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Monday, October 24, 2016

Doll Size Mop

This week we are making a mop for the dolls to do some cleaning around their house. I actually got this idea when I was doing some cleaning up in my craft room. I had some dowels that I needed to put away and as I was carrying the package of dowels I noticed some little doll size buckets I had purchased some time ago. All it took was a glance at the two items and the little light bulb in my head popped on. A mop would be perfect.

I decided to make a string mop because first off they are the easiest to make. Also though a certain doll manufacturer has come out with a couple of different dolls lately that “live” in the 1950's and 1960's and I thought this would be a fun addition for those that like to keep their dolls in their own historical environments.

Since a quick Google search told me that the first patent for a mop was awarded in the 1890's I guess there are a few other dolls out there that could be using this little project.

The first thing you will need is a handle for your mop. I like to use a ½” dowel for that part. This size looks about correct as far as scale goes and it will fit in the doll's hand properly. I cut mine about 15” long which is pretty close to accurate scale wise.

For the “string” part of our string mop I looked at several options and found the string sold for kitchen use to be the best size for my mop and it was fairly cheap. I got a package for $1.99 in the regular grocery store. I bought two packages since I really wasn't sure how far it would go until I got the mop made. As it ended up I only used about half or less of the package.

I decided that for my use the two layers of string once folded was plenty. If you want your mop to look more full add another layer, just follow the same instructions as I gave for the second layer.

I love how the mop turned out and I am looking forward to doing many photos with it in the future.

Of course when I got the mop made the bucket was way too small to use so I quickly made a bucket to use in the pictures. If you guys want to have a tutorial on the bucket just let me know and I can film that soon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sewing (and crafting) blog for September 2016

Sorry this is going up late, I was so busy last week I totally forgot to post it.

This month I did a bit of sewing, mostly stuff for my Allison's Journal blog posts. It was nice that one batch of that sewing worked out to fit the theme for the September Sew-Along for the doll sewing group I belong to.

So I started the month off with some backpacks. I wanted to do an Allison's Journal post about getting ready for school. That meant the kids all needed backpacks. I had a few I had made a couple of years ago but I was never really happy with those. I had always felt they were too small for the dolls.

I did some wandering around Pixie Faire looking for a pattern and came across the Animal Backpack pattern. The first thing I noticed was that it was a much better size for the dolls than the patterns I had used in the past. I decided to get the pattern and get the fabric for it the next time I went into town.

I had intended to take advantage of the animal faces in the pattern for at least a couple of backpacks. The only problem with that plan was when I went fabric shopping I just didn't find any fabric that I really thought worked with the animal thing. I did get the felt to do the animal stuff thinking I would make it work.

When I got home I got the felt pieces all cut out but just decided that I liked the backpacks better without the faces.

I initially got fabric and zippers for two backpacks. About halfway through sewing those I decided I really wanted to make two more. So for those I searched through my fabric stash and found fabrics that worked perfectly for two more. All I needed to pick up on the next trip to town were the zippers.

I do love how this backpack pattern goes together and the two zippered pockets are fantastic. Just like a real backpack.

With 4 of those made I could get the big kids ready for school. That left the smaller bags I had made in the past for the little sisters in the group so everything worked out great.

The only down side was that by the time I was done making 4 backpacks I kind of felt like I was working in one of those sweat shops that turn out millions of backpacks a day. LOL

After the backpacks were done I barely let my sewing machine cool off before I started making some coats. As you probably guessed I wanted to do a blog post with the kids getting new winter coats. Also my doll sewing group's theme for September was coats and jackets.

For Chelsea I picked out the Cute as a Button pattern from Jelly Bean Soup Designs. I opted to leave off the buttons. I think I like it better without the buttons. I wasn't able to find any double sided quilted fabric at my local Joann's so I picked up ¼ yard each of a pattern and a solid and used a scrap of thin quilt batting to make my own. I only quilted half of each fabric and it was just enough to cut out the pieces. And I was able to use the remaining fabric for the non-quilted pieces. That made for a truly coordinated garment. I think if I were to make this pattern again- at least using similar fabrics I would add a bit of interfacing to the waistband piece. I think since I used just some quilter's cotton that part of the jacket looks a bit soft. If I wanted to actually make this pattern close in the front I think I would add a zipper to the front, I think that would make this one look totally real.

For Michael I wanted a hoodie so I used the Rough'n'Tumble Hoodie from QT(pie) Clothing for his. I used a cheap t-shirt for the main body and hood, along with the ribbing (there was exactly enough ribbing in the size large t to make this size jacket) I lined the main body of the jacket with some green flannel both to give more visual weight and to stabilize the knit fabric. For the sleeves and hood lining I used a quilter's cotton. I had a huge problem finding a separating zipper the day I was shopping for this jacket. I was hoping to match the fabric a little better. They only had this gray one and some white ones unless I wanted to pay for a 20” long one.

