Friday, October 30, 2015

Tiny Kitty Returns!

As promised I am back again working on Tiny Kitty and her new cotton dress.  Thought I would share the inspiration dress with you so here it is. 


While figuring out the pattern, I had been diligently looking for my blue striped fabric. THE perfect fabric you know you have but for some reason you are unable to locate it?  Yesterday I finally found and sadly, there is not enough to create the dress.  And if there was, there is certainly insufficient fabric for mistakes.  Curses!!!  (Because you know I will make a mistake.) 

Blue solid and striped fabrics

Since my Tiny Kitty has these blue ribbons as accents on her slip, I wanted to keep everything for this figure in blue, but it is not to be.  Serendipity, however, is still alive and kicking in my favor.  I have a found another wonderful fabric in my stash. The fabric is a pretty pink, white and blue striped oxford shirt fabric.  It is nice and soft, but still has the sizing that oxford cloth sometimes has.  I am hoping that will work in my favor. The solid pink fabric is handkerchief linen, very soft.    White Swiss batiste has been selected for the lining or base garment. 

Pink solid and striped fabrics

I have been working on the pattern and stitched it together.  Though it appears to work, I think there is something wrong with it.   I am not sure what it is, but I am thinking I have a small error.  I am sure I will figure it out as I go.  (At least there is a lot of fabric here…just in case!)  And I have no idea at this writing how I am going to recreate the closures.  It also appears I need to create a chemisette for this dress so she will have the pretty eyelet collar.  I purchased some new eyelet form Urban Gardens Fabrics and I think it will be perfect.  If not, well, I’ll surprise you with something.  Or will try. 
Okay, need to get busy making.  Will update you with the progress.  Until then,

drafted pattern pieces

Have Fun! 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Grace of Colonial Williamsburg

Earlier this year my husband I went to Williamsburg, VA to visit his sister.  While there we went to Colonial Williamsburg a couple times during the weekend.  (Lots of walking, go when it is cool.) We did have a marvelous time.  (when I wasn’t complaining about the heat) I remember when we went last, a few decades ago, and one parked at the fence-line and walked straight in.  Like any little town it has grown into quite the little business center.  There is an entire welcome center and a hotel and more.  If you do go, decide to eat there, the food is wonderful.  And do not miss the museum!  Besides being air conditioned, still complaining about the heat, the additions have been completed. You would never know you were underground!  I stopped at one point to rest and listen to the pianoforte.  I fell in love with the different sounds. You will, too! 

 In the textile room, I took more pictures than probably allowed of the needlework and clothing. 
The following day I went back to Mary Dickinson’s store. I had Grace in mind and was hoping to find fabrics to make her a dress.  In the shop were fabrics that are original reproductions of designs from Colonial Williamsburg.  The dyes and the printing are by direct specifications.  I bought one fabric I thought would possibly have use for a period garment for Grace.    The other fabrics I purchased were from the internet.  It was true serendipity as the fabrics look so well together. 

IIt seems I always make a mistake! The fabrics in the center and on the RIGHT are from Past Crafts.  

Since I always say, ‘I have no original ideas’, I decided to check my books and, of course, the internet to find inspiration for this large pattern.  Grace is an 8” tall doll, the fabrics could overwhelm her easily.  Finally, searching through Pinterest I found an inspiration dress and more or less, set to work. 

I used the wonderful patterns created for this doll by Sheryl Williams. (They were on the CD that came with our digital journal.)  You can never go wrong with anything from Sheryl.  I sing her praises each time I get to take a class or use her patterns.  Simply the best.  For this project I did modify the bodice a little.  I did not use the skirt front panel and I cut the overdress length to create the shorter jacket style. 
Modification of an old Marie Antoinette Fichu pattern was the final addition to her dress.  The entire costume is quite busy and yet it still seems to be balanced. 

I did not feel the rendering complete without a hat, and also found a sample of a period hat from the Metropolitan Museum.  I have a sweet piece of fabric from Urban Gardens Fabrics that had the look of the antique and created the pattern from scratch.  I love it, but think there could be some modifications.  Sometimes one just dives in.  (Since starting this post, I have found an old pattern to create the hat.  Perhaps next time?) 

What would our young miss be doing in her simple costume?  I figured she could be out for a simple walk, and collecting flowers? I like that idea and have a basket for her and am creating a bunch of flowers from a kit.  Maybe another post about Grace will come as her wardrobe and accessories grow. 


