Monday, July 14, 2014

Blythe vintage hanky dress

Preparing to sew the dress
I've admired the stunning Blythe couture creations by Frédérique on Flickr for some time, and recently she just shared a free tutorial for a vintage hanky dress for Blythe. I finally finished my own version.
There are so many gorgeous details in the pattern, little techniques you can learn and the finishing is perfect. I think I may even like the petticoat the best, it's so frilly and adds a lovely volume to the skirt.

It took a long time to make this, I found the hanky fabric to be very delicate and hard to sew with my machine, so I did a lot of hand sewing. I tried using a nice new sharp and thin needle, but at times it just mashed the fabric down into the feed dogs. One trick was to start sewing a bit farther from the edge, then hand sewing the first part to tidy it up. In the end the results were worth it to me, and a few days while I had a headache it was nice to have some quiet sewing to do while sitting around.
You can find the pattern and, even better, a full photo step-by-step on how to sew each step here. Many thanks to Frédérique for sharing her talent and gorgeous pattern!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Little coat

This is the next Blythe that will be getting some custom work when I get the chance. In the meantime, I've finally perfected my coat pattern. It's hard to get the fit right when it's so small. It started out as a Japanese Blythe sewing book pattern, and I was amazed that they expected me to add a pocket flap and piping at the collar, sleeve cuffs and waistline. Very fiddly work but it is very charming.

Once I tried the book pattern version, I made my own version with a longer bodice, shorter, gathered skirt and two pocket flaps. This one turned out well, but it's a little bit snug without much room for another top underneath. I also made my pattern with a full lining so there was no worrying about fraying.

You'd think that all this would be painstaking enough, but once I finished and added buttons on top with snap closures underneath, I didn't like how bulky it was. So I added handsewn button holes. It's a little fussy to get on, but I love how it looks! Worth the trouble? I don't know, I don't know why I get obsessed about making little things like this, but I do, so I've just decided to accept it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Going Blythe

This is my first Blythe and my first custom. I didn't mean to get into Blythe, but it happened and now I'm hooked! My favourite part of course is sewing and knitting the little outfits, so more on that later but in the meantime I wanted to mention how I did the custom face.

Here's the "before" picture:
The first thing I did was add sleepy eyes. There are lots of tutorials online, but what many of them don't mention is that if you leave her sleeping too long - like overnight I guess? - the mechanism may warp and in my case the cord no longer worked to switch the eye colours.

So since I had to replace that, I was going to open her up anyway and it seemed like a good time to make some more changes. The face is sand-matted, then the eyes were boggled and gaze corrected, the easiest changes because all you do is shave off a wee bit of plastic and she looks up instead of down, and the lids don't show when her eyes are open. Again, lots of tutorials online so I won't describe that part anymore.

I did the carving with some wooden handled tools I already had for making linocuts one thousand years ago in art class.

The next thing I did wrong was when I used the hot glue method of removing the eye chips. Call me old-fashioned but I'm not that keen on the orange and pink eyes. So the part that went wrong is that I was too speedy with the glue stick and it actually melted the eye chip a bit. I guess you should just take a moment after you heat the stick before applying it. Anyway what I discovered is that you can use those nail buffer pads (which I used to sand matte the face) to smooth out the chip, then buff it back to a shine. Phew!

Lastly I didn't want to use the spray matte/fixative so I just applied the colour with chalk pastels and a Q-tip and I guess at some point it might wear off. But I found if you rub it in, it seems to almost stain into the plastic and seems quite durable.

Here's the "after" face:
The adorable beret is a free pattern from Maggie Baird called Écolière Beret (on Ravelry). It's really such a nice and simple pattern. I designed and knit the cardigan myself, the pattern needs some adjustment but it was fun to knit something on 0000 knitting needles. The dress, which you can't really see, is from a Japanese Blythe sewing book but I'll show more of those later.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Even smaller

click on the pics to see them larger
So as you will know if you've read my previous posts, I've been working on finishing my first doll house, a 1:12 scale project. But secretly, without posting about it, I've acquired other houses. I'm sorry I haven't had the chance to share but it's been quite busy.

