craft, Disney, Doll, Uncategorized

Unsticking Bubbles.


It was on Bubbles that my series languished. I’d chosen one of the two Auroa dolls I have. It’s not a face sculpt I much like. The eyes feel too large and wide apart but I thought it might work for Bubbles.

Alas, her hair parted on the side and I found no way that I could make her hairstyle work. I chopped off her hair and thought I’d make a wig….but I never did.


Last week, in surveying projects to finish up, I knew in my heart it was time to move on…and try making Cinderella into Bubbles instead.


When I first got Cinderalla she was sporting some facial stains that I finally bleached off with 10% Benxoyl Peroxide acne cream this summer.


I figured that she had a middle-part hair and would work…but it was difficult to really make out the full part because of how matted her hair was.


I conditioned and brushed and conditioned and brushed. At first I did so without gloves and then realized that if I’m going to increase doll work I’ll also need to increase protection to my skin and body. Gloved up.


It was only once it was fully dry that I realized the top part was great for pigtails….but the hair becomes too sparse in back to support that style.

I’m never going to fully reroot a Disney Animator doll again, that was a special hell, but her hair seems easy to match and I’m fine with just adding a part and longer bangs in front.

Which is how Bubbles came to get the back of her head removed so I can more easily glue and access skull bits without removing her head.


I’m not going to have time this week to get more hair, so I don’t expect to get any further on her until after the dance studio has it’s show. The rest of my night tonight is for cleaning and costume alterations.


Disney, Doll, Uncategorized

Build me up, Buttercup


When Powerpuff Girls hit big time in 1998 it made and impact on me and my female friends.

We were recently out of college or finishing up. You can’t tell me that we WEREN’T the key demographic…I know that we were in my heart and because by the time it was on video I worked at an independent video store and had seen the promotional goods and screeners and the info that went with them.

Kick-ass female cartoon characters were still few and far between. We had to make do with a single female ass-kicker in a group of men OR turn to Japanese Anime. Three powerful little girls? YES, PLEASE. Did we discuss the dynamics of which character we strongly identified with? YES.

I was Buttercup. It wasn’t up for debate. I didn’t have to argue for it. It was known.

Strong temper? Not a morning person? Blunt? Not the best impulse control?  Somehow loved despite that?


Me in the late 90’s. SEE?

While I am now more of a Buttercup/Blossom hybrid, I didn’t see that shift coming. Shout-out to medications that help me be more level-headed and not ALL id.

Last year I completed Blossom and Buttercup’s faces and hair. I realized today that I’d not shown you that. Last I shared Ariel and Snow White were still detached heads, getting bangs and the start of the Blossoming.


And this is Blossom now:


Buttercup has also finished with her face-up,this is an in-progress shot to show the lip-scar. I figured she’d be the one most likely to have split a lip or sport bruises.


And her head returned to her body.


I’m a little nonplussed with the dresses I made. I think they need to be cuter with fuller skirts.

And that has left Bubbles…in the corner.


I’d picked an Aurora doll…but her hair part wasn’t right. I figured I’d make her a wig, but hand sewing a wig is something I haven’t found a great tutorial on. Progress has been spotty. The wig shown was a Mercari buy so I could harvest cheap wefts.

In the interest of tackling unfinished projects instead of starting new ones, I’ve decided to go another direction with her. Stay tuned.

craft, Disney, Doll, sewing, Uncategorized

Power Puffing

Where have I been? I’ve been doing my summer thing. I’ve made a lot of stuff, done some social things, and visited America for 12 WHOLE DAYS.

And now, with my day job lurking beyond this weekend it’s time to start catching all of you up on my projects.

First up we have a work in progress: Powerpuff Girls.


I have a ton of Disney Animators dolls so Ariel is becoming Blossom, Snow is Buttercup and Aurora will be Bubbles.

First I had to clean them and do many days outside with 10% Benxol Peroxide acne cream to remove stains.


Which brings us to hair.

I’m ok with Blossom’s hair being more red than orange but neither Ariel nor Snow have bangs.

