craft, Doll, Uncategorized

Like Grandma

A friend checked in on how I was doing yesterday.

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I haven’t knit for at least eight years. In fact I’d cleaned out my knitting yarn stash a few years back (keeping all my needles and supplies, just letting go of the odd yarn) in a Kon-Mari spree.

My stash was a reasonable size because I knit small things….and my friend (above) knew  my knitting history in Japan as he is the happy owner of my knitted Yoda.

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I figured out how to knit in the round with multiple double pointed needles and started making my own creatures. For some I took detailed notes that I still have in a notebook, although with years of not knitting it at first reads like the diary of a madwoman.

Nope, no patterns. Those just flowed from my brains through my fingers. I seem to like multiple heads and solitary eyes.

Yet I never thought I’d knit doll clothing. It’s silly to say that now. No one who knows me and my crafts would think that I’d have a weird block about knitting doll clothing..but I did.

Knitted Doll Clothing? That’s a grandma thing. That’s, specifically, a Grandma Leah thing.
Grandma Leah knit doll clothing for my Barbies. The dresses were nice, the sweaters were maddening (Barbies hands would catch in the sleeves and they had the tiniest of buttons) and the underwear ungainly. She also watched bowling, called the dog Stink Ass and could sigh and complain in a passive aggressive manner that will never be forgotten.

My Grandmothers were two very different women.

Grandma Christine was educated and strong-willed, able to extricate herself from tough situations and start out on her own power and brains and find the skills to do whatever it was she needed to do to survive and raise two kids…time and time again in her life. She could also sew anything.

Grandma Leah was never in charge of her own destiny and I have no idea if she could read much beyond patterns and catalogues. Life sort of happened to her and existing family helped her. That’s how she came to live with my father and step-mother when I was young. But…she could knit and crochet. She could sit down, follow a pattern, and make a thing. The thing wasn’t usually artful but it was executed with precision… Her sense of color, texture, and grace was lacking: cheap acrylic yarns, the worst colors, bulky scratchy things. Things she made served a purpose…often that purpose was to be sold at a craft meet so she could make some money.
I have her knitting and crochet supplies now. I even have three oddly written pages someone sent her explaining how to make an infamous pair of slipper booties. EVERY family member got these booties. She was always crocheting these booties. They were warm and ugly.

Someday I will have to make sense the notes I have of hers… if only to make my father and step-mother a pair of booties each…out of the worst acrylic yarn colors I can find. You know, for family traditions to be remembered. I’m not tackling it just yet because it’s crochet, which makes far less sense to me than knitting. I can do it but it’s never become an automatic skill I can easily freestyle in.

How did I get to knitting a sweater?

I made my Monomono doll a pair of pajama bottoms and thought…”She needs a comfy sweater for bad days.”…I guess it is time to knit for a doll.

I found a Blythe sweater pattern on Knitty and picked up a substitute yarn, figuring I had all the supplies at home. I looked at some black yarn and thought “No, your home lounging sweater isn’t your out-and-about sweater. It’s the odd one that is more about comfort than looks. It’s how you hug yourself when no one is there.

Then, once home, I learned I didn’t have a pair of size zero needles.

You don’t understand how shocking that was…. THIS is my needle collection.

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I had everything BUT. And I mean EVERYTHING. That baggies is full of 4-5 double sided needles from 1-7. There’s a whole ROLL of hooks under that baggie you can’t even see. I have at LEAST 3 of each size of single sided needles.

I figured out the gauge and managed to knit up the sweater on size 1 needles. A gauge swatch being slightly off on large projects means HUGE difference but for a tiny project? not so much.

I knit for a day, relearning what knitting abbreviations mean, and had a doll sweater.

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Your new favorite synthpop band.

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Your new favorite Golden Girls remake.

I think she needs a pair of bunny slippers, or skull slippers, or bunny skull slippers next.

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costuming, craft, Doll, pullip, sewing, Uncategorized

Dressing to Dance. Nah-atto part 1

I’m a belly dancer. I teach and perform and study belly dance. I also make belly dance costumes.

There was no doubt that I’d combine dolls with dance. As soon as I saw a used Pullip Nah-atto doll I had to have it.

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But let’s be honest, Nahh-ato is all Orientalist tropes.

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Genie lamp, harem pants, odd collar with a ring, lounging couch, a not included in this photo but totally included in the outfit face veil….

That’s not to say that I, as a Western white woman involved in the dance, am not guilty of appropriation and Orientalism. I try to educate myself. I listen. I make mistakes and hopefully I have and will continue to correct myself when called out.

My Nahh-Ato has arms that have grown loose and floppy over time. So, she’s getting a new body. The closest skin match I could find for her was the MTM Soccer barbie.

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This Barbie can easily fit in every part of the outfit except the bra-top. So, while repainting the face and awaiting new eyes, I made a dance costume modeled after 1960’s/1970’s belly dance albums and fashions…all from leftovers in my stash.