I really wouldn't have room for another 1:12 house, so I've been trying out other scales. I became captivated by the little 1:48 (quarter size) house kits available from Petite Properties in England and picked out a simple house (the Honeysuckle basic house kit) to try. Although I do like the way they're usually finished with a realistic shabby chic style, I tried something different for my house.

This house is inspired by vintage toy houses, that are often painted in simple colours like cream, red and green. I found the kit very easy to put together, but of course any kit can be as challenging as you want to make it. I also tried out a few 1:48 furniture kits also from Petite Properties.
Because the furniture kits are laser cut there's lots of nice tiny detail but they are, of course, very delicate. I haven't finished the interior yet, but it was fun using patterned paper to make wallpaper and adding trim. Because it's so small you can make fireplaces from cardboard and cut trim (and roof shingles) from cardstock. There are still more things for me to do in the interior but you can get the general idea from this picture.
The tiny wooden dog was found in an old sewing box I bought at a vintage shop. Now he has the perfect home.
I had fun dressing the bed with a striped mattress, floral coverlet, sheet and pillows. I had also bought a tiny handmade penny wooden doll on Etsy (Renee Bowen Miniatures), and she is also the perfect size for this house. I made a tiny outfit for her and she is pictured here on the bed.

So really, it was quite practical for me to buy this house, in order to store these 1/4 scale miniatures and be efficient and well-organized.  Right?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Julie's houses
As I've been working on my own mini projects I've been discovering so many miniature blogs and as I find them I add them to the list on my sidebar. One of my favourites is Julie's dolls house blog - I love her little 1/24th scale houses. They have a simple seaside style that is so fresh and charming. Today I noticed that she is hosting a giveaway for one of her little houses! You can enter by leaving a comment on her blog and you have until Mar. 1st so it's not too late.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Window installation

Francis would like you to notice that he and the house have the same colour scheme
I've now installed all the windows on my Glencroft. That is, 15 windows total! (nine in front, two on one side, four on the other) They all have little screen printed white bars on them that are quite charming and I'm happy with the final results. Incidentally as you can see in the picture I added the flower box and the rest of the brackets that go under the windows and flower box as well.
I realized that I could go ahead and install the windows without worrying about the interior trim yet as long as the frames are flush with the interior walls. So I can still wallpaper before installing the interior window (and door) trim.

The only thing I can say about installing them is that it was a lot of work and I felt like I was installing real windows! Well not really. But here are the steps. Punch out the windows from their sheet, punch out the acetate from their sheet, punch out corresponding window trim and sills. Sand, sand, sand. Prime all the pieces. Paint all the pieces. Paint them all again. Glue the acetate to the frame then glue the other half of the frame and clip to dry. Scrape and sand and cut slivers away from the window gaps and then the windows themselves so that they would fit. Glue the windows in place and wonder why you were ever crazy enough to consider hinging them all.

And voila, the results are pretty windows that fit very snugly and are fun to peek through.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Painted roof

So I did kind of mess up the roof at first. I painted it with some paint I already had that seemed to be very dark grey. It was too dark. So I tried again with a lighter version by mixing the dark grey with the trim light grey colour. The trouble was the dark grey had a lot of blue so the roof ended up looking kind of grey-blue which didn't look right next to the grey trim.

So I tried painting it again with the light grey trim paint and that looked sort of insipid and not great either. I was starting to sort of not like the house anymore. Between you and me it wasn't the first moment when I had regretted the whole enterprise.
Finally I decided I would have to buy some new paint and found the perfect slate grey in a matte finish from my local paint shop. Then I layered on a lighter grey by mixing it with the trim grey. And finally I like my house again.

I had assembled and primed the doors already, so I also painted the front door in a nice dull red that creates a nice classic dolls' house colour scheme of grey, cream-white and red. The door has a lion knocker on it as well that I bought from the UK on Ebay. For some reason when I had barely started my kit I had always had the idea to get a lion door knocker, so it was nice to finally find one I liked. It also came nicely antiqued. The door isn't attached yet, I need to buy some hinges and doorknobs as well. Does anyone know where to find some that aren't shiny brass?

Now it's time to finish the interior walls so I can add the interior trim so I can attach the windows and doors. Oh, and I have to assemble and paint the windows and doors...

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