Thursday, February 28, 2013

Painting: A break from Little Portraits

Last night I took a break from working on Little Portraits.  We had a model for class so it was time to delight in just how bad I am at drawing/painting figures.

Before I show it off, let me preface with WARNING:  NUDITY.  Not graphic nudity but technically, the model was wearing no clothing and the painted figure is not wearing any either (translation:  ohmygawd I think that's a boobie).

Oh, and don't expect this to look GOOD.  I warned you, I'm not very good at this BUT I am improving (really, you probably won't be able to tell from the painting, but I swear, this is probably the best "model paintings" I've ever done--at least this nice woman didn't end up with Snookie hair).

I warned you, it's not good.

But it has far better proportions than previous model paintings and my angles are fairly decent.  I know the legs look really wonky but part of that is how she was sitting.  Her feet were pointing back and one was curled over on itself (bent at the side along the ankle, kind of tucked under itself).  Tons of funky fore shortening and all those technical drawing terms I now feel empowered to use incorrectly.

Her head is a little big (in the painting, not in real life).  The positioning changed a bit as she sat, so I had to kind of go with the flow.  As far as heads go, this one is one of my best.  And yes, I deliberately didn't get too much into the facial details because I'm HORRIBLE at them and this painting was kind of decent and I didn't want to muck it up with wonky eye blobs and a sausage nose.

It was a good painting night.

Next week, back to the Little Portraits.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

For a Swap: Pair of Dotees

This swap really had me stumped for the longest time, which was totally weird.  The theme was a simple one "pair of dotees".  So all I needed to come up with was a logical pair.

At first I was toying with a King and Queen set.  But I wasn't sure I had supplies worthy of such a regal choice.  I doubted how much sparkle I had available in my stash so I'd rather scrap an idea then make a sub par finished project.

Then I thought Thing 1 and Thing 2.  I almost went with this idea but then I decided instead of using that idea for this swap, why not just start a Dr. Seuss themed swap instead.  So I shelved Thing 1 and Thing 2 so I'd have them if I wanted for the Dr. Seuss swap (still not sure what I'll do for that, but I have an idea in my back pocket now, which makes me happy).

I also toyed with spaghetti and meatballs and peanut butter and jelly.  But neither of those really got me excited.

Then I noticed some heart shaped pillows I made a while back.

And I remembered how much I LOVE the bathroom door icons.  They're just so simple but still look interesting and they would be a great idea for a pair theme.

The only snag was, I'd have to add some details to them, since dotees need faces.  But I didn't want to totally lose the simplicity of the images, either.

What to do. . .

Make them double sided!

The only minor issue with the plan was how to hide the stitching.  I decided to go with a color that blended well with the decorated side which left the stitches very visible on the blank side.  I'm o.k. with that decision.

The best part of them being double sided?

Mix and match!

Since their heads are attached with just a double strand of embroidery floss, they should spin and move when hung up which will make them kind of like wind catchers, too.  I like that idea, too.

Their faces are a new design for me.  I tend to go the easy (aka lazy) route and make very kawaii faces for my dolls.  Basically they're just two eyes and a mouth.  Cute, yes, but boring.  These faces are based on some doodles I made while pondering my ideas.  They turned out very well even if their photos here are kind of crap.  The gray floss just doesn't read well in the pic (given my crappy lighting and using a cell phone--when will I upgrade, WHEN!?).

I used my draw on the back of the fabric method, too.  I'm really enjoying that little cheat.  I just had to make sure I thought about what direction I wanted the nose since it would be reversed on the "good" side of the face).

The faces are weird but I think still cute and they work with the overall finished products.

Close up of the clothes.

The clothes are super simple.  I just top stitched the cute fabric to the bodies (before assembling) and trimmed away the excess.  The female shape was easy, just gave her a little sun dress (using some of the awesome scraps Ali shared with me--shout out!).  For the male figure I was torn on how dressed he should be.  A full shirt/pants outfit would make him seem heavy and wouldn't match the light look of the female.  So I decided to go summery with him and just give him some jam style shorts.  (and yes, those are nipples you see on his chest--I just couldn't not add them, but they are very subtle so as not to be obscene, though one nip is bigger than the other because the first french knot I made for it pulled through the fabric and I had to give him a do-over nip).

They weren't terribly hard to make, either.  The only mistake I made was during the planning stage.  At first I thought I was going to make them flesh tone on both sides, so I cut out four head circles in the tan/fleshy color but then changed my mind.  Hmm, that's not really much of an error since those bits went right into my felt scrap ziploc.