As I was looking for a coat for Allison I fell in love with the Oxford Square coat from Liberty Jane. The day I made it I was in the mood to sew so I dug through my stash. I found a pair of jeans that had a huge hole for the main fabric. I found a little weird shaped scrap of lining fabric for the hood lining that was the perfect color. This was a really easy pattern to make. If you want the coat to close you do need to add to the side seams but I liked the look of the it the way it was designed.

For Izzy I used the Wellie Wisher version of the same hoodie pattern. I think this size was almost easier to make than the larger one.

All of these coat patterns are available from Pixie Faire. 

In addition to my sewing I did undertake another major project for the blog posts so I am going to include that here too.

A while back I was alerted to some wonderful free printable books on a doll blog site. The blog is Jinjia Mixed Goods: American Girl Dolls with an Asian Flair. 

Along with wonderful stories about the adventures of the dolls there are some wonderful free printables on the site.

I had seen several people making the books that were put up recently and decided I wanted to join in the fun. That was the beginning of the “old books” Allison's Journal post. I made up a bunch of the books. When I got them done they were nice but I had something a bit more old looking in mind. So I decided to age my set of books. That was a lot of fun and involved the use of some inks, some emery boards and just a bit of destruction. It was a lot of fun and in my opinion made the books look perfect, at least for the story I wanted to tell.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Doll Size Halloween Witch

This week we are going to help the dolls to start decorating their home for Halloween. I read somewhere once that Americans spend more each year on Halloween decorations than on Christmas decorations. From the looks of the stores I think it might just be true.

Anyway this is a really fun project that I love to make from time to time. I had never tried it in 1/3rd scale before but I think it is really cute. I think when I am not using this with the dolls it will reside in the entry way of my real house. It is a perfect size for the dolls but it also is a fantastic size for a tabletop decoration in real life.

I had hoped to make my witch just a tad bit smaller but I had a lot of trouble finding the plant pots in the smaller sizes. Most years I have been able to find a lot of the small sized ones at the craft store. This year the Michael's that I had time to visit only one size. They had a lot of empty space on the shelf and there were shelf tags for other sizes just none in stock that day.

I did get the slightly larger pot at my local Home Depot, it was the smallest clay pot they had but they had a lot of them in stock.

All together I spent $2.55 on the 4 pots so this is an inexpensive project. I did have everything else on hand that I used.

The biggest thing in picking out the pots is that the large end of the small size needs to fit the small end of the big pot so that the witch's dress is fairly smooth going down. From there you really can make these in any size you want. I have made them with the little wooden pots for my dollhouse miniature channel and I made one from larger pots one year as a gift to a friend to put by her front door. She sent me a photo last year to let me know she is still displaying it every year.

I had some of those little wooden pots on hand so I used that for the nose, use whatever you have. Use you imagination and see what lurks in your stash. A button would work or any number of things.

Paint the majority of the project with black paint and then paint the face area whatever color you imagine your witch's skin is. I usually opt for green skin but I have seen this project done with purple for the face before too. Also a pearl green color would be wonderful.

Let the paint dry they paint on whatever facial features you want. I usually paint the eyes with black paint but I noticed that I had some google-eyes on hand that were the perfect size so they went on this witch.

When you are gluing your witch try to get the pots straighter than I did. My witch has a definite lean. I am going to blame it on trying to do this on camera. It makes my angle really tough to work from. By the time I noticed it the glue had set up enough I was afraid to try to change it.

When the glue dries just do a quick touch up with the black paint over any glue stops that are showing. If you want to give your witch a coat of spray on sealer that step won't be necessary.

There you are a cute and fun witch for the dolls to display by their front door or in their house this Halloween. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Allison's Journal- the Old Books

When we got home from school today mom said she had a surprise for us. She told us to go look in the family room after we got done with our snack.

This is one of the days of the week that Maria and Jeremy are here overnight so the 6 of us talked about what could be waiting for us. I don't think we have ever hurried that much eating our snack. LOL

When we got done and went into the family room we found a cardboard box.

It had a sign on it that said “old kid's books”

We asked mom where it had come from. She told us that when she went to the post office today she noticed that the house across the road from the post office was having an estate sale. She decided to go take a quick look. She had been looking at books when the man running the sale had asked her if she had noticed the table at the back. It had a bunch of boxes on it. He told her that he had just boxed up groups of books and that they were $10 per box.