PS.  I have been asked about patterns for these dolls I create, and have not yet thought about making them available for purchase.  If you are interested, please leave me a note and I will get back to you on this 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Have You Seen This Picture?
Repaint of Grace (2009 convention souvenir from UFDC convention) by Darlene Lane

Beautiful work,  Right?  I have saved this picture as inspiration since I first saw it.   

Let’s go back in time, just a little bit, to 2009 and my first convention with UFDC.  The convention souvenir was a doll named ‘Grace’, and a little beauty she is.  The doll sculpt is by Beverly Walters, and turned over for the mass production that (sadly) goes into doll making these days.  I do love her.  (Read original article about Grace here :)

Being mass-produced, the dolls were fair of face and did not have quite the detail of a beautiful hand painted doll.  Darlene Lane, master doll maker if there ever was one, had shown the above repaint of her souvenir. That face is a charmer.  No surprise, and I wanted a repaint for myself.  I sat on this idea and kept the saved the repaint picture for inspiration.    

Through the years, I have wondered if I could do a repaint, too.   

A few months ago, a couple of dolly dressing friends of mine,  and I were talking about these repainted doll heads, or embellished doll faces, and I thought I would like to give it a try.  Both friends had extra dolls and were game for me trying to repaint their dolls, too! 

In a couple of weeks, the dolls arrived and I labeled the heads.  I set up work space and was ready for the job at hand.  I keep my class notes for painting order and followed that that painting guide.  My first step was to paint nose dots, eye dots, some lip liner.  Into the Paragon Quick Fire they go.  

Several hours later, the porcelain cooled, time to lift the lid.  I was so excited!  Oh, no!  All of the hair had fired off.  Okay, insert expletives here!  I had no idea what to do next!  What had I been I thinking? I was so disappointed and shocked and could not bear the thought of reporting the event to my friends.  I had ruined their dolls.  What would you do?  I slept on it. 
Yikes, no hair!

(Let me pause for a moment to say something about the doll industry.  It’s a tough industry, competitive, cut throat at times.  However, that can be the story of anything, any job, any endeavor at any time.  Usually, I am too intimidated to approach some “famous” person, or self-conscious about my skills or knowledge, or just feel inferior to the person with whom I want to talk.  Nevertheless, I get up the nerve and just do it.)

I decided to go to the source of my inspiration, Darlene Lane.  I had never met Darlene Lane, but admired her skills. Gathering my courage, I sent her an email.  Lucky me!  She wrote back.  Boy, what a font of information and you know what, it wasn’t just me, it happened to her as well.  She shared so much about her experience, the history, and the solutions.  Darlene even surprised me by sending the color she used to return the hair to the same or so close as to be the same, hair color.  I could not have done it without her.   
Hair and face complete.  

After overcoming the hair challenge, it was smooth sailing, mostly.  I managed to get the hair painted, and the eyes and brows and lips all highlighted and the color deepened.  I hit another snag with the 3D paste, or Rochard paste, and had to improvise, but I overcame this as well.  Due to the position in the kiln, I was unable to fire the paste or even the white appropriately for my Grace.  I have since, sanded the hair ornaments, and added half pearls for earrings and the hair ornaments for my doll. 

My Grace completed!   
Have Fun!    Kathi

PS.  Tiny Kitty and her Edwardian costume will resume shortly.  In the meantime, illness (all’s well), travel and the dreaded computer breakdown and upgrade have caused me to be quite behind.  The inspiration dress and fabrics are selected; the pattern is made but is being fitted.  I’ll be back soon. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Second Fitting

Hi, all,
      Just a quick note to let you know that alterations were made to Tiny Kitty’s undergarments.  I have made a small digital layout for you to know the changes I made. (Elements are from Scrapgirls, LLC)  The new pictures will show the better fit for her slip and explain the changes I made.  She is so much happier with her garments. 

      I will be away for a couple weeks before continuing to work on Miss Kitty’s Edwardian clothes.  Until I return, I will be taking a class, and taking a small vacation to visit friends.  While I am busy with these things, I will also be working on the pattern for the inspiration dress.  I keep reinterpreting the assembly process.  I do want to try for a new pair of shoes, too!  It will be a challenge. 

Until, then, have a wonderful Labor Day Holiday!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

A new Slip for Kitty Collier

It never pays to rush things.  I got a late start on tiny Kitty’s slip this week.  Sunday was my first opportunity to continue her undergarments.  I am afraid it shows.  A couple of errors in the hurrying up for the blog, and then I realized I do not really need to hurry, do I? 