I hope my swap partner likes them.  I have a feeling they'll be well received.  I've been partnered with her a lot and she gets my sometimes odd dotee style (so at least these won't scare the crap out of her--I think my scarecrow dotee terrified his recipient, they didn't leave any comment at all when rating, so I think they might hate it).

This pair is packed up and ready to head to their new home in Canada.  I felt like I should pack them little scarves and mittens, they're terribly under-dressed for Canada in winter!

Up next?  EASTER.  (and if I thought this pair were stumping me, this damn easter one is really making me nuts--but I've finally decided on my design so now I just need to get my hands all wet and soapy and get to it).

Swaps: Dotee I Received

I was going to wait to do one big show off but I don't want to forget to show this lovely off.

Swap:  Unique Holiday (March) Cute Day!

She definitely fills the cute bill.  I love her face and her braided hair.

I really need to force myself to try making classic dotees like these.  They're so fabulous but they just give me such creative block when I try to make one.  It's like there are too many choices and I can't figure out what to do.

I won't be able to stretch my dotee legs for a bit.  The next few I'm doing are very specific themes.  But I might get a chance to test my creativity when it comes to the dotee with wings swap.  I could make the body very classic and then embellish it to the nines.

We'll see.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Progress Report: "Little Portraits"

I had a rather "blah" painting evening.  It wasn't bad but I just couldn't quite find my stride.  Like I could not get my black to mix properly.  I've been mixing black for how man darn paintings now (and a lot of gray, too) but when I went to cut the white in to make gray it was "too blue".  So I added a bit of brown and then it was too "dirty".  I did manage to get a bit of work done on Mr. Roboto's body but I was frustrated the whole time.  Things started to turn around when I moved on to working the green background.  Green must have some kind of soothing properties because I finally started getting a good painting vibe as I blended the green.



Looking at these two pics I'm happier with what I did last night then I was at the time.  I just felt like I hadn't made any real progress, or worse I had mucked some things up.  I see I definitely didn't much anything up, though the stitching at the bottom looks HORRIBLE.  But I just threw that in to see how it was going to work later.  It's not meant to be permanent just like the super bubblegum pinky color of the eye is not meant to be permanent.  I just needed to get the pink on there to see how it would look later.  I'll also need to do a lot of work on the neck stripes.  They're way too bright right now but the placement looks fairly decent (they're a little wide).

I'm loving the background but it's going to need a ton more blending before it's done.

Next up was Priscilla.



I didn't work Priscilla that much so the changes aren't very significant.  Clearly I cleaned up the eye and eye patch and started getting a better shape to the eyepatch.  It's really a horrible mess right now but I can see it will get there with just a bit of work.  I worked the background a bit, too.  I like how the bright yellow tones around the top of the head and the tail are toned down.  Much more subtle which I like.  I also like the really dark corner but I have to be careful not to make it TOO dark (don't want it to look like a photo corner--you know, those things that hold pictures into photo albums).

Next week the model will be in studio so I think I'm going to paint her.  I didn't paint the model last semester so I think it will be a fun break.  It will also give me time to pick up a few things I need to work on Priscilla.  I need a different shade of red to get the right pinky shades for her eyepatch and Mr. Roboto's eyeball.  I also need to find the oval shape thingy (not sure what it's called but it's kind of a template to help you make different circle shapes, like elongated circles/ovals) to help in making all the wonky shaped circles on Priscilla's coat.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

For a Swap: March Unique Holiday Dotee

I'm in love with this dotee and super excited to show it off.

But first I have to just say, it's going to someone in Pennsylvania!!  I love that not only is it a domestic shipping address (not that I dislike doing international swaps but I got slammed with a ton of them lately and I think it pisses off the post office folks when I roll in there with six international packages--and I don't want to piss off the postal employees!). 

Ok, so what's so fabulous about this dotee?

Hee hee!  How'd you like that foil strip tease!

It's a t.v. dinner!!!

March is Frozen Food Month (and, I think it's the 7th, is Frozen Food Day).  When I saw that I immediately knew what my dotee would be.  And I'm happy to report it turned out very well.

