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Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Organizing of my 18” Doll Patterns

It sure does feel good to get a big job done, it is so nice to sit back look at what has been accomplished and take a moment to enjoy the fact that it is done. I am finally at that stage on the job of organizing my massive collection of 18” doll patterns.

If you follow my mini blog and videos then you might know about the big organizing job I did with my polymer clay a while back. You see I have been doing polymer clay for about 20 years and over time the way I stored my clay went from being very functional to being a disaster. It wasn't because of any one problem it was just that what works when you have a handful of packages of clay doesn't really work when you have hundreds of blocks of clay (yeah, you read that correctly I have hundreds of blocks of clay) If you want to learn more about that project the blog where I detail the organizing process I used is here, and the video for it is here.

Well, I have been enjoying my clay so much more now that I can actually find what I have. Heck now I even know what colors I have. It is great and it has put the pleasure back in my clay work.

You have to understand that by nature I am not an organized person. Quite the opposite in fact, I have to really push myself to stay organized but I know that when I am things run so much better.

Now onto those patterns. This came about because I once again realized that what had worked for organizing my patterns when I just had a few was no longer working. I have picked up many patterns online and whenever Joann's has patterns on sale I pick up whatever of the doll patterns that they have in stock that I don't already own. So the collection is growing, quickly. Also I want to point out here before you see how many patterns I really have that I have been buying doll patterns for about 20 years and only a few of these have been bought at full price, most of them were purchased for around $1 each.

In defense of the massive number of patterns I own I do sew and sell some doll clothes and hope to step that up a bit more over the next couple of years so I look at them like I look at my clay they are a business asset (or will be when I get off my butt and get busy listing stuff for sale again)

So back to that mess that was my patterns. I had previously sorted them by manufacturer but that was getting out of hand and it really didn't help me to find what I wanted. Also the containers I was keeping them in had been outgrown long ago so the patterns were rather haphazardly stuffed into plastic containers. I knew I had to get a handle on this.

I decided to really look at the system I had in place for my clay and see how I could adapt it to the patterns. The base of the clay organization is a 3 ring notebook so I decided that would be the launching point of the pattern organization system also. I also needed a place to put all the patterns but we will get to that in a moment.

I thought about what information I wanted in the notebook. I decided that for the patterns I had purchased in the fabric stores I wanted to have a copy of the front and back of each pattern envelope. I also wanted to have any information from the instruction sheet that pertained to things that I need to buy (or have on hand) to make the pattern. If you haven't noticed it lately a lot of the patterns have moved the notions needed for the pattern to the instruction sheet.

I proceeded to use my scanner to scan all this information and put it into files on my computer. I then printed a page for each of these patterns with the front of the pattern envelope on the front of the page and all the other information on the back. These were then put into a very large 3 ring binder divided by manufacturer with the pages organized by number.

Front cover of my pattern notbook

one of the pages showing front of the pattern

reverse side of page shown above

Next I looked at all the patterns I have gotten online. Most have not been printed out so they are neatly sitting on my hard drive but that also means I forget about them when I am ready to sew. For all of these I printed out pages with the cover page for the pattern on the front and whatever page gave the materials needed on the back. Those also moved to my notebook.

Next I realized I had better include my collection of pattern books mostly written by Joan Hinds but I have a couple of others too. I decided for those to just scan the cover of the book and a photo of each outfit in the book. I put all the pictures onto what my photo editor program called an “index sheet” with one book worth to a page. This doesn't give me any kind of materials list but it will make finding specific patterns a lot faster in the future. At a glance I can see which book an outfit is in.

the index sheet for one of my pattern books

Now that I had a really thick binder full of pages showing me what I have I needed to figure out a storage solution for all those patterns. (there are well over a hundred of them)

One problem I have always had with keeping the patterns neat is that I usually put the patterns into a gallon size zip-lock bag after I have used it. I simply don't have the patience to get all the pieces back into the little envelope again. Also a lot of times I end up with extra pieces because I many times scan my pattern pieces and make needed alterations on the scanned copy rather than on the original. I also normally put the downloaded patterns into the gallon bags when I print them too. So I really needed to have some system to organize that size.

I thought about the problem for a couple of days. I even tried a couple of different types of storage containers with out success. Then one night I thought of the solution in the middle of the night. I had a large number of hanging file folders that I didn't need for what I had purchased them for. I got to thinking that those patterns, even in the gallon bags would fit just fine in a hanging file.

I just needed something to put those hanging file folders into. On my next trip to town I looked at both file cabinets and the large file boxes. I decided to go with the large boxes (the kind that can hold both regular and legal size files) simply because I just don't currently have a place to put the file cabinet. I ended up needing to get two of the file boxes to accommodate my pattern collection but I do have some room to grow. If they get too crowded in the future I can simply get another of the file boxes.

I currently have the 1000's through the 5000's in one box and the rest (including printed patterns from online and books) in the other box.

both boxes open showing the hanging files, each one of those has a pattern or book in it.

the two boxes stacked up

I picked up a couple of new patterns the other day and they were really easy to incorporate into the new filing system. More importantly it is really quick to see if I have a pattern and more importantly to find the pattern when I need it.

In the future if I get room to put it I might move the patterns into a regular file cabinet but I do like the portability of the boxes.

I know that most of you that read this post probably won't have nearly as many patterns but I think this system would work no matter how many patterns you have and it will expand with your collection.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Product Review- Doll Costume Dress Up book

Since I just got this book a couple of weeks ago and have had time to actually make something out of it I thought I would do a quick review on it. I admit I am a huge Joan Hinds fan. I own several of her doll pattern books, a couple of her DVDs and a few of her patterns. They are my go to patterns when I want to make something quickly that I know will be really cute and easy. I also go her patterns when I am in the mood to be creative and customize the pattern since most are very basic and work well to customize.

The Doll Costume Dress Up book contains 20 really cute patterns for doll size costumes that would be perfect either for Halloween or just for general dress up. Joan divides the costumes into 3 basic categories: Fun and Fancy Costumes, Traditional Halloween Costumes and Playtime Costumes.

One really nice change that this book has that none of my other Joan Hinds books have is that the patterns are all on a CD in the back of the book. All of my other books by this author have paper patterns included, some printed directly in the book to be scanned, some on regular pattern tissue, and the rest on large sheets of paper that you have maneuver to get into you the scanner to make copies of what you need.

The first chapter of this book (and of most of Joan's books) is dedicated to measuring/fitting, some general sewing tips and some of her techniques that will make your sewing much easier. The first chapter in this book also includes two accessory items to use with some of the rest of the costumes in the book: a mask and a slip with hoops.

The Fun and Fancy section has patterns for: a Fairy (lilac outfit on the book cover), a Ballerina, a Wedding Gown, Cinderella, a Southern Belle (green dress on the cover of the book) and Little Bo Peep.

The Traditional Halloween section has patterns for: a Witch, a Pumpkin, a Kitty Cat (with instructions to change it to a leopard, a dog or a mouse) and a Clown.

The Playtime section has patterns for: a Pirate, a Mermaid (also on the book cover), a Cowboy, a Superhero, a Pilgrim, a Sock Hop Dancer (with a poodle skirt), a Ladybug, a Doctor and a Gypsy.

I decided to make the witch costume from the book for my Molly. With the exception of the rick-rack trim that I had to buy the rest of the fabrics and materials came from my stash. The lace leggings are from a different pattern but look a lot like the ones the doll in the book is wearing. I love purple so that was the color I made my version out of I do love purple and black for Halloween.

Really the only problem I had with the pattern was getting the rick-rack to cooperate to make the trim used on the bodice. Other than that it was smooth sailing. I made the pattern just as specified without making any alterations in the sizing and I think it fits Molly just fine. I did like the fact that Joan suggests using your pinking shears to cut out some of the areas so you don't have to hem. This saved a lot of time and makes the dress go together very quickly.

I am really looking forward to having time to make more of the costumes from the book. There are several that are tempting me. I am pretty sure you will be seeing more of the outfits on this blog around Halloween time if not before.

My opinion of the book (and just about any of the Joan Hinds books I have ever seen) is that it is definitely a good purchase. I can see myself going back to the patterns in this book many times in the future.

Product Review- The Perfect Party Dress DVD

Let me preface this review with the statement that I love Joan Hinds patterns! I purchased my first Joan Hinds' book when I first starting doing the 18” dolls, it was an impulse buy because it was on sale. At the time I had no idea who she was or anything about her or her designs. I took the book home and fell in love. One of the things I love about her books is the way she explains everything. If you are new to sewing in general, new to sewing doll clothes or teaching a child to sew doll clothes I highly recommend her books and DVDs. I also love the simplicity of her designs for the more advanced sewer they leave a world of possibilities for customizing.

The Perfect Party Dress has will video guide you step by step as you complete the pattern to sew a really cute party dress for your favorite 18” doll. Joan even spends some time telling you how to measure to be sure the dress will fit your doll.

The pattern used is conveniently located right on the disk as a PDF file so you can print it off via your computer's printer. Just be sure that you choose the “no borders” option and that you are printing at 100% size to make sure it will come out the correct size.

Also included on the disk is a pattern for a very simple pair of doll size shoes.

So what do I think of the DVD and pattern?

As far as the pattern I am going to have to assume it is up to Joan's normal standards because I haven't made the dress or shoes. I can tell you I have used a lot of her patterns in the past and have usually been very happy with them. As for the style of the dress it is a very simple dress with a straight cut gathered skirt, a lined bodice and short puffy sleeves. She even adds a cute ribbon belt with a flower accent. As for the shoes, they are very simple ballet flats. I think that there are other patterns out there that will result in a nicer shoe but those would be much more difficult to make. For a beginner (especially if you have never made a pair of doll shoes) I think this would be a good pattern.

I did enjoy watching the DVD and I feel the instructions are given in way that even a beginning sewer could follow and be successful. My only real criticism of the video is that Joan repeatedly sewed over her pins. I know a lot of people do but I cringe every time I see it done. I know first hand how much damage that can do to your sewing machine so I am very careful not sew over pins unless it can't possibly be helped.

I can say I would fully recommend this DVD especially like I said earlier if you or someone you are helping is just starting out sewing doll clothes.

Look for another review soon on the latest Joan Hinds doll clothes book.