it.

My big Brikette was unstrung so I had to figure out how to restring her--I need to get more info on this process because she is still very floppy. 
I had to make a waist support out of a wide strip of velcro to get her to be even half-way compliant while I cleaned and dressed her. 
Her hair was very nice and original I only needed to wash, condition and let her hair dry with a piece of fabric pressing down her bangs to make them lay flat. I made her a dress. She is a lot bigger than most of my dolls. I used a vintage Ideal Giggles doll pattern as a basis for the dress and then added length and also added elastic at the sleeve ends because she has really big hands and I did not want to make really wide sleeves on her dress.
The smaller Brikette was more of a challenge--she has chewed fingers and she had this hair and it looked cute and maybe fixable, but it was mohair--and I know that Brikette was made with Saran hair so I was very careful when I washed it--but this happened....

Yikes! That mohair was held onto her scalp with glue and scotch tape! So I am re-rooting her...
Will post her "After" photo soon!