It is a tiny bit warbly around the edges but I didn't want to add too much cardboard to it.  First, cutting tiny cardboard strips annoys the crap out of me and then sewing them between strips of felt is a pain in the butt and if I would have had to then attach the food stuff to the reinforced edges that would have made me even crazier than I already am.  So cardboard reinforcement for the edges was a NO.  I did add a bit of cardboard to the back to smooth out the back (it was lumpy after all the stitching and such) and because I had to add a written patch to the back (this series of swaps encourages signing your dotee and including what holiday it's for).

Close up time:

Beads for the peas.  This is the only item on this dotee I had to go out and buy.  I needed them for this project but I'll be using them on other dolls (they're just seed bead style beads with larger holes--something I needed anyway).  They are all stitched on, too.  NO GLUE.  I cut a piece of green felt for a base and then attached them in sets of 2, 3, and occassionally 4.  It worked out very well and they're very sturdy on there.

Mashed potatos with butter pat.  I snuck the face onto the butter.  Yes, I realize sometimes I take big ole liberties with the dotee "rules".  I slap a bitty little smile face on some tiny part of a doll and it totally counts.  I do feel bad sometimes because some folks note on their profiles that they're not really into "kawaii" and I think this "slap a face on a butter pat" thing is more than borderline "kawaii" but (this sounds so damn rude) I don't really care.  I'm not TRYING to make "kawaii".  I'm trying to make a crazy fun dotee and if it ends up being a bit "kawaii" then. . .well, you can always send the doll to goodwill if you don't like it.  (or mail it back to me--I'll always take my critters back).  (true confession, the butter is glued on,  I didn't want to add stitches to the edge of it and I wanted to be able to really poke it down so it looked like it was in a little divot on the potatos--which it does).  The potatos are fleece which gives them a super potato look.

Brownie dessert.  I know the foil makes this more of an vintage style t.v. dinner so I should have made a cherry or apple cobbler but that wasn't really in my skill or supply set.  I'm sure I could figure it out but doing that would suck the fun out of making this so I went the easy route and made a brownie.  And I used to LOVE those Hungry Man t.v. dinners that had the brownie, so it made me smile to add it to this meal.

And the schmeat.  At first I was going to make chicken legs but I know when I think of vintage t.v. dinners I think "salsibury steak" (the Schmeat of Champions).  So this is my felty take on the schmeat we love to eat.  I was debating adding gravy but it just didn't look right when I layed it on so I skipped it.  I used my trusty fabric pen to add the savory grill marks (I tried embroidery but it looked awful). 

Did you notice the run away peas?  Yeah, that amuses me.  Well, from a felt t.v. dinner stand point.  When I used to eat t.v. dinners I used to hate the run away corn.  Corn does not belong in a brownie and I resented having to dig it out of the batter (or finished brownie).

I enjoyed making this dotee so much I even changed aruond my mailing schedule so I can show it off in person to my sister (who's visiting this weekend).  She's going to shit.  She gets a kick out of wacky stuff like this (and I was telling her about it and she gave me the idea to cover it with foil--which I will do when I go to mail it!).

I really hope the recipeint gets a good laugh out of it.  I know it cracks me up every time I look at it (and my hubby even smiled at it and normally he's not one to react at all when I get all "ooh ooh, look at meeee and what I maaaade!").

What's next?  Well, I have to make an easter themed doll.  It has to be egg shaped in some way, so I'm thinking it's time to do some wet felting again to make an egg that I can put stuff into.  And I need to make a pair of dotees for another swap.  I'm still up in the air over what I want to make for that one.  I've narrowed it down to two ideas which I'm going to sketch a bit today in hopes one will inspire me more than the other (I kind of know which one I want to do but I can't just admit it yet).

Ok, I'm done spamming my blog for today.  (and now I want a t.v. dinner--eeww!)

Random Act of Kindness!!

I was on the receiving end of a fabulous random act of kindness from Ali at alimakes.

Ali does something that I love.  She reviews her fabric purchases including scrap packs.  I love knowing what different store's packs are like and just looking at other folks fabric p0rn.  She recently did a review of a new scrap pack she bought and when I commented about a particular print she got, she offered to share it with me.

How is that for nice, huh?

But it gets even better.  She shared not only that print but a whole packs worth of other scraps with me.  It made my freaking DAY.

Yeah, she sent me all that for no reason other than she's a nice person.

Of course, I love all of it (including the crossword print which is what started this whole thing).