Which meant removing heads in order to properly root some bangs in.


I had to do the same thing with Snow. I also figured there are two waysI could interpret Buttercup’s hair. It can be slick with the up wave at the ends or I could make it more of a messy curly bob as her out of place hairs and morning illustrations suggest. I’ll be going team curly. Why not? More variation.


Aurora/Bubbles. Her hair just didn’t have the right part to do ponytails AT ALL AT ALL. I’ll work at making her a wig because I am never going to reroot a whole ‘nother of these heads. I’m sewing my first large wig cap for her, as I couldn’t find a light colored 13inch doll wig cap available online in Japan and I have stretchy nude fabric in my stash.


I’ll be buying a used wig of Mercari here later to remove blond wefts from, cheaper than buying them new.



And I’ve started on Blossom’s face.


I have already drafted a pattern that’ll work for the dresses, I did that back in the early stages when I thought I’d just learn a bit more about hand sewing by using a book about sewing for dolls….ya know…that thing that lead to all these DOLLS and Repaints.


And that, my dears, is only the start of what I’ve been up to.

craft, Disney, Doll, sewing, Uncategorized

Melody, complete!


Last I updated about Melody, as far as my searches show me, I’d given up on dying her synthetic hair. I’d pried her head off and started rooting.

MY GOD, that was arduous. The heads of Disney Animators are about the size of softballs.

Towards the end I realized that the the neck hole was so small, and the area I’d need to secure inside with glue was so large…it was near impossible to do cleanly so I…CUT INTO HER HEAD.


Desperate times.

I finished rerooting the head and the skull flap and secured the hair with Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue. Then I used Liquid Fusion and swearing to fit the head back into place.


I later, after building up enough layed of liquid fusion, painted the seams black. And took photos.


Then onto painting!

I didn’t take in progress photos. This is the final result all at once, with a little outfit I sewed her because I don’t like the idea of sending a naked doll to a friend.



This week I’ll find a box and send her off to Gina and her daughter. And never ever reroot a Disney Animator Doll again.

craft, Disney, Doll, Uncategorized

Snowover it.

Ahh…my first week of relaxation and catching up on crafts, sort of.

Because of how the dispatch company I work at is set up, this year they pulled English assistants out of the public schools a record week before graduation, adding another week onto our unpaid downtime as part-time workers before our contracts begin again in mid-April.

So, I figured time would be abundant and I’d tackle crafts.

I’d also study for the JLPT N2 this year, something I’ve been doing daily since the new year begun but have been afraid to say anything about lest I jinx it.

I decided, last Tuesday, to just tackle another large Disney Animator doll from the BOX OF DOLLS.  I picked one of the three Snow Whites I have.


I’ve long thought that Snow White wouldn’t be thrilled with the amount of Snow White merchandise that features apples: apple scented Snow White hand lotion, apple earrings, and so on.  If I were Snow White I’d sure have some serious apple-related trauma to deal with. My idea was to keep Snow White herself, but update it to a Snow White who has been THROUGH her ordeals and come out the other side.

I think this is the 1st generation of the Snow White Disney Animator’s Dolls because she has the shortest hair, which was in keeping with the vague idea I had for her.

I pined her hair away, covered her body, and then removed all her makeup with 100% acetone. There were faint hints of where her lip color had been but I’d be giving her darker lips so it didn’t matter.

Then I sprayed three layers of Mr.SuperClear (MSC) UV Matte (allowing them each time to dry) and started with the first layer of chalk pastels.


Then, over the next day, I built up pastels/water color pencils and layers of MSC…feeling MUCH better about my grasp of eyebrow shapes and location but like I need to do some sketch studies of eyes before my next few dolls.f833f05f-09e0-44e1-946e-f8c211d5e7db

It’s at this point that friends on social media usualy remind me how deeply creepy these images are.

Then came the tattoos. I primed her chest with MSC and got my magnifying set-up out and started to free-hand. Some doll customizers use nail transfers to do doll tattoos but what I wanted to do wouldn’t be readily available in that form.