Everyone in our house loves books so she went to take a look. She was hoping to find more old cookbooks for her collection. Instead she found this box. She said she lifted the flaps of the box to take a peek and the first thing she saw was that there were at least 2 Nancy Drew books on the top. She knows how much Chelsea and I love our Nancy Drew books so she grabbed the box before anyone else could decided it was interesting.

When she got it home she just opened the top of the box enough to see that the books were really old but she decided to let us look through them and discover what treasures we have.

Being the oldest Chelsea and I took charge and opened the box. Sure enough the first thing we saw were two really old Nancy Drew mystery books. One was called The Hidden Staircase and the other one is The Secret of the Old Clock. We love mystery books especially Nancy Drew mystery books. And to make it even better they are ones neither of us have read before!

We took those out and set them to the side.

Next we found some Little Golden Books. Izzy and Maria wanted those right away. There were 5 of them but the girls took them so fast I don't even know what the titles were. I am sure they are going to want either Chelsea or I to read to them later so we can find out then.

Under the Little Golden Books were to old science fiction magazines. They are just filled with old sci-fi stories. Both Michael and Jeremy love sci-fi so they grabbed those really quick.

We found two more Nancy Drew books, one was a second copy of The Secret of the Old Clock but the other one was The Bungalow Mystery, another one we haven't read.

Next we saw a blue book and when we picked it up we found out the title is “The Blue Fairy Book.” It looks like it is just filled with classic fairy tales.

At the bottom of the box we found an old reading book, Fun With Dick and Jane. Later mom told us she remembers reading that book at school in first grade. That made Izzy and Maria take notice. They are really excited to be learning to read and they decided to try to read this one together tonight after dinner.

Also at the bottom of the box were some more science fiction, a book called When I Go to the Moon. Along with a really thick Little Golden Book called Exploring Space. They are both really old and the ideas are so different from what we know today. The boys are so excited to read them.

I think mom got a fantastic deal on this box of books. We are all going to be busy reading for weeks. Chelsea and I decided to both start by reading the Secret of the Old Clock since there are two copies of it. Then we will have to take turns of the other two. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Doll Size PB&J Sandwich

I know this week's video is a bit long, but you are really getting two projects in one video.

The PB&J sandwich was high on my list of things to show you when I decided to do the bread cane. I love how they look and it really is an easy process. It just takes some time and there are several steps.

The texturing portion of the project is exactly the same as for the toast. You could even get away with not adding the texture the sides of the bread slices that are going to be on the inside of the sandwich. I was afraid I would loose track of which was the inside side of the bread so I just textured both sides. It really only takes a few seconds to texture both sides anyway.

I like to pre-bake the bread slices when I am making these sandwiches. I find if I don't I usually end up getting my bread all misshapen and loose any texture I added. By baking the slices as soon as they are textured you can be sure that they will stay the shape you want them to be.

The peanut butter clay mixture is a pretty easy one. I used 1 part Fimo Sunflower (yellow) and 6 parts Sculpey III Tan this time. There are other mixtures of clay that will yield the color we are looking for. Just experiment with the colors of clay you have on hand.

After we get a peanut butter color that we are happy with it is time to mix the clay into the Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS) this can take a while just be patient and work at it until it is about the same texture as real peanut butter. I find it is much easier to mix TLS with softer clays.

Next we spread the “peanut butter” onto the bread just like if we were making a real sandwich. The only difference is that since we needed to cut the sandwich before we made it (so we could add the texture to that cut edge) we need to make the filling look like the knife drug it out of the sandwich when it was cut.

You can make the jelly with TLS if you want but my real preference is to use Liquid Kato clay for anything that I want to look really translucent. I used the same “jelly” recipe as last week for the toast. Just remember to use oil paint to color liquid clay not acrylic paint.

You don't need to add the jelly to the middle of each sandwich half just to the edges. And make sure some of it drips down the sides of the sandwich. You want people to know you put it there!

I decided to add a bonus project of the jar of peanut butter. I tried several things before I decided to go with the PVC pipe. Then it took way too long to get it cut even close to straight. It was just one of those days around here. In the end I decided to go with it almost straight.

I wanted add some dimension to the jar so I used some quilling paper. These are just 1/8” stripes of paper that comes pre-cut. I usually have a bunch of it on hand for projects because it is usually in-expensive and makes a lot of project go a lot faster. Feel free to cut a strip of paper if you don't have this.

After gluing the two bands onto my piece of PVC pipe I painted it with some acryilic paint that was as close to the color of peanut butter as I could find in my drawer. It did take several coats of paint to make everything look nice and smooth.

After the paint I coated everything with about 4 coats of Triple Thick, I love how this product makes the project look like a glass jar.

At this point simply add a label and a lid and you are done.