I cut into a bit of it last night.  I got 2.5 inchers from the strips, the panda, the guitars, and the text print in the first photo.  I squirelled away the leftovers of those prints and the larger pieces.  I just couldn't cut into the bigger stuff without thinking about it a bit to make sure I get the most projects I can from them!  The only piece I chopped up completely was the Happy Drawing print.  It was the only print in the set that I actually HAVE, but I'm hoarding all my Happy Drawing and Happy Drawing Too because I want to use it for its own quilt (so I won't have scraps from it for a good long while!).  So I was happy to have that scrap so the postage stamp quilt will be guaranteed to include it.  I fussy cut the hell out of that scrap and ended up with (if memory serves) about 6 squares for myself and one for my trade pile with only the bittiest bits left over (so small I had to let them go since they were super small and didn't have any cute pics left--just a bunch of animal legs!).

This bunch of fabric was such a welcome surprise and it proves that when you do nice things for others the universe will repay you (not to toot my own horn but I've been including some nice extras in my swaps lately, I even cut into my Star Trek fabric to share it with someone).

A big fat THANK YOU to Ali.  I'm so happy you will be a part of my very first quilt!

Swaps: Things I Have Received!!

Time to show off some great stuff I've received from swaps.

First up, the dotees:

What's a Dotee? Swap.

I love this one so much.  I love that's it's a twist on the classic dotee.  The body is very classic, just a stuffed rectangle.  But the face is that fabulous daisy with button features (the mouth is done in dark beads, so it's not super visible in the pic).  It's just such a cute and original idea yet also so simple (and I don't mean that in a negative way).  The creator (forgive me, I don't write down who sends me what for these posts) added a note that they call this gal Sunny, which I love, too.  I love that the creator named it and shared the name and that it's a super cute name.  (I'm very dorky like that).

Hat Dotee Swap

The minute I saw this fabulous lady I thought "Cyndi Lauper!".  She has three layers of lace for her skirt and so much embelishments and wild hair and. . .yeah, she's giving me a great Cyndi vibe.  I'm really liking that I'm starting to recognize other creators' styles.  Cyndi here will be in great company with the Birthday Dotee from the same creator (eventually I will name drop folks, I was just too lazy this time around).  This creator makes the most fabulous dolls wtih tons of embellishments and clay faces.  I really like the clay faces and it makes me want to try out working with clay and molds just to see if it's a fun craft.

Bathtime Dotee Swap.

This doll is just so peaceful I smile every time I look at her.  I love the terry cloth elements but the face is what steals the show.  It's a simple design but it so clearly shows this doll is super relaxed after her bath.  I'm almost jealous of her zen state!

She also has this super cute charm on her tail.  It reminds me of Sea Wees!  Remember those?  The mermaid dolls that had a pet (and a sponge that you could put them in and float them in the bathtub with you!).  Man, I loved my Sea Wees (and bawled like a baby when the dog ate their sponge--I was always very dramatic when it came to my toys--still am a bit!).

I've received some super fabulous dotees but I've also been swapping fabric.  Mostly it's 2.5 inch charms, fat quarters, and 10 inchers.

That's just a bit of what was on the table when I was taking pics.

The top pic is four "obnoxious" 10 inchers and a bit of 2.5 inchers.  I needed to trim up those 2.5 inchers so they'd be ready for my postage stamp quilt.  I'll probably cut up the 10 inchers, too, taking them down into 5 inchers and 2.5 inchers (since those are the sizes I'm working with most right now).

The bottom pic is also another set of "obnoxious" 10 inchers.  I enjoyed seeing other peoples' take on the term "obnoxious".  It ranged from the truly obnoxious (the top pic has a piece of "Cars" fabric that is truly loud and obnoxious, I laughed that the raw edge had a note "not for use in children's sleepwear"--probably because the fabric is so loud the kids wouldn't be able to sleep, not that it's flamable) to more "ugly".  I can't say those granny flower prints do much for me but they're very welcome in my postage stamp quilt.  I rarely turn away any fabric for that project.  And a few of these I really like.  That kitty fabric is SO my bag.  In fact, I'm making a side collection of cat print fabrics to make into quilt blocks for the back of my postage stamp quilt.  I think I want to take 3 inchers and make them into 5 inchers and then put 5 inchers back into 10 ish inchers (they won't quite be 10 inches once you sew them together).  Then take all the reassembled quasi 10 inchers and put them together to make the back of the postage stamp quilt.  We'll see.