My friend Whitney has awesome tattoos and the idea of adapting Snow’s bird-buddies for chest tattoos draws heavily from Whitney’s real life ink. Whitney’s birds are more traditional but she has AMAZING Oz-related sleeves…and I have a poppy on my back and use Ozma as a stage name. We met way back in the day on LJ just because of Oz-related icons. More on her later…

This is the tattoo midway through.

As you can see, the sword and the apple are a visal riff on the Evil Queen’s heart box. You know the one she had handy to be all “Hey, huntsman, go kill Snow and THEN put her heart in this decorative heart-stabby box.”…except instead of a heart being stabbed it’s and apple because…well… DAMN APPLES.


Snow wouldn’t be the first person to have tattoos to commemorate what she’s survived. Nor…as I look at the face-up I gave snow…would she be the first person to gank make-up style from a problematic source.

More detail work.


This would be around Thursday, at which point I got an email from my company saying:

So…. your next contract? It starts on your birthday. Yay. We’ve cut back your hours even though you were very specific. La la la la la. And we’ve put you in a school situation that you’ve specifically said “NO, Don’t. Nope.” to so there’s that. HAPPY WEEKEND.

Dramatic re-enactment of my reaction to this.


Sure, I was planning for this to be my last year with them. It’s part of why I’ve upped my Japanese study rate and desire to get N2 and eventually N1 certification…so I have more options. But ESCANDALO none the less.

I have since contacted my company with questions…and got a lovely email back that answered approximately 25% of my concerns/questions.

queen 3

Luckily, my resumes are ALL up-to-date.

Saturday, after teaching dance classes, this is where Snow is. Her lips and eyes have been fixed and glossed. I found a 100¥ bandana print headband and reduced it to her proportions.


Here’s where she started and is now.


And….here is Snow and Whitney…because as soon as I posted Snow, Whitney was all “I love her but she stole my look.”  In turn, I stole a picture of Whitney looking very Snow.


I’m currently knitting Snow her own yellow, wide, sweater. Tomorrow, as I take my train to my first job interview, I’ll be bringing my knitting needles to relax my nerves.  I also have enough left over denim fabric from making tiny doll jeans to create some jeans for her.

I’m glad I have art supplies to ride out the stress.

Disney, Doll, Uncategorized

Who is the gaijin in your neighborhood?

Hi, Neighbors!

Don’t mind us! We’re just TEATHERED* to the balcony here and slathered in acne cream.


*we get earthquakes. I figured it’s best to tie them for their protection.

I  dressed them because I rationalized that seeing naked dolls would be more upsetting for my neighborhood.

These girls need sunlight to clean their face-stains. Well, sunlight and acne medication with 10% benzoyl peroxide. I’m nearly out so Gina is sending me some. It’s not available in Japan.

Cinderella’s stains are responding, slowly but surely.


Aurora? Not yet.


About Auroa’s hair. This was my first very intense boil perm.


Unfortunately some of the curls on the right hand side of the photo were too loose and I’m redoing those looser curls. They’re drying right now.

I thought about redoing them all because she’s alarmingly curly but…I might just turn her into Claudia when I repaint her.



craft, Doll, Uncategorized

Ariel from the Box.

I’m now 43. I started using dial-up modems to access local chat lines when I was 14/15. So the raw amount of STUFF, good and bad, that accessing the world from your computer is not new…those early days in fact made me love using e-mail early and often to maintain and grow connections to people I’d met but reluctant to blog or participate in online communities in my early to late 20’s because WHY INVITE MORE DRAMA?

It wasn’t until after three years in Japan, on the cusp of turning 30, that I opened myself back up to blogging to maintain old friendships and express myself…and suddenly make far more connections than I’d expected.

One of the magical things about my years of sharing my thoughts and my assorted arts online has always been the support I’ve found. There are dramatic moments, like people coming out of lurking mode to contact me during the Tohoku quake and nuclear aftermath to tell me what my writing and creativity has meant for me (and, literally, providing me and my friends a safe-house in Nagoya).  There has been my ability to network with dancers internationally and teach workshops abroad.