I love how this project turned out. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alison's Journal- New Coats

We all needed new winter coats this year so mom took us shopping for them today. I hate how I almost always have to pick out a winter coat when the weather is really hot outside. It is so hard to think about what I will want to wear in a few months when the weather is so different from what it is now. It is also kind of a sad reminder that the nice weather is going to be gone so soon.

Anyway mom took us to the mall to look for our coats. Izzy, Chelsea and I were really happy to go and do some shopping. Michael on the other hand was grumpy all day. He hates to go shopping, especially for clothes. He had a bunch of other things he wanted to do and we heard about them all day long. Boys!

I think we all did get coats were are going to be happy with so I talked everyone into meeting here in the family room so we can show you what we got.

Chelsea, Izzy and I had to wait for Michael, he took as long as he could getting in here.

He finally showed up with his coat.

I wanted to show you my coat first, I love how it is made of denim. It feels and looks like a pair of well worn jeans. And I love the poke-a-dot fabric that lines the hood. It is so pretty and silky. My new coat even has come convenient pockets on the front.

Chelsea surprised all of us (even herself) when she picked a purple coat! That's my favorite color, hers is pink. But she fell in love with the pattern on the front of the coat. The style is really good for her too, it emphasizes her waist so nicely. She even pulled her hair out of the way so we could see the details on the back. She says it is super comfortable too. She had a hard time finding a coat she liked that didn't have a hood on it. She says they just get in the way with her long hair and she prefers to wear hats when the rest of us have our hoods on.

Izzy was so excited about her new coat. She loves the bright pink and the kitty paws! She is an animal lover so those paw prints were what drew her to this coat. She also loves the fuzzy lining in her coat.

Michael had to wait to last to show everyone his coat. We figured we had to wait for him we would make him wait for us. Also dad says a gentleman should always let the ladies go first.

Michael picked out a green hoodie, he says “it's a coat” not much information but whatever. At least we got him to show up. His is almost the same style as Izzy's and it is lined too.

Mom was happy we were all able to find coats in one trip this year. Last year it took two trips. And all of our coats were on sale for once! Mom says she really hopes none of us out-grow our new coats before winter is over this year. Last year Izzy had a growth spurt and outgrew her winter coat just before the only really bad weather we had. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Doll Size Toast

This week we are going to take advantage of the bread slice cane we made last week to make the dolls some slices of toast. If you missed the cane here is a link to that video.

We are going to start by carefully slicing some slices off our cane. I can't seem to cut real bread straight and I do no better on the doll size. Then we are going to texture the slices just like we did for the bread slices last week.

Now using our standard chalks that we use to make things look baked we are going to color the cut surfaces of the bread slices. Just go slow and take your time with this step. I tried to rush the coloring in the video and got a bit too much color on that one slice. That did allow me to show you how to correct that type of mistake.

Once you are happy with the toasted look of your bread you need to decide if the dolls want their toast cut into pieces. I almost always cut my toast on the diagonal so that is what I did in the video.

Now the fun part of this project. We are going to add a bit of texture to the inside of the slice. Support your bread slice with an emery board (use 2 if you are nervous about ruining the texture you worked so hard on) and using a “pointy tool” (I like to use a dental pick) make light circular motions on that cut edge. You are really just barely touching the clay, almost like you are tickling it. Make lots of tiny little circles and you find the edge starting to look like it has little crumbs. If clay builds up on your tool be sure to wipe it off, you need to the tip clean to make the texture.

Now bake the slices at about 250 degrees (Fahrenheit) for about 10 minutes. If your dolls want their toast plain you are finished .

My dolls on the other hand wanted some jam/jelly on their toast.

To make the jam/jelly you will need some liquid polymer clay. This time I am using the one from Kato Clay. I like this one because it stays somewhat shiny and it is very clear. TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpey) would also work but will need a clear finish once it is baked to give it a shine. If you can find Liquid Fimo it also works nicely for this.

To color the liquid clay we are using some oil paint. That is my preferred method to color it. Just pick colors that are close to the jam/jelly you are trying to make. Today I used some Rose Madder for the red one and a mix of the Rose Madder and some Cerulean Blue to make the grape.

I like to just mix up what I am going to use at the time rather than having to deal with a bunch of mixtures that I have to keep track of.

This is one of the few times you will see me bake my project on a ceramic tile. That is because if the liquid mixture drips onto the baking surface I can easily remove it from the glazed tile. If I had baked on my normal paper plate it would have been stuck.

I initially tried baking the jam/jelly step at my normal baking time and temperature but found it just didn't cure. I ended up baking at 275 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes to get it to cure.

So that is our project for today. I hope you liked it.