I only have ONE complaint about swaps so far.  With the 2.5 inchers some folks are kind of sloppy with their cutting.  Usually they make up for it by including a few extras, but it is a little annoying to have to trim up some squares or just toss them to the scrap bin because they're just cut too wonky to be fixed.  OH, I do have one BIG gripe.  Selvages on 2.5 inchers.  NO NO NO!!!  That offends me.  I know we're making scrap quilts here but that's just too scrappy for me.  I just don't trust the selvage edge to hold up, seeing as it's already kind of holey.  And it just seems RUDE to give someone the selvage on a piece so small.  If we were talking larger squares then you could just trim off the selvage and make a smaller square and still use it.  But selvage on a 2.5 inch just reduces that piece of fabric to "small scrap" which limits its usefulness.  (selvage on actual scraps you share with folks is perfectly fine with me since a scrap swap is about scrap and selvages are scrap).

Swapping for the most part has been a great experience.  But I think I'm going to skip the 2.5 inch U.S. swaps for a bit.  I keep getting the same partners and that's making for a bit of fabric repeat.  That and I need to take inventory on my postage stamp quilt project.  I have 300 ready to be incorporated into the bigger patches I've already sewn and I need to get the bigger patches assembled to start making the actual top.  (I can't decide if I want to quilt as I go or if I want to make one huge top and then make a tie quilt versus quilting).

Ok, I have another few posts for today so I need to move on.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Progress Report: Little Portraits



It's all about blending at this point.  Some of the changes are obvious (the shadows on the shoulders under the head are a lot darker and the background is really different) but some are less obvious (lightening around the eye, changes in shade on the lighter gray areas).

I worked more on Mr. Roboto more than Priscilla but Priscilla's changes are far more obvious.



She's finally getting a face.  I could have worked a bit on the background but there wasn't quite enoough time to do it justice so I didn't bother this time around.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Swaps: Some dotee dolls I have received

I show off all the dotees I make but have yet to show off the ones I've received.

So here are a few pics.  These just happen to be the three I most recently received.  I plan to get pics of the other few I've received (including a pic of the full set of Oz dotees once that series is completed).  But for now, this will have to do.

Unique Holiday (Feb) dotee:  Umbrella day.  How stink'n cute is this dotee?  The doll is so itty bitty and vibrant and adorable but the umbrella really steals the show.  I LOVE that.  It's like a merging of the best of both worlds.  Classic dotee doll with crazy creative and wonderful accents.

This poor girl did lose a few of her hair beads in transit.  Instead of trying to re-attach them I'm going to try and use them in a future dotee.  I love recycling like that.

Check out this fancy pair trying to get in under Ms. Umbrella's parasol.

They're not really a pair.  They were two separate dotees for two different swaps.

Valentine dotee (for a group I'm in).  I was in two different valentines dotee swaps.  This one is what I received for the mailbox dotee I made.  (I'll show off the other one the next time I do a photo shoot).

I love how glam this one is.  Bedazzled like a super fancy valentines lady should be.  I also want to find some jewels like that.  I never knew such a thing existed.  I bought some gems that are similar but don't have holes to sew them on (you have to glue them and you know I'm not a huge fan of using glue on dotees I make).  I love the hand drawn face on this one, too.  So many folks make such great faces for their dotees, it's very inspriational.

Birthday dotee.  I had to pose this super fancy gal on a piece of paper so her awesome head of hair wouldn't blend into my wood table. 

I love her hair.  It's so wild and awesome.  I also love all the different elements in this doll.  The face looks to be molded clay (with glitter paint on the eyes!), the hair is some straw type stuff (not sure what it's called, I've seen it before though), the hair bow is like a pin or a broach or something like that (some big heavy item like that).  There's also a stick pin with glitz on it (in the top of the head).  Then there's the fancy heart/swirly medallion on the chest.  (there's also another medallion type embellishment on the back--I just didn't take a snap of it).  Then there's ribbon and lace and a tail that's not just beads on a string (like I make--I'm so lazy with tails!) but it's like a wee piece of jewelry!  Yeah, this one is SUPER fancy and I love her.

I'm planning to display all the dotees in my craft room but I have to get some more organizing done first.  So for now they're on a shelf in the craft room, just waiting to be strung together in a bunting or maybe hung on a wee christmas tree (ooh, one of those white trees or maybe a tinsel tree!).

It's so much fun to see what other folks make.  I love all the variety and having truly one of kind little works of art to show off!

For a swap: Hat Dotee

I finished this one up yesterday and I'm happy to report it was a smashing success!