And then there has been the physical stuff.

With my costuming and costume rehab people have contacted me over the to send me fabric stashes, older costumes, newer costume and more…no strings attached…just to see what I make or encourage me to keep making and sharing.

And then there’s Gina and this box of dolls…which won’t be the last box of dolls.


Gina met me on Live Journal and we’re still in each others lives via FB.

She cheers me on and thrift shops for me. I, in turn, bought thrift Pokemon goods for her daughter…but neither one of us is really saving any money on this right now, what with international shipping, but we’re building a friendship and encouraging each other. We’re saying “this and this if you see it but surprise me otherwise!”

More dolls will eventually come and I will custom repaint a doll for her daughter and we’ll both be richer in our way.

Toddler Moana has lead to the wrap dress I designed (and you can make) and is staying her adorable self… at least until I have and idea and skills that will make her even better.


But I’m STILL waiting for some Pullip Eyechips and I still have tendonitis issues and the second half of Japan’s holiday/Golden week is coming so I went BACK to the Box.


Ariel, you’re the next contestant.

Watching repaint videos from South Korea is where I first saw 100¥ socks being used to keep bodies and hair protected from fixative spray. These are 100¥ arm warmer things. This is easier (and far less creepy) than trying to wrap your doll in plastic wrap and tape. Swadling clothing vs. mad scientist.

Working on dolls is creepy. Period. But it doesn’t have to be Peak Creep.


See? Once you’ve used acetone to remove paint off your vinyl doll you’re already near the Creep Summit. I’ve come to love the sculpts on the Disney Animators Collection dolls, from different angles they seem to relay slightly different moods, but no face is no face.

This is when the doll gets her first layers of fixative to create a slight tooth/texture for the pigments to adhere to. In looking at this photo I wish I’d really gotten all the paint grit out of the inner corners of her eyes/under her lashline.


The background you see are the Ikea outdoor tiles for my mini balcony. I set the dolls up on cinder blocks, put my filter mask on, and spray them.

I’m glad I don’t live in the first floor. “Yeah, those foreigners always leaving half assembled dolls on cinderblocks on their yards.


This photo was after I built up the eye whites with acrylics,  I wouldlater regret not doing that even more obsessively on the edges, and the eyeliner. I also started putting in the eyebrows with water color pencils and a little bit of shading above the eyelid with sanded pastels an Elf makeup brush I reserve for doll-use-only.


Still creepy. The gunk in the corners of her eyes were making her look strung-out.


Disney Animators dolls are generally all looking away. Some read more “side eye/that’s none of my business” than others. It took a lot of penciled-on circles and erasing to figure out the placement and size I wanted. I ended with “looking up at you/looking wistfully up towards land” depending on the angle.

I started adding more color to her face with chalk pastels and water color pecil and brush. The irises are acrylic at the base and built up color pencil layers with a few coats of fixative now and then.


I thought I was finished. I even put acrylic gloss on the eyes and lips. There were no added white dots in the iris in the above picture, that’s reflection….

But something still bothered me.

I ended up obsessively sanding her eye paint to remove the gloss and then smooth the imperfections. With a pointed file I cleaned out her eye edges. I gave the edges of her lower eye whites a liiiiiiiitle gray line to create depth/transition . I made the water line more pink and less rusty.


Time to add more eyelashes and some gloss.

I thought about adding fake lashes but when I pressed one in place with my finger (no glue) she looked too pagent-girl.


Added eye-reflection highlights, onto gloss. Soon she would be free of her swaddling.

It was around 11pm when I took this photo in my kitchen. No bands to do her hair and too sleepy to iron her current dress.

I’ve got news for you girl, on land dads don’t always understand and they do reprimand daughters.

But I do have plenty of thingamabobs and I’m glad you’ve left the box.