I totally forgot about the adjustment to make in the hip area of the corset, which made my slip just a tiny bit, maybe one seam allowance, tight.  I hate ripping seams after so much work.  At the last minute I decided to sew up the back seam, (I was going to leave it open, but who wants to sit on buttons?) The corset strings create a bit of a bump as well.  I can fix it.    

My original intention was to have a princess styled silhouette, but the more information I had it became apparent a narrower shape would be required.  I narrowed the panels, added lace, and cut off the excess slip fabric from the bodice and the hem.  I added lace straps instead. 

The pictures below show the working out of the pattern and the changing the silhouette. 


I chose this picture as an inspiration. 

Pattern made and sample slip tested.  Ready to cut out and sew. 

Advice for succession sewing.  Lay out the pieces in the order for which they are assembled, pick one up and sew, then to the next, and on and on.  I leave the center back open.

First fitting with primary seam completed for French seaming.  The original intentions was to leave the back open and close the length.  

When adding laces, interview the laces you have.  Do scallops go with geometric designs?  Does one lace and width llook well with another?   

As you can see here, I did not use any of the others and opted to add a simple edging with a beading lace accent.  In other words I kept it simple more or less with my inspiration.  

Here are the laces sewn on, and the slip portions cut away from the laces.  

Completed Slip Front
Completed Slip Back

 (I wonder if I should take this next week to fix the slip and show you the repaired items, re-lace the corset, etc.  At least, the very least, Kitty is more covered and she is becoming more comfortable with the camera. )

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tiny Kitty Corset and Hosiery

Tiny Kitty modeling her corset in the atelier

Tiny Kitty is now less embarrassed than she was last week as she is more fully dressed.  She is still embarrassed about showing her unmentionables.  After last week’s post, I challenged myself to do a layer a week.  I thought I was not going to make it.  I would swear that I had ADD but I think this time, I had a good murder mystery getting in the way.  I worked an hour and read an hour, worked an hour, read an hour.  Most distracting way to work ever, but I could not decide what to do.  It did give me brief breaks to think through stumbling points as well. This corset had quite a few.  Something I would normally take for granted gave me some challenges.  I wanted to go for the longer line but I also wanted to try a new technique.  As with all projects, I began with research and some pictures.
The corset pattern pieces traced to interfacing, ironed and cut out.  The same pattern draw onto the outside fabric.  The pieces were all sewn together by machine and sewn together again.  

Kitty’s corset fits fairly well, but on second review, it appears that I should reduce the width in the hips and perhaps increase it in the bust line.  (Would that were my problem.) Since this corset was a first for me, I made some mistakes along the way.  However, the final result looks quite well, mistakes and all.  There are so many seams and channels that on this size figure, I did not use stays.  The stiffness with interfacing and lining was sufficient to give the feel of a tightly fitting corset.  I used brads and eyes for the corset busk.  It looks like it works.  I will not be dressing and undressing her, as I need to work out some strength details of the closure.  If the metal color is not right, get that done PRIOR to finishing the closure. 

The fitting and lacing process.  Snap the front together, fit the back and future removal depends only on unbuttoning the front each time.  No more unlacing, no more dressers, fit once and done! 

At the last minute, I decided she needed a pair of hose.  I am contemplating a set of garters to hang from the corset.  We will not know until next week, but I should move on to the slip.  I hope that I will get a step closer to deciding which casual dress to make.  And I am still researching the shoes or boots.    

Thank you for reading, and as always have some fun!
Kathi Mendenhall

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tiny Kitty Collier

I just got home from the UFDC Convention in Washington, DC, and boy did we have fun!!  Oh, wait, that was TWO YEARS ago!  Are you kidding me?  Two years!  Well, as life has it, yes, and I have needed all these two years to recover from it.  Why you ask, well, that was quite a year, I had a birthday, I do every year, would that it would slow down for just a moment and let me catch my breath!  We downsized 2000 square feet into the home I have now.  I have been recovering from that, too.  My gorgeous 15’ by 30’ workroom with closets and built in shelving and SPACE must condense to the third bedroom of the new house, a 12’ by 12’ room.  Picture my distress.  I digress.  That story is another day, and I have pictures! 
(And yes, I complain about it in every post, or so it seems.  Will things ever be working for me?) 