Once again, it's for a dotee swap.  The theme was "hat".  So you had to have a hat in it somewhere.  Since I don't really care to make the classic dotee dolls, I had to think up something that was more than just a little doll wearing a hat.

So I made a bunny coming up out of a magician's top hat.

But it's more than JUST a bunny.

It's also a FINGER PUPPET!!

(ok, that picture makes me think naughty things--hey, I have a bit of a perverted mind).

You can put your finger up inside and make the bunny wiggle.  (Ok, that totally sounds perverted, don't try to deny it).

My original idea was much more complicated.  I thought there would be two layers of felt for the bottom, with the bunny attached to the inside piece.  But then I realized I didn't need two layers if I just used matching thread and made very small stitches.  Then I thought I would try to make the bunny hidden by making a layer of black (non-felt) fabric over the opening (where the bunny comes out) so the bunny could pop up out but that really wasn't needed once I saw the smallish size the finished product would be.  Basically the bunny determined the size and the bunny was smaller than I expected which was a good thing.

The bunny is made from the finger and finger tip of a stretch glove.  Just lop off a finger for the body then lop off a second finger tip (about a third of the way down).  Make a ball from the fingertip (stuff it and then use a running stitch to pull it close, drawstring style).  Attached the head ball to the tip of the body finger.  Attach felt ears and arms, stitch on the face and add whiskers.  OH, and add a wee pom pom tail.  No, you can't see it unless you peer down into the hat, but I just couldn't make a bunny without a cotton tail.

The bunny in the instructions (from the book "Happy Gloves") didn't have whiskers so I had to add those too.  So much cuter with whiskers.  I was tempted to add some pink to the inner ears and paw pads but then changed my mind.  To add them as embroidery I'd have to add a second layer of felt (to hide the ugly side of the stitching) and that would add to much bulk.  To add the details by gluing extra felt on just wouldn't look right.  That and I'm not a huge fan of glue and I didn't relish having to cut out wee little pieces then wrestle with them and a glue dipped toothpick (yes, I use toothpicks for gluing).

This dotee did use some glue.  There is a ribbon hat band (same ribbon as the hanger) around the hat. I glued that bad boy down.  It worked well just spreading a thin layer the length of the ribbon then sticking it on.  See, glue is a necessary evil sometimes.

The tail features some new beads I purchased just this weekend.  They're nothing fancy, just seed style beads with bigger holes.  (there I go again talking about holes!  I'm so perverted today!).  I like them a lot.  I was stunned when I got into the bead aisle at the Joanne Fabrics.  So much stuff but it was all way too fancy for my needs.  There was one bag of really rock/pottery looking beads that I almost bought but I decided to wait.  I'll try to use up my seed beads (both sizes) and the bubble beads I have before I go buying more stuff.

Oh, while I was at Joanne's I scored some cool fabric.  Yes, I'm trying not to buy any more fabric until I use up some of the hoard I have, but they had some Robert Kaufman christmas print (vintage looking kitties hanging in mittens) for 60% off.  How could I walk away form that?  And I got some Dia de los Muertos fabric, too (big name stuff--not just Joanne's brand--though J's brands are good, not knocking them) on sale, too.  I really love Dia de los Muertos prints.

For the record, I did get another big box of stuffing, too.  I need that to make another giant squid.

Look at me going off on a tangent!

This hat dotee is off to Canada.  I just mailed it today so now I get to be all impatient waiting for it to arrive.  For the record, I also sent a dotee to Sweden (the cake) and one to the UK (scarecrow).  I love sending stuff internationally, even if it can get kind of pricey (though I don't feel the prices are too crazy--but then again I never really knew the "old" prices so. . .).

Next up?

Unique Holiday Dotee (March).  I know the idea I want to do and have all the supplies so. . .here's hoping my sucess streak holds!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

For a swap: Wizard of Oz Scarecrow Dotee

First up, there will be no update on my paintings today because my car is in the shop so I didn't go to painting this week.

OK, now. . .

Another day, another dotee.

Instead of painting last night, I finished the Scarecrow Dotee for the Wizard of Oz series of swaps I'm currently in.

I was going to just show the whole Oz set (I made and received) once the series was over but I changed my mind.  I forgot to take pictures of the first in the set (Tinman) but I did get some from the woman who received him but I have to download them from my phone and all that (and I don't have time to get that done just now).  So I'll show off the Tinman I made maybe tomorrow.

Today is for showing off:

The Scarecrow.