But between you and me, reader, if I get into rerooting Disney doll hair it will be so I can make a toddler Ursula. Shhhhhhhh.

craft, Disney, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, tutorial, Uncategorized

Obi Sash Tutorial.

Now we’re going to make an obi sash for the yukata.


  •  22cm x 12cm fabric for bow
  •  3cm x 6cm fabric for bow center
  • 32cm x 15cm fabric for body.
  • Fuseable batting 28cm x 5.5cm.


Obi Body

  • With a 2cm margin on the sides and a 4.5cm margin from the top and bottom, fuse batting to the inside of the sash.
  • Press one wide edge in 1cm.
  • Fold unpressed wide edge over batting.
  • Fold pressed wide edge over batting.
  • Whip stitch these folds together so there are no stitches showing on the other side.
  • At each end of the sash fold over the edge one cm
  • press
  • fold again
  • machine or handstitch in place.

Obi Bow

  • Fold longer bow fabric length wise, right sides of the fabric together, and stitch the leght 1cm from the edge.
  • Press seam open.
  • turn fabric right side out and press.


  • Fold the edges of the bow so they overlap slightly at the back.
  • Baste stitch them together.
  • Using strong thread, stitch the bow so the center draws together (not shown) into a bow-shape.
  • Take the smallest piece of fabric you have left, fold the edges back and use to secure the center of the bow (also…not shown. sorry)


Hand stitch bow to the obi.


  • Try the obi on and mark the overlap. I marked with pins and then used chalk.
  • At this point sew on the fasteners of your choice.

I did my first two obi with velcro/magic tape closures and this one with hooks and eyes.

I don’t like velcro much but figured it’s a solid choice for kids with still-wobbly hand-eye co-ordination. For very young kids I’d use velcro AND whip stitch the obi to the yukata so it acts as a complete garment (with no risk of loosing the sash) . If I do that I’d use a thread color I can somewhat see from the inside of the garment so the parent could always make it two garments later and have mix+matching choices yukata/obi choices.

As a bonus here are the other obi I made with commentary.

This was my first. I added the second layer of fabric  for decorative purposes after it was completed…which is why it’s a little wobbly. I could remove the bow, straighten the extra layer of fabric, and re-stitch the bow on… it but it doesn’t bother me that much when it’s on.

On the second I added stitched pleates before the fusable batting. It also has two small darts because the wider obi (6cm) wouldn’t lay flat on Snow’s tummy without them.

Huzzah! This completes my need to make a doll kimono after making the Mary Frances “Kimono” robe.

I’m not saying there won’t be other detours but it’s back to Mary Frances and the Thimble People after this.

craft, Disney, Doll, Mary Frances sewing, sewing, tutorial

Doll Kimono: take two!

Ok, here’s my second take on making the yukata/kimono. First version is here.

I smoothed out the curve on the first pattern I made. I also made the area where the front joins the back (a the shoulders) a little smaller by shaving .5cm off it.

I should have added a centimeter to the bottom of the back pattern (*making it 28 cm tall not 27cm) .  I also used a slightly different sleeve (bottom of the two) because I already had cut those sleeves and didn’t have more fabric.

one back, two front, two sleeve cut on a fold.


I sewed the front pieces to the back where the shoulders meet. I think I used a 1cm seam allowance.


Cut a little bit of the fabric away for the neck hole. After this photo I serged those edges.


I opened the pattern and joined the sleeves to the body.


I serged the sides and the opening.


Then I folded it, right sides of the fabric together, and stitched the seam from the armpit to the hem.


See what I mean about needing the back to be 1cm longer?


Blue is where I hand stitched to make sure the stitching on the side meets the sleeve stitch.

img_2103Starting the sleeve stitch first by hand. I’ve basted a fold where the wrist goes through.

img_2106Then I machine stitched along the edge from where my thumb to where my finger is.

I used a zig-zag stitch afterwards to finish the edges inside the sleeve. I forgot to take a picture of this step.


Turning everything right-side out. I’ll hand stitch the sleeve opening where the hand emerge later.