I had a wonderful convention, I usually do, and arrived home revved up to make pretty doll clothes.  The sweet convention souvenir doll of Tiny Kitty Collier (which I adore!) in her embroidered Mrs. Taft Inaugural dress made me think she would be a good size to make some additional wardrobe of the period. (Think titanic, for fashion period, not the sadness, and the early Downton Abbey for inspiration.)  As the little ladies scream for clothes constantly, I keep them packed away.  ALL OF THEM, and I cannot stand it.  They want and want and want.  What is a poor dressmaker to do?  Poor Kitty, she was tired of those heels and wanted something a little more casual to go shopping.  (Grace from Atlanta 2009, has waited the longest and she is next, I am swearing to myself that she will be next.)  In the meantime, I thought I would share with you the way I go about the dressing. 

I believe Tiny Kitty to be a contemporary doll making this a little anachronistic, but she is now representing Mrs. Taft, so Edwardian we go.  In such small dolls, it is imperative to keep the costume for becoming ungainly.  I usually make fabric selections of very fine fabrics, not always old ones, usually of natural fibers, as they are more conducive to conservation.  In addition, I make the clothing as historically correct as I am capable.  I do take some license, however.  Tiny Kitty Collier is 10”.  Her combination, also chosen to keep from additional waistline bulk, is of fine cotton batiste. 

Miss Kitty was not happy about having pictures made in her dishabille.    So, please be kind to her.  If all works well, by this time next week I can post her corset.  Maybe even a pair of stockings.  

Here you will see where I have worked out the pattern.  Pieces on the right have a lot of notes, and hem needs shortening.  The lace is the trim I used to bind the armhole and neck edges. 

Miss Kitty is sporting her new combination. I like to wait for the closure until the corset is complete.  Most likely I will add a silk ribbon to tie the top together as the corset will hold everything together.  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Time Flies!

    I moved two years ago, well a little more than that, and I am still amazed at the time it has taken me to downsize.  I am still working at it!  And I thought it would take me just 6 WEEKS!!  I soldier on.  I am in my umpteenth iteration of furniture and where it should go, and selling things an replacing things, but we finally believe we have a plan.  We thought so before but that is my story and I am sticking to it.  Both of us have lost our parents.  My mother-in-law passed away in April.  We keep adjusting to our new normal, as does everyone.  But we also count our blessings and hope that all of you are able to keep your dolling as a part of joy and that it gets you through your tough spots.  

    It has been since January posting on this blog.  And believe it or not, I have done a few things, with a list of a LOT more.  I want to do better posting on the blog.  (Science and technology have gotten in the way and this is a new try in a new technology for me to upload, so we'll see how it works.  If you are reading this, it does, and now I need to perfect it.)  All this chasing technology and learning, probably good for my mind, but not my wallet.  I would rather be buying fabric.  

    The last Convention I went to for United Federation of Doll Clubs was in Washington D.C.  While looking at the display, I and many others, went gaga over the Chiffonette doll and her wardrobe.  I attended the luncheon of Sylvia McNeil, and received the book of her doll, it is thought it be a Huret, and have longed to make those child dresses of the 1860's.  They are quite simple in look if not in execution.  And one can get many looks from one pattern, by changing trims and changing fabrics.  Susan Sirkis, long my doll dressing idol, did a pattern CD of the Lilas, and I used her patterns with some adjustments to use for my dolls.  So, with so much inspiration form the Chiffonette display and Susan's patterns I went to work on my little 6" Rohmer reproduction.  The porcelain for my doll was created for me by my friend  Kate, and her body was from Create a Doll.  A beautiful tiny leather body.  She is 6" tall. I haven't named her.  

    I decided to gather her and her wardrobe together in a shadow box from Michael's.  I hope you will enjoy her, and this little interlude will give me a little more time to do more posts to share with you.  Many projects planned for the summer.  
    To all the Mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day and I hope all you do is appreciated.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Art Doll Challenge

There has been and Art Doll Challenge going on on Facebook and lately my feed has been so divine that I just had to share some of the images.   Be still my heart, all these wonderful creations.  Enjoy!
Michelle Mahler

Anna Hardman
 Anna Zueva
  Carla Goncalves
Connie D'Angelo
 Forest Rogers
  Gerda Schaarman Rijsdijk
 Paulette Goodreau
Renata Jansen
 Rosa Grueso
  Susie McMahon
Valentina Yakovleva
Marilyn Radzat