I freely admit, I'm abusing the gingerbread man shape I have.  It's just necessary for some designs.  Yes, I could have made this dotee in a more classic dotee shape (like a bowling bin shape) but I wanted more detail.  (I plan to make more "classic" dotees for some of the other characters in the series).

I also freely admit that this dotee is more than a little bit creepy.  Creepy wasn't what I was going for (I was aiming for "neutral" vs my go to of "cute") but I'm not upset that creepy came to the forefront.

It's hard NOT to be a little bit creepy when you have an exposed brain.  Funny how that works out.

I had to have a brain element to this dotee.  That was a HUGE thing for me.  The need for a brain is what drove me to use the gingerbread man outline again.  It was easy to make a brain on the top of the gingerbread head.  Ok, not "easy", it took a ton of steps but it was easier than using an original shape.

This dotee took a lot of time.  I knew it would since I had high expectations for it.  I wanted a visible brain, I wanted embroidered elements, I wanted different fabrics for the body and clothes.  I was asking a lot so I had to give it time to come together.

I mucked up the first few stabs at it as I figured out the right combination of fabrics and techniques.  At first I thought I could do it as patchwork.  Just sew a piece of shirt fabric to pants fabric and then cut out the body shape (sans hands, feet, head).  Then patchwork on the body fabric and go from there.  But that quickly proved to be the wrong method. 

Then I moved on to heat and bond.  I figured I'd bond each element (body colors, shirt, pants) and then fuse them to a base fabric.  That was closer to what I wanted but I didn't really need to make body color pieces.  Instead, I could just add some fusible bond to linen and let the linen color be the body color.  Then heat and bond the clothing fabrics (and brain fabric) to the reinforced linen.  That worked well.  BUT. . .

I wanted a "jaggy" edge along the neckline.  So I had to make the head pieces separate from the body then re-attach them to the body pieces after I had all the embellishments on.

So that's what I did.  I fused the brain fabric to the tops of the head pieces and then added the facial features and brain squiggles (all embroidered).  This is where the re-inforced linen was a good move.  It was super easy to embroider the facial features with a bit more structure to the fabric.  Once all the embroidery was on, I sewed the two head pieces together.  Actually, I embroidered the face then (as I was adding the brain squiggles) I used the pink floss to sew the pink edges of the brain/head together and attach the hanger.  Then I switched back to the ecru floss and sewed the back head piece to the back body piece then sewed up one side (attaching the back head to the front head).  As I sewed around I ended up attaching the front head to the front body then could just sew the two bodies together.

The brain fabric is flannel.  So my scarecrow has a fuzzy brain!

Before sewing the body together, I added the buttons on th shirt (easier that way).  Then I sewed and stuffed the body, completey forgetting the tail as I went.  So I had to add the tail after the fact.  But I managed to attach it neatly enough that it doesn't have big visible stitches.  I used my tried and true jingle bell for the tail.  It seemed right that a scarecrow would have something noisy on him, you know, to scare crows.

After it was all stuffed I also added the rope style belt, which instantly turned my scarecrow into Jethro Clampett.  The belt does have a stitch or two on each side to keep it attached to the body.

Then I thought I was done but realized my poor scarecrow needed a hat to cover his exposed brain lest the birds eat it.  So I had to improve a hat from some felt.  I like that it kind of doesn't fit his new, fuller thanks to his new brain, head.

All in all, I'm very pleased with this dotee.  My right ring finger is not.  I tend to push the needle through with the edge of my right ring finger (near the nail) and it's sore today.  Stitching through the fused fabric took a bit of effort but it was worth it (and I should invest in a thimble!).

I'm excited to have this one done.  It was bogging me down creatively but I'm very pleased with the final result and I got to play around with some techniques I haven't used much (like fusible web on the linen and the heat and bond stuff).  I also LOVE making stem stitches so stitching the brain was very fun.

Next up is the dotee I've been looking forward to making.  HAT DOTEE!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

For a Swap: Birthday Dotee

Yes, another dotee doll.

Yes, it's for a swap.

The theme this time was Birthday.

It's a monster birthday cake!