I serged/roll hemmed four half circles (two larger, two smaller) to make the skirt. Then I sewed the remaining serger tail into the serged area and beaded the edge.

I then made harem pants with side slits that close at the ankles and are open on one side at the hips.

I stitched the pants onto a Barbie bikini bottom that closes on the side (you can see my basting stitches). I then attached the skirt to the panty-harem pants combo. In human-sized belly dance these would be three separate items you could mix and match but a doll can’t afford that many rolls of elastic and fabric bulking up her form.

All of these layers were eventually attached to her belt so her waist-down outfit snaps at the side and the ankles.

I used interfacing to start making the belt form.

If I were costuming for a human the form and back of the belt would be two separate pieces  that overlapped at the sides… makes altering costumes when dealing with weight changes easier, you just unstitch the joined side and the hooked side and adjust symmetrically. But dolls don’t change size and don’t appreciate the extra layers.

The fray check stained the satin but that wouldn’t be an issue as I was adding another layer of fabric, silver lace.

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I started using chains and decorations from some cannibalized jewelry I have in my stash for decorating dance costumes…

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I made a top based loosely off her original one using the same techniques. It snaps at the back and neck.

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The ribcage articulation reads a little like underboob from this angle.

This is her face, waiting for eyes and a few finishing touches.

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Enter a caption

….and I found Nahh-Ato’s lounging couch at my local Hobby-Off….so she’s ready for her eyes, wig, and the sort of “lounging bellydance” photos that bring ALL the haters and shamers to the yards.

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blythe, craft, Doll, pullip, sewing, Uncategorized

All those outfits

I am nursing a flare-up in tendonitis in one of my ankles so I’ll be at home for a few days during the national holidays icing and resting and probably catching up. I could explain why it’s been a while but it’s not interesting: work and life.

I’m waiting for some eye chips to arrive. If they were here that’s what I’d be up to.

I realized that in talking about the new bodies and old sewing machine I brought back with me from the homeland…I hadn’t told you about the DOLL CLOTHING.

Let’s just say I have a source who cannot be named. My dealer sometimes has baggies and baggies of doll clothing. She laughed and laughed at seeing a full-grown me (as a girl I hadn’t been much into dress-up doll play and she’s known me since my youth) sitting on the floor surrounded by weee clothing.

Below are dark photos of much of my stash…RIGHT?

And if you’re looking at those groovy blue paisley pants and thinking “Wow”…I’m about to blow your mind. That paisley and the two items under it (psychedelic and anchors)…are…

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PANTSUITS! You didn’t think they could get better and yet they did.

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the MTM Barbie showing off one of then new dresses

Not everything fits. Alterations are in process. but I’ve spotted some of these on vintage Barbies and Blythes online and pumped my fists shouting “Scooooore”

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Whaaaaat? Vintage Francie, Barbie’s mod friend? I know that dress!

Who wore it better?

Another look now in rotation is a jacket I got from my hook-up.

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That’s actually the inside. It’s got an extra layer of stiff fabric to give the skirt more shape. It fit the dolls in the arms and shoulders but didn’t close. So I added lace, trim and a closing ribbon…

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And Reggie is ready to hit the GothLoli clubs..as long and she doesn’t get her laces caught in an escalator.

That’s the HAUL!

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barbie, craft, pullip, Uncategorized

Stocking bodies!

From March 16th to march 27th I was in my hometown of Madison…so it was time to buy a few things not readily available in Japan: Hair texturizer product for my limp hair, cheap bras in my size, NYX make-up (But they are coming back to Japan SOOOOOON), Urban Decay make-up, fun clothing from Zip-Dang on Monroe street, and some Barbie Made-to-move bodies.

Sidebar: Special shout-out to the heart-printed  1654 Retrolicious Be Mine Bombshell Dress. It wears so easy…it’s nearly sold out in most sizes but they have this cut in other prints.

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This is right before removing make-up after two dance sets. Sweaty GLOW!

Why did I buy Barbies?

There’s something now called the Made to Move body Barbies. HIGHLY articulated bodies. I needed one to use as a replacement body for a Pullip “Nah-tou” belly dancer I’m going to start fixing up. Most replacement bodies in Japan don’t have the right skin color, they come in WHITE and LESS WHITE.  This MTM Barbie has a less curvy build than the iconic Barbie and is a close match. I’m going to have to hit her face with a little bronzer to make it work when I repaint…more on her in future posts.

 

 

But…when stalking the Walmarts/Targets/Toy-soon-to-be-not-R’s I saw the MTM CURVY body at TARGET. And I HAD TO BUY HER. Barbie Fashionista line has had a variety of bodies, including this curvy one, for a few years but this is the first release of it as a MTM.

I’d seen people on-line in a Pullip group talk about this body, excited at the idea of having more curvy options for their existing dolls. There was brief talk from a few commenters about how we should write to Mattel asking for LIGHTER skin colors (as Pullips are notorious PALE-AF) but a bunch of us were all OMG NO! NOT A GOOD LOOK! PLEASE DON’T.