Front. I’ve hemmed the opening.

img_2113.jpgNeck sash; 5cm by 36.


Pressing the edges of the neck scarf inwards.


Matching up the midpoint of the neck scarf with the middle of the neck.


Pinning the neck scarf to the opening before stitching in place.

img_2123I had a train ride ahead of me so I hand stitched the neck sash to the body of the kimono.


I folded the neck sash in and stitched it into place.


I whip stitched the sleeve holes I’d previously basted. Then I removed the basting stitch.

I hemmed the whole thing. Pressed it. The usual.


It feels a little I should have added 2cm to the length of the back and 1cm to the front panels.

There you go. Take two.

Next up: Making the obi sash(es)

craft, Disney, Mary Frances sewing, sewing

Chapter XX: Part two

My continued adventures bloging through the 1915 children’s sewing book “The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people.”

The next pattern to tackle was the dressing sack (lounging jacket being a much nicerterm). This was the final, 4th, outfit to be made with this single pattern.

Screenshot-2017-10-15 The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people - maryfrancessewin00frye_bw pdf

Because all four of the garments have essentially the same construction…how COULD I mess it up again?

The instructions were easy.

  • Cut out by pattern of bath robe, making it only as long as the row of pinholes marked Dressing Sack.
  •  Finish the fronts and neck, and sleeves by “pinking,” or notching closely with the scissors; or,
  •  Transfer the pattern for scallops given below. To do this—With a soft lead pencil, trace scallops through the tissue paper.Turn the tissue over, and lay the picture of scallops against the sleeves (and fronts), and trace over on the wrong side. This will leave a penciled outline on the goods.Instead of this method, the outline of the scallops may be traced through tissue and “carbon” paper.
  • With embroidery cotton, work the scallops in blanket stitch.
  • The Dressing Sack may be finished with ribbon or BANDS, in just the same way as the kimono. Embroider the ribbon or bands with Feather Stitching.


This is prior to adding the scalloped edges.

Things I did wrong:

  1. That neckline is closer to that of the nightgown (which cinched) than the robe. This means the neck hole is WAY too large.
  2. The fabric leftover from a dress I made and I added the applique leftover from another dress I made this summer.*..and it’s too thick/stiff. It’s not going to drape on the shoulders at all even if the neck hole were small enough…which it isn’t.
  3. Never checked to see how it fit. I just loved my clever jacket and went on!

On to the edges! Learning a new skill. Here’s a tutorial I used for figuring out how to do the blanket-stitch scalloped edges.




I added a pleat in the back, three button holes in the front and some buttons. Salvaged.

Then I went back and cut a lighter-weight fabric ( prepare yourself for MORE crazy patterns) correctly and assembles another light open lounging jacket.

I skipped over doing any fancy edging or embroidery because the print was crazy enough. I simply lined the opening with some left-over black lace (last seen on the skull-print morning dress).

As for the feather stitch I skipped. I have a giant crazy quilt in process and legally don’t have to do any extra embroidery if I don’t want to.


Mary uses the feather stitch to her…um..advantage to make a riddle for Sewing Bird to close out the chapter:

Good!” as Mary Frances held up the samplers. ”Here is a puzzle, riddle, or conundrum:

“Mary Marie is feather-stitched— Yet not a feather is on her.”

Mary Frances laughed,”I wonder how she’d look in feathers,” she said—

Then Sewing Bird sang:

”She’d make a fine bird, Upon my word, She’d sing a sweet song, And the only thing wrong— Her feathers and song Would be tightly glued on!”

“Oh, Sewing Bird!” laughed Mary Frances, shaking her finger, ”how did you know the voice of a ‘talking doll’ was ‘glued on’?”


I get the “conundrum” but if someone could explain to me that whole voice/glued on thing I’d be much obliged.

Coming soon: Aunt Maria the hated spinster makes a visit.


Excerpts From: Fryer, Jane Eayre, 1876-. “The Mary Frances sewing book; or, Adventures among the thimble people.”