I'm quite pleased with how cute it turned out.  It's all felt with vintage ric rac.  I normally wouldn't be so pretentious as to mention it was vintage ric rac but this was some old ass ric rac, folks.  I got it at the best thrift store:  Weezie's Cove.  The original price on the pack was 13 cents!  And it still looks good and wasn't degraded in quality at all.  The pic might not make it clear but it's a nice like pink (that matches the pink felt almost exactly) with gold lame-like threads running through it.  The gold threads did give me pause when I was sewing it onto the cake side.  I had to place the stitches so they wouldn't be going over the gold lines and breaking up the shine.  Good for me, the gold went all the way to the edges of the points of the ric rac, so I could squeeze little bitty stitches into the pink which hid them very well.

Construction wise this one is pretty simple.  Circle for the bottom and top (I used a container of sewing needles to make the template).  The sides are two different colors (about an inch wide by the length of the circle--I just take the circle and wrap the felt around and mark the length--I'm not big on numbers and actual measuring on small stuff like this).  The side pieces are sewn together on the wrong side so there's no seam bulge on the outside of the cake (which would make the ric rac trim bumpy).  Attach the ric rac so it looks like the drippy edge of the frosting (this took a bit of time but was not hard--just had to make sure the chocolate colored felt didn't peek through on the top dips of the ric rac).  It helps to cut the ric rac a few bumps bigger than you need so you can wrap the ric rac over the edge of the side fabrics (makes for a very nice and neat finished seam, too).

I filled it with poly fill and used two pieces of batting for the top and the bottom (to make it a little less lumpy).  I also did a tie down on the top and bottom (where you run thread down from the top and then back up to the top and tie it off to make the top and bottom lay a bit flatter).  I could have put cardboard in to make it flat but this is going to be shipping to Sweden so I didn't want it too rigid, lest it get crumpled and ruined (softer is better, you can just fluff it back up when it arrives).  I hid the tie down knot in the center of the hanger.  The hanger is attached by making a small cut in the fabric and feeding the ends down into it then sewing the ends together (a bit in from the end) THEN splaying the ends out and making one or two small stitches from the splayed ends into the top fabric.  REALLY small stitches hidden right next to the hanger.  I really hate leaving giant visible stitches on my hangers and tails.  Just like I hate big ole visible knots.  (this is just my hang up on stuff I make--I don't criticize dotees I get that may have visible stitches--it's just a style thing for things I make).

Once again, the tail gave me fits.  Ok, not really but it had me perplexed and a little miffed.  I wanted something beaded but my seed beads are really basic and the colors really didn't "go" with the pink/chocolate brown color scheme.  But that's not a bad thing.  I also needed a bauble for the bottom of the tail but nothing was right.  Then it hit me, if I stacked some small buttons it could look a bit like a tiered cake.  So that's what I was going for with the three stacked buttons.  I was also at a double disadvantage when threading the beads since I had to use four strands of embroidery floss to make sure it secured well enough, so I had to use a bigger needle which had greatly reduced my bead selection (so many of my seed beads have tiny holes).  I think this is a sign I need to invest in a little bit more/better beads for tails.  Nothing super fancy, just some seed beads with bigger holes.  Variety is good.

I took some liberties with the "face" portion of this doll.  I used the ric rac as the mouth and just added some medium sized safety eyes to get a kind of kawaii/amigurumi look.  I think it's cute as hell (and almost don't want to give this one away).

I'm also pretty darn proud of the candles.  They are tiny rolls of felt, stitched up the side with tiny flame shaped bits of felt stitched on top.  They turned out exactly like I had hoped they would AND they are all felt and stitches.  No glue.  No pins/picks/wire inside them.  OH YEAH!

Now comes the hard part.  Packing this up for international shipping.  I'm thinking if I put a bit of bubble wrap around it (and fill out the open space around the candles) I should be able to get it into an medium sized envelope with no issue.  I'm hoping to keep the shipping under $10 if at all possible.  It doesn't weigh much, so the size of the package is going to be the key.

I was being leisurely sewing this (taking lots of breaks to watch bad day time t.v.) so this is the only dotee I got completed on my day off yesterday.  BUT, I did get a damn good start on my Scarecrow dotee.  I'd say it's 75% done.  It's turning out very well though it's a tiny bit creepier than I expected.  Funny how an exposed brain (even a pink felt one with stem stitching curly cues) can have that effect.  Oh, and he gives me a definite Jethro Clampett vibe. Something about a plaid shirt, jeans, and a piece of twine for a belt just does that!

The scarecrow definitely had me buggered for a bit, but I'll discuss that when I reveal him.

I'm super excited to get the scarecrow going (and having it be sucessful) because I really want to move on to the Hat dotee.  I'm dieing to see if I can pull off the idea I have.