I promptly took photos of her once back at my mom’s place.

 

 

She was a hit with friends back home and I subsequently brought her to a few meet-ups with female buddies. We’re adults, yo.

I didn’t know what I was going to do with her. She’s not a skin-color match for anything I had. I looked online and noticed that some other industrious Pullip customizer has been taking pictures to figure out possible skin matching. I wish I could find it now but it showed that the Curvy MTM matches well with the Tiger Lily Byul.

WHAT is BYUL?

Well, Byul is the Pullip doll I had theretofore found seriously creepy. She’s just too jowely.

 

 

And Byul Tigerlily? Um. So Pullip did a Peter Pan series….

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Yeah. Um. Racist Stereotype Tigerlilly.

And at the Ikebukuro Dollyteria that Byul is in a plastic baggie, fully dressed up, no alterations. I always am terrified and upset when I see it. Nope.  I can’t justify that used purchase, even for a Curvy body.

But DollyTerria ALSO had a Byul head on some other too-pale body that I’d remembered seeing online. When I returned to Japan I ordered it and it was delivered the next day.

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Then I got an Inspiration. CATY! The MUA who did an inspiration look from one of my faceups.

 

 

Caty’s curvy and STYLISH BEYOND WORDS! So, I’m going to do a Caty inspired look.

But first I had to get the body ready:

Off with her awesome head, sorry.

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Shave down the neck peg thingie

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But the curvy neck turns out to be TOO wide at the top to attach the head. So I filed and sanded until it fit.

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Here’s the head on the new body, the outfit, the makeup, those eyes and hair are temporary…just to show Caty why I think this doll is gonna kill one of her looks.

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If you’ve got a favorite Catysuewho look you think I should be looking to…lemme know!

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craft, Doll, pullip, sewing, Uncategorized

Reggie.

It’s come to my attention that when I post updates of what I’m working on, dollwise, it can be a little hard to follow if I show multiple dolls. Fair. I mean the “Groove” dolls (The company that now makes Pullips/Dals/Ect) are rather inter-changable once you remove their wigs and clothes and are sanding their faces.

Remember her?

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She’s the first doll I ordered from DollyTerria in Ikebukuro…and when I did I’d mistaken her from the Monomono Dal with the elf ears I’d eventually buy in person.

So I had a Pullip doll with no blinking eyelids or eyelid bars. This sent me on an adventure of buying eyelids/eye mechanisms only to learn the subtle differences between generations of heads/eye-mechs. Eventually I had eyelids and wink bars for her AND a whole different head from another doll with eyelids and wink bars AND picked up an extra Obitsu body for the new (2nd) head.

I see why this is confusing.

This is the doll that literally had a dead bug in her head, eww.

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This is the face I removed. It’s not the original face of the original doll. Someone had already done one “faceup” on this and had put in new eye-chips that had once been intended for teddybears.

Eye chips are flat underneath so when using eyes intended for stuffed animals the prong that goes into the fabric (and then gets anchored with a safety screw) has to be cut off and sanded.

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This is her face most of the way through repainting. Some of the pigment I used is actual eye-shadow instead of just chalk pastel and watercolor pencils, thus the shimmer.

I ordered these eyes from ChewyRabbit on Etsy. I ordered a 12mm which is a smidge small but work.

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I sewed a dress…once more using the scraps of that skeleton fabric I STILL have. The gather is a little uneven but it adds “character”.

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I picked up those boots (Azone) and a dark blue/black wig used (1,000 yen each) at Mandrake Akihabara. I don’t think I’ll ever want to make shoes. This is an Obitsu body,  I’m using it as the base body and have given her original body to the extra head. Confusion. No real reason for it.

Then  I went to America for 10 days.

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Meet Ozma the Cat. I am Ozma the dancer (stage name) and my mother sometimes signs on-line replies as MOO, Mother of Ozmas. She doesn’t watch Game of Thrones.

Returning to Japan, I was happy to see my ChewyRabbit eyes had arrived! The next day, as I waited for my luggage to be delivered, I assembled Ronnie. I have a few weeks before I’m back to working both of my jobs, so expect many crafts to get completed…or half started..probably both.

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The wig originally covered her half of her eyes. I trimmed back the bangs. She’s obviously a little evil and scary. The eyes strike me as too matchy-matchy with the eye color, but it’s grown on me.

A friend noted that she look a little Evil Veronica. That led to me I’m calling her Reggie (short for Regina) as the trio remind me a bit of Archie, Reggie, and Jughead.

She’s getting a fabulous jacket later…but riiiiight after posting her on Instagram and FB THIS  awesome thing happened. Meet my on-line buddy Caty T. WOOOOOO!

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Caty is a MAC MUA who also bellydances and is AMAZING and young and talented. And I’ve already stolen a bunch of her looks for an inspiration file and am marinating on a Caty inspired doll because that’s the sort of person I am.

From Bug-head to Judhead’s Bud, that’s Reggie’s journey.

 

